Leviathan Wakes Part III

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 29-43, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. After a skin-crawling start, our crew get back into space with information in their back pocket – and our two POV characters disagree on whether it should be shared. What do you think?

Right now, I agree with Miller. From the start, Holden only had a piece of info, one at a time. He’s been sharing with everyone as he comes upon stuff instead of collecting all the data, analyzing it, and then sharing the findings. At first, I think part of this sharing (like the Martian bomb) was to keep himself and his crew alive. But it’s lead to widespread riots and now a war. So at some point, Holden should have noticed that his efforts to keep the solar system in the loop was just leading to more deaths. Now they have all the info but things are already in motion. Sharing this info and implications now won’t matter to many folks because they have already made up their minds, some have committed acts of war, and they have taken sides.

2. The villain is unmasked! What did you make of Antony Dresden’s little speech?

He liked having power and this gave him a supreme excuse to wield that power.

On the other hand, he does have a point about some alien race planting the Phoebe Bug in our solar system as much as 2 million years ago.

On the other hand, (and yes, now I have 3 hands, so I guess I caught the Phoebe Bug!) do we really know that the Bug was intended as a weapon? Was it really placed in our solar system intentionally? And does that alien race even exist anymore? So many questions! And because we don’t have those answers, Dresden’s ‘justification’ for his actions don’t hold water.

3. After the action, we get another round of comparative morality: this time on the act of killing. Whose view do you sympathize with more (and why)?

While Holden had the right to kick Miller off his ship and crew, I can’t say that Miller was wrong in this case. This Bug scares people, even hardened folks. Dresden is smooth, assured, convincing. If he wasn’t executed then and there, he would have ended up helping one faction or another gain control of the Bug and use it for their purposes. Plus, Dresden wasn’t disgusted or disturbed or regretful over his actions. He wasn’t going to change as long as he lived. I grieve for Miller and what this act cost him.

4. Somehow, this rollercoaster isn’t over yet. What do you expect from the final act?

I recall some of the big things that happen in this last section. Let’s just say I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you all think and then also reading book 2. I hope everyone would like to continue the series.

Other Tidbits:

Amos and Miller are similar in many ways. Amos has a limited moral compass but he has put his trust in Naomi, and to some extent Holden. If Naomi tells him to do something, or not do something, he obeys. Amos is using Naomi as his moral guidance. Without that, he could be Miller. I think Miller might be seeking that in Holden but he’s got this ghost Julie in his head that could be pushing him towards retribution.

Who else cheered when Naomi turned Holden down? Who else groaned a little in dismay when she invited him over for the night?

I love all the medical science bits concerning the radiation sickness and continuing treatment.

That story about the cheese! Did anyone else picture the crew of the Firefly sitting around in the galley having a meal and sharing stories?

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Part II

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 15-28, so be prepared for spoilers below!

The plot thickens! Do you think the sickness has anything to do with what we saw in the prologue? And who ordered it to be incubated? What’s their end goal?

Yes, I believe the sickness has something to do with whatever Julie saw int he prologue. It’s either something crazy man-made bacteria or virus or possibly something alien. I expect that someone wants to monitor it while it does what it does and that’s why we have all the observation equipment on the station. I forget who ordered this devious incubation.

What’s your current take on the POV characters? Think they’ll continue to work together? Is Miller crossing a line in this section?

While Holden seems a bit strained by Miller’s casual violence, I think these two can continue to work together. After all, Holden has been working months with Amos, who has that simmering violence just beneath the surface at all times.

I do recall some of the big things that happen next, so it’s hard for me to say that Miller has crossed a line, though I really do like that he is pondering that same question himself. Since he’s even bothering to ask that question, I still put him on the Good Guys List. Besides, his casual yet specific violence has kept Holden and his crew alive so far.

James S.A. Corey’s set up an entire futuristic solar system. What’s your favorite part about it so far?

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the authors talk about this futureistc solar system a few times at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. Ty Franck originally created this future solar system for a computer game, but that deal fell through. So he teamed up with his friend Daniel Abraham to create this series and I’m very glad he did. I really appreciate these guys doing a very good job of keeping real physics and the difficulties of space travel and colonization in mind and how that affects humanity over time.

So Miller found Julie. Do you think this effectively ends her involvement, or is there more to learn about her?

