Artemis: Book Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, however, remain my own. 

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Title: Artemis

Author: Andy Weir

Think Ocean’s 11 on the moon!

Themes: crime, loyalty, love, trust, SUPER COOL SPACE STUFF

Official synopsis:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

My review:

In the future, humans have figured out that the moon is full of stuff we need, like aluminum and other minerals, and that people will pay good money for that and for tourism. So a little community of craftsman, engineers, sex workers, millionaires, and hospitality workers have set up shop there.

Jazz is an Artemisian. She’s lived there for 20 years, in the only city on the moon. It’s a small city, but still, it’s a permanent colony up there in space. Just don’t say “in space.” She’s also a porter. At least, that’s her official title. In reality, she’s a smuggler. She operates under the noses of the official law there because she doesn’t break the laws badly enough that they elect to take notice. One of her best clients comes to her with a truly big job, a job that will set Jazz up in a solid middle class lifestyle. Unfortunately for Jazz, things don’t go as smoothly as she’s hoped.

I like Jazz as a character. She’s stubborn as hell, and doesn’t always think things through, but she’s scrappy and smart and funny. I liked the other characters too, Svoboda the engineer, Dale her former friends, her conservative dad, the “town sheriff” – Weir does a great job building characters you honestly care about. Jazz has made some major mistakes and is trying to use this big job to fix things. I like the way the writer uses these mistakes to flesh out the characters, so you can really see how Jazz has changed from her youth. She becomes a smarter, more responsible adult. Of course, she’s still a hustler, though, and I like that too.

But it’s the worldbuilding that shines here. It’s a story ON THE MOON! Like, how cool is that? My son was asking me how it compares to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and I have to say that it holds up really well. That book was a five star read for me, just amazing and mindblowing and everything else. Well, this one is just as good. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but it’s definitely one that I’m going to be reading again.

There was some technical stuff in there that I didn’t follow, but I don’t know that it’s because it was badly written. I just have a hard time picturing things in my head sometimes. But that didn’t slow my enjoyment of the book.

Andy Weir is well on his way to being sci-fi writer of the generation.

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10 Spooky Stories

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It’s dark and spooky out there. And only going to get darker and spookier.

Why not stay inside in a nice warm room and read? I’ve got some suggestions here for some perfect books to fit the season. Let’s start with the family friendly stuff before getting into the truly terrifying, shall we?

  1. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Honestly, my kids found this much less scary when they were young. But when they got older – that sewing on buttons instead of eyes?! Pretty freaking horrifying.
  2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, also by Neil Gaiman. More atmospheric than truly scary, but a lovely ending. Perhaps more late summer than fall.
  3. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker. All four seasons in one day. Sounds charming, but maybe a little too possessive?
  4. 163919 Full Tilt by Neil Shusterman. An evil carnival. Still appropriate for this time of year, and as a bonus, let me include Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury if you’ve never read that one. Both get right inside your head.
  5. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Odd sees ghosts. Mostly it’s guys like Elvis. But sometimes they’re not so friendly.
  6. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. This one makes you think more than scares you, but it’s so good that it’s worth reading.
  7. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Timely and terrifying.
  8. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. Who are they and why do they come in winter?
  9. The Keep by Paul F. Wilson. When even the Nazis are afraid, you know there’s trouble.
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker. If you haven’t read the original, you’ve got to do it. So. Creepy.

That’s my list for this time of month. None of them are very new, with the exception of Lovecraft Country, but there good scary reads all the same. What’s on your list?

Last Set of Clues!

Open book on wooden table.

October is going fast, which means only a couple of weeks left until I draw the winner for a FREE SIGNED BOOK by a mystery author. I don’t want to drag the mystery out too long, however, so this is the last set of clues I’m going to give you before revealing the book!

 

 

  1. This author grew up in California then moved to China.
  2. This is her first published book.
  3. It’s published by Simon & Schuster.
  4. This is a YA sci fi/dystopia.
  5. This book was just released THIS WEEK!
  6. It’s the first in a series.
  7. It has a little fairy tale twist going on.
  8. This author currently lives in Utah with her family.
  9. The fairy tale twist is from Sleeping Beauty.
  10. The main character is a girl accused of a crime.
  11. There’s a strong Chinese influence in the book.

I hope that’s enough to get you thinking, maybe doing some research online. This book is for sale on Amazon, but it hasn’t hit bestseller status yet. It should! I’m really enjoying it. So suspenseful! I’m dying to see what happens next!

Make your guesses down below and check back on Friday, when I will do the cover reveal!

What are you reading?

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I had a yucky cold! Which means I got lots of reading and gaming done, but not much else. I did go to Winger’s for burgers with my husband, and that was fun. But otherwise it was a slow weekend.

Now for what I’m reading!

