Book Review: Mickey7 • Edward Ashton

“What difference does it make if he replaces them one by one, or if he replaces them all at once?”

About Mickey7

Series: Mickey7 (yes, it’s a series now) (as well as an upcoming movie, apparently)

Length: 288 pages

Genre: Science fiction

Released On: February 15, 2022

Book Description

The Martian meets Multiplicity in Edward Ashton’s high concept science fiction thriller, in which Mickey7, an “expendable,” refuses to let his replacement clone Mickey8 take his place.

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

× 5 / 5 stars

So, like, I know that I said I’d read Children of Ragnarok next – and I am! But, this review has been languishing for a while – I read Mickey7 a few months ago (*cough* When-It-Came-Out-And-No-I-Don’t-Want-To-Talk-About–It* cough*), so I thought that it was finally time to release this.

Let’s get into how I felt about this book, because this book made me feel.


  • The Characters

The strongest aspect of this book was definitely the characters. Mickey Barnes, both 7 and 8, were both very compelling characters; though Mickey7 was our main protagonist, and the one whose POV we followed throughout the story.

I really liked Mickey, he was blunt and sassy, and he was a history major. A history major. Who doesn’t love that? Especially with how out of place it is in a sci-fi setting, wherein it’s just a tad useless. (Mickey realizes the irony, don’t worry.) In fact, his poorly chosen college major (sorry, all history majors. I sincerely promise I’m not dunking on you. I was very nearly a history major myself.) is the conduit to many of the events of the plot.

But the real highlight of Mickey’s character is definitely his personality. His sass is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it prevalent in his dialogue, but throughout his entire narration, as well. And it never gets old

I’m not the most sensitive person, but I’ve been alive long enough to figure out that telling a miserable person about how much worse things can be is usually a bad idea.

The banter and relationship between the two Mickeys is also extremely compelling and interesting. Are you still the same person if there’s suddenly two of you? If you’re missing some of the memories that another you has, how different are you really? Are you the same individual you were seven or eight clones ago? The existentialism focused on in Mickey7 is as fascinating as it is soul crushing.

Regarding the rest of the cast: I quite liked them. Berto was a fun best-friend-type character who plays off of Mickey’s wit pretty well, as well as his differing skills and interests. You also understood very clearly why these two were friends, which is something that some books don’t establish very well. So kudos to that.

Nasha is also amazing. She’s introduced as Mickey’s girlfriend, but immediately feels like so much more. She’s awesome, not just cuz she’s a badass, but because of how committed to her and Mickey’s relationship. As difficult as being an Expendable is for Mickey – with the whole dying horribly over and over again thing – Nasha has to deal with this externally. She continues an extremely intimate relationship with him, despite the fact that he might suddenly no longer be the same man that he was the day before (literally). But she just takes everything in stride and gives everything she has to their relationship, just like Mickey. It should be noted that their dialogue together is also amazing.

The other characters were also great, though I don’t find them nearly that notable. The human antagonist was decent, too, and I loved the verbal shiz he and Mickey constantly flung at each other. Also, the giant space worms were pretty cool too, I guess.

  • The Setting

Ashton manages to create a richly built world (worlds? universe?). The ship that is most of the setting feels so vivid, and the entire atmosphere of Niflheim – the land and the alien creatures – are so richly described.

I also like the emphasis on how it’s so far in the future, that history and our modern era (Mickey7’s past) are irrelevant. It almost feels like a fantastical space opera, in some ways.


  • The World Building

I know, I know. I just mentioned how much I loved the setting and all that, but I didn’t care as much for how it was actually built. The switching between “past” and “present” chapters kind of prevented me being as completely drawn in as I would’ve liked.

And there was also a lot of superfluous exposition, particularly in the “past” chapters, which really kept me from getting as into those as I would’ve liked. I found myself skimming several paragraphs at a time, and I still didn’t miss anything. Don’t get me wrong, some of the background was pretty cool. I just wish it hadn’t been so info dumpy at times.

  • The Plot

It wasn’t as strongly focused on as it could’ve been, but that’s the drawback of a mostly character focused narrative. I’m not disappointed about this at all, actually, but it could technically be considered a weak point of the book, so I put it here for that reason. That’s also why this part is so short and sweet – nothing really positive or negative about it, honestly.

Final Thoughts

Mickey7 was an enjoyable little read, perfect for a free afternoon or (preferably) late at night when the existentialism hits you harder. It balances snappy dialogue and humor masterfully with the more serious aspects of the narrative.

