On the Horizon – cat zero (Jennifer Rohn)

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

cat zero (Jennifer Rohn)

Title: cat zero

Author: Jennifer Rohn

Publisher: Biting Duck Press

Publication Date: January 2, 2018 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1938463662

Source: NetGalley

 

Well me mateys, while this be an enjoyable read, it certainly wasn’t what I was expectin’.  If ye read the blurb, ye get an idea that this is going to be a post-apocalyptic tale about a virus killin’ off both cats and humanity with a scientist racin’ to find a cure as quickly as possible.  This is not the case.  I kept waiting for the human death count to spiral out of control.  The first confirmed human death didn’t even arrive until around the 60% mark and there was never another.  And the solution to the problem was certainly not a real rush.  So if ye be expectin’ that kind of tale then this is not fer ye.

This book was is what the author calls “lab-lit.”  Her amazon page says that it “is a small but growing genre of mainstream fiction about scientists and science as a profession.”  Her website explains more about the ramifications of the term.  Amazon also says that Jennifer Rohn “leads a research lab at University College London in the United Kingdom, studying how bacteria subvert human cells during infection.”  Cool!

So while this book did not end up being what I thought, I still very much enjoyed it for both the science and characters.  I have no scientific background except fer some chemistry classes back in the day and a best mate who is a vet.  This story takes us through a mini-crash course of virology specifically concerning VSN RNA and feline leukemia (FeLV).  I could follow along fairly well.  The science part of the plot involves trying to figure out what the virus is and how it is evolving.  Ye spend the majority of the time in the lab hearing about the day-to-day life, experiments, and politics.  Oh and there is some stuff about epidemiologists and mathematical modeling.  The math stuff did go over me head.

The characterizations were where much of the tension in the book came from.  All of the main characters suffering from mental illness of some kind – autism, phobias, etc.  The scientists were a quirky bunch.  Artemis, the main protagonist, finds herself in complication relationships with the three other male scientists that are working on the problem with her.  There are so many secrets and complicated issues that she is not sure who to trust.  And of course one of those men happens to be both her post-doc and odd love interest.  So add sexual tension in there.  Oh and Aremis is trying to go through a divorce too.  More sexual tension and angst.

I would normally find all these science and relationship elements to be overwhelming but instead I found meself pondering how it would all resolve.  This kept me readin’.  The answers for both the epidemic and relationships where a little underwhelming but nicely wrapped up.  It ended up being a pleasant read.  So if ye like lots of science in detail and crazy people doing crazy things then this read might be for ye.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Biting Duck Press!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jennifer Rohn – Author

To buy the novel go to:

cat zero – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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The Captain’s Log – sea of rust (C. Robert Cargill)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This book has been getting praise from me crew and know I know why. First of all it has the most beautifully evocative cover:

And the story is unusual and compelling.  This is a post-apocalyptic story of what happens when the war between the humans and robots is over and the robots win.  The answer is extremely surprising and fascinating and complicated.

The protagonist, Brittle, is an awesome robot.  She is badass, self-serving, clever, and just plain fun.  She is a scavenger who finds parts that other robots need to survive.  But robot politics are getting in the way of her survival.  Plus there is the other robot that is out to destroy her.

But while it is wonderful to watch the world unfold through Brittle’s eyes and learn the history of the war through Brittle’s memories, it was the world-building that made this one rock.  I adored the types of robots, how they were used, what became of them, what they chose to do with the world when they were in control, etc.  The robot philosophy was interesting.  I also thought it was clever that sometimes Brittle seemed very human in tone and then I would be reminded by another element that she was a robot.  I believe that this was due to the type of model she was.

There aren’t too many details above because I think all of me crew should experience this one for themselves.  Just know that the writing is beautiful and it was time well spent.  I look forward to reading the author’s other work.

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Sarah @ brainfluff – who introduced me to this one!  Thanks matey!

Lynn @ lynn’sbookblog

Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum

Now I normally post the blurb for the book here but I feel that this one gives the whole story away so I am not.

To visit the author’s website go to:

C. Robert Cargill – Author

To buy the book go to:

sea of rust – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – artemis (Andy Weir)

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

artemis (Andy Weir)

Title: artemis

Author: Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown Publishing

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

ISBN: 978-0553448122

Source: NetGalley

Andy Weir’s newest book was a super fun read.  He is a versatile writer in that overall this book has a completely different feel than the martian.  And that’s a good thing.  But the areas that made the martian a success are present here.  Snarky intelligent character.  Check.  Science and physics facts that are accessible for physics hating people.  Check.  World building so good that ye feel ye could step off the spaceship onto the planet, or in this case moon.  Check.

