Currently Reading: 6/24/19

Cover- Howling Dark

Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio

I was a big fan of the first of Ruocchio’s Sun Eater series and am really looking forward to this one. I’ve only just started reading it, but I can already tell you that I dearly wish it had a summary of the first book at the beginning.

 

 

 

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Recursion by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch writes incredible thrillers and thus far the reviews of Recursion make me expect something special once again. The synopsis itself was enough to sell me on the book!

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Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe – Review

Cover- Velocity Weapon

Published: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Protectorate #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 544 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for and honest review.

Synopsis:

Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.
Sanda and Biran were siblings destined for greatness. Her: a dedicated soldier with the skills to save the universe. Him: a savvy politician with ambitions for changing the course of intergalactic war.
However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda’s gunship gets blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later upon an empty enemy smartship who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system and everyone in it is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.
Now, separated by space and time, Sanda and Biran will find a way to put things right.


Velocity Weapon was such a surprise win for me! I wasn’t sure I would love it when I initially received it, but my hopes were high and, in this case, well placed. From the above synopsis you can see that this promises space battles, politics and rogue AI which is what intrigued me in the first place. Lemme just tell you, it had all that and then some of the BEST plot twists that I’ve encountered in a long while!

The characters were pretty darn cool as well. First of all, we’ve got Sanda who immediately gets blown up on her gunship but that’s definitely not the end of her. She shortly gets picked up by an enemy ship with no crew, just the AI named Bero who’s running it. Oh yeah, and she’s been floating in her pod for 230 years and everyone she knows and loves is dead. Next we’ve got Biran, Sanda’s younger brother, just entering the political field and trying everything he can to get someone to go check for survivors (mostly just Sanda). The split POVs and timelines makes for an interesting story and the reader gets little bits of information at a time. Biran’s POV fills in the past, detailing the perilous times after Sanda’s ship is destroyed by Icarion. There’s also a third POV featuring a character on a different planet and takes most of the book for it to become clear how she is relevant at all.

And then the plot twists guys… seriously, I did not see ANY of them coming until the moment it happened. I’m stunned and I won’t DARE spoil anything for you – you’ll just have to read it!! I literally gasped though, no exaggeration and I may have shouted at my husband, who will never understand why I was so flabbergasted.

Overall, Velocity Weapon was an absolute win in my opinion. It wasn’t perfect and I didn’t care for the third POV for most of the book because while it had it’s moments I just wasn’t connected to those characters at all. I think things will become more cohesive in future installments because it will (I think) be more relevant at that point. This was a fantastic book from the first chapter and I’d highly recommend it!

Priest of Lies by Peter McLean – Review

Cover- Priest of Lies

Published: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Ace Books

Series: War for the Rose Throne #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/ 5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster…and spy. As Tomas’s power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.

People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become–until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors.

When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.

Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.

In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people’s champion…or just a priest of lies.


Ohhh man, the Pious Men are back at it, trying to keep their streets from the Skanians that have infiltrated the city of Ellinburg.  I got exactly what I expected from Priest of Lies and that was a bloody, edge of your seat adventure. It was brutal, with scenes that made me cringe, or alternately, pump my fist in the air.

Tomas Piety, head of the Pious Men and husband to the lovely and cunning Ailsa (of the Queen’s Men) enters new territory in this book – that of high society. It’s just as dangerous as running his business on the streets but requires far more in the way of social graces and he’s an outsider. Tomas’s time in Dannsburg is well spent, meeting some new players in the great game in which he’s merely another piece and getting a  feel for what’s at stake.

I think the characters in this series are extremely well-written and none of them are portrayed as “just another tough guy/gal”, they’re many faceted and have weaknesses, dreams, and loves. I was glad to learn more of certain characters, particularly Cutter, in this installment and I also enjoyed seeing how Tomas handled working for the Queen’s Men – ended up watching him squirm a few times as he tried to explain reasonings for certains actions.

Priest of Lies is a story with a lot of heart and if you’re in the market for a new grimdark series, I won’t hesitate to recommend this one. It’s got magic, gangs, war, and spycraft so basically everything cool one could ever want in a book except dragons. No dragons here, but I guess that would have been just a little extra, you know?

