Thoughts and Review : Guardian by Joe Haldeman

guardianGuardian by Joe Haldeman

☆☆☆


Published by Open Road Media
Publication Date : September 27th, 2016
Available as eBook – 304 Pages
Source : NetGalley (Thank you!)

During the Alaskan gold rush, a woman pursues a destiny that will change the world in this alternate-history novel from a sci-fi legend.

In the tradition of Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land), multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Joe Haldeman set a new standard for military science fiction and hard sci-fi with The Forever War and his phenomenal Worlds series.  Now the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master dabbles brilliantly in alternate-history fiction with the world-altering adventures of a remarkable woman during the gold rush in late nineteenth-century Alaska.
 
Sent from her Georgia home to Philadelphia to escape the carnage of the Civil War, Rosa Coleman studied astronomy and mathematics, ultimately settling into a new life as the wife of a wealthy man and mother of young Daniel. But when she discovers an unforgiveable secret about her reprobate husband, Rosa takes the boy and flees to the West on a desperate escape that takes them from Dodge City to San Francisco one step ahead of the Pinkertons hired to bring them back home.
 
On the run in a strange and exhilarating new world, Rosa and Daniel find a haven where they might never be found: the wilds of Alaska among the dreamers drawn to its magnificent wilderness by the promise of gold. It is here that her spiritual guide first appears to Rosa in the form of a raven—an incarnation of the trickster god of Native American and Eskimo lore—suggesting that her destiny lies not in sparkling riches but in something far greater. This mystical harbinger has come from a distant, alien place, and will set her on an astonishing course . . .

Thoughts :
I’ve been sitting on this book for a while. I finished it almost a month ago unsure of how to review it, not even sure of my rating. It was definitely not what I was expecting, and I wasn’t sure if it was something I was happy having read. I eventually settled, after stewing on it for a while, on having enjoyed it. It was a.. soft book to me. Something subtle and cleverly sneaky in how it wraps around you. It’s about a woman’s journey to a momentary experience and less of how it affected her. Which was an odd turn on the head of the idea that a single magical moment/journey defines a lifetime. It’s almost the more realistic take on what would have happened to someone in her position experiencing something like she did.
For the bulk of the book we follow Rosa’s flight across America after discovering some truly horrifying things about her husband. She takes her son with her and eventually they end up in Alaska during the heat of the gold rush. Along the way she is nudged gently into certain directions by a raven, repeatedly showing up calling “No Gold”. I’m still not sure how or where that raven came from, perhaps I missed or perhaps it was that intentionally vague. The story is also formatted in a way that she is telling us what happened. It’s a written account she created based around her memories and diary entries.
There is a level of tension underneath the slow crawl of the story that keeps it moving, or did for me. The whole time I’m terrified, as Rosa is, that her husband will catch her. What will be the retribution that she suffers at his hands. All the while you’re soaking up the white and frequently noisy world of Alaska through Haldeman’s descriptions. My sister, a park ranger, was working in Alaska at the time of me reading this. I almost wanted to call her and ask, “Do you know anything about the gold rush in Alaska? Can we talk about this book I’m reading?” (I didn’t, of course because she doesn’t enjoy reading as I do and frankly would have found me insane, but the urge was there).
Ultimately it feels like that story your grandmother or the old lady that visits her tells a little bit of every time you see them. You can’t stop wondering about, going over what happened in your mind. How did action A lead her to action B? What else did her actions affect? Where did she go, and holy hell can I learn more about that please?
I’m definitely interested in more of Haldeman’s work. This was almost a tease of his writing I feel, it rang a lot like Arthur C. Clarke to me so I’m definitely on board with finally picking up The Forever War from him. Might be worth picking up if you enjoy the older style of science fiction or if you enjoyed Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent, and am okay with a slower more atmospheric tale.

Spookathon TBR!

     There are a couple themed readathons happening in October I am interested in doing. Spookathon is the first of these. Run by three lovely ladies over on Youtube it has really ghostsbroad requirements and so it’s going to hopefully be an easy one to do. The idea is to read spooky or thriller style books throughout the month of October. It’s enough of a nice twist on the ‘read horror books in October’ idea that it hooked me. It’s also right in theme with a lot of what I am currently reading anyway! I’ll be doing this one in conjunction with Own Voices – I’m going to try and find some good Own Voices thrillers and mysteries that will fit the Spookathon. Currently I believe there is just the one challenge ‘Read a Thriller’ with several possible future ones to come! So tentatively I’ve got a few things I might choice from:

       These are just a random assortment of thrillers, spooky books, or mysteries that I have available right now. I’ve adopted a ‘make a outbig list that way you can read at least one or two and say you succeeded’ rule of thumb with my TBRs since I’m so notoriously bad for them. I’ll most definitely be changing this around, adding more Own Voices novels, and
picking up more books/putting a few down, but there are a few on here I definitely want to get to! If more challenges are announced I’ll update this to meet those, and soon I’ll have up my Own Voices TBR as well!

