Book Review: The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Series: Book 1

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 13, 2018)

Length: 432 pages

Author Information: Website

The Philosopher’s Flight might be my first genuine surprise of 2018. Backed by a fascinating premise that blends together historical fiction and fantasy, this novel held my attention captive from beginning to end. Set in an alternate World-War-I-era America, at the core of this tale is “magical science”, also known as empirical philosophy, a system of magic that uses the artform of “sigilry” to perform amazing feats like summoning the wind, sculpting clouds of smoke, teleporting from one place to another, or even defying gravity.

Told in the form of a memoir, the book stars protagonist Robert Weekes who recounts his time as a young man at Radcliffe College studying to pursue his dream of flying Rescue and Evacuation for the US Sigilry Corps. But here’s the twist: in this world, empirical philosophy is a field dominated by women. The greater affinity for magic in the female sex means that they are stronger and more powerful philosophers, which also makes them better conditioned to become flyers—a discipline that few men can master. Robert, however, has flying in his blood. His mother, the indomitable Major Emmeline Weekes is his inspiration and role model, a war hero who has served many years as part of the elite all-women R&E team saving countless lives on the battlefield. Determined to follow in her footsteps, Robert decides to apply to Radcliffe, becoming one of only three men enrolled in the school.

And here’s where the story gets interesting. Few things in this book unfold the way you’d expect, despite the frosty reception Robert finds on his first day. Facing strong pushback from some of his professors and fellow students who believe he doesn’t belong, our protagonist must work twice as hard to prove his worth and be accepted in a role that’s traditionally been closed to men. How dicey, I initially thought, to have story centered around a male protagonist who must struggle against gender discrimination, considering the current feminist movement and how these days books actually tend to feature the opposite scenario. And yet, at the same time I found it to be a refreshing change, not to mention the gender-flip was executed in a thoughtful way that treats women with respect and reverence. With the exception of the Trenchers (more on them later), the world generally views empirical philosophy as a gift—and women, as the wielders of that wonderful and magical power, are held in high esteem. They are America’s greatest heroes and legends that girls (and boys like Robert) look up to and dream they can become.

However, the author also does not patronize his readers by glossing over the situation. Every slice of the population will have its bad eggs, and Robert encounters his fair share of prejudice, intolerance, and injustice from some of the women at Radcliffe, and some social norms are just so ingrained that they are hard to break. In addition, there are the aforementioned Trenchers, a radical group that opposes everything related to empirical philosophy (hence many of their messages are also anti-women) and they aren’t above resorting to violent means to achieve their ends. Among these tactics is a hit list targeting well-known philosophers like Robert’s mother Emmeline Weekes and his girlfriend Danielle Hardin for assassination. Ultimately, it’s the Trenchers who are the main antagonists of this book, whom Robert works tirelessly and passionately with his fellow Radcliffe students to oppose.

This is a multi-faceted story with lots of positive messages about fighting for change, serving your fellow citizens, doing good for the world, and reaching for your dreams—all done in an unconventional yet sympathetic way. It’s also a tough book to categorize, because of its many themes. At its heart The Philosopher’s Flight is a coming-of-age new adult tale about growing up, which also has elements like sweet romance (experiencing first love), pulse-pounding action (training to perform dangerous and daring aerial maneuvers), light-hearted humor (making lifelong friendships), as well as thrilling adventure (competing in school spirit events and flying contests). All this is set before an alternate historical fantasy backdrop that feels genuine and well-realized. The college setting also makes me think this would be great for readers looking for a more serious and mature “magic school” story—think Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, except a lot more fun and not as soul-suckingly depressing (not to mention with decidedly more likable characters).

It is my hope that this book, like its protagonist, will reach new heights because it is certainly deserving of all the praise. Tom Miller has written a complex and deeply nuanced debut that examines the way lives can be shaped by social beliefs and experiences, but it is also a wild tale full of warmth and fun. I was glad to learn that The Philosopher’s Flight is the first book of a new series, because I am absolutely on board for more.


