The Real, the Unreal and the Unnecessarily Long…

Lords of Uncreation (The Final Architecture, #3)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Author), Sophie Aldred (Narrator)

Last part of a trilogy. I really loved the first book Shards of Earth and sadly struggled with the middle book Eyes of the Void. At the end I think I could have done without books 2 and 3 and would have preferred one standalone and closed novel with less padding and all the plotlines tidied up.

Favourite characters are Olli and Kittering. Idris is really kind of a drag in this one, especially his forays into Unspace with their lengthy descriptions of what he sees and feels. My eyes glazed over a few times. Ollis‘ entire story was the most fun. I did enjoy Solace and Kris as well, although Kris only played a minor part. Too bad that she ended up so bitter at the end.

I struggled again, same as in the second book, to remember who all of the characters were and what they did before. So many of them! It‘s a good thing that the print edition has a list of characters at the back. Too many characters. 

Massive world-building effort. Loved the concept of the Eye. Crux was also a fascinating place to be.

bit lot on the overly long side. The entire trilogy is too long. A duology would have done nicely. I had to re-listen to the last three chapters, because I had run out of steam at the end and reaching the end I realized that I hadn‘t retained any of it, including the grand finale. It‘s a pity that by the end I was mostly glad to be finally done with this trilogy.

Bittersweet ending. 👁️👁️👁️½☆, rounded up. It‘s probably me. 

Shards of Earth | My Goodreads review | My WordPress review
Eyes of the Void | My Goodreads review | My WordPress review

I really think I do not need trilogies anymore. Or novels that are a 1000 pages long. What a drag. Why torture it to those formats with all this padding and endless reminiscing, if you can tell a compelling story in one novel of average length?

Ok, yes, I did enjoy the entire trilogy of Children of Time (Children of Time | Children of Ruin | Children of Memory). So sue me. 

Cleaning my TBR shelf… Space!

Last night I picked three books from my shelf, decided for one of them and put the other two as nah-not-in-the-mood on my coffee table. Executive decision today: putting them into my give-away-basket. Here is the first one that has to go:

In 2015 I read and loved a book, so I bought the sequel. But every time I picked it up, it didn‘t quite fit my mood.

Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax, #2)
by Ann Aguirre

The cover looks like fun. But the font is awfully small and the line spacing is really narrow. Feels like too much work.

Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled—which means that Jax is out of a job.

She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…

From the book blurb

Sounds like the type of book I would go for, but the first few paragraphs incited no interest. Plus that tiny print… Yes, it‘s definitely me. This is a 6-book series and apparently it would have been better to read all of it back to back.

This is my review from 2015 for the first book of this series:

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1) 
by Ann Aguirre

Mar 10, 2015 

I was not sold immediately on this book. It was not bad. There was action right from the start and a pissy, bitchy heroine. Kick-ass heroines are important. I’m not into those whiny, insecure damsels in distress. But this snarky heroine gave me a little bit of whiplash, as if she was trying to hard.

The whole fragging this, fragging that, fragg the other also really got on my last nerve. You want to swear, then swear and write the word fuck!

There were a lot of fun bits though, the peegasm being one of the best.

About 80 pages into the book it started to become interesting, when the crazy-ass plan was revealed and the trouble really started.

I have always loved SciFi where planets with different lifeforms feature convincingly. As a teenager I was a massive Alan Dean Foster fan, I had at least a meter of his paperbacks on my shelf… This goes a little bit in that direction, in a more girlie, Urban Fantasy way. Let’s call it SciFi Light.

The romance was not too in your face and developed slowly, in a believable way. No Instalove, thank goodness. I liked March. He did not bowl me over, but he’s a solid character with a good backstory.

The characters are generally well developed and have personality. I liked it that they aren’t all black and white, but with some grey areas. I even liked mini-characters like Adele. The relationships between them felt natural as well.

The finish of the book was fantastic and I really hope that the last character popping up will show his mandibles again in the next book. Which is already ordered and hopefully on the way to me soon.

