My Review of Impostor Syndrome (The Arcadia Project #3) by Mishell Baker

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Info From Goodreads:

(My review of Impostor Syndrome follows)

In the third book of the Nebula Award–nominated Arcadia Project series, which New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire called “exciting, inventive, and brilliantly plotted,” Millie Roper has to pull off two impossible heists—with the fate of the worlds in the balance.

Three months ago, a rift between agents in London and Los Angeles tore the Arcadia Project apart. With both fey Courts split down the middle—half supporting London, half LA—London is putting the pieces in place to quash the resistance. But due to an alarming backslide in her mental health, new LA agent Mille Roper is in no condition to fight.

When London’s opening shot is to frame Millie’s partner, Tjuan, for attempted homicide, Millie has no choice but to hide him and try to clear his name. Her investigation will take her across the pond to the heart of Arcadia at the mysterious and impenetrable White Rose palace. The key to Tjuan’s freedom—and to the success of the revolution—is locked in a vault under the fey Queen’s watchful eye. It’s up to Millie to plan and lead a heist that will shape the future of two worlds—all while pretending that she knows exactly what she’s doing…

Paperback, 480 pagesPublished March 13th 2018 by Saga Press

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My Review of Impostor Syndrome:

4.5/5 stars

This was tricky for me to rate. I really enjoyed this whole series and wonder if there will be a fourth installment. While this was a great installment it didn’t wow me the same way the second did. So I gave it five stars since you can’t leave half stars but 4.5 is what I really give it.

Mishell Baker is a great writer. Her imagination and creative direction impress me, I look forward to discovering more of her work. Hopefully we’ll see more of this cast of characters. That said, I thought this book could have been a lot shorter. As with the previous two this was a busy, active book, which makes for an entertaining read. However a lot of time was spent on relationships, too much time IMHO.

Other than that this was another fun read I could read it relatively fast, for me that’s saying a lot. It was full of the usual cast of characters in addition to some cool new ones. I enjoyed getting to know them all more. Great twists and turns and the system and workings of the magic in this world do not get old. I really appreciate the beings she’s created in this world and how they vary. Her characters are real and dynamic, human and otherwise. I appreciate that her main character, Millie, is a double amputee finding her way through Borderline Personality Disorder. She’s not a character you see every day but this story is proof that we need more real life characters. She is an unlikely hero but a good one nonetheless.

Of course I recommend this book, I recommend this series! Definitely start from the beginning. 😉 

Thanks for reading my review of Impostor Syndrome. I’ve got more reviews, click here!

For more of my reviews of the Arcadia Project, CLICK HERE. You might also find interesting bits of Arcadia Project news there in the future.

Check out what else I’m reading or planning to, 2019 TBR.

Have you read this or other Mishell Baker books? Please share your thoughts, I love comments!

Embarrassed to Read Fiction

Yesterday I was having a conversation with someone about reading. They mentioned that they don’t read much. Fine, no problem, my partner isn’t much of a reader either. I said, it’s one of those “to each their own” kind of things. When she does read she says she prefers biographies, true stories. For a moment my little anxiety brain felt a spark of embarrassment. Am I embarrassed to read fiction? We’re both adults right? She reads true stories, I read fiction. I mean, I read non-fiction too. However, I read more fiction than non-fiction. I mean if you’re a writer you have to read, so even my fiction is for my writing. But still, AM i embarrassed to read fiction? What’s that say about me?

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I shook those thoughts away and shared my thinking, not the entire split-second conversation with myself but the gist of it. In my late 20s I didn’t read fiction for about 5 years. I felt that it was a waste of time. If I’m going to be reading than I should be reading informational stuff or research or news or you know, real life. And if I’m doing anything with fiction it should be me writing my novel (I was working on a different novel/idea back then). That was my protest against reading fiction. Boy am I glad I grew up, and came out of it.

Fiction is not a children’s game. Much like acting is not for children or less serious people. We don’t chide each other for watching movies do we? Do you ridicule someone for going to see a play? Do you laugh at them when they say they have a favorite fictional show on TV? No. Okay depends, but that’s another story. My partner might not read fiction but he sure as heck watches it. Reading fiction is simply a different method of delivery.

