This last week was so much more productive than the ridiculous week before, and I’m so happy. Now, I’m back in the groove! (Yes, I know this is technically a day late. Shut up.)
I haven’t had the best start so far this current week, but I’m hoping I can pick up the momentum a little bit nonetheless. And yeah, I’ll go into it a bit more closer to the end, but I’m not expecting to post like last week. I’m hoping to have almost as much proclivity as usual, but we’ll just have to find out how much together.
Anyway, on with the wrap-up!
Monday 5/29: Majestic Monday
Last Monday, I did the first Majestic Monday that I’ve done in a long time. It felt great, and I’m excited to post more of these in the future. For those who don’t know, Majestic Mondays are when I gush over covers that I like.
Last Friday, I participated in First Line Fridays. It’d been a bit since the last time I was able to (courtesy of the power so generously deciding to go out the week before), but I managed to do it last week. First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words.
On Sunday, I finally got around to posting my monthly reading wrap-up for May 2023. It’s no later than I usually get to it, but I usually take a bit to get to it sometimes. I didn’t read and post as much as I’d have liked last month, but what can you do? Sometimes life just gets in the way.
This week I’m aiming to be almost as productive as last week. The key word here being almost. See, there’s sort of a vacation-y kind of thing going on at the moment, so my spouse and I are doing some stuff this week, which means I’m gonna be distracted. Like, a lot. So I’m hoping to post at least four times, but we’ll see.
But yeah, not a lot specifically planned this week. I just want to post a few things of anything really.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day/night!
Sooo… this is a bit later than I hoped it’d be, but here it finally is – my monthly wrap-up with my May 2023 Reading statistics!
Anyway, talking about May – I’m not super happy with how much I read last month. My statistics were meh on The StoryGraph. It was the least amount of reading that I’ve done yet this year. But I kinda get that a lot of stuff went down this past month, so I didn’t have the time or the mental energy to get the stuff done that I wanted to.
Anyway, I’ve prattled on enough. On with the stats!
May 2023 Reading Stats
I read 3 books and 1171 pages
😐 MOODS:Adventurous was the biggest slice of pie once again. But there are a lot of different kinds of pie on the Moods graph this time. And they’re all pretty equal, which I found kinda funny.
👢 PACE: Unlike pretty much all of the previous months, fast-paced books were the biggest part of the pie. There’s still a chunk of medium-paced, though.
🔢 PAGE NUMBER: I read a lot of shorter books in May, similar to what I read in April. 300 to 499 was the only kind of pie here.
📖 FICTION/NONFICTION: I read a nonfiction book this past month! Yay, finally! This is probably gonna be a once in a blue moon kind of thing though, as I rarely read it.
🎭 GENRES:Fantasy was the biggest part of the graph this time, as per usual. Science Fiction was also on here like it normally is, but Memoir also made an appearance this time… cuz I read a memoir.
📄 FORMAT: The little StoryGraph pie chart for this is wrong once again. (Yeah, I’m never gonna fix it, lol.) 33% (one book) were printed copies, and 66% (two books) were digital.
⭐ RATING: My median star rating for the month of April was 4.33. I wasn’t all over the place with my ratings in May. I gave two books 4 stars and one book 5 stars. (According to my StoryGraph stats anyway. Once again, I didn’t add any of the manga I read to it. Otherwise there would’ve been two books with 5 star ratings.)
📉 PAGES READ DAILY: I read quite a bit during the first week and a half, but dipped down a ton in the middle. During the last few days of May though, I read a bunch.
So yeah, May 2023 reading was kind of a bust. I know that a crap-ton of stuff occurred that I couldn’t control, but I’m still irritated with the reading and blogging that I was able to do.
I’m determined for June 2023 to be different. I’m going to read more books than I did in May, and then I’m gonna write reviews and post them. I’ve had an okay start so far, and I’m determined to keep up the momentum. And the May 2023 Reading Wrap-Up comes to a close.
Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!
Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.
Neither here nor there, but long ago…
Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.
With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.
“Go to her, go to her, they say,
The star of your eye.
Go to her, go to her,
The compass of your heart.”