I thought about giving this fragging book four stars, but the annyoing bits were smothered by the great second half of the book. Good plot and characters, I felt with them and want more. We have a winner. 🚀 🚀 🚀 🚀 🚀

Top Ten Tuesday — most anticipated books releasing in 2023

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week‘s topic: top ten most anticipated books releasing in the first half of 2023

Another meme that I haven‘t done in a really long time. And I doubt that I will get together ten books. I don‘t check and plan ahead a lot for my reading. It‘s more of an accidental affair. So, anyway, let‘s see what I have planned already in terms of new books for this year…

I do not actually have anything newly published on my list until late April. So the title of this Top Ten Tuesday is right out of the window. Anyway, April!

In the Lives of Puppets
by T.J. Klune

This one is a maybe, I have plenty of other books on my T.J. Klune backlog.

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. 

Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-EIn the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.

Next one. I am not even sure this here will be published in May, as I can‘t find any dates about it anywhere besides its Goodreads bookpage:

Moon of the Turning Leaves (Moon of the … #2)
by Waubgeshig Rice

Twelve years have passed since a widespread blackout triggered the rapid collapse of society, when the constants of the old world—cell service, landlines, satellite and internet—disappeared. Twelve long years since the steady supply of food and fuel from the south became a thing of the past.

The sudden end of the world as everybody knew it, and the horrors of that first winter since everything became dark, only steeled the resolve of Evan Whitesky and the other members of the Anishinaabe community to survive on their own terms. Because the world wasn’t ending, as the community elders reminded them. It had already ended with the original displacement of their people to the far north by colonial authorities. They have seen this “apocalypse” before. They’ve seen it—lived it—over and over. But they had always survived. And they will survive this too.

The book was supposed to come out last year. Maybe Corona threw a wrench into the works? On Rice‘s Twitter he posts about a Fall 2022 draft, so work is still going on, fingers crossed. Sequel to MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW. My review of that book wasn‘t too favourable, when I read it in 2019. But the story has lingered, so it can‘t have been that average.

And another one for May:

Lords of Uncreation (The Final Architecture, #3)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us the third and final novel in an extraordinary space opera trilogy about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

Loved the first one, struggled with the second one, have to read the third one to get closure.

The final book to come out in May, not sure yet if I will get it. Barring another Murderbot, I can settle:

Witch King
by Martha Wells

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”
Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

Doesn‘t sounds all that different to dear old Murderbot, right?

And we finally move into June. ANOTHER IMPERIAL RADCH!!! Boy, did I wait long for this one! I got so fed up with waiting, I re-read the first Imperial Radch trilogy in 2021. Tea did not help with the waiting, dear!

Translation State (Imperial Radch)
by Ann Leckie

The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across the stars in this powerful new novel by award-winning author Ann Leckie. 

Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn’t “optimal behavior”. It‘s the type of behavior that results in elimination. 

Squeee! Presger translator! So looking forward to this one!

At some point in 2023 there should be Mercy Thompson #14 by Patricia Briggs. That‘s all I know. No title or cover art yet. But I will definitely read it, when it comes out.

That was only six books, sorry! We‘ll see what other books will sneak up on me in the next few months! And then back to my owned pile of TBRs….

Am I truly a sentient being? And does it matter?

Children of Memory (Children of Time, #3)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Author), Mel Hudson (Narrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The unmissable follow-up to the highly acclaimed Children of Time and Children of Ruin.

The beginning was a bit confusing. Once the narrative started to come together and paint a picture, this was fun. The corvids are a truly wacky addition to this ever growing zoo of uplifted craziness.

The (not quite) linear timeline goes back and forth and happens simultaneously. Parts of the story are revealed in retrospect. Or are they? What a cool idea. I got very suspicious of the plot eventually, but the ultimate outcome did take me by surprise and was very depressing and then uplifting.

One of Tchaikovsky‘s recurring themes: otherness, being something else and trying to bridge the gap, first contact. We have our humans, Humans, octopuses and spiders, artificial intelligence and more. And struggle and hate and wanting to help. And terraforming. And sentience and how it is defined. Very good. I hope there will be another novel in this universe, picking up where this one left off.

I enjoyed the audio narration by Mel Hudson.

Adrian Tchaikovsky: From Star to Star

I grew up reading science fiction, and I wanted to write a science fiction book as well as all of this fantasy stuff. I decided I would do a science fiction book and then go back to the fantasy because that’s the bread and butter. I guess I had this crazy idea, ‘I’m going to write a book about giant spiders in outer space.’ I think it was basically just luck that the publisher at Pan Macmillan said, ‘We better just humor him and let him do this weird spider book and get it out of his system, and then we can go back to the swords and things.’

