Waiting on Wednesday 09/30/20

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

A Dark And Secret Place by Jen Williams (June 8, 2021 by Crooked Lane Books)

The author of The Copper Cat and The Winnowing Flame trilogies releases her debut thriller next summer, and I can’t wait to check it out! So many of my favorite fantasy writers including Rachel Caine, Sarah Pinborough, and Kelley Armstrong have been able to rock both genres, and I have a feeling Jen Williams will soon be joining their ranks. This is the US title and cover, while In the UK the book will be known as Dog Rose Dirt.

“For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades.

When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother’s baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery–stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The “Red Wolf,” as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.

What did Heather’s mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well.”

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

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

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor Books (October 6, 2020)

Length: 448 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue isn’t just a novel—it’s a work of art. Over the years, I’ve read a number of books by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab, but I feel confident in saying this is, bar none, her best work EVER.

Once upon a time, there lived a young woman named Adeline LaRue. Born in a small French hamlet of Villon in the late 17th century, even as a little girl she has felt she that doesn’t quite belong, feeling trapped and stifled by the expectations foisted upon her by her village and her parents. So she prayed for something more. She prayed to the old gods and the new gods, but none would listen. And so, on the day of her wedding, in an act of hopelessness and desperation, she ran into the woods and prayed to the darkness…and something answered.

Addie thought what she wanted was simple. She didn’t want to be beholden to anyone or anything. She just wanted to be free. She just wanted to live. Hence, the darkness, in the form of a handsome green-eyed and dark-haired devil, gave her exactly that.

But everyone knows that deals with devils always have a price. Addie got to live and to be free, but now she is also cursed to wander the earth forever, to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Returning home from the bargain in her torn and muddied wedding dress, her mother and father looked upon her with mistrust and denied ever having a daughter. Similarly, there was no hint of warmth and only suspicion from her best friend who believed Addie to be a stranger. People she would meet on her travels forgot that they ever saw or spoke to her as soon as they turned their backs, because part of Addie’s curse is an inability to leave a single mark on the world, which means she can’t say her own name, tell her own story, or create anything of substance. Even her footprints would fade almost as soon as she makes them, like they were never there.

Three hundred years pass like this. In that time though, Addie has learned a lot about living with her curse. It hasn’t always been easy, but Addie has never given up, even when the darkness, whom she has dubbed Luc, returns again and again, promising to put an end to it all if she would just say the word and surrender her soul. Instead, Addie just finds new ways to goad him, taking joy in her experiences whenever she can. She also discovers the power of ideas, becoming a muse to artists throughout history so she can be immortalized in art. While it is not the same as being remembered, for Addie, it is enough. That is, until one fateful day in a small secondhand bookshop in New York City, she serendipitously meets a young man named Henry. And for some reason, Henry remembers her.

I swear, I still get chills just thinking about the story. I just want to revel in it. Like I said, I’ve read a number of Schwab’s books and I certainly consider myself a fan, but I’ve always thought of her work as more popularist and commercial. As much as I enjoyed her Villains series or her Shades of Magic trilogy, for example, I don’t know if I would ever call them literary masterpieces, but when it comes to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I wouldn’t hesitate. This novel is her tour de force, a step up from anything she’s ever done before, in my opinion. And to me it also feels very personal to the author, like the story and the characters were poured from her heart straight onto the page.

And the writing, oh my gracious, the writing. Before I got to know Addie, before the story had its chance to cast its spell on me, it was the writing that seized me and pushed this novel into the extraordinary. Every word felt perfectly placed, but Schwab made it all look effortless. With details and descriptions meant to whisk the reader across time and space, she crafts powerful and inspiring imagery to transport you to the eras and places she writes about.

The beautiful language also puts us into the head of our protagonist, a complex woman who has lived many lifetimes—and the writing makes you believe it. The story also introduces Henry and Luc and many other side characters, but it is Addie, always Addie, who has the reader’s full attention. With every stage of her journey, every encounter with the darkness, she learns and she adapts. We see this growth throughout the novel, and we come to sympathize with her pain but also respect her strength, intellect, and determination as she wakes up each morning to face another day of loneliness, watching those she has grown to love look at her without a trace of recognition in their eyes. But while there’s no doubt a lot of sadness and tragedy in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, there’s a lot of hope too. When she eventually meets the mystery that is Henry, we know exactly what it means for her to be finally remembered, and like spectators drawn to an exhibition, you can’t tear yourself away from the intrigue or stop yourself from rooting for the couple.

