Waiting on Wednesday 09/09/20

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

Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine (March 9, 2021 by Thomas & Mercer)

Rachel Caine was an author I discovered via her YA fantasy series The Great Library, and so when Stillhouse Lake first came out, little did I expect to be falling in love with her thriller writing, let alone still be addicted to the series five books later. But hooked I am, and I cannot wait to read the next chapter of the Gwen Proctor saga.

“They’re hunting a killer so silent, so invisible, that his unspeakable crimes are the only proof he exists.

A car submerged in a remote pond. The bodies of two girls strapped into their seats. The mystery of their mother, vanished without a trace, leads Gwen Proctor and Kezia Claremont into dangerous territory.

On the surface, Gwen’s life is good—two children approaching adulthood, a committed partner, and a harrowing past dead and gone. But that past is attracting the attention of someone invisible…and unstoppable. Trouble’s just beginning. So is the body count in this backwoods Tennessee town.

As threats mount and Gwen’s hunted by an enemy who pulls all the strings, Kezia has her back. But working to solve these vicious and unreasonable crimes will expose them both to a killer they can’t for the life of them see coming.”

Bookshelf Roundup 09/05/20: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every 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 summarize what I’ve finished reading in the last week 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.

black line

Happy September! Or should I say, holy crap, it’s September?! As challenging as this summer has been, it felt like it really just flew by. Of course, fall will also bring its own set of challenges, and for me, the first and foremost of these will be getting my kids back to school. Like many, they’ll be virtual learning for the first semester, and as hardworking as our teachers are, I’m already anticipating certain areas where distance learning simply won’t cut it, and for one, I know I have a Kindergartener who will probably need some extra attention. At this time, I have no idea how much it will affect my schedule, only that it will, because I’ll also be working. I try to update this blog daily, but for the next little while, you might see a few less posts from me every week — at least until I settle into my new rhythm, which hopefully won’t take too long! You can bet I’ll still be reading and reviewing, so without further ado, let’s continue to the roundup…

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!

A couple more new arrivals made it to my mailbox this week, with thanks to Subterranean Press for this ARC of A Question of Navigation by Kevin Hearne. This one wasn’t even on Goodreads when I tried to look it up, and I was made even more curious by whatever is happening on that cover. Dare I ask? All I know is that it’s a sci-fi novella about aliens, and chances are it’s going to be quirky and wild, considering who wrote it.

Also, my thanks to Saga Press for The Residence by Andrew Pyper, a mid-nineteenth century historical horror inspired by the tragic family life of President Franklin Pierce, whose last son was gruesomely killed in a train accident when he was just 11, right before his inauguration. I think this is going to be a tough read considering the sorrowful and grim subject matter, but I can’t deny I’m intrigued by this tale of haunting.

     

This is probably my biggest audiobook hauls in a while, but it’s the start of the month so there were a lot of September releases that caught my eye. With thanks to Penguin Random House Audio, I received Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn, first book in a new series about our favorite Chiss Admiral, as well as One Step Behind by Lauren North, a psychological thriller about a woman who is targeted by a stalker. And with thanks to Macmillan Audio, I also received Skyhunter by Marie Lu which already has so much excitement surrounding it, I can’t wait to check it out.

Courtesy of Hachette Audio, I received three new ALCs: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, which I don’t know why I’ve heard about only recently. I love the author! I also grabbed How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It by K.J. Parker, which promises to be a humorous, high-spirited read. And cheers to Tammy from Books, Bones & Buffy who convinced me to pick up Lone Jack Trail by Owen Laukkanen, even though it’s the second book in the series. I still need to read the first, but these books are standalone and the premise to this one sounds irresistible.

And you know it’s getting to fall season when all these great looking horror novels start showing up. With thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio, I picked up The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson, which has drawn comparisons to Stranger Things and The X-Files.

Last but not least, with thanks to the author, I received a listening copy of Blue Angel by Phil Williams! As you know the Ordshaw books are gradually coming to audio, so I am so thrilled to be continuing the series as they come out. Thank you again, Phil!

