Written Among The Stars

I love to read, I love to write, and I love to talk about all things that are the written word.

Review: The Gatherer by Colleen Winter

The Gatherer - Colleen Winter-Brathwaite

***Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free on NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley!***

 

This book was a nice surprise for me. I read the synopsis and thought to myself, "Well, that sounds like just about every dystopian young adult book I've ever read." But it wasn't and that surprised me a lot. I found the plot intriguing and the characters were crisp and refreshing. I didn't really mean to make them sound like apples, but there we are.

 

Really only to things got on my nerves and I hope they are rectified before publishing. 1. The plot moves back and forth in time quite a bit, and there is no indication in the text about when we're in a particular time period. I found it rather confusing with no idea what time period we were in until I had read a page or two. Even a "X year" at the beginning of the chapters from the past would help. 2. Sometimes the text seemed a bit disjointed. For example, I would read something and then all of a sudden they'd be talking about a dead body and I'm thinking "wait, when did someone die? what happened?" So I went back and read those passages again and still can't figure out what happened. This didn't occur a lot, but it happened a few times.

 

Storm was a good character, though I found her assumed helplessness a bit annoying sometimes. This book was the time for her to harness the power she still has and step forward into action. I saw that a little bit at the end, but it was quite literally only in the last 2 chapters. Prior to that she was a passenger to the plot and I wanted more from her.

 

Maria is a great character, a real kick butt strong woman with a purpose. The only drawback to her character is that I felt she was a vehicle to the next book. She seemed a little irrelevant to this particular plot but she was the method of getting our characters to the next book.

 

The plot moved at a good pace and the writing is exciting. I really enjoyed the journey this book took me on as a reader and I look forward to the revelations we get in the next book. I wish I could come up with more great things to say about this book, but anything else will spoil the plot and I endeavor to keep this review spoiler free. But it is a good, fun read that you should check out.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Alive by Scott Sigler

Alive: Book One of the Generations Trilogy by Scott Sigler (2015-07-14) - Scott Sigler

I cannot begin to tell you how dismayed I am to be giving a book by Scott Sigler just two stars. I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever given one of his books less than four stars. For me, Scott Sigler is an auto-buy, auto-read author. If he puts it into print, I will read it. And every single time, I have loved it. Until this time. When I first heard this book was being published I was a little surprised. Young Adult is not really the Sigler wheelhouse. Dick jokes and very colorful language is part of the writing style, none of which can be in a young adult book. But he’s an extraordinary writer so I didn’t worry about it too much. Surprised but not worried. In hindsight, I should have been worried.

 

Now, in order for me to be intellectually honest, I also have to mildly rebuke the author a little. On the podcast for Alive, and apparently on the book (at least the advance copies), he felt it necessary to add a little notation that said if you’re going to review this book, please don’t post spoilers and ruin it for other people. This shocked me. My jaw literally dropped. Scott Sigler has never been someone that didn’t understand the reader/author line and always been very respectful of any and all feedback. But this was not okay. Once that book is out into the world, you no longer control it as an author and you certainly don’t control the way it is read or reviewed. If someone doesn’t wish to be spoiled, they should probably not read reviews. Or look for ones that specifically state no spoilers. Let’s not repeat this pattern Scott Sigler, it’s not a good look.

 

Alright, all that finished. Consider yourself warned, there be spoilers ahead.

 

***SPOILERS***

 

Let’s talk about the redeeming qualities about this book first, that’s the shorter of my two lists. The premise of this book is very good, it’s intriguing and mysterious and horrifying at time. It was executed badly but the premise was great.

 

Em was a character with a lot of potential. A scared little girl who is thrust into a position of authority when she doesn’t know anything more about the situation than anyone else. Where Em fell short was that she ended up being largely boring. Most of her verbal dialogue and inner dialogue alike are “I’m the leader, I think that person wants to challenge me to be leader but I’M THE LEADER!!” Seriously, she repeats this so many times I was praying someone would actually challenge her leadership so she could stop stressing about it.