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I guess I got on the Net Galley’s good list at last, because I got everything I asked for! I’m happy and stressed, because now I have even more to catch up on. Plus I got an ARC from Library Thing too. Add all my indy review requests, and I really don’t need to go to the library for a month.

Currently reading:

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This is one of the ones I got from Net Galley. I was SUPER excited at that, because I loved The Martian, book and movie. I’ve already finished it and a review is coming soon. My son, who discovered this author before I did, is really jealous. Let me just describe it briefly as a space version of Ocean’s 11.

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This one is my audio book from Overdrive I’ve been listening to while I sew. It’s about the scientists who discovered aspects of evolution before Charles Darwin. It’s interesting, but not so much that it’s keeping my attention. I find my mind wandering and realize that I missed everything for several minutes.

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This book is a different story. The plot and the characters are so well done that I keep wanting to drive somewhere just so I can listen. This one is on audio book in my car on CD and it’s so good. It’s got magic and wizards and hints of evil plots to steal the throne. I think something bad is about to happen and I can’t wait!

I’m also reading a CERTAIN BOOK that I can’t name because it’s SECRET! It’s about to be revealed on Friday and then you’ll have plenty of time to tell your friends to follow my blog and have a chance to win a SIGNED COPY. But it’s really exciting, with an orphan MC, an oppressive government, and a fairy tale twist.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading? Comment below and let me know.

Living the Good Death – a review

standalone-sundayTitle: Living the Good Death

Author: Scott Baron

Synopsis:

Wearing nothing but psych ward pajamas and fluffy slippers, the odd girl wasn’t really dressed to kill. Being the Grim Reaper, however, she felt confident she could make it work.

Review:

She thinks she’s Death. Is she right? That’s for readers to figure out as they read the entertaining new book by author Scott Baron. As the girl (she doesn’t have a name for half the book) goes through her new life, she experiences the normal human needs of hunger, fatigue, and going to the bathroom. She also makes enemies and falls in love.

The reader, meanwhile, is never quite sure whether the girl really is Death or whether she’s imagining it all. Sometimes the story makes you think she couldn’t know thar unless she was human. It was a fun idea, but I was really ready for some answers.

I liked the secondary characters in this one a lot. The doctor was a little too evil to be believed though, and the ease at which he’s able to get the girl admitted to a mental hospital without her consent was totally unrealistic. That bugged me enough that I almost quit reading. But the ending was good so I’m glad I stuck with it.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, but my opinions are my own.

 

What Hides Beneath – a Review

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Standalone Sunday was started by Bookslayer and you can find more here. It’s for titles that are not part of a series.
35833852I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: What Hides Beneath

Author: Julie L. Canfield

Setting: Virginia modern day

Synopsis:

Hidden beneath a lump of clay and dirt is a very rare art work crafted by a Japanese warrior. Two museum curators, who specialize in Asian art say it is valuable but renowned appraiser, Annette Williams claims it is worthless and her words carry weight in the art world. So which is it?
Pete White, an insurance investigator disappears from the museum where he is researching the treasure. Did he uncover its true value or find it’s a fake?
Lieutenant Detective Philip Samyn wonders why he is assigned to investigate a low priority robbery from a museum. Is his boss trying to push him to retire? he never thought his last case would be a missing laptop. That’s not how he envisioned leaving the force.
His investigation proves we never see the complete picture. There is always something hidden beneath.

Review: This book was a lot of fun! I don’t check in with Net Galley regularly, but when I saw this one I thought it sounded like one I would enjoy. I liked the description and the setting in an art museum.

I was right. I did enjoy it. I’ve never read anything by this author, but she does a good job setting the scene and drawing the reader into the action. I liked the characters too.

I do have a couple of complaints though. For one thing, she skips around with POV so that I was not sure who the real main character was. I think it was Alison, the curator who discovers a muddy vase. But you could also say it was Annette the appraiser or even the police officer investigating the case. I guess it doesn’t have to have a MC; it could be several people. But I kept expecting one of them to take over more.

Besides that, I felt there were a few plot holes. It takes a while to really build to where I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next. But it was an easy read and I liked the ending. I recommend this one and I’d like to read more by this author. Now I want to go visit an art museum and look for hidden treasures!

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19st century Psalter. Isolated over white with clipping path

October TBR

I don’t usually plan my reading out, because I hate feeling tied down. Instead, I’m just listing a few possibilities. Nothing wrong with that, right?

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Current Reads I must finish!

  • The Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir, ARC for NetGalley
  • Nation by Terry Pratchett
  • Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy, Volume 1, **Dad’s old book**

 

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  • Shadows in the Jungle by Larry Alexander, WWII Scouting in the Pacific
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, historical fiction on audio
  • Servant of a Dark God by John D. Brown, epic fantasy by local author

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ARCS and Review Copies to Finish. I’m so behind!

