Category Archives: book review

Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

ArtemisAfter the runaway success of The Martian, it would have been easy for Andy Weir to publish his grocery list and have it race to the top of the bestseller list.

Instead, Weir made fans wait what seemed like an eternity for his sophomore effort, Artemis. Good things come to those who wait.

While not as immediately engaging as The Martian, Weir’s Artemis avoids a sophomore slump by delivering an entirely new narrator and story. Set in the near future, Artemis introduces us to Jazz, a citizen of the lunar colony Artemis. Jazz wants to help guide tours of the lunar surface, but while she trains for that role, she makes ends meet by running the lunar black market. This leads her to a complicated plot to pull off what should be a perfect crime and earn a reward that will see her set for life. Continue reading

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Review: Machine Learning by Hugh Howley

Machine Learning: New and Collected StoriesIn an afterword to one of his stories, Hugh Howley suggests that the sci-fi trope of AIs rising up and going to war against humanity probably won’t be the way things really happen. Instead, he sees how AIs could go into battle with each other, with humanity being little more than ants in the /8956-9battle between intelligences. We’d be a distraction and little else..*

Several stories in his short-story collection, Machine Learning, delve into this question with varying degrees of success. One memorable story finds humanity falling because of an oversight involving a Roomba. Other stories look at what will happen when we have artificial lifeforms and people begin to fall in love with them and engage in a romantic relationship.

Howley’s stories (collected together by theme) show a wide range. Howley includes a story he thought was long lost from his website as well as several short stories set in his popular Silo universe. If you’re a fan of the Silo universe, those stories alone make this a must-read collection.

Howley also offers an afterword to the stories, giving us a bit of insight into the creation of the stories or further reflections on some of the central themes and questions raised. Using the afterward to address these questions allows the reader to go into each story fresh and without having anything of what’s to come given away by a well-intentioned introduction.

If you’re a Howley fan, this collection is a worthy addition. If you’re not, this collection is a nice way to dip your toe in and see why Howley is one of the more respected writers in the business today (though I will warn you that having a familiarity with his Silo universe lends more enjoyment to that section of stories).

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose

Closer Than You Think (Romantic Suspense, #16; Cincinnati, #1)Seeking to escape from her patient turned stalker, psychologist Faith Corcoran changes her identity and relocates to Cincinnati to begin a new life in her grandmother’s home. Her desire to have a quiet life off the radar quickly goes sideways when Faith comes across one of two kidnapping victims on the lonely road to her new home. Now, she’s drawn into the investigation and its lead investigator, Deacon. Will they be able to figure out how Faith’s stalker might be tied to this new kidnapper before time runs out on the other kidnapping victim?

Billed as “romantic suspense,” Karen Rose’s Closer Than You Think is chock full of both. Faith and Deacon’s instant chemistry screams off the page, despite multiple warnings from Deacon’s co-workers that he shouldn’t get involved with a victim in a case he’s investigating. The suspense factor comes from the investigation into where the other girl is and what the potential connection is to Faith’s family and her past. Continue reading

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Review: Vengeance by Newt Gingrich and Mark Early

Vengeance (Brooke Grant #3)On what should be the happiest day of her life, Major Brooke Grant’s world is shattered when a terrorist sets off a car bomb just seconds before she walks down the aisle. Seems that Brooke has ticked off the terrorist leader, the Falcon, who has declared a jihad on Brooke for events in a previous installment of this series. And while a fluke saves Brooke from destruction, the Falcon’s bomb is able to wipe out her friends, family and the president of the United States all in one fell swoop.

The Falcon then decides to make sure the United States knows what it’s like to feel terror and uses a high-profile Arab reporter to issue a threat to wipe out three U.S. cities with nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, several U.S. citizens are seized for possible connections to the plot, putting an Islamic Congressman in a precarious position and the newly installed U.S. president wanting to make sure that the U.S. hits back and hits back hard. Continue reading

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Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is LyingA quintet of stereotypes from a John Hughes movie walk into detention one fateful Monday afternoon, but only four make it out alive.

Each of the survivors — the athlete, the cheerleader, the academic, and the drug dealer — had good reason to want to see the victim silenced. Simon Kelleher runs Bayview High’s infamous gossip blog app and his next post contained juicy details that could cause grief and heartache to each of the survivors. But was that post enough of a motive to kill Simon? And if it was, which one of these four is guilty of the crime?

The central mystery of who killed Simon and why drives Karen M. McManus’ debut novel One of Us Is Lying. And the story starts with teenage stereotypes, each of the characters doesn’t remain a stereotype for long. One of the highlights of the story is watching McManus build each of the characters through shifting point of view segments while both validating and challenging our initial assumption of each character. Whether it’s the academic, Bronwyn who was presented with a chance to keep her collegiate dreams of going to Yale alive or Jake, the drug dealer who is trying to overcome his family’s dysfunctional history, McManus’ narrative weaves the lives of the so-called Murder Club into something more than just your standard murder mystery. Continue reading

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Review: Breaking Bad 101 by Alan Sepinwall

Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical CompanionLooking back, I wish I could say I was on board with Breaking Bad from the beginning.

Lured by the potential of a former X-Files writer, I tuned into the first installment and let the first season stack up on my DVR – only to delete it when the DVR got full.

I didn’t quite connect with what Vince Gilligan and company were trying to do in season one. But with seasons two and three generating such a huge buzz, I decided to give the show another try. Like the product at the center of this show, I was hooked, binging all of season three in the weekend leading up to the debut of season four and then breathlessly waiting each new installment as they aired. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton

Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from MadnessThe best DVD commentaries come when the participants have had an opportunity to perspective thank to the passage of time. It allows for a more honest assessment of what worked, what didn’t work and what could or should have done differently.

Listening to Suzy Favor Hamilton’s Fast Girl, I kept feeling like I wish she’d allowed a little more time to pass before penning (or in this case ghost-writing) her autobiography. Hamilton spends large chunks of the book focusing on the highs she got from first competitive running and later as a high-end escort in Las Vegas and very little (if any time) focusing on the lessons she learned from these experiences or the consequences and/or impact on her life and the lives of her family and friends. While the salacious details of her year as one of the top escorts in Vegas may sell a few books, I walked away from this book feeling like Hamilton left a lot of unexamined issues and questions on the table. Continue reading

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