Haha, so it’s been a few weeks since my last book review. Whoops. Honestly though, there was a ton of stuff going on last week and the week before, and I seriously had no time to read.
But I’m finally back with another! And what an absolutely stunning book to come back with!
Though it had a bit of a slow start, I ended up absolutely loving The Stardust Thief. The story and the characters were so compelling and interesting. By the halfway point of the book, it was difficult to tear my eyes away from the pages.
Anyway, let’s get into what I liked and didn’t like as much about the novel.
Stuff I Liked
Loulie had buried many things since her mother last told her that story.
Her name. Her past. Her parents.
But the story, she had never forgotten.
The characters were definitely my absolute favorite thing about the book. Loulie al-Nazari was a very interesting and compelling protagonist. I really liked her – she wasn’t like other MC girls that I’ve followed in the best way. She’s rough and jaded, with a tragic past (like several of my least favorite MC girls), but she’s also vulnerable and can’t do everything on her own. And this was a really big part of her character arc, which is something that I really enjoyed following.
Mazen bin Malik was a great deuteragonist, a great foil to Loulie, and had a fun personality. I really liked his character, and he was the first one that I connected with, even before Loulie. His insecurities and desire to break free from his isolation was very relatable to me.
Qadir was excellent, and I loved, loved, loved his and Loulie’s relationship. It was an entirely platonic, wonderfully written found family. I loved how he acted as another foil to Loulie – but in a different way that Mazen was. He was calmer and more contemplative than Loulie was, and it really balanced out their partnership, and helped them work seamlessly as a team.
He curled her fingers around the coin. “Not alone,” he said. “Not anymore.”
Aisha bint Louas was probably my least favorite of the protagonists, but I still really enjoyed her. Most of my character moment and character development tabs went to her, and for good reason. Out of all of the characters here, I feel that she had the most growth.
The thing I liked the most after the characters was definitely the short stories inserted throughout The Stardust Thief. They were told in a very engaging way, and were also expertly woven in to embellish on the actual plot.
The plot itself was also excellent. I loved all of the nods to A Thousand and One Nights, and Abdullah’s writing style. The whole thing was a super engaging adventure story.
Stuff I Didn’t Like
“We all start as cowards. We’re all afraid, Prince. The only difference between a hero and a coward is that one forgets their fear and fights, while the other succumbs to it and flees. Your fear of death does not make you weak. Only human.”
There were only a couple of things that I didn’t care for in the novel. First off – and this is more of an issue with a choice that the publisher made – the pages with the short stories were almost too dark to read the text off of. And as someone who already has some vision issues, it was extremely annoying. If these pages had just been a little bit lighter, it would’ve been fine.
The other thing I didn’t like was how whipped Loulie was about a particular character. Like, she was constantly simping over this man, particularly when they were in the room together. It was all just so awkward and annoying to me, mostly because I don’t feel like we saw enough of them together to justify all of the simping. But yeah, that was really the only other thing that I didn’t care for.
I did find some twists a little predictable (particularly those concerning Qadir), and I figured out most of them before they happened, but I didn’t mind that. It always feels good to get to these parts and find out that I was right. Also, I loved the twist on the title. I feel like you’re led to believe that Loulie is the eponymous Stardust Thief, but it ends up being someone else.
“The sun, it warms the sand
And set the sheikh’s heart aflame.
She waits in the shade, the sun says,
The beloved of your dreams.
She waits in the shade. The shade.”
So yeah, I really enjoyed The Stardust Thief and I absolutely recommend it to any and all fantasy fans. It’s so well written, with great characters and a great story. Just read it. Please.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!
A man awakens in a clearing in what appears to be medieval England with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he is there. Chased by a group from his own time, his sole hope for survival lies in regaining his missing memories, making allies among the locals, and perhaps even trusting in their superstitious boasts. His only help from the “real world” should have been a guidebook entitled The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, except his copy exploded during transit. The few fragments he managed to save provide clues to his situation, but can he figure them out in time to survive?