YA Weekend: Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult

Series: Book 1/Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor Teen (March 6, 2018)

Length: 384 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I had high hopes for Pacifica, even more so after I read the author’s foreword and realized the story was in part inspired by the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II—a topic that gets touched upon relatively rarely in this genre. And yet, despite the book’s poignant themes, I felt that much of their significance was lost amidst some plot, pacing, and characterization issues. I still had a good time with the novel overall, but ultimately it failed to reach the heights I expected.

The future is bleak in Pacifica, which opens in the year 2193 featuring a world ravaged by natural disasters and epidemics. The North American continent has become unrecognizable after numerous changes to the land and flooding, and what used to be the state of California is now an archipelago. Noram City, the capital of what’s left of the country, is home to both the elites who live safely at high elevations and to the indigent Shoreling population who struggle to survive down near the coasts. With resources dwindling, the government has proposed a new bill called the Relocation Act which will resettle five hundred of Noram’s poorest citizens on a new island called Pacifica.

Understandably, the announcement was met with mixed reactions. Some Shorelings were optimistic, hoping to be chosen for the voyage so that they would have a chance at a fresh start. Others, however, were more skeptical. After all, if Pacifica was such a wonderful paradise, why weren’t the wealthy citizens clamoring to be the ones to go there first?

As the unease sweeps through the city in response to the Relocation Act, Ross Torres, the seventeen-year-old son of the president, gets it into his head to have a bit of fun. Along with his friend Adam Baker, the vice president’s son, the two young men decide to sneak past their security details to check out the riots, subsequently falling into a situation they can’t handle. In the chaos, they meet Marin, the exiled daughter of a pirate king who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, finding herself caught up in the protests. When Adam becomes separated and abducted in violence, Ross is forced to team up with Marin, taking to the seas with her in order to rescue his friend.

This book took a long time to take off. Admittedly, before I knew more about the story, I was drawn to Pacifica because of the promise of pirates and seafaring adventures. Well, none of this good stuff came until much later, because first we had to sit through a long intro of politics and getting to know our protagonists—none of whom were very likeable, if I’m to be honest. Ross’s character was a study in stupidity and arrogance, who just couldn’t seem to take responsibility for his own mistakes or see beyond his own self-interests. It’s also terribly unoriginal, i.e. the rich politician’s son who doesn’t get enough freedom or attention because dad’s too busy with work and mom’s too doped up on prescription drugs. Marin herself fares no better, embodying the cliché of the pirate princess with a heart of gold, complete with a mandatory soft spot for orphaned children. The world-building isn’t very imaginative either; it’s the same old post-apocalyptic dystopian scenario with the earth all messed up because of climate change, and strained resources leading to a huge disparity between the rich and the poor.

But as predictable as this story gets, things do pick up considerable around the halfway point when Ross and Marin finally set sail. Also, fans of YA romance will probably enjoy this book, since I found that aspect to be done very well. More authors should take a page from Pacifica when it comes to gradually exploring and establishing trust between characters before proceeding with the romance. Ross also makes leaps and bounds with regards to his personal growth and development—even if all those changes were to be expected. In spite of this, reading about his eventual epiphany and insight into the situation made the journey worth it in the end.

In sum, more focus on the deeper and more important issues coupled with less reliance on well-trodden tropes would have probably made this one better. While nothing about Pacifica really blew me away or made it stand out from other YA books in the same genre, the story provided an entertaining diversion (especially once it gained momentum in the second half), making this a decent choice if you’re looking for a light, fluffy read.

Friday Face-Off: Doll or Puppet

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

“I got no strings to hold me down”
~ a cover featuring a DOLL or PUPPET

Mogsy’s Pick:
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

This week was a tricky one. As you know, I have a fear of dolls so I’m not exactly jumping to read any books about them, but after browsing through my Goodreads shelves, I did find a book I’ve read which I could use. Broken Monsters is a supernatural crime thriller which opens with a bizarre and grisly discovery – the top half of a boy’s corpse fused with the bottom half of a deer’s corpse, left behind by the disturbed killer for the police to find.

