On the Horizon – i met a traveller in an antique land (Connie Willis)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here are me honest musings . . .

i met a traveller in an antique land (Connie Willis)

Title: i met a traveller in an antique land

Author: Connie Willis

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN:     978-1596068766

Source: NetGalley

The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

  1. Connie Willis wrote the doomsday book and it was seriously one of the best books I have ever read ;
  2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
  3. The story takes place in a bookstore.

I loved this quick paced novella by Connie Willis.  It actually feels at first like yer reading a true-life account.  Then the protagonist enters Ozymandias Books.  It is no ordinary bookstore.  The books seem to be shelved with no organization, there are no prices in any of the books, and the store goes on forever.  As Jim enters further into the bookstore and learns more about its function, his idea of the disposability of the physical book begins to change.  In an era where the e-book is a popular form, those of us readers who cling to our beloved physical copies of childhood favourites and wish we could visit the lost Library in Alexandria will highly enjoy this story of Connie Willis.  She captures a moment where changing technology and nostalgia collide and makes ye think due to her masterful writing.

This be the last read in me April BookBum Club Challenge!  Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to finally read this wonderful “short and sweet” book (168 pgs).  Day four – challenge complete!  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

Netgalley had this to say about the novel:

Jim is in New York City at Christmastime shopping a book based on his blog—Gone for Good—premised on the fact that “being nostalgic for things that have disappeared is ridiculous.” Progress decides for people what they need and what’s obsolete. It’s that simple. Of course, not everyone agrees. After Jim bombs a contentious interview with a radio host who defends the sacred technology of the printed, tangible book, he gets caught in a rainstorm only to find himself with no place to take refuge other than a quaint, old-fashioned bookshop.

Ozymandias Books is not just any store. Jim wanders intrigued through stacks of tomes he doesn’t quite recognize the titles of, none with prices. Here he discovers a mysteriously pristine, seemingly endless wonderland of books—where even he gets nostalgic for his childhood favorite. And, yes, the overwhelmed and busy clerk showing him around says they have a copy. But it’s only after Jim leaves that he understands the true nature of Ozymandias and how tragic it is that some things may be gone forever…

From beloved, multiple-award-winning, New York Times best-selling author Connie Willis comes I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land, a novella about the irreplaceable magic of books.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Connie Willis – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

i met a traveller in an antique land – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

Previous Log Entries for this Author

crosstalk (On the Horizon – Sci-Fi eArc)

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On the Horizon – phoresis (Greg Egan)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

phoresis (Greg Egan)

Title: phoresis

Author: Greg Egan

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1596068667

Source: NetGalley

The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

  1. Like Robert Silverberg, this was another Hugo winning author whose work I have never read;
  2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
  3. The story is driven by women characters facing a catastrophe.

What I didn’t know before reading this was that the author is known for his hard science fiction.  So while I loved the introduction to the story, I quickly became lost in the physics of the first section.  I understood enough to know what Freya was trying to accomplish but not how it would work or how the “experiment” she set up convinced people.  This section was from 11 to 30%.  In this short work, it wasn’t too onerous and I was intrigued enough to continue reading.

After that the story picked up pace, and I found it mostly fascinating.  The science played a part but then there were fun things like tower building, gilders, and dealing with the challenges of living on a new planet.

The book has three parts and ye follow the women through multiple generations, which was cool. One of the awesome aspects was that the women were always looking at the larger long-term goals.  Most projects were on a scale where many generations would pass before results could be determined.  The women had to choose between starvation today or the potential possibility of survival of their descendants tomorrow. I enjoyed seeing why they chose to do things, the consequences of their choices, and how time changed perspectives.

The not so cool part was that many of the women felt very similar and interchangeable.  I happened to like their take-charge personalities, intelligence, and determination.  But perhaps it would have been nice to see other personality types.  Or maybe those types were the only possibilities to guarantee survival.

Also the process of reproduction made me less than comfortable.  That is where the phoresis title comes in.  This biological phenomenon is when one organism transports another.  In this book each woman carries three of her brothers inside of her.  The brothers’ emotions can influence the women’s actions as all of them are dependent on each other for survival.  The brothers are hardly intelligent and fight with each other for the right to breed.  So far, fine with that.  It posed some interesting problems in women taking life-risking challenges.  It is the how of the breeding that was unappetizing.  Basically the brothers emerge from the uterus and . . . um . . . merge with another women for fertilization.  This only happened once in this book and was hazy in detail but me mind filled in the blanks.

Ultimately while I enjoyed the story overall and thought the writing style was excellent, this is not one I would re-read.  I am also not sure I could read anything else by the author if the physics is like this in everything he writes.

