Tuesday, 30 November 2021

The Sound of Useless Wings - Free Short Story Alert

After rereading Tin Star I immediately reread this short story about Heckleck. It's available as an ebook on amazon, but can also be read for free online.

It is a beautiful story in my opinion, so if you read Tin Star or are a fan of SF, I can recommend you give this a try.


The Sound of Useless Wings
CECIL CASTELLUCCI
illustration by DOMINICK SAPONARO


In this prequel to Tin Star, we meet Heckleck, the Hort alien who befriends Tula Bane on the space station Yertina Feray in her fight for survival. In his modest beginnings, Heckleck is raised to understand that breeding and propagating his own kind is the sole reason for living. When he is called upon to settle on a new planet, he meets the daughter of a politician, Goglu, with whom he falls helplessly in love, and is determined to win over. But nothing is easy in love and space exploration, and when his plans become thwarted, he must find a new way of life.

This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by Connie Hsu.

Read it here

Monday, 29 November 2021

Tin Star - Book Review (repost)

 I was in the mood for some comfort reads, so I reread this book. Here's a repost of my review + some thoughts on rereading.


Tin Star (Tin Star #1)
by Cecil Castellucci

What is it about:
On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.

What did I think of it:
This is such a great read!

I love that this is a story that actually uses real aliens instead of aliens that are basically the same as humans in appearance. Even better is that Tula ends up being looked at as the alien, being the only human on the space station, and humans being a rare sight for the other aliens. I think this book would have deserved a place on my keeper shelves just for that alone.

Luckily there's lots more good things about this book. It's a really cool and intense read.

I loved the aliens, especially Heckleck, Tula's mentor. Castellucci manages to keep him alien, while still giving him qualities that make you like him and relate to him.

I liked reading about the space station, the aliens living there, and about how Tula adapts to her new life. It's surprising how Castellucci makes you fall in love with the space station and its inhabitants with just a minimum of world building.

Then the humans arrive and Tula has to decide how to deal with that.

Not often I've come across a book where you can understand the aliens better than the humans, but this book is one of them. I didn't trust the humans at all, and felt like warning Tula about them. It made for some intense reading.

Some events I saw coming, but others caught me off guard and left me shocked. The ending (although leaving some things open) was satisfying, but I was so in love with this story and world by then that I was eager for more.

All in all this is a really beautiful and suspenseful Young Adult SciFi, and you can bet I will get my trotters on the sequel once it releases. I will also try another book by Castellucci in the meantime.

Thoughts on rereading:
On my first read Heckleck was my absolute favorite. He still was my favorite on this reread, but Tournour, the chief constable on the station really grew on me in this reread. I missed a lot of subtle things in my first read, because I was focused on other things.

Why should you read it:
It's a YA SciFi with actual aliens!


buy from amazon

Friday, 26 November 2021

The Problem with Pugs - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

 

The Problem with Pugs (Love & Pets #1)
by A.G. Henley

What is it about:
New love? Or her pug?

Amelia’s boyfriend Tim broke up with her three months, thirteen days, and eleven hours ago, but at least he left her their baby, Doug the pug. Doug eats her underwear, mutilates furniture, and always poops in the middle of the sidewalk — but he only has eyes for her.

When Amelia reluctantly wades back into the dating pool, meets a new guy, and has to pay his medical bill after Doug launches a sneak attack on him, she realizes she has a problem. She’s determined to do everything she can to help her dog adjust to life without Tim, even recruiting handsome Travis, Doug’s new veterinarian, who’s willing to assist her at risk of life and limb.

But it won’t be so easy. Doug’s the only man in Amelia’s life now... and he isn’t about to share.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
After reading the prologue as a short story I was invested in the pug enough to want to give the full book a try.

This turned out to be a nice read. Amelia is pretty hung up on her ex, who's a total jerk, so that annoyed me at times, but not too much. I did love Doug and was rooting for him to get a happily ever after. He's quite the destructive pug, but I could understand where the behavior is coming from.

As a romance it didn't really tick my boxes. I was invested in Doug and side characters, but never got that fluttering feeling I want from a good romance. Still I enjoyed myself with the book and was happy with how it ended.

As I do not have kindle unlimited I don't think I'll get other books in this series, unless they go on sale.