This is definitely not a book for the squeamish. Needless to say, there are some rather macabre covers on display this week. Let’s take a look at them now:

From left to right, top to bottom:
Mulholland HC (2014) – Mulholland PB (2015) – HarperCollins (2014) – Harper (2015)


Chinese Edition (2016) – Vietnamese Edition (2016) – Indonesian Edition (2017)


Dutch Edition (2015) – French Edition (2015) – German Edition (2015) – Spanish Edition (2016)



There’s really only one cover I like out of this batch, one that’s all around solid in terms of visual appeal and how well it fits the story. The winner I’ve chosen this week is the Indonesian edition, which manages to convey all the twisted horror and creepiness of the novel without resorting to grotesque imagery, and I also really like the colors.

But what do you think? Which one is your favorite?


Guest Post: “The Cat-Mummy of Curzon Street Station” by James Brogden

Based on the real-life British mystery of “Bella in the Wych Elm”, The Hollow Tree is a dark tale that mixes fantasy, horror, and urban myth to weave a moving narrative about identity, family and mortality. The story’s protagonist Rachel has been plagued by nightmares ever since losing her hand in a tragic accident, but are the visions in her dreams of a hollow tree and reaching hands a sign of madness from the trauma, or could there possibly be darker forces at work? Today we are pleased to welcome the book’s author James Brogden to The BiblioSanctum to write about another real-life urban legend – one that is local to him –  and it is a fascinating one, so you definitely won’t want to miss this meow-nificent post! His new novel published by Titan books was released on March 13, 2018 and is available now wherever books are sold, so check it out!

by James Brogden

The British government is currently spending billions of pounds to build a high-speed rail link between London and the Midlands, and when it gets here it’s going to be greeted by a mummified dead cat.

In 1838 the London to Birmingham Railway company opened the Birmingham station at Curzon Street, but at some point during the construction process a cat had managed to become trapped underneath the floorboards – the quality of Victorian joinery being so good that it created an airtight void, leading to the unfortunate feline being naturally mummified rather than simply rotting away.

Whether this was accidental or deliberate, nobody knows for certain. The mummification of cats is an ancient practice which goes back to the Egyptian worship of Bastet. Originally a warrior lioness goddess, Bastet evolved into a deity of more ordinary domestic cats. Folklore experts have plenty of evidence that cats were believed to have the ability to see ghosts and spirits, and so their entombments within the fabric of domestic buildings were often as good luck charms to ward off supernatural threats such as witches, the evil eye, or the Devil himself. Bastet was also associated with the highly ornate jars which Egyptians stored perfumes and cosmetics, becoming known as the ‘perfumed protector’, her scents providing a defense against contagious diseases and evil spirits. So revered were the animals that they were mummified in vast numbers, and when an Egyptian farmer discovered an underground chamber in 1888 it contained hundreds of thousands of preserved animals – they were in fact considered so commonplace that they were sold by the ton and ground up for use as fertilizer in English fields.

There have been numerous discoveries of mummified cats in recent years. In 2011, engineers found one hidden in the wall of a cottage close to Pendle Hill, site of the infamous witchcraft trials of 1612 in which nine women were executed for witchcraft, leading some to believe that the cottage had been the coven’s meeting place known as the ‘Malkin Tower.’

The Curzon Street cat was discovered by workmen renovating the station in the 1980s, and set in a wall-mounted display case when the building became office spaces, almost as an affectionate ‘mascot’ for the site. Subsequently it has been removed and is in the care of the council until the high speed rail link known as HS2 is complete. At the moment, all that remains of the great rail terminus of the 1830s is the main station building: three stories of Palladian masonry, its heavy double doors flanked by four massive columns, sitting grandly amidst a wilderness of concrete, rubble and weeds.

When finished, HS2 will incorporate the old station house as part of the new terminus, and the hope is that the Curzon Street Cat will return to greet passengers, and maybe even protect them on their journeys.


James Brogden was born in Manchester in 1969, and lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His short stories have been published by the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons, Alchemy Press and Anachron Press. His first novel, ‘The Narrows’, was published by Snowbooks in 2012, and the follow-up – ‘Tourmaline’ – in 2013.

