Planetside – Michael Mammay

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 12.50.00 PMPublisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: July 31st, 2018

Page Count: 384 (Kindle)

From the Jacket:

A seasoned military officer uncovers a deadly conspiracy on a distant, war-torn planet…

War heroes aren’t usually called out of semi-retirement and sent to the far reaches of the galaxy for a routine investigation. So when Colonel Carl Butler answers the call from an old and powerful friend, he knows it’s something big—and he’s not being told the whole story. A high councilor’s son has gone MIA out of Cappa Base, the space station orbiting a battle-ravaged planet. The young lieutenant had been wounded and evacuated—but there’s no record of him having ever arrived at hospital command.

The colonel quickly finds Cappa Base to be a labyrinth of dead ends and sabotage: the hospital commander stonewalls him, the Special Ops leader won’t come off the planet, witnesses go missing, radar data disappears, and that’s before he encounters the alien enemy. Butler has no choice but to drop down onto a hostile planet—because someone is using the war zone as a cover. The answers are there—Butler just has to make it back alive…

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.24.27 AM

I fell in love with military scifi at the tender age of 12, after reading Ender’s Game in school. At the time, I had never read anything like it and got under my skin and into my heart and it stayed with me. For years and years I would list Ender as my favorite book, and it still remains in my top favorites two decades later. I’m truly not even sure what I enjoy so much about the genre, but I know it resonates with me on a lot of different levels and I tend to gravitate towards it whenever I get the opportunity. I saw the blurb for Planetside and did not even finish reading it before I requested the ARC from Edelweiss. 

Mammay has created an exciting story full of intrigue that jumps right in from the first page and moves at a very fast pace throughout. I went in fully expecting military scifi but was delighted to discover a complex mystery at its core. Colonel Carl Butler is a decorated war hero months away from retirement when he gets a call that puts him back into the action and into the middle of a high profile search for the son of a high councilor who has been missing for months. With no breaks in what has become a dead end case, Butler is asked to go to the planet, which also happens to be an active alien war zone, where the boy was last seen and successfully wrap up the investigation. As soon as he arrives it becomes clear that this is not a simple case of a missing person, but the truth is too fantastical to believe, and getting to the bottom of it may cost him his life.

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 10.09.55 PM.png

Planetside was a wild ride and the action starts almost from the first page. This style helped me read all 384 pages in a couple of big chunks, staying up way later than I normally do. While I enjoyed the quick pacing, there were parts that would have benefited from more fleshing out and I was left wanting more on several occasions. Despite that, it’s full of memorable characters that felt very authentic, and made me feel a whole range of emotions from outright rage to a pretty significant crush (I’m looking at you Mac) and I was unsurprised to learn that the author is a military veteran with over two decades of experience. 

This was a solid four star read for me which is really a great review, but I want to go into why it wasn’t a perfect rating. The pacing worked to keep the story moving and added to the heart pounding action, but it also proved to be too fast in some places. This is a spoiler free review, so I will not get into plot specifics, but there were several times when the author introduced a story line and really did not touch on it again, or touched on it so briefly that it felt too shallow to be believable. With 95% of the book finished I thought to myself that I had inadvertently started a new series rather than a stand alone story. However (and much to my dismay), the story is wrapped up in the last few pages, but the ending is so rushed that I felt a bit cheated and I’m very much hoping that there is a sequel.  Secondly was the amount of telling that happened via Butler’s internal monologues. Rather than writing nuanced dialogue or effective body language, Mammay constantly used Butler’s thoughts to tell the reader exactly what was happening. Based on the glowing reviews that this book has received so far, it does not seem to have bothered many readers. But for me, it felt like the author either didn’t trust readers to work things out for themselves or wasn’t interested in letting them.

Despite those things, I really did enjoy Planetside and would not hesitate to recommend it to others and I look forward to reading more of Mammay’s work in the future. I cannot thank Edelwiess and Harper Voyager enough for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. I hope that you guys will check this one out when it comes out at the end of this month. And if you’ve got any military scifi recommendations, please send them my way!!

Advertisements

Intraterrestrial – Nicholas Conley

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 3.21.33 PM

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Publication Date: January 15th, 2018

Page Count: 234 Pages (Kindle)

From the Jacket: Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.24.27 AM

Adam Helios (which is just the coolest name ever if we’re being honest) is reserved and quiet, he has better relationships with the characters in his comic books than he does with his real life peers, and it seems like all his parents do is fight. As if those things weren’t bad enough for a kid in junior high, now he’s hearing a strange voice in his head that claims to be from the stars. On the way home from a visit to the principal’s office, where he’s sent after a run in with a bully, Adam and his family are involved in a terrible car accident. Adam suffers a traumatic brain injury, and that’s where the real action begins.

While laying on an operating table, brain matter spilling out of his head, Adam’s consciousness is taken over by the alien voice that has been talking to him. He follows a bright light and finally meets the being behind the voice, now to be known as The Consciousness, who explains that a dark and evil force has stolen something from them, and without Adam’s help, they’ll all be destroyed. Adam ultimately agrees to help, despite feeling terrified and incredibly unqualified to assist with such a gargantuan and foreign task.

