Sailing to the Stars – from ice to ashes (Rhett C. Bruno)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I discovered this novel when the author asked me if I was interested in readin’ this one in exchange for me honest musings.  The premise sounded fascinating and so I said yes.  Those of me crew that have been reading me log these last several days have seen that I had to abandon ship on me last two reads.  I was feelin’ rather disheartened and didn’t want to be fighting off the dreaded readin’ slump.  So I finally deemed that it was time to read this book and hopefully keep the slump at bay.  And it worked!  Arrrrr!

I found this book to be an excellent read that was gripping, fun, and certainly lightened me mood considerably.  While technically the second book in a series, Matey Bruno assured me it could be read as a standalone and I am so very glad he convinced me.  I absolutely loved the world of the Ringers!

The Ringers are descendants from a starship that left Earth to settle on Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) in the face of an asteroid destined to hit Earth.  They worked hard and slowly adjusted over the centuries both genetically and culturally.  However, some Earth-folk survived and eventually make their way to Titan to co-exist.  However Earth disease runs rampant among the immune systems of the Ringers which lead to the Earthers taking over the moon and the Ringers becoming second-class citizens.

In this novel, a Ringer named Kale is struggling to get by.  He used to be a small-time thief until he got caught.  His mom helped him get a legitimate job aboard a gas harvester.  But then his mom gets sick and Kale needs a lot more money to help her survive.  Much more than his small salary provides.  A seemingly to0-good-to-be-true opportunity comes along which may solve his problems.  But what happens if he takes it?  A wonderful story that’s what.

Now do not get me wrong, I loved the plot and the characters.  I thought Kale was a fantastic protagonist.  There were lots of plot twists that I did not see coming.  Some of which kinda broke this grizzled Captain’s salty heart.  It was a seemingly simple story that has greater depths.  But it was the juxtaposition between the Earthers and the Ringers that made the book for me.

Ye see the Ringers have adapted to life on Titan which makes them tall, like extremely cold temperatures, and need lower gravity.  The problem is their immune systems are so bad that they go dressed in decontamination suits at all times.  Any direct contact with an Earther can be fatal.  The Earthers need heat, are immensely strong in comparison to the Ringers, and of course prefer Earth gravity.  But they need Ringers to help maintain Titan and their lifestyles.   So in situations like cleaning of the gas harvester, the two groups have to work together.  But when they clash, and clash they do, it is fascinating to watch them interact.

I really can’t do justice to the world-building in this post.  It just felt so real and plausible.  The space ships, the jobs, the technology, the relationships are all gritty in many ways.  Yet underneath that grit is determination to survive.  Kale himself seems to encapsulate love for those in his life and even understanding and compassion for some of the Earthers.  Watching his journey was wonderful.

The only small flaw for me was the epilogue which had a character that I didn’t know.  But I got the gist and so it was no big deal.

Much thanks to Matey Bruno and I certainly will read the first book in the series at some point.  Arrrrrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Kale Drayton knows his place. As a Ringer, he’s used to keeping his head down and his mouth shut—no matter how much the Earthers abuse him or his own kind berate him. So when he’s caught stealing from a wealthy merchant, he’s lucky to be sentenced to low-paying maintenance work on a gas-harvesting ship instead of life in a cell . . . or worse.

But when his mother is quarantined, Kale finds himself backed into a corner. To pay for her medicine, he needs money—the kind of money he’ll never make sweeping floors and cleaning ships. So when he receives a mysterious offer asking him to do a simple job in exchange for his mother’s treatment, Kale takes a chance once more. All he has to do is upload a program onto his employer’s ship and all of his problems will disappear.

What starts as a straightforward smuggling gig soon reveals its shattering repercussions. The people who hired Kale are more dangerous than he suspected—and he’s more important to them than he ever could have imagined.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rhett C. Bruno – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

from ice to ashes – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Sailing to the Stars – six wakes (Mur Lafferty)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So me crew has been recommending this one.  It is a sci-fi with murder mystery and philosophical bents.  Six crew members run a generation ship that is supposed to take a 400 year journey to a new planet.  All six of them have criminal backgrounds and if they run this mission successfully then all of them get clean slates on the new planet.  How are they supposed to live that long?  Well, they are clones of course!  Everyone else on board is in stasis.