Well, Julie’s physical self has been out of the game for some time but now we still have her ‘ghost’, so to speak, that has been in Miller’s head for several chapters now. I expect that Miller will continue to look to Julie Ghost for guidance and possibly reassurance.

Other Tidbits:

Naomi and karaoke!

There were several references to aching balls in this section, whether from high G or from a dedicated whorehouse.

I have forgotten what’s on that little black info box the Martian Navy guy had. But now I’m really curious. After all, we still have half the book.

While I didn’t particularly care for Don Quixote, I do love the name Rocinante.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Bookish Giveaway & Review: War of the Worlds: Retaliation by Mark Gardner & John J. Rust

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Samuel E. Hoke III

Publisher: Article94 (2017)

Length: 7 hours 38 minutes

Gardner’s Page ~ Rust’s Page

Starting in 1898 with the final throws of the Martian invasion, humanity is at a breaking point. However, the human bacteria prove deadly to the Martians and on mass, they die, leaving their advanced technology for the humans to scavenge. Skipping ahead to 1924, the world leaders have decided it’s time to take the fight to Mars and a massive invasion is launched.

I’m a fan of HG Wells’s works, including the original War of the Worlds. So of course I was thrilled to dive into a novel that told a story of what humans did afterwards. How does a failed Martian invasion change the course of humanity’s history? Gardner and Rust give a decent answer to that question.

I think this book would have extra interest to those who have studied WWI. There’s plenty of European and North American names to recognize in this novel such as Charles de Gaulle, Rommel, George Patton, and so on. You don’t have to be particularly knowledgeable about any of these historical figures to enjoy their characters in this tale. I was a bit surprised that the Asian countries weren’t represented at all. Also, since it was a world wide Martian invasion in 1898, I was initially hopeful to see how that great leap in tech affected many of the countries in Africa and South America. Alas, those continents are barely mentioned.

There’s plenty of great tech in this tale. First, I really enjoyed that some tested and true war machines of WWI were in this book, like the Fokker airplanes. There’s also some brand new vehicles made especially for the Martian invasion. However, I did notice that the physics of Mars was skimmed over when it came to actual battles.

Now, let me get out my little polished soap box. There is exactly 1 female character (Nurse Hill) in this entire book and she doesn’t appear until the last hour of the story and she isn’t plot relevant at all. There’s a few other ladies mentioned as wives or mothers. This pains me. Here we are in this fascinating science fiction novel that’s essentially about the survival of the species, and the women aren’t present. Sigh…

OK, so moving on. I loved that we got a look into Martian society through the Martian characters. Their society is suffering from stagnation and the inability for their leaders to admit that there’s a real threat coming from Earth. I really enjoyed watching the various Martians struggle with this.

The pacing of the story is good with strategy, reflection, and action all well intermingled. I never suffered from battle fatigue nor did I feel that the story bogged down here or there. As an aside, I liked that Hitler was receiving psychiatric help and was an exceptionally minor character in this book.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Samuel Hoke was a very good fit for this story. He performed several different accents as needed and was consistent with them throughout the story. Each character was distinct. 

What I Liked: We’re invading Mars!; fun technology; we get the Martian viewpoints; several historical figures make appearances; a worthy ending.

What I Disliked: Almost no women; Africa, Asia, and South America are barely mentioned; physics of Mars is skimmed over.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Mark Gardner:

Mark Gardner is a US NAVY veteran. He lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications, and is the Chief Operator for an Arizona radio group.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

About Author John J. Rust:

John J. Rust was born in New Jersey. He studied broadcasting and journalism at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey and the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. He moved to Arizona in 1996, where he works as the Sports Director for an Arizona radio group.

Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of War of the Worlds: Retaliation:

1898: Martian tripods lay waste to Earth’s cities. The world’s armies are unable to stem the tide of destruction. When all hope appears lost, common bacteria kills the alien invaders. From the ashes, the human race uses the technology left behind by the Martians to build new, advanced weapons.

1924: Armed with their own spaceships, tripods, and jet fighters, the nations of the world are ready to take the fight to Mars. George Patton, Erwin Rommel, Charles de Gaulle, and Georgy Zhukov lead their troops in battle across the red planet to end the alien menace once and for all. But the Martians have one last, desperate plan to try, and if successful, it could mean the end for all humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Samuel Hoke III:

Samuel E. Hoke III is a 6’0″ Scorpio who summers in Virginia with his wife two amazingly wonderful black cats named Inca and Maya. In the winter they all head to central  Florida. Samuel is a veteran of the corporate world including IBM and Bank of America he now pursues his lifelong passion of acting.