I definitely recommend to those who like sci-fi, but more soft sci-fi. Like I said, the world building is okay, but it’s not as grand as many hard sci-fi epics out there. This is a very character driven story, and the novel is very aware of this, and does this part very well. So if you like character focused stories, you’ll probably like Mickey7, too.

Ghosts and Ghasts and Ghouls | A Review of City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin. But the truth is, ghosts are everywhere.

Series: City of Ghosts

Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Book Description: Everyone has a ghost story. Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it!) she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead… and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.

When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil – and herself.

And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

My Review

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This was a perfect October read! Especially just before Halloween. I haven’t read a ghost story in quite a while, and this kind of hit the spot. Sure, it’s technically in that awkward spot between middle-grade and YA, but who cares? Especially from an author I love.

(If you didn’t know, “Victoria Schwab” is actually another name that V.E. Schwab uses for some of her books. She uses “V.E.” for her adult novels, and “Victoria” for her YA stuff.)

City of Ghosts centers around Cassidy Blake, a girl who gains the ability to see spirits after (nearly) drowning, as well as a new ghostly best friend named Jacob.

He looks up at the word ghost and clears his throat. “I prefer the phrase ‘corporeally challenged.'”

Jacob was a wonderful character. Funny, smart, and protective of his best friend. He brought some levity and personality to the story that Cass’s narration lacked.

Not that Cassidy was a boring narrator. Not at all. Schwab wrote the preteen-girl-with-a-secret trope very well. The problem is just that though – average preteen girls aren’t usually the most interesting of people. I can say this confidently from previous, personal experience. Being an average, preteen girl, that is. But because Schwab encapsulates Cass’s identity as a preteen girl who sees ghosts in a great way, I think she wrote a pretty relatable character for middle and high school aged kids.

(I have to stop typing “average, preteen girl,” or else I’m going to scream.)

Addressing the other characters… Cass’s parents were fun. Her dad was the no-nonsense, nerdy, history professor type, and her mom was the dreamer, who believed in spirits and such. Their family dynamic was great, and it was nice to see some actually nice to see some actual parenting in a YA book for once. Like, they actually noticed that their daughter would run off and disappear, and they grounded her for it. Thank you!

Lara Jane Chowdhury was also a welcome surprise. Like Cassidy, she can also see spirits and cross the Veil and back. Unlike Cass, she actually knows what she’s doing. Lara is crucial in that she finally gives Cass an actual character motivation, instead of just floundering around with her spirit powers.

I also loved how Lara took everything seriously and was super no-nonsense, a foil to the more creative Cass, as well as the more easygoing Jacob. She was the straight man of the trio, for sure.

I really adored the friendships here, too. Jacob and Cassidy’s was so, so perfect. You could tell that they were really important to one another. Adding Lara to the dynamic was fantastic as well. I love how much she grew to care about Cass, and how far she was willing to go for the newbie.

And there was no romance! (Spoilers?) It feels like there’s romance in everything nowadays, even middle-grade fiction, so it was a welcome surprise for me, as someone who’s growing tired of it a little. Like, why can’t they just be friends? Not that I’m against it or anything – I actually really like it most of the time! I just enjoy reading books every once in a while that focus on other types of relationships, other than romance.

Nothing happens until it happens, and then it’s already happening.

I love love LOVED Schwab’s descriptions of Edinburgh. They all felt so life-like and real. You can tell she did a ton of research, and that she’d travelled there before. I know she’s been to a bunch of places in Europe, and that she actually lived in the UK for some time, and it shows. I almost felt like I was there, walking around Scotland with Cass and Jacob.

If I had to pick one thing that I didn’t like, though, it would have to be the antagonist. I felt like they were kind of a weak villain. Their motivation checked out, I just wasn’t really into them. I guess you can look at them as someone whose empathy has eroded away over many years, and who has been acting out of desperation. It felt a little forced, to me. But, they did work as intended, so I guess I’ll give them that.

All in all, I really liked the book and recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. If this book sounds like your thing, then I hope you pick it up and enjoy it!

Thanks for tuning in, and have a wonderful day/night!

Some Scary Stories for Spooky Season | October Book Recommendations

So, I realize that this is slightly late for a post recommending creepy books for October – being that it already is October – but it’s still spooky month, so I thought I could get away with it!

Plus, these are definitely some darker novels – some of them are straight up horror books – so I thought that I’d post this anyway, even though Halloween is only a week and a half away now. So here ya go!

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

Length: 496 pages

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Publisher: Yen On

Blurb: In the spring of 1998, Koichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Koichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?