The hitch is that all six crew members wake up in new bodies at the same time only to find their own dead bodies floating around them.  And they have lost at least 25 years of memories.  They seem to have been rebooted with copies that only contain the memories of up to when they first entered the ship.  The evidence, of course, points to murder but which one of them did it?

So this book is 361 pages.  I adored it up until page 268 and then the momentum went down from there.  This is not to say I didn’t like the book.  I thought the plot was suspenseful, the characters were fun, the legal and philosophical debate around clones was fascinating, the technology was cool, and most of the murder solving was great.  There were flashback scenes that enhanced both the characterizations and the mystery.  I just didn’t love the climax and the ending.  I knew overall why the crew was placed there but didn’t really guess any of the details.  And the details were a mixed bag.  I would say I liked this book very much but overall it left me strangely unsatisfied.

I am however in the minority and most readers seem to have adored it.  So don’t just take me word for it . . .

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Kate @ forwinternights

Mogsy @ bibliosanctum

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Mur Lafferty – Author

To buy the novel go to:

six wakes – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – star’s end (Cassandra Rose Clarke)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have previously enjoyed this author’s writing (it involved pirates!  Arrr!) so when I saw she had a sci-fi novel out, I snagged it.  Unfortunately while I still love her writing style and ideas, the novel was not a complete success.

I went into the story mostly blind.  All I knew was that it takes place in the small planet system called Four Sisters.  The main character is a woman named Esme who works for her father’s corporation, the Coromina Group.  Coincidentally she is one of four sisters.  Esme is supposed to be the heir of her father’s position.  She learns a stunning secret about her father and the company that sets her on a journey of guilt and redemption.

Part of the problem is that this book was described as a space opera.  Space opera suggested space warfare, grand scope adventures, and epic galaxies.  Not in this one.  Overall this was a character driven story about Esme’s history at her home in Star’s End and her relationships with her family and her wishes for the future of the company.

The story is told using flashbacks.  Getting to see Esme and her family growing up was wonderful.  I especially loved the relationship with her mother and with Will.  While there was no traditional space battles, there were plenty of inter-office wrangling that was fascinating. I loved the company’s super soldiers.

But the “secrets” of the damage done by the company and Esme’s father were anything but a shock.  Not much happens in the scheme of things.  It is mostly a character study of learning how Esme came into the present and also her trying to make up her mind about how to shape her future.  And while I was engrossed in the story, ultimately this is what failed me.

Basically Esme failed me.  She is rather wishy-washy and makes horrible and naive choices.  She is raised with the best education and lifestyle money can buy but doesn’t always use her brain.  Yes her dad is a jerk and overbearing but she never really stands up to him.  Even when she finds out the true horror of what he has done she cops out.  She waits until his practical demise before “fighting” back.  The writing is brilliant enough that ye understand most of her choices but I expected her to shine in the end.  I didn’t really get that.

I am still glad I read the novel even though I am left dissatisfied.  I don’t know if I would recommend it and would not want this to be the first book a reader tries.  I will certainly be reading other works by the author though.  Arrrr!

Check out me crew member’s take on this novel:

Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Esme Coromina has always known that one day, she would run the Four Sisters, the small planet system that her father grew into a corporate empire. Raised as the pampered heir to the company, Esme lived the best years of her life at Star’s End, the estate her father built on the terraformed moon where he began his empire. In the tropical sunlight and lush gardens, Esme helped raise her three motherless half sisters. But as Esme is groomed to take over the family business of manufacturing weapons for the mercenary groups spread across the galaxy, she slowly uncovers the sinister truth at the heart of her father’s company. And when those secrets are finally revealed, Esme is sure that she’s lost her sisters–and part of her soul–for good.

