Invasive

Warning: if you decide to read this book outside while you’re laying out by the pool and you’re only a third of the way through it and then you glance down and notice ants marching underneath your chair and then suddenly you find yourself only reading the book indoors, you should not feel ashamed.

You also shouldn’t feel ashamed if you accidentally flinch every time a new chapter starts and you just so happen to read those pages a little quicker, just in case those printed ants suddenly have the power to come off the page and then rip pieces of your face off.

But Nicole, they’re just ants. Ants don’t

You obviously haven’t read Invasive by Chuck Wendig.

Yes, they can. 

*ahem*

So, I discovered this book in a sorta roundabout way. I stumbled upon Wendig’s blog, which I immediately fell in love with. There’s hardly a week that goes by when I don’t share one of his posts and wonder how he manages to write directly to me and what I needed to hear. I started following him on Twitter and had the same effect, though I suck at social media, so I didn’t follow that as often. But one day, I remember him writing about anxiety, replying to a comment from a reader who was discussing a book he’d written, called Invasive. This was months ago and I wish I could find the comment exactly, to reference it. But it was enough that I wanted to read that book. I wanted to experience what those other readers were experiencing. Honestly, I wanted some advice on how to navigate and control anxiety and I thought, hell, maybe Invasive can teach me.

Granted, it took months before I made that happen, but a trip to the library and three days later and I can successfully claim that I’ve finally, indeed, read Invasive. 

It wasn’t what I imagined it to be.

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Though I can’t recall the conversation on Twitter precisely that piqued my interest, I assumed that the anxiety the character dealt with–which, in this case, is Hannah Stander–was similar to my own. A naive assumption, because anxiety comes in so many different forms and demons. The kind that Hannah dealt with–one that was ingrained because of her survivalist parents and is brutal enough to cause panic attacks–is a kind I have never experienced and one I’m not super familiar with. But as I kept reading, it’s also the kind I can’t imagine trying to cope with, because it’s intense. It’s difficult.

Yet Hannah did.

That, in and of itself, was inspiring as hell.

Because I was intrigued about how Hannah dealt with and managed her anxiety, I didn’t really know much about the plot before I picked up the book. I had no idea it’d be a murder investigation surrounding genetically modified ants. Yet it was a great break from my traditional epic fantasy and light science fiction niche.

Honestly, I didn’t truly get into the book until the ants started killing people.

Don’t get me wrong: the first third of the book was still great. Hell, I enjoyed this entire book thoroughly and will definitely be taking a look at Wendig’s other series. But once the investigation switched from figuring out the clues and piecing together the culprit(s) to being a battle of survival, told in glorious, gruesome detail, I was hooked. I flew through the last 200ish pages like a fiend (even to the point where, when I had to go to work and only had 20 pages left, I snuck the book back out once I got in my cubicle so I could finish it. Proud to report that I only nearly got caught, because I’m a sneaky sneak thief).

It was also written in such a way that you can’t help but fly through the pages. The shorter chapters, the breaks within the chapters, the short sentences, the well-tuned balance between in-scene description and fast-paced dialogue; all of those elements together, paired with a compelling plot and a fascinating focal point through Hannah, made this book practically impossible not to inhale.

It also, inevitably, inspired both an appreciation and a fear of ants. I also experienced formication at least a dozen times.

Including now.

Dammit.

I highly recommend this book, friends. Just, maybe read it inside in a sealed room while you’re covering head to toe in anti-fungal spray.

Just to be safe.

Read on!

Waiting on Wednesday: Nanoshock

waitingonwednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Nanoshock by K.C. Alexander
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2017 by Angry Robot

As Riko works to rebuild her shattered cred, following the events of Necrotech, she’s stuck fighting off every jerk looking to raise their standing on the streets. But when a corp with some serious influence ups the stakes, Riko’s going to have to take the fight to them, put this nonsense down for good. Nothing is what it seems when corp politics are in play, and another necro blight right where her answers are buried might very well be the end of the life she didn’t know she’d borrowed.

