Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty – Review

Published: January 31, 2017

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

Pages: 364 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer — before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently…
 


This is unlike any murder mystery I have ever picked up before. I’ve read several set in space, so nothing new there, but the real kicker is that none of the characters can remember what happened. They’re clones who’ve woken without much of their memories – I’m talking years worth just gone. 

It’s bad enough that these clones awake with a tremendous amount of missing time (and no memory back ups) but the whole darn room they’re in is covered in blood and gore and they encounter their dead bodies – something serious went down on their ship. As the story moves along, we begin to learn more about these six strange people, who seem to have all been criminals prior to boarding the starship Dormire. They also are all connected to a particular wealthy woman back on Earth – whether they worked with her, tried to assassinate her, or she just decided to interfere in someone’s life. The characters form factions, turning suspicions against one another, even as they must work together to fix critical aspects of the ship to survive. 

The slow unraveling of secrets makes for an engaging story and there were delightful surprises here and there. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by the author who did a pretty decent job. Some author-narrated books are just terrible, but this wasn’t bad (but not incredible either). It’s honestly been quite awhile since I read this, as I’ve been prioritizing reviews for new releases so I’m a little rusty on the finer details. I can say for certain I would definitely read another book by this author because it was pretty dang cool. And dark. But I liked it!

Waiting on Wednesday: Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

“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!

 

Both a cover and title reveal for Sanderson’s latest installment in the Skyward series obviously means it’s going to be my Waiting on Wednesday pick. I love the covers for these books and this is lovely (I like the pink). The synopsis sounds pretty thrilling – Spensa now knows she’s Cytonic and can communicate with the monstrous Delvers and must enter the Nowhere to save her people and stop a galactic war. I’m SO excited for Cytonic, which will be released November 3, 2021!

Stacking the Shelves: 5/29/21

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:

I can always count on Orbit to hook me up with some of my most anticipated reads every month! I was kindly sent an ARC of The Pariah by Anthony Ryan and a finished copy of Catalyst Gate by Megan E. O’Keefe, both of which I am really looking forward to reading!

I also snagged a copy of The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman, which actually has a release date of April 2021 on Goodreads, but is showing September 7, 2021 in the Kindle store. Maybe due to a difference in formats? It’s set on a far future Earth and I mostly just thought the cover and title were too cool to resist. Thanks to Grim Oak Press for the approval!

I’m quite excited to also have an eARC of Activation Degradation by Marina J. Lostetter. The synopsis gives strong Murderbot vibes and after my success with The Helm of Midnight, I HAD to request this! I’m curious to see the author’s take on an unfeeling robot suddenly developing emotion. Thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

My Purchases: 

I completely forgot to mention in my previous Stacking the Shelves post that I received the digital copy of Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan, which I backed on Kickstarter. This is the beginning of a new series set in the same world as his other books, but can be enjoyed on its own.

My latest audiobook purchases are The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes and Son of a Liche by J. Zachary Pike

Currently Reading: 5/10/21

The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan
Yay! The finished copy is finally in my hands! I’ve been getting a little sick of reading everything on my phone (even if it is convenient) and it’s great to have a few hardcopies of books to pick up. This is one of my most anticipated sequels of 2021 (feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately) and I can’t wait to see where this weird and magical story takes us next. 

The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes
I didn’t pick up an eARC of this because I have a tremendous number of books to review already and I’m trying to show some self control. So here I am with the audiobook now that it’s officially been released into the world. Can’t wait to see where this crew of rag-tag unwanted soldiers takes us.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – Review

Published: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 496 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.


Aw man, what an emotional, amazing book this was! I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this is my first Andy Weir book, though I loved the movie adaptation of The Martian and bought the book so many years ago with plans to read it. This was a phenomenal introduction to his work – lots of sciency goodness, tons of heart, and humor. The whole saving Earth thing was also kind of a big deal too, but it’s really about the journey, ya know?

Now about that journey… It all starts when an astronomer notices a line of infrared light in space and also the sun appears to be dimming. Forgive me if I get any of the little details wrong – it was a lot to take in! A dimming sun spells cataclysm for humanity, resulting in mass starvation, an ice age, and other equally dreadful potential futures. Thus begins the work of finding out what’s causing this catastrophe and stopping it. Enter Ryland Grace, teacher extraordinaire. Grace was a brilliant scientist until he got sick of the petty shit that goes on in academia and he peaced out with a final, flaming paper roasting his peers. He is recruited by the task force working on the problem and gets deeply involved in solving this problem.