Stacking the Shelves: 6/15/19

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Woops, it’s been like two months since I’ve done a Stacking the Shelves post so I’ve got just a few books to share with you guys! Also, it’s distinctly possible that I might forget a book since it’s been so long and I’ve been uncharacteristically unorganized.

Received for Review:

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A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

A new GGK book is always good news in the fantasy world and this one was excellent. You can check out my review HERE.

The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

Anythony Ryan is returning to the world of Vaelin al Sorna and there are no complaints from me! I do hope Vaelin stays the main focus in this series. Many thanks to Orbit for the ARC!

Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio

The first book in this series really awed me last year and I’m looking forward to checking out this one as well. It’s quite the tome. Thanks to DAW for the ARC.

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

This is actually my current read and it’s like Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite The Road with a fairytale influence. Thanks to Berkley for the finished copy.

Unraveling by Karen Lord

This book had a very intriguing synopsis, but wasn’t quite the book for me. You can check out my review HERE.

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Queenslayer by Sebastien de Castell

This series has continual been a joy to read and I’m looking forward to reading this installment soon! Orbit always send such great books.

Fray by Rowenna Miller

I seriously need to climb my way out of this ball pit of unread books and get on to reading this one. I must see if it’s a good as the first and hopefully get some resolution!

The Gameshouse by Claire North

This is a collection of novellas that I’ve been wanting to read for a few years but it kept getting pushed down my TBR. It was really cool though and I’ll have a review up soon!

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Now for my latest acquisitions that all arrived in the same box yesterday! Thanks to Ace, DAW, and Berkley for sending these over

Beneath the Twisted Trees by Bradley P. Beaulieu

The finished copy of this is just lovely and I hope it’s as good as all the previous books!

Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

This sounds really fascinating – viruses, mysterious ships, etc. Don’t think I could have gone wrong with this one.

Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

Let me just say, this book was FANTASTIC. I couldn’t wait any longer and read the eARC I had, so the review won’t be long in coming!

Crowfall by Ed McDonald

This may be one of the books I was most excited about getting. This will be the conclusion to the Raven’s Mark trilogy and I expect Ed McDonald to wow me with his writing once again.

My Purchases:

My audiobook pace had slowed down for a bit (especially with The Clockmaker’s Daughter) but I’m back on a roll now! I’ve flown through both Skyward and The Wicked King and am currently devouring Sorcery of Thorns. Keep and eye out for reviews in the near future.

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I also received my lovely finished copy of Age of Legend yesterday! Michael and Robin are the most efficient and communicative Kickstarter users that I’ve ever seen. The book arrived well packed and in excellent condition and now, since I read the digital copy already, this can join it’s brethren on my shelves.

Writing Gloves Review + Giveaway

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Several weeks back Melissa from Literary Book Gifts reached out to me about trying out and hosting a giveaway for the writing gloves sold on her website. Obviously I was pretty excited about it because free cozy stuff is just as cool as free books! As always, even though this was sent to me for review, you’ll get my honest opinion.

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Wow, so getting a flattering pic of me in these mittens was tough, but it was entirely me and not the mittens. They’re super cute and quite soft, as I expected because they’re 35% cashmere and as such the care instruction state that YOU CAN’T JUST THROW THEM IN THE WASHING MACHINE (dry cleaning recommended). I’m not entirely sure what would happen if you did, but Google says it’s cool to wash cashmere in cold water and probably in one of the mesh laundry bags. I would just recommend not eating chips or Cheetos while wearing these so you can avoid the problem of messy mittens altogether.

While I wasn’t impressed by the packaging – just a utilitarian mailing baggy – I thought these were pretty good quality. No loose strings, no messy knits, which I what I expect from a new item. I REALLY like the wine red color I chose and it was true to my expectations. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t have swatches of the colors available aside from the light heather grey. I like to know exactly what color I’m getting and don’t want a surprise.

Now on to the really important thing – PRICE. The writing gloves (that I’m referring to as mittens because “writing gloves” sounds a bit pretentious for me) retail at $52.00 USD. I thought this was a little high in price for the product, but I did some research and it looks like this is about average for a cashmere or cashmere blend glove.

