Waiting on Wednesday: Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin

“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!

Honestly, I almost didn’t click on this because I don’t love the cover, but it had such high early ratings! Stalking Shadows is the story of Marie, a small town perfumer trying to save up enough of a dowry for her younger sister to marry well. Sounds sweet and quaint, right? Until you find out she’s mixing a particular scent into some perfumes so that her sister unknowingly hunts down those who are targeted and kills them because apparently she’s a werewolf. It’s such an interesting combination of things that I can’t help but to be curious!! This will be released in September 2021.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells – Review

Published: May 2,  2017

Publisher: Tor.com

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 155 (Kindle)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.


I’m really glad I’ve waited as long as I have to pick this series up, though perhaps not for the reason you would think. They’re delightful books and I can now binge read all of them (sort of) consecutively until the full novel length book is released later this month! Minimal waiting involved – yay!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story other than a killer robot that has more feelings than it should. I got exactly that, plus Muderbot loves all sorts of media (especially Sanctuary Moon) and would actually hate for its humans to get killed. Murderbot (as I don’t think they have a ‘real’ name) is a security bot who hacked their own governor chip and when we are introduced to them, Murderbot is assigned to a survey team that someone is trying to kill for some unknown reason. 

Alas, I can’t say much beyond that because that’s literally the novella. Much more and I’ve spoiled the whole thing. This was an awesome introduction to a new character and a new world. I loved the story, I LOVE Murderbot, and I’ve already completed the next novella in the series as I write this. It’s fantastic, but honestly I’m waiting on the other books to go on sale because they are ridiculously expensive for novella length eBooks! I mean, each book after this one is $10.99+ for the eBook and about $15 for the physical copy. And I can read one in an hour or so. Plenty of people have mentioned this before and many more will, I’m sure. That being said, I loved it and as they go on sale I’ll be buying them in whatever format I can get them in!

Currently Reading: 4/5/21

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
I picked this up after seeing a few glowing reviews around and I love it already! I’m only ~1 hour in to the audiobook but it’s already hilarious and refreshingly interesting!

The Queen of Izmoroz by Jon Skovron
I just can’t resist these books with their gorgeous covers! The story isn’t bad either, so that’s always a plus. I enjoyed the first book, but ultimately this will make or break the series for me – hope it’s a good one!

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Series: The Aurora Cycle #1

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 473 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic. 


After binge-reading and totally loving the Illuminae trilogy I decided to pick up another fun YA sci-fi series from Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Aurora Rising has plucky characters and plenty of action, but doesn’t quite tick all the boxes the way Illuminae did. It was still a very fun read/listen and the full cast audio narration was fantastic.

Tyler Jones would be what I would call your all-american football star kind of guy if those were even meaningful words in this story. He’s the top of his class, good looking, friendly, and headed straight for success. Until he decided to go do some flying to relieve stress and receives a distress call from a ship thought missing for centuries. Obviously, being the good guy that he is, he goes to check it out and finds Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley. He misses the squad draft because of this and gets stuck with all the folks no one wants (except for his twin sister Scarlet and their best friend Cat who choose to wait for him). And what a band of misfits they make. 

They get shuttled off to some two-bit delivery mission and no one is happy. And then it turns out they have a stowaway and also, a Syldrathi warship has shown up to destroy everyone. Things get messy quickly and the team ends up on the lam. 

This was quite an adventure as you may have gathered from my brief run down. That’s all good and fun, but the characters are what really drives this story. Of course I’ve mentioned Tyler, the golden boy. Then there’s his twin (and elder) sister Scarlet who acts as the diplomat of the group. This girl has mad social skills. Cat is the pilot and is one of the best the Aurora Academy has ever produced. She’s a real firecracker and is not so secretly in love with Tyler, but if you bring it up she’ll whoop your ass. Finian is the tech expert and despite his skills, he was passed over because he has to wear an exoskeleton suit to aid in mobility. He’s a Betraskan (alien species) and grew up mostly in low-grav environments after a childhood illness. Then there’s Kal, who is a Syldrathi (think space-elves). Despite the fact that he’s an incredibly talented combat specialist he was passed over due to his Syldrathi tribal affiliation. Lastly there’s Zila who’s a cold, cold woman but she’s quite the science officer. Oh, and then there’s Aurora, or Auri as she prefers to be called. Auri is way out of her time, having been in cryo for centuries, which is centuries longer than anyone should be able to survive out in the Fold. She’s the key to all this.