With all that being said, you might wonder how he ultimately ended up on a spaceship with two dead astronauts in the compartment with him and no memory of who he is. Because that is exactly how this book begins. The timeline goes back and forth between the present on this strange ship and the past, where Ryland begins to gather his memories back and realizes that he’s humanity’s last hope. Now it gets really fun! 

BIG SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

This isn’t just about saving the world – it’s also a first contact with aliens book!! Ryland arrives at Tau, the star where the astrophages (star eaters) that are dimming the sun originated. And lo, THERE IS ANOTHER SPACESHIP!!! I literally squealed with excitement! And the being aboard – a crablike fellow Ryland dubs Rocky – is friendly and he’s also trying to save his star Eridani, from the astrophage too. They team up and the book becomes equal parts learning about one another and finding a solution to the astrophage problem. It’s a delight to read about the developing friendship and inevitable foibles along the way. This book was somehow wholesome even though failure could mean the extinction of billions. And the ending. O man, that ending was so bittersweet. I just loved it! 

Project Hail Mary will be hands down one of my top 10 books this year. I think this one will leave a lasting impact and could very easily be translated to the big screen and become an amazing movie. It would probably make me cry in the theater (oh how long since I’ve been in a movie theater). The last book I read with such a well blended technical and emotional aspect was Seveneves, and we’re just going to ignore that last part of the book that either should not have existed or should have been a separate book. I just can’t say enough wonderful things about Project Hail Mary – go read it for yourself!

Currently Reading: 4/26/21

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
OH YEAH MORE SPACE MURDER. I’ve been reading a ton of murder mystery or murdery SFF books lately, which has been entirely okay. I’m not ready to give up on that particular sub-genre yet and I’m excited to see how this one plays out. Rather than just saving himself, the main character is on a mission to save humanity from an extinction level event. 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
I continue to be fascinated by Lucy Foley’s method of introducing the tragedy at the beginning of a book but not telling you who was killed or who did it until the very end. I’m halfway through this and still don’t know who was murdered (though I certainly have my guesses).

Waiting on Wednesday: Activation Degradation by Marina Lostetter

“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!

Activation Degradation sounds like it will be a great book for fans of Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, since it’s basically another book where a robot starts developing feelings. It’s also a first-contact with aliens story, which is totally a plus! I think this sounds like a fun read and have a good feeling about it after how much I like The Helm of Midnight. This will be out September 28, 2021.

Currently Reading: 4/12/21

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
It’s high time I check this out since I’m now all caught up on April releases! I’ve seen nothing but glowing praise for this book and can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about. I mean, hopefully there will actually be dragons, but even if there aren’t any the synopsis promises a darn good adventure.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
This is a cool space mystery that I’ve been meaning to pick up for a few years now. Audible has perfect timing and had this along with another book I was curious about in a 2-for1 sale (still going on!). I probably won’t start this until later in the week since I’m finishing my audiobook from last week!

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: 3/6/21

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:

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
A maidservant with forbidden magic and a captive princess team up and presumably upset the balance of the whole world. I’ve been looking forward to a new book from Tasha Suri! Thanks to Orbit for the eARC!

Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews
New grimdark fantasy with an awesome cover. That’s really all I needed to know, but the synopsis did sounds pretty cool – a general, a mage, and seven deaths? I’m going to pick this up mostly blind – just thought it looked cool! Thanks to Solaris for the eARC.

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
Zimbabwean magic in Edinburgh, bewitched children, and an occult library made this an irresistible temptation! Thanks to Tor for the eARC.

Mastermind by Andrew Mayne
I honestly did not expect a return to the character of Theo Cray… but here we are and I’m so here for it! It looks like Theo will be teaming up with Jessica Blackwood (from another Andrew Mayne series???) for an adventure that seems to lean a little more supernatural than mundane. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for the eARC.

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and Dark-Elf by William Schlichter
This sounds completely amazing! Set during the Prohibition, a dwarf detective must investigate a string of murders and find the killer before he’s next. This is quite short, with only 220 pages and sounds like quite the adventure! Thanks to BHC Press for the eARC.

My Purchases:

My recent audio purchases are quite the varied lot. Obviously I couldn’t resist A Court of Silver Flames and I can’t wait to share my review – it’s going to be a fun one to write! I also picked up the YA scifi Aurora Rising and most recently The Alienist. 

Decided to treat myself to a few hobby-related (cooking and plants/botany) books. I am really enjoying The Drunken Botanist and find it an informative yet pleasurable to read book with lots of fun facts and even recipes. I haven’t really checked out The Flavor Equation or Plants that Kill yet, but will soon!