The most appealing thing about the writing gloves to me is that they’re a finer knit than the pair I already own. These are easy to maneuver in and have a fraction of the bulk of my chunky winter sweater knit ones, plus they’re easy to type in and prevent the dreaded “mouse hand” where your hands get frigidly cold after too much computer use. I do find that it can be difficult to wear rings with these since they cover that bottom finger segment and thus my rings, which snag on things if I’m not careful.

You can order the writing gloves HERE or check out my giveaway instructions below for a chance to win a pair in a color of your choice!

GIVEAWAY INSTRUCTIONS

For entry send me an email at powderandpage@gmail.com with the subject line “Writing Glove Giveaway” between now and June 20, 2019 12:00pm EST. Only one entry per person. Shipping is available worldwide. I will contact the winner (chosen randomly) and get their shipping information and color preference.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Last Emperox

I’ve been really enjoying the Interdependecy series and it looks like it will officially be wrapping up with The Last Emperox. Will they be able to save The Flow and thereby keep their far flung civilization intact or will it all crumble down? This will be out in April 2020, which isn’t a SUPER long time, but you know.

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi – Review

Cover- The Dispatcher

Published: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Audible Studios

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Standalone

Length: 2 hours 18 min

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.


I’ve been loving the Audible Originals feature that Audible added earlier this year (or was it the end of last year??) and it’s given me a chance to explore some new genres and novellas that I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased. Now, John Scalzi is an author I’ve read before and have always had good reading experiences so I fully expected The Dispatcher to be pretty cool. I wasn’t disappointed and found it to be surprisingly fulfilling despite it’s short page count.

First of all, Zachary Quinto narrates and does an exceptional job and I’d definitely recommend the audio version if you have the opportunity. Secondly, the story was WAY awesome for a novella. In other novella reviews I’ve mentioned that sometimes novellas can be lacking due to their short length. That wasn’t at all the case here and found this to be a nice dip into a cool world where if you’re murdered 99.9% of the time you’ll appear minutes later in your own home, alive and well and entirely naked. People quickly figured out this was a game changer for how life worked and also an opportunity to create a new industry and, practically by default, a new sort of shady business. Use your imagination here folks, I won’t spoil any fun in what amounts to a 2 hour long audiobook.

Overall, I thought The Dispatcher was pretty great, and while I wouldn’t have paid for such a short audiobook, I practically swooped in on it when Audible offered it for free (which it still is last I checked on Amazon).

Currently Reading: 6/10/19

Cover- The Girl in Red

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

This book sounds absolutely awesome and I kind of get a post-apocalyptic fairytale vibe from the synopsis. I’ve enjoyed other books by this author and I predict that I’ll like this one at least as much. It’s also a shorter book, coming in at just over 300 pages.

 

 

 

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Magical. Libraries. That was all I needed to know about this book before I added it to my TBR and forgot about it for a few months. It was just released last week, which was great timing for me because I needed a new audiobook to listen to during my brain free time (driving, cleaning, minecrafting, etc.).

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – Review

Cover- Skyward

Published: November 6, 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Series: Skyward #1

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 510 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father’s—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.


I put off reading Skyward for awhile for a few reasons, the most obvious being that I just didn’t have the time when it was released. The second reason was that I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to like it. I’ve enjoyed every single one of Brandon Sanderson’s books up to this point, but I just wasn’t crazy enthused by the synopsis.

When I picked this up it took me several hours of listening (audiobook) to really get into it. I didn’t care for the main character, Spensa, at first but she definitely grew on me with time. I found her to be loud and rather obnoxious, but she slowly matured and became less obnoxious and slightly more agreeable as the book progressed. She did undergo a pretty substantial character development and she went through flight school.

The actual story is what kept me reading when Spensa was getting on my last nerve. I considered putting it down at one point (I’ve been a ridiculously fussy reader lately) but there would always be this little plot nugget that would keep me going, just one more page. Once I hit a certain point, maybe 30 or 40% in, I didn’t want to put the book down, or rather stop listening in this case. It suddenly clicked with me and I began to truly love it and am now fairly desperate for November to get here so I can see what happens next!!

Overall, I ended up really enjoying Skyward despite a rough start. I absolutely see myself continuing on with the series, like as soon as possible!! I’m only giving this 4 stars despite how much I enjoyed the ending solely due to the rocky start I had with the book. I have to say though, Brandon Sanderson can write a heck of a book and I’ll probably read anything he writes.