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Nanoshock is a sequel to Necrotech, a book that I reviewed and was positively awed by. It was a book that wasn’t necessarily within my comfort zone (i.e., it dealt with some tech that was a bit over my head, being that I’ve just recently gotten into the science fiction genre, and the main character was completely my opposite in every way, yet I still sympathized with her) yet I still enjoyed the hell out of it. So needless to say, I’m pretty stoked to see what happens in the next installment of Riko’s adventures and who else (foolishly) tries to get in her way. Also, it gets published a day before my birthday, so that’s pretty freakin’ neat.

Can we also just adore that cover for a second? If that doesn’t scream badass motha-fucka coming through, I don’t know what does. And personally, I could use a few more badass women in my life.

Read on!

Waiting On Wednesday: Communication Failure

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Joe Zieja’s Communication Failure
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017 by Saga Press

In this sequel to Mechanical Failure, Captain Rogers, despite his best attempts to do otherwise, has become the acting admiral of the 331st Meridan fleet. His first task: worrying. A lot.

The rival Thelicosan fleet, under the influence of bad intelligence, a forbidden romance, and a communication officer with an eardrum injury, is about to break a two-hundred-year-old nonaggression pact. They have offered a vague, easily misinterpreted message: “We’re invading.” Rogers isn’t sure, but he thinks that’s probably bad.

War is hell, especially when you’ve forgotten how to fight one.

Why am I so excited for this book?

Mostly because I want more hilarious droids back in my life.

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Also, did you actually read that overview quoted above? How can you not be excited about a book that includes (but no doubt is not limited to) “bad intelligence, a forbidden romance, and a communication officer with an eardrum injury”? I’m hoping that forbidden romance includes a certain character who I adored from the first book, Mechanical Failure. I also wouldn’t mind if the entire book was just focused on Deet. Don’t get me wrong, Captain Rogers (or should I say, Admiral Rogers?) is one hilarious character in his own right. But he can’t replace my love for Deet.

Mechanical Failure got me hooked with a fantastic cast of characters, enough laughter that I counted reading that book as my ab workout for the week and with such an ending that I was left desperate for more. I’m still desperate, as the book doesn’t come out for a couple more months, but we are ever closer to returning to such a hilarious and fantastic universe that I wish I never had to leave. So bring on the antics of Communication Failure. I’m most certainly ready for them.

Read on!

PS: That cover? *heart eyes*

Kangaroo Too

Anschutz Command Center
10 minutes after I wished the book wasn’t over

I read Kangaroo Too in two days.

(Well, two and half, technically, but two sounds much more impressive and dramatic, so we’re just going with that.)

There were a lot of factors, I think, that played into why I read this book so quickly and enjoyed it as much as I did. It had all the elements I loved from the first book: the antics, the humor, the characters I’d grown so attached to, sci-fi elements and science that I still don’t fully understand (hello, the pocket) but still love to read about anyway. It also included so many new elements, from every single bloody plot twist that left me absolutely floored to learning more about certain characters’ personal lives (even if extracting that information made pulling teeth look easy), this book expanded everything I loved from Waypoint Kangaroo and took us on a new mission that I enjoyed as thoroughly as I did the last. It most certainly left me eager for the next book.

Because, seriously? How is Kangaroo meant to handle SPOILER?

Those reasons alone are enough to fall in love with this book and fly through it. Yet I have another, more personal reason, as well.

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It was the only thing that, for a few days, kept me from being depressed.

It’s not even that life is that hard, right now. Life is pretty good. Yet sometimes, you just get in that frame of mind where depression slips in anyway, even though at that moment, your life is nothing to complain about and once it ensnares you, it becomes hard to shake. And that’s been my week, this week. I slept in too late. I didn’t work out or do any physical activity whatsoever. Video games just frustrated me. I’d waste hours scrolling through social media when I had so many things on my To-Do list still to complete. Hell, even writing wasn’t enough to pull me out of this sudden slump that I slipped into this week.

Yet, for some reason, reading Kangaroo Too, did.

I can’t pinpoint why or exactly how it did, but after an entire week of being down in the dumps, following Kangaroo as he ventured around the Moon helped me smile when I felt like doing nothing. Kangaroo’s cheesy jokes, Jessica’s glare, Clementine’s sass and every surprise we were offered in the last 100 pages; all of that and more made me feel something when all I continued to feel was either numb or sadness. For a few hours, I was able to escape.