Sure it takes a lot more time than watching it; I watched the show “You” on Netflix and will not be reading it, what for, I already watched it? That’s not a slight at anyone who reads and watches shows or movies, again, to each their own. But reading something provides you the opportunity to explore and go on an adventure with someone else inside your own mind. Yes it’s their story, their imagination but I see it like implanting their imagination into yours; they’re driving the car, taking you down their story-road. You’re still putting in work to see and digest what they’re showing you, imagining the characters, the setting, the actions. It’s you tasting their recipe and deciding if you like it. You connect with someone else’s mind behind the scenes and on your own time.

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Reading fiction also gives you perspective into a lot of ‘what’ifs’. The book Binti is science-fiction. She leaves her family and her home land, something that no one else has done, to go to a prestigious university set far away on another planet. Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia series is set in a made up world with vicious spirits that will tear you to shreds should the queen lose control of them. Girls are chosen because of their affinity for spirits to study and train to be a possible heir to the queen should she fall. It’s a story of hope and beating the odds when you don’t think you’re as good as everyone else and yet you know that you have something to offer, even if you don’t yet know where you fit. Both stories are based around themes we experience in non-fiction life.

Sometimes stories don’t have any obvious message. If you read murder mysteries you might not get some charming message to appreciate yourself, but I bet you’ll open your eyes a little wider at night when you’re walking through a dark parking lot. But who’s to say a story has to have a life-altering message? Don’t we just like stories because they play with our imagination? Don’t we think it’s awesome that animals play? Reading is a form of play, whether you see it like that or not is up to you. But it is.

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Even though I might tell you sheepishly that the book I’m reading is a fantasy novel I will remind myself that I am not afraid to let my imagination live and play in this world. I will not harness it from interacting with the arts and entertainment of this world or the next. Of course we should have some kind of filter, there’s a lot of entertainment out there that’s not worth a fly’s spit, if that’s a thing.

Oh and by the way, I was getting my tire fixed when I told grown man at the counter that I would wait in the lobby with my book. He asked what I was reading. Huh? Oh, yeah it’s a fantasy novel. Turns out he likes fantasy. (Yes skeptics my brain goes their too, maybe he just said that to appease me the lady in front of him. Maybe. Maybe not.) He was interested in the series I was reading, Borderline by Mishell Baker. I at the time was reading book two, Phantom Pains, and I’m now reading book 3, Impostor Syndrome (which I’ll finish this weekend). You never know. Sorry to stereotype the guy behind the counter and be surprised he was interested but, isn’t that what we’re talking about? Should a grown man be embarrassed to read fiction?

My Challenge to You: Are you embarrassed to read fiction?

Next time you go somewhere, if you’re reading a physical book, bring it with you. Don’t put it in a bag, carry it in your hand or make it visible. Maybe no one will bother, go somewhere where there aren’t already loads of people reading books. Or heck if there are lots of readers, what are they reading? Maybe someone will notice your book. Or if you don’t have a physical book at the moment, get one. Engage someone you see with a physical book that looks interesting to you. Or if you’re a chatty bloke like me, refer to your book. Make a scene or story out of you and your PHYSICAL book. Have fun with it, be polite and respectful of course, but have fun. Then tell me about it. 😀 Are you embarrassed to read fiction?

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Review of The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan

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From Goodreads:

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, in which she lost her husband, the widowed Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the savage, war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell – where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

Published February 17th 2015 by Tor Books (first published March 4th 2014)

My Review

4/5 stars

It’s been a while since I read the first in this series so I couldn’t remember just what I was in for or wasn’t. At times I wished the story itself would pick up and I really wanted to read more about dragons than anything else. All in all though this book ended really well, so if you’re feeling a little dissatisfied, hold on I think you’ll appreciate finishing it.

