Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Planetfall by Emma Newman

Every time I come down here I think about my mother. ~ Opening of Planetfall

Planetfall (Planetfall #1) by Emma Newman
Ace/Roc, 2015
Science Fiction; 336 pgs
Source: Purchased

Goodreads Summary:  
Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…
Most of my experience with science fiction so far falls to Robert Heinlein and Douglas Adams, both rather tall orders to follow. I have read a scattering of other science fiction novels over the years, and recently have found myself wanting to explore the genre more. Planetfall seemed a good book to go to next. It wasn't quite what I expected, even having read the blurb, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Planetfall isn't just a book about a colony on a far away planet, but also a character study of someone with a mental disorder going through crisis.

Renata (Ren) Ghali is a well drawn character who shoulders a heavy secret and has been through more than one traumatic experience. Not only has she left behind the world she knows for the completely unknown, but she's lost the woman she loved most in the world, and is asked to be complicit in a big lie that could very well destroy the very community she lives in--not to mention the stability she's come to depend on. Being that Ren is the narrator, the reader is inside her head, feeling her panic when her world is threatened, and understanding where she is coming from. It did cross my mind at one point that perhaps Ren's disorder was relied on too heavily for the sake of the plot, but, at the same time, the way events played out, it seemed a natural progression and felt so real.

I felt for Ren on many levels, feeling the tension of the position she was in. She wanted to come clean with the truth, but isn't sure the colony would recover from the damage caused if the truth got out. Ren is extremely smart, skilled, and more resourceful than she realizes. She is always second guessing herself. I imagine the others in the colony see her as bit of an eccentric, withdrawn at times and very private, having trouble connecting with others.

When the stranger appears out of nowhere, Ren is suspicious, as is Cillian "Mack" Mackenzie, the so called ringmaster of the colony. How could someone have survived outside the colony for so long? Is he really as innocent as he seems? His friendly and open demeanor suggest so, and his welcome into the colony seems a forgone conclusion. Sung-So takes an instant interest in Ren and she can't help but respond to that. He is the first who she lets into her private world, however reluctantly. He is also the first to realize just how bad things have gotten for Ren. And from there, things begin to unravel very quickly.

It is through flashback and memories that the story unfolds, at first slowly, building in tension as it goes. Ren recalls the reason behind the colonists setting out on Atlas to search for their new home, the Earth being overpopulated and polluted. Despite being so far from home and civilization, the colonists have made a good home for themselves at the base of God's city. It was faith and science that had brought them there and what keeps them going. With each new memory Ren shares a new layer to the story is uncovered.

The novel could have gone in several different directions, and I would have happily followed along. In fact, I wasn't too surprised in the way certain events finally came to a head. The very end hearkens back to the purpose of the colonist's original mission, in a way coming full circle. But I have mixed feelings about it. Maybe my dissatisfaction comes from all the questions I still have, about certain threads left hanging. And yet the ending seems so final.

I wouldn't have minded a little more science behind the technology they used in order to add more flesh to the world Newman's created. I also wish the author had explored the spiritual journey the colonists were on a bit more, especially in relation to the time period they are living in. These are just minor things though in the scheme of things.

Overall, I liked Planetfall, and feel it was a worthwhile read. Emma Newman has created a fascinating character in Ren and a complex and interesting world. I am hearing even better things about the next book in the series, which I understand is set in the same world as Planetfall, but not a sequel per say.

You can learn more about Emma Newman and her books on the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt

Katie Trent dragged her feet as she walked down the street towards the park. ~ Opening of The Girls Next Door

The Girls Next Door (Detective Eden Berrisford #1) by Mel Sherratt
Bookouture, 2016
Crime Fiction; 318 pgs

The Girls Next Door is a dark thriller about a group of teenage friends who have gotten in over their heads. The novel opens with the death of sixteen year old Deanna Barker and the events that follow leading up to the trial of the teens being held responsible for her death. How much should Katie be held accountable for a crime she witnessed and tried to stop? Will anyone believe her given her relationship and history with the boy who stabbed Deanna?