Intimidating TBR Tag

DiverseAThon Wrapup!

DiverseAThon Wrapup

     So this feels super late but I finally have a bit of downtime to type this up. I had wanted to try filming something for this but sadly my life has been going a million miles an hour this week (I hate adulting). So here I am to report back on what I managed to read during DiverseAThon

    It was mostly shorter fiction – I started off with Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adleroutongoodbehavior which featured a main character so different from me it was wild. Frankie is a girl who enjoys sex, and enjoying her college years untethered. She meets a girl however who changes her mind and it’s about her learning to be just ‘the girlfriend’ as opposed to the ‘friends with benefits’ that she normally is. I liked the characters, how fast it moved, and the ultimate resolution. As far as Own Voices, I’m not sure. Dahlia Adler has quite a few queer books, but at a very brief glance through her information I couldn’t find out if she was pan or bi. So I’ll put this in the ‘Not sure’ category. – Also and additional goody! I found Samara’s reading list (as she’s always reading or mentioning a YA novel) from the book on Dahlia’s blog :https://dailydahlia.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/samaras-reading-list-revealed/

rollergirl    Next up I hit Roller Girl by Vanessa North. This is a F/F romance with a trans woman as the PoV character. This was also very light and fun – exactly what I needed for between calls at work. It had it’s very corny bits but overall I enjoyed it. It was not Own Voices, unfortunately like I had originally thought. I think for instances of trans characters I prefer to read own voices – at least with PoV style works. That small complaint aside, like I said, I did enjoy it. I especially liked Joe – our romantic interest.

    I read a classic – partially because of my IRL book club I run and also for the mental health issues involved: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I had towehavealways think on this one. It was good, very interesting, but also really sad. There are a lot of thoughts on it, it’s been around a while and it’s gotten a lot of analysis, and most people categorize it as Horror. I think for me it was more Tragic. I really dig the idea that it’s a ‘origin of the Haunted House’ but there is so much sadness to it. Mary Katherine pulls her sister down to the world of madness and reclusion she desires. And her sister Constance is just as challenged, she seems to have some sort of depression. Hovering over the entire book was the knowledge that Shirley Jackson herself wouldn’t leave her own home at the end of her life. She became so paranoid and frightened of her neighbors (who were very cruel to her and her family) that she eventually wouldn’t even leave a particular room. It almost rang as a daydreamy novel for that level of fear, she eventually took the role of Mary Katherine and her sister secluded in their house and never leaving.

   lovebeyond  Throughout the whole week I was picking up stories here and there from the anthology Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An LGBT and Two-Spirit Anthology edited by Hope Nicholson. I was really excited about this collection but about half of the stories were either two short for me or didn’t exactly work in some way. Others were great. This was Own Voices. Though edited by Hope Nicolson most if not all the authors in this collection are Native, with most of them LGBTQYA/Two-Spirited I believe. Native stories and cultures are ones I really want more of, my husband’s family is part of the Cherokee Tribe and like every other person in the South I have Cherokee blood (great grandparents) mixed in with the rest of my hodgepodge of history. I am naturally extremely curious about it. The collection, like I said was interesting and there were some stand outs, but not the strongest short story anthology I’ve ever read.

     The final two books I finished right before the end. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock was my last full length novel. It was the story of her growing up, discovering what she wanted, and transitioning. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting to be honest! I expected a redefiningmore hard hitting book, almost like Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking (which I adore) but this read more like a novel. Janet Mock has a very flowery style of writing, describing her own hair as luxurious at points. It was odd for a memoir but made the ultimate reading experience a lot like devouring candy. A very easy read. It was till much later in the book that we read any statistics or facts about the trans culture. We get a lot of what Honolulu was like for her growing up but on the whole not as much. It gave some interesting perspective on young people, especially those of color or those in the lower class bracket, and how hard it is to transition and where that often leads them. Janet speaks very freely about her time on the streets, probably the hardest and most heart breaking part of reading this. I think it’s definitely worth checking out of the library if you’re interested in trans stories, and this was of course Own Voices.