Note from Brandon:
Sometimes an idea just won’t let go of you for years. The initial seed of this novel was the title that eventually turned into The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England. At first there was no story go to with that title, but I wrote it down and kept coming back to it, wondering what that book could possibly be about. Something else I thought about off and on for years was the classic concept of a man waking up in another time and another place, with no idea how he got there. It was when those two ideas came together, and I placed a book with that title into that man’s hands, that this novel was born. I hope you’ll have as much fun with it as I did!
“So where did the first god come from?” I asked Ealstan.
“Licked from a rock by a cow,” Ealstan said with a perfectly straight face.
“It was a very special cow.”
So, real talk – I’ve never actually read a Brando Sando book before. His books combined with his series are just too long. (Except for Steelheart, but I wasn’t able to get into that one at the time I tried to read it.) I just don’t feel comfortable committing to that, especially after my failed attempt to read A Song of Ice and Fire (I gave up a third of the way through A Clash of Kings.)
But then I heard about this book last week, and it was a standalone and it sounded fun. So, I decided to pick it up and give it a shot.
As far as first Sanderson books go, I give this one four stars. (I know I already said that above, but it’s a joke cuz the book has a bunch of star ratings in it.)
Speaking of the novel, let’s get into it.
I patted the tree I’d been hiding behind. “Thanks for the cover,” I whispered. “You’re a good tree. Tall, thick—and most importantly—wooden. Four and a half stars. Would hide behind you again. Half a point off for lack of refreshments.”
Our main character wakes up in a place he doesn’t recognize, and soon discovers that he has amnesia. And so begins his quest to figure out who he is, as well as what’s going on.
The MC, who introduces himself as Runian to the denizens of the medieval world he’s found himself in, is pretty entertaining to follow. I really liked his voice and how he rated different stuff about his adventure an allotment of stars. It’s an amusing little quirk of his. I also enjoyed his dynamic with the cast of characters that he teams up with.
These characters include Sefawynn, a skop – one who can speak the Wyrd. She’s smart and feisty, but she’s not a girlboss or a Mary Sue, which I very much appreciated. Her romance with Runian was also cute, even if I would’ve liked a little more development.
I also really liked Ealston. He’s loyal and brave, and he’s willing to give his life for his friends and loved ones. He also has his entertaining moments as well. Like when it’s revealed that he named his axe.
“Fine then. I’ll tell Ealstan how great bows are,” I said, “and how axes are mundane and lack finesse.”
“Here, now,” he said from the other side of my horse. “Don’t involve me in this. Heresy is one thing, but insulting Rowena is something else.”
“Wait,” Sefawynn said. “You named your axe?”
“Um, yes,” Ealstan said, looking away.
Thokk was the best character though, hands down. I just like spicy old women who don’t take crap from anyone, okay? She was hilarious, and I loved how she kept following everyone around. She was a total gem.
“So…” Thokk whispered. “Why are we sneaking about again?”
“Again, elder,” Ealstan said. “This is dangerous. Perhaps you should—”
“Why should I care if it’s dangerous?” Thokk said. “Do you know how old I am? I probably only have a few months left. Not much to risk here! So what are we doing?”
Though the characterization was obviously the star of The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook, the story was pretty good too. A man trying to find his identity in an epic fantasy world? Awesome. Where can I read it?
The chapters from the “Frugal Wizard’s Handbook™” were also hilarious. Probably my favorite part of the book. This one in particular is my personal favorite:
The art was also really good. I loved how cute The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook™ stuff was. The artwork really adds to the novel, and it definitely wouldn’t have been the same without it.
So yeah, I thought that this novel was really fun. It was a change of pace from some of the SFF that I usually read, which I liked. And yes, Sanderson actually technically wrote an isekai/portal fantasy.
I don’t really know who to recommend this book to. I guess Brando Sando fans will probably enjoy it to some degree, but I also think those who like their humorous fantasy books will like it too.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have an excellent day/night!
A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships.
These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants. Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.
[Mom] wanted this. And I wanted her to have it. I wanted her to be happy. But now that I have it, I realize that she’s happy and I’m not. Her happiness came at the cost of mine. I feel robbed and exploited.
I’m Glad My Mom Died was something that I wanted to read for awhile, since I first heard about it last September. And it didn’t disappoint. Jeanette McCurdy is a very gifted writer, and made me feel so many emotions during my read.