As a storm rages in Stockleigh, someone or someones are playing awfully mean pranks on this group of friends, targeting them and warning them to keep quiet. When one of their own goes missing, it raises the stakes even higher. Detective Eden Berrisford isn't sure how long she'll be allowed to stay on the case given her relationship to the missing girl, Jess Mountford, her niece, but she is determined to find her.

There are multiple threads of the story at play in The Girls Next Door. Grief permeates the pages in one form or another. The mother of the murdered girl is both bitter and angry, not to mention devastated by her daughter's senseless death. Then you have Katie, accused of  being involved in a murder, and her family, struggling to deal with their separation, the accusations and societal judgement, not to mention the internal turmoil each of the family members are going through. These among several other characters struggling with their own challenges related to grief.

Kidnap victim Jess has her own family issues, being raised by her widowed mother and older sister. It was really hard for me to connect with Jess. She isn't an easy person to like. I felt more for her mom, who was working hard to provide for her family, and raise her two daughters on her own. Eden has her own teenage daughter and has her own baggage. She is good at her job though, that much is obvious.

The novel shifts from perspective to perspective throughout the novel, including the kidnapper's, and so no one person was the main focus of the novel. This may have contributed to my not really connecting to any of the characters as I never felt like I got to know any of them very well. But honestly, it was hard to sympathize with any of the kids involved given their own actions. I lost a little respect for the detective at the end of the novel, wishing she'd made a different choice (about a seemingly small matter)--but I realize it is hard when it is family involved.

Tension is high throughout The Girls Next Door, although I found it a struggle to read it at times. The message to parents to be involved in your child's life--know their friends and be vigilant to how much money they spend or how and where they spend their time coming across loud and clear. While I thought this to be a decent novel, I am on the fence about whether I will continue with this series or not.

You can learn more about Mel Sherratt and her books on the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Ancillary Justice & My Attempt At Haiku)

This week saw the end of my daughter's year in kindergarten. Her school doesn't believe in doing promotions or graduations at that age, but her class, along with a couple other kindergarten classes at her school, put on a concert. It was a nice way to close out the year.

Although it's quite unusual for me, I have a few books going right now. I hope to finish my audiobook in the next day or so, a book I featured last week. This week, I thought I would share a bit of a book my husband recommended to me, a science fiction novel called Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie. Evidently it's one that has been on his radar, and he was hoping I would read it and tell him if it is any good. 

A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.
The body lay naked and facedown, a deathly gray, spatters of blood staining the snow around it. It was minus fifteen degrees Celsius and a storm had passed just hours before. The snow stretched smooth in the wan sunrise, only a few tracks leading into a nearby ice-block building. A tavern. Or what passed for a tavern in this town. 
Yes, again with the sharing more than the first line. I hope you don't mind. I couldn't help myself though. The opening of Ancillary Justice grabbed my attention right away. Whose body? What happened? Where are we exactly? It sure is cold!

A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.
Lieutenant Awn approached the Var decade room with trepidation, not knowing why I had sent her there. I had refused to answer her questions, which had only fed a growing feeling on her part that something was very wrong. 
(at 56% of my Kindle edition)

What do you think? Would you keep reading?


Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

How do you organize your blog in terms of what is in your side bar? Do you have categories and defined sections in your side bar?
My husband I asked
How to answer this question
He said try Haiku.

So . . .

A myth I cannot believe
It's all random chance.

Why, Just look at it
What do you want me to say?
It's all there to see.

I'll keep my day job
This Haiku is not for me
A poet I'm not.

(That's not wholly true
I prefer to write free verse
Lines are tricky things.)

What about you?

I was so excited to find my cat actually using the little house on the cat tree--and then she yawned in the middle of the photo. Look at those fangs!

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: The Black Lily by Juliette Cross

Once upon a time, humans lived in peace across the land of Varis. ~ Opening of The Black Lily 

The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily) by Juliette Cross
Entangled (Select Otherworld), 2017
Fantasy (Romance); 300 pgs

While I am not as into vampire romance novels as I might have once been, I couldn't help but purchase a copy of The Black Lily by Juliette Cross. I had recently gone on a binge of the author's books about dragon hybrid and knew I enjoyed her writing style.

