Book Review: The City & The City by China Miéville

Happy Thursday my lovely peeps!
Let me tell you, this has been a really good week! Still, I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming weekend because rest I need!

For this week’s book review, I’ll be featuring The City & The City by China Miéville. I started this book a while ago so this review is now truly long overdue!

Title: The City & The City
Author: China Miéville
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, New Weird, Weird Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Urban Fantasy
Edition: Paperback
Length: 329 Pages
Published: 27 April 2010
Publisher: Del Rey

Amazon: [LINK]
Goodreads: [LINK]

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma.

But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one.

As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Wow, I don’t even know where to start with this one. I have an intimidating blank draft in front of me and all these emotions I want to lay out on it, but nothing’s actually coming out because I’m having one hell of a reading hangover and it’s not even the following day yet! I had the same feeling when I’d finished Miéville’s Perdido Street Station and I thought I found the gold of golds in that book; it ended up being my 2022 book of the year choice and replaced my all time favorite book as well. I didn’t think anything could top it.

The City & The City did, not in every aspect, there were plenty of things about Perdido Street Station that stuck with me, the phenomenal and otherworldly worldbuilding, the tone & atmosphere, the characters, and plot (I never got over the empty feeling it left behind after I finished that last sentence)…but The City & The City came in a hard challenger, contending for the same, favorite book, spot. I still prefer Perdido Street Station, but if this book didn’t leave me in shock, I’d be lying.

OK, the warm up about my history with Miéville is over and that means hopefully the words of phrase for The City & The City can start flowing. 

Anytime now…

This was an insane book. I still can barely wrap my head around the concept of it, something so clever and original that I just ate the whole book up like a dessert that needed savoring. And savor I did. Because, no matter my heaps of praise and how much I liked it, it took nearly 3 weeks to finish. I read so slowly, wanting to read a couple chapters a night, annotate as much as I could, and sleep on everything I’d read before continuing to do the same every day. 

This story begins with Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad arriving on scene of where a body has been reported to the police, a woman with multiple stab wounds. When it’s discovered that she’s a student and that she was researching into something much larger, the investigation takes off in a direction that Borlu may have never imagined himself to be in.

The concept here is that, there are two cities that occupy the same geological location, which is why our title is called the city and the city. Beszel and Ul Qoma, are fictional locations but sits right on our real map, somewhere in the Eastern Europe, and the two cities share the same location, but are isolated by rules, regulations, and its people. The two cities may literally share the same physical place, but there’s nothing that really ties them together other than that. That’s all they share as everything from language, culture, clothing, banned COLORS, and even architecture is different for both cities. Citizens of both cities grow up and learn to unsee and unhear the other side, to pretend that they don’t exist. Imagine walking by as someone from Beszel, side by side, next to someone from Ul Qoma, but you can’t see them because you’ve learned to unsee them, almost as if shrouding the otherside in a blurry vision and to completely disacknowledge their existent, even if their purse might be close enough to brush up against your jacket. To get into Ul Qoma from Beszel, as Borlu had to do, you would have to cross in practically like you do when leaving and entering a new country. To come to either cities as a foreigner, such as as an American, you need to go classes to help you learn the laws and to teach you how to unsee or unhear, the other city (since the act of unseeing/hearing doesn’t come naturally to foreigners).

There had once been a fire grosstopically close to my apartment. It had been contained in one house, but a house not in Besźel, that I had unseen. So I had watched footage of it piped in from Ul Qoma, on my local TV, while my living room windows had been lit by the fluttering red glow of it.

To break this unspoken law, would mean to invoke Breach and up to a certain point in the book, nobody really knows what Breach is (even by the end of the book, only Borlu and the readers really get to know Breach a little better). Nobody seems to be able see them and to be taken by Breach means you might never be heard from again. Their presence “can’t be explained” and honestly nobody really knows much about Breach other than that they seem to have eyes everywhere. In fact, I honestly thought that they were some sort of omnipresent entity, like aliens but more eldritch and unimaginable. They seem to watch for all signs and moments of breach as, while you might not be whisked away if you accidentally didn’t unsee or unhear fast enough, if you, let’s say, smuggle drugs into the other city without properly crossing over (in which the crime of smuggling might have the police at your door and that’s FAR FAR favorable than to smuggle while Breaching and to have Breach show up) or if you walk into a cafe from Beszel and emerge from Ul Qoma.