Samuel has a Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies from Norwich University and an MBA in Global Technology Management from American University. He also conducted a Pre-Doctoral studies in Strategic Leadership at Cornell University. Samuel enjoys Rock and Roll music, photography, fast cars, and international travel.

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War of the Worlds Giveaway

Leviathan Wakes Part I

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 1-14, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. First impressions! We’re given two main POVs here, a lot of important information, and a big fat (intriguingly political) murder mystery in space. What’s your take on the setup so far?

I think there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. Perhaps one hand doesn’t know what the other 6 are doing. So the Canterbury is annihilated and that gets broadcast everywhere and perhaps multiple groups see it as a sign to act, and then of course we have government agencies reacting to try to tamp things down. While I read this book several years ago, I truly have forgotten a lot of the details. I would be delighted to find out that there’s some mastermind orchestrating everything but odds are against that.

2. Regarding the narrative: we get the bulk of the story so far from the POVs of Miller and Holden. What do you think of each character, and how do you think they compare to one another? Do you think their paths might cross or are we looking at more of a Game of Thrones style approach to the story’s arc? For that matter, which might you prefer?

I think it’s giving us a good balance of what space freighter life is like versus a stable space station existence. Really, we just need someone living on a planet that has a sky (even if you can only see it thru a bubble) to complete the picture. Holden seems like an upright, always attempt to do the right thing kind of guy. Miller’s morals are more flexible but his core seems to be good; he always works towards stability of his little home station Ceres (spelling?). I do recall the answer to whether or not they will meet in this book, so I will hold my tongue on that.

3. Let’s talk about Julie Mao, and THAT prologue. Given what we know about her by the end of chapter 14, do you think Julie might just be a victim of circumstance or is she more deeply involved in whatever is going on?

Now Julie’s story arc for this book I do recall. Let’s say there’s more going on here than nearly anyone knows and Julie is caught up in it, partly due to her own actions and partly due to other people’s goals.

4. Chapter 14 ends with Miller contacting Julie’s father; do you think his hunch about dear old Dad knowing some things is right, or should he listen to Shaddid on this one?

Tough question! So for my entertainment, of course I want Miller to keep digging and find a way to Julie. However, for his own safety and a future that involves decent medical coverage, I would tell him to drop it.

Other Tidbits:

I love all the bits of SF throughout the book. This isn’t just some light-hearted space opera. This story has real cutting edge tech to far flung hypothetical stuff. The sense-heightening lozenges that the Mars Military guy used when chatting with Holden is a good example.

Back when I first read this book in 2013, I was a bit sad that there weren’t any major female characters. There are several good secondary female characters and my Bill, who has read the rest of the series, says the female characters do get more prominent even with Book 2. So I find myself paying more attention to them during this reread.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Giveaway & Review: Kill and Run by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom to check out the Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Narrator: C. J. McAllister

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 11 hours

Series: Book 1 thorny Rose Mysteries

Author’s Page

Set in modern day Washington D.C., a serial killer has just taken out five women. As Murphy Thornton digs into it, more possible victims are discovered as the pattern becomes clear. He will need the help of his stepmom Cameron Gates to untangle this mess!

While there were plenty of things I liked about this book, I often felt that I needed two maps – one for the family tree of all the relatives involved in this story and the second for all the different military and state police groups involved. Basically, I could tell that our main characters had to be very careful of stepping on toes no matter what they did.

Now that I have that little criticism out of the way, here’s the good stuff. I really liked how deep this mystery went. There were plenty of people involved and the events span years. Now there’s a young girl, Izzy, in danger. She was a real treat, being the animal lover that she is. I was on the edge of my seat sometimes hoping things would work out ok for her.

There’s a little romance here as there are a few couples involved in solving the crime. Murphy, who is working with the NCIS, and his wife Jessica Faraday are newlyweds and still figuring out some of their longer term goals. Incidentally, Jessica is related to the main Faradays in Carr’s other mystery series – The Mac Faraday Mysteries.