Brief Review: Look, I know all the weeb alarms are going off cuz I put this one first, but I only did it because I really, really like it, and I want to get more eyes on it. (Actually, I really like all of these books – but we’re not talking about them right now!) I will warn you, some of this book gets a little graphic, so if you can’t handle reading about some gore, you might want to steer clear of this one. Also, it’s already been adapted – as a manga and an anime – so if you can’t trust my word yet, trust the word of the thousands of people that made it popular enough to get an adaptation.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee

Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; Reprint Edition

Blurb: In an alternative fantasy world where some men are made from clockwork parts and carriages are steam powered, Alasdair Finch, a young mechanic, does the unthinkable after his brother dies: he uses clockwork pieces to bring Oliver back from the dead.

But the resurrection does not go as planned and Oliver returns more monster than man. Even worse, the novel Frankenstein is published and the townsfolk are determined to find the real-life doctor and his monster. With few places to turn to for help, the dangers may ultimately bring the brothers together – or ruin them forever.

Brief Review: In some ways, this one might just be my favorite on the list. (In some ways!) It was a really fast-paced read for me – I powered through it in like three hours one evening – and it pretty much has great everything. Great plot, great writing, great characters – it’s got the works people! Lee just has a way with words. (In this book at least. I haven’t actually read any of her other novels, but they have excellent reviews, so take that as you will.) It’s a brilliant Frankenstein retelling, and there are a few surprisingly real people characterized her. (Shhh, no spoilers!)

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Series: How to Hang a Witch

Length: 368 pages

Date Published: July 26, 2016

Publisher: Knopf Books

Blurb: Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her step-mother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is a descendent of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials – and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendents. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that wasn’t enough, Sam comes face-to-face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendents to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Brief Review: Out of all the recs on this list, I must confess that this one may be my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it quite a bit! But it just didn’t really click with me that well. And hey, if the summary looked great to you, then feel free to give this one a shot! It also has a sequel as well, if you really, really like it. It’s been compared to Mean Girls, so if you enjoyed that movie and YA is your thing, definitely look it up.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Series: Caster Chronicles

Length: 577 pages

Publication Date: November 11, 2009

Blurb: Little Brown; 1st Edition

Synopsis: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Brief Review: So, um, I put one of the paranormal romance books that spawned from the Twilight craze on this list. Yeah…

I have a confession: I don’t know if this book (or its sequels) still hold up. I haven’t read this since the early 2010s. But it was one of my guilty pleasures back then, and I actually reread it a few times, and I don’t do that often. I gotta really like a book. And hey, it spawned three sequels and a sequel series, as well as a movie. A crappy movie, but a movie nonetheless. So that’s gotta count for something, right?

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Length: 368 pages

Publication Date: January 2, 2011

Publisher: Razorbill

Blurb: Mackie Doyle is The Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. He had been raised among us. But he is not one of us. Now, he must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps from which he came and find his rightful place – in our world or theirs.

Brief Review: So, this is a minimalist summary compared to the others, huh? But, sometimes short and succinct is the way to go, cuz this little plot synopsis kind of tells you all you need to know. This is a fun and dark little read that has an interesting portrayal of a certain creature that has taken over YA in the last several years. (I probably don’t need to tell you what it is – you totally already know, lol.) Anyway, if this looks interesting to you, go on and give it a shot.

The Other by Thomas Tryon

Length: 272 pages

Date Published: October 2, 2012

Publisher: NYRB Classics; Main Edition

Blurb: Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each others thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. Holland is bold and mischievous, a bad influence, while Niles is kind and eager to please, the sort of boy who makes parents proud. The Perrys live in the bucolic New England town their family settled centuries ago, and as it happens, the extended clan has gathered at the ancestral farm this summer to mourn the death of the twins’ father in a most unfortunate accident. Mrs. Perry still hasn’t recovered from the shock of her husband’s most gruesome end and stays sequestered in her room, leaving her sons to roam free. As the summer goes on though, and Holland’s pranks become increasingly sinister, Niles finds he can no longer make excuses for his brother’s actions.

Brief Review: So, this book… I absolutely adore this book! It’s a bit of an oldie, compared to the rest of the recs on this list, but it deserves it as much as the rest; perhaps more-so. Thomas Tryon is an acclaimed author of the 20th century and has written for several genres, including horror, contemporary fiction, fantasy, and even western. This book haunted my summer several years ago, and it could haunt your October this year if you give it a try. The prose is awesome, the characters well-developed, and the plot twists are juicy and unexpected.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t recommend Tryon’s other well-known work Harvest Home, even as just an honerable mention. This is the novel that inspired Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, and I don’t believe it needs any other introduction than that! I highly recommend you check that one out as well – it’s just as good, if not even better than The Other.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this very long blog post. Here’s a virtual cookie! These are all the book recommendations I’ve got for you today. Toon in next time for a book review, probably.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful day/night!

A Complex and (Slightly) Contrived Adventure | A Review of The Godstone by Violette Malan

⭐⭐⭐ • 3 / 5 stars

This book was fine but I didn’t love it or anything. It gets 3/5 stars even. Some of the terminology was confusing and it was never really explained very well. Also, in the last third of the book one of the POVs got super confusing, but I’ll get into that particular issue more in a bit. The second half of the book was also slower than the first, and the ending was anticlimactic and, I felt, a little rushed.

There are a few spoilers ahead in this review, but don’t worry, I have them marked! Just keep an eye peeled for the spoiler tags!

(There’s a reason that this book took me a month to finish…)

The plot and the prose were probably the weakest parts of the book. The plot itself barely had a reason to happen; and all of the characters probably would have been better off if they hadn’t even started their journey at all. Like, the bad guys (whoops, a couple small spoilers, sorry!) couldn’t access the Reality Warping McGuffin With Sentience (aka “The Godstone”) without Arlyn, so why would you go straight to these people?? FENRA EVEN ADRESSES THIS NEAR THIS BEGINNING OF THE BOOK SO WHY. Finding said Reality Warping McGuffin With Sentience just to redo a stronger seal on it seemed to be a pretty flimsy excuse.

There are a few plot conveniences as well, and the writing itself seems like something out of an indie debut though the author’s little bio says she’s published books before. The world building also feels confusing sometimes, if only because the magic system, magical terminology, and language are never explained. We, as the reader, are expected to learn them all as we go. (I still don’t know what a freaking “Mode” is…) What I did understand of the world building, however, was pretty awesome. I also enjoyed the way the author described stuff — I felt like I could visualize the world and the characters really well in my mind. The dialogue seemed pretty natural too; it never felt super forced to me, which is something that is important to me while reading.

I did like the characters quite a bit though — they were by far the best part of the book — and their relationships with each other were also very nice. (For the most part…)

Arlyn Albainal was definitely my favorite character in the book. He was by far the most interesting of the three protagonists, and I loved his character development and was rooting for him from the beginning. There were only a few things that I didn’t like involving his character.


I hate it when authors “redeem” characters by way of self sacrifice; I find it to be extremely cheap and unfulfilling for a character arc. Also, I get that Arlyn’s sort of possessed, but you didn’t have to make that POV… well, the best I can describe it is “Double 1st Person POV” — it doesn’t make sense, I know — but it was two technically separate characters both getting 1st Person POV at the same time. It would alternate between past and present tense to differentiate the 2 POVs, which is a crime in itself, and my grammarian and English BA brain felt like it was melting and burning at the same time.


Fenra Lowens was an okay second protagonist, but she felt a little bland, even though it seemed like the author did try l to make her an interesting character. I did like the quiet strength she displayed — she wasn’t a “girl boss” or a stereotypical “strong female character” so often seen in fiction nowadays. I also liked how she refused to take any lip from either of the guys, though. Her banter and relationship with Arlyn was very compelling, anf I felt that they played off each other well — Fenra was definitely the straight-man to Arlyn’s recklessness. However, I felt the reason she had for leaving the village she lived in and took care of for years and years at the beginning of the story to be weak (or non-existent really).

Elvanyn Karamisk was extremely likable but sometimes felt less necessary to the plot than the other two protagonists. Like, Arlyn and Fenra go to this secret dimension (called “the New Zone”) to escape some of the bad guys and they just happen to come across him there – even though it’s been decades and he should be long dead by now. But he’s still alive because people don’t age in the New Zone for some reason. This is never explained. The only excuse given is basically that other dimensions are weird. Then, the 3 leave the New Zone for the original world they were from and never go back. I really liked Elvanyn’s personality a lot though, he seemed like an fun mix of a cowboy and a pirate. I thought his apparent budding romance with Fenra felt forced and it feels kinda “insta-love” to me. I liked all 3 of the characters best as friends, and I don’t think a relationship between any of them was necessary.

So, in conclusion, this wasn’t a terrible book, but If The Godstone turns from a standalone into a series though – which I’m almost certain that it will, since there are loose ends – I don’t think I’ll continue beyond this. It just wasn’t for me is all. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t for you, so if this book sounded interesting to you, then go check it out yourself!

See you later! ~ Mar

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