This be the third read in me April BookBum Club Challenge!  Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to finally read this “short and sweet” book (168 pgs).  Day three – challenge complete!  Next up: i met a traveller in an antique land.  Check out that review on Monday!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

Welcome to Tvíbura and Tvíburi, the richly imagined twin planets that stand at the center of Greg Egan’s extraordinary new novella, Phoresis.

These two planets—one inhabited, one not—exist in extreme proximity to one another.  As the narrative begins, Tvíbura, the inhabited planet, faces a grave and imminent threat: the food supply is dwindling, and the conditions necessary for sustaining life are growing more and more erratic. Faced with the prospect of eventual catastrophe, the remarkable women of Tvíbura launch a pair of ambitious, long-term initiatives. The first involves an attempt to reanimate the planet’s increasingly dormant ecosphere. The second concerns the building of a literal “bridge between worlds” that will connect Tvíbura to its (hopefully) habitable sibling.

These initiatives form the core of the narrative, which is divided into three sections and takes place over many generations. The resulting triptych is at once an epic in miniature, a work of hard SF filled with humanist touches, and a compressed, meticulously detailed example of original world building. Most centrally, it is a portrait of people struggling—and sometimes risking everything—to preserve a future they will not live to see. Erudite and entertaining, Phoresis shows us Egan at his formidable best, offering the sort of intense, visionary pleasures only science fiction can provide.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Greg Egan – Author

To buy the novel go to:

phoresis – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

The Captain’s Log – call it courage (Armstrong Sperry)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This be the second read in me April BookBum Club Challenge!  This read is long overdue.  Ye see it all stems from a post I read from me matey Jackie @ deathbysundoku back in October 2017.  She be on the Great Newbery quest wherein she be reading all Newbery medal winners by January 2022 when the 100th Newbery Award happens!  Worthy goal indeed.  I meself had embarked on this journey many years ago before adverse winds and scads of other adventures sent me off course.  I had managed 24 of them at last count. 

So this be number 25.  Arrrr!  As always I love me sea yarns.  This one is short but sweet.  It is the story of Maftu who grows up on an island.  A childhood mishap caused him (rightly) to be afraid of the sea.  Due to the fact that the sea supports the livelihood of the tribe, Maftu is known as a coward.  The day comes where he resolves to face his fears.  So he steals a canoe and takes off with his trusty dog companion to sail on the sea only to be thrust into an even bigger adventure.  Can he face his fears, learn to accept himself, and survive long enough to make it back home?

As me matey Jackie says, “Yes, this 1940 Newbery Award winner certainly has some representation issues. Yes, Call It Courage does play on all the noble-savage action-adventure boy serial tropes, such as those in the Tarzan serials. Yes, it portrays sexism, bullying, and submitting to peer pressure in a positive light. Yes, it does fall into a bit of a predictable storytelling mode where our protagonist magically conquers everything.”

That said, I also very much enjoyed this tale when cultural context is taken into account.  Ye cheer on Maftu in his journey and come to respect his resourcefulness, hard work, and fortitude.  From the modern perspective, it is interesting to note that Maftu would not have survived his ordeal if he hadn’t mastered the “women’s work” that is scorned by the men of the tribe.

The author was well known for his travels to the South Seas and the stories he brought back.  The tale of Maftu was one such tale that was still told around the fires of the Polynesian islands.  One of the highlights of the book were the author’s own illustrations.  He became known for this artwork and illustrated over 40 books and magazines. His pictures of Maftu adventures and island life were wonderful.  Like this one:

 

I do think all readers could find something to enjoy in this tale.  I highly encourage all the crew to read Jackie’s review because it is basically perfect in its representation of the book and its impact.

Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to finally read this delightful “short and sweet” book (128 pgs).  Day two – challenge complete!  Next up: phoresis.  Check out that review tomorrow!

Side note: For this list of all the Newbery award winners thus far (taken from Jackie’s site) and the ones I have read that be highlighted, scroll to the bottom of the page!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

A boy tries to overcome his fear of the sea in this treasured classic and winner of the Newbery Medal.

