Science Fiction

Here and Now and Then – Mike Chen

3.5 stars

Here And Now And Then is a sweet story about the lengths a father will go to to save his daughter.

To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere—and any-when…36630924

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

The trouble with time-travel books is that they always ask me to suspend some kind of belief, because the story always hinges on some sort of absurd premise that is somehow less believable than fairies. In Here and Now and Then the premise is that a time-traveler’s brain can only handle one era at a time. But that just doesn’t work for me. The human brain is super malleable and has the capacity and flexibility to remember lots of things about lots of time periods and living it makes it even more possible. Because of this, I bounced off of some of what makes up the central premise of the story.

That all being said, I otherwise really enjoyed Here and Now and Then quite a lot. Kin’s struggle to reconnect with his life in the future after living for 18 years in the past and his desire to stay connected to his life in the past felt real. His desperation to stay connected to his daughter and save her from forces beyond her reckoning leaked off the page. My heart broke for him over and over.

Here and Now and Then is very character driven, and the side characters are all engaging and fleshed out, with their own lives, desires and fears.

This book is so full of little twists and is thoughtfully woven together, which makes it a bit of a challenge to review, since even characters are spoilers!

I’ll just say this, if you love stories driven by love for family and are looking for a great new read and want a bit of time traveling chaos added to the mix, Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen is your book.

Also, Mike’s a super nice guy. I met him at a discussion at WorldCon last August and he was awesome. Here and Now and Then is his debut, and I can’t wait to see what he writes next.

Thank  you to Mira Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

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Fantasy · YA

In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire Review and *Buddy Read Part 1*

5 stars

Welcome to part one of the fourth buddy read of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter and friend of the blog, Janelle.

In An Absent Dream is the fourth in the Wayward Children series of novellas if you read the books in publication order, and is now the first book chronologically, as it takes place before Down Among The Sticks and Bones. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.

38244358This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .

In An Absent Dream is my new favorite installment in the Wayward Children series.

I identify with Lundy more closely than I have with any other of the Wayward Children so far, and the Goblin Market sounds like a world I could find happiness in. The Goblin Market has rules, and if you follow those rules, you can be at home in the Market. But breaking those rules comes at a very steep cost.

The Goblin Market reminds me a lot of my own relationships with friends, not that we are transactional but that we trade off on doing things for each other. The core of our friendship is that we are both willing to give to the other in roughly equal measure. The internal logic of the Market appeals to my sense of fairness in interactions. Those who do not give fair value are punished.

I understand and empathize with what drives Lundy. While my upbringing was less restrictive than hers, I (an many other avid readers) identified strongly with her escapism through reading. I would have found the door as irresistible as she did.

I also loved the Archivist and Moon. These are the other two main characters in In An Absent Dream that add depth and richness to the Goblin Market and made me feel as though I had fallen through the door behind Lundy.

Once again, Seanan has written the words that speak to hidden parts of my soul.

Read on below for part one of our Buddy Read discussion!

***THERE WILL BE SPOILERS***

Continue reading “In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire Review and *Buddy Read Part 1*”

Blog Housekeeping · That Reading Life

My Most Anticipated Reads of 2019!

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2019 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting years in publishing! I am so excited about what’s coming out and below I’ve highlighted the books I’m most excited about hitting shelves in the coming months.

In An Absent Dream

#4 in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire is promising to be one of the best in the series and I’m dying to dive right in!

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This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .

Empress of Forever

I am beside myself with excitement for the upcoming standalone space opera from Max Gladstone. I love everything he writes and I am prepared to be devastated by Empress of Forever.

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone 40380954.jpgto radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she’s trying to outrun those who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider–until Vivian arrives. Trapped between the Pride, a ravening horde of sentient machines, and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

The Unkindest Tide

#13 in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire

We don’t have a synopsis or a cover yet, but goodness I can’t wait for this installment. Book #12 Night and Silence was such an escalation in the story that I am almost breathless with excitement to find out what happens next.

Winter of the Witch

#3 in Katherine Arden’s stunning Winternight trilogy. I loved the first two, and am so excited to find out how this story ends!

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the 36621586.jpgbestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

Gideon the Ninth

We don’t have a cover yet for Tamsyn Muir’s debut novel but based on the synopsis and everything I’ve heard about it so far I can’t WAIT to get my hands on it.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

King of Scars

Leigh Bardugo’s new Grishaverse series is one I’ve been anticipating for MONTHS. Nikolai was my favorite character from the original Grisha series and I can’t wait to see where his story goes.

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he 36307634.jpgendured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

The Kingdom of Copper

S.A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass was so incredible that I cannot wait to get into the sequel. The world Chakraborty built is so immersive and intense – I need to know what’s next for Nahri!