The second case was a man who had killed his wife and when we closed in on him, in stupid terror he breached—stepped into a shop in Besźel, changed his clothes, and emerged into Ul Qoma. He was by chance not apprehended in that instance, but we quickly realised what had happened. In his frantic liminality neither we nor our Ul Qoman colleagues would touch him, though we and they knew where he went, hiding in Ul Qoman lodgings. Breach took him and he was gone too.

The story, moreorless, focuses on this, although larger elements gets added in later on and by the end, it’s a chaotic mess of things. What started as trying to investigate a murder, a “simple” murder of a lady in a single city, soon expands to include both and then things just drop off into insanity because it turns out the lady wasn’t just a student, but a student who discovered something big and bad and eh, as much as Borlu wants to seek justice for the slain woman, not everyone is that keen on investigating too far into details, lest you accidentally invoke Breach.

I could go into the characters aspect, I did like Borlu and his partners in this investigation, Corwi from Beszel and Dhatt from Ul Qoma, but my biggest set of notes focused on the world building. I have so many marked pages and sections for world building in this book, that I actually ran out of one of my flag’s colors and had to start using a different color dedicated to world building. 
All in all, a fantastic book that I can’t truly do justice in just a simple review. The characters were good, the world building was phenomenal, and I enjoyed the somewhat choppy and weird writing as well. It was a deeply enjoyable read and, as slow as I took it, it wasn’t as hard to read as Perdido Street Station which I actually found to be quite dense and I had no choice but to grab the dictionary app again and again until I just gave up and borrowed the Kindle version so I could just highlight words instead. The concept was what loved the most and that was the aspect that blew Perdido Street Station out of the water because it was just so…entertaining to envision this world where, there’s nothing exactly superstitious (besides Breach) although a slight element of spooooky is still there and this whole separation isn’t formed by bricks and fences but by our eyes and ears. Another great Miéville read, this time combining the genre of New Weird with a bit of detective case. Wonderfully done, I might once again need a brain cleanser after this, something easy and not blowing my mind.


Blog Tour Book Review: Unanimity by Alexandra Almeida

Title: Unanimity
Author: Alexandra Almeida
Genre: Fiction > Science Fiction, LGBT, Romance, Dystopian
Length: 570 Pages
Publishing: 18th October 2022


Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. A huge thank you to TheWriteReads and the author for this copy! All opinions are my own.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Shadow is a reluctant god with a broken mind and a death wish. He used to be Thomas Astley-Byron, an affluent young screenwriter whose creativity and idealism saved a world from the brink of collapse. Together with Henry Nowak, an AI expert, Tom created heaven on earth by inventing a Jungian simulated reality that helps humans confront their dark sides. The benevolent manipulation platform turned the two unelected leaders into beloved gods, but now everything is failing. The worlds suffer as a sentimental Tom descends into his own personal hell, becoming the embodiment of everything he despises and a shadow of his former self.

His journey from an optimistic, joyful Tom to a gloomy Shadow is paved with heartache and sinister interference from emerging technology. Humans and bots fight for his heart, but their aims differ: some want to own it, some to dissect it, and others to end its foolish beat. Still, the biggest threat comes from within—none of the sticky stories that steer Tom’s life end well.

Who’s pulling on Shadow’s heartstrings? Are their intentions malign or benign? It’s all a matter of perspective, and Shadow has none left.

Now, a young goddess—Estelle Ngoie—has been appointed to replace him, and unlike Shadow, Stella takes no prisoners, and her heart bleeds for no one.

This was a really good sci-fi book with an interesting plot and even more intriguing world and concept that was nicely done, creating this vast world that left me with lots to explore and more to crave. Right away, the plot is intense, we have a goddess questioning herself for reviving a god who clearly did not want to be revived. Straight away, Goddess Stella, a stark contrast to the main character and previous God, Shadow, gets right into business, stating her reason for resurrecting an bringing back Shadow to being that he is needed to save the Down Below, or Spiral World and he’s the only one that can do it.