Thank you, Pan Macmillan!

Currently reading…

by GennaRose Nethercott

I am about halfway with my Netgalley. I like it, but it‘s not a super fast read.

In the tradition of modern fairytales like American Gods and Spinning Silver comes a sweeping epic rich in Eastern European folklore–a debut novel about the ancestral hauntings that stalk us, and the uncanny power of story.

Anybody interested in Eastern European folklore has probably come across Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut before. My last encounter was when watching The Witcher. So colour me intrigued, when I read about the Yaga siblings, their inheritance of a house with chicken legs and a road trip. I had to go along.

The siblings come across as amicable characters, when they are introduced—a wood-working sister and her trickster-like brother. The Longshadow Man though is creepy right off the bat.

After starting this book and reading the first chapters, I spent some time reading up on Baba Yaga and looking at various images of her chicken-legged hut.

Author‘s website:

And her Traveling Poetry Emporium: — What a fun idea!

Children of Memory (Children of Time, #3)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Author), Mel Hudson (Narrator)

I am about 60% into the audiobook.

I am not sure if I really understood Parts I and II, there were some pretty confusing bits to it. But by Part III the narrative started to come together and paint a picture. The corvids are a truly wacky addition to this ever growing zoo of uplifted craziness.

A linear timeline. Back and forth and in parallel. Parts of the story are revealed in retrospect. Nicely done.

And one of Tchaikovsky‘s recurring themes: otherness, being something else and trying to bridge the gap. We have our humans, Humans, octopuses and spiders, artificial intelligence and more. And struggle and hate and wanting to help. And terraforming.

I enjoy the audio narration by Mel Hudson.

Also planned for December:

Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures, audio, narrated by Stephen Fry, #2 of his Greek Mythology books.
Even Though I Knew the End, Netgalley audio

And once I am done with Thistlefoot, I will return to Ship of Destiny.

Some tea, dear?

Explorer (Foreigner, #6)
by C.J. Cherryh (Author), Daniel Thomas May (Narrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The finale of the second trilogy. And it was a great finale. Quite a lot of action, pretty exciting. Everything that came before this was a great read as well. I loved the look at language and how it works or could work, verbally and body language.

We are headed towards that abandoned space station and potentially aggressive aliens. And Cherryh takes us in an unexpected direction again. She gets me every time. There are politics again as well, but the machinations between Atevi, Mospheirans, ship crew and Bren in the middle don‘t seem as strenuous this time around. Or maybe I am getting used to Bren‘s daily navigation through diplomatic minefields.

Bren Cameron is a pretty settled character by now. I really liked his ongoing letters to those he left behind. Then there is Ilisidi with her no-nonsense attitude and adorable Cajeiri—great addition. I really like him and I can‘t wait to find out into what kind of adult he will develop in coming books. I laughed a lot at the toy car shenanigans. 

Did I mention the great action? And new aliens. Exciting and a great first contact situation.

And isn‘t it nice, how sharing food and polite company break down all those barriers? Some tea, dear?

“Jase-aiji suggests this maneuver will be extremely long, even days, and that for comfort and dignity—”
“No,” Ilisidi said abruptly. “We will not go below.”
“Nand’ dowager . . .”
“Interesting things happen here. Not there. If I were reckless of staff safety I would send after hot tea,” Ilisidi said. “I forego the tea. In that, I have taken my personal precautions and my staff is settled in safety.” 

I am a bit apprehensive about the next trilogy. Can it possibly be this good?

Politics, mystery and a coming of age drama aboard a miles-long generation ship.

I stole that title sentence from the author, it‘s a perfect description.

Braking Day
by Adam OyebanjiAriyan Kassam (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ravi trains to become an engineer and officer on a generation ship that is ruled by an officer elite looking down on the likes of him. One day he sees a girl without space suit floating outside of the ship, impossibly alive… pursuing this mystery might mean that he looses his chance of climbing the social ladder of the ship and could have even more dire consequences.

Believable characters, mostly light reading for a YA audience, but with some darker notes about society, prejudices and how badly people can treat others, when they think they are entitled. There might be dragons. And chocolate.