Now, after a lifetime of following her father’s orders, Esme has a second chance. For the first time, Esme is making her own decisions, and the impact of her decisions will reverberate throughout the Four Sisters. As Esme struggles to assemble her estranged sisters for one last good-bye with their dying father, she has to choose whether she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps–or blaze a daring new path.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Cassandra Rose Clarke – Author

To buy the book go to:

star’s end – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – the player of games (Iain M. Banks)

Ahoy there mateys!  Several years ago, I was lamenting that there were no standalones that were somehow intertwined in one universe or world.  Me brain is usually a sieve and lots of time in-between books in trilogies and such means that I lose details and sometimes have to start the series over.  I wanted the effect of extreme world building with a tied-up story in each book.  The First Mate suggested the Culture “series” in which every book is set in the same universe but all can be read as standalones and in any order.  And sci-fi to boot.  Arrrr!   So I began with the novel consider phlebas which was Bank’s first Culture novel.  Have read it twice now and loved it even more the second time.  So eventually I bought this book which was Bank’s second written Culture Novel and the First Mate’s favorite.

I loved this book and the world Banks has set up so very much.  The game player in this book is named Jernau Morat Gurgeh.  He is considered one of the best game players in the galaxy.  Through a series of circumstances, he is recruited/forced to play a top secret high-stakes game in another star system, Azad.  However the “game” he is playing is anything but just for fun.  The planet’s society, politics, religion, and very existence hinge of the outcome of the conclusion of the tournament.

What I found fascinating about this novel is that the tone is extremely different from the other Culture novel that I read.  That one was full of action and multiple settings and a dare-devil protagonist.  In this one, Gurgeh is a thinker and philosopher of games.  He likes his routine and current lifestyle.  He is an unwilling game participant at first but becomes engrossed as he gets more and more involved in the life and game of Azad.  Yet the background of the Culture makes this book as compelling as the first novel in spite or maybe because of these differences.

I am not a huge game theory fan so the game itself did not always have me focus.  But what certainly did were the politics and interactions of the characters.  The Culture world has a “humanoid/machine symbiotic society.”  Yet Azad is more primitive.  I loved Gurgeh and his attitude of almost nonchalance towards everyone else.  The game is the only thing for him. 

I also loved his robot friend, Chamlis, who is crazy old and lovable for a machine.  Gurgeh’s machine ambassador, Flere-Imsaho was also a hoot.  He spends his free time bird watching and the remainder of the time trying to keep Gurgeh from making political and social blunders.  He also has to hide what he is and he made me laugh with his complaints.  I love the spaceship, Limiting Factor.  Basically all the machines in this novel have fantastic and distinct personalities.  They were nice contrasts to Gurgeh’s own personality.

There is no major way to explain the plot any further due to its complexity.  This book was a fast read and I think the writing is superb.  Needless to say I recommend the two culture novels I have read so far and I certainly shall be reading more in the series.

Apparently there are 10 books in total.  Only 8 to go.  But I shall take me time with them to savor the Culture flavor.

Side note: Apparently Mr. Banks passed away in 2013 from cancer.  Boo-hiss!  Cancer sucks.  But I am grateful he left behind a whole world for me to explore.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Culture–a humanoid/machine symbiotic society–has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Iain M. Banks – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the player of games – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – belt three (John Ayliff)

Ahoy there mateys!  This novel is a sci-fi standalone that I saw recommended somewhere long ago.  It features a space pirate (Arrrrr!) so I picked up a copy recently as it fit me mood.

I found this to be a highly enjoyable read. It is set in a time frame where Earth and other planets have been destroyed by unstoppable alien Von Neumann probes called Worldbreakers.  Humans have colonized asteroid belt systems and are struggling to survive.  A Worldbreaker has arrived in belt three and people are trying to get out of the path of destruction.

Gabriel is a miner, fleeing the Worldbreaker with his crew.  He is captured by Keldra, the female pirate, so that he and the crew can be transformed into slaves and sold.  The highlight of the book was the relationship between the two main characters, Gabriel and Keldra.  Initially out to destroy one another, circumstances find their lots tossed together for basic survival.  The two are constantly having a battle of wits.  Gabriel is out to survive at all costs.  Keldra has an ultimate goal and will take down anyone who stands in her way.  There is lots of character growth on both sides which is what I enjoyed the most.

Of course this novel is also action packed with lots of space battles and trickery and plot twists.  I loved the end-of-the world setting.  It felt different to have the humans be facing extinction and yet still struggling against all odds.  They have amazing technology concerning cloning and mind control.  Yet for all the tech, humans seem to have hardly evolved at all.  The technology is also used as a plot device concerning memory and I loved it.