Cameron Gates, a police detective, lost her first husband to a hit and run many years ago. She since has remarried to Joshua Thornton (a JAG lawyer), Murphy’s dad. As that hit and run is revisited, Cameron and Joshua are drawn into this mystery as well. Cameron and Joshua have their own mystery series that I am sorely tempted to check out – Lovers in Crime Mysteries.

With this talented cast, we need equally devious and dedicated criminals to make a good story and Carr doesn’t disappoint there. A string of rapes is soon connected to certain men rising in the military. Now some of those women are dead. There’s a killer on the loose who is also a sexual predator. It was pretty intense towards the end complete with car chases.

I liked that not every thing came out all rosy. The true villains at the hear of it got most of what they deserved but the good guys didn’t get all they asked for. I like how that reflects life sometimes. With yet another generation of this tangled family setting up for a love match, I had the distinct feeling the author was prepping us for another spinoff mystery series. Hooray!

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: C. J. McAllister did an OK job. The narration started off pretty bland but got better throughout the book. At first, the narrator sounded a bit bored but later on he seems to get into the story and the narration picks up. Also, from the voice acting I thought Murphy was much older and then his dad Joshua is brought into the story and Joshua’s voice sounded about the same or younger to me. The ladies voices were distinct and a somewhat feminine. He did do a really good job with young Izzy.

What I Liked: A deeper mystery; ties in characters from other mystery series; the ending isn’t all roses; Izzy stole the show.

What I Disliked: I needed a family tree to keep it all straight; I needed a military/state jurisdictional map.

Check out more reviews, interviews, spotlights, and more on the blog tour.

 

Synopsis of Kill and Run:

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ GoodReads

About the Author Lauren Carr:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally)

Ends April 22

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The Atomic Sea Vol. 3 by Jack Conner

ConnerTheAtomicSeaVol1Narrator: Ray Greenley

Publisher: Allen Wise (2015)

Length: 5 hours 41 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Atomic Sea

Author’s Page

Note: This is Volume 3 (or Part 3) in the series and I feel this is a series best read in sequence. Volume 1 is freaking awesome but it also gives you a good basis for the characters’s motives in Volume 2. Also, I want to say that the author has made things a little confusing by combining parts or dividing them up. So sometimes we have volumes and sometimes we have parts.

Once again, we have another interesting and enjoyable tale from the Atomic Sea! This is just a great series about messed up fish-faced people. In Vol. 2, we left our heroes trying to find another altar for Layanna to do her big thing. They decided to try for the heart of Octung, where the Cathedral of Lors rests in Golna. Things don’t go as planned – cue evil laughter!

Dr. Avery remains one of my favorite characters. In general, he’s a rather gentle soul, but that benevolent characteristic is slowly being beaten out of him by this quest of Layanna’s. He once had a daughter and his memories of her come into play in this book. How much would he sacrifice to have her alive and whole again, as if that were possible?

Janx and Hildra are still around, as well as the monkey. Every fish-faced dirigible crew that’s out to save the world needs a monkey. Hildra makes me laugh even though most of her lines are pretty simplistic.

Much to my delight, Captain Sheridan, who I think is now an Octung General, makes another appearance. This time she wants more from Avery than just his body. Plus she has more to offer Avery than bedroom restraints, decent food, clean water, and a place in the medical research unit. Dr. Avery will have to make the hardest choice of his life in this book.

We lost a favorite character in a previous book but that character gets another shot at fame in glory in this tale. There’s plenty of opportunities for our heroes to turn sell-outs and leave the rest of them to be sacrificed. Layanna is obviously driven to complete her mission but she also has this deep natural drive that is sometimes at odds with her bigger goal. This series continues to grip me! Where will the author take us next in this fishy tentacle land?

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Ray Greenley continues to give us an excellent performance. I love all his fishy voices. Really, I don’t know how he does it! Plus there’s some pretty emotional scenes in this book and he does a great job with those as well. I still love his voice for Sheridan who can be both sexy and a stone-cold killer.  

What I Liked: Dr. Avery’s faced with some big choices; the altar is pretty bloody; Layanna isn’t the lovely dainty otherworldly being her friends all want her to be; monkey; fish-faces everywhere!; great narration.  

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this book. 

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

BrownMorningStarNarrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2016)

Length: 21 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 3 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Note: You really need to read the previous books in this series to understand this book.