This book was a fast-paced adventure heist that kept me rapidly turning pages until the end.  The main character, Jazz, is super intelligent but lacks common sense.  She continues to make one bad decision after the other.  At 26 she seems destined to be stuck in a low-level job on the margins.  Then an enticing offer comes along that could give her a lot of money and move her into a lifestyle of comfort.  Of course it’s another bad choice and the consequences impact more than just her.  Can she fix it or will the moon as she knows it change for good?

Jazz as a character was the weak point of the book for me in that she is just such a mess.  She does read younger than 26 at times and is so annoying at others.  But she slowly won me over by the end.  I loved that her father is present and a good parent.  Her family is diverse.  She is a Muslim of Saudi Arabian descent.  Actually, the moon is full of people of different backgrounds.  I also loved how the moon is portrayed as dangerous and how the citizens police themselves.  It was both funny and made logical sense.

Overall I thought this was a great book by Mr. Weir and I will certainly be reading whatever he writes next.  If ye have a hankerin’ to visit the moon then I suggest ye pick this one up.  Just be prepared that it’s a crazy time to visit.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Crown Publishing!

The reviews of this one vary widely so check out the thoughts of me crew:

Lynn @ lynn’sbookblog

Ali @ iwuvbooks

Annie @ themisstery – a take on a book outside her comfort zone!

Mogsy @thebibliosanctum

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Andy Weir – Author

To buy the novel go to:

artemis – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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

Captain’s Log – provenance (Ann Leckie)

Ahoy there mateys!  I have been a fan of Ann Leckie ever since I read her debut novel.  And what a doozy that one was.  It still be one of me all-time favourites ever.  In fact, I featured and gushed about this author in me Broadside No. 16 due to provenance coming out.  And now I finally read her newest book.  Hooray!!

I must start by saying that I loved it.  The characters, writing, plot, and world are so well done.  While the story about Ingray was fabulous and plot-twisty and stellar and just plain fun, what I really took from the book was not the story at all but the juxtaposition between the society of the Hwaeans in this book and the Radchaai in her imperial radch trilogy.  This was not me intention but, well, this aspect provided me myriad entertainments.

Ye see this novel is technically a standalone that is set in the same world as the trilogy.  I absolutely love what I would consider companion books that exist in a world but showcase other aspects and cultures of said world – like in me reviews of the Culture books or the Craftworld books.  So this was a mind-puzzle gift that I found fascinating.  If ye haven’t read the first book in the trilogy, ancillary justice, then the next section will likely not make sense to ye.  And I suggest ye read that novel before reading this one because of said paragraphs below.  So while there are no plot spoilers ahead, I will be doing some mild comparisons and random thoughts so if ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

  • I adored that the Radchaai were the protagonists of the trilogy and of course considered themselves the highest-cultured beings of the universe.  And in this book we showcase the Hwaean culture who believes they are superior.  Both cultures spend time pointing out how certain habits of other societies proved they were uncouth.  That being said, both cultures also like to see themselves as being open-minded, which I found to be hysterical.
  • For example there is a Radchaai diplomat in this novel.  Though a very minor character, the diplomat was used perfectly.  The author highlights the hypocrisy of the Radchaai in terms of the person appointed for the diplomatic job and also in the diplomat’s attitude towards her job.  Yet in certain situations the diplomat takes her tasks extremely seriously and is an important component to how the plot progresses and is resolved.  It was awesome!
  • We get to see multiple cultures in all the books.  Geck, Radchaai, Rrrrr, Omken, and others.  So very different and complex and fun.  In particular the use (or non-use) of terms of gender vary by culture and language and the complexities rock!  The mistakes are sometimes very funny and yet somehow also insightful into how gender is dealt with in this day and age.
  • I also adore the different types of justice systems portrayed and the intricacies in how twisted interplanetary law can be.  In Tyr Siilas there is a fine based system.  Hwae seems slightly more like the British judicial system.  Also how all of the cultures deal with the treaty with the Presger is portrayed so well in all of the novels.  Citizenship was never such an interesting conundrum.
  • I loved how the Radchaai have their memorial pins and the Hwae have their vestiges.  I have to admit that I am more partial to a memorial pin.  However the use of the vestiges in this book were central to the story and a hoot besides.  I kinda want the Radchaai pins and the tourist vestiges.
  • Speaking of tourism, Ann Leckie is awesome about writing about tourist places that are normal for the regular population but that I would totally visit.  From bridges in the trilogy to Eswae Parkland in this book, I am fascinating and wish I could visit.  I would sail the stars just to see the ruin glass hills.  If only . . .