     Finally I squeezed in another short story Superior by Jessica Lack. This one is a superiorsuperhero M/M romance that is not Own Voices. I certainly don’t regret reading it but it was too short. There was also so much missing in possible character development or history. I wish the characters had been a bit less flat (mostly due to the length for me) but it was a romp. Fun in that way. I did love the idea though, two superhero/villain intern/apprentices meeting and falling for each other, so cheesy!

     All in all a good ReadAThon. I wish I’d gotten to read a few more longer length novels but sadly life is vicious. I also wish I’d gotten to more Own Voices and I’m still planning on reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi soon. I’ll be taking part in the Own Voices Readathon come October, so I’ll try and fit some more of the reads in there that I had hoped to try for here.

     I hope everyone else’s reads were great and insightful, I’ve loved watching and seeing all the wrapups coming through. Sorry for the delay!

Waiting on Wednesday 09/21/16

WaitingOnWednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spines.

I’ve read almost all of Lauren Oliver’s books. I was on the fence for this one but read an amazing review and a suggested reading style for it. It hyped me a bit and I believe she’ll be at Yall Fest. The only thing I’m not sure about is if I want to pre-order it or picked up a signed copy at Yall Fest!

Replica
Replicaby Lauren Oliver

Publishing Date : October 4th, 2016

Publisher : HarperCollins

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever…

DiverseAThon! TBR and Recommendations

     diverseathon

    I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why diversity is important, but here we are. People are still making disgusting videos and posts fighting against diversity and representation. It almost makes my brain short circuit, I simply do not understand the want to read the same characters over and over in the same stories. I can’t understand not want to represent everyone. This world is a quilt of cultures and colors and beliefs, how can we NOT look for that in our books and media? There are untold multitudes of Diversity, I would love to see more if it reflected in literature – YA, Adult, SFF, etc.  I struggle myself finding my own sexuality represented, to me that’s a small part of me – but the fact that people out there can’t find their race or their culture, that’s the heart breaking part. I’m not going to link to anything that doesn’t support Diversity in this post, especially not the highly offensive video that triggered the DiverseAThon’s creation (check out the announcement video from Joce with links to all creators). Just take my word, it’s out there. You can find plenty of transcripts of the video (I wouldn’t recommend watching it to give it the supporting views) or posts with summaries of things said.
This post is to celebrate Diversity – I want to see more of it, and I’m purposely seeking it out this week (have been and will continue to do so) for the #DiverseAThon. Some amazing Booktubers created this readathon in response to the above mentioned video. I’ve been cooking up a TBR for it and as this is the first day I thought it’d be appropriate to share that as well as some recommendations. In fact, I’m going to skim through everything in my house/on my Kindle and just list anything and everything I can find with diversity in it.
I’m looking a Diversity in a very wide lens. I’m looking for Persons of Color, Gender Diversity, Cultural Diversity, Mental Health/Physical Diversity, Learning Diversity, Religious Diversity,  etc. I’m also looking at author and/or story for sources of these. I
grayflaghave an especially keen interest in anything that might possibly have individuals of the Asexual Spectrum (#pride), and anything with learning disorders. I unfortunately only have one read on this list that hits the Ace Spectrum (that I know of) but if anyone has more please send them my way. That’s where I sit (as a Demi/Gray leaning into full Ace) and I would LOVE to see more of that. I also only have one book representing my own personal learning disorder (Dyscalculia) – I may have representation of others. Again, please bring on the recommendations.
Continue reading

Thoughts and Review : Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan

ColdForgedThe Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan

☆☆☆


Published by Tor.com
Publication Date : September 13th, 2016
Available as eBook – 112 Pages
Source : NetGalley (Thank you!) and Purchased

The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.
And so, in reply, there is a woman.

At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.

This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war—and of fate.