Normally, I would roll my eyes at the blatant cheesiness of book taglines, but in this case, I daresay “A Story You Will Never Forget” describes The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue perfectly. It won me over completely, I loved it, and recommend it to all with my whole heart.

Book Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

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

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Drowning Empire

Publisher: Orbit (September 8, 2020)

Length: 448 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I haven’t had such a satisfying read in a long time. The fantasy debut of Andrea Stewart, The Bone Shard Daughter simply struck all the right chords for me—natural and easy to fall into, but neither uncomplicated or too predictable. I loved the story and the setting and the characters in equal measure, and I honestly can’t remember the last book that ensnared me so thoroughly.

Lightly inspired by Asian culture, this opener to the Drowning Empire trilogy follows the perspectives of a group of disparate characters all trying to make their way through a world made up of innumerable floating, shifting islands. Together, they make up the broader narrative of an empire in transition, of an empire teetering on the verge of great change.

First, we meet Lin, the heir to the throne of the Phoenix Empire who must prove to her father that she is worthy of succeeding him one day. Frustratingly though, he won’t teach her his bone shard magic, a powerful force that controls the creature constructs that enforce the law and order of the land. But as the emperor’s rule fails, so too does his influence, leaving the empire exposed to attacks and uprisings, and Lin vulnerable to challenges from her adopted brother and rival, Bayan. Trapped behind the walls of the palace, she is driven to take matters into her own hands, knowing full well the consequences if she is discovered.

Next, we have Phalue, a warrior and the privileged daughter of the governor of one of the larger, influential islands. When her girlfriend Ranami becomes involved as a leader in a rebel group fighting on behalf of the island’s poverty-stricken farmers, Phalue’s life is thrown into uncertainty as her loyalties are torn between love and duty.

Then we have Jovis, a wily smuggler who has gotten out of more scrapes than he can count. With a bounty on his head from almost every major island in the Endless Sea, his name is legendary among those who require his services, but very few are aware that what drives him is his own personal quest: the search for his beloved wife Emahla, who disappeared years ago along with the ship that carried her, marked by its distinctive blue sails. However, Jovis unwittingly draws even more attention to himself after he saves a child from their tithing ceremony, a process in which a piece of bone shard is taken from a very young person’s skull to fuel a construct. Soon, he is besieged with requests from other parents hoping to spare their sons and daughters from the monstrous tradition, and what’s even more vexing, he suddenly finds himself saddled with a tiny mysterious creature he rescues from the sea, a companion he later names Mephi.

And finally, on a lonely isle at the edge of the empire, a woman named Sand experiences a life-changing moment. One day, while harvesting mangoes, she falls from the trees, unlocking memories that seem to come from another life. It shouldn’t be possible, but it does make Sand start to wonder, maybe she hasn’t always been who she thinks she is.

In a word, reading The Bone Shard Daughter was simply breathtaking. There were many things I loved about it, so I’ll just go through the highlights. First of all, the world-building—I am absolutely floored. From the floating islands of the empire to power of bone shard magic, I was utterly enchanted and blown away by the ideas in this book. I could hardly believe the level of detail either, yet Stewart somehow always manages to rein it in just enough so that it doesn’t become an overwhelming deluge of information.

And then we have the characters. I’m sure everyone who has read The Bone Shard Daughter will have their personal favorite, and mine was, without a doubt, Jovis. I swear I could read an entire book just about him and Mephi, sailing the Endless Sea. That said, the other characters were also great, and I liked how each POV contained a hook—something unique that you couldn’t find in any of the others. Lin had her workings with bone shard magic, for example, while Phalue and Ranami had their rebel shenanigans. Even as the character threads gradually came together and intermingled, each perspective maintained its own style and tonal differences so that there was never any confusion. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that some POVs were written in first-person while others were written in third, and you’d think this would make a huge mess of things, but surprisingly, that was not the case at all.

In terms of criticisms, I really don’t have too many. Admittedly though, I might have bristled a bit at the dynamic between Phalue and Ranami because I despise one-sided relationships, and as their story gradually unfolded, it was hard not to see the emotional manipulation creeping in. Needless to say, the Phalue/Ranami chapters were probably my least favorite, not to mention how the “lovers on opposite sides of a conflict” storyline is a theme that has been done to death, and I didn’t particularly enjoy how their relationship and many elements of the class war were watered-down and contrived. There were also other instances scattered across the novel where I felt things might have worked out just a little too neatly, too conveniently, but thankfully there were many more intriguing aspects of the plot that kept me interested and curious.