The book has some pretty complex characters that have some good amount of depth, background, flaws, and problems of their own. Each personality is vastly different from the other and many of them loathing someone else in the group, but it’s going to take a lot of cooperation if things are going to go smoothly and for the plan to work, which is mainly about keeping Shadow alive long enough to “save the worlds.” I really enjoyed the cast of characters from Sybil, the AI operating system that is sketchy through and through, to our protagonist, Shadow, and to Stella and Thorn, two seriously badass female characters. There’s also Nathan Storm, Shadow’s (Tom) soul mate as well as Twist (Henry), Tom’s best friend and co-creator of Spiral World. A colorful bunch indeed, especially as, when it comes to gods, this group seems to be the brattiest I’ve ever seen.

The writing was neat, smooth, and full FULL of dialogue. There’s a lot of talking whether it’s an interview between a talk show host and another character, a deep and intimate moment between lovers, or even in battle, there’s lots of talking. The pace was fine and the characters changed between the current timeline and the past, to give more background and information as the story moved on, which was kind of neat and besides learning more about each character and their origins, as well as their ties to each other and the plot, it’s also a small relief from the intensity of the current timeline, a small breather (although the past can occasionally get intense on its own). 

I did have a couple of issues though. Sometimes, I just got lost in the plot. I could understand the overall plot and so small details could occasionally be sacrificed. Sometimes though, I might come across a section or even whole chapters where I had to reread because I was a bit lost resulting in either “oh, got it” or just leaving it because while I’m still confused, I figured it’s a small enough detail to deal with later. Then, while I loved the characters (ok, I mean I sort of hated them because it was like being the adult standing in between teenagers and their fighting) I felt a little distant from them. I couldn’t connect with them or their emotions and feelings. Both issues were quite small though and didn’t take away from the overall read. It’s just that something felt off every now and then.

Overall, a pretty good read of hard science as well as bits of philosophy with moments to think and ponder, lots of dialogue and lots of action, intense conversations and intense scenes, high on emotion and I, again, can’t emphasis enough how neat the concept of exploring the dark side of a human’s mind, the level of worlds, and the complex (and coolness) of the science of AI and bots in this dystopian world. A good read, I’d recommend it and wouldn’t mind rereading it again either. 

Alexandra Almeida has over 25 years of experience in technology, strategy, and innovation. In her role as Chief Transformation Officer, she acts as a senior advisor to enterprise executives. Alexandra is an experienced speaker at events such as SXSW, and the Women in Tech Series.

For the time being, and to protect her creative freedoms, Alexandra prefers to write using a number of pen names.

​Her debut fantasy novel, released under another pen name, has received the following awards and recognition:

  • Reader’s Favorite Awards – Gold Medal Winner – Young Adult – Fantasy – Epic
  • Reader Views Awards – 1st Place – Fantasy
  • CIPA EVVY Book Awards – 2nd Place – Fiction – Mythology
  • B.R.A.G. Medallion Recipient
  • Eric Hoffer’s Da Vinci Eye Awards Finalist for Best Cover Artwork
  • The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist – Books for Adults
  • Awesome Indies Approved

Following the self-publishing path by choice to retain full control of her IP, Alexandra invests in the best editors available in the business to match publishing quality standards.

Book Review: Metropolis by Monte Schulz

Outside of having a tour or BBNYA deadline to motivate me in picking up a book, I haven’t really been able to read anything in a long time, let alone a mammoth of a tome like Metropolis. I figured, the website was fascinating already, I have barely read anything in the last couple of weeks, and 2022 was coming to a quick end. Why not end it with Metropolis? I’m so glad I got the opportunity to. Shout out to Monte for the copy and for Adrienne from Finn Partners for reaching out to me. What an amazing way to end the year!

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥! In the final review and post of the year, and my 100th book review (!!!) today’s post will be my thoughts on Metropolis by Monte Schulz!

Book Title: Metropolis
Author: Monte Schulz
Length: 668 Pages
Edition: Physical > Hardcover
Published: 23 August 2022
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction > Steampunk, Dystopia, Romance, Literary Fiction

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the author, Monte Schulz, for providing me with a physical copy for review! All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads: >LINK<
Publisher’s Page: >LINK<
Book’s Website*: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

*I highly suggest checking out the book’s website, as it’s incredibly detailed and a cool read all in itself.

Regency College senior Julian Brehm’s uneventful student life is derailed when he falls for Nina Rinaldi, a beautiful young revolutionary engaged in political activism against the authoritarian regime that rules the country and wages a deceitful, distracting war. Julian’s love for — and moral alliance to — Nina eventually leads him into a vast undercity beneath the metropolis. Then, east by train and into the war zone itself, where mortal danger in that expanding cemetery of millions threatens Julian’s life; what he witnesses will alter how he perceives the Republic and ultimately his fate within it.