Thoughts:
There is always a lot of good things to say about Marie Brennan’s work and I’ll go ahead and say the biggest flaw I had with this was that it was just too short. I love novellas and especially Tor.com’s line of them, some of my favorite books and stories have come from that line for this year. This was another home run for me.
We begin knowing as much about our narrator as she knows about herself. She opens her eyes upon a rock and she’s sent on a quest. Starting out I almost laughed, I didn’t expect to care that much. Because our character knows so little about herself and we know so little about her I didn’t think it’d be interesting. However just like in previous books by Marie Brennan I found myself sucked into the world itself. For a good chunk of the story I was reading for the world. I cared about the main character after a 20 or 30 pages but I ultimately came to care about what was happening around her almost more. The few side characters we meet early on, all men, were interesting hooks into that world. Who are the people who pulled our narrator into the world? Why did they send her on this quest? The big one for me was, what kind of crazy island is this? The quest is to retrieve something from an island off the shore of their very Scottish seeming inspired local. The island is dangerous, and not really in a way I expected. It’s special attributes made it just as much a character in as the actual human ones.
So for me, in that regard, the characters and place were so entwined that they worked together. They held up the story for me till we got more information about our narrator. I won’t give any spoilers about her away besides the accepted ‘she’s a badass lady’. However I’ll add that beside her ‘badass lady’ cutout, she’s incredibly self-aware. To the point where I began reading into what she was saying about her definition in life. She had to find what she wanted, her drive, and what defined her – all why only knowing herself for a few hours? She’s smart about. She thinks more about that voice and definition than some people think about their dinner. Especially considering all her human interaction was coming from men. I loved that, that was what got me in the end. Her insight to herself kind of nudged me to think about my own insights.
As I said, my biggest flaw in this is the shortness. I highly suspect that once the second book arrives and I reread this back to back with it I’ll bump this up the last star it needs. I just was left wanting more now, I didn’t have the complete resolution I wanted no matter how much I loved the people and world. Definitely pick this one up – it’s up there with Binti for me, and I am beyond excited for the next story.

Waiting on Wednesday 09/07/2016

WaitingOnWednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spines.

I am SUPER excited about this particular release, I have  NetGalley arc to read and will have a review up a few weeks before the release! This one looks so amazing.

Cold-Forged FlameColdForged
by Marie Brennan

 

Publishing Date : September 13th, 2016

Publisher : Tor.com

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads

The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.
And so, in reply, there is a woman.

At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.

This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war—and of fate.

Mini-Reviews: Volume 19

Overall a good batch this time! I was definitely on a strong reading spell when I blazed through these, and I really did. I think I finished the four of these back to back over two or three days.
Good times.

 

monstress

Monstress, Volume One: Awakening
by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

☆☆☆☆

This was a beautiful mash up of folk-lore, steampunk, and high fantasy. I loved every panel of this, the artwork was incredible and the mashup worked in every way for me. This ticked every box I had. This definitely swept me along on the ride, the reveal on the end was just… it hit hard! Because of how invested I was in the story, and in our characters the reveal in the end was incredibly well done. I was hooked in every way on this, I can’t wait to read Volume 2.

 

The Lives of Tao (Lives of Tao Book 1)LivesofTao
by Wesley Chu

☆☆☆.75*s

Have you ever read a movie to book adaptation and thought ‘This was better as a movie?’ This was the opposite of that. This was the best kind of ‘action book’. There were training montages, some diverse and very cool characters, and a plot that was just deep enough to invest you. It really would make a stellar movie/show.
I found the characters likable, and relatable. It did fall down just a bit in tropes and foreshadowing making a few things obvious. There was in particular a big event at the end that I desperately didn’t want to happen but knew would. Half way through I knew it would, but as I intend to read the second book we’ll see how it pans out. In addition there were some other slightly more tropey characters and ideas, but some of those were handled in a way I can accept.
If you like action books, and stories in the vein of Men in Black I’d recommend this one.

 

Hostage to Pleasure (Psy-Changling #5)Hostage
by Nalini Singh

☆☆☆.5*s

This installment had a bit of the overprotective and possessive notes that the previous one had, but not as strong. I’m hoping that that is finally easing up (though I realize the ‘Alpha’ thing can’t be avoided in these types of books, I’m just saying it can be handled certain ways).
This one was definitely fun, I had problems putting it down, the story moved a breakneck pace through out the whole thing. I do think I liked Dorian a bit more as a side character, but I enjoyed reading about Ashaya. She was very likable. There isn’t much I can say about this, but that it’s continuing the plot of the series overall very well but definitely making a habit of hiding off screen what I would think would be the climax.
Regardless it makes for fun, easy, and light reads to relax the brain.

 

MurderPeacocksMurder with Peacocks (Meg Laslow #1)
by Donna Andrews

☆☆☆☆

I cannot even begin to explain why I enjoyed this so much but there was just something about the half frantic narrative (because our main character was helping plan three weddings she was quite literally , all over the place) and the just ‘oh look at that a murder’ attitude that got to me. It was almost like British style mystery but set in America? I don’t know it’s very hard to explain. It’s cozy as hell though. Let’s say that, cozy but with a overworked and frantic main character.
The quips and dialogue had me giggling at times, and I actually did enjoy all the characters. They all seemed distinct enough to me that I could identify them at a single line. That’s impressive for someone like me who has a terrible time with names.
If they made this into a show or movie I’d watch it!