And yes, I realize that it is now May. AKA: Mom Month. And no, I forgot it was the month that has Mother’s Day, until I was already a bit of the way into the novel. So, at that point I didn’t really feel like stopping for a month.
But maybe it was appropriate to read it during May. I’m not sure. Either way, it’s definitely a good book, but maybe wait until after Mother’s Day unless you want to cry.
Loving someone is vulnerable. It’s sensitive. It’s tender. And I get lost in them. If I love someone, I start to disappear. It’s so much easier to just do googly eyes and fond memories and inside jokes for a few months, run the second things start to get real, then repeat the cycle with someone new.
This book was hard to get through at times, even though I enjoyed it. The thing was, McCurdy wrote in such a way that I was able to feel the emotions the novel was putting out so raw and viscerally. And sometimes it was just… rough, to read.
Though I never had any problems with it, I’m Glad My Mom Died is full of potential triggering material. So if reading about EDs, death, abuse, gaslighting and manipulation, controlling behavior, and alcoholism and addiction is upsetting to you, maybe keep away for your health.
I’m honestly not sure what more to say. I’ve never reviewed a memoir (let alone nonfiction) before, but I’m now finding that it’s a bit difficult to do. Because with memoirs, it isn’t just a story that someone used their imagination to create and then put on paper. This is someone’s life, and all the highs and lows that come with it. And it was a very moving and emotional journey.
I will mention that it made me look back on my early teen days differently now. iCarly is forever going to hit differently.
I feel like the world is divided into two types of people: people who know loss and people who don’t.
So yeah, I highly recommend this book, but only for those who think they can handle the material. It’s very well written, and the way that McCurdy tells her story feels very natural.
Like I said though, it is a bit rough to read at points, so I think that I’ll be taking a break where nonfiction books and memoirs are concerned. I don’t know when I’ll next read one of these books, honestly, as nonfiction isn’t usually my cup of tea.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have a beautiful day/night!
Outside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end.
Antigone’s parents – Oedipus and Jocasta – are dead. Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but with her militant uncle Kreon rising to claim her father’s vacant throne, all Antigone feels is rage.
When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest.
But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he.
Everything felt empty and strange, like the world had ended and we had slept through it.
I’m not gonna lie; part of the reason that I read this novella was to see if Veronica Roth grew at all as a writer in the past ten or so years.
It appeared not. I was disappointed.
I also wanted to read this because I wanted to read this. It just sounded so interesting. I’m a sucker for retellings. I’m also a sucker for a well-written, post apocalyptic, science fiction story. And Arch-Conspirator sounded like the best of both worlds. I was genuinely excited to read it.
Alas, it fell short for me in several regards.
I’m very aware that this is inspired by Antigone, a Greek play written by Sophocles around 441 B.C. I’m also somewhat familiar with it, and I brushed up a little on it after reading Roth’s novella. And I will concede that she does… something with her retelling. Just not as much as she could have.
WARNING: This review is not necessarily “spoiler-free.”
First off, I have to talk about the thing that I hated the most about this: the first person perspectives. They weren’t unique enough, and they felt like the same narrator. If every new chapter hadn’t come with a new POV identifier, I’m not sure how long it would’ve taken me to figure out whose point of view said chapter was from. They were that indistinct.
(Except for Polyneikes, but he only has one POV chapter before he dies. And no, that isn’t a spoiler, considering how he’s dead before the play this is based on, Antigone, even starts. And even then, his chapter hardly feels that different from the other characters.)
But not all things are guaranteed for all people. That is the way of things.
Secondly, I also didn’t like how quickly Polyneikes and Eteocles are fridged. Yes, they die in the original, but if you’re choosing to add them to your narrative, you can at least try to make them into actual characters. Eteocles doesn’t even get a POV chapter! We never learn his motives and opinions about his choice to “betray” his siblings first-hand.And this is a book full of different first person perspectives! Why then wouldn’t you even bother to give him one!?! Instead we hear about what he probably thought from his siblings, none of whom seemed to be all that close to him.
Anyway, I have to stop it there before it becomes a bigger rant than it already is. (And it doesn’t even compare to the rant I went on to my partner last night, lol.)