Julian’s adventure can be seen as our own, a world of vacillating morality and unceasing violence. Apathy and passion. Fear and courage of purpose. Julian’s is a hero’s journey into the dark unknown. A love story, which extends in many directions. A war novel of incredible scope and horror. A suspenseful mystery novel with a moral puzzle at its core. And a coming-of-age tale of a young man seeing the world he was born into, more dangerous and more beautiful than he could have ever imagined. Metropolis is a meditation on the meaning of virtue and goodness in the face of the most monstrous crimes. It could just as easily be the story of us.

Wow! I’m going to be talking about this one to friends and family for the next couple of weeks!
For a second, I thought that I had forgotten how to write a review because I was so lost for words. It was a beautiful journey and a rollercoaster of a ride; emotions of all kinds and tears of all sorts flowing. 

The writing of this book was the first thing that I picked up. Atmospheric and memorizing, the writing was charming to boot and was a pleasure to read. I fell in love with every sentence, and the dialogue was not forgotten and left behind. I loved the way the world was built. I loved the way things were described. I loved the characters and I loved how they spoke and interacted with one another. I’d be happy to read this over and over if for no reason other than to get lost in the sentences and wording over and over. 

The world was suffocating, although, as a dystopian, I didn’t expect anything less. The last time I read a dystopian book, it was Perdido Street Station and I could almost feel the tinge of the smog on my tongue. Here, I could almost see everything, feel everything, and it was absolutely horrifying. Between the level of death in certain parts of the book, the tens of thousands of children in danger, the “law enforcement” that patrolled the street to take you to the Mendel building where one might never be seen again, nowhere did life truly felt safe; something that Julian, a student of the college, will soon bear witness to. 

“‘We do survive, Julian. We survive the most despicable cruelties and heinous acts by our fellow human beings because we have no other choice if we choose to live in this blighted world of ours. I think the Desolation must be a mirror of who we are as a race and species, an example to the gods and universe of man in his most inventive and prolific self. We thrive and celebrate our debauchery, all the while defending what we do as both accidental and necessary. I truly believe we are insane.'”

There was a particular section of the book where Julian left the safety of his old life to deliver a specific item and brings him to where the war sits. The horrors that he both experiences and witnesses is enough to give nightmares and plenty of moments that he goes through is forever seared in my mind; the death, the bodies, and blood, the brutality, so vivid in my mind then and now still. All atrocities that many back home, including Julian had he not travelled so far, was so ignorant of. From there on, the horrors doesn’t stop. 

I adored the characters of the book and the cast was filled with such brightly colored personalities including sane but maybe most likely probably insane, Marco. There’s  our main character, Julian, and his deep love for Nina as well as his care for the energetic and lovely Delia (Nina’s sister). There’s the brilliant (when it matters) drunkard of a roommate, Freddy. The puzzle master, Peter Draxler, was the cherry on top of all this chaos. 

“‘Love is a most powerful inducement. Nothing in our world surpasses it. Without love, perhaps none of this has any meaning but storm and fire. Not enough to suffer for. Loyalty itself derives from the heart in terms of faithfulness which can only evolve from love.'”

The plot was gripping and so interesting. From the very beginning, Julian finds himself wrapped in a giant puzzle that carries him all over the place. It’s like a scavenger hunt mixed with hide-and-seek, except arrest and death was on the losing wager. With Freddy’s help, he’s able to unwind piece after piece of one of the most insane game of hide and seek ever played, clues in books locked behind another language, a lost dog, and running around the underground world… The entire part of the book revolves around this puzzle and I was constantly at the edge of my seat awaiting the next clue and answer. 

I really enjoyed this book and ending the year with this read is an amazing feeling; both because it was quite a chunky book and also because of how much I enjoyed pretty much every aspect of the book. A good book that I’d recommend if you enjoy a good puzzle, steampunk vibes, and dystopian government that revolve around some majorly harsh scenes and topics. One of those books I’d happily pick up to reread again and again. 

Monte Schulz published his first novel, Down By The River, in 1990, and spent the next two decades writing Crossing Eden, an epic novel of the Jazz Age. He has taught writing and literature in the College of Creative Studies at UCSB, where he earned his M.A. in American Studies. He lives in California and Hawaii.