 

All of the other characters really don’t matter. Bello is very important to Em for some reason that I never figured out, she didn’t do anything except sit around, look pretty and be boring. O’Malley has some potential to be interesting because I got the sense that he is a secret trouble maker, he always seems like he’s supportive of Em but I think he’s undermining her behind her back. Bishop is scary and violent but, oh, those dreamy eyes and muscles of his. We hear a lot about liquid eyes and taunt muscles and flat stomachs too. Which brings me to my biggest problem with this book:

 

These kids are supposed to be 12 year olds stuck in adult bodies. Why are they all so sexually interested? Kids at 12 have crushes based on who looked at them across the playground, not because they are enthralled with their muscles and boobs. 12 year olds haven’t figured out what boobs are yet. So on one hand you have prepubescent kids acting like 16-17 year old kids, but then also calling these mysterious people who locked them away “grown ups”. I am pretty certain that most kids stop referring to adults as grown ups much earlier than 12 years old. It was very strange.

 

The kids, Em in particular, at times struck me as both a much younger and much older child and it did not make sense. She also seemed very disingenuous as a female character, often times she read like a boy. This could be explained by something I heard the author say in his podcast when he was asked how difficult it was to narrate a 12 year old girl. (Note: while in quotations, this is not a direct quote, but it’s close), “It really wasn’t that hard because the world of Alive is post-gender, post-race, post-everything except the caste system that they don’t even understand yet.”

 

This leads me to a question, if your world is post-gender, why differentiate between girls and boys at all? Presumably the “grown ups” that are cultivating their bodies for their own use don’t need to breed because they can live for millennia, so…why was this important anyway? And why exactly is everyone so obsessed with how attractive the opposite gender is, if it is really irrelevant? It was the strangest remark I’ve ever heard, I listened twice just to be sure I heard it correctly. And I am not sure what this caste system is because we were too busy obsessing over leadership and muscles to explore it at all.

 

While we’re on the subject of gender in characters, what the fuck was with dressing 12 year olds in too-small, too-tight, busting-at-the-seams Catholic schoolkids outfits? And everyone was so completely hot? Are we really sexualizing 12 year old children? I found that to be one of the more disturbing aspects of the whole book. My brain just kept screaming “Stop it! These are children! Literally prepubescent children!”

 

I will walk away from that for awhile and move on to tropes. This book has all of them. Smoldering eyes, liquid eyes, scintillating muscles, flat firm stomachs, boobs popping out of shirts, wistful glances across fields of flowers. There was so much purple prose I was inspired to quote from Willy Wonka. Sigler, you’re turning violet Sigler!

 

Lastly, the plot. It was boring. 70% of the book was walking, arguing about leadership, gazing longingly at each other, and occasionally doing something they think is a bad idea (I shouldn’t look in that room, oh I did anyway, OMG that’s awful I shouldn’t have looked!) Then when we finally started getting answers I was presented with Brewer the Cheshire Cat who I thought was supposed to be the bad guy, but apparently isn’t. But if he is a good guy, then why the hell was he talking in so many circles. I also lost my mind when Brewer gave them a lecture about “why tell you when I can show you, that’s so much better”….and then proceed to TELL them for about 6 pages everything that was going on. That was followed with 10 more pages of the actual bad guy, Matilda, once again telling them everything they need to know about what’s going on. I thought showing was better? I could almost hear the author over my shoulder whispering in my ear, “Are you so super surprised? You never saw it coming did you?” Honestly, no I didn’t see it coming but it also wasn’t that great either. My final feelings once I turned the last page were a big, whomp whomp.

 

Unfortunately, this trilogy will tie directly into the larger Siglerverse very heavily, I can see that, so I have to read the next two. I really don’t want to, but I will. Maybe it gets better, if not, I’ll let you know.