Overall, this was a tremendously entertaining read, but it didn’t grab me the way I hoped it would. Perhaps I was expecting too much after the magnificence of the Illuminae trilogy and I’m being unfair. These characters, while they have their very real and serious struggles, just seemed a little too YA for me. I liked them fairly well, but they had their issues and character nuances that drove me a little nuts. Like Auri’s continued reference to Legolas when being sassy at Kal. There were incredibly moving moments that made me tear up a bit, and lines that made me laugh aloud. So many great things and yet I didn’t quite love it. I’m undecided on whether or not I will continue the series, but the third book now has a cover and release date so I may wait to see reviews of that before making my final decision. I do love those covers though.

Stacking the Shelves: 4/3/21

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’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

Many thanks to Orbit for the ARC of For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten and a finished copy of The Queen of Izmoroz by Jon Skovron. I’m greatly looking forward to both of these!

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier
A rare standalone fantasy novel! I’ll be honest, I requested this because I loved the cover but the synopsis sounds sort of generically cool too. Thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers for the eARC.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller
This sounds like a fantastic and dark YA fantasy. A wicked crown prince forces the main character to help him when he discovers she holds the power of two gods. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the eARC.

The Justice in Revenge by Ryan van Loan
There will be less piracy but more politics and masquerade balls!! Buc and Eld are attempting to stop the assassination of the Doga (city ruler). Thanks to Tor for the eARC!

The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley
MORE KETTRAL!!! Nesting grounds of the giant war hawks? An unknown race begins to stir? Many thanks to Tor for the eARC.

The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan
I think this is the last book in the Black Iron Legacy series and I am very much looking forward to it. The Godswar has come to a peak and I am expecting much action and drama! Thanks to Orbit for the eARC.

My Purchases:

I picked up some excellent audiobooks since the last Stacking the Shelves post in March. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike, and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman were all really phenomenal!

Waiting on Wednesday: All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

“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!

Give it to meeee!!! All of Us Villains is one of several villainous fantasy novels coming out in 2021 and I am LOVING this trend! I want adventure, love, and world domination from the perspective of those perpetrating the world domination. From the synopsis, this will have a fabulous tournament to the death where the winner takes control of the city’s magic supply. I can’t wait for the drama to unfold!

Currently Reading: 3/29/21

Fortress of Magi by Mirah Bolender
YAY! Another trilogy is wrapping up and I can’t wait to see how the story plays out. I’m still holding out hope that a beloved character will somehow be resurrected to save the day now that the end of Amicae is nigh. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but a girl can dream…

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
A group of elderly folks in a retirement village end up trying to solve the mystery of a dead developer. I mean, it sounds both charming and dark so I’m all in for it! It doesn’t hurt that it has such fantastic reviews either – can’t wait to dig in during my long drives this week!

The Fall of Koli by M.R. Carey – Review

Published: March 23, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Rampart Trilogy #3

Genre: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

Pages: 560 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.25/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The Fall of Koli is the third and final novel in the breathtakingly original Rampart trilogy – set in a strange and deadly world of our own making.

The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .

Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.

Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.

Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.


I see what everyone meant when they said this book will punch you right in the emotions now. What a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy! While this still isn’t quite a five star read for me (I was not weeping or uncontainably elated at the end) it was an impressive tale from beginning to end  and did tug on the heartstrings a bit.

Koli, Ursala, Cup, and Monono are in dire straits when they are pulled from the ocean by the folks aboard the Sword of Albion. Yes, the Sword is a massive, technologically advanced ship with a crew of three. It’s a strange situation, amongst a trilogy full of strange situations and events. Stanley Banner and his parents, Lorraine and Paul, are the only people aboard the ship and honestly, the only reason they rescued our band of misfits is because of Ursala’s Drudge. They want her to repair it so that she might treat Stanley for some unnamed genetic illness. Lorraine and Paul are oddities (and we soon find out why) and Stanley is at times a massive jerk and at others a fairly normal boy, almost as if he were two different people entirely. Unfortunately, it seems as if Koli, Ursala, Cup, and Monono are prisoners aboard the ship until Ursala completes her task.

On the other side of things, we have Spinner’s POV in Mythen Rood. She’s just returned triumphant from a raid by the Peacemaker’s people with a huge new piece of tech, though many of her people were killed or wounded. Spinner’s perspective has been my favorite. She’s tough yet vulnerable and we get to see how she balances her roles as leader, wife, and mother. Spinner’s chapters are definitely the more action packed of the two POVs, though Koli’s certainly don’t lack for tension. The village of Mythen Rood is constantly in a state of preparation for battle, knowing full well that the Peacemaker will make his move soon.

