Meanwhile, on Laconia…

Strange Dogs (Expanse)Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A goodreads friend mentioned that this story made a lot more sense after reading Tiamat‘s Wrath. So here I am. I think you should avoid reading this before Tiamat.

Set on Laconia. The ship building platforms have just come online. And something else…

I find it eerie, how human and mostly nice Winston Duarte comes across here and in Tiamat‘s Wrath. Other than him nobody of the main storyline makes an appearance. It‘s an unrelated story, except for the pink elephant in the room… Enjoyable. A little creepy. Strong Pet Sematary vibes.

Only two-thirds of this ebook are the actual story, the rest is previews and first chapters of two novels. That means Strange Dogs is maybe a little over 60 pages long.

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Great stuff!

Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8)Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To quote one of my reading buddies: Wow. Just wow. That needs to settle for a bit. And I agree about the spoiler thing. Can‘t tell you a thing, you‘ll have to find out for yourself.

I was happy to meet Elvie again. And the whole of Timothy‘s story, as it was, was just delicious. I love him. Jim‘s long game was long. And… get your own copy!

I was mostly grinning happily, when I wasn‘t crying. Some great plot developments that make me look forward to the next and last book.

And that thing that I am not mentioning—no, really—I got spoiled (my own damn fault). I was mad. But you know what? It did not help one little bit. It was still horrible when it happened. Actually, expecting it probably made it worse. And better somehow. And worse, oh my.

This book was close to perfect, especially the last two hours or so.

Good audio as well. Jason Mays has grown on me. He did a good job with giving them all their own, distinct and believable voices.

When will the next (last!!!) one be out?

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Rising from the ashes… not so much!

Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6)Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very quotable one hour into the narration. Yay for Bobbi and Avrasarala being there! Great one-liners, the usual humour.

Unfortunately the first half of the book did not interest me much, I felt no compelling need to pick up the book and continue. First time that happened to me with an Expanse book. It made me go back to the previous books and 5-star those with 4 stars, so I would have room to move. 9 hours into the book it still wasn’t doing much for me.

I care very little for Filip, his father and what they are up to. That trend continued for the rest of the story. I loved Holden and his crew, how Peaches and Bobby became part of the Rocinante family, the glimpses of Avrasarala, the dry humour… the plot just wasn‘t happening for me. It didn‘t add much to the world of the Expanse and there were no interesting new characters either. The guys on Medina station were depicted too briefly to elicit much of an emotional response from me.

This felt a bit like filler. Wrapping up some things from the previous book and setting the scene for the next one. Filling the gaps. A bit meh. Compared to other things I read over the years a pretty good filler, but filler nonetheless.

I give it four starts for the love of the series, but it was really more of a just-ok-3-stars.

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The best yet…

Nemesis Games (Expanse, #5)Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous. I think I have a new favourite in the Expanse series! 5 stars with a cherry on top. Some slight spoilers ahead…

All about Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos, instead of the usual introduction of a new host of characters never to be seen again.

And Bobby is back! And Avasarala, potty-mouth and all.

This is like pure gold for the fans of the series. No distractions of getting to know other characters or slowly diving into a complicated storyline. Just our favourite crew, with their odd-ball humour, trying to survive against mounting odds in a pretty straight forward action adventure story. Don’t get me wrong, the other books with their conspiracies, aliens, universe-spanning plots and amazing world building were fun, too. But this was a great joy ride in its straight forwardness and relative simplicity. And the action, twists and turns kept coming right from the start. I wanted to take breaks between chapters, but I just couldn’t, I was having too much fun…

My favourite stories were those of Amos and Naomi. Holden’s was fun, too, but more of a filler. Alex’s story interested me the least. Each of those plots easily could have been the basis for full novels of their own.

Waiting till next month for my fellow buddy readers to pick up the next book of the series is going to be hard…

*~*~*~*
P.S.: Reading the short story The Churn beforehand is recommended, it gives background on Amos Burton’s youth and characters that are relevant to this story arc.

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Baltimore on Basic

The Churn (Expanse, #0.2)The Churn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Someone recommended that I read this before Nemesis Games, as it is a good background story for Amos. I almost can’t wait to pick that up next week, to find out what happens to Amos. He is one of my favourite characters in The Expanse.

The story gives a look into Amos’ early days, before leaving Earth. And there is a twist that I really should have seen coming from miles away. But I am a bit blind that way, so the coin only dropped just before I got hit by that two-by-four…

Entertaining, short, a little odd…

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Down the gravity well we go…

Cibola Burn (Expanse, #4)Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid addition to the Expanse. Another fairly straight forward story, not as twisty and with as memorable characters as Caliban’s War, but good stuff. My only grievance is the very formulaic aka always very similar plot construction.

Holden is a bit much at times, with his boy scout persona, but luckily he has Amos at his side to keep him ankered to the realities of life and death. Naomi and especially Alex could have gotten a little more page time. There is the now expected bunch of new and never to be seen again characters thrown into the mix.

The really bad guy is really bad and there is the also usual morally ambiguous character, that could fall either side of that line. Miller does his thing, we get unexpected plot twists and oh-shit situations and everything slowly goes to hell in a hand basket, also as in the previous books.

I really liked the natural history excursions. I’ll have one of those mimic lizards, please. Good sense of humour. The interludes are new. And odd. And interesting. And they didn’t end up in quite the direction I expected them to go.

All in all a good read, if somewhat repetitive in set-up/structure. Entertaining , but not mind blowing. Will I read the next book in the series? Absolutely.

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To boldly go…

Abaddon's Gate (Expanse, #3)Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wonder if our writing team follows a how-to-list for their books, something like….
1. boy or girl disappears / is kidnapped / dies and introduced a main plotline for the book doing so,
2. Holden shows up and contemplates his life,
3. Several new, possibly major characters show up, never to be seen again in the next book

I liked Anna, Clarissa, Bull, Sam, Serge…. Corey is good at making characters come to life. But, OMG, did Corey take writing hints from GRR Martin? “Just kill off some important characters, it’ll keep your readers on their toes!”

I also liked the slightly time shifted chapters with alternating POVs, made it lively.

The plot was more straight forward than in the previous two books, which makes it simpler, but dragged me along much faster, too.

Very good, really liked this book, looking forward to the next installment!

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