Why should you read it:
It's a fun Contemporary Romance with a pug.


buy from Amazon


Thursday, 25 November 2021

Dark Wizard - Book Review (repost)

I reread this book recently (still totally awesome!), so here's a repost of my review.

Dark Wizard (Bonds of Magic #1) 
by Jeffe Kennedy 

What is it about:
Lord Gabriel Phel wants one thing: to restore his shattered House to its former station in the Convocation’s complex and arcane society. Fortunately, through a wild chance of birth, he was born with the magic of a powerful wizard, the first in his family in generations. If he can obtain a familiar to supplement his skills, ideally one who is a highborn daughter who can also be his lady wife, then he’ll be that much closer to restoring House Phel. And to exacting his ultimate revenge on the Convocation that destroyed his family.


Lady Veronica Elal doesn’t have many choices. To her bitter disappointment, she will never be the powerful wizard she and her father hoped she’d be. Instead Nic is doomed to be a familiar like her mother, a second-class citizen in the Convocation, and one destined to be bonded to a wizard, serving his purposes for the rest of her life. Her one hope lies in entering the Betrothal Trials—and choosing a wizard from the Convocation candidates that she can manipulate. Whichever one of her suitors impregnates her will claim her as familiar and wife, and she can use her wiles to rule her wizard master, and the House she marries into.


But Gabriel throws a wrench into Nic’s careful scheming, by seducing and fascinating her. When she finds she’s pregnant by the rogue wizard she can never hope to control, Nic does the unthinkable: she runs.

What did I think of it:
This book is amazing!

The world Jeffe creates in this book is intriguing and twisted. I loved learning about the Convocation rules and what they mean for those who have to follow them.

Veronica/Nic grew up with these rules and takes them for granted. Gabriel however is new to them and it was fun to see how different both react to the rules.

The two of them also have very different ideas about a possible future together, and when Nic realizes Gabriel won't ever be the gullible and malleable wizard she was hoping him to be, she runs. Gabriel however won't let her disappear that easily.

I loved both Nic and Gabriel. Nic is a product of her highborn upbringing and once she's on her own has to learn a lot about both herself and the world around her. Gabriel is new to the world of the Convocation and he has to be careful he doesn't break the rules he only recently learned about.

I read this book in almost one sitting and rooted for the both of them. The ending of this book is very satisfying, but there's so much coming for these two, and there's so much yet to explore within this fascinating world that I'm eager for the next book. I want more! 

Why should you read it:
It's a wonderful dark Fantasy Romance


Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Love, Pugs, and Other Problems - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

 

Love, Pugs, and Other Problems (Love & Pets #0.5)
by A.G. Henley

What is it about:
She wanted a ring. She got a pug, instead.

Amelia doesn't care much for her job as a legal secretary, but she's head over heels for her boyfriend Tim and his pet pug, Doug. When Tim says he has something important to ask her, she knows the rainbow painted day she's been dreaming of is here. Her naked ring finger is finally getting some bling.

That night, she makes Tim’s favorite meal, lights candles, and plays sure-fire mood music, but when he finally pops the question, Amelia discovers the rainbow road to her dreams may be bumpier than she expected... and covered in pug fur.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
This was yet another freebie I found on my kindle app. I probably got it as a freebie for signing up for a newsletter, or I came across it on the author's website, but I really don't remember. It was probably the pug that drew me in.

This turned out to be more of a prologue to the first book in the series than a standalone story. It introduces you to Amelia and her troubled love life. And just when it starts getting interesting it's over.

I must say I did love Doug, the pug, from the start and was rooting for him. So when I saw that book one was 99 cents I decided to get it, to see if Doug would get a happy end. And ok: maybe to see if Amelia would get one too.

Why should you read it:
If you want to read the first book in this series, this short story is a great prologue.


Get it on the author's website


Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Teaser Tuesdays - Capture the Crown

 

I held back a derisive snort. That was even less of a disguise than my short, dyed hair and miner's coveralls. So he was arrogant, as well as duplicitous.


(page 24, Capture the Crown by Jennifer Estep)
buy from amazon

---------

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Monday, 22 November 2021

Advanced Physical Chemistry - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

 

Advanced Physical Chemistry (Chemistry Lessons #3)
by Susannah Nix

What is it about:
After four lousy boyfriends in a row, chemical engineer Penny Popplestone swears off men until she can figure out why they keep cheating on her. But her no-men resolution hits a snag when the mysterious and superhumanly hot barista at her favorite coffee shop strikes up a friendship with her.