All in all, I just have to give The Bone Shard Daughter massive praise and credit. The hype is real, folks, and I heartily recommend this novel to any fantasy fan who craves great storytelling and originality in world-building. Can’t wait for the next book.

Bookshelf Roundup 09/26/20: 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.

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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!

First, with thanks to the kind folks at Subterranean Press for an ARC of The Best of Walter Jon Williams, a huge anthology of short fiction drawn from the author’s career spanning four decades, including some stories that have never been collected before. This one’s due to release sometime next year, though I am having trouble finding more information about it at the moment, not even on the publisher’s website.

Up next, with thanks to Blink and the team at Kaye Publicity, I also received surprise copy of A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan, which was completely new to me. Only when I looked it up did I discover it is a sequel, the second volume in the A Touch of Gold series, making it less likely I’ll be able to read it anytime soon unless I can get my hands on the first book. The premise sounds interesting though, so I’ll be keeping this one on my TBR!

Also huge thanks to Tor Books for sending me a finished copy of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab earlier this week. I’ve already started reading this one and will probably be done by the time this drafted post goes live. I have to say, the story and the characters are very enjoyable so far, and the writing is just incredible.

   

In the digital haul this week, I made one e-galley request for A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong and was approved with thanks to Minotaur Books. This is the sixth installment in the Rockton series featuring protagonist Casey Duncan, and I just love this series so much I couldn’t resist.

In the audiobook pile, I also received a listening copy of The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky with thanks to Macmillan Audio. It’s been a while since I last read the author, so I’m pretty excited to check this one out. My thanks also to Penguin Audio for The Nesting by C.J. Cooke audiobook which I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for, and I’m thinking this one will be a perfect October read. Next, with thanks to Hachette Audio I also snagged None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney, a YA thriller described as The Silence of the Lambs meets Sadie. Even though the book came out earlier this month, it was brought to my attention only recently. It sounds pretty damn awesome though, so I figured why not! And finally, thank you to Brilliance Audio for a listening copy of Keep Your Friends Close by Janelle Harris. I’m always on the lookout for good psychological thrillers, and the description of this caught my attention.

Reviews

The Residence by Andrew Pyper (4 of 5 stars)
To Sleep in A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (3.5 of 5 stars)

This Week’s Reads

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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: Detailed

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:

~ a DETAILED cover

Mogsy’s Pick:

 The Legends of the First Empire Series by Michael J. Sullivan

This week’s topic was officially “A very busy cover full to bursting with detail,” but the moment I read the description only one book came into my head: Michael J. Sullivan’s Age of Myth. While I wouldn’t actually say it’s all that busy, it certainly does contain a lot of detail. To me, this is the kind of fantasy cover that  screams “EPIC!” The rest of the books also happen to feature covers are just as gorgeous, all created by artist Marc Simonetti, so this week I decided I would do a straight-up showcase of the covers in The Legends of the First Empire series rather than a traditional face-off. Enjoy!

Waiting on Wednesday 09/23/20

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 Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor (February 9, 2021 by Ballantine Books)

Another psychological thriller from C.J. Tudor? YES, YES, YES.

An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.”

Review: The Residence by Andrew Pyper

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

The Residence by Andrew Pyper

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Skybound Books | Simon & Schuster Audio (September 1, 2020)

Length: Hardcover: 352 pages | Audio: 8 hrs and 2 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Madeleine Maby

Although I was a big fan of Andrew Pyper’s The Damned, after a less-than-stellar experience with his next two novels, I was seriously on the verge of parting ways with the author once and for all. But then all of a sudden, The Residence came along and made me glad I decided to give his work one more try. Unlike The Homecoming or The Only Child, whose stories gravitated heavily towards mystery and thriller-driven themes, I felt this one was a return to classic horror with an emphasis on atmosphere building and creating the perfect mood for a good old-fashioned haunting.

Indeed, The Residence is a ghost story, but it is also a historical novel about one of American history’s most overlooked presidents. Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, held office from 1853 to 1857 during a period of growing tensions between the North and the South—tensions that would eventually lead to the Civil War. However, his own personal life at the time was also fraught with emotional turmoil, as just weeks before his inauguration, he and his wife Jane witnessed the violent, gruesome death of their 11-year-old son Benny in a train accident. Losing their last surviving child was a blow from which Franklin and Jane never recovered, and their move into the White House was overshadowed by a pall of grief and sorrow.