His most recent work is the sequel to ‘Tourmaline’ called ‘The Realt.’

When he’s not writing or trying to teach children how to, he gets out into the mountains whenever he can, exploring the remains of Britain’s prehistoric past and hunting for standing stones. Fortunately they don’t run very fast.


Waiting on Wednesday 03/14/18

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

Competence by Gail Carriger (July 17, 2018 by Orbit)

So delighted to see that Ms. Carriger still has more plans for the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti, and I can’t wait to see where Prudence and her friends will float to next in her dirigible that looks like a giant farting ladybug. The cover of this book makes my eyes hurt, though. The color of that dress…

“Accidentally abandoned!

All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.

When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life’s most challenging questions:

Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul?

Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez?

And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?”


Review: Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 2 of The Wounded Kingdom

Publisher: Paperback: Orbit | Audiobook: Hachette Audio (February 13, 2018)

Length: Paperback: 480 pages | Audiobook: 15 hrs and 8 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Joe Jameson

In general, I find that most second books of a trilogy rarely live up to the first one, and so I foolishly thought this would be the case here as well. Well, I’ve never been happier that I was wrong. R.J. Barker has topped his first book with a spectacular sequel containing even more intrigue, more action, and more heart.

Several years have passed since the end of Age of Assassins, and in that time, many changes have come to the Tired Lands. Among the biggest of these is the ousting of Aydor, former heir to the throne, and now Rufra rules as king. War, however, still rages across the land, with three ambitious men all vying for the same crown. In the intervening years, our protagonist, the assassin-in-training Girton Clubfoot, as well as his master Merela have been traveling with a band of mercenaries, trying to keep a low profile amidst the conflict in order to escape the bounty hunters on their trail. But despite their best efforts, disaster finds them in the end, and with Merela incapacitated by a deadly poison, Girton has no choice but to return to Castle Maniyadoc at the behest of an old foe.

Still, coming back to Maniyadoc has its upsides. Girton is reunited with his friend Rufra, who has not forgotten our protagonist’s role in helping him become king. The problem now is keeping things that way, as rumors abound that Rufra has a spy among his inner circle. Girton has been tasked to root the traitor out, but this time he is on his own without his master’s guidance and advice. Furthermore, with Merela out of commission, there is no one to help him with his greatest secret—the fact he has the ability to wield magic, a crime that carries a penalty of torture and death in the Tired Lands. As the power in him grows stronger each day with no outlet for release, Girton fears that his control will fail him before he can save his friend.

Blood of Assassins has a similar premise to Age of Assassins, but this time the stakes involved are so much higher. To find the spy, Girton must also think like a spy—except he’s not very good at it. As an assassin, he’s more well-versed in the business of killing rather than the business of subterfuge and espionage. In the first book, he was also able to move around Castle Maniyadoc relatively unnoticed as just another squire, but now that he is lauded as King Rufra’s champion, staying under the radar has become impossible, making his job that much harder. Ultimately though, Girton’s greatest challenge will be to overcome his own demons. Without Merela’s counsel, there’s no one to steer him in the right direction or tell him when he’s letting his own emotions cloud his judgment, and he becomes his own worst enemy. Like an impulsive teenager, Girton often comes out swinging without thinking things through, and that lack of subtlety burns him more than once throughout the course of this tale.

What we’re seeing here is an older but not quite so wiser version of our protagonist who is trying to find his own way. Despite his blunders and occasional selfishness though, one just can’t help but feel for him. The last few years have not been kind to Girton, and he has suffered many losses which have challenged his worldview, even going as far as to make him change his fighting style. He has also become a lot more guarded towards Merela, because of the events in the last book that strained their relationship. Along with that comes a realization that his master is not invulnerable, and the possibility that he may lose her—to death or to abandonment—is a fear that drives him to take some reckless actions. All things considered, the level of character development and exploration we see here is quite astounding, and my feelings of endearment for our protagonist have only grown. In addition, Girton and Merela’s relationship continues to be one of the best master-apprentice dynamics I have ever encountered.