When reading, can you really ask any more than that?

So thank you, Kangaroo. Until our next mission. I can’t wait to see what kind of situation you’re thrown into next.

Read on!

PS: I FIGURED OUT THE PUZZLE AND I HAVE NEVER FELT SO COOL IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. *attempts to calm down, fails and decides to ride a high horse for the rest of the night*

Kangaroo Too

waitingonwednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen, the sequel following the hilarious sci-fi thriller, Waypoint Kangaroo, to be published on June 20th, 2017.

If you haven’t read Waypoint, you need to stop reading this post and go read that, instead. Be prepare for sore abs, because the hilarity of Kangaroo and his misadventures is refreshing and pure fun.

I read a lot of long, fantasy epics. A lot of intricate worlds and plots. And there is plenty of humor, don’t get me wrong. I also love those books. But when reading Waypoint, the laughter was as constant as my turning pages and it was so easy to get invested in the whimsical, hilarious characters and situations they found themselves in.

I have the same expectations for Kangaroo Too.

Set in the same world as Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis C. Chen’s Kangaroo Too is bursting with adrenaline and intrigue in this unique outer space adventure.

On the way home from his latest mission, secret agent Kangaroo’s spacecraft is wrecked by a rogue mining robot. The agency tracks the bot back to the Moon, where a retired asteroid miner―code named “Clementine” ―might have information about who’s behind the sabotage.

Clementine will only deal with Jessica Chu, Kangaroo’s personal physician and a former military doctor once deployed in the asteroid belt. Kangaroo accompanies Jessica as a courier, smuggling Clementine’s payment of solid gold in the pocket universe that only he can use.

What should be a simple infiltration is hindered by the nearly one million tourists celebrating the anniversary of the first Moon landing. And before Kangaroo and Jessica can make contact, Lunar authorities arrest Jessica for the murder of a local worker.

Jessica won’t explain why she met the victim in secret or erased security footage that could exonerate her. To make things worse, a sudden terror attack puts the whole Moon under lockdown. Now Kangaroo alone has to get Clementine to talk, clear Jessica’s name, and stop a crooked scheme which threatens to ruin approximately one million vacations.

But old secrets are buried on the Moon, and digging up the past will make Kangaroo’s future very complicated…

I mean, with a blurb like that, how could I not be stoked? Plus, the fact that it comes out during the summer is absolutely perfect, as that is my slow time during work (though, let’s be honest: even if work was at its busiest, I’d still be devouring this book within the first week of publication).

Read on!

Break the Chains

If you read my review over the first book in The Scorched Continent (which, can we just say how fantastic of a series name that is?), Steal the Sky, it comes to no surprise that I was really, really excited to read the next installment. Unfortunately, I’m in a financial situation where buying books isn’t a luxury I get to partake in. Thankfully, I have within my grasp the glorious power of a library card. As soon as I realized that Break the Chains was already published (which was actually realized in the middle of writing that review; seriously, it’s the section in all caps), I immediately went to my library’s catalog to request it.

I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when none of Megan E. O’Keefe’s works were there.

I’m also sure that you can continue to imagine my sheer and utter elation when I got an email saying that Break the Chains was on hold for me, because the library had bought it.

I just started using this library as my main hub for my book addiction, so I just discovered that you can request up to three books a month to be bought by the library and added to their catalog. So I requested O’Keefe’s second novel, but honestly, I didn’t really expect anything to happen. That just seemed way too good of a deal to be true.

Yet it did happen (and very quickly after I put in the request, too!) and I’ve read it and got completely floored by it and now I’m anxiously awaiting the publication of book three. So shout out to LPL for making that experience happen. And I apologize formally for all of the book requests you’ll be getting from me every month (I’m not even kidding, I’ve already maxed out this month’s request availability…).

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But now, the real reason we are all here: to rave about Break the Chains. Mostly, though, I’m going to freak about the last…eh, I’d wager ten pages.

Because holy.shit.