Reviews

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis (4 of 5 stars)
Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May (3.5 of 5 stars)
The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell (3 of 5 stars)
The Mother Code by Carole Stivers (3 of 5 stars)

This Week’s Reads

black line

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: Winter Vibes

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:

“The road goes ever on and on”
~ a cover featuring WINTER VIBES

Mogsy’s Pick:

Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon

I’ve wanted to feature this book for Friday Face-Off forever, and now I finally have a chance! I thought Cold Welcome was perfect for the theme of Winter Vibes, as the book takes place on the iciest, most inhospitable part of the planet Slotter Key, where our protagonist Admiral Kylara Vatta and her crew have crashed landed after someone sabotaged their shuttle. There are only two covers that I could find, but they’re both very effective at conveying certain emotions.

 Del Rey (2017) vs. Orbit (2017)

Winner:

These two covers could not be any more different. The Del Rey edition is an extreme close-up, with the character as the main focus. The Orbit edit, on the other hand, is zoomed out, with the character being secondary to the icy landscape surrounding her in all its glory. I am struck by how the artist has perfectly captured Ky Vatta’s personality in her expression on first cover, showing her determination in the face of hardship and struggle for survival. But I am also in awe of the majestic view of the mountains in the second cover, and the symbolism of Ky standing small but defiant on the burnt out remains of her crashed shuttle.

Yep, there’s no doubt it’s a tough choice this week. But in the end, I think I will have to go with the Orbit cover, if for no other reason because it tells a prospective reader much more about the story. The Del Rey version says very little in comparison, though if you’ve read Moon’s other books, especially in the Vatta series, I can see how the character-focused approach might make it more appealing.

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

Audiobook Review: Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

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

Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 1 of Seven Devils

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (August 4, 2020)

Length: 17 hrs and 9 mins

Author Information: Laura Lam | Elizabeth May

Narrator: Christina Traister

Seven Devils is the first book of a planned space opera duology by authors Laura Lam and Elizabeth May in their first collaboration. Set in a galaxy controlled by the oppressive Tholosian Empire, the book follows a group of seven plucky Novantaen Resistance members who will never stop fighting to free the billions of people living under the Empire’s iron rule.

First, we have Eris. Former heir to the Tholosian throne, she knows better than anyone why the resistance is so important. It took a lot to break free of her old life, which included having to fake her own death, but it took even more for those in her new life to finally trust her. Next up is Clo, a mechanic who had also defected from the Empire, whose sometimes-friend, sometimes-rival relationship with Eris often causes friction whenever they go on missions together. Then there’s Nyx, a career soldier and former royal guard who has lost count of how many people she’s killed. Tired of being used as a weapon, Nyx now dedicates her efforts to stopping the Oracle, the artificial mind behind the Empire. She also looks out for Ariadne, the youngest member of the group. A gifted engineer, Ariadne was originally created by the enemy, but has secretly been helping the resistance for years. Also, we have Rhea, a courtesan with a heart of gold. She is extremely sensitive to the emotions of others, making her a great confidante but also quick to adapt to changing situations. And finally, we have Kyla, the resistant commander calling the shots, as well as Cato, hotshot pilot, rounding out the team.

On their latest mission, the team is called upon to intercept a Tholosian ship carrying mysterious cargo, and to gather any intelligence to return to the Resistance. But once they infiltrate the ship, they find more than they bargained for.

Seven Devils was so much fun! But it is also a very difficult novel to review. First off, I think this is a fantastic sci-fi adventure tale about a strong group of women who come together and support each other to fight for a common cause. Their backgrounds are interesting and diverse, their relationships meaningful and complex. The story is highly energetic, with barely any lulls at all. I was also impressed with the writing, and to Lam and May’s credit, their styles meshed incredibly well and I could hardly tell where one author’s voice ends and the other’s begins. That’s seriously impressive, considering it’s their first team-up.

However, dig a little deeper below the surface, and you might find some things that are less harmonious. The biggest challenge for me personally was the structure of the novel, which has a present timeline that is frequently interrupted by flashbacks to the individual characters’ lives as the cast list gradually expands. In the end, what we get are five main perspectives, and interspersed among them are these mostly brief time jumps to the past, focusing on important moments in the characters’ lives, many of which have direct relevance as to what is occurring in the present. I often see this format utilized for TV shows as a way for writers to develop individual characters, especially when dealing with a large ensemble cast. But while this may work well for the screen, it comes across as less coherent on the page, and in the case of Seven Devils, it caused some POV and timeline confusion.