Penny strives to keep things platonic, but when Caleb gives her the kiss of her life, she realizes he wants to be more than just friends. Tired of always being “good little Penny,” she throws caution to the wind and pursues a no-strings fling with the hottie barista. It’s not like they have anything in common beyond scorching physical chemistry, so what does she have to lose?

Only her heart.

Now, this fanfic-reading, plus-size heroine faces an unsolvable problem. What do you do when being apart is unbearable…but being together is impossible?

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
I was still in a Contemporary Romance mood, so had a look at the freebies lingering in my kindle app. I came across this one that I downloaded when it was temporarily free on amazon somewhere last year.

And this is a nice read.

I liked Caleb, even where I didn't really warm up to Penny. I'm not sure what it was about her, but she came across as kind of forgettable.

Still I was interested in seeing what happened to their fling, and to some of the customers at the coffee shop. I was disappointed that Penny's job wasn't more important to the story. For a series that prouds itself it's about women working in STEM fields Penny could easily have been working any other work from home job.

All in all a nice, but forgettable read. After finishing it I discovered I actually also have the first book in the series hiding somewhere on my kindle app, so I might try that one to see if that's more gripping.

Why should you read it:
It's a nice Contemporary Romance.


buy from Amazon


Friday, 12 November 2021

The Office Party - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

 

The Office Party (Holiday Homecoming #1)
by Whitney G.

What is it about:
I can’t believe that I pulled my boss’s name for our company’s annual Secret Santa tradition…

As the devil incarnate, this infuriating, cocky bastard never gives us the holidays off, and he honestly expects us to be grateful for his generous alternative: The Office Party.

It’s a mandatory, all-expenses trip for two weeks at a surprise luxury resort—where we still have to work twelve to fifteen hours a day.

I’m so over this…

So, I put zero percent effort into his gift. I tear the tag off whatever my sister gifts me, add a five-dollar amazon gift card, and hand it off to him.

It’s not until my sister sends me a text that I realize how terrible of a decision that was.

Georgia: Why haven’t you sent me a 'LOL' about the brand-new vibrator I got you? I really do hope that you use your boss’s face as a muse, like my note says. :-)

If that’s not bad enough, this year’s "luxury trip" will be in my hometown--the place I've avoided for years. At the resort that my grandmother owns...

If the universe gets me out of this, I will never ‘regift’ anything ever again…

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
After reading The Love Hypothesis I wanted more Contemporary Romance. This novella sounded like it could be fun.

Yeah...

I finished it because it was a quick read, but I kept waiting for it to become good until the end.

I didn't like the heroine and I didn't like the hero. The company sounded like an illegal nightmare I would never consider working at, and then there was the puke-worthy 'family is the greatest even when they're jerks' thrown in for no reason at all. 

If there had been more than one and a half lukewarm sex scenes in there it might have saved some of this unrelatable train wreck, but even that was not to be.

Why should you read it:
If you like romances with workaholic bossy people you might enjoy this.


buy from amazon

Thursday, 11 November 2021

On McPig's Wishlist - For the Wolf

 

For the Wolf  (Wilderwood #1)
by Hannah F. Whitten

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn't the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.


buy from Amazon


Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Flowers for the Sea - Book Review

 

Flowers for the Sea
by Zin E. Rocklyn

What is it about:
We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek.

What did I think of it:
To be honest: I'm not quite sure what this story was about and what exactly happened. Still I loved it. It breathed a dark atmosphere, and the writing was beautiful and held me captive. I could easily picture (and almost smell) the ship on which Iraxi and others are trapped. 

I was drawn in from the start and even while struggling to understand the deeper layers of what was going on I had to keep reading to see where the story would lead. 

This is a harsh and brutal tale, one filled with anger, regret, and bitterness. It's also a tale I will revisit, to explore those nuances that were too slippery for me on this first read. 

Why should you read it:
It's an atmospheric and intriguing read.


buy from amazon


Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Teaser Tuesdays - The Seventh Sun

 

Mayana argued that choosing a wife was a personal decision, not a political one, but her father had just laughed.
"Everything is political, Mayana. You will do well to learn that now," he had said.