This book is not a bad book, it’s written well, simply put it’s just not your average story. Imagine dragons are real but they haven’t been well studied, if much at all. Now go back in time, let’s say like early 1900s, and imagine a woman scientist, naturalist whose life revolves around dragons. She’s a young woman, in her 20s, with a young son this time around. She’s very likable, an adventurer who doesn’t always make the best choices, and she’s dedicated to dragons, their well being, and her study of them. While she’s always pushing the boundaries she has to live within the restrictions of a world that doesn’t encourage women in science (she had to publish her work under her husband’s name) let alone trousers. This is a story about her adventures and studies so it’s not always exciting but IMHO it’s very interesting. Reading it I felt like I could very well be reading a real memoir, it was fun to imagine and helped me get through the slower parts of the story. And it’s not even that this is a slow story by any means, every chapter is full of a new development, I’m just pouting because I wanted more dragon time. That said the people of the Green Hell, the swamp of Mouleen, are themselves quite interesting. I think it’s fair to say this story has a long lead up to a great conclusion.

If you want to read about a world with dragons from a natural history perspective, that includes all aspects of such expeditions to study them, then you’ll really enjoy this. There’s a lot more than dragons going on here and they’re not the same dragons you read about in all the other fantasy stories you’ve come across. Again, think real world dragons. One of the best parts, I think, is that this is a world with dragons across the globe in all kinds of environments. There’s different species of dragons, not just the one kind like we’re used to hearing about. Most other stories treat dragons like there’s only ever one kind of dragon. That is not the case here.

I’ll be starting the next The Voyage of the Basilisk sooner than later because I’d like to stay in the vein of this kind of writing, this book ended with an excerpt from the next, and I already have it in my possession. 😀 Check my 2019 TBR for Voyage of the Basilisk and more!

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For more of my reviews CLICK HERE!

Review of “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor

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From Goodreads:

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

Published September 22nd 2015 by Tor.com

The following is my review:

5/5 stars

Very short – 90 pages – but excellent book. If you’re a fan of sci-fi but don’t get a lot of time to read, get this book, you will not be disappointed.

This book follows the protagonist Binti as she sneaks away from her home, something her people do not do, to attend a famous university. She is the pride of her people but also the first of them to be accepted to said university. Despite the stares and murmurs of the majority Binti presses on. What happens next, well you’ll have to read.

Nnedi Okorafor shows us instead of telling us, what life is like in this time and age. She has created a character that is courageous and adventurous but also unique. The story itself, the structure of it, isn’t so new but the content is original. The events that take place are fresh and original. I could not predict this book as it progressed though my mind tried as it does with every book. This book is full of beauty, science, grand imagination, and ugly realism, subjects we can relate to in our present time. I’ll leave you with the fact that Binti is what’s called a master harmonizer, now think of math as beauty… have fun!

I will certainly be reading the rest of this series.

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Check my 2019 TBR for more upcoming reads and what I’m currently reading.

For more reviews, CLICK HERE!

Adventures in a Bookish World

On Goodreads you can sign up for the annual reading challenge and create your personal goal. Last year I didn’t read as much as I would have liked so this year I set my goal low, 20 books. So far I’ve read five! That’s awesome if you ask me. 😀 Now I have to admit two of those I started at the end of 2018 and finished in 2019, so they count but they’re right on the line. At this rate I’m going to kick butt. I just finished “Semiosis” by Sue Burke, great book, I gave it 5/5 stars. I do recommend it. Book two is expected out this year so we’ll see.

At present I’m reading three books. One non-fiction, “My Age of Anxiety”, a steampunk novel, “Everfair”, and “The Five Times I Met Myself”, just started it yesterday. I have a page for my 2019 TBR, CLICK HERE. The list is and will be subject to change, that I can promise you. I’m excited to see where they take me, non-fiction and fiction alike. I’m excited what this reading will do for my writing, for me, heck for you and the blog.

Where do you find your books? Podcasts, websites, magazines, newspapers, friends, family, the bookstore? How do you pick them? How do you prefer to read, physical or electronic? Or perhaps both? Who are your favorites? Why? What kind of books are you looking for? What are you willing to give a shot to? Wondering about fantasy? Want some science-fiction? What tickles your fancy?

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I find books ALL OVER THE PLACE. For real, everywhere. I like to visit book stores. I love books, the way they feel, look, and smell. Some of my most fond memories from school involve books, namely the Book Fair. OH MY GOD I loved book fair. A beautiful way into the bookish world. They bring their shelves on wheels in to school and fill up the library with loads of new books. Just looking at them I got excited. I knew then that reading and books were an unstoppable love. Stories are infinite. The variety astounded me. I was especially fascinated seeing series. How could I ever get through them all? Come back in a few weeks for my post about the books I read as a kid, many I got from these book fairs.

