On the Horizon – unbury carol (Josh Malerman)

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

unbury carol (Josh Malerman)

Title: unbury carol

Author: Josh Malerman

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Del Ray

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

ISBN: 978-0399180163

Source: NetGalley

 

This book was an odd wonderful mix of western, fantasy, and magical realism with a dash or two of creepiness thrown in.

The story involves a woman named Carol who “dies” frequently and yet always has awakened.  These deaths take the form of a coma where she appears to be dead but is instead transported into another place where she has the sensation of continuously falling, can’t move, can’t see, and yet can hear the conversations around her.  She never knows how long these spells will last and has kept the condition a secret from everyone in her present and past except for her long-dead mother, her husband, and her recently deceased best friend.

With only her husband remaining, she goes into a coma only to realize that her husband has no intention of letting her come back to life.  He declares her dead and Carol has no hope.  Or so she thinks.  But there was one other person who knew her secret long ago and ran away out of fear . . .

There are many aspects of the story that I loved.  The setting was an enormous forest with one trail that is a menace to all travelers.  The trail begins at one town and leads to series of others on a path, which eventually ends at another town far south. There is seemingly no other outlet to the outside world.  These settlements feel like western towns complete with saloons, general stores, brothels, and lots of outlaws.  Of course there are the other more genteel members of the towns with money as well.  Carol being one of them.

The outlaws are the absolute fun of the novel.  There is the notorious “magical” outlaw, James Moxie, who has been retired from the trail and is on a mission to redeem himself.  There is the delightfully insane outlaw, Smoke, who has been hired to stop him and has definitely earned his name.  There are several others who have individual quirks and fun perspectives.  I very much enjoyed all of their viewpoints.  There also be perspectives from Carol, her jerk of a husband, the sheriff, and others.

The novel takes place over the course of a couple of days and is mixture of quiet thoughtful sections and outlaw action vignettes.  The downside of the novel for me was that Carol is almost a non-entity in the story due to being “dead.”  It’s not her fault and makes sense in the novel but I would have liked for some true action from her.  I also didn’t love the conclusion of the novel.  I did like the otherworldly elements and the lack of many good explanations though I can see how others wouldn’t.

I am glad I read this hard-to-define zany novel and will be trying others by the author for sure.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Josh Malerman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

unbury carol – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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On the Horizon – one way (S.J. Morden)

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

one way (S.J. Morden)

Title: one way

Author: S.J. Morden

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication Date: Tomorrow!! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-0316522182

Source: NetGalley

 

This book was a fun and entertaining read.  To save money, a corporation decides to train convicts to be the first exploratory crew on Mars.  It is a one way trip.  Their purpose is to build and set-up the living quarters for the NASA scientists that follow and then be the maintenance crew for the station.  Except that once they get to Mars, they start to die one by one and it doesn’t seem to be an accident.

The good:

  • Frank – I very much enjoyed Frank as the primary perspective.  He does not always make the best decisions (i.e. why he went to jail) but he is intelligent and likeable.  I was certainly rooting for him.
  • Concepts- I loved the idea that the subcontractors are trying to save money and use the convicts and other horrible ideas to stay under budget.
  • Characters – In general, I liked all the other convicts.  They are not really fleshed out at all but I enjoyed all of them in various ways.
  • Mars – I liked the descriptions of the planet and the science of the set up of for the dwelling fabrications.  It makes me realize, yet again, that I am not meant to ever be a space explorer.  I will stick to the sea!
  • Build-Up – this is a slow build-up book with a lot of training and introduction.  It takes a decent amount of time to even get to Mars.  Now I love this kinda start but others may not.  It was a fast read even with the slow build-up.
  • Writing Style – I enjoyed the author’s writing and manner of speech.