  • More Than a Fraction by Kerri Moseley – Hobbs
  • Afterdeath by Benoit Charter
  • Claude’s Hotel by Naylene Rondon
  • Fateful Impact by Samantha Hoffman

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Library Books I want to get Hold of

  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – hooray! It’s here, it’s here!
  • The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
  • Extreme Makeover: Apocalypse Edition by Dan Wells

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So that’s my tentative list. We’ll see how much I get through and what I wind up adding. But I should get to 1/3 – 1/2 of these books. What do you have planned for October reading?

Author Interview: Young-Im Lee

I’m very excited to offer you another author interview. This time I’m featuring the author of the historical drama, Forgotten Reflections. Young-Im Lee lives in South Korea and this is her first book. I really enjoyed it and I’m so happy to speak with her.

Young-Im Lee was born in Mokpo, South Korea and relocated to Manila, Philippines at the age of one where she grew up in an international setting. She graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature from Seoul National University and an MA in English Literary Studies from the University of York (UK). She currently resides in Seoul, South Korea.

51t-0avsrNLBook Description

DARE TO DREAM IN THE MIDST OF WAR.

1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul and the villagers have been on the verge of starvation for as long as they can remember; the last of their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul dreams of what her future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and the boy she has fallen for is an alleged North Korean communist spy.

Amidst war, Jung-Soo and Iseul embark on a comic journey of self-discovery across the mountainous peninsula, as they are aided by the occasional appearances of long forgotten legendary figures. Music helps them pass the time, as does the radio and the crafty carpentry skills of Iseul who would eventually make history with her handcrafted hanji paper. Unexpected friendships are forged, love burgeons and betrayal taints their elusive dreams.

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What research did you do for your book?

Researching for this book seemed to have no end. I visited one of the many museums here in Seoul and found that much of the relevant information could be found online. I tried to channel this feeling of being overwhelmed into the book where we see Jia, the granddaughter, feeling quite helpless in her own search for the truth of her grandmother’s past. After watching a few more documentaries about the Korean War, I did what I could to focus on letters and accounts of day-to-day occurrences in the lives of the soldiers coming from such a multi-national background.

In particular, I found an account of a Korean woman who remembered how grateful she felt as a young girl when the war had broken out. She explained how, for the first time, people focused on men dying, instead of her being a disgrace for having been born a daughter. As shocking as this statement was, it was somewhat understandable considering the status of women at the time. From this interview, the character “Mi-Jung” came into focus who can be found sharing the same sentiment as this woman from the interview since Mi-Jung is born as a daughter to a single mom who was pitied for having a daughter instead of a son.

article-2299134-006938EF00000258-941_964x639As for the events/plot that transpires in the story, I was particularly taken by the battle of Chosin Reservoir where UN troops were surrounded by over 120,000 Chinese troops who were hiding in the mountains before mounting an attack in a strategic location that trapped UN forces in the Northern Territory. A task force was created to rescue those trapped, though so few survived that those who did were later nicknamed “The Chosin Few.”

While my story is not located in Chosin, I was inspired by this battle that highlighted the mountainous landscape of the Korean Peninsula, the international scale of this war and the heroism displayed by those who risked their lives to save those trapped in by the mountains.

This is a really long, detailed book. How long did it take you to write? Can you describe your writing process?

Yes, it is certainly long! I had been living with my grandmother when the idea first struck and that was over two years ago! While I had written a rough screenplay of this story soon after, I eventually abandoned the project for over a year before finally returning to it, this time opting to write the story in the novel form instead. It took eight months of full-time writing to complete this project.

Writing the screenplay first was helpful since it made me focus on scenes that pushed the plot forward. It made transcribing the story into the novel form somewhat easier, although it took a while to seamlessly integrate the thoughts of each character into prose. I had a notebook dedicated to scribbling my way towards a novel. It was certainly non-linear and possibly the most round-about way of writing, but it somehow resulted in a novel. Honestly, I don’t think I remember it being a “process” at all.

Is this your first book you wrote? What are you working on right now?

Yes, this is my first book. I am currently doing research on post-colonial orientalism. I am grateful for this novel since it inspired a new academic topic of interest. I would love to continue writing fiction, but at the moment, I have been consumed with my research and a part-time job (I teach English here in Korea, which was one major inspiration for the character, Jia).

Part of your book centers around an elderly woman suffering from dementia. Do you have any experience with relatives in nursing homes?

While living with my grandmother, I had visited her sister in the hospice center who was also suffering from some form of dementia. Likewise, my late grandfather showed symptoms while I was living with my grandparents. It was certainly an eye-opening experience and one that was quite scary. Nursing homes have become quite common in Korea and I think I am at that age where I see my parents, aunts, and uncles seriously consider the possibilities of how best to care for our grandparents.