Book 2, Golden Son, left us on a hell of a cliffhanger. Luckily, Book 3 picks up where things were left, which was right in the middle of a mess. Our hero-to-be Darrow, the Reaper, is in desperate straights. Things went horribly wrong with an unexpected betrayal. Friends and allies have been killed or imprisoned. Others, such as Mustang, are off on their own, their intentions unknown.

The author doesn’t disappoint with this book. The mix of tension, action, betrayals, loyalties, saving people, executing people, adventure, dismemberments, and body enhancements continues to be excellent. Darrow continues to yank the feels out of me by a fishook! He’s at the center of this rising, doing his best to maintain his own humanity and yet sometimes he has to sacrifice it in order to bring it out in others. In Book 1, Red Rising, the story started off with Darrow and his Red family. Book 2 hints that Darrow’s family is at his core, the thing that makes him strong. In Book 3, it’s very satisfying to see that come full circle with Darrow’s family, both biological and the family of friends he’s built, standing strong behind him.

This book should get an award for creative cursing. Oh, dear Severo! He made me laugh so hard, and sometimes inappropriately, with his flagrant curses. He’s such a harsh man and he seems to revel in being crude or disgusting. While Darrow was temporarily out of the picture, he had to rise above and become more than he thought he could be. However, the eventual, and perhaps inevitable, butting of heads between these two friends had me gnashing my teeth! After the unexpected betrayal at the Book 2, I was constantly on the look out for the next breaking of friendship or betrayal or splitting of paths. I need a back massage just from being so tense throughout this book!

Without giving much away, I really enjoyed the visit to Ragnar’s homeland. It was so different from what we had seen so far. And his isn’t the only alien landscape our heroes visit. There’s the moons of Jupiter as well. The author did a great job of maintaining realistic travel times between all the points of interest in the solar system.

Towards the end, when I was down to the last 6 hours or so, I wasn’t sure how the author was going to wrap up everything that still had to be done. I was a bit worried that things would get rushed towards the end, unrealistic compromises, etc. tossed in just to wrap things up. However, our author wasn’t that clumsy. Things did unfold in a realistic way and everything got wrapped up nicely. I was quite satisfied by how things came to be in the end. Yes, there were plenty of deaths and sacrifices. Yes, not every person who committed some despicable act was killed. Yet I felt that Darrow and his close friends have laid solid ground work for a new regime. In the end, I so enjoyed this book I wanted to go back and listen to the series all over again.

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds once again does this series justice. I really enjoyed his accent and voices for the new characters we meet on Ragnar’s home world. His creative cursing as Severo is very entertaining! His range in accents and character voices make this an excellent listen!

What I Liked: This series gets better with each book; Darrow’s center of friends; Severo’s cursing; new people to meet, new places to dominate; the unexpected changing of loyalties; the ending was very satisfying; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

The Book Smugglers

Novel Heartbeat

Badass Book Reviews

Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Rhapsody in Books

Random Chatter

The Fandom

The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Serengeti by J. B. Rockwell

Heldig and Chupa being anything but helpful.
Heldig and Chupa being anything but helpful.

Narrator: Elizabeth Wiley

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2016)

Length: 10 hours 15 minutes

Author’s Page

Serengeti, complete with AI brain and human crew, is a Valkyrie class warship with the Meridian Alliance fleet. Their task was to analyze the area surrounding the spot where the Meridian Alliance scout ships disappeared during their mission to search out the Dark Star Revolution fleet. However, they find almost nothing of the scout ships, which is disturbing. Then the Meridian Alliance fleet shows up under the command of the AI Brutus. The arrival of the Dark Star Revolution fleet completes the guest list and the party gets started. Things don’t go well for the Meridian Alliance in general and Serengeti in specific. Pretty soon, she is stranded in deep space with little power, heavy damages, and a reduced crewlist. Drastic measures must be taken to preserve what is left of the crew.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The initial scouting mission by Serengeti and then the near-epic space battle between the two fleets was totally gripping. The second half of the book is all about Serengeti the AI and her attempts to save her human crew. It’s a much different pace but I still quite enjoyed it. First, I really liked this symbiotic relationship between the AIs and their human crews. For Serengeti the AI, her captain, Hendrickson, was a jewel of a commander and somewhat of a friend. From the beginning, we see how Serengeti cares for her crew, tries to assist without embarrassing or overshadowing them (such as is the case with Finley). Later, once the crew has been placed in cryopods to conserve resources, we learn more about how Hendrickson became Serengeti’s captain. I was much amused by the friendships between the AIs and how some of them found the AI Brutus to be too set in his ways.

