Chaos Vector by Megan E. O’Keefe – Review

Published: July 28, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Protectorate #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 546 (Paperback)

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

Synopsis:

Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in the second book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.
Sanda and Tomas are fleeing for their lives after letting the most dangerous smartship in the universe run free. Now, unsure of who to trust, Sanda knows only one thing for certain — to be able to save herself from becoming a pawn of greater powers, she needs to discover the secret of the coordinates hidden in her skull.
But getting to those coordinates is a problem she can’t solve alone. They exist beyond a dead gate — a Casimir gate that opened up into a dead-end system without resources worth colonizing, and was sealed off. To get through the dead gate, she needs the help of the enemy Nazca. But some Nazca are only interested in the chip in her head — and they’ll crack her open to get to it.


The first book in this series was thrilling with so many amazing twists that I never saw coming. It was like being repeatedly and unexpectedly slapped. This book carries on with the non-stop greatness, but it didn’t have quite as many incredible twists. That’s not to say that there were none at all… there were a few!

In retrospect, I don’t have much to say about Chaos Vector. It was a great story and the majority of the characters are quite likable. I did like that the two storylines from Velocity Weapon come together and make the story feel more cohesive. Jules and Sanda in the same place/timeline was pretty exciting. 

This installment went stronger on characterization than plot which was good in a way, but I missed those jaw dropping surprises! I think that’s partially why this book didn’t rank quite as highly as the first. I thought the plot advancements were fab – Casimir gates, potential war, rogue Nazca – it had all the stuff I liked, but without as much pizzaz. 

Overall I think it is a solidly written series and I am definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the next installment. For me, this had the “sophomore slump”. Yeah, there were big events, big changes, but GOSH it just didn’t wow me like Velocity Weapon.

Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio – Review

Cover- Howling Dark

Published: July 16, 2019

Publisher: DAW Books

Series: Sun Eater #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 688 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5.5/0

Synopsis:

The second novel of the galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series merges the best of space opera and epic fantasy, as Hadrian Marlowe continues down a path that can only end in fire.

Hadrian Marlowe is lost.

For half a century, he has searched the farther suns for the lost planet of Vorgossos, hoping to find a way to contact the elusive alien Cielcin. He has not succeeded, and for years has wandered among the barbarian Normans as captain of a band of mercenaries.

Determined to make peace and bring an end to nearly four hundred years of war, Hadrian must venture beyond the security of the Sollan Empire and among the Extrasolarians who dwell between the stars. There, he will face not only the aliens he has come to offer peace, but contend with creatures that once were human, with traitors in his midst, and with a meeting that will bring him face to face with no less than the oldest enemy of mankind.

If he succeeds, he will usher in a peace unlike any in recorded history. If he fails…the galaxy will burn.


At last!! I got past the first 100 or so pages! The first time I picked this up I ultimately decided to put it down until I could re-read Empire of Silence and get a good refresher. Turns out, I was so confused because there are pretty big time jumps between books and events we never get to see and are only told of. This realization explained so much of my confusion.

Hadrian Marlowe and his mercenary Red Company, along with the disguised Imperial troops, are in search of Vorgossos. Vorgossos was thought to be a myth, but is in fact difficult to find unless invited by it’s lord, the Undying. By finding this mercurial world, Hadrian hopes to contact the Cielcin and negotiate a peace treaty with one of their princes in exchange for the prisoners he holds. He does locate this world and though he knew not what to expect, it’s certainly more than he could have imagined. The horror of it is uncanny. It’s a brilliantly executed tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the majority, though the pace does drag a bit in certain sections.

This is such an underrated series and this book only reinforces my high opinion of the first. Certainly, it would have been nice to have a little heads up that so many years pass between each installment of the series but if you read them in sequence you’ll quickly realize that. It’s interesting to follow Hadrian Marlowe as he ages and as his legend grows. This book is truly where his legendary status begins to take form. Where he earns the moniker Half Mortal and where he begins to truly become the soldier he denies being. The character growth is great and the companion characters (because they aren’t truly “minor”) are equally wonderful and add so much vibrancy to the story.

This was an excellent read, there was a great deal of slow build-up to the really epic portion of this book, but it is intended to be a five book series so I can forgive a slower installment. It was entirely worth the time spent reading and the ending was such that I picked up the audiobook of Demon in White as soon as it was available.

Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott – Review

Cover- Unconquerable Sun

Published: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: The Sun Chronicles #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 528 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

GENDER-SWAPPED ALEXANDER THE GREAT ON AN INTERSTELLAR SCALE

Princess Sun has finally come of age.

Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared.

But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead.

To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.

Take the brilliance and cunning courage of Princess Leia—add in a dazzling futuristic setting where pop culture and propaganda are one and the same—and hold on tight:

This is the space opera you’ve been waiting for.


I was looking forward to this book for so long! Gender-bent Alexander the Great in SPACE! One of my favorite sci-fi tropes (not sure if really a trope) is when a classical civilization like Rome or Greece is brought into the stars. Space warfare! Unconquerable Sun certainly has all of that but somehow failed to truly impress and left me with a lackluster reading experience.