It also might have been a tad too long. Granted, each time we got a flashback, it was a way to flesh out that particular character, which also helped explain her motivations and decision-making. Still, while the narrative was doing this for half a dozen characters or more, the present timeline was going nowhere fast. As much as I hate to admit it, with a first half that was mostly bogged down with backstory-telling, the book took a long time to build, and the take-off was rough and uneven. The world-building was also detailed to the point of too much bloat. Considering what we have here is essentially your classic Empire vs. Resistance narrative (not exactly original), the length probably could have been pared down by a lot and the novel would have been better for it.

And yet, despite the turbulent pacing and its technical flaws, Seven Devils featured a thoroughly engaging and entertaining storyline, and I believe that, in the end, is what will determine the book’s success with readers. I love adventurous space operas, found family plotlines, stories about people working together, helping each other, saving each other, and loving each other. Laura Lam and Elizabeth May have delivered the first half of a promising duology that encompasses all this and so much more, and ultimately, a few hiccups here and there are a small price to pay for so much fun.

Audiobook Comments: This was definitely a missed opportunity for multiple narrators, which would have created a more immersive audio experience. That being said, Christina Traister did a great job with the many voices, capturing each character perfectly, from hotheaded Clo to kind and gentle Rhea.

Waiting on Wednesday 09/02/20

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

The Ice Lion by Kathleen O’Neal Gear (May 4, 2021 by DAW)

I had a great time with my last read by Kathleen O’Neal Gear (Cries from the Lost Island) and was already looking forward to her next novel even before I saw the synopsis to The Ice Lion, which sounds like a book written just for me!

“This cli-fi novel from a notable archaeologist and anthropologist explores a frozen future where archaic species struggle to survive an apocalyptic Ice Age

One thousand years in the future, the zyme, a thick blanket of luminous green slime, covers the oceans. Glaciers three-miles-high rise over the continents. The old stories say that when the Jemen, godlike beings from the past, realized their efforts to halt global warming had gone terribly wrong, they made a desperate gamble to save life on earth and recreated species that had survived the worst of the earth’s Ice Ages.

Sixteen-summers-old Lynx and his best friend Quiller are members of the Sealion People–archaic humans known as Denisovans. They live in a world growing colder, a world filled with monstrous predators that hunt them for food. When they flee to a new land, they meet a strange old man who impossibly seems to be the last of the Jemen. He tells Lynx the only way he can save his world is by sacrificing himself to the last true god, a quantum computer named Quancee.” 

Review: The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

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

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Hardcover: Saga Press | Audiobook: Simon & Schuster Audio (August 18, 2020)

Length: HC: 496 pages | Audio: 14 hrs and 33 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

A devastated city. A tyrant king. Then, Queen Mirantha vanished without a trace, and even though the official explanation for her disappearance was blamed on a neighboring kingdom, everyone knows the truth is that the cruel King Karolje Disappeared her himself.

Then, a student named Anza finds the journal of Mirantha in a forbidden library. Inspired by the queen’s words and driven by the wrongful execution of her father at the hands of the throne, she decides to join a rebel group to overthrow the king.

Karolje though, also has two sons. Tevin, the eldest and the heir, is prepared to one day step into his father’s shoes, but the prospect of keeping things the status quo does not sit well with him. His younger brother, Esvar, is likewise extremely against the brutal and oppressive rule of the king. Their mother Mirantha had sacrificed much to keep them safe, before Karolje took matters into his own hands.

Fates collide when Anza is arrested for her resistance activities, and her interrogator is none other than Esvar, who realizes they can help each other.

I thought The Vanished Queen was a solid book, and generally well-written. Which is why I’m so perplexed as to why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should. If I had to guess, it had to do with the characterization. There are a lot of characters, and at times I felt like I needed a flow chart to keep me reminded of who everyone was. Most of them are either bland and dry as a piece of driftwood, or overdone to the extreme. King Karolje, for example, is the evilest evil person to ever do evil things, and the narrative never lets you forget that. Anza, for another, is a bisexual resistance fighter and she’s wicked smart, but that’s about it for her memorable traits. For me, there’s just something deeply, deeply wrong with that. Where’s the showing and not telling? Where’s the actual, meaningful character development?

