Monthly Archives: November 2017

Review of Treading Water (Forgotten Soldier #1), by Jessie G.

I received an Audible copy of Treading Water from the author, Jessie G.

Description from Goodreads:
After devoting eighteen years of his life to the US Navy, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker is struggling with the very real possibility of becoming unnecessary. If he doesn’t make Chief Petty Officer before his twenty—and it doesn’t seem likely that he will—he’ll be retired from active service and placed on the Fleet Reserve list until his mooring lines are officially cut forever. While it would all be very honorable and ceremonial, he simply wasn’t civilian material.

Before even swearing-in, Julian Brand knew he wasn’t cut out to be a soldier, but refusing wasn’t an option. Generations of Brand man made careers in the military and the expectation of every Brand son was to follow in those prestigious footsteps. Though the prospect of being rolled back hindered his every step, he survived Battle Stations and did his time. Six years out of uniform and Julian still struggles to find familial acceptance as he fights to live life on his terms.

On the surface, they couldn’t be more different, but when Jared Ramos calls, neither are capable of refusing. If they can find a way to work together, they might be able to save a friend and each other in the process.

Review:
I read Micah’s Soldier at the tail end of 2015. About it I said, “Not particularly deep, but well developed for something so short. It’s also very sweet.” So when I saw an audio version of the sequel available I was happy to give it a go.

I had a mixed experience with Treading Water. I really thought Shane and Julian were a cute couple and I liked the way their relationship progressed. I thought the writing was pretty good and I liked that injured soldiers were shown to have lives even after injury. This was all good.

But I struggled with having five first person POVs and with Shawn as a character. (Well, I struggled keeping Shawn and Shane straight in general. Why are the names so similar?) But I had some difficulty because his injury is what holds the whole book together; it’s the reason Shane and Julian meet at all and why they spend time together. But Since Shane and Julian are the main characters, it left Shawn and his traumatic injury feeling a bit like a storytelling prop.

About the narrator, Casey Hunter…I hate to say it, but he didn’t do a very good job. (Though it did improve as the book went on.) His voice was easy to listen to, but the timing was off in so many ways. There were extra long pauses where you wouldn’t expect them, like in the middle of a sentence, and almost no pauses where you would, like between chapters. There were times I was honestly left confused about who was saying what or that we’d moved on to a new character or section. I don’t know how audiobooks are produced. Maybe this should be put on the shoulders of the producer, not the narrator. Because, as I said, his voice and intonations was fine. But the timing issues definitely effected my listening experience.

All in all, I’d be willing to read more by Jessie G. and that’s really what I judge an author by in the end.

Review of The Book of Esther, by Emily Barton

I received a copy of Emily Barton‘s The Book of Esther from Blogging for Books.

Description from Goodreads:
Eastern Europe, August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania—and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad.

After years of Jewish refugees streaming across the border from Europa, fleeing the war, Germania launches its siege of Khazaria. Only Esther, the daughter of the nation’s chief policy adviser, sees the ominous implications of Germania’s disregard for Jewish lives. Only she realizes that this isn’t just another war but an existential threat. After witnessing the enemy warplanes’ first foray into sovereign Khazar territory, Esther knows she must fight for her country. But as the elder daughter in a traditional home, her urgent question is how.

Before daybreak one fateful morning, she embarks on a perilous journey across the open steppe. She seeks a fabled village of Kabbalists who may hold the key to her destiny: their rumored ability to change her into a man so that she may convince her entire nation to join in the fight for its very existence against an enemy like none Khazaria has ever faced before.

Review:
I had a strange experience with this book. When I was reading it I didn’t want to put it down. Once I’d put it down, I didn’t want to pick it up again. So, the whole thing was read by gorging on it and then wandering away to read something else, before gorging myself some more.

It isn’t that the book is bad. It’s not. But it’s heavy and there are a lot of Hebrew words that require repeatedly flipping to the glossary, which got annoying. The story is a good one though. It just only managed to hold my attention while I was actually holding it, if that makes sense.

Esther was a wonderful character and I enjoyed the way she learned and grew as the book progressed. There are a ton of interesting side characters too. I personally loved Gimmel, Chuluun and Shimon (it was great to see an arranged marriage that was obviously going to work well). But do prepared for a lot of named characters.

There is also the history to contend with. This is an alternative version of WWII, from a Jewish perspective. Really interesting. But it is steeped in Jewish history and ceremony and while I enjoyed it, I think those with a stronger understanding of it all will get more out of it than I did.

All in all, I found The Book of Esther to be something I’m glad to have read and experienced.

Review of All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1), by Martha Wells

I borrowed Martha WellsAll Systems Red from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Review:
Really quite marvelous. I love that you could feel how uncomfortable SecUnit was with people, how it was completely badass but also fragile. The book was fairly spare on the world building, but there was just enough to position the story. And I 100% approve of SecUnit’s decision at the end. I can’t wait to read more of this series. Tor continues to wow me with each new book I read and Martha Wells is on my radar.