The best part of this book, though, is a possible spoiler so I can’t go into too much detail; suffice to say, I admire R.J. Barker so much right now for making me do a one-eighty on a particular character that I despised in the first book. It allowed things to build up to an epic finale, which had me holding back tears from all the different emotions roiling inside me.

Bottom line, Blood of Assassins is the kind of book you want to shout about from the rooftops at the top of your lungs and demand everyone you know to pick it up and read it. I’m beyond excited and a little nervous to read the final book in the trilogy, but if things continue trending in this direction, I have no doubt it will be a stellar conclusion.

Audiobook Comments: The awesomeness of this book was such that I could not bring myself to stop reading even when life got in the way. Fortunately, I was also able to listen to the audiobook while on the go, and I’m happy to say that this format provided just as much entertainment as the print edition. Joe Jameson is a seasoned narrator who has read for many other titles I’ve enjoyed in the past, and he’s once again delivered a wonderful performance in Blood and Assassins, providing the perfect voice for Girton.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Age of Assassins (Book 1)


Book Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop + Giveaway!

***Be sure to check out the end of the review for details on our LAKE SILENCE giveaway!***

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Others

Publisher: Ace Books (March 6, 2018)

Length: 402 pages

Author Information: Website

Lake Silence is the first book of a new spin-off series set in world of The Others by Anne Bishop, therefore making a great place to jump on board if you’ve ever played with the idea of checking these novels out. While the story takes place in a different town following a group of new people, it still shares many traits with the original series such as Bishop’s incredible world-building as well as her flair for creating compelling and dynamic character relationships.

This novel opens on the small village of Sproing (is that not just the cutest name ever?) where a rustic little property called the Jumble sits beside the calm shores of Lake Silence. Our protagonist Vicki DeVine is the proprietor, having turned it into a cozy resort after receiving it in a divorce settlement. There’s a catch though; the land it is built on actually belongs to the Others, also known as the terra indigene—powerful, paranormal creatures that have called Earth home long before humans came into the picture. Territory controlled by the Others are often governed by strict rules, but as long you are willing to abide by them, most of the terra indigene are content to live in peace with the humans living on their land.

For Vicki, the Jumble has become her pride and joy, after all the time and effort she has put into upgrading the place. Her first tenant is even one of the Others, a shifter named Aggie Crowe. But then one day, Aggie finds a dead body on the property, so naturally, Vicki calls the police. When the human authorities arrive, however, they only bring more trouble and worries. Suddenly, our protagonist finds herself suspected of murder, despite evidence showing that no human could have committed the crime. Worse of all, someone appears to be after the Jumble, and they’ll do anything to force Vicki off the property even if it means angering the Others and threatening the stability of their domain.

If you are a newcomer, Lake Silence will cover everything you need to know. It really is meant to be a fresh start, with only minimal references to the events that took place in the previous series. Admittedly, for those who are already familiar with the world, most of the introduction of this book will feel routine, covering the history of the Others and explaining the natural order of things. Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing of interest for old fans. Sproing is a very different setting compared to Lakeside Courtyard, and there are also plenty of new names to learn, new places to visit. I especially enjoyed meeting Vicki DeVine, a fascinating protagonist despite her struggles with a lot of personal problems and insecurities. After the first few chapters told from her point of view, I already knew I was going to like her more than Meg Corbyn from the original series. Perhaps it was due to the first-person perspective, but I immediately connected with her on a deeper and more emotional level.

That said, I noticed quite a few parallels to the first series too. Sproing may not be Lakeside Courtyard, but it does contain certain similarities and analogs to it such as the quintessential good cop, the charming little bookstore, its own population of elemental ponies, and the list goes on. Even the attitudes and personalities of the villains remind me of the ones I’ve seen before in the previous series. The author appears to have recycled a lot of her ideas, repackaging them to be used here. Even Vicki is a lot like Meg in some ways, in that she is a victim of past abuses so that her fragile nature leads the Others to think she must be protected. On the one hand, I don’t see a problem with a spin-off series retaining a lot of the tone, spirit, and themes of the original, but on the other, part of me had hoped for something a little different and more inspired.