Still, it didn’t take long for the couple to notice strange things happening within the halls of their new home. And it’s not just the sound of disembodied voices echoing through the walls or the mysterious noises emanating from the ceilings. Jane was the first to see the child, a young boy so much like Benny, and wonders if the prayers in the letters she wrote to her dead son have been answered. Deeply devout and spiritual, she had also called upon the services of the Fox Sisters, the most famous mediums of their day, to help investigate this shadowy apparition and other mysterious occurrences. In doing so though, they may have inadvertently summoned an unwelcome guest.

As you can imagine, The Residence is a broody horror whose inherent eeriness is only rivaled by its constant sadness and despair. Because of its subject matter, this one presented a challenge to read at times, especially the intro detailing the horrific death of 11-year-old Benny Pierce. Few things in this world are more heartbreaking and difficult for me to read about than a mother’s pain at losing her children, and it was clear from the narrative that Jane felt the last light of her happiness leave the world with her son.

Speaking of which, I had originally expected Franklin to be at the center of this tale, thus discovering Jane’s prominent part in it came as a bit of a surprise, her role at times even overshadowing that of her husband’s. Still, I was glad we got so much of the story from her point of view. While Franklin dealt with his grief by throwing himself into the work of running the country, Jane took the route of quiet seclusion, and I thought it was brilliant the way Pyper handled both their responses. There were also flashbacks to the couple’s past, including certain disquieting moments and experiences in Jane’s childhood which were particularly revealing.

Subsequently, this set the stage for the White House hauntings, and the gloominess that had been established earlier on also helped to accentuate the horror and tensions, making what happens next feel even more dreadful and disturbing. Indeed, one aspect of the writing I enjoyed was the handling of the horror elements, which the author applied sparingly and with a light touch, giving just enough to pique the reader’s imagination.

Suffice to say, I spent most of my time reading The Residence feeling like I was on pins and needles. Arguably, the book contains minimal value as a historical novel, but as a ghost story, it sure raises the gooseflesh and sends chills up the spine. After all, there have long been tales and reports told throughout history of specters and spirits haunting the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and Andrew Pyper has succeeded in writing a novel that supplements this body of mythology while offering additional insights into why these kinds of stories continue to captivate and enthrall us.

Audiobook Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

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

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

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

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (September 15, 2020)

Length: 32 hrs and 29 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Jennifer Hale

Best known for his YA fantasy Eragon, Christopher Paolini has taken a massive leap with To Sleep in A Sea of Stars, venturing into the world of adult sci-fi, and I won’t lie, I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about the book. I believe this would be his first full-length novel in almost ten years following the end of The Inheritance Cycle, and I do emphasize full-length because this sucker is nearly 900 pages long in print, a whopping thirty-two and a half hours in audio. I mean, trying his hand at a completely different genre is one thing, but that’s also a pretty big ask from readers in terms of time and emotional commitment.

So how did it all work out? Well, I think the answer to that would depend on whether or not this is your first Paolini, and to a greater extent, how much experience you have with the science fiction genre. Speaking for myself, I’ve never read any of The Inheritance Cycle books so I went into this as a complete newcomer to the author’s work, and I have to say I enjoyed his storytelling style and writing. On the other hand though, I am also a voracious reader of sci-fi, and I couldn’t help but notice a lack of originality and depth to the plot and themes of the book, which encompasses and rehashes a lot of genre elements that will feel very familiar.

To Sleep in A Sea of Stars follows Kira, a xenobiologist stationed at a research facility on a far-flung moon with a team of her fellow scientists, which includes her boyfriend Alan. Upon the completion of their assignment, Kira and Alan have plans to get married and join a group of colonists sponsored by their employer to settle on a new world and start a new life together, but before those dreams could come to pass, disaster strikes. While doing a final run-through of the system before they leave, Kira notices the remnants of a strange alien relic on the planet and decides to investigate. At her touch, however, something ancient is awakened, causing the dust to swirl about her and cover her entire body in a mysterious black substance.

Kira loses consciousness, and when she wakes up again, much time has passed. She finds out that her team had rescued her, but they too are at a loss as to what happened. What’s clear though, is that the alien “suit” has become a part of her, and she can no more get rid of it than she can rid herself of her skin. To her astonishment, it is also sentient, forming a connection with her mind and calling itself “The Soft Blade.” Without revealing too much, all I’ll say is that what comes next doesn’t end well for Kira or her friends. Soon, our protagonist finds herself hunted, presumably by the alien species alerted by her discovery of the symbiont. Drawn into a galactic war, Kira has no choice but to take a stand and defend humanity from its enemies on all sides.