Don’t get me wrong: the entire book was lovely and lived up to the expectations that the first one set. Slipping back into cahoots with Detan and Tibs felt like returning into the familiar, warm embrace of a loved one. Seriously. I just want to third wheel it with those two, because I’m sort of in love with them? Then, Ripka’s journey in the prison with New Chum had some of my favorite chapters in the book. The characters they met and the situations they got themselves in were intense and also slightly heartbreaking. It was hard to watch Ripka have to restrain her actual personality through a mask, making herself lesser, in my opinion. Once again, the dialogue was awesome, the details were everything I wished all books would include more of and I continue to be fascinated by the harsh setting and great worldbuilding.

So yeah, the entire book was really, really good.

But those last ten pages, y’all.

Ten is a rough estimate, as I had to return the book to its proper home at my kickass public library. But there I was, just reading my way innocently along (translation: actually home sick and feeling utterly miserable, Break the Chains being the only thing powerful enough to help me forget for a moment that I felt like death). And then suddenly, a certain character reappears. She has…done things. And then Detan…freaking Detan…

I couldn’t believe it. I actually got pissed. I’m no genius by any means, but usually, I can pick up a feel for a book’s momentum and not guess the ending, necessarily, but nine times out of ten, I’m not caught off-guard. I know where the book is headed. This ending? Completely caught off-guard. And not in a good way. Not at bloody all (which, actually, is a great thing, because O’Keefe masterfully manipulated my emotions and completely shredded my heart and, as a writer, I am so impressed; as the heartbroken reader, I’m anxiously awaiting for April 4th so I can read Inherit the Flame, with the full expectation that O’Keefe will FIX THIS. Because you can’t just ends things like this. You just can’t).

Ahem.

Obviously, you’re annoyed right now, because I have detailed you nothing about what actually ripped my soul to shreds. I’m not kidding–my chest physically hurt after I put the book down, floored (and I really don’t think the coughing my lungs out was the sole cause). But just as obviously, I can’t tell you what happens. It’d spoil everything. And this is not a series to be spoiled. It is a series to be read and enjoyed and then discussed with me, because none of my friends have read it yet and it’s driving me nuts having no one to talk to about this.

So what are you waiting for? Go. Invest your heart into fictional characters only to have it broken, which still hurts even though you know the pain is going to happen. Read. That’s what I meant. Go read O’Keefe’s The Scorched Continent. 

Read on!

Waypoint Kangeroo

**Copy of Waypoint Kangeroo by Curtis C. Chen given by Agent Sam Morgan of Jabberwocky Literary Agency in exchange for an honest review**

Anschutz Library, Main Command Center (more commonly known as Service Desk)
30 minutes after smiling at the last page

When I start reading a book, naturally, I carry it around with me everywhere: to work, to appointments, to eat, to avoid social interaction; you know, the usual. A lot of times, people don’t really notice the books that I carry around with me. They almost serve as an extra appendage that everyone who knows me just expects to have, hardly noticing that they change size and shape from week to week.

That was not the case with Waypoint Kangeroo. 

At work, I probably had four or five people ask me about the book over the span of a few shifts. Sometimes they’d just mention the cover and how it “looked interesting.” Other times, they’d ask me what it was about or if it was any good. One of my employees even told me he’d heard of it before, seeing it on a list somewhere as one of the “must-read sci-fi books of the year” and asked if it lived up to expectations.

Ironically enough, I still hadn’t even started it at this point.

I tend to do that often, after finishing a book: pick out which book I want to read next and start carrying it with me everywhere, only to wait for the “perfect moment” to start it. It can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days before I finally realize that there is never a perfect moment to start a book and that I should just stop torturing myself and start reading it already, instead of letting all these opportunities pass me by.

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Oh c’mon, you knew that GIF was coming.

But with Waypoint Kangeroo, I was purposefully waiting for not the perfect moment, but for anything that wasn’t a moment (have I confused you yet?). Because I’d done the same thing my coworkers were doing to me. Between the title and the simplistic yet intriguing cover art, the book had caught my attention before I was surprised with a copy in the mail. I’d read a blurb and was hooked. I was already excited for it and I already wanted to read the hell out of it, because I knew it was going to be good. A military spy with a unique power who keeps messing up and gets sent on vacation to Mars to avoid messing up big time, only to get involved in something so much bigger than anything he’d ever dealt with and now he’s trying to come up with how to solve it alone in space? Um, yes please. So why did I wait days to start reading it?