Maftu was afraid of the sea. It had taken his mother when he was a baby, and it seemed to him that the sea gods sought vengeance at having been cheated of Mafatu. So, though he was the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worshipped courage, and he was named Stout Heart, he feared and avoided tha sea, till everyone branded him a coward. When he could no longer bear their taunts and jibes, he determined to conquer that fear or be conquered– so he went off in his canoe, alone except for his little dog and pet albatross. A storm gave him his first challenge. Then days on a desert island found him resourceful beyond his own expectation. This is the story of how his courage grew and how he finally returned home. This is a legend. It happened many years ago, but even today the people of Hikueru sing this story and tell it over their evening fires.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Armstrong Sperry – Author

To buy the novel go to:

call it courage – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

Me Newbery Reads (in italics)

2017: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin)

2016: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin)

2015: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

2014: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

2012: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux)

2011: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)

2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illus. by Matt Phelan (Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson)

2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi (Hyperion Books for Children)

2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin)

2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Dial)

2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte)

1999: Holes by Louis Sachar (Frances Foster)

1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Scholastic)

1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (Jean Karl/Atheneum)

1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman (Clarion)

1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins)

1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry (Houghton)

1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (Jackson/Orchard)

1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum)

1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown)

1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Houghton)

1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (Harper)

1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (Clarion)

1987: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow)

1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Harper)

1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (Greenwillow)

1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (Morrow)

1983: Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt (Atheneum)

1982: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (Harcourt)

1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (Crowell)

1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos (Scribner)

1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton)

1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Crowell)

1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Dial)

1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper (McElderry/Atheneum)

1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Macmillan)

1974: The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (Bradbury)

1973: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (Harper)

1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (Atheneum)

1971: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (Viking)

1970: Sounder by William H. Armstrong (Harper)

1969: The High King by Lloyd Alexander (Holt)

1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum)

1967: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (Follett)

1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (Farrar)

1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (Atheneum)

1964: It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville (Harper)

1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar)

1962: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton)

1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (Houghton)

1960: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell)

1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton)

1958: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith (Crowell)

1957: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (Harcourt)

1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (Houghton)

1955: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (Harper)

1954: …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell)

1953: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark (Viking)

1952: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (Harcourt)

1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Dutton)

1950: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (Doubleday)

1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry (Rand McNally)

1948: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois (Viking)

1947: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (Viking)

1946: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (Lippincott)

1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (Viking)

1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Houghton)

1943: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (Viking)

1942: The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds (Dodd)

1941: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry (Macmillan)

1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty (Viking)

1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (Rinehart)

1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy (Viking)

1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (Viking)

1936: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (Macmillan)

1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon (Viking)

1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs (Little, Brown)

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis (Winston)

1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer (Longmans)

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (Macmillan)

1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field (Macmillan)

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Macmillan)

1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Dutton)

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James (Scribner)

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman (Dutton)

1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger (Doubleday)

1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown)

1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (Lippincott)

1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (Liveright)

The Captain’s Log – all systems red (Martha Wells)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This be the first read in me April BookBum Club Challenge!

This sci-fi novella caught me eye because one of me favourite authors, Ann Leckie, talked about it in one of her blog posts.  She states, “This is volume 1 of the Murderbot Diaries, and I suspect a certain percentage of my readers don’t need to hear anything more. Go, purchase, download! You will enjoy this.”  Ummm yes I did enjoy this.  In fact, I loved it!  It is nominated for the 2018 Best Novella Hugo Award (with some amazing others) as well as these other awards:

Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novella (2018), Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (2017), ALA Alex Award (2018), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2017)

Need anymore convincing? Ye may see that I have not discussed plot, character, or anything else about this novel.  I went into it blind and recommend this.  For those that must know more, the blurb be below.  It does not do this justice.  This be basically a perfect read.  I have read four out of the six novellas nominated for the Hugo and so far this might be me favourite.

I had heard of Martha Wells before but never read any of her work.  Shame on me.  I be glad to have remedied this.  The next 3 novellas in the series are all scheduled to come out this year.  Arrrrr!!  I will be reading them all.  I only wish that I would have read this sooner.

Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to read this delightful “short and sweet” novella (144 pgs.).  Day one – challenge complete!  Next up: call it courage.  Check out that review tomorrow!

Side note: Tor has published 5 of the 6 novellas up for Best Novella this year!  Good job Tor.  Keep up the good work!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Martha Wells – Author

To buy the book go to:

all systems red – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

 

Shiver me Timbers! – April BookBum Club Challenge!

Ahoy there me mateys!  A while back, I joined me first ever online book club sponsored by Zuky @ BookBum and hosted on both her blog and Goodreads. The reason I was excited about this club is because there are themes for the month but no set reading list.  Now I be a major mood reader and so the lack of required reading appeals to me.  I participated for the first time in March and enjoyed meself so much that I knew I had to continue.  So why a challenge?