Up until this point, I was completely sucked in. Conley really is a phenomenal writer, and has a way of engaging the reader from page one with relatable characters and realistic world building. That being said, I felt like this part of the plot could have really benefited from some more fleshing out. The quest Adam goes on felt very much like the search to find an destroy all of the horcruxes in the final Harry Potter book.  In the case of Harry Potter however, readers get 6 books leading up to the finale, each providing context and motivation regarding the criticality of the task at hand. Everything happens so quickly after Adam’s accident that I had a hard time understanding not only why he agreed to help the aliens, but why it mattered if he was successful. And I do not mean that this is a plot hole, because everything is explained, but I found it hard to believe.

I also had a hard time determining who the intended audience for this book is. Adam is thirteen, so it makes sense that his observations are very juvenile in nature. However, the book itself has very adult imagery and deals with adult themes in an adult way. The juxtaposition of Adam’s immature inner monologue set against such gruesome descriptions was jarring and brought me out of the story.

One of my favorite aspects of Intraterrestrial was the dueling narratives of Adam and his mother, Camille. She has walked away from the accident with very minor injuries, but as the driver, has been left with immense guilt as she finds herself facing the possible deaths of both her husband and son. While Adam’s consciousness is away having an imaginative interstellar adventure, Camille is being pulled between the two, unsure of what will happen with either of them. Just like in Pale Highway, Conley’s gift for writing humanity shines in these chapters. I enjoyed the whole book, but found myself looking forward to the chapters written from Camille’s perspective.

After a crazy, at times terrifying, action packed, and heartfelt ride, Intraterrestrial comes to an exciting and satisfying conclusion, and I’m still thinking about these characters days after finishing. Overall, I would highly recommend this one for fans of science fiction. Conley’s style will appeal to anyone who appreciates good writing, but much of the plot is too fantastical for readers who normally stick to general fiction. I received an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I’m beyond grateful to have had a second chance to read and review Conley’s work. His books are so thought provoking and creative and he’s a genuinely nice guy. You can read my review of Pale Highway here (which I also enthusiastically recommend) and more about the author here.

September 2017 Wrap-Up

Ahhhhh, it’s FINALLY October! Fall has arrived, and it is unquestionably the best time of the year. Even in Texas, where it’s still seventh circle of hell level hot, I cannot help but be excited about the coming months. But this post is about September, otherwise known around these parts as, “August”, because the weather is still unbearable, the leaves do not change, and we don’t start wearing sweaters until at least November.

September was a pretty average month for reading, totaling out at 9 books completed. There was a whole lot going on at work and at home last month always, so over half of my reading was accomplished through audio books, plus two graphic novels, and two print.

I absolutely loved The Wolf Road and Saga, which I’ve linked my reviews to here. Some of my other favorites from the month were…

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 9.25.35 PM.pngCinder (Book 1 of the Lunar Chronicles) is quite possibly the coolest retelling of Cinderella that I’ve ever read. I was quite smitten with Geekerella, which I read earlier this year, but Cinder spoke to the even geekier, scifi loving parts of my brain. In Meyer’s version, Cinderella is a cyborg who lives in a futuristic city known as New Beijing. There are robots, handsome emperors, a terrifying plague with no known cure, and deep rooted tensions with the race of beings that now live on the moon. SO. MUCH. FUN. I listed to the audio version, and Rebecca Soler did an amazing job as always.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 9.25.59 PMThe Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was another audio read. I absolutely fell in love with this story from page one. Percy and Monty have a sweet, tender, playful, slow burn of a love story. There are highway robberies, pirates, hidden passages in sinking islands, and so much more. While being light and fun, the book also touched on more serious topics like family expectation and dysfunction, abuse, and finding your own path in life. Mackenzi Lee is one of my new favorite authors, and I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 9.25.46 PMI initially downloaded Young Jane Young because I was waiting for my hold of Cress (Book 3 of the Lunar Chronicles) to come through. I had read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and really enjoyed it, so I figured I’d give this one a shot and I was not disappointed. While it’s not the best or most exciting book I’ve ever read, it was fun and compelling, and entertaining. Young Jane Young tells the story of Aviva Grossman, a young intern who has an illicit affair with the congressman whose campaign she is working for. The affair comes to light, makes national news, and her reputation, and eventually her life, are utterly destroyed. Rather that admit defeat, Aviva regains control of the situation and makes a new life for herself. The book is told in several parts, each from a different point of view. My favorite is the part told from her daughter’s perspective, as it’s written entirely in the form of (hilarious) emails to her overseas pen pal. This is the book that surprised me the most this month, based on how much I enjoyed it.

The whole line up….

 

Stardust –  4 crowns

Saga Volume 6 – 5 crowns

Saga Volume 7 – 4 crowns

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – 5 crowns

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – 4 crowns

Cinder – 5 crowns

The Wolf Road – 5 crowns

Scarlet – 4 crowns

Young Jane Young – 4 crowns