(page 40, The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes)
buy from amazon

---------

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Monday, 8 November 2021

The Love Hypothesis - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

 

The Love Hypothesis
by Ali Hazelwood

What is it about:
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships--but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor--and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford's reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive's career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding...six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
I pre-ordered this book and still had to wait for over a month after release before it was sent to me. At one point I feared I'd never get it. So when it finally arrived it had all of that it: it better be really good to make up for all the trouble.

 Luckily this book was all I had hoped for. I love fake dating romances so the plot of this book was right up my alley. I was hooked from the start and finished it in a day. What a delightful read.

There are of course things you as the reader know and which should be obvious to Olive as well, but I didn't mind her being a dense idiot. I had too much fun with this romance. I loved Adam and rooted for Olive to see the light. 

The romance is fluffy and delightful. There are of course some obstacles, but those didn't frustrate me and were handled in a believable way.

All in all a wonderful read. I will most definitely get the next book by Hazalwood once it releases.

Why should you read it:
It's a delightful and very enjoyable Contemporary Romance


Friday, 5 November 2021

Terminal Uprising - Book Review

 

Terminal Uprising (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse #2)
by Jim C. Hines

What is it about:
It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago.

Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full.

Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans … or drown the galaxy in chaos.

To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it.

Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.

What did I think of it:
I very much enjoyed the first book in this series, so when I was in the mood for something funny and entertaining I decided to give the second one a try.

And this book is just as enjoyable as the first. I will confess I was a little disappointed that my favorite character from book 1, Grom didn't play  large role in this one, but that was about the only grumble I had.

Mops and her crew once again find themselves in hot water and have to be resourceful and quick on their feet to survive. I loved how Mops manages to get on top of situations that seem disastrous, and how she and her crew outsmart the Krakau and other enemies in surprising ways.

The ending is satisfying but there's still enough going on that I want more. I hope there will be a next book!

Why should you read it:
It's a fun and action-packed SF read.


Thursday, 4 November 2021

On McPig's Wishlist - Iron Widow

 

Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1)
by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn't matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it's to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed. 


buy from amazon


Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Other People's Things - Book Review

 

Other People's Things
by Kerry Anne King

What is it about:
Jailbird. Klepto. Spectacular failure to launch. Nicole Wood’s sticky fingers have earned her many names, but it’s not that she’s stealing—some objects just need to be moved elsewhere, and the universe has chosen her to do it. Still, being a relocator of objects isn’t easy. With her marriage on the rocks, no real-world skills, and the threat of prison hanging over her head, Nicole is determined to change her ways.

Things seem to be looking up, thanks to a godsent job with her sister’s housecleaning business—until she encounters a seemingly harmless paperback that insists on moving from one client’s home to another’s. Nicole hopes no one will notice, but the action stirs up long-hidden secrets and triggers a series of fateful events that threatens to destroy the life she’s creating and hurt those closest to her. She’ll need to embrace her unwieldy gift and take a chance on love in order to unravel the mystery and fix what’s gone wrong.

What did I think of it:
I'm a big fan of Kerry Schafer's Urban Fantasy and Paranormal books, so when she started to write more Contemporary books as Kerry Anne King I followed her over of course. And those are beautiful as well.

This book might not be Urban Fantasy, but there's definitely a touch of magic in Other People's Things.

I was hooked from the start. I liked Nicole and was eager to find out if she could put her life back together after her marriage blew up over her tendency to move objects that don't belong to her.

Then I learned more about why she is moving things and I wanted to know everything about it. Why are certain objects calling to her? Why do they need to be moved? Will Nicole find a way to deal with this weird but intriguing compulsion?

And then there's Hawk. He is hired by Nicole's husband (who I hated more than I have hated someone in a long time, btw) to track Nicole and to see if he can recover something Nicole moved. He soon starts to doubt what Nicole's husband has told him about her and might become an ally in her quest to start a new life.

The viewpoint switches between Nicole and Hawk and I enjoyed seeing inside both their heads. Soon I was rooting for the two of them to start trusting each other and work together.

All in all a wonderful contemporary read with a touch of magical realism. I hope Kerry keeps the books coming, no matter under what pen name.

Why should you read it:
It's a beautiful and magical read!


buy from amazon


Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Teaser Tuesdays - Flowers for the Sea

 

Perhaps it is a purpose. Perhaps it is the fear. For certain, I still breathe the air of the last of us.


(page 21, Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn)
buy from amazon

---------

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!