Princess Sun has just recently returned from a great triumph over the enemy, however her mother Queen-Marshall Eirene is not overjoyed. She instead sends Sun and her companions on what amounts to being a publicity tour around the empire. An assassination attempt that results in the death of one of her dearest companions begins the drama. Persephone Lee is the other main POV in this story and is significantly more interesting and likable than Sun. She is from a House that is known for their subterfuge and treachery and Sun distrusts her from the start. Perse (as she likes to be called) has been yanked out of her happy life as an unknown in the military academy she ran away to and has no idea what Sun or the Lee House are plotting. She’s rather unwillingly drawn into the madness and is trying her best to keep herself, Sun, and her companions alive.

I could honestly have not cared less about Sun. She elicited no emotion from me whatsoever and I would have preferred the book be entirely about Persephone. I didn’t connect with the majority of the characters, and thus felt the impact of the events much less than I would have otherwise. I did not vibe with this book. It wasn’t bad, just definitely not the book for me. The story was complex and the writing descriptive (if lacking in the ability to make me feel for the characters) so I can’t give this book too low a rating. For me this was a solid 3 stars – extremely middle of the pack and I’ll likely pass on the remainder of the series unless some seriously rave reviews change my mind.

Stacking the Shelves: 8/8/20

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: 

20200807_213325

The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie
First of all, THANK YOU ORBIT!! This is the first physical publisher bookmail I’ve gotten in MONTHS and I was so excited! It’s also Joe Abercrombie, so you know, that’s pretty cool too.

The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky
This was an irresistible request – fantasy mystery with such a lovely cover. It’s also the perfect test to see if I might enjoy Polansky’s writing… so maybe a jumping off point to a whole new favorite author! Thanks to Tor.com.

The Shadows by Alex North
This was the perfect way to test out NetGalley’s new audiobook feature and app, both of which I like. I’ve already finished this up and a review will be coming along soon.

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason
This, as I mentioned in my Waiting on Wednesday, might be one of the most exciting sequels of the year. I LOVED the first book and can’t wait to see where this oddball group of characters adventures next. Many thanks to DAW for the eARC.

My Purchases:

20200807_213302

I’ve been on a vampire kick lately and decided to pick up Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer and The Damned by Renee Ahdieh. I also went ahead and snagged hardcover copies of Skyward and Starsight by Brandon Sanderson while they’re available.

Cover- Demon in White

I also added the Demon in White audiobook to my collection so that I actually have time to read/listen to this book. Honestly, I love the narration and the story is brilliant thus far. Highly underrated series.

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Obsidio

Published: March 13, 2018

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Series: The Illuminae Files #3

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 615 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

From bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes the exciting finale in the trilogy that broke the mold and has been called “stylistically mesmerizing” and “out-of-this-world-awesome.”

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.


I may keep this review a little shorter since I’ve already covered so much of what I love about this series and it all carries over into this book as well. Fantastic characters, amazing audio performance, and glorious action sequences. 

This final installment brings Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik, and Ella (along with all the other minor characters) into the same place while back on Kerenza, Asha Grant is trying to survive the BeiTech occupation. The BeiTech force is using the remaining miners to gather resources to repair the Magellan jump platform so they can return home. Of course, once this is done they plan on killing all the remaining civilians on Kerenza in order to keep their secrets. Dead men tell no tales and all that. Asha’s life is stressful enough, but it’s made more complicated by the sudden presence of her ex-boyfriend. Who happens to be part of the occupation force. He’s the perfect inside man for the Kerenza resistance.

Asha’s drama is fascinating and horrifying all at once and to be honest, the events aboard the Mao are equally thus. Internal strife and overcrowding make the Mao a dangerous and stressful place to be. Oxygen and food are running short and the deadline to get back to Kerenza is nigh impossible under such duress. Decisions are made and people die. I was in awe at how dark this was at times. 

This whole series was the perfect high stakes sci-fi thriller with Obsidio being a stellar and heart pounding conclusion. I couldn’t get enough (obviously) and listened to audiobooks one after another because I just HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. It was unputdownable! Obsidio was an amazing read and the darkness in this installment was practically all human to human violence. No zombie-like monsters, no psychotropic aliens, just straight up human monstrosity. This is a series that will appeal to fans of YA and adult SFF alike. 

Waiting on Wednesday: How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason

“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- How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge

YESSS!!!! The sequel I’ve been waiting for!! How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse was a surprise favorite and I loved how the ending opened up opportunity for a whole new story. Well, that story is almost here and geez, the release date is really coming up fast! I’m ready for a new adventure with alien threats, bio weapons, and sarcasm. How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge will be out October 6, 2020.

Currently Reading: 7/13/20

Nothing new this week! I’m still working my way through Howling Dark in audio format and it will be accompanying me on a few long drives this week. As I write this I’m also about halfway through Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler. It’s fantastic and I hope to finish it early this week. Once that’s finished I’ll be picking Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott again. I wasn’t really feeling it when I started it a couple weeks ago – not because it was bad, but I just wasn’t in the mood and picked up a lighter read instead.

