Waiting on Wednesday 05/15/19

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

Anyone by Charles Soule (December 3, 2019 by Harper Perennial)

Can’t say I’m a big fan of the cover, but when I learned that Charles Soule, the comic book writer who released his novel debut The Oracle Year last year was going to have a new book coming out in late 2019, it went immediately onto my wishlist. Anyone is a brand new story, and I hope that it will follow in the footsteps of The Oracle Year to become another awesome “outside my box” read.

Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…

Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose – sex, drugs, crime… or worse.

Anyone masterfully interweaves the present-day story of the discovery and development of the flash with the gritty tale of one woman’s crusade to put an end to the darkness it has brought to the world twenty-five years after its creation. Like Blade Runner crossed with Get Out, Charles Soule’s thought-provoking work of speculative fiction takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide.”

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Audiobook Review: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

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

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (April 23, 2019)

Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Stephanie Racine

I’ve been on a thriller kick lately, and maybe that’s why, after reading a lot of the same-old-same-old, I found I Know Who You Are to be entertaining but it did not really wow me. That said, it if you enjoy a good psychological suspense-thriller, it is completely serviceable and shouldn’t disappoint.

Told in alternating chapters, I Know Who You Are is a novel featuring two narrative threads. One is about Aimee Sinclair, an up-and-coming actress who recently landed the leading role in a major film. But her success is precarious; any kind of scandal or negative press would be enough to put an end to her career before it even begins. One day, during a break in filming, Aimee returns home to find her house empty, her husband Ben nowhere to be found even though he should be waiting for her. Most disconcerting of all is that his cellphone and wallet had been left behind, and Aimee knows Ben would never go anywhere without them. Worried, she calls the police, but when they show up, their investigation only leads to even more questions. Worse, Aimee becomes a suspect herself, which would ruin her if the press ever gets wind of her husband’s disappearance.

The other narrative thread takes place in the past, following a little girl who is abducted by a disturbed couple and raised as their own. This is Aimee’s childhood—she was given a new name, a new life, and told to never speak of her time with her real family ever again. Over the next few years, Aimee was subjected to many abuses and traumas that no child should ever have to experience, and yet, she could not help but love her kidnappers, who still took care of her and loved her in their own sick, twisted way.

More than this I will not reveal, given how this genre thrives surprises and the unexpected. Needless to say though, by the end of the book, all the connections will be made, questions will be answered, and what happens will probably shock you. Personally, I thought the ending was completely insane and loved the bombshells dropped on us in the final chapters, despite some of the revelations straining my ability to suspend disbelief. Still, as one can argue this is par for the course when it comes to thrillers, I was more than willing to overlook the more outrageous and absurd plot points in the conclusion. Instead, most of the things I did not like about this novel had more to do with what happened in the lead-up and middle sections.

For one, things felt a little too drawn out. While the two alternating storylines created tension and intrigue, eventually this back-and-forth began to wear on my nerves. Following the life of young Aimee became my favorite part of the book, whereas the present Aimee chapters became somewhat tiresome and repetitive. The author utilized short chapters and switched frequently, probably intending to give both timelines the same amount of attention. Instead, I felt that too much time was spent puttering about the insecurities and uncertainties of older Aimee’s life when all I wanted was for the book to go back to focus on poor little younger Aimee, whose day-to-day existence was both fascinating and horrific to read about.

Which brings me to my second issue with this novel, which is namely its heavy reliance on purposefully shocking the reader, using some methods that are more blatant than others. Again, this is not so unusual for the genre (and normally not something I would even point out as a flaw) except that the shock factor felt so imbalanced. Like I said, the middle parts of the book were just okay in terms of engaging my interest, and it almost felt like the author was trying to overcompensate with the ending, throwing in something so crazy and over-the-top in the hopes of “making up for it.”