The not as good:

  • Mystery – The book claims to have one.  It is no mystery.  Even though I didn’t know it was supposed to be a who-dun-it tale, the bad guy and the set-up were obvious from the start.
  • Bad-Guy – A boring cookie cutter two-dimensional figure.  So very stereotypical.
  • Characters – I would have liked more insight into each of the characters rather than just seeing them as generic “types.”  But as they are only seen through Frank’s eyes, it wasn’t a major problem.
  • Mars – There is not much description of the planet itself or really what it feels like to live there.  The danger of oxygen loss is the most prevalent danger.  Besides murder of course!
  • Epistolary Prologues to the Chapters – These were short segments like transcripts, documents, etc. from the XO Corporation that were interspersed between chapters.  I enjoyed some of them but they didn’t appear to be in order and were such small snippets. Many were just confusing.  I did want the information about why and how XO made its choices but don’t know if it would have been better served in their own chapters or as an appendix or short story or something.
  •  Ending – an abrupt set-up for the sequel.  It annoyed me that it stopped there but I still want to know what happens next!

This is a light thriller read with very little mystery but is fluffy good entertainment.  A very quick, likeable read but nothing earth-shattering (Hardy har har!).  I will likely pick up the sequel.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Orbit!

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:

ONE WAY opens at the dawn of a new era – one in which we’re ready to colonise Mars. But the contract to build the first ever Martian base has been won by the lowest bidder, so they need to cut a lot of corners. The first thing to go is the automatic construction… the next thing they’ll have to deal with is the eight astronauts they’ll sent up to build it, when there aren’t supposed to be any at all.

Frank – father, architect, murderer – is recruited for the mission with the promise of a better life, along with seven of his most notorious fellow inmates. As his crew sets to work, the accidents mount up, and Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all. As the list of suspects grows shorter, it’s up to Frank to uncover the terrible truth before it’s too late.

To visit the author’s website go to:

S.J. Morden – Author

To buy the novel go to:

one way – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the wolf (Leo Carew)

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

the wolf (Leo Carew)

Title: the wolf

Author: Leo Carew

Publisher: Orbit Books

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

ISBN: 978031652137

Source: NetGalley

While I enjoyed this book while reading, I find that overall my impression is that it is just an okay read.  The book has a very Norse feel to it (in me limited experience) and is about two cultures at war.

The Anakim are the Northerners who have a culture of battle and a deep-seated love of nature.  They are long-lived, have an oral tradition, and have very little art.  The Suthern folk are more like medieval humans.  Both sides dislike the other but have been at a limited peace.  Then an upstart Suthern commoner, Bellamus, has a plan to use the Anakim in a plot to gain power and fame.  The Northerner, Roper, is suddenly thrust into a position of power when his father is killed.  Can he keep the Anakim intact with also fighting a civil war from within?

I felt that the characters, battles, and politics were a little flat.  Me favourite sections were the discussions of the culture of the Anakim and particularly their relationship with nature and hardship.  I also liked the civil war elements of the Anakim sections and the parts that took place at the Northern keep.  Roper’s wife was awesome and I wish she would have played a bigger part.  While in general I cheered for the Anakim side, I did occasionally find Roper to be a ineffectual leader whose successes seemed more lucky than skillful.  Also the set-up for the next book was a bit abrupt in the end.  I will potentially be reading the next book in the series but will wait for me crew’s reviews before making that decision.

Side note:  I wish that fantasy authors would stop using the North as lands of ice, snow, and barbarians and the South as lands of heat, culture, and learning.  There be other cardinal points, folks!

So lastly . . .

Thank ye Orbit Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Violence and death have come to the land under the Northern Sky.

The Anakim dwell in the desolate forests and mountains beyond the black river, the land under the Northern Sky.  Their ancient ways are forged in Unthank silver and carved in the grey stone of their heartland, their lives measured out in the turning of centuries, not years.  By contrast, the Sutherners live in the moment, their vitality much more immediate and ephemeral than their Anakim neighbors.  Fragile is the peace that has existed between these very different races – and that peace is shattered when the Suthern armies flood the lands to the north.  These two races revive their age-old hatred and fear of each other.  Within the maelstrom of war, two leaders will rise to lead their people to victory. Only one will succeed.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Leo Carew – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the wolf – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)

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

the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)

Title: the tea master and the detective

Author: Aliette de Bodard

Publisher: Subterranean Press

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

ISBN: 978-1596068643

Source: NetGalley

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

  1. I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;
  2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
  3. One of the characters is a mindship . . .