After the big space battle and Serengeti’s failed attempt to flee, the remaining crew are put in an escape vessel, but the locking clamps can’t be released. Serengeti has lost too much power and she herself must sleep in order to survive. She tasks a small worker robot, who she names Tig, to be in charge of the remaining bots. My one little quibble is that the bots from here on out become a bit anthropomorphized. I still liked the book, but now it was much more WALL-E  instead of Hal, not that Serengeti is homicidal. The book goes from this mostly serious, nearly epic to this tiny hope of survival in these cutsy-wutsy bots. It did take me a few minutes to switch gears. Both halves of the book are good, but they are totally different paces.

The story’s end does build the suspense. Serengeti and her remaining bots are doing their best to keep the crew alive and the ship on target for the nearest inhabitable scrap of dirt. The tension mounts as Serengeti looses more and more abilities, as resources dwindle. They are in space for decades. At the end, we aren’t sure if Serengeti the AI makes it, though there is hope. The author did a great job in wringing some emotions out of me with Serengeti the AI.

I won a copy of this book from the author via The Audio Book Reviewer with no strings attached.

The Narration: Elizabeth Wiley did a great job with the narration. I liked all the funny robot sounds. Her voice for Brutus and Hendricks were also very good and masculine. As the story required it, she did well with imbuing the characters with emotions.  

What I Liked: The book cover art; the initial mystery of what happened to he scout ships; the near-epic space battle; the relationship between the human crews and the ship AIs; the back and forth between the AIs; the drastic measures taken for survival after the battle; Tig and his bots; very good narration.

What I Disliked: Tig and his bots were a bit over-anthropomorphized.

What Others Think:

The Audio Book Reviewer

Science Fiction Book Reviews

Literary Treasure Chest

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

BrownGoldenSonWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2015)

Length: 19 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 2 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Note: You really need to read Book 1, Red Rising, to understand this book.

This book picks up several months (a year?) after the end of Red Rising. It’s a space battle! Well, it’s a training space battle for the Academy. Darrow and his crew finish out the contest well enough, but then Darrow is publicly humiliated. Darrow is on the brink of losing it all and he must make some daring moves to maintain what he has worked so hard to achieve. Yet with his boldness comes new challenges and new enemies.

I thoughts the story couldn’t get any better when I finished Book 1, but I was wrong. Golden Son has impressed me more than Red Rising did. I became attached to several of the characters in Book 1 and that held true for Book 2. Darrow remains a complex character, discovering new parts to himself as he continues his ruse as a Gold. The layers of lies start to weigh on him and some of his closest friends notice his moodiness. There were so many times where I wasn’t sure whether Darrow should open up to a friend or not – can any of them be trusted with his deepest secret? Argh! It was nail biting!

There were moments where I was cheering the book on, doing a little fist pump when no one could see me doing so. Then there were times that my eyes misted up a bit. There are several intense moments in this book. Tactus. Mustang. Quinn. Darrow’s mom. Even though this book wrung emotions from me I wasn’t sure I had before, when I finished it, I wanted to go reread the first 2 books again.

While Book 1 took place all on Mars, Book 2 spreads out a bit and we get to see more of this terraformed solar system. Book 1 taught us the basics of this hierarchical society, but Golden Son shows us people from these other castes and what they are capable of. Darrow certainly has his hands full with the Sons of Ares and trying to upturn this caste system.

And why don’t we chat about the Sons of Ares. I, like Darrow, was expecting them to be all on the same page. Unfortunately for Darrow, that was not so. This added another dimension to the plot and made one more dangerous pitfall for Darrow to avoid. Though I did guess who Ares was early on, it was still a great reveal scene.

Next to Darrow, Sevro is my favorite character. He acts crude and rude all the time, but he has these shinning moments where he sets the bar high for what true friendship is. To my surprise, I became a bit attached to Victra. Perhaps it was her unashamedly flirtatious manner. Ragnar was an excellent new addition to Darrow’s circle of friends. The characters all around are just very well done. I love that the author doesn’t hold back from placing female characters in every job a male character traditionally holds in so much of SFF literature. The swordswoman Ajah is terrifying. The Sovereign is wickedly smart but also too proud of that fact.