Eventually our characters reunite again after their long journeys and misadventures. The ending was fairly powerful, though I think perhaps it didn’t impact me as strongly as it did other readers. It was bittersweet, yet left me satisfied. This series wouldn’t have felt right with a truly happy, fairytale ending because it’s a post-apocalyptic world and things just don’t happen that way. This was an exciting read, and if you don’t mind the odd vernacular used by certain characters I would highly recommend it!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Godstone by Violette Malan

“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!

The Godstone is the start of a new fantasy series where a healer is is drug into a mess of magic, politics, and secrets. The titular Godstone sounds very much like a Philosopher’s stone, but for mages instead of alchemists. The stakes are high, and our characters may end up saving the world at some point. I admit to being quite intrigued and I always love the possibility of finding a new favorite author! 

Odin’s Child by Siri Pettersen – Review

Published: March 23, 2021

Publisher: Arctis Books

Series: Ravneringene #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 519 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

An epic fantasy trilogy from Norway about thousand-year-old secrets, forbidden romance, and what happens to those who make a deal with the devil comes at last to the United States!

15-year-old Hirka has always been an outsider in the world of Ym: she’s the only person without a tail, and the only one unable to access the Might, a current of power that runs through the earth.

Her differences become more and more of a concern as the date approaches for the Rite—the ceremony where everyone is to be blessed by the all-knowing Seer and the Council of powerful families who rule in His name. With only a few weeks until the Rite, Hirka discovers the shocking secret behind why she is tailless and Mightless: she is not from this world. As an infant, she was brought through an ancient stone circle known as a Raven Ring, and as long as she’s in Ym, the passageway between worlds remains open inviting terrifying creatures called the blind to follow.

No one can know the truth of Hirka’s identity, especially
not Rime, her childhood friend who just might become something more. But is Rime is hiding secrets of his own?

The first in a trilogy, Odin’s Child is a thrilling modern fantasy epic.


Ever since I saw this series on one of my favorite Booktuber’s shelves, I wanted an English translation of this series. I didn’t even know what it was about – I just thought the covers were way cool and it was from a Norweigan author which was also cool. Much to my delight, this ended up being a pretty cool story!

Hirka is tailless and magic-less amongst a people where that simply does not happen. Her lack of a tail is easily explained – her father claims a wolf tore it off when she was just a babe – but the lack of the Might (magic) is simply unheard of. Among the Ym, when a child reaches the age of fifteen they attend the Rite, where they are tested for strength of magic and sort of choose a path for their lives. As the Rite draws near, her father reveals that he is not her true father and she is not from this world, but is truly a child of Odin. It’s unclear if this means she is merely human or some other race entirely, because the descriptions are somewhat vague. We know Hirka has hair red as flame and no tail, but beyond that there isn’t much detail. 

As one would expect, Hirka is distraught by this news. She had hoped her childhood friend Rime could help her through the Rite by sharing his Might, but the knowledge that she is not of this world haunts her. Not only does she not belong, but her presence keeps a gateway between worlds open, allowing monsters known as the Blind into Ym. Hirka’s journey is full of twists and turns and kept me on my toes!

Rime also gets plenty of POV chapters, which is fortunate because he was quite interesting! He was the sole heir to one of the Council seats, but rejected it to join the rank of Kolkagga assassins. His goal being to carry out the true will of the Seer, who the council claims to represent. He has torn obligations, desiring to help Hirka but he also must carry out the will of the Council and these two things are at odds with one another. 

There is yet another POV of one of the newly elected Council members. He’s a right bastard by all counts and has something seriously wrong with him. He ends up trying to hunt down Hirka as well. The key word here being “try” – she’s a tough one to hold on to! 

Odin’s Child is a fascinating story. I loved the setting and the Ym – it’s honestly quite rare to have truly unique non-human people in fantasy these days. Lots of humans, but few elves and dwarves, and even fewer that are something else entirely. It lent an air of additional mystery to the story, which had plenty of unexplained or vague things going on. I like being plunked down in an unfamiliar world, where everything is new and unexpected and you get to figure things out along with the characters. Overall, I found this to be a fresh, exciting story with plenty of action, politics, and some genuinely emotional scenes. I can’t wait for the sequel!