Lastly, the world building. To put it frankly: it kind of sucked. I know what you’re going to say. This is a novella and It’s too short for real world building. So, I say to you: No. No it’s not. You can put at least the barest minimum into it.
I asked my father, once, why he chose to curse us before we were born.
Let me clarify a few things though. The setting is fine. It’s the other aspects of Roth’s world building that my problem resides.
My problem is: I don’t believe what Arch-Conspirator is selling. I don’t believe that Antigone is angry, even though the text tells me that she is, because it never shows it. I don’t believe the reasons put out about why this society believes that Antigone and her siblings don’t have souls, but that stored DNA and genes do, because it’s not shown enough. This is also a huge problem with Roth’s other work, Divergent, and it is very prevalent here as well. Show don’t tell please!
Anyway, that’s it for this review. Arch-Conspirator wasn’t necessarily better written than the Divergent series, but at least it was short. People who like Veronica Roth’s stuff will probably like it though.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day/night!
For the most part, I want to keep up the momentum of what I’m posting. I also want to do my monthly wrap-up for April, hopefully tomorrow. I’d also, if the day allows, really, really like to post another Majestic Monday, since it’s been so long, and I just like book covers so much.
Concerning my book consumption, I definitely want to read more than last week. I really feel like I could’ve read more, so I want to do so this week.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!
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.
The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio–a past spent hunting humans.
When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.
Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?
In an old and lonely forest, far away from almost everything, sat a curious dwelling.
This book. This book. This right here was the reason that I finally decided to read The House in the Cerulean Sea. It’s because the premise of In the Lives of Puppets seemed so amazing and intriguing, and right up my alley.
I read some very well written and thoughtful reviews a couple of weeks ago, in my anticipation to read this novel. And they were a bit lower, which made me nervous, but I resolved to be undeterred. Especially after I read The House in the Cerulean Sea.
And I’m glad I did. Because this book was wonderful.
“How does one arrive at the decision to kill God?” It’s easier than you might expect.”
Sure, this book had its flaws, as all of them do. But it took absolutely nothing away from my enjoyment while reading. In the Lives of Puppets is a tale both sad and beautiful, and it almost made me cry. And books that are able to do that to me – to make me feel things that much – are almost always guaranteed to get at least four stars. And this novel was better yet.
The characters are the glue that holds this book together. 21 year-old Victor “Vic” Lawson was probably the most cookie cutter of all of them – and gave me some serious Disney princess vibes at times – but he was still very realistic and relatable, and he felt so, so human.
Giovanni Lawson was a wonderfully complex man that brought our lovely cast of characters together. At times, he felt even more human to read about than Vic, which is quite a feat for an android. I loved he and Vic’s father-son bond, and how it was always the driving force of the novel. So many books are quick to forget the loved ones of the protagonist, and I’m so happy to have found another one that is not that kind of story.
“Fine,” she said with a rude beep. “I would consider feeling slightly despondent at your forced absence, and then do everything in my power to ensure you returned with most – if not all – of your limbs intact.”
“Why?” Vic asked.
“You know why,” Nurse Ratched said.
“Because I’m yours,” he said. “Like you’re mine.”
Nurse Ratched was, hands down, the absolute best character from the book. Rude, sassy, and borderline sociopathic, she was perhaps the most human of the entire cast. Both a great source of the comic relief, as well as a fierce Mother Hen. And you’d do your best not to harm her chicks.
Rambo the Roomba was a hilarious and wholesome addition to the group. While not as apparently useful as the rest of the characters, he brought levity and hope to the scenes that needed it most.
Hap was probably the character I enjoyed the least, despite him being the inciting incident. But I still liked him, and his banter with the other main characters was something that I really grew to love as the novel continued. He made a fine addition to the group.
I liked a lot of the other characters too. I also really liked all the Pinocchio references and quotes that I caught though, as well as the Wall-E vibes throughout. There were also other references and things that flew over my head, as Klune was clearly inspired by a lot. That, and I’ve never read Pinocchio and it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen any adaptations.
The plot itself was also extremely wholesome and engaging. I found it difficult to put down, honestly. There was never really a dull moment here, and I also really enjoyed the world building.