In attempt to avoid exactly what happened anyway.

I started it during my dinner break. There, I knew I would have an hour, most likely uninterrupted. I could get a good chunk read without being forced to put it back down–because that’s what I meant when I said I was waiting for anything that wasn’t a moment. I knew I was going to love this book (and I did). I knew once I started it, I wouldn’t want to put it down. I didn’t want to be forced to stop reading. Over dinner, I got roughly 75 pages read before work forced me away.

And then I waited days to pick it back up again, even though I really, really wanted to know what happened next.

When I did pick it back up, I’d just got home from work, it was 12:30 at night and I commanded myself, “1am, at the latest.” Naturally, I stopped, five-different-reading-positions later at page 260, close to 3:30am, only stopping because I had grown so tired, I was missing little details; details that I did not want to miss. This book was hilarious, it was captivating, it was intriguing, it kept me invested and damn well kept me interested. I didn’t want to miss anything from the last 50 pages, when everything was coming together. So I put the book down and went to sleep, as eager to finish it as I was dreading the same action, because that meant it was over–and I could have been content if this book was double its size.

Waypoint Kangaroo (Kangaroo #1)

That was three days ago, friends.

I finished the book 30 minutes ago.

And not for lack of trying, this time.

What I was trying to avoid by purposefully putting off reading the book until I had large blocks of uninterrupted time available to dive in was exactly what happened in trying to read the last 50 pages. I would get in five pages here, ten pages there, but always, blasted always something got in my way: people needing me at work (like I was getting paid to help them or something); poor time management and I’d have to leave to make it to whatever was up next on my plate; the eye doctor finally showed up; the sudden availability of a PS4 when I was home for Thanksgiving (okay, the last one could have been avoided, but still).

The best interruption was last night, at work, when security got in. They usually come 30 minutes before we close, to prep and whatnot. My employees and I had already gotten all of our closing stuff done, so that was 30 glorious minutes I could use to crank out this ending and learn how Kangeroo was going to pull this one off. By the time security arrived, my nose was buried. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and they asked how my break for Thanksgiving was and how my night was going. I told them, after exchanging Thanksgiving stories, as obvious as possible, that I was “really excited to finish this book,” as I “only had 30 pages left.” I didn’t think I could get more obvious than that, without being rude, in hinting that I really, really wanted to spend the remaining of my shift reading.

Guess what didn’t happen?

Damn manners.

But this evening, friends–this evening, I finally, FINALLY finished Waypoint Kangeroo. It didn’t disappoint. Like I said above, I grinned at the last page, full on ear-to-ear split. I honestly was nervous, actually, as the pages kept ticking closer and closer to the end. I would look at how much I had left, triggering alarm bells in my head. “It can’t end yet. You still need to figure out X and Y and what about Z and DON’T FORGET THE NANOBOTS!!” Yet, wonderfully, all of my worries were for not. The ending was executed expertly and I feel content, but also eager for the second book.

(Do you hear that, Mr. Chen? Second book. It is needed. Preferably, yesterday.)

Kangeroo is a character that latches onto your heart and is really hard to let go, from the first page until the last. His antics, his hilarity, his emotions (that was probably my favorite aspect, honestly, that we got to see a wide spectrum of emotions from him that felt both honest and real), his talents and his inability to take a vacation were totally refreshing and definitely needed during such a heated and disappointing time in reality. I recommend checking this one out if combining military thriller and unlucky operatives with outer space sounds appealing to you (though trust me, if it that isn’t your usual cup of tea, you’ll still burn your tongue due from over excitement about this one). From the characters to the antics to the intrigue to the emotional attachment you develop, this one is a winner, hands down. Sign me up for the next vaca–er, mission.

Read on!

PS: I have a few posts now on this blog and sometimes, new people stumble upon it (welcome!) without reading the introductory post, so you may be very confused as to why this review basically told you nothing about Waypoint Kangeroo and all about me reading it. That was actually the point, I promise. Check out the first post for further clarity. 🙂