For $2.99 it was a bargain.  A fast read, I heartily recommend it to me crew.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Worldbreakers do not think, do not feel and cannot be stopped.

Captain Gabriel Reinhardt’s latest mining mission has been brought to a halt by the arrival of a Worldbreaker, one of the vast alien machines that destroyed Earth and its solar system long ago. As he and his crew flee they are kidnapped by a pirate to be mind-wiped and sold into slavery, a fate worse than death in this shattered universe.

But Captain Reinhardt is hiding a secret . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Ayliff – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

belt three – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – the exile waiting (Vonda N. McIntyre)

Ahoy there mateys!  I was first introduced to this author when I read her Nebula award-winning novel, the moon and the sun.  That one is set in the court of Louis XIV and deals with sea monsters.  Awesome.  Read long ago, that novel always made me want to read her other works.

This novel was her first and is a sci-fi published in 1975.  It was rather annoying to get a hold of because it seems to be out of print.  But I persevered and read it.  Despite some silly seeming scientific facts, it certainly was enjoyable and worth the effort.

Side note: Apparently ye can now buy many of her works in e-book form directly from her website!

The story concerns a telepathic girl named Mischa who lives in the last surviving city on Earth.  Being telepathic is not something that makes Mischa’s life easy and being discovered could easily led to her death.  In fact, the author’s take on telepathy in this novel was wonderful.  It can be useful tool but overall is primarily horrible for Mischa.  I am used to the version of telepathy in more recent novels that are seemingly effortless.

The city’s political and social structures were the highlights for me.  Slavery is a big theme in this novel but even the top citizens of the world seem to be stuck in a less than stellar environment.  Mischa of course is the plucky orphan who is trying to escape Earth.  Her goal is to get on a ship to take her and her sick, useless, but beloved brother to a new life.

Plots are failing and Mischa’s options look bleaker than ever.  When a ship lands on Earth during an off season time period and these twin brothers/clones take over the Earth, she might have one last shot at success.

With mutants, magic, clones, underground chases, excellent side characters, and thievery to boot, this novel had a cleverly setup premise and plot.  The execution left a little something to be desired in the middle of the book due to the chase scene that could have been shorter, but I loved the character relationships.  Also there are enough twists in the novel that I wasn’t always sure how it was going to end.

All I know is that I wish there were more novels about Mischa and her subsequent adventures.

Check out a review of this novel from another member of me crew:

Althea @ readingtrance

The blurb tells too much so the tagline has this to say about the novel:

For Mischa, a young telepath, life will change forever when the clone ship arrives at the last city on Earth.”

To visit the author’s website go to:

Vonda N. McIntyre – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the exile waiting – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – planetfall (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there mateys!  Me last review was of this author’s novel brother’s ruin which was extremely enjoyable but an oh so very very different fantasy read.  I loved that one immensely which made me immediately pick up this recently purchased novel.  I am extremely glad I did.

This sci-fi novel is the story of a colony on a remote alien planet far far from Earth.  The settlers came chasing a dream of a woman named Lee Suh-Mi, known as the Pathfinder.  Suh-Mi had visions of an unknown society calling to humanity.  The settlers make planetfall and establish new lives working towards a purpose.  Little does the colony know that it is living a lie – one that Renata Ghali, Suh-Mi’s best friend, helps perpetuate.  When a stranger arrives at the colony, his presence threatens to spill old secrets.  At what cost?

This story is told from the point of view of Renata, also known as Ren.  Part mystery, part adventure, and part character study, this novel was emotionally compelling and fascinating.  While Ren is intelligent and capable, she has personal demons to fight.  I continually seemed to float between curiosity, pity, and hopefulness about Ren’s situation.  While slow-burning in many ways, I was always fully engrossed in the story and desperately wanting to find out more details and what happens next.

I loved the world building and technology.  From the use of 3D printers, to how the homes were built, the structure of society, and the mysterious God’s City, this novel was full of wonderful details.  I will certainly be reading more of this author’s work.  Ye should too.

Side note: there is a companion novel out.  Arrrrr!

Check out some reviews of this novel from members of me crew:

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Brad @ Goodreads

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

planetfall – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List