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a 35839460.jpgformidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid-the unpredictable water spirits-have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Middlegame

Seanan McGuire’s taking off from her existing worlds and forging ahead in a new novel, Middlegame. I’m still not sure if it’s a standalone or part of a series, but either way, I WANT IT!

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him.

35965482.jpgHe instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Aurora Rising

Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman gave us the Illuminae Files and they’re about to break our hearts again with The Aurora Cycle and I can’t wait.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned 30075662.jpgtheir first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone are two of my favorite people, and when I found out that they were teaming up to write a novella I about fell out of my chair.

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Time travel isn’t my favorite topic, but for them I’ve already pre-ordered the book.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

Storm of Locusts

Rebecca Roanhorse is back with her sequel to her debut novel Trail of Lightning and I’m sure it’s going to be just as much of a heavy hitter as ToL was.

It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie,37920490.jpg Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a young girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, rescue Kai, and make things right between them both.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods, and, ultimately the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

Greystar

C.L. Polk hit me right in the feels with Witchmark last year and I am prepared and excited to be absolutely emotional ruined by Greystar.

As a broken nation tries to patch itself together, one journalist fights to reveal the 41473380.jpgtruth behind the disaster, while keeping her head above the rising tides of revolution.

The second installment follows Avia Jessup, a newswoman whose former lover set Miles on his collision course with truth. As Aeland is invaded by fae visitors and wracked by brutal winter storms, Avia begins to pick at the threads of conspiracy, and finds that every trail leads her to Grace Hensley. The beautiful Chancellor is keeping secrets that could break the country apart, and Avia will have to decide whether exposing the truth is worth the price of blood and fire, and worth risking the budding romance between herself and Grace.

Darkdawn

The final book in the Nevernight Chronicle from Jay Kristoff is going to be bloody good fun and I can’t wait. Mia is going to make me bleed feels all over the page. I am so excited.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo 23264672.jpgand rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?

What are YOU excited to read in 2019?

 

 

Blog Housekeeping · That Reading Life

2018 Final Challenge Progress Report!

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Happy New Year!

August and September and November and December whizzed by in a blur and then I turned around and it was the end of the year too! How did I do on my reading challenges? (Spoiler, not great.)

My Goodreads Reading Challenge goal was 175 books and  I completed 175/175. This is the only challenge I completed this year. I pulled it off in the 11th hour, but I did it! I’m pretty proud of this.

On to the Book Riot Read Harder challenge I completed 10/24. I really struggled in the last half of the year to complete books outside of my usual comfort zone.

In the Popsugar Reading Challenge I completed  27/47 a little over half. As with the Book Riot challenge, I struggled to choose books outside of my comfort zone.

I’m going to attempt the 2019 Popsugar reading challenge in 2019, but I am going to approach it differently this year. I’m going to break the prompts up by month and plan ahead for titles to read.

I also participated in my local library’s 10 To Read challenge only got through half the prompts 5/10.

I really struggled to read in the second half of the year. I had a big health setback in August that I’ve been struggling with. It was hard to find any energy to read. I’m going to commit to some of these challenges again next year and try again, but I am going to approach the challenges differently.

There’s only one way to go and that’s forward. Onward to 2019 and another year of blogging about wonderful books coming your way!

Fantasy · Mystery · YA

Beneath The Sugar Sky *Buddy Read Part Two*

4 stars

Welcome to part two of the third buddy read of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter and friend of the blog, Janelle.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third in the Wayward Children series of novellas if you read the books in publication order, and the third book chronologically (for now). We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.

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Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

I think this might be the fluffiest thing Seanan has ever written. It’s a delightful story, with lots of disturbing little details that are signature Seanan, but it’s significantly lighter than most of what she writes, and I struggled with that. I particularly loved Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the previous two Wayward Children novellas, because they were heavy with emotional weight. Even beneath the sugary surface of Beneath the Sugar Sky I found a fluffy cotton candy core, a bit too light for me.

That’s not to say that Beneath the Sugar Sky is without emotional weight or an important story – Seanan carries on her tradition of making the Wayward Children series inclusive and the characters, both familiar and new, are diverse in myriad ways. This book might resonate more strongly for others than it did with me. In the first two stories, I saw a lot of myself in Nancy and in Jack. In Beneath the Sugar Sky, I just didn’t have that same emotional connection with any of the characters (though it only made my desire for Christopher’s story that much stronger!).

The Wayward Children series is for all of us who felt like the world didn’t quite fit us, in one way or another.
Beneath the Sugar Sky is a sneaky book – a lot like Confection, it has a fluffy, sugary exterior, but when you think about it a bit more, you find a solid core hidden in the center of the story.

If you haven’t read part one of our discussion at Marzie’s Reads, click over and be sure to come back and read part two below!

Continue reading “Beneath The Sugar Sky *Buddy Read Part Two*”