The ending is super intense and I am so glad I have Book 3 lined up and ready to go. Golden Son does end on a cliffhanger and if I had read this book a year ago before Book 3 was out, this might have bothered me. Books 1 & 2 have set the bar high for Book 3 – I have every expectation it will live up to it!

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds continues to do this series justice. I love that he shows a little of Darrow’s Red heritage in his accent when he thinks of home, yet maintains his cultured Gold accent throughout the novel. His voice for Ragnar is very well done, considering limitations on human vocal cords. Surprisingly, Reynolds does a very good sexy vixen for Victra. 

What I Liked: The series continues to impress!; we get to see more of the the settled solar system; the witty scene between Darrow and the Sovereign; this book brings out the emotions but also packs a lot of action as well; very intense ending!

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

BrownRedRisingWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2014)

Length: 16 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 1 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Set in a far distant future on Mars, Darrow works hard mining below the surface. Mars’s caste system has kept the population, and especially the Reds like Darrow, working hard for a better, brighter future for their children for generations. However, Darrow loses much even as he gains knowledge of the great betrayal perpetrated by the ruling classes. Now he’s determined to up end things, even if it takes becoming what he most despises.

This was an excellent book, one of my favorites of the year so far. It has depth, a brilliant plot, a unique and gripping setting, and characters with teeth. The story is told through Darrow’s eyes. His story arc for this book takes him from hard working family man to accomplished upper-crust warrior. Generations past, those terraforming Mars set up a caste system, complete with color coding. The Reds, which is Darrow’s caste, is the lowest of the castes. The Golds are the rulers of the planet and live in comfort and excess. Initially, Darrow is quite happy to spend his life working hard to provide a better future for the next generation. He has a loving wife Eo who he dotes on. She is the first in the story to hint that there is something more to be had and she encourages Darrow to dream bigger. Then tragedy opens his eyes to the reality and he undergoes a bit of terraforming on his own body and mind in order to infiltrate the Golds and set in motion a long-term plan to up end the caste system. Darrow was a hard man to start with. He had to be in order to be the brilliant, talented Hell Diver he was on the mining crew. What he undergoes by the end of this book chisels him, mind, soul, and body, into an even harder person.

The secondary characters are just as brilliant. Darrow expected all the Golds to be the same but his time at the Institute, a kind of war games training ground for the up and coming Golds, shows him that not all Golds are the same. Alliances must be made in order to dominate the game, but they are playing for keeps and this means there will be serious injuries and even deaths. It’s a brutal sifting to remove the chaff from the grain.

I loved all the references to Roman deities and the use of Roman titles in the military hierarchy. The setting for the war games is little more than Medieval – no indoor plumbing, being hunted by wolves, castles to lay siege to, etc. There are a few bits of cool tech that come into play and there’s references to human colonies on other moons/planets in the solar system. The author does a great job of keeping us focused on Darrow’s circumstances while also hinting at the larger picture.

This book brought out some strong emotions for me, which I always love in a book. Darrow lives through some harrowing things, but he also has to do some heinous things. There are plenty of tough choices for him in this book. Several of the other characters also held my attention, such as Sevro and Pax. Sevro’s family history makes him interesting but then Sevro himself beat the odds against at the Institute, surprising everyone. Cassius is another curious character, capable of great loyalty and true brotherly affection. Yet if he is betrayed, his vengeance can be a game changer. Quinn is a scary, scary woman. I definitely wouldn’t want to cross her. There is also Mustang, who kept her loyalties close to her chest throughout the story.

All  together, it’s a brilliant science fiction setting coupled with the brutality of a tale of the Roman Empire. I very much look forward to reading the next installment.

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds did an excellent job with this book. His voice for miner Darrow had a bit of an Irish accent, and accent that the character must dampen as he morphs into a Gold. Reynolds did a great job of portraying this with his voice talents. His character voices for the other characters were each distinct and his female voices were believable. He also did a great job of imbuing Darrow’s voice with emotion. 

What I Liked: Great setting; impressive story arc coupled with Darrow’s character arc; so many  betrayals; unexpected friendships; the war games – brutal!; clever book cover art; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

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