Book Stores

Of course book stores are like Christmas while Book Fair was an event. Bookstores are an all the time bookish world. Places where all the world can go and take their pick, much like the library. So how do you pick them? Do you go to the bookstore only when you have a specific book in mind, or particular author? Or are you like me and you’ll go just to find something? I mean of course I go in search of a target book or author, but I think I’ve gone more and found books at random. I’ve definitely picked books from their titles and/or covers. Read the blurb or back matter and make your selection. That leads to pulling out books around the other ones you’ve found. Or turning to the shelf behind you. Do you ever smell books in the store? Yup. (Hand raised.)

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Other People

Sometimes I get recommendations from people for books though most books I find myself. Perhaps you have a certain person who’s always giving recommendations? I like to exchange ideas with people and make some notes wherever I can from their suggestions. The funny thing about recommendations is that there are SO MANY books I find it near impossible to even take book suggestions. I always find something interesting so I don’t always like getting books that are widely popular. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t read them; I’m a fan of Jodi Picoult and she’s a widely read author. Maybe if you read in the same circles you always take suggestions from your friends? I don’t know, tell me about it, how do you do it?

Podcasts & BookTube

My newest methods for finding books, over the last year or so, is through podcasts and sometimes BookTube. I have found a number of books and authors through the people I follow. BookTube is kind of controversial. It appears there’s a lot of drama behind the scenes with a lot of people getting paid to read and review books. No one should be surprised that people make videos about the books they’ve read in hopes they’ll get loads of followers and maybe make some money. Some people do, but what then of integrity?

Eh, another day… but wait! I have thanks to a BookTuber I found Book Outlet. Great source for bargain books. (Follow this link to the left and I’ll get some points for referring people. Thank you! And no that’s not WHY I’m referring you there, I really do like shopping at Book Outlet. I just got a new shipment, nine books for $42!) I’m all for buying local but if you can save some money on some books, why not? You see, Book Outlet gets overstock or damaged books from bookstores and other suppliers. This allows them to reduce the prices significantly. They don’t have every book you can think of, their selection is limited. So, my strategy? Find what books you can on Book Outlet and the rest you get from book stores. ;D Simple!

The podcasts I follow are all writing and/or reading related, always trying to keep writing on my mind. “Life Inside My Mind”, a collection of personal essays by 31 authors, I heard of through the podcast “Writing Excuses”. Podcasts are a great source for books. Almost all the ones I listen to are centered around some kind of interview with an author. It’s great to hear the author in their own words (as if their writing isn’t their own!) their background, the background of their story and their writing career, their thoughts on writing, their process, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. You can check out the podcasts I listen to by clicking here.

Goodreads

Of course there’s Goodreads, a great big community of readers. Goodreads is its own bookish world. There are innumerable ways to connect with other readers, authors, and books on there. You could just post books on your shelves, leave ratings and reviews, browse recommendations. Or you could link up with like-minded people, follow authors, ask them questions. Then there’s groups, oh Lord there are groups! I’m not a big group person though I’ve joined some. This year I’ve joined some great reading challenges. Should be fun. Groups are an interesting place to see just how much we do or do not have in common. One more testament to just how many books there are out there. I’ll post more on Goodreads later this spring.

And to think I’ve not even mentioned the free books I’ve gotten through Amazon. They used to offer you one free a month, granted from four pre-selected books. Now they offer two I think it is of early reader copies, again from pre-selected books. I’ve only read a couple of the free ones I’ve chosen and I have to be honest, I don’t know who selects them or how but they need a new job…enough said, though I may elaborate at a later time.

