Monthly Archives: December 2017

Ember by Brock Adams

Ember

Ember by Brock Adams

Published by: Hub City Press on September 21, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

The sun began to die three years ago, causing the leaders of the world to come together to try to find a solution. That solution was to launch the entire world’s nuclear weapons stock in an attempt to kick start the glowing ember into some sort of rebirth. But when the day comes when they should have reached their target, there are no signs that anything has changed. Lisa and her husband, Guy, have been hanging on to hope, though they are unsure how long they should hold on. And when a group of militants calling themselves the Minutemen emerge with weapons and begin taking over various cities, Lisa and Guy set out on the run, hoping they might find a safe place to settle down and continue to hope for the future.

I found myself intrigued by the concept of this story. Yes, end-of-the-world stories have been told time and time again. And many times we see the plight of the protagonists against whatever natural disaster is responsible for bringing everything down. But there is a strong human element to this story that is compelling and stands out as unique. Lisa’s journey is one that takes her to some unexpected places and brings readers right along with her.

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Provenance

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Published by: Orbit on September 26, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Ingray has a plan that will show up her brother and secure her inheritance. She just has to facilitate getting a criminal out of prison and get them back to her home planet in one piece. But she had not planned for obstacles like the intervention of another alien race and a case of mistaken identity throwing entire plan off course. A murder and a major betrayal later, and she begins to wonder if the whole thing was just a giant mistake. But she can’t spend too much time wondering when the fate of her planet and her people are at stake.

This story throws you right into Ingray’s world, and there is no turning back. Leckie has built a rich world that has a number of layers that reveal themselves as the story goes on. There are a number of unexpected twists and turns that kept me in the story and guessing where things might go next. There were some moments where I felt like it was tough to follow some of the characters, but they were not enough to truly distract from the overall story. I definitely recommend this for science fiction fans.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Published by: Simon & Schuster on September 12, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

In what can only be described as a candid and open narrative, Hillary Rodham Clinton shares with readers her thoughts, experiences, and feelings during the course of the 2016 Presidential Election. Covering everything from what influenced her decision to run in the first place and the momentum of her campaign to what was going through her head during the debates and how she handled election night and the time since her unexpected and unprecedented loss

Before picking this up, I had heard the commentary that this was just Hillary listing out excuses for her loss, but it is not that at all. There’s a sense of honesty in the narrative, while the author is clear to recognize that what readers are getting her perspective and opinion. But when one considers how much the media was focused on her opponent during the election cycle (and he always told everyone exactly what he was thinking), it provides a balance to the existing public narrative. I personally also found it to be an inspiring read–I’m quite glad I picked it up.

On Duty by A.R. Barley

On Duty

On Duty by A.R. Barley

Series: Smoke & Bullets, Book 1
Published by:
 Carina Press on December 18, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Troy Barnes feels like things are going well in his life–or at least well enough. He enjoys his work as a firefighter and things seem to be working between him and his roommate/boyfriend-on-the-downlow. But after Troy is injured while saving a young man from a fire and is asked to move out so his roommate’s pregnant girlfriend can move in, things no longer seem as solid. Not entirely sure where to go or what to do, Troy accepts an offer from paramedic Alex Tate to crash with him until he gets on his feet. Troy knows Alex loves to flirt, but the invitation doesn’t mean anything more than a friend helping out a friend, right? Or at least it doesn’t have to. Unless that’s what Troy really wants. But before these guys can start to understand any fire that might start burning between them they’ll need to track down the arsonist who is striking sites around the city…

I found myself enjoying this story quite a bit. Even though it was clear where the relationships would be going from early on, the banter between Alex and Troy (and Alex’s family–who are incredible) kept me smiling throughout my entire read. There are a couple of unexpected twists, which served as just enough to keep me on my toes at a few points in the book. This is the start of a new series, and I look forward to continuing to read it as future installments come out.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.]