Book Review: Song of Kitaba by Mark Everglade

Book Title: Song of Kitaba
Author: Mark Everglade
Length: 252 Pages
Published: June 13th, 2022
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction > Dystopia, Science Fiction > Cyberpunk

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the author, Mark Everglade, for providing me with a physical copy for review! All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads: >LINK<
Author’s Page: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

What if the world knew your deepest secrets? What if the government had a monopoly on your thoughts?

In the City of Catonis, everything you think is written across giant screens for public scrutiny, and revolution can only be cloaked with meditation.

Things are the opposite in the Hollow Forest, where people are executed for writing, and ink is rationed for only the tribal council’s use. When the love of her life is killed, Kitaba Mahahara must leave her village and launch a cultural war for human freedom, but she’ll need help. Cybermonks, hactivists, and tech gurus will unite as tradition runs face to face with the oppression that passes for progress.

Two civilizations, one without self-expression, and one forced to reveal everything, will pave a new way for humanity, if they don’t destroy it first.

The book starts off with Kitara making her escape from the Hollow Forest, the only place she’s ever called home. Whereas in the City of Catonis, where your every thought is displayed for the public to see, your life and privacy hold no rights here, with the only escape being meditation to learn and shut your brain off from the constant and unconscious streams of information and words it generates, things are very different in the outer villages.

Life is the complete in the villages; opposite to the big cities. Electricity exists as a basic aid, but otherwise, there’s nothing else: no computers, no drones, and certainly no implants in your brain and sentiscreens displaying your every thought to the world. But, what there IS is the (near) complete silencing of their citizens. Unless you were of upper class, everything from ink and crayons, to even carving messages into rocks, is forbidden. One is of a city that oppresses its people by displaying it all to the world, and the other is one that prevents such expressions. In both, the reasons are the same. If you monitory your people, with or without words, there will be no wars, revolutions, and rebellions. Two extremes and people seem to just…live with it. Some are even happy, because control means safety.

But for Kitaba, things are about to change and she will be the change. She will expose anbd show the world the oppression that hides behind the trees of her home. The only thing is, she’s not the only one with a goal.

This was a pretty enjoyable read. Right from the start, we have an adrenaline pumping scene as Kitaba escapes her village, and it’s not without obstacles. She’s left the village after having stolen illegal goods, not meant for the common folk and poor of Hollow Forest, and the guards after her. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter, and there are a handful of times they’re so close that she can feel their breath. If you think this kind of action diminishes as she’s safely in Catonis, think again. Regardless of where she goes, Kit manages to attract trouble in every nook, cranny, and corner. Throughout the book, she’s always on the run from something or someone, and the only constant in her life is that she now has allies by her side.

The characters are fun to read, and the world building is fantastic, fascinating, and neither worlds that Kit experiences sounds like a fun place to live. The contrast between the different characters, particularly any tech-saavy individuals placed next to the “girl from the outer villages” was definitely interesting to read especially when she uses her own terms for things (like “complanter”). I really enjoyed reading Kitaba and some other characters like Gaines, the hacker, and his girlfriend Nova, as well as Ciro who is fiercely protective of Kitaba. The characters all have their own set of flaws and some of them are addressed by the end of the book.

Description and world wise, it was pretty neat to read both the technologically advanced Catonis and Hollow Forest. Each has their own distinct government, laws, and both are oppressed in their own extreme ways (show all words or none at all!). I love the description of Catonis, the different technology and lifestyles already dependent on such equipment and implants, though the culture of songs and sea-shell homes of Hollow Forest is nothing short of impressive on their own.

I also really liked the writing and the prose was one of the first things I noted down as soon as I began to read. Descriptions are not over the top, though some occasional world building scenes, whether it was dialogue or descriptive text, felt a little like reading a textbook. There are also some scenes that are dialogue heavy, but the whole thing reads like an impressive movie and I find myself lost in the banters and arguments as well as the philosophy that comes out of Ciro or Kitaba.