This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship.  It was previously a military ship who physically survived an ambush and massacre but since retired from active duty and is suffering PTSD and struggling to make ends meet.  One of the things the ship does to make money is brew special blends of tea.  These teas are made to suit the drinker’s specific goals and body chemistry.  One day a woman named Long Chau comes in and requests a serenity blend to focus her mind.  The ship takes the needed money and finds itself not only involved in a crime investigation but also having to face deep space where the ship swore it would never enter again.

Apparently this book is part of a series of books and stories set in the Universe of Xuya.  I had never read anything set in Xuya before.  I found the world-building and characterizations to be fascinating.  I absolutely loved the neurotic, damaged The Shadow’s Child and the story told from the ship’s perspective.  I didn’t really care much about the crime story itself but was more focused on how the ship was dealing with a situation it didn’t care for.  Long Chau is a purposefully unlikeable character who is trying to do the right thing.

Ultimately while I really enjoyed the story, I think I would like a longer work with more detailing of how the society functions and how the mindships work.  But this character-driven piece was a good introduction to a new world that I hope to visit more often.  Besides who doesn’t love mindships?  Arrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Aliette de Bodard – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the tea master and the detective – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – nothing but sky (Amy Trueblood)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult historical fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

nothing but sky (Amy Trueblood)

Title: nothing but sky

Author: Amy Trueblood

Publisher: Flux

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

ISBN: 978-1635830163

Source: NetGalley

The beautiful cover led me to looking into this one.  It is about a female barnstormer in the roaring twenties.  What is a barnstormer ye ask?  Well a barnstorming act is basically a flying circus.  The pilots do aerial tricks and sell airplane rides.  Some of these acts had wing-walkers, like Lillian Boyer, who would do car-to-plane transfers, walk on the wings while the plane was in flight, and do parachute jumps.  Tricks like this:

source

This story tells the fictional account of a wing-walker named Grace.  Orphaned as a child, she grew up with her bachelor pilot uncle.  Under duress, she became his wing-walker at the age of 13.  Now 18, Grace has plans for her team to make it to the World Aviation Expo in Chicago and from there earn a contract to work in Hollywood.  But competition is fierce and one team owner in particular seems determined to poach her or otherwise ruin her shot at Chicago.  Can Grace’s dream come true?

This book was a lovely look into a slice of American history.  It was a quick read that I read in one sitting.  While I had heard of barnstorming before, I didn’t know that much about it.  Grace was feisty, hard-working, determined, stubborn, loyal, and sometimes had a wicked temper.  I was immersed in Grace’s story and the details of the planes and aerobatics.  I have to admit that I was surprised by a couple of the plot twists.  Though I don’t prefer romance, it was handled well.

The author seems to have done a stellar job at research.  Better yet this book led me to further reading on figures who appear in the book like, Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman and Native-American descendant to earn a pilot license.  I love when historical fiction makes me interested enough to do factual research.  I recommend this one if any of the above sounds interesting.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Flux!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Amy Trueblood – Author

To buy the novel go to:

nothing but sky – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – torn (Rowenna Miller)

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

torn (Rowenna Miller)

Title: torn

Author: Rowenna Miller

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication Date: TODAY!! (Paperback/E-Book)

ISBN: 9780316478628

Source: NetGalley

Upon reading the synopsis, I thought this novel would float me boat. But I just could not finish it and had to abandon ship at 80%.  Why ye ask?  Well for a myriad of reasons:

  • Sophie – She is the main character and at first I really liked her.  She was hard-working, dedicated, driven, intelligent, and fun.  But basically she is a character who waffles forever, makes the wrong choices every time, is extremely selfish, and doesn’t use her brain.  People DIE because of her stupidity and yet even that doesn’t help her decide.  By doing nothing (but lying) she creates a situation that could have been solved in the very beginning just by turning the bad man into the police.  I kept waiting for her to fix her own mistakes and instead (at 80%) she FINALLY  makes a decision and then runs to a man to whine and ask for help.  That was the point where I had to stop reading.  Ugh.
  • The Magic – Sophie is a seamstress who sews magic into clothing with her stiches.  This aspect of the novel was awesome.  It just really didn’t get used to its potential.  I wanted to see more of the magic in action, not just hear about some of the small things it could do as an aside.
  • The Love Story – Sigh.  Insta-lust turned into love in a couple of weeks.  She is a commoner.  He is a noble.  Star-crossed lovers that ye be supposed to cheer for.  But I didn’t really.
  • The Love Interest – Okay so despite disliking the insta-lust, I did like a couple of things about Sophie’s man.  He is a botanist and a violinist.  He has an eye for artistry.  He is strong and intelligent.  But oh so naïve.  The “commoners live like this?” and “well yes we are so rich but we have responsibilities that are given to us by birth and oh it’s so hard” kinda crap.  Sophie of course opens his eyes to the common folk problems while he wines, dines, and seduces her with his charm and riches.
  • The Brother – Sophie’s brother is frankly an ass.  Everything she does is because her brother always gets his way and she loves him.  Is civil war worth saving yer selfish idealistic stupid brother.  Ummm apparently yes.  And then the plot twist happens and Sophie sees the truth!  Well it was apparent to this pirate Captain from the beginning.
  • The Bad Guy – He seemingly wants to bring down society in flames because of revenge.  But his sister was spurned!  Her reputation was ruined!  So isn’t it justice?  No it’s because he doesn’t feel important enough and no one realizes his superiority and intelligent.  Bah!
  • The Hired Help – I actually loved the girls working in the shop with Sophie.  But in her selfishness she really treats them like crap and they deserved better.  I wanted to see more of the good aspects of the friendships that were hinted at the beginning of the novel.
  • The Pacing – It took forever to get into the story and was rather repetitive.  We had to hear about brother’s beautiful writing, the anger of the populace, how nobles are evil, and the taverns meetings a bit too much.  Poor = grumpy.  Nobles = evil.  Sophie needs nobles and money to survive.  Seriously for something that simplistic, the author pointed it out an awful lot.  There was no real build up or action.  Most of that happened off the page.  Instead we get Sophie waffling and visiting the rich people artists’ salon.

I kept reading because I wanted to see how Sophie used her magic to solve the problem.  When she ran to lover-boy for help I got grumpy.  When he agreed to help her without any commentary about her mistakes or stupidity because he loved her so, I had to stop.  With so many books on the horizon, I just gave up.  I want me reading to make time seem to disappear, not to accentuate every second passing.  I am sad, but I couldn’t fight the tide.

I wish this one would have focused on the magic and had Sophie be a strong woman and not an idiot.  I loved the sewing magic!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Orbit!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rowenna Miller – Author

To buy the novel go to:

torn – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – quietus (Tristan Palmgren)

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

quietus (Tristan Palmgren)

Title: quietus

Author: Tristan Palmgren

Publisher: Angry Robot Books

Publication Date: Available Now!! (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-0857667434

Source: NetGalley

This book appealed to me because it’s about anthropologists from another plane doing research on the Black Death.  Their plane is also suffering from a plague and they are hoping the research can save lives back home.  Anthropologists are supposed to stay neutral but one member of the team, Habidah, breaks the rules and rescues a Florentine Carthusian monk named Niccolucio.

Now I abandoned this book at 48% but, to be fair, I loved the first half.  I thought the story of Niccolucio was excellent and really enjoyed reading about the research of Habidah and her team.  The imagery was well done and I really cared about both of the characters.  The problem arose once the politics of the other plane got involved.  The entire tone of the book switched, and I began to feel like I was reading a different book.

Because apparently the expedition had another goal besides the one that Habidah was given.  I won’t get into it here but basically it spoiled the premise for me and I didn’t want to read about where the author wanted to take the story.  I wanted a book more along the lines of the Doomsday book rather than a space opera.  I did attempt to keep reading several times because I wanted to know what ends up happening to  Niccolucio  specifically.  But alas I couldn’t stay engaged once the plot switched.  I do have other crew members that loved it though so it might work for ye.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Angry Robot Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

A transdimensional anthropologist can’t keep herself from interfering with Earth’s darkest period of history in this brilliant science fiction debut

Niccolucio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe racked by plague, is overwhelmed by the suffering. Unable to maintain her observer neutrality, she saves Niccolucio from the brink of death.

Habidah discovers that neither her home’s plague nor her assignment on Niccolucio’s world are as she’s been led to believe. Suddenly the pair are drawn into a worlds-spanning conspiracy to topple an empire larger than the human imagination can contain.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Tristan Palmgren – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

quietus – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List