Meet the author: Adam Oyebanji on debut novel Braking Day  “Ravi has friends and a team. There are times in the book he is at a bit of a loss and other people step up. In many ways, it is all of them together moving through the conflict. Ravi is not a towering figure of physical prowess and mental genius who can move galaxies, he’s just a guy, but he has a moral compass.”

And a fun interview with the author on GrimdarkMagazine (light spoilers)

Brain Candy in space with a romance sub-plot

Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion, #1)
by Jessie Mihalik

Picked this up, because friends kept mentioning it favourably. Started into the first chapter and though that the writing was a bit bumpy. 

I don’t usually look at reviews until I have read a book, but here I made an exception after the first few pages. Romance with an SF setting? Insta-love, too many blond people, thin world building, a Mary Sue, two people great at hiding that keep getting captured and then proceed to repeatedly free each other. Sounds all pretty daft, right? Ok, ok, following the advice of one of my reading buddies: check your brain at the door and have fun.

Brain checked away and… I read the first 8 chapters, 27% into the book. It doesn‘t do anything for me right now, I am skipping paragraphs and find it mainly silly. I would probably really like it, if I was in the right mood for it—the style reminds me of Ilona Andrews. As it is, too many books, too little time. DNF!

I had books 2 (Aurora Blazing) and 3 (Chaos Reigning) of this on my shelf as well. I will kick them off and diminish my TBR pile by two more books, from 217 books by the start of the year to 165 books right now.

On the way to the stars

Defender (Foreigner, #5)
by C.J. Cherryh, Daniel Thomas May (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good thing that I don‘t really read the blurbs before diving into these books, because the main plot line of this one was a complete surprise, for me and Bren Cameron. So I experienced it all firsthand though him. Fun!

“Actually, you’re the alien.“
Oh yes, that was a good one. The crew of the Phoenix in all their entitlement still haven‘t understood that the colonists have moved on and are their own society now.

And by now it seems that Bren Cameron is more Atevi than Mospheiran. Stretched out between all those different cultures and not quite belonging to his own origin society anymore.

It doesn‘t feel like a transition or „middle-book“ at all for me, as other reviewers hinted at. Well, yes, it really is a middle-book in this sub-trilogy, but the story was entertaining and had some great new developments. Bren being kept out of the loop of some back-door dealings between two of the major players was quite a revelation to him and leading him to question Tabini‘s trust in him.

I wonder how this trip will shape Cajeiri and I can‘t wait to find out about that other station, the other aliens and what they will find when they all get back home…

Defender is the 5th Foreigner book. It is also the 2nd book in the second subtrilogy.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, and folded his hands and stopped where he was, listening, waiting while a very sick woman tried to gather her faculties.
“First off, tell the dowager she’s a right damn bastard.”
It was no time for a translator to argue. Mitigation, however, was a reasonable tactic. “Aiji-ma, Sabin-aiji has heard our suspicions regarding Tamun and received assurances from me and Gin-aiji that we have not arranged a coup of our own. She addresses you with an untranslatable term sometimes meaning extreme disrepute, sometimes indicating respect for an opponent.”
Ilisidi’s mouth drew down in wicked satisfaction. “Return the compliment, paidhi.”
“Captain, she says you’re a right damn bastard, too.” 

And the void is staring back at you…

Eyes of the Void (The Final Architecture, #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Author), Sophie Aldred (Narrator)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The sequel and middle book. I really liked Shards of Earth, it was one of my favourites of last year and a great adventure yarn of a misfit crew and found family. Ambitious space opera. 

I struggled to stay focused though. So many characters, ships, planets, alien races and concepts. And there seems to be so much filler and endless talking. I think picking the audiobook was the wrong choice in this case. 

The audiobook narration is well done, if slightly over the top and a little grating at times. The complex and very dense story had me constantly struggling to keep everybody and everything straight. My mind kept wandering off, waiting for some action and plot progression.

So, great concept, world building, plot and well-fleshed out, likeable characters, but the execution of this story just didn‘t captivate me. I had to make an effort to make it to the end, it was a slog. I would pick up another book in the series though, when it is published, to get closure on all those unresolved plotlines.

My next audiobook is:

Dead Silence (Audiobook) by S.A. Barnes

Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.

From the book blurb