As I said, there’s nothing too groundbreaking about the novel’s premise, and after a promising start, the plot ultimately settles into a comfortable pace while remaining safe within well-trodden territory, becoming a rather pedestrian space opera. It pretty much has all the tropes, from alien invasions to out-of-control AI. Still, to his credit, Paolini does have some cool ideas which include interesting world-building concepts related to alien worlds and technology. Yet perhaps what’s most significant of all about To Sleep in A Sea of Stars is the fact that it is a labor of love. In the author’s afterword, he pours his heart out on the writing process behind the book, which was years in the making, and needless to say, that kind of enthusiasm is very catching especially when you can sense that passion for his creation in every word.

That being said, it would be a lie to claim that every single page of this doorstopper of a novel provided non-stop engagement. It helped that the focus of the story was mostly on Kira, removing the need to divide my attention between multiple perspectives, but that didn’t mean the plot didn’t meander or drag on at times. In fact, given the book’s length, it was probably inevitable. There’s no sugarcoating it; there was a lot of bloat, and sections where not much seemed to be happening. Paolini also tends to focus all of his attention on Kira and everything that is immediately around her, and so while I cared a lot for her as a character, I couldn’t really say the same about most of her supporting cast. Of course, there were exceptions, like Falconi, and I particularly enjoyed the slow-burn build-up to the romance between Kira and the roguish captain. Unfortunately though, many more secondary characters fell to the wayside, drifting in and out from the periphery without making much of an impact.

In sum, To Sleep in A Sea of Stars was my first book by Christopher Paolini, and maybe it’s because I listened to the audiobook, but I found that his writing style flowed well with an assessable quality that made it easy to get into. The problems I had were mainly in the storytelling and pacing—like an overreliance on timeworn sci-fi tropes, underdeveloped side characters and an uneven plot. And yet, although this was not a perfect novel, I was impressed with its scope and the sheer amount of love and effort the author obviously poured into it.

In the end, should you read this book? Well, I personally thought it was worth the read—or in my case, the listen. Given the novel’s length, I’m sure not everyone will feel the same way, but I especially enjoyed my time with the audiobook edition of To Sleep in A Sea of Stars. I confess I chose to review this format specifically for the narrator, the amazing Jennifer Hale, whom I adore for her voicework in video games. The end of the audiobook edition also includes a brief but fantastic interview between Paolini and Hale, which was very illuminating. For one thing, I did not know this was her first time narrating an audiobook, but considering her years of experience in voice acting, I was not surprised at the phenomenal quality of the performance that she delivered, and her heartfelt reading simply made the hours fly by because I could listen to Commander Shepard talk at me forever.

Bookshelf Roundup 09/19/20: 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.

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A small haul this week, but it’ll give me the much needed time to catch up! Here are the new books added to my library…

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!

Huge thanks to Saga Press for a finished copy of The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson. A mix of science fiction, horror, and thrills, the synopsis of this one sounds so insane! Really looking forward to checking it out. And also thanks to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for an ARC of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, described as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai. Holy crap, this looks amazing!

After two weeks of massive hauls in the my digital review pile, only a couple new listening copies to add to the TBR this week, whew! But they’re both seriously awesome and exciting, starting with Battle Ground by Jim Butcher with thanks to Penguin Audio, as well as The Original by Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal with thanks to Recorded Books

Reviews

The End of Her by Shari Lapena (4 of 5 stars)
Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare (4 of 5 stars)

This Week’s Reads

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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: Minimalist

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:

~ a MINIMALIST cover

Mogsy’s Pick:

 The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

We’ve all heard the cautionary tales involving social media, about the dangers of being constantly plugged in. Nick Clark Windo’s dark thriller debut takes this idea even further, imagining a future where people are permanently connected via implants so that access to everything is instantaneous as well as continuous. This is “the Feed” that the novel’s title is referring to—a new tech that humans have become so dependent on, and so addicted to, that society can no longer function without it. And so, when the Feed collapses one day, the results are predictably catastrophic. Some of the most basic skills and knowledge are lost to the digital abyss as everyone must now learn how to survive offline and fend for themselves in this Feed-less new world. Now the minimalism of some of these covers is starting to make a bit more sense.

From left to right:
William Morrow (2018) – Headline (2018)

Portuguese Edition (2018) – Serbian Edition (2018)

Winner:

My favorite this week was definitely the Portuguese edition because I just love that style of art!

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