Overall: The characters are fleshed out with some fine set of traits, personalities, and (as expected) we get pretty deep with Kitaba’s personal history, but we also get some nice background wit Ciro and even the two supporting characters, Gaine and Nova get their own little chapter, an entire POV from each of them, dedicated to tell their stories to Kit (and thus the audience). The world building is neat, the concept that ink is illegal is pretty interesting, but the most fascinating thing were the cog implants, sentiscreens, and their ability to project your inner and most private thoughts to the world. Social media (essentially the volunterry versions of the involuntarily display of private information to the world) is mentioned in here as well and that was one interesting point of this book. Song of Kitaba really does make you sit down and think about inner thoughts, monitoring, secrecy, and privacy.

A great read of a scary world.

Book Review: The Noise by James Patterson & J.D. Barker

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
Happy Thursday! I have a lot of cleaning to do in anticipation of a family gathering next week, so I know what I have to look forward to this weekend.

Yesterday was Pokémon Presents, and I haven’t played the series since [the original] Pokémon Pearl (though I did play the remake version recently). None of the new games have appealed to me except this latest Scarlet & Violet that’s coming out in November. There’s not a single word, or even a string of words, that I can use to show my excitement. I’m practically vibrating!

Today’s post is this week’s book review and today, I’ll be featuring The Noise by James Patterson & J.D. Barker.

Book Title: The Noise
Authors: James Patterson & J.D. Barker
Edition: Kindle & Audiobook (Libby/Library Copies)
Length: 422 Pages / 11 hours and 48 minutes
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Horror

A mysterious explosion kills thousands in the Pacific Northwest—and only two young girls survive. The newest in psychological suspense from the mind of James Patterson.
Two sisters have always stood together. Now, they’re the only ones left.

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse…

James Patterson’s astounding imagination has made him “a legendary novelist” (CNN). Now from its darkest corners comes The Noise, a thriller that takes hold of the emotions, defies the senses, and is like nothing you’ve ever read before.

The stink of death in the air came in ebbs and flows, and as they followed Holt across what was once the village center, it grew worse. She couldn’t help but think about what Fravel had said. Was it physically possible for a human body to disintegrate from pressure?

I can picture it all.

I’ve only ever read one or two other of James Patterson’s books, but that’s pretty few in numbers and J.D. Barker is an author that’s new to me, completely! Still, I really enjoyed this book for many things, including the writing. Whenever I see that chapters will reach up to the hundred some-odd mark, I know I’m in for tiny chapters, and man were they TINY chapters. If you toggled the font size and font and read on an iPad, some chapters were small enough to be displayed on a single page! I actually ended up really liking this kind of form splitting because everything’s bite sized and the pacing isn’t affected by it. Sometimes, we leave on some insane cliffhangers that make you want to keep reading on and on and this was how The Noise had me feeling. Trying to eat three slices of chocolate cake can be too much, but have you ever stopped at just a single Reese’s cup? As someone who likes to stop my daily readings at the full chapter mark, it really helps that the chapters are small.

The writing was also vivid and detailed. Every emotion and horror that our characters felt and saw was fully displayed in my mind. The ear-splitting noise, the feeling of running out of time and unease through most of the book, the sit of people whom are not exactly dead, the absolute chaos and madness that happens around you such as what must’ve been the most horrific image of hundreds of thousands of unfeeling human running at breakneck speed, the sights of people running even though they may be missing limbs, the dripping of the blood down ears, eyes, and noses. It’s all so clear and the book makes for some scary nightmarish fuel if nothing else.

I had borrowed both the audiobook and kindle versions of this book and both were fantastic versions of The Noise. The narrator, Amanda Dolan, I thought did a terrific job with reading the passages and the dialogue. Especially whenever a possessed person begins to speak and she dicates this in the form of gritty and demonic speech, the first time I saw her move from a normal person to a “possessed” (I’m calling it possessed, though it’s definitely something else) was bone-chilling and to be a loved one of that “possessed” individual must be so unnerving; those drawn out sentences and that unnatural voice, it’s quite scary to listen to and I did read off the Kindle version more often than the audio version, from the few moments I did listen to Amanda, I felt myself lost even deeper into the already abyssal attraction this book puts out.

Unforgettable cast of characters.

Each of the chapters follows a particular character’s POV. From the start, there are a lot of people that will be getting introduced aside from the two main prospective of Tennant and Dr. Martha Chan. Having gathered a team of specialists and experts, outside of the military (Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Fraser), there’re other scientists such as Sanford Harbin (climatologist), Russel Fravel (astrophysicist), Brennan Hauff (planetary biologist), Brian Tomes (geologist), and Joy Reiber (Dept of Agriculture). There’s also a separate doctor in camp along with Keenen Holt from the State Department.