For much of the first half, the pacing was also very slow. That didn’t hurt the book, necessarily, since there was so much happening to keep interest high. But as other reviewers have noted, The Vanished Queen is dialogue heavy. Expect lots of talk and not much action, and I found that if the novel ever caught me in a drab mood, I simply did not have the enthusiasm or inclination to read it for too long before needing to put it aside and pick up something with more kick. To its credit, the plot does pick up towards the end and I could hardly read the last few chapters fast enough. It made me glad I finished the book, but I also wished the pacing had been more balanced.

As for what the book did well, in spite of lackluster characters for the most part there were one or two points-of-view that stood out for me, Mirantha being the main example. Her story, detailed by her diary, was a fascinating thread throughout the novel, exploring her suffering at the hands of the king as well as the theme of unconditional love for her two sons. The princes’ personalities are a result of her influence; they see what their father has done to their kingdom and they want to stop it. Now they only need to be strong enough to see it all through, or risk losing everything.

Bottom line, I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either. The story was packed with intrigue and fascination, but it was also tragically weakened by uninspiring characters. I would recommend it for fantasy fans who are into palace politics and revolution plots, with the caveat that the amount of drama and lack of much action can make the reading a bit tedious, especially early on. On that point though, the amount of dialogue and the number of POVs might make this book a good choice for audio, if you are considering that format. With regards to the slower first half, a stronger second half makes up for it somewhat, but although readers got a satisfying ending, the surprises and revelations were still pretty predictable, with the kinds of twists you can see coming from miles away. The Vanished Queen therefore gets 3 stars from me—nothing more, nothing less.

Tour Review: The Mother Code by Carole Stivers

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

The Mother Code by Carole Stivers

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Berkley (August 25, 2020)

Length: 352 pages

Author Information: Website

So, I had some mixed feelings for this book. The premise was solid and intriguing, and the science behind it fascinating—not surprising, considering the author is a biochemist by trade and is clearly knows her subject. But on the flip side, the weaker story elements made for a frustrating, unfocused read.

It is the year 2049. Civilization as we know it is about to end, as a DNA-based nano bioweapon is unleashed upon the world and begins to mutate and spread out of control. Top scientists are scrambling to find a cure, and when that proves not enough, they turn to more drastic measures, like genetically engineering children to be grown inside artificial cocoons and be raised by robots. To achieve this, they developed the Mother Code—an intelligence programmed into the machines to give them individual personalities, which would also help them better understand the concepts of maternal responsibilities and instinct.

Years later, in the deserts of Utah, a human child named Kai is born to one of these robots, designated Rho-Z. As they wander the wilderness, looking for others like them, Rho-Z teaches Kai the ways of the world and how to survive in it, the way a real human mother would. Much of the story is split between the past, focusing on the actions of the scientists who created the Mother Code, and in the post-apocalyptic world, in which children like Kai are gradually learning the skills required to one day reintegrate into society, all the while being completely devoted to their robotic mothers. However, even as Kai grows and thrives, changes are occurring in Rho-Z’s programming. Ultimately, she and others like her would be targeted for destruction, leaving Kai with a difficult decision.

While I’m not the biggest fan of duo timelines, I’ve read books that utilize them to great effect, and when they work, they can really add to a story. But somehow in The Mother Code, the two threads simply refused to jive. It also gave the book a sense of being confused, like it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be—a rousing tech-thriller, or a heart-warming tale about an unconventional parent-child relationship? I could appreciate the story Carole Stivers wanted to tell, and it’s certainly one that would only make sense if we could see both sides—both past and present. But this format wasn’t the best.