Libraries

To think I haven’t mentioned libraries. Oh dear…admittedly I don’t go to the library much. Not because I don’t like to or I’ve got anything against library books, I just don’t. But libraries are fabulous. They are the epicenter to our bookish world at large! They’re way more dangerous than bookstores because you have to buy books to leave the store with them and that means emptying out your wallet if you love books like I do. Whereas once you’re all signed up and happy with your library card it’s all you and the books. When I go to the library I kind of lose my mind, completely awestruck. I just want to walk around and look at all the books. That said, I am not so good at returning things…that is a problem. But we’ll make a trip to the library soon and share my adventure here. 😉

This has been a taste of life in my bookish world. Be sure to come back soon as I’ll be adding a new post every week. Don’t forget to check out my TBR list and let me know if you’re planning to read any of them. Or maybe you plan to read a book by the same authors? Do you have other means for finding books? I’d love to hear how you find yourself in a bookish world. For now happy writing, reading, and exploring. And should you be so lucky to be in the frigid cold, stay warm and safe. Protect those you love.

To Begin…Again… ;)

Here we are, again. Me and you, whoever you are on the other side of the screen; in this specific case it’s me slightly embarrassed to be proposing a new start, another new version of my site, my blog, my life. How many times we’ve been here. How many times? Enough for it to have lost the flare of newness. How many times can a person marry before the honeymoon is just a fun idea? I don’t know, I’m still up for the first time but I know when it comes to restarting a blog I’m almost worn out.

But can you ever really be worn out of love? Can a writer ever really be worn out from writing, permanently, never to pick up the pen and free the birds? I don’t believe it. If your love is real, I believe that says enough. If you listen to their whistles, you’ll hear a song of words. So I beat myself up a bit for running the blog thing ragged. But we’ve healed some now, rebuilt and are stretching ready to run again (literally and figuratively).

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Where are we now then? Well still working on that novel, a bit of a slog sure but I will never turn my back on the growth that sprung after I opened the floodgates during NaNoWriMo 2017. You might remember, or not, that I won in 2017, having written about 63k words or so in November. I signed up in 2018 as well although I didn’t get started until the second week. I made a grand push in the last 10 days and got about 20k words from the finish line when the whistle blew. Oh I was confident I would win and I could have but I didn’t manage my time and my focus was blurry, otherwise you bet your ass I could have written 20k in a couple of days. But I didn’t. That said while the competitive me was frustrated I didn’t win, the sunny side up part of me said well we’ll learn from this. If you can write like that then why not do it all the time? Tim Clare from the podcast Death of a Thousand Cuts talked mad crap about NaNoWriMo, saying he doesn’t think people should do it. And while I listened to that episode shaking my head, thinking my gosh Tim if only I could tell you (of course I could) that NaNoWriMo was what helped my novel take off. But he’s right when he asked why we need this thing for 30 days to write our novel? If you can write like that, then why only for 30 days? So I agreed with him in that regard and it’s something I reminding myself.

I’ve made a lot of headway. Had loads of “breakthroughs” although I’m still working on the first draft. Ugh. But I’ve learned to let my story lead me. Let my characters tell me their story. Let the wind blow and snag a strand of hair loose. Twist it around my finger, let it unravel as it may. Let’s say tentatively to expect this work in 2020. And in the meantime I’ll introduce you to some other characters I’ve found along the way of my writing journey. What exactly 2019 will hold for this blog I’m not going to say this time, I’ll just let it happen. Okay maybe I’ll at least assure you I will introduce you to some new authors (by this I mean their books, but maybe through other means) and loads of new books. Promise. If you need some new reading material, mostly fiction but this year I’m reading a lot of different material, I will be sharing plenty here. In fact, expect to hear a lot about books, not just because I’m writing one, but also because reading is very important to writing. You probably already know that, or maybe you don’t, I didn’t always. I have talked about this before yes, so we’ll expand on it, no problem if you’re new here. I’ll post some of my old reviews; they’re not formal by any means, and sometimes you might think I’m mean when really I’m just honest and passionate about what I read sometimes. Regardless, I hope you’ll converse with me, I welcome comments. Read some of my recommendations, let me know what you think. Let that author know what you think. Let everyone know what you think. I’ll tell you now you can give me book recommendations, I’ll look into them, but my list is packed! Who knows, maybe I’ll improve my reading speed and hit my TBR list (to-be-read) out of the park! Heck yeah!

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There’s my intro. Let’s get to talking!