Book Review: Earthcore by Scott Sigler

Earthcore - Scott Sigler

Earthcore by Scott Sigler

Published: May 20, 2017 by Empty Set Entertainment

 

 

Synopsis:

 

Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure. But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting …and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out first-hand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

 

 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

 

Review:

Just a small disclaimer, I LOVE Scott Sigler. Like really love Scott Sigler. I’ve read everything he’s ever produced and enjoyed almost all of it. When Earthcore was first released all the way back in 2005ish I was skeptical, it was okay but I didn’t think that it was his best work. Now, all these years later, he rewrote the entire thing and re-released it. And WOW! It is so fantastic. The writing structure is a lot cleaner and the characters are a lot more fleshed out. In the first reading I didn’t really care about many of the characters because they didn’t strike me as real people but they did this time.

 

Connell Kirkland is a tragic figure, I found myself rooting for him, cursing him, and crying for him throughout the course of the book. A few of the side characters didn’t do much for me, like Veronica. I thought she was a whiny bitch and needed to go away. I wish we had seen more of Sonny but the story largely demanded his absence so I understand it.

The premise of this is an interesting one. A mining company stumbles on a lot more than they bargained for and aren’t sure what it is until it’s too late. Could it be claimjumpers trying to steal their find? Other miners that beat them to it? A lost tribe that has lived underground for a few thousand years? Or is it sabotage? Unfortunately for almost all the characters, it’s much much too late before they figure it out.

 

While I was listening to the audiobook, I found that the narrator distracted me a little for the first few chapters and I was skeptical that I would continue. But I stuck through it and was rewarded, he got a lot better and it was much more enjoyable.

 

I will stop before I am tempted to spoil the whole thing, all I will say is that it’s time to prepare. Prepare for Mount Fitzroy.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 182 out of 448 pages.

— feeling grin
Jurassic Park: A Novel - Michael Crichton

I have long loved the movie and also love Crichton. But never actually read the book, shocking. So far, the movie does not do it justice. So many moments I would have loved to see on film....except crappy Spielberg does his typical happy happy movie and that sucks.

Review: Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman

I’ve been a bad bad reviewer. I haven’t managed to read more than a single book this entire year. Okay, one and a half if I’m being honest…I am halfway through another. But, in my defense I did give birth and now have a 5 month old daughter. So I’ve been a teensy bit busy. But I found time to read! While I’m at work pumping milk for my baby, that’s a whole half hour that could be spent reading instead of browsing Facebook or playing Candy Crush.

 

This was a quick read but a good one. Feldman paints a vivid picture with her words and transports you directly to her world. I was engrossed in the story. One would like to think that things like this don’t happen in a free country, but alas it does. I lived through a similar religious experience (with a different religion of course) and was interested to see how much these experiences overlap. Not surprisingly, the answer is quite a lot. Religious abuse is a real thing.

 

While I am aware of the accusations of exaggeration and lying by the author, I personally choose to give the benefit of the doubt. People do behave this way. People in such strict religions do these kinds of things. And when someone dares to leave the flock, their former community throws mud all day long to try and discredit them. I can’t say for sure that is what is happening in this case, but it seems logical.

 

As a woman and a mother, I found the book infuriating. I can sympathize with how utterly out of the place the author felt in the world that she had been born into. Her yearnings for more were palpable. I found myself rooting for her to succeed and break free from what felt like such a confining life. I can’t say much more about this book except that I found it very compelling.

 

And now I hear someone yelling at daddy for a nursing, so I will wrap up. Hopefully I can make at least one more review this year…we’ll see lol.

Reading progress update: I've read 99 out of 272 pages.

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman

I've been much too negligent about blogging and reading lately....but then having a three month old will do that to you.

 

So far this book is really interesting. I was raised in a veeery strict religious household and I can identify with a lot of the author's feelings of being suppressed and smothered by what was expected of her as a good Jewish girl.