You get to know certain people quickly, their personalities and presence are strong, but some of the scientists more so than the others and even then, the smaller side characters may occasionally get their own chapters as well and from their few minutes worth of cameo, there’s a lot to learn behind the scenes of what goes on.

I liked the split between everyone’s personal and professional investment into the strange and bizarre case/”infection” that affects the population. For example, the book begins from Tennant’s perspective and through her eyes, we watch the annihilation of her entire village. Her home, neighbors, maybe even family, trampled and gone. There’s so much emotion in the beginning because all is lost and for Tennant, the only thing left is her sister, who is no longer herself and very ill.

From the scientists and military’s perspective, with the exception of a handful of people that are very sympathetic to the sisters and their case, much of the base treats this anomaly in a cold, scientific, and professional way. While a couple of the “kidnapped” scientists have some emotional connection to the two sisters (they have kids of their own, etc.) there are some really unsettling moments where “It’s two girls vs the death of hundreds of thousands” and treat the two like guinea pigs.

The three main prospective in this book are Fraser, Martha, and Tennant. Martha is the medical doctor of the team and she, having kids of her own, is immediately protective of Tennant and her sister, Sophie, making sure that no harm would come their way while trying to help stave off the “infection” from both herself and those around her as the team attempts to wrap their mind around this anomaly. Fraser commands the ground team and his side of the story has my adrenaline pumping most of the time, especially anytime he needs to go front line in order to deal with the “infected” people or gather data that the scientists themselves cannot do. Tennant is the first character we really meet, and she’s here for her sister (but also, being a survivor of an anomaly that nobody can understand) she’s not exactly free to leave either. All three sides are fantastic to follow, and no matter where I turn, there’s adrenaline and fear. Of the three main prospective though, I think Fraser and Martha’s would be my favorite, though this may be due to them having more screen time than Tennant and Sophie.

Wild story gets wilder and the ending was insane.

A mysterious anomaly happens in the mountainside that decimates an entire town of villagers, survivalists that have lived off the grids just fine until this event essentially wipes the citizens off the map. Having torn the village apart, people, animal, houses and even water wells crumbled to ruin, leaving only a straight path, much like a tornado, in its wake, the story begins with two young girls, the only survivors. When help and the military finally arrive, there’s nothing left of the place. Even the people are gone! The team of scientists and the soldiers that go to survey and learn about the damage are completely stumped.

As the story progresses, things become more desperate and time is ticking. Things go by so fast with not a single soul knowing what exactly is happening. Martha and her team, and the readers, are kept guessing at what this anomaly really is the entire way through, up until near the end when everything comes crashing down and boy does that truck hit hard. Before that, we never know what it is that causes all the strange events. Is it a secret and devastating new weapon created by enemies of the US? Is it an actual infection with zombies and all? What about alien life finally comes to Earth and this is part of it? This plot is one of the best I’ve read in a while and I really enjoyed it. If you know me, I enjoy my guess work through mystery books, and this anomaly really hits the mark.

The ending though, was so far out and insane that I took a breather after finishing the book, my mind tingling in trying to process that actual cause behind the infections and events. It left me with quite a bit of questions, and wasn’t particularly satisfying when you understand what it implies.


All in all, this was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the pacing, loved the short chapters, loved the writing and narrator. I enjoyed the characters in this book (there are a few people I loathed) both the major and minor characters and the story was pretty interesting and intriguing. When it comes down to things that can be affected by infections (mind, organs, etc.), noise and the auditory scenes was not what I expected. There’s no great big monster out there, just humans (not even zombies) that run forever like a mindless army of ants or cattle in a stampede. It kept me reading and going, that’s for sure. The book was equally as amusing and exciting as it was disturbing, especially towards the end when everyone felt so powerless against the deadline.

Fantastic read, I’d say, it might even be one that I may pick up once more and reread in the future, and that’s from someone who generally doesn’t reread books.

Book Review: The Journey Of Artemis : EXODUS by Lamonte Louis

Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐤!
It’s time for this week’s book review and for today’s post, we’re featuring: The Journey Of Artemis : EXODUS by Lamonte Louis!

Book Title: The Journey of Artemis: EXODUS
Author: Lamonte Louis
Length: 257 Pages
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Science Fiction > Space Opera

Disclaimer: Thank you to the author for sending me an e-copy of this book! This does not affect my opinion, and all thoughts are mine.