As a result, I could only feel invested in specific parts of the novel, and maybe the terrifying aspect of an uncontrollable manmade plague had something to do with it, but I definitely latched on to the apocalyptic timeline. The book worked better as a thriller, highlighting the desperation of the world’s plight and the scientists’ race against time to find a solution. The science behind the story is brilliant and sharp, but does also require some background knowledge in the subjects, or at least some patience, to fully appreciate.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the sections featuring Kai and Rho-Z, but while I really like softer, glowing tones of their relationship, the structure of the book was not at all conducive to helping the reader feel emotionally invested in either of them. The characterization also wasn’t the strongest, and there are quite a few POVs to follow. Even the scientist characters felt kind of faceless and hollow, because you had such a strong emphasis on the research and following the progression of the outbreak, there was hardly enough time to develop the people in depth. As well, constantly flipping back and forth between the many perspectives only served to disrupt the pace and increase this emotional distance between the reader the characters.

In short, I think there’s a great story in The Mother Code. Certainly, at its heart is a thought-provoking concept that sci-fi fans with an interest in hard science married with realism would love, especially if you’re into “what-if” scenarios and themes dealing with artificial intelligence, plague outbreaks, and biochemical warfare. That said, at times the content does get a little too technical, and the plot’s disjointedness and pacing issues also made it hard to connect with the characters. Personally, I would have liked to see more developed characterization, smoother transitions between POV changes and improved flow, but going forward, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of reading Carole Stivers again, as she’s obviously got some tremendous ideas for stories.

YA Weekend Audio: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

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

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror, Young Adult

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Listening Library (August 25, 2020)

Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrators: Kristen DiMercurio, Alex McKenna, Jason Culp

Okay, I don’t often find YA horror to be all that scary, but Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis was definitely a bit spooky! In it, we follow Lola Nox, daughter of Nolan Nox, a celebrated horror film director who first made his name with the prohibition-era gothic piece Nightjar, which has since become a cult classic. It certainly also helped put the small mining town of Harrow Lake on the map, which was where most of the filming took place, not to mention it was the hometown of the movie’s lead actress, Lorelei.

Captivated by the young star, Nolan eventually married Lorelei and moved to New York. Lola was born, but not too many years after that, Lorelei walked out on the family, leaving her daughter to be raised by an egocentric and often emotionally unavailable father. At least, that’s what all the entertainment rags say anyway, and as Lola hasn’t seen or heard from her mother in years, there’s no reason to doubt Nolan, who may be overprotective and disparaging at times, but he’s also the only family she has left. And so, after coming home one day to discover him bleeding out from multiple stab wounds, Lola is shaken at the murder attempt on her father and terrified to consider what might happen to her if he died. Next comes the shock that she will be sent to live in Harrow Lake while Nolan is in recovery, with a maternal grandmother that she’s never met.

Upon her arrival, Lola is disturbed to find a town perpetually stuck in the 1920s style of Nightjar, the movie being its only claim to fame other than the historic landslide that purportedly killed almost half its residents. As a result, Harrow Lake is a haunted place where a local myth has sprung up around a monster known as Mr. Jitters who lives underground and emerges periodically to abduct victims to drag back to its lair. To appease him, children do weird things like hang their teeth in trees with strings, which is both super gross and a little creepy. Lola’s grandmother turns out to be a strange old lady as well, who’s always mistaking her for her own daughter Lorelei and insists that Lola dresses up as Little Bird, the main character from Nightjar. With no cell phone coverage or internet at the house, Lola is forced to find other ways to entertain herself, like exploring the abandoned amusement park or the depressing town museum that mostly features exhibits to do with Nightjar.

In her wanderings and interactions with the townsfolk though, Lola begins hearing unpleasant rumors and stories about her mother, including the one about her possible connections to Mr. Jitters. Something made Lorelei want to leave Harrow Lake all those years ago, which may also explain her current disappearance, and Lola is determined to find out what—even if it means unearthing some terrible, spine-chilling secrets.

It might not be too surprising to hear that, more so than Lola or any other character in this book, it was the town of Harrow Lake that stole the show. While it is not a happy place, it has its appeals—especially if you have a penchant for dark and macabre horror settings. Reading about the town is like stepping into a dream or like being stuck on a page in a storybook where time never truly moves forward. There’s a kind of sad beauty to it; like an insect trapped in amber, it is unable to escape its purgatorial state yet also prevented from putting itself out of its misery by completely fading away, thanks to the many fans of Nightjar who delight in seeing the town as a kind of living tribute to the film. Whatever is left of Harrow Lake survives on the meager tourism the movie brings in, so the locals are forced to play it up for all it’s worth.