Review: Crushed by Eliza Crewe

Crushed - Eliza Crewe

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for a review. No promise of a good review or other compensation was provided.**

 

Alright folks, give me a moment here, I need to wipe my nose and then get a new tissue. Then it’s time to put on my big girl panties and write this review without needing more tissue. First, let me tell you a sad story. The first book in this series, Cracked, was one of my favorite books last year. I got the ARC and I loved it. I bought a copy, I bought a copy to lend out, I recommended it to anyone who would listen, I anxiously waited for the next book. Then I asked for an ARC, didn’t get it and was…crushed, pun fully intended. But, no worries, I pre-ordered the book, I’d just have to be patient. Then I got an email, there was going to be no publication of Crushed. I was distraught! How could this be? Well, it’s because the publisher, Strange Chemistry, was closing down. I was so upset that I immediately rushed over to the author’s website, surely she would have answers for me! And, she did. She was going to self publish it and was doing a blog tour, well you better beleive I was alllllll on board with that idea. And that’s why I’m here now. To tell you how awesome this book is (because it is) and to encourage you to go out and read it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

So let’s catch up on what we learned from book one. Meda kicks ass….and eats souls. The two are not mutually exclusive. But she’s also, apparently a “Beacon”, someone who is capable of worl changing good. This is news to Meda, she mostly just wants to be left alone to kill and eat the souls of bad bad people who deserve it. The Crusaders have other ideas, she needs to be protected ad trained as a Crusader…well sort of trained.

 

And that’s where we come into Cracked. Meda is, essentially, being help captive. The Crusaders don’t like her, they don’t trust her, and they aren’t giving her any souls to eat which is really just torture. So, Meda does what she does best, she sneaks out to get herself some souls and reunites with Armand. We remember Armand right? She met him in Hell’s dungeon. And he has some bad intentions, which Meda knows but can’t seem to pull herself away from him anyway. Besides the Crusaders are torturing her anyway, why not have a little fun?

 

This book was a blast. It starts off hard and doesn’t let up for the whole book. I always get worried when we reach book two, because it often suffers from “middle book syndrome”. This one doesn’t though. Meda spends most of the book struggling with her choices. Can she really be a goody goody Crusader? As hard as she tries, it doesn’t seem like it. Can she just turn her back on it all and join the demons? Not really because of those pesky human emotions. She finds solace in Armand, who is also half-demon half-human, because he can understand her struggles of walking the line between good and evil. I loved this dynamic for Meda. It provided a lot of depth to her character that we had only began to see in Cracked. Honestly, by the end, I was rooting for Meda to join the demons, I can admit it. I was ready to flip the bird to the Crusaders for their treatment of her. But, of course, there are two sides to every pancake and this book was no different.

 

The ending rocked me. I was not ready for what happened to….the person….at the place….during that….thing. I can’t talk about it. I already cried my way through it once, I don’t want to relive it. As Meda is fond of saying, some bad things just shouldn’t be said. This is one. Then we got to the actual actual end and it both good and bad. Which I like. I can’t stand Steven Spielberg endings where everyone is okay and walks off into the sunset together holding hands and singing Kumbaya. I like things to be real. And in reality, even a happy ending is often tinged with despair, anger, loss, and grief. This was one of those endings.

 

I, for one, will be anxiously anticipating the next book to see where this path takes Meda next. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get another tissue and text my mom to go buy this book…she’s been waiting since Cracked.

Confession time!

So, I have been almost completely MIA lately, bad bad me! But in my defense, I have a good excuse. So, it's time for me to confess what has kept me away for so long.......

 

 

 

 

I'm having a baby!! 

(show spoiler)

 

 

 

 

read more

I've read 300 out of 362 pages.

Robogenesis - Daniel H. Wilson

Wait, so now there’s ANOTHER AI out there? So there was Archos in the last book, now in this book we have Arayt and whatever this thing is in the ocean….Ryujin they’re calling it. I am so confused. And the individual goals of these two AIs is a mystery to me. Arayt seems to want to take over the world and kill all freeborn and humans. Ryujin seems to not care about any of it and is just making new creatures to populate the earth after Arayt destroys everything…but humans are still asking for its help to save them?

I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going on.

Review: Destruction by Sharon Bayliss

Destruction: The December People, Book One - Sharon Bayliss

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Curiosity Quills!

 

This will probably be a short review because the book just wasn’t that good. My first annoyance with it was actually the blurb. It gives away so many big plot points. I mean, who writes these things? It tells me the entire arc of the story almost, guess I didn’t need to read the book after all.