Amazon Link >HERE<
Goodreads Link >HERE<

In the aftermath of a long ruthless interstellar war with an alien race called the Anpu, it has turned the Earth into a wasteland. With humankind left desperate, the Earth’s special force team chose Artemis to lead a mission into space to find another home for the humans and their alien allies. Joined by a crew of the best in the galaxy, Artemis begins an extreme journey of unexpected rivals, secret saboteurs, and mysterious hunters who aim to kill her. In this unique and captivating space opera sci-fi novel, join Artemis and her team as they risk it all on their world-spanning mission. Equipped with her resourcefulness and self-assurance, Artemis must find humankind another world or risk being swept into a whirlpool of mysteries.

I didn’t know what to expect going into the book. Sci-fi is a genre that I’ve only started to slowly ease my way into in the last few years, with even less time to space opera. But, given that my last few sci-fi’s were pretty solid reads, when the author asked if I would give his book a try, I knew I needed to give it a go.

I found myself flying through this book. The book begins with our main character, Artemis Harnish, in the middle of a rock climbing simulation, ending with her watching the scenery of what once was. After the war with the Anpus, much of Earth has turned into a wasteland (having faired a lot better than the poor moon, which had been blown to smithereens). As one can expect, the beautiful scenery that Harnish sees is probably a pretty rare sight, something she can only experience during a simulation.

Humankind is in a pretty desperate situation, with total eradication for an inevitable future. Having been a strong (and very vocal) activist for her race, her efforts are finally noticed, and she’s named the captain of the SSE MAE along with a crew of elites, the best of different races in the galaxy all of which are strangers to her except for one old friend. Together, they make across the universe in search of a new planet for the human race to inhabit, but things won’t be easy. There are powerful people whom are intent on hunting Harnish down and with a saboteur on ship, just escaping in one piece will be a miracle.

The writing in this book is fast-paced. The opening chapter is intriguing. How badly ruined is the Earth that Harnish has to pay for a rock climbing simulation in order to enjoy the view, one of which she has never actually seen herself? The Earth is probably barely habitable, at this point, and this makes for a great hook to the story, making me interested and invested right from the start.

“It was my father’s favorite season, and he’d lived in a time when he could witness the beauty nature had to offer. When I was a kid, he’d climb to the roof with the old-fashioned telescope he’d inherited from his grandfather and stare at the stars while telling me of how the grass smelled in spring with the flowers coming to bloom.”

The story is pretty good as well, and I enjoyed some of the writing in places. There are moments that have a bit too much dialogue or description, but it’s not exactly a bad thing. The imagery and the world that the author paints is wonderful and vast. It’s a broken world out there, and the desperation of this mission is a constant reminder of how important success is. Failure means that there will be no future for humans.

The characters here are just as interesting as the world. Our main character, Harnish, is a strong female character, and she can hold her own in a fight if needed, especially when faced against the much stronger Anpu warrior that’s hot on her heel. Given command over the ship, she’ll need her wits and leadership to not only guide the mission and her team, but also lead them against ruthless enemies, all the while keeping certain secrets to herself in order to root out the spy that’s hidden amongst her crew. In that aspect, this book also serves with a bit of a mystery subplot as well, and it kept me guessing through the book on whom this traitor is.

Overall, this is a pretty good book with good characters and world building. It’s a read that you’ll find to be quite the page turner as they make a couple of stops in different planets and trying to escape alive and whole (as a crew). The dialogues may be lengthy at times, but there are some moments where I really enjoyed the interactions between Harnish and her crew. It ends in a cliffhanger and leaves you with a bit of hunger for the upcoming follow-up. This book could benefit with some editing, but otherwise, I enjoyed it. For being both the author’s debut and as an entry into, I assume, a series, this was a good and gripping read.

Book Review: Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

I’ve never read any books by China Miéville, having only come across Perdido Street Station because I had been on the prawl for cyberpunk books at the time. For some reason, this Steampunk book made its way into one of the cyberpunk lists. Into my TBR it went, all but forgotten until I’d come across the physical copy at Barnes & Nobles. It’d been one of those quick, “Alright, you got about 10-15 minutes” days where the bookstore was just one tiny stop in an errand filled day. I wasn’t about to leave the