Jock Auction by Alex Pendragon

Jock Auction

Jock Auction by Alex Pendragon

Published by: Loose Id on January 27, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

High school football player Kyle isn’t one who would jump at the idea of a bachelor auction. But since it’s a fundraiser and Coach expects all the players to participate, he finds himself on stage, taking off his shirt, and hoping he goes for a decent bid. He certainly does not expect that shy-seeming, nerdy Craig would be the one to win the bid. Why would a guy bid on him? Kyle’s not gay. And Craig’s not, either, is he? But even if he is, that’s not a problem. But if he is and Kyle just might realize he feels something in return? Well that would be a problem of epic proportions.

This was definitely an entertaining read. For a realizing-who-I-really-am and coming out story, it stays on the lighter side overall. But that also means there are some aspects of those types of experiences that seem a bit glossed over. There almost seems to be a surprising amount of gay people (or really, really gay-friendly) people in Kyle’s life, so much so that it felt a tad unrealistic at a couple of points. And there is so. much. sex. in this book–way more than I was expecting. But it’s overall a good read, and I’d give it a solid recommendation.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Series: Akata Witch, Book 1
Published by:
 Speak on July 11, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Sunny Nwazue has always felt like a bit of an outsider. She’s albino, which has not only led to her being viewed differently, but it also stops her from being able to do certain things like spending an entire afternoon out in the sun. But Sunny soon learns that she’s actually special in another way–she is a “free agent” and possesses the capacity for magic. This opens up a whole new world of opportunity for her and introduces her to some new friends. But is also exposes her to some danger as well. There’s someone out there taking children, a someone who just so happens to be able to use magic as well. And Sunny and her friends find themselves needing to help put a stop to it before more people go missing…

There’s an interesting world created and presented within this story, though I sometimes found myself a little confused with some of the various connections between the characters. There is probably some room for a little more world building, but it’s still an enjoyable and interesting read. A definite possibility for fans of fantasy adventure stories.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher via the First to Read program.]

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons on June 27, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw both find themselves living in Jordan after their soldier husbands were stationed at the U.S. embassy there. As Cassie has been there for two years already, she becomes a reluctant mentor to Margaret, who has just arrived. And much to Cassie’s chagrin, Margaret is not as interested in making sure she follows all of the rules as she is allowing her restlessness and desire to explore to get the better of her. After Margaret is in a minor car accident, Cassie agrees to watch her infant son while she goes down to the police station to pay her fine and clear up the matter. But as more time begins to creep by, Cassie’s concern grows. And when she finds Margaret’s journal and begins to read it, the insights she gains into her neighbor’s life not only helps her to better understand Margaret–it also helps her to understand herself and feeds her concern about Margaret’s current whereabouts.

This is an interesting story that touches on a number of issues including friendship, cultural differences, marital relationships, motherhood/parenthood, jealousy, honesty, and so much more. The complexity of the relationships that comes through, by seeing things from Cassie’s perspective and from Margaret’s words in her journal, is fascinating as it comes together. My only complaint is that with jumping between Cassie’s flashbacks, Margaret’s journal entries, and the present moment, it wasn’t always clear where we were at any moment. Sometimes this was a little confusing, but it was easy to recover within the first few paragraphs of each chapter.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher via the First to Read program.]

The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor

The Lost Letter

The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor

Published by: Riverhead Books on June 13, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Katie Nelson takes her father’s stamp collection to an expert to see if there’s anything of value, she doesn’t expect anything will come of it. But when the appraiser, Benjamin, expresses interest in what may be not only a rare find but also an anomaly, a mystery is laid before her that she can’t help but try to answer. And the journey takes her down a path that spans back over fifty years and exposes secrets and identities that have been long-buried and thought lost forever. Along the way, Katie also just might find some things she thought she had lost forever as well…

When this book first started jumping back and forth between the 1989 “present” and the 1938 “past”, I found myself wondering if there was any real connection or if it was just two stories being told side-by-side because of a single point of connection: a stamp. And the reality is that while that stamp is the key to much of the story and the connection, there is so much more here that reveals itself as you go. This is a story of love, of perseverance, of exploration, and of never giving up hope.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance review copy received from the publisher as part of the First to Read program.]