 

I was highly annoyed with the magic in this book too. I hate it when books don’t give magic any consequences, it’s jut there to fix all your problems. The book claims that doing magic can make you deranged and evil, but the main characters seem to have no problem whipping out complex magic when it suits them…and seem to suffer no ill effects or other consequences. For example, fiddling around in someone’s brain? Well it was for their own good, so no consequences. The only possible consequence is that the person doing the meddling now had to remember all those bad memories they were erasing, oh the horror! End snark.

 

David was a fairly likeable character until he started excusing a rape (he’s a dark wizard, can’t help it) and then perving on a 17 year old (but she’s a fertility witch, he couldn’t help it!). Notice a pattern here? It is always the magic’s fault, not the character’s.

 

In the end, I didn’t care for this book. It was a fairly good idea but not executed very well. The characters were marginal but not unlikeable. The magic was poorly executed and seemed completely secondary to the story. I won’t be continuing with this series.

I've read 250 out of 362 pages.

Robogenesis - Daniel H. Wilson

I have no idea how it took me this long to question this but....where did the "neural implants" come from? That is how the new big bad is spying on people...but where did they come from? Was this something that everyone already had from before and the big bad is just tapping into it? Were these implanted somehow, and for some reason, during the first war? Was this addressed before now or in the last book and I just missed it?

 

It's kind of bugging me now, I suspect convenient plot device.

I am so happy we got that second opinion!

I can't remember if I posted about this when it happened but I'll recap anyway! So hubby and I went to a dentist a few months ago. We were not happy. The place was outdated, the staff was not friendly, and we just didn't feel comfortable there. Then they hit us with the work that needed to be done, according to them. Me: 4 new crowns, replace 1 existing crown, wisdom teeth need to be pulled. Hubby: 3 new crowns, wisdom teeth need to be pulled, an "in depth" cleaning that will cost $100. In total, they quoted us $5000 worth of work!

 

Yeah, we didn't go back. So today we went to a new dentist for a second opinion. Their office was modern and equipped. Every member of the staff shook my hand and introduced themselves to me. They answered all of my questions and explained everything in detail. And then we talk about work that needs to be done. Me: 3 fillings, wisdom teeth are just fine. Hubby: 1 crown, 2 wisdom teeth need to come out the other two are okay for now, an intense cleaning but certainly won't cost us $100. Total estimate: $700.

 

I mean, holy crap! How do dentists like that exist? What complete scam artists! I was stunned. We are definitely staying with this new dentist for sure.

I've read 226 out of 362 pages.

Robogenesis - Daniel H. Wilson

I don't care anymore. I want it to be over. This is boring. I feel like this should have been a stand alone book with Robopocalypse but the author got caught up in popularity and wanted to capitalize. There was no reason for another book, none at all.

I've read 175 out of 362 pages.

Robogenesis - Daniel H. Wilson

I am so booooooooored!!!! This book, apart from a brief moment of awesome, has been vastly inferior to the first book.

I've read 129 out of 362 pages.

Robogenesis - Daniel H. Wilson

"After all this time, we still don't know whether I'm "seeing" radar or radio or infrared or some combination of everything."

 

Okay, it may have taken you guys two years but I've got this down for you.

 

1. You can see heat signatures or living organisms. That's infrared, congrats you can see it.

 

2. You can see the communications that the robots and machines make with each other. Since they communicate on radio waves, congrats you can see radio waves.

 

3. You can also see people speaking. This is sound waves, congrats you can see those too.

 

I think I figured that out in 30 seconds, what exactly is taking them so long?

I need to stop being lazy!

I am so behind on reviews, I have to review my Nature Box thing. I need to get back to my freelance writing, I have no excuse because I got the laptop back last Thursday lol. I am just so tired.....

 

I want a nap. And I want peanut butter. I've been on a peanut butter kick lately. But mostly I just want a naaaaapppp....

Currently reading

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones / A Clash of Kings / A Storm of Swords / A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
Progress: 139/834 pages
Love As Always, Mum xxx
Mae West, Neil McKay
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