Me writing skills are not good enough to get into more particulars and I certainly don’t want to give away spoilers.  But this novel has been lingering in me head and heart and thoughts.  I suggest if ye haven’t read Ann Leckie’s work then ye should witness for yerself the magic of her writing.

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

Following her record-breaking debut trilogy, Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, returns with an enthralling new novel of power, theft, privilege and birthright.

A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Ann Leckie – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

provenance – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Dead Men Tell No Tales – skitter (Ezekiel Boone)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I know that I just reviewed the first novel of this series, the hatching, yesterday.  But I just couldn’t help but need more of the swarm of massive creepy flesh eating spiders.  I had to know what happened next!  This review won’t contain spoilers but well it does talk about a sequel so if ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

So first of all, this is a series where ye should definitely read book one first.  Secondly I did not know this series was a trilogy.  I thought it was a duology.  So yes this book does have a middle book feel but not in a bad way – not at all.

The first book was action packed and the spiders were nasty.  That book would be what I call the first wave.  This book is what I would call the calm before the storm at high seas.  Ye know that hurricane is coming but all ye can do is batten down the hatches, hunker down, and prepare fer the worst that mother nature has to offer.  And the glimpse of the skittering that mother nature may have to offer in the next book is terrifying indeed.

Book two had a completely different feel as the first but was just as awesome.  It has action, politics, revisiting old acquaintances (hello spider scientist!), some new characters, some new characters that become spider food, and above all – a building of tension.  The fear in the air is thickening, the skies are growing dark, and the hurricane headed yer way might not just be a solitary storm on the horizon.  Prepare to die and meet Davy Jones!

Of course despite the odds, I want to always go down fighting.  I cannot wait to see if the world is going to survive day zero with the spiders.  It’s looking grim.  Sadly I will have to wait until book three comes out on February 27, 2018 to watch it all unfold.  Good news is that ye can catch-up on the story in the meantime.  Arrr!

Check out these reviews by me crew members:

drew @ thetattooedbookgeek – whose fault it is I am discussing spiders!

kate @ forwintersnights

I usually put the synopsis of the novel here but this one was too spoilery fer me tastes.  So ye will have to read this novel to find out what happens fer yerself.  Arrrr!

To visit the author’s website go to:

Ezekiel Boone – Author

To buy the book go to:

skitter – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

the hatching (Dead Men Tell No Tales – Sci-fi Horror)

Dead Men Tell No Tales – the hatching (Ezekiel Boone)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Now if spiders be creepy creatures to ye and make yer skin crawl and yer pulse run then understand that drew @ thetattooedbookgeek is to blame fer me just giving ye the shivers in yer timbers by mentioning ’em.

Why, ye ask?  Because he be a salty cad and self-described “Fantasy fan, reader, poet, British gentleman and sarcastic degenerate.”  In other words: a right good pirate.  It was his delightful review that led me to this fabulous Halloween read.  He is much funnier than I am and even had lovely poems and creepy gifs for this book so mehaps ye should check out his review and skip mine!

However, me ship’s log must be kept to date and accurate so I record me thoughts below . . .

If ye thought a nuclear disaster is the first step to the end of the world as we know it, then ye would be dead wrong.  Try creepy crawly flesh-eating swarms of spiders.  Arrrr!  Gives this here Captain the willies.  And yet I devoured this novel in one sitting, spiders and all.  I thought this book was an excellent sci-fi horror.  In this story 10,000 year old spiders emerge from hibernation with an insatiable hunger and a penchant fer flesh.  And to think landlubbers be scared of sharks!  Ha.  I’ll tackle those over these spiders any day.  At least I can defeat a shark with me wits and cutlass!

The writing, characters, and plot are solid and the readin’ was a great bit of fun.  I loved in particular the FBI agent, the spider scientist, and the doomsday preppers.  The horror aspects weren’t too gruesome but definitely gave me some interesting mental images.  And this story is just the first stage.  There is a sequel that I going to capture next in me web . . . I mean net.  Stay vigilant and look for me the review of that novel soon.  Arrrrr!

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

There’s no waking up from this nightmare. . . .

Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India, earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. As these incidents begin to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at a Washington, DC, laboratory. Something wants out.

The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake.

The worst thing is that this is only the beginning.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Ezekiel Boone – Author

To buy the book go to:

the hatching – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List