Still, I did enjoy this book, even if I didn’t think it was anything too special. If you read a lot of thrillers, some of the plot points may feel familiar (a missing spouse, the unreliable narrator, some ambiguity surrounding memory, etc.) but the ending will likely get a strong reaction, and ultimately it’s why I felt this book was worth my time, despite its flaws. I Know Who You Are might not be the best I’ve read in this genre, but there’s good entertainment value.

Audiobook Comments: I thought narrator Stephanie Racine could have varied her voices a little more, but she was an excellent reader and had a good feel for Aimee, especially in the childhood chapters where getting the character’s emotions across was so important. Overall, I felt she delivered a good performance.

Audiobook Review: Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

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

Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

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

Genre: Science Fiction, Media Tie-In

Series: Star Wars Canon

Publisher: Random House Audio (April 30, 2019)

Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Full Cast

Star Wars audiobooks are always a treat to listen to, but audio dramas are on a whole other level. Performed by a full cast and available only as an audiobook, Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost is an immersive experience that puts your right in the middle of the action and makes you feel like you are in a Star Wars movie, watching all the events and action play out around you.

Since the release of the prequels and the character’s first appearance in Attack of the Clones, the origins of Count Dooku AKA Darth Tyranus has been shrouded in mystery and plagued with questions. We know that he was a former Jedi and a Padawan of Yoda’s before he became the Count of Serenno and the Leader of the Separatists. But what happened in between? What was his childhood like, and how did he fall out with the Jedi leading him down the path to the dark side?

Dooku: Jedi Lost seeks to address all of that, by taking listeners all the way to the beginning when our main character was just a boy at the Jedi Temple, where he is just one of many younglings brought to Coruscant by seekers scouring the galaxy for force-sensitives. He hasn’t even been chosen as an apprentice by Yoda this point, but while on an excursion with his fellow students to the planet of Serenno as part of a cultural exchange presentation, Dooku discovers something about his personal history that will forever change the way he views the Jedi and himself.

I should also mention that all of these past events are told in flashback because Dooku: Jedi Lost is a frame story which places us some time during the Clone Wars when Dathomir Nightsister and dark Jedi Asajj Ventress was still an acolyte to Count Dooku, working as his assassin. Chafing under the Sith lord and tortured with visions and voices in her head, Ventress is given a new assignment to track down a new target—someone close to the Count’s own heart. As she makes her way to Serenno to fulfill her task, Ventress learns more about Dooku and catches glimpses of the most defining moments of his life with the Jedi.

Along with the recently released Star Wars: Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, new canon offerings like this one are proving to be a blessing for fans who want to know more about prequel era. Clocking in at a mere six hours and twenty-one minutes, this audio drama is nowhere near as long as the series’ typical novels, but it still packs a lot of content. Besides the emotional decisions and the political ramifications that led Dooku to turn his back on the Jedi and take up the mantle of his forebears, this audio drama also delves deeper into his personal relationships including that of his close friendship with Sifo-Dyas as well as his apprenticeship with the famed Yoda. Eventually, of course, Dooku also reaches the rank of Master Jedi and becomes master himself to a hot-headed young Padawan, Qui-Gon Jinn.

Written by Cavan Scott, the story is well-plotted and developed. However, as entertaining was it was, I can’t really see the history of Count Dooku being all that exciting to anyone but the most hardcore of fans. Luckily though, the story isn’t the only reason why people pick up audio dramas. After all, the best and most notable aspects of this format are the audiobook production values and technical qualities, as well as the incredible performances. And I’m pleased to say that in this area, the creators of Dooku: Jedi Lost went all out. Sounds are used to great effect, and musical snippets from John Williams’ brilliant score inject another emotional layer to the experience. Then there’s the incredible talent of all the voice actors and actresses. Compared to regular audiobooks, audio dramas typically demand a lot more acting from their narrators because there is less descriptive text, and so every spoken line has to contain a lot more information in the way it is delivered. For the most part, I feel the cast gave a spectacular performance.

All I can say is, yes please to more Star Wars audio dramas! I can see so much potential for future tales that will work great for this format. Dooku: Jedi Lost is worth checking out for the exquisite audio experience alone, and fans also get a surprisingly in-depth study into one of more enigmatic characters of the Star Wars universe.