Iseul lives in a tiny village. Her granddaughter lives in a big town. Which one more closely relates to your experience? What are the advantages to where you grew up?

Contrary to what many readers may think, my background is quite far removed from that of Jia’s (the granddaughter). I did not strictly grow up in a city, nor did I grow up in Korea. I actually grew up in a somewhat suburban area in Manila, Philippines which was a cross between a big city and a smaller city. When I first moved to Seoul, I was both enthralled and overwhelmed. At eighteen, I was also living alone in the dormitory with my parents in a different country, which made Seoul seem even more vast. But during the course of my studies in Seoul, I moved to some of the rural areas of Korea for months at a time and found the contrast so shocking! Likewise, my grandfather lives in one of the smallest villages in Mokpo which had always been uncomfortable, to say the least! The toilet was outside and a truck would come and empty it only once a week or so. The house would reek of hay and manure from the barn that was attached to the living space. I was quite shocked to know that people still lived in old-fashioned hanok houses. It was only through research into the tradition of hanok homes was I able to appreciate the structure and utility of these homes that adapted so well to the bitter cold winters and hot summers.

 

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Hanok style house in modern city

Iseul’s granddaughter faces a lot of pressure about her education. What’s the difference between the American education system and the Korean one? 

I grew up in the American-adapted international education system. I had always known about the so-called “horrors” of the Korean education system growing up, but it was never something I experienced first-hand. I now live vicariously through my students who are under the same pressure, and it makes my heart break. On the other hand, what I also see is the resilience of children, though honestly, I don’t think Korean students can imagine it any other way. It is a sobering thought and one that made me want to write about fostering the imagination in students. How else would things change if people can’t imagine a different future?

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? What writers do you admire?

Between my job teaching English and doing research, I feel like the day goes by so quickly!

Honestly, I love knitting! It does take up a lot of time so I’m trying to limit myself J I also enjoy playing the guitar and taking a long stroll around my neighborhood/ nearby Gwanak mountain. I’ve recently joined a writer’s group and it has been so nice to finally meet other aspiring authors.

If I had to pick a few of my favorite novels, it would be Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” Towle’s “A Gentleman in Moscow,” Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

 

If a reader wants to keep in touch with what you’re working on, where’s the best place to keep up with your work?

I currently have a facebook page and a website where I post a few blogs every once in a while, including upcoming writing projects and updates about this book. You can reach me through both of these channels.

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/youngimleeauthor/

Website: youngimleeauthor.wordpress.com


Hope you enjoyed this interview. If you want to read more, Young-Im’s book is available free right now from Kindle Unlimited.

10 Series I Just Can’t Wait to Finish

13555073Are you looking for another great series to follow? I’ve got 10 that I have to recommend, along with the first book in each and the author.

  1. Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Set in a world where ghosts are common, but only children can see them, the kids at Lockwood & Co start their own business. They quarrel a lot, but they know their jobs. I’m up to #5, which I think is the last one in the series. They’re more MG books than YA, but so much fun that I don’t mind.
  2. Flavia de Luce, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Flavia is a very unusual child. She likes poisons. Like, a lot. Which is good, because she’s able to solve murders. Set in a little English village after WWII, this series is like a warm cup of dark cocoa.
  3. The Reckoners, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Ten years after the Calamity, the superpowered people called Epics have taken over the world. Regular people are nothing but a resource, but they’re ready to fight back. I’ve only read 1 & 1.5, but the next book is on my birthday wish list.
  4. 8097637 The Legend of Eli Monpress, The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron. Eli is a wizard and a thief. He’s also got a plan. He’s always got a plan. This series isn’t finished yet, but it’s been a lot of fun so far, and the first one was free!
  5. Spells, Swords, & Stealth, NPCs by Drew Hayes. This group of friends know they’re only NPCs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be heroes. 3 books in this fun series so far. Also free through Kindle Unlimited.
  6. The Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. If you haven’t tried this one, what are you waiting for? Amazing fantasy series that I’m just loving. Not as good as Six of Crows, but then, what is?
  7. Amory Ames mysteries, Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. Amory and her husband have a complicated relationship. She also has a tendency to find dead bodies. Set after WWI, lots of fun.
  8. The Queen’s Thief, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Stinking amazing fantasy series. 5 stars! I’m currently listening to #2 and I’m dying! Amazing isn’t even good enough. The writing is just so good. I wish I had written it.
  9. Ms. Marvel, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. I love this series of graphic novels. The art and the story are both great. Even if you’re not normally a superhero fan, give this one a try.
  10. 8629611The Price of Freedom, The Last Kings Amulet by Chris Northern. Loosely based on a Roman/fantasy mashup with a bunch of necromancers thrown in as well. The first one in this series is free as well.