Stacking the Shelves: 7/11/20

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 Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis
This is one of two books in this haul prominently featuring alchemy and awesome old world type settings. This also has some proper dark monster hunters. Thanks to Titan Books!

A Dance of Fate by Juliette Marillier
I’m thrilled to have another Juliet Marillier book in hand! I’m a bit sad I’ve waited so long to finally check out her work but now I can binge read. Thanks to Ace for the eARC.

People of the City by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Oh my! The final installment in the Maradaine Elite series! This hasn’t been my very favorite of the Maradaine series but it’s still quite good and I love that so many characters will be crossing over into this installment. Thanks to DAW for the eARC.

ORBIT GOODIES!!!

Chaos Vector by Megan E. O’Keefe
It’s going to take a little refresher on the events of the first book, but this looks to be an epic follow up. Love some good SciFi.

How to Rule and Empire and Get Away with It by K.J. Parker
AHHH!!! Can’t wait to see how this turns out!!! I never expected a sequel out of the first book and it just looks awesome!

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
Bone magic and revolution. This sounds like such a promising debut!

A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe
Alchemist trying to create the philosopher’s stone, but it makes it’s creator mad. Love the concept and can’t wait to check it! Thanks to Wednesday Books for the eARC.

Goblin King by Kara Barbieri
I really enjoyed the first installment to this series (sucker for all things Fae) and was quite excited to be offered an eARC. Thanks to Wednesday Books.

Infernal by Mark de Jager
I have no self control. This sounded cool and I picked it up from Solaris right before typing this up. The synopsis was just irresistibly vague and dark and I loved it.

My Purchases:

I’ve been on a little bit of a sci-fi streak when it comes to audiobooks lately. Gemina and Obsidio will have reviews soon forthcoming. Howling Dark is rather dense, but worthwhile so I can soon catch up and get to Demon in White.

Dark Age by Pierce Brown – Review

Cover- Dark Age

Published: July 30, 2019

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: Red Rising Saga #5

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 757 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury.

But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance.

On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him?

Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies.

Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation—and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption.

As alliances shift, break, and re-form—and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed—every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.


This may be the first book I’ve ever read that I was genuinely nervous to start reading. I kept thinking to myself “What if I just don’t like it? What if it’s not as good as the previous books? What if, what if, what if”. I think this was largely because while I really like Iron Gold, I was still somewhat jarred by all the new characters, all the changes, and how the decades between series had frayed some of my most beloved characters in fiction. I downloaded the audiobook (because Tim Gerard Reynolds is a joy to listen to) not long after it’s release and braced myself. 

I need not have worried myself in the least. While the new characters were still growing on me after the first book, in Dark Age they were solid, stable, and wouldn’t let go of my imagination. Lyria, Ephraim, Pax, Lysander and the others were old friends to me now, though by no means are they all on the same side. Pierce Brown has written such complex characters that practically each chapter unveiled some new layer of their being. And boy, are they dangerous and not in the braggadocious, all bark and no bite way either – this is the casual, predatory sort of violence that curdles the blood. And Brown himself… well, I listened in horror as he slew characters left and right – appalling and brilliant and never a wasted death.

Dark Age is aptly named, for it is rather dark and every time a ray of hope glimmers, it seems to be snuffed out. Darrow is on Mercury with little hope for victory against Atalantia au Grimmace and the dread inducing Fear Knight. Our beloved Virginia struggles to hold together the Republic all the while her only child is missing along with Sevro’s eldest daughter Electra. Lysander, still a staunch supporter of the idea of the Society is travelling towards Mercury to reveal that he is alive and hopefully form an alliance between the Society and the Moon Lords to crush the Republic once and for all. At every turn our characters are facing the direst of circumstances and at times I was sure that all hope was lost. This book really got the adrenaline pumping and the emotions in an uproar. This book was absolutely on par with the epicness that I read in Golden Son, which still has one of the most incredible cliff-hangers I’ve ever read in my life. 

It’s been several weeks since I finished Dark Age and typing this review is making me want to read it again just so I can appreciate the finer details I probably missed the first time through. The number of emotions this book compelled from me was staggering – I was horrified, elated, crushed – it was literally one extreme to another. I’ve never read anything quite like Pierce Brown’s writing and I’m nervous to read the next book because I just KNOW it’s going to be just as incredible as this one and he’s probably going to kill off at least one of my favorite characters, it’s just a matter of which one at this point. If you’ve never picked up Red Rising because you heard it was YA or kind of like the Hunger Games, get your head out of your butt and go buy it. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not reading it because it’s one of the most incredible series I’ve ever read. Also, as a disclaimer, it’s not YA and is saying it’s like the Hunger Games is a cheap way to describe it.

*There was one part of the book that I thought was a little dumb – someone who was thoroughly dead from the first arc is back and I definitely rolled my eyes. Overall it was handled deftly enough and it didn’t detract enough for me to lessen my rating.