Audiobook Comments: If you’re not familiar with audio dramas, some time may be needed to ease into the format. Narrated by a cast of twelve, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but each voice is distinct enough thanks to the talented readers. Although everyone gave a strong performance, some were better than others. Ironically, Euan Morton’s performance as Dooku was pretty average, though to be fair, he’s portraying a younger version of the character in addition to trying to fill the shoes of some very big names including Christopher Lee and Corey Burton who voiced the character in The Clone Wars and various other Star Wars projects. But standouts in this audio drama include Orlagh Cassidy as Asajj Ventress, Sean Kenin as Sifo-Dyas, Carol Monda as Lene Kostana, Saskia Maarleveld as Jenza, Jonathan Davis as Qui-Gon Jinn, and Marc Thompson as Yoda.

Book Review: Finder by Suzanne Palmer

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

Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 1/Stand Alone

Publisher: DAW (April 2, 2019)

Length: 400 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

If you’re ever in need of something to brighten your day or give you a nice shot of energy after you find that a string of heavier, ponderous books has sapped your all your motivation, Finder by Suzanne Palmer is exactly the kind of pick-me-up the situation calls for. It’s nothing too deep or fancy, but it sure as hell gets the job done.

This is a tale set in the far-flung future, following the escapades of our protagonist Fergus Ferguson. A self-described finder, it’s his job to chase down some of the galaxy’s most notorious criminals to retrieve lost or stolen items, a position which hasn’t earned him much popularity, though the same cannot be said about the number of his enemies. His latest gig is a mission to steal back a spaceship from a egomaniacal ex-nobleman turned crime lord named Arum Gilger, who has been making a big splash lately with his ever expanding sphere or influence and power. However, as Fergus makes his way to the remote system called Cernee where he has located Gilger and the stolen ship, the cable car he was traveling in is attacked. Fergus barely escapes with his life, but his fellow passenger, a kind and pleasant older lady with whom he had established a friendly rapport in the introduction to the novel, does not make it.

Little does he know, that brief connection they shared will lead to much deeper and wide-spread consequences. Recovering from the attack, Fergus finds himself tangled up with the locals and their plight. Cernee is now plunged into a civil war, and our protagonist will have no choice but to fight alongside his newfound allies against Gilger and his dastardly plans to seize control over their colony. Meanwhile, the fight is further complicated by the emergence of a mysterious alien species that was long thought to be a myth, adding another layer of action and intrigue to an already compelling mix.

Finder was a boatload of fun, no other description really required. It’s the kind of book where you can let your thinking mind take a backseat while you break out the popcorn and indulge in a breakneck, high-octane space adventure. But most impressively, despite all the nonstop action, Palmer still manages to set aside some time for world-building and character development, creating in Fergus Ferguson a well-rounded and likeable protagonist you just can’t help but root for. Although he was born on Earth (hailing from Scotland, naturally), Fergus blew off the earth at a young age and has been bouncing around the galaxy ever since, making a name for himself as a kind of space repo man. As far as sci-fi scoundrels go, I love the direction the author has chosen with our main character, and his personalities traits and life experiences are as interesting as you’d expect.

Then, there’s the humor. Featuring a mixed bag of genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy combined with a healthy dose of groan-worthy jokes and cheesy slapstick, this novel is guaranteed to have something for everyone. The lightness also keeps this one from becoming too gritty and dark amidst all the explosive violence and action. Fergus has a talent for getting himself into tight situations again and again, but tensions are lessened by the slick dialogue and the story’s easy ability to make you laugh.

Fergus’ interactions with the other characters also deserve a mention. No matter how endearing or charismatic they are, few characters can carry a story on their own, and to be sure, much of the entertainment I derived from Finder was thanks to Fergus’ personality and background being bound up in the lives of the other supporting characters he meets. The people of Cernee felt real, and so did their problems. Palmer’s world-building skills are on full display here, when you consider the sheer effort that must have gone into the creation of this intricate little community and their role in the wider network of systems beyond. The emotional connection I felt towards Fergus’ new friends came very naturally, and consequently their relationship dynamics and interactions also felt well-written and believable.