Still, this being the first book, I’m optimistic that the characters and setting will get their chance to develop their own distinctiveness as the series continues to grow and evolve. Already, there appears to be character backstories to explore and more connections to be made. Plot pacing and levels of excitement are also off to a good start, and the way things ended in this installment got me all pumped up and ready for the next one. In sum, Lake Silence is a great book if you enjoyed the previous five novels in the world of The Others, but it also makes a perfect beginning for readers who haven’t read them and are curious to see what the fuss is all about.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Written in Red (Book 1)
Review of Murder of Crows (Book 2)
Review of Vision in Silver (Book 3)
Review of Marked in Flesh (Book 4)
Review of Etched in Bone (Book 5)

Lake Silence Giveaway

And now, time for the giveaway! With thanks to Ace Books, the BiblioSanctum has one hardcover print copy of Lake Silence up for grabs. By request of the publisher, this giveaway is open to residents of the US only.  To enter, all you have to do is send an email to with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “LAKE SILENCE” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Sunday, March 18, 2018 and we’ll take care of the rest.

Only one entry per household, please. The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.

So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!


YA Weekend Audio: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Series: Book 3 of The Illuminae Files

Publisher: Listening Library (March 13, 2018)

Length: 13 hrs

Author Information: Amie Kaufman | Jay Kristoff

Narrators: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Carla Corvo, Full Cast

Despite knowing beforehand that Obsidio was meant to be the final book of a planned trilogy, I was still hit with a wave of shock upon finishing the novel. It’s over. I still can’t believe it’s really over! As for why this particular ending affected me so much, I genuinely believe it’s because The Illuminae Files is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kinds of stories—a series that will stand in its own class, as time will prove, though I have no doubt plenty of imitators will try to duplicate its successes in the years to come.

As for Obsidio itself, the story is once again told in the epistolary style established by the first two books, presented as a collection of transcripts, journal entries, emails, chat messages, and other types of documentation. It picks up from the end of Gemina, following the four major characters that have already been introduced—Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik—while adding still two more in to the mix: Asha Grant and Rhys Lindstrom.

Unlike the previous installments though, this time the focus of the tale is split. One part takes place aboard the container ship Mao, which has taken in the thousands of survivors from the Alexander fleet and Heimdall Station disasters, including Kady and her friends. With no place left to go, the refugees’ only option is to return to Kerenza, a planet still being illegally occupied by the megacorp BeiTech.

But things on Kerenza have only gone from bad to worse in the seven months since the planet was invaded. BeiTech’s military now holds the entire population hostage, forcing miners to carry on working or else see their loved ones brutally killed. In spite of this, an underground resistance has formed, fighting back using methods like sabotage and subterfuge. As the death toll rises on both sides, tensions on Kerenza reach a fever pitch. This provides the backdrop for the second part of the story, starring our new protagonists Asha and her old flame Rhys.

Asha, who is Kady’s cousin as well as a fervent member of the resistance, now finds herself working in the hospital on Kerenza, hating everything that BeiTech and their military enforcers have done to her planet. So imagine her surprise when one day, in walks her ex-boyfriend whom she hasn’t seen in years, and he’s all decked out in said military enforcer uniform, representing everything she is fighting against. Rhys, on his part, is just as shocked to see Asha, though he can’t really understand why she is so disappointed and angry. After all, he’s just a new recruit, freshly assigned to Kerenza with no real grasp of the messy situation he’s gotten himself into. He certainly doesn’t want to fight Asha, but because of who his employers are, he might not have a choice.

Of the three books in the series, Gemina still probably ranks as my favorite. But just because I didn’t think Obsidio was as good as its predecessor doesn’t mean I didn’t still love it to bits! Clearly, as you can see from my rating, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I thought this was a great read and a fantastic conclusion, even if we did lose a slight edge because of the split focus. The two previous books had the advantage of following exclusively one couple, while Obsidio needed to simultaneously keep track of no less than six characters, spread out between two very different settings. This also made it the most complex installment, with a lot of background information to cover. For all that, the authors still did an outstanding job keeping up the tensions and excitement, filling the plot with plenty of conflicts and plot twists.