The supernatural aspect is also nicely worked into the story, invoking an atmosphere and tone that’s very reminiscent of an 80s creature feature like Pumpkinhead or A Nightmare on Elm Street. Visitors may come and go, but the people of Harrow Lake are stuck with more problems than their own resident monster in Mr. Jitters. Poverty and a bitter resentment towards outsiders, especially ones such as our protagonist from glitzy New York, also result in an aura of uneasiness following Lola wherever she goes, not to mention her own mental hang-ups and anxieties regarding her parents. Consequently, we have a slow-simmering kind of horror that is subtle but no less effective, as the author’s strategy relies mainly on arousing ideas to create frightening scenarios, encouraging the reader’s imagination to do most of the work. That said, there are a few scenes where Ellis is certainly not shy about doling out all the disgusting details, and as someone who simply can’t deal with teeth, eyes, or nails used in horror movies, there were a couple incidents that downright repulsed me.

All in all, I don’t think Harrow Lake would be enough for readers looking for a more “in your face” horror novel, but if you’re more for the creeping dread of a campfire ghost story or disturbing urban legends, then it just might be for you. The ending was also satisfying in its own way, and the audiobook did a fantastic job with putting you right in the scene with its clever use of sound effects and outstanding voicework. Great performance by all the narrators.

Bookshelf Roundup 08/29/20: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every 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 summarize what I’ve finished reading in the last week 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.

black line

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!

August 29 book haul

Just two physical books added to the to-be-reviewed pile this week. As you might have heard, the postal service is currently backlogged and I know I have a couple books coming to me that are currently trapped in limbo, and hopefully they’ll get to me one day! But for now, I am grateful for this copy of The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol. 1 edited by Jonathan Strahan that I received, with thanks to Saga Press. There’s a great line-up of authors featured in this anthology, including Ken Liu, N.K. Jemisin, Elizabeth Bear, and many, many more! Also with thanks to Blink and the kind folks at Wunderkind for this surprise arrival of Devastation Class by Glen Zipper and Elaine Mongeon. I have recently been made aware of this YA publisher and am looking forward to checking out more of their titles, so this sci-fi adventure about an alien invasion might just be next.

On to the digital pile, I’m still all about the audiobooks these days, but I did snag one eARC from NetGalley. I saw Secret Santa by Andrew Shaffer and just knew I had to request this Christmas horror read. It’s never too early to plan your holiday reading, with thanks to Quirk Books! Courtesy of Random House Audio, I also received a listening copy of The Somebody People by Bob Proehl. The first book was an X-Men style superhero story, and even though I had mixed feelings about it, seeing as this is a duology, I might just finish it off and see if things end with a bang.

Reviews

He Started It by Samantha Downing (4 of 5 stars)
Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne (4 of 5 stars)
Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard (4 of 5 stars)
Final Cut by S.J. Watson (3.5 of 5 stars)

This Week’s Reads

black line

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: Dark Road

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:

“The road goes ever on and on”
~ a cover featuring a DARK ROAD

Mogsy’s Pick:

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

When it comes to dark roads, surely none can be darker than the one traveled by Gabe in The Other People, a novel about a father’s desperate quest to find his abducted daughter. Gabe spends his days driving up and down the same stretch of highway where he last saw his little girl in the back of a rusty old junk bucket covered with gaudy bumper stickers. Her terrified face in that car has haunted his dreams every day for the last three years, and he vowed he would never give up until he found her. Eventually, his search does bear fruit—though perhaps not the kind he wanted.

Let’s take a look at the covers:

From left to right:
Ballantine Books (2020) – Penguin (2020)

Penguin Paperback (2020) – Random House Audio (2020) – Dutch Edition (2020)

Winner:

There’s no doubt this week, my favorite one is the Ballantine cover. It also stresses me out a little, a testament to how effective it is. Looking at it reminds me of why I don’t like to be out driving late at night, especially on rural highways around here where you can go for miles in the pitch blackness without seeing a single streetlight or another car on the road.

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