The Black Lily was everything I expected and more. If the description of the book didn't give it away, the reader could easily pick out from the opening chapters of the book that this is a Cinderella re-tellling, but from there the similarities stop. Having lost her mother to a vampire, Arabelle has no love for them. She is the Black Lily, the leader of an underground resistance group made up of humans. Humans are being slaughtered despite the monarchs' assurance that vampires no longer kill humans. And the Black Lily wants to put a stop to it.

Prince Marius, the youngest son of the king and queen, and a direct decedent of the original immortal, is reluctant to attend the Blood Ball where he is to choose a new concubine. He did not expect to be so captivated by anyone, much less the  mysterious beauty who walked through the palace doors. Her wit and conversation only strengthen the attraction he feels for her. He never sees it coming when she stabs him, aiming for his heart. She flees, leaving behind only the dagger in his chest.

The prince was supposed to die that night, but the Black Lily failed in her mission, and is now hunted by the prince and the royal family. Only, Prince Marius isn't so sure he wants to see her dead. He wants to know more about the woman who calls herself the Black Lily and perhaps win her heart.

Arabelle is smart and cunning, and can be ruthless when need be. She is strong in her convictions. I liked her instantly. Prince Marius is a thoughtful man, fair and just. Although he is angry and not quick to trust Arabelle (she did try to kill him, after all), he also wants to understand why she would want to kill him in the first place.

The Black Lily was such a fun read. It is nonstop action from the start. It's pretty dark too in terms of the themes. I'm fascinated by the world Juliette Cross has created. There is one moment in the novel in which Arabelle ventures into the forest and I could feel my excitement building. Not because of some sexy vampire, but because I liked the direction the novel was going. There is romance, of course. Prince Marius and Arabelle make an interesting match--neither one completely trusting each other for a good portion of the novel. Arabelle has reason to be cautious--they both do really--but neither can completely ignore the passion between them.

The mystery itself, who is behind the murders and the why of it, wasn't completely unexpected, but I still wasn't sure. Everything comes together quite quickly in a very tense scene that I can see being great for the big screen.

There are number of interesting characters I wouldn't mind getting to know more, including Sienna who I believe will be featured in the upcoming Red Lily, the next book in the series. Juliette Cross has definitely created a world I would like to explore further.

You can learn more about Juliette Cross and her books on the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mouse's Corner: Books You Read to Experience

There is just something fun about books like these which take reading to a whole new level. Mouse and I have fun reading them together. If you are looking for a book to read experience with your preschooler or kindergartner, I hope you will consider taking a look at these.

Again! by Emily Gravett
MacMillan Children's Books, 2011
Fiction (Children's); 32 pgs

Cedric is a young dragon and he loves it when his mother reads his favorite bedtime story. Not just once. But over and over again. Cedric's mother is tired though, and Cedric is losing patience. As a child, my daughter can totally relate. And so can I--only with the mother. Again! is an especially fun book to read in character. The artwork is colorful and and both the main story and the story within the story are interesting. 

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne
Henry Holt & Co., 2014
Fiction (Children's); 32 pgs

Bella is out walking her dog when he falls down into the gutter. She calls for help, but then the people helping disappear too. What will Bella do? Of these three books, this is probably Mouse's favorite. Twisting and turning and shaking . . . Maybe that will help Bella get get dog out.  Mouse really likes to get into this one.

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne
Nosy Crow, 2013
Fiction (Children's); 32 pgs

Bedtime stories are supposed to be quiet and calming, right? Well, not this one. A crocodile seems to have fallen inside the book and is wreaking havoc. Who wouldn't have fun reading a book like this, trying to get the crocodile out of the book? Warning: This book may cause giggling and full blown laughter.

To share your children's book related posts stop by Booking Mama’s feature,
Kid Konnection and leave a comment as well as a link to your posts!

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.