Now this is where things in my review get a little tricky because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but another notable character also returns in the form of the artificial intelligence known as AIDAN. He likes to wax poetic about heroes, villains, and monsters, but which one is he? I’ll let you read the book and be the judge.

In any case, if you’ve been enjoying the series so far, there is no doubt in my mind you’ll also love Obsidio. There is just as much action, passion, and heartbreak. One might even venture to say it is the deepest and most emotional of the three books. This is where everything ties together, and in many ways, it’s apropos that Kerenza plays a big role again, so that the saga ends in the same place it began. Like all good conclusions, Obsidio encourages the reader to think back upon everything that has transpired, reflecting on the characters’ victories and losses. The final pages filled me with a warm sense of satisfaction and fondness, and at the end of the day that’s all I can really ask for.

Audiobook Comments: Once more, I just can’t stress how amazing this series is in audio. Unlike most regular productions, the audiobooks for The Illuminae Files are performed by a full cast complete with sound effects, so that the experience plays out like an epic movie in your mind. For a book like Obsidio, actually getting to hear the voices of the characters made the story even more intense and urgent. All the narrators delivered stellar performances, and I truly believe the fantastic acting was what put this one over the top. Highly recommended.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Illuminae (Book 1)
Review of Gemina (Book 2)


Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every other weekend which fills the role of several blog memes, like Stacking the Shelves where I talk about the new books I’ve added to my library or received for review, as well as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? where I round up what I’ve read since the last update and what I’m planning to read soon. Mostly it also serves as a recap post, so sometimes I’ll throw in stuff like reading challenge progress reports, book lists, and other random bookish thoughts or announcements.

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Received for Review

Happy March, everyone! I’m still kind of in catch-up mode, sop here are the rest of the books that made its way into my mailbox in the last couple weeks of February. My thanks to the publishers and authors for the following review copies received! For more details and full descriptions of the books, be sure to click the links to their Goodreads pages.

The awesome folks at Tor are kicking us off today with a couple new arrivals: Dayfall by Michael David Ares takes place in a dystopian future where the darkness of a nuclear winter has fallen over much of the eastern United States. Reviews seem to be a little mixed, but I still find myself curious to check out this sci-fi crime thriller. If Tomorrow Comes by Nancy Kress is the sequel to Tomorrow’s Kin, a cool story of alien first contact that I read last year. I enjoyed it a lot, so I’m looking forward to continuing the series. Next up are two Tor Teen arrvials: Pacifica by Kristin Simmons is a young adult fantasy about pirates, so I’m definitely all over it. I’m also very excited about this ARC of The Unfortunates by Kim Liggett. I loved her book The Last Harvest last year, and while this one is quite a bit different in terms of genre, I still can’t wait to read more of her work.

Courtesy of Ace Books I also received a finished copy of Lake Silence by Anne Bishop, the start to her spin-off series taking place in the same world as The Others. I had a great time with this one; my review should be up early next week along with a giveaway opportunity, so be sure to keep your eyes out for that!

With thanks to Saga Press and Wunderkind PR, I also received an ARC of The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell. I finally caught up to this one and finished it earlier this week, and as you can see from my review it wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still had a good time.

Thanks also to Orbit for the following ARCs! I was pumped when this copy of One Way by S. J. Morden showed up unexpectedly last month; for a long time I’ve had my eye on this sci-fi thriller featuring a murder mystery involving a small crew of ex-cons working on Mars. And yay for Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft! I’m looking forward to reading this second installment of The Books of Babel series.

Next up is this amazing looking book called Holmes Entangled by Gordon McAlpine. Described as a Sherlock Holmes-inspired quantum meta-mystery, it sounds fun and quirky and utterly fascinating. I just hope the quantum mechanics won’t be too much for me to handle! My thanks to Seventh Street Books! And from their sister imprint Pyr Books, I also received this ARC of a new-to-me book called Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson. I see that it’s a sci-fi police procedural though, so consider me intrigued. My thanks to the publishers!