All told, Suzanne Palmer has brought to life a surprisingly developed and well-layered space adventure, considering how strong the emphasis was on delivering fast-paced action and thrills. A novel debut for her, Finder clearly shows that making the jump from short stories to long form fiction is not a problem for the author. While you won’t be getting anything too deep or sophisticated with this one, there’s no denying that it’s a lot of fun.

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

My thanks to the publishers and authors for the following review copies received, and be sure to click the links to their Goodreads pages for more details and full descriptions!

My thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy of The Gameshouse by Claire North, the omnibus collecting books 1-3 in the author’s series of the same name. This is a trilogy of novellas I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now, so I’m looking forward to diving in.

With thanks to the publicity team at Berkley and Ace/Roc/DAW for sending along a finished copy of A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s been a long time since I last picked up something by Kay, and a new book coming out from the author is definitely cause to celebrate. Also newly arrived is a finished copy of Pariah by W. Michael Gear, the third and final installment of the incredibly addictive colonization sci-fi Donovan trilogy. I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Earlier this month I also received a couple surprises from the kind folks at Harper Voyager and Wunderkind PR. I’ve never heard of the Antasy series before, but the name of it makes me smile. The first book Prophets of the Ghost Ants by Clark Thomas Carlton and its sequel The Prophet of the Termite God unexpected landed on my doorstep last week, and I’m still debating whether to check it out as time is pretty tight this spring/summer and my reading list is already pretty packed. Still, this series just looks so damn cool!

Thanks also to Tor Teen for a surprise ARC of Stormrise by Jillian Boehme, a book I only learned of recently when I caught the cover reveal on the publisher’s blog earlier this spring. I still don’t know a lot about it, but the book’s description calls it an epic YA fantasy inspired by Twelfth Night and it has dragons, so that’s already a whole bunch of reasons for me to check it out!

In case you missed it, earlier this week we took part in a tour celebrating the release of Snakeskins by Tim Major and the publisher Titan Books also sent along a review copy. I love this cover so much, as it really sets the tone for a sci-fi thriller about cloning and rejuvenation tech. Next up, the publisher also sent me a review copy of Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine by G.S. Denning. As you know I’m a huge fan of this series, which was why I was so surprised I hadn’t heard there was going to be a fourth book until the release date of it was practically upon us! This is great news though, and I’m excited to get back into the shenanigans of Warlock and Watson in this humorous paranormal homage to Sherlock Holmes.

Speaking of excitement: courtesy of Saga Press, I received ARCs to a couple of books releasing later this summer that I’m very interested in checking out! The UK release date of Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh actually happened a couple months ago, and already the book has been making some big waves and is garnering high praise. Needless to say, my interest in reading it grows by the day and it is definitely going on my July/August TBR! The second book, This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone is pretty high on my summer reading list too, even though time travel can be tricky. Still, I trust Max Gladstone to tell a good story, and I’m also curious to discover the work of Amal El-Mohtar.

And get an eyeful of these gorgeous hardcover editions of The Forgetting Moon and The Blackest Heart by Brian Lee Durfee! I’ve had this series on my radar for quite some time now, so when I received a message from the author asking if I would be interested in reviewing the books, I said definitely count me in! Huge thanks to Brian for sending these lovely beauties my way, and they’re signed and personalized too! Hoping to start the first book soon.

On to the digital pile, I want to give shout outs to a few more authors who sent eARCs my way this week. I nabbed a NetGalley widget of The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, with thanks to the authors and Angry Robot for the opportunity! And look at this adorable cover of A Collection of Obsessions by Michael R. Fletcher, designed by the author’s own daughter! But knowing a fair bit about Fletcher’s dark and gritty writing style though, I gather what’s inside the book might be a little different. This is a collection of the author’s short stories, ranging from cyberpunk to tales related to his Manifest Delusions series, so as a fan I definitely want to check it out.