Well me hearties, the theme for this month be “short and sweet” or otherwise “read a book that’s under 200 pages!”  It just so happens that I had looted four short books that I was hoping to read this month (mood depending).  Some be eArcs.  Some be books that have been patiently waiting their turn.  So what better thing to do then to challenge meself to read all of them for the book club and complete some other goals at the same time.  So the challenge begins!  Tonight I start the first read, all systems red, and will attempt to post four book reviews for BookBum Club during the rest of this week and finishing on last day of the month!  Nothing like waiting until the last minute.  Do join me everyday for an update on me progress!  Arrrrr!!!!

Always remember:

Q: How did the pirate acquire his ship so cheaply?

A: It be on sail!

Hardy har har!!

x The Captain

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

The Captain’s Log – etiquette & espionage (Gail Carrigar)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was an audiobook that I picked up because I was looking for a fluffy fun read and the cover, title, and the small part of the blurb that I read sounded appealing.  The story involves a finishing school where girls learn the traditional arts like dance and how to curtsy and the not so usual arts of espionage like poison, knives, and seduction.

The cover looks like this:

Therefore I was surprised to find out that the main character was only 14 and that this was YA.  I had assumed from the cover that the protagonist would be at least 16 but more like 17 going on 18.  She does NOT look 14 in the cover.  Apparently the author has another series called the Parasol Protectorate that stars an older spinster which is what I mistakenly thought I was reading.  This book was part of the Finishing School series marketed more for the younger set.  Should have perhaps read the blurb in full.

That being said, I got mostly what I wanted.  I did like the protagonist, Sophronia.  She is a bit of a special snowflake but I was won over by her in the end.  The plot is fluffy and makes little sense at times but I did enjoy it.  I chuckled at many parts which was nice.  And I loved the pet “mechanimal” and its part in the story.  The other students were fun but didn’t get nearly enough page time.  I also would have liked more descriptions of the espionage training, especially in the use of the fan.

Light on plot and characterization but full of fun and silliness, I do think I would read the next in the series.  I also am tempted by the other more adult series though I hear it is more of a romance.  If the crew has any opinions on these series then please chime in!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Gail Carriger – Author

To buy the book go to:

etiquette & espionage – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – before mars (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there mateys!  This is the second companion novel to the wonderful sci-fi novel planetfall which continues to linger in me thoughts as being a super pleasurable previous read.  As a companion novel, the books can be read in any order even though personally I am glad I read them in publishing order.  Planetfall showed the story of  a human colony on a remote alien planet far far from Earth.  Book two, after atlas, is a sci-fi murder mystery novel set on Earth forty years after Atlas has left the planet.

This third installment involves Anna Kubrick, a geologist by trade and artist by hobby.  She has been sent to Mars by her employers primarily because of her art.  Her billionaire boss, who owns all rights to Mars, wants her to be the first person to paint the scenery of Mars while there so that it can sell to the highest bidder back home.  When Anna gets to Mars, she finds surprising hostility from some of the crew members.  Matters are further confused when she finds a note of warning in her room that appears to be written in her own hand!  Is she going crazy or is there something more sinister going on?

Anna is a conflicted figure who cannot decide if she wants to be on Mars or back home with her family.  She feels both fake and smothered from society’s expectations.  Her background makes her fear that she might be headed towards mental breakdown.  And she is suffering from post-natal syndrome.  Reading about her troubles as an overlay on top of the mysterious situation from Mars was hard at times.  Anna is a very sympathetic character and also a very strong one.

Mental health is a hard issue and from outside it seems a bit easy to see some of the problems on Mars.  The reader could guess at some of the problems and their corresponding solutions.  But Anna’s genuine confusion and self-doubt is real.  Did she make the right choices?  Is her life a lie?  Is she a useless mother?  Why isn’t she like everyone else?

Like the other two books, this is a very character-driven story.  As I had guessed a lot of the mystery, I found the ending to be less than exciting even though I didn’t know any of the finer details.  But the story is compelling, the characterization is fantastic, and the world-building as great as ever.

I believe there is going to be another story set in this world in 2019.  While waiting, do pick up any of the Planetfall books and treat yerself to a delightful story.

Me matey, sarah @ theillustratedpage, has an awesome interview with the author that can be found here!

Also check out another review of this novel from me crew:

Kate @ forwinternights

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

After months of travel, Anna Kubrick finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team.

But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake.

Finding a footprint in a place the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind? Regardless of what horrors she might discover, or what they might do to her sanity, Anna has find the truth before her own mind destroys her.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

before mars – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

brother’s ruin – book 1 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

weaver’s lament – book 2 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

planetfall – book 1 (Sailing to the Stars)

after atlas – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)