A couple weeks ago I was also thrilled to receive a surprise package from the wonderful team at Tachyon Publications, containing The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer, a historical fantasy set in the ancient moors of Scotland. Its premise has a charming fairy tale-like quality to it, and already I’ve seen this one likened to the works of Juliet Marillier. I just hope those comparisons are true because this one sounds incredible.

And finally, rounding out today’s batch of new arrivals is The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, described as a Gothic ghost story that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect. OOOoooOOOooohhh, creepy…and I love the sound of it! This one’s flying to the top of my TBR, with thanks to Penguin Books.



Thankfully my eARC and audiobook haul is not quite so big this week, because I really need to work on paring down my digital TBR. But of course I couldn’t resist requesting an audiobook review copy of Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff because this series is absolutely amazeballs in audio! Needless to say, I listened to it right away and loved it, and my review should be up tomorrow. I also decided to check out Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi because I really enjoyed her Star-Touched Queen duology. This time she’s trying her hand a middle grade fantasy, and I think this one could be good. My thanks to Listening Library to these.

From NetGalley, I also finally caved and decided to grab The Testament of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. Might as well stop fighting it and just admit I really need to read this sequel to The Gospel of Loki. Throwing caution to the wind, I also requested Mirage by Somaiya Daud after learning more about it from several blogs recently. And in one final indulgence, after browsing Edelweiss one day, I requested Pack by Mike Bockoven. A supernatural thriller about werewolves set in a rural Nebraskan town, this novel has been likened to the works of Anne Rice mixed with pulpy, bloody horror. My thanks to Saga Press, Flatiron Books, and Talos for these.

And finally, with thanks to Serial Box I received ReMade Season 2 by by Matthew Cody, Gwenda Bond, Andrea Phillips, E.C. Myers, and Amy Rose Capettanow that the entire season is complete. So far, this is probably one of my favorite serials from them and I look forward to continuing the next chapter.


A quick summary of the reviews I’ve posted since the last update:

The Hunger by Alma Katsu (4 of 5 stars)
A Time of Dread by John Gwynne (4 of 5 stars)
Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira (4 of 5 stars)
Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (4 of 5 stars)
Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins (3.5 of 5 stars)
The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell (3.5 of 5 stars)
Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone (3 of 5 stars)

Interviews & Guest Posts

A huge thanks to the authors who stopped by The BiblioSanctum this week!

“Working Out the Rules of Interstellar Travel” by Gareth L. Powell
“The Self-Publishing Catch-22” by M.D. Presley

What I’ve Read Since the Last Update

Here’s what I’ve “unstacked” from the TBR since my last roundup post. I’m making up for lost time! Most of these have already been reviewed, and the rest will be coming soon.



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Have you heard of or read any of the books featured this week? What caught your eye? Any new discoveries? I hope you found something interesting for a future read! Let me know what you plan on checking out. Until next time, see you next Roundup!:)


Friday Face-Off: Sun

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

“…but Icarus flew too close”
~ a cover featuring the SUN

Mogsy’s Pick:
Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Like many of Kay’s stories that feature fictional analogs of real places in history, this novel is said to be inspired by the conflicts and intrigues of Renaissance Europe. Readers who are knowledgeable in the era will probably recognize historical elements from the fifteenth to sixteenth century. For instance, the Ottoman Empire has been re-imagined as the Osmanli Empire, and the most Serene Republic of Venice or la Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia has become the Republic of Seressa. Using this vibrant setting as a backdrop, Kay chronicles the lives of a disparate group of characters whose fates are all interwoven and connected like the threads of a tapestry.

Now let’s take a look at the covers:

From left to right, top to bottom:
NAL (2016) – Hodder & Stoughton (2016)
French Edition (2017) – Russian Edition (2016)




I’m going to have to go with the edition I own here, the NAL cover from 2016. I love the gilded effect, which gives this cover an extra touch of class.

What do you think? Which one is your favorite?