Also thanks to Entangled: Teen for an invite to read 8 Souls by Rachel Rust. I can never resist a YA horror, and I’m getting some major creepy vibes from the description and cover of this one. Crossing my fingers that it will deliver!

In the audiobook haul, with thanks to Macmillan Audio for listening copies of We Are Mayhem by Michael Moreci, the sequel to the rollick space adventure Black Star RenegadesThe Pandora Room by Christopher Golden, second book in the Ben Walker series and follow-up to Ararat; and I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney, a psychological mystery thriller that I’m listening to right now and it’s pretty interesting so far. Finally, from Random House Audio I received a review copy of Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, an audio drama that I’ve already finished listening to (and it was AWESOME); as well as The Haunted by Danielle Vega, a ghostly horror novel from Listening Library.

Reviews

Here is a quick summary of my reviews posted since the last update:

Star Wars: Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray (4.5 of 5 stars)
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (4 of 5 stars)
Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky (4 of 5 stars)
Kin by Snorri Kristjansson (4 of 5 stars)
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (4 of 5 stars)
Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs (3.5 of 5 stars)
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (2.5 of 5 stars)

Interviews & Guest Posts

A shout out to the authors who stopped by The BiblioSanctum these last two weeks!

Guest Post: “A Snakeskins Book Soundtrack” by Tim Major

What I’ve Read Since the Last Update

Here’s what I’ve managed to “unstack” from the TBR since the last update. More reviews 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: Festival/Party/Celebration

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:

“As full of spirit as the month of May”
a cover featuring a FESTIVAL/PARTY/CELEBRATION

Mogsy’s Pick:

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

For all the books I’ve read featuring glamorous parties, galas, masquerades, festivals, and celebrations, etc., I found that shockingly few of them actually show them on their covers, to my great frustration! In the end, I decided to go with The Winner’s Curse because I definitely remember a ball or some grand party taking place in it, and the character on the cover is certainly dressed for one in any case.

From left to right:
Farrar Straus Giroux (2014) – Square Fish (2016)

German Edition (2018) – Czech Edition (2018)

Serbian Edition (2017) – Persian Edition (2017)

Winner:

What can I say, I’m a sucker for pretty dresses.

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

Book Review: Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 2 of Children of Time

Publisher: Orbit (May 14, 2019)

Length: 608 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Children of Time was my first experience with Adrian Tchaikovsky, and it was like a revelation. This was a book I loved so much, I wasn’t even sure I had room in my heart for a sequel, so I admit when I heard about Children of Ruin, I approached it with no small amount of skepticism and trepidation.

Well, it seems I needn’t have worried, as Children of Ruin turned out to be a very enjoyable follow-up. I’ll also say that while the first book ended in a very good place, I was surprised to see how much more Tchaikovsky was able to build upon its foundations, adding to both the story and the universe. Essentially, you get everything you loved from Children of Time and further exploration of its themes, including the implications of a future shared by humans and uplifted creatures. Of course, we get to see Kern again as well as the spiders, but to my delight, this book also introduces more worlds and species like octopuses and other surprises. In addition, once again we have a narrative that spans many, many years—the better to examine the growth and evolution of societies, cultures, intelligence and communication over a long period of time.

Following the events of Children of Time, the humans and spiders have formed a mutual but somewhat uneasy alliance. In a joint venture between the two species, a space exploration vessel has been launched after the detection of a series of radio signals indicating the evidence of more life out there in the universe. However, in their quest to make contact, the crew encounters a new world and a hostile reaction from its alien inhabitants, putting all their lives at stake. In another thread, we discover how in the ancient past, another terraforming attempt led to the discovery of a planet the explorers dubbed Nod. Since I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, what happened there is best left for the reader to find out on their own, but what I can tell you is that the connection between past and present will eventually be revealed. With careful attention to detail and balance, Tchaikovsky presents a long and complex (and sometimes disturbing) history of this universe and its intelligent entities, and a few of the developments might even chill you to the bone.

Because so much of this book builds upon Children of Time, it is most assuredly not a standalone sequel. Still, it is a must-read if you enjoyed the first book, and now, it is doubly worth your time to start this series if you’ve been curious about it. I still need to read more books by the author, but so far, with this series and a couple of his fantasy novels under my belt, I’m definitely feeling more of an affinity towards his sci-fi. With every page of Children of Ruin, I just grew more and more amazed at the depth of his ideas and creative genius. In book one, I thought the spiders were cool, but in book two, it was the octopuses who completely stole the show. I mean, come on! Octopuses! In space! Just when I thought Tchaikovsky could push the boundaries of this series no further, he goes ahead and proves me wrong. Furthermore, he does our new octopus characters justice, portraying them as both strange and familiar all at once. We know that as creatures, they’re scarily intelligent, but in their society as imagined in this book, they’re too disunited and fragmented to truly reach their full potential. Reading about them as was fascinating as reading about any alien culture, and the best part was that they were also different enough from the spiders to allow this sequel experience to feel unique, despite sharing similar themes with the first book.

If I had to compare the novels though, I would say Children of Time still maintains the edge. Like I said, there are many parallels, which in part removes some of the novelty. As well, I found there to be more exposition in this sequel, which led to some uneven pacing. On the bright side, however, I thought Children of Ruin did a fantastic job exemplifying the “biopunk” nature of this series, placing much greater emphasis on topics like population biology and social organization, examining a species’ social behavior through an evolutionary lens. Needless to say, the science nerd in me could not have been happier with the new direction.

All told, Children of Ruin follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor when it comes to providing a smart and fresh take on our favorite science fiction themes, including alien contact and space exploration and colonization. If you loved the first book, I think you will also feel right at home with this one as Adrian Tchaikovsky once again delivers an engrossing storyline with lots of unexpected twists as well as sympathetic characters—human and nonhuman—that you can easily root for. Only two books in, Children of Time series is already proving to be a must-read for all sci-fi fans.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Children of Time (Book 1)

Waiting on Wednesday 05/08/19

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

Beautiful by Juliet Marillier (May 30, 2019 by Audible Studios)

It’s a good time to be an audiobook listener, as the recent market has exploded and we are seeing more audio publishers starting to put out audio-only limited exclusives–that is, books that are only available in audio to start, with print and ebook editions coming out at a much later stage. Audible Studios has been doing this for a while now, and to my great excitement, at the end of the month they’ll be releasing the Audible Original Beautiful written by none other than Juliet Marillier, one of my favorite authors. This book is an expanded story based on her novella of the same name and will be a three-part saga about a princess inspired by Nordic fairy tales.

“With the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon as her inspiration, Juliet Marillier weaves a magical story of a young princess’s search for her true self.

Hulde is a queen’s daughter and lives in a palace. But her life is lonely. Growing up atop the glass mountain, she knows only her violent and autocratic mother and a household of terrified servants. 

Then a white bear named Rune comes to visit, and Hulde learns what kindness is. 

But the queen has a plan for Hulde. When she turns 16, she will wed the most beautiful man in all the world. Hulde has never met her intended husband, and her mother refuses to explain the arrangement. Hulde becomes desperate to find out more, and seeks the help of a magic mirror. Perhaps someone is coming to her rescue. 

On her wedding day, Hulde’s existence is turned upside down. For the first time she leaves the glass mountain behind, setting out to be as brave as the heroines in her beloved story book. 

The journey will test Hulde to the limit. Can she overcome her fears and take control of her own life?”

 

Top Ten Mid-2019 Releases in the “Maybe” Pile

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, a weekly meme that now resides at That Artsy Reader Girl. The meme first came about because of a love of lists. Who doesn’t love lists? The original creators also wanted their lists to be shared with fellow book lovers and to ask that we in turn share ours with them and connect with other book bloggers. To learn more about participating, stop by their page dedicated to it and dive in!

This week’s topic: Top Ten Upcoming Releases I’m On the Fence About (Mid-2019)

Instead of doing today’s official topic, I’m switching up this week to call back to an earlier one that we did this year, Top Ten Upcoming Releases I’m On the Fence About, in which I featured some titles that didn’t quite make it to my “Must-Read” pile but that I was curious about nonetheless. I liked the idea so much, I’ve decided to do it again, this time for upcoming releases of mid-2019. These are ten books I’ve been hemming and hawing over for a while now, but if you think there are any that I should change from a “maybe” to a “must”, please let me know!

Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in this fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey. 

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author.

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind. To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried…

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

Gun violence, climate change and unemployment have ravaged the United States beyond recognition.

Amidst the wreckage, an online retail giant named Cloud reigns supreme. Cloud brands itself not just as an online storefront, but as a global saviour. Yet, beneath the sunny exterior, lurks something far more sinister.

Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities. But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad. Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future.

Except that Zinnia is not what she seems. And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket.

As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place.

To beat the system, you have to be inside it.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality. 

Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up. 

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbsaffectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most. 

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters. 

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark. 

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas’ stock-in-trade.

Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe

Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.

Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.

However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.

Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.

The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda

From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new fantasy epic in which one mage must stand against a Deathless Goddess who controls all magic.

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

Guest Post: “A Snakeskins Book Soundtrack” by Tim Major

Today, we’re pleased to welcome author Tim Major to the BiblioSanctum as part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of Snakeskins, his new speculative fiction thriller from Titan Books. A timely and suspenseful sci-fi novel, it has been compared to classic John Wyndham as well as TV shows like Humans with its themes of cloning and rejuvenation technology and their repercussions on society as well as the individual’s sense of identity. The book is set to hit shelves May 7, 2019 so mark your calendars! In the meantime, please check out this guest post by Tim and also be sure to visit the other stops on the tour!

A SNAKESKINS BOOK SOUNDTRACK
by Tim Major

I write to music. I understand when writers don’t or can’t, but I do. Nothing with vocals, mind you, and generally music that’s barely music at all: drones, washes and distant thuds. But I wouldn’t be without that background. I’ve become used to snatching short periods of writing time between nursery and school drop-offs and the need to do my day job. By far the quickest method of putting myself in the right frame of mind is to put on one of my totemic writing albums. Biokinetics by Porter Ricks, What?? by Folke Rabe, or Grapes from the Estate by Oren Ambarchi.

But I use music in an additional way for my writing, too. Once I’ve finished a first or second draft of anything of novella length or longer, I put together a playlist. The track selection bears little relation to the music I listened to while writing the story, for the most part. In theory, it’s a soundtrack – to an imaginary film adaptation, I suppose, with tracks related to particular scenes or characters. But what started as an indulgence has, over the years, become a genuinely useful part of the process of completing a piece of writing. Often after completing a draft it’s difficult to take stock of what you’ve created, and particularly the types of amends that would help improve it. Beta readers are an obvious solution to failing to seeing the wood for the trees, but I would tend to involve readers only after completing later drafts. So, at this early stage, creating a soundtrack inspired by the story is only partly a distraction – it also helps me pin down my intentions and to establish an overall tone.

My novel, SNAKESKINS, is about a group of people who spontaneously produce clones every seven years – these clones continue to live for a short a time. It’s a parallel-world alternate history, too, as this phenomenon has dramatically altered Britain over the previous century since it began. Though there are three viewpoint characters, the soundtrack focuses in particular on teen Caitlin Hext, who experiences her first ‘shedding’ and whose relationship with her Snakeskin forms the heart of the novel, but I also tried to convey the slight wonkiness of an isolated Britain running around thirty years behind our world.

Click here to listen to a Snakeskins soundtrack Spotify playlist. And here’s my reasoning behind the choices:

  1. Hello Stranger – Elkie Brooks
    Title-sequence music to establish the uncertain benefit of Snakeskins clones, including the lyric: ‘It seems so good to see you back again’. The 1963 original Barbara Lewis is one of my absolute favourites, but I chose the Elkie Brooks cover to suggest Britain’s self-imposed isolation.
  2. On Parade – Electrelane
    Caitlin’s theme, showing her increasing political awareness. It’s an anachronism, but the post-punk feel fits the era pretty well, I feel.
  3. I Have Walked This Body – Susanna & Jenny Hval
    Caitlin’s shedding ceremony. Partly chosen for its suitably ethereal tone, both otherworldly and threatening, and partly because of that incredible title and lyrics that evoke the weirdness of the situation: ‘A basilica of stone waiting for skin’.
  4. Seneca – Ipek Gorgun
    A dark, anxious track to reflect journalist Gerry Chafik’s and government aide Russell Handler’s disillusion and growing understanding about the political situation surrounding Snakeskins and Charmers. This could be Gerry’s theme: serious and sickened.
  5. Hey, Who Really Cares? – Linda Perhacs
    Any of the three main characters might listen to this indulgent track, particular Caitlin as she ponders whether her Snakeskin is an ally or an adversary.
  6. Outline – Aluna George
    Caitlin’s first proper encounter with her Snakeskin. A non-diagetic track, I suppose.
  7. Is It Like Today? – World Party
    Russell’s theme. I’ve always loved this track, though I’m aware how MOR it is. Naïve Russell would love it without any sense of irony, but then would gradually find himself puzzling over lyrics such as ‘Blood just looks the same / When you open the veins’ and over the course of the novel the repeated phrase ‘How could it come to this?’ might become his mantra.
  8. Only a Shadow – Cleaners From Venus
    Even more than the World Party track, this establishes the ‘background tone’ to the novel, with Britain having stalled technologically, with C90 cassettes in place of CDs and MP3s. And of course, the lyrics match Caitlin’s experience: ‘Only a shadow, only a shadow, only a shadow, but she looks like you’.
  9. Willow – Rosie Parlane
    Like the Ipek Gorgun track, this is a background to all sorts of goings-on in the plot. No spoilers.
  10. I Launch An Attack… – Marina Rosenfeld
    There’s an attack. And it’s launched. And this track is magnificently weird. Incidentally, I thoroughly recommend the EP that this is taken from, P.A./Hard Love).
  11. When We Fall – Beak>
    Goodness, now that I’ve started writing these descriptions I realise there’s not much I can say about the latter tracks. Ah well. I love that the beginnings of this track echo the fingerpicked guitar of the Linda Perhacs track, before turning all motorik.
  12. Immaterial – SOPHIE
    End titles. I have to say that I wasn’t so much of a fan of SOPHIE’s recent album, until picking it for this playlist on the basis that I could imagine Caitlin Hext listening to it and because the ending of the novel ought to be upbeat. Despite this, and being another massive anachronism, I think it feels more than appropriate. The lyrics include: ‘You could be me and I could be you / Always the same and never the same’, which is spot on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Major is a writer and editor from York, UK. His love of speculative fiction is the product of a childhood diet of classic Doctor Who episodes and an early encounter with Triffids.

Tim’s SF novel, Snakeskins, will be published by Titan Books in May 2019, followed by a short story collection, And the House Lights Dim, which will be published by Luna Press in July 2019.

Tim’s earlier novels and novellas include Machineries of Mercy(ChiZine), You Don’t Belong Here (Snowbooks), Blighters (Abaddon) and Carus & Mitch (Omnium Gatherum). He has also written a monograph about the 1915 silent crime film, Les Vampires (Electric Dreamhouse Press). His short stories have appeared in Interzone,Not One of Us, Shoreline of Infinity and numerous anthologies, including Best of British Science Fiction and The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow.

Find out more about Tim at www.cosycatastrophes.com or on Twitter at @onasteamer.