Now, let me be clear, before I finish off this review: there were a couple of things I didn’t like. But they were very, very small things – almost negligible – and mostly had to do with Klune’s style. Stuff like saying Victor’s or Giovanni’s full names several different times throughout the text.
“There is nothing more powerful than a heart. I wish I knew what it’s like. It appears to be more transformative than I ever thought possible. Hold on to it, the pair of you. Never forget what beats in your chest. It will be your guide, and with a little luck, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”
So yeah. In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune is an amazing story. Any fan of Klune’s other stuff should definitely read it, as I think it’s his best yet (out of the two books of his I’ve read). I also think that fans of sci-fi and fantasy that like good prose and humor will really like it too.
Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!
A clone plays a dangerous game of life, death, memory, and murder in a twisting thriller by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Matthew FitzSimmons.
Cloning is a luxury for the wealthy. For Chance Harker, it’s a way of getting on with his lives. Five years ago, when he was sixteen, he and his brother, Marley, were murdered in a kidnapping gone wrong. Chance was revived—and his grieving parents met his existence with anger, neglect, and aversion. The public, though? They can’t get enough of the death-defying stunts he has parlayed into a social media spectacle.
But after Chance’s latest “refresh,” he awakens to accusations that he’s killed Lee Conway, a stranger Chance has never met. Has one of his clones? With no memory of his previous selves, and working fast before he’s arrested, Chance digs into Conway’s background, the mysteries of his own life—and death—and the tragic abduction that tore his family apart.
All Chance has to do is stay ahead of the LAPD; his kidnappers, who are back on the hunt; and a growing mob of incensed protesters outraged that a rich clone appears to be getting away with murder.
There’d been a purpose behind all this once, back at the beginning. Back when he’d stopped being a person and had become “the victim of a terrible crime.” Or, to put it more accurately, the clone of a victim of a terrible crime.
So, before I get into my review, I should probably mention that I jumped right into this series via this book. The second book. But I should also mention that the books in this series were written in such a way, to be also accessible as standalones.
But yeah, I kind of read it out of order. So what?
Anyway, let’s just let the cat out of the bag: I didn’t like this book as much as I’d hoped to. I really thought this was gonna be an easy five star read for me, but it wasn’t. Like, it definitely wasn’t that bad of a book – I did give it three stars. It just wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be.
Let’s start with the stuff I liked. I really liked our protagonist, Chance. He was a bit of an idiot, especially at first, but he was attempting to deal with his trauma, even if it wasn’t in a good way. But his development as a character is nice to follow, and I loved watching him grow and change.
Chance tried to remember the last time his father had hugged him and came up blank.
His complex and strained relationships with his family were also very interesting to read about. These were the most compelling aspects of the novel, in my opinion, and these moments were the primary reason I wanted to see how it all ended.
Other than that, the plot was pretty interesting, and I liked all the science-y world building around the clones and the other futuristic tech.
But yeah, that’s kind of it for the stuff I enjoyed. I didn’t really care about the rest of the characters, or find them interesting. I didn’t even care for the antagonists.
Also, and this might be because I didn’t read the first book, but I didn’t really like Con D’Arcy either. I know that she was the protagonist of the Constance, and that a lot of people seemed to like her, but I just kind of found her annoying. Sorry.
The POV and voice also didn’t feel like it was coming from a 21 year-old guy. You should be able to discern a character’s voice regardless of what POV it’s in. Their personality should shine through more than it does in this book.
She looked at him sadly. “Did you know that the more money a person has, the harder it is for them to identify facial expressions in others?
Chance also felt exceedingly preachy at times, and this is the biggest reason why I felt turned off by it. I hate it when the characters appear to be mouthpieces for the author to launch into their opinions and grievances about the world. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just appreciate it with a lot more subtlety. Which is something that this novel didn’t have. At all.
Other minor criticisms include: reiterating the same thing a character said or came to a conclusion about less than a page ago multiple different times; unnatural dialogue; and weird descriptions. I don’t care about what this same-y area looks like describe the goddam characters.
Guys, I just want to enjoy a story. Is that so much to ask?
But nothing stayed hidden forever, did it?
Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons was a very mid, very preachy, sci-fi story set in the near future. I liked a few things about it, but so many things about it irritated me at the same time.
I recommend you definitely read it if you read and enjoyed Constance, and I think you should give it a shot if you like science fiction stuff set in the next few decades.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day/night!
Edward Ashton’s Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.
Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.
It’s not going to last.
It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. If Mickey agrees to retrieve it, he’ll be giving up the only thing that’s kept his head off of the chopping block. If he refuses, he might doom the entire colony. Meanwhile, the creepers have their own worries, and they’re not going to surrender the bomb without getting something in return. Once again, Mickey finds the fate of two species resting in his hands. If something goes wrong this time, though, he won’t be coming back.
“You’re not an Expendable, babe. You’re just Mickey Barnes now. That means you don’t have to die for me anymore.” She puts one hand behind my neck and pulls me to her until our foreheads touch. “That means you don’t get to die for me anymore.”
So, even though I didn’t find it as good as the first book, I still really liked Antimatter Blues. It was still sassy, and it still had the characters I loved from Mickey7 (for the most part – we’ll get to that).
This book begins two years after the first one ends. And it immediately starts off with a banger line that you’d expect out of our MC, Mickey Barnes.
Mickey is just as sassy as he was in book one, and I loved that. But his character doesn’t really change in this book. Like, it seemed like he went and finished his entire character arc in the last novel.
In AB, Mickey honestly seems to regress a little bit as a character and redoes part of his arc from Mickey7 a second time. The sequel even goes out of its way to discuss the Ship of Theseus again.
“Oh no,” he says. “Don’t start with that shit. I gave you up for dead once, remember? It didn’t work out. This time, I’m assuming you’re gonna find a way to weasel out of this right up until I actually see your mangled corpse-and even then, I’m checking for a pulse.”
Berto is definitely someone who’s grown as a character here though. He’s changed from someone who’d abandon his friends during the very rare times that he feels fear, into someone who’d always return for them. With more firepower.
Nasha, one of the best characters of the first book, however, is one of the worst characters here. Mostly because for most of the novel she kept complaining about how they were all going to die, and it became incredibly annoying very quickly. It also seems quite out of character for her, being the independent, badass woman she was.
“Greetings,” it says when it reaches me. “What is pervert? We do not have this word.”
That surprises me a little, considering that they’ve been monitoring my conversations with Berto for two years, but okay.
“It’s a term of affection,” I say. “Have you reached a decision about our request?”
I rather liked Speaker though – the liaison sent by the worm aliens to help Mickey retrieve the antimatter bomb from his “friends in the south.” He was strangely endearing, and I honestly cared more about him over most of the human characters.
Concerning Marshall, our resident a-hole from the first book, I liked him less here. Mostly because he didn’t get as much page time as before, but also because his interactions with Mickey, one of the highlights of book one, were cut downin Antimatter Blues. There’s also the matter of the thing that happens at the end – there wasn’t enough buildup to it, and I felt that it cheapened it significantly.
Speaking of that thing.
Marshall sacrificing himself was nice and all, and was an okay end to his character, but it bothers me that he didn’t interact with Mickey a final time before it happened. We, the reader, find out about it after he does it, and through an exposition dump he left behind. Ugh. I absolutely hated that.
And then the book just kinda ends. Right there. Sure there’s a little epilogue after it, but it’s literally like two pages. And then it ends. It just felt very abrupt and I didn’t like that.
SPOILER RANT END
Aside from the thing, and Nasha suddenly acting out of character, the rest of the novel was pretty much fine. All the plot threads were tied up, but it was left slightly open-ended in case Ashton would want to return to this universe someday.
And the hell of it is, I actually hadn’t remembered, not until she said it. I haven’t uploaded in over two years now. Even if Marshall winds up pulling another Mickey Barnes out of the tank when I’m dead, it won’t be me.
All in all, I really liked Antimatter Blues. Though not as good as its predecessor, I thought it was a good follow-up.
I definitely recommend this to fans of Mickey7, but also others who like sci-fi in space. People who enjoy The Murderbot Diaries would also probably like this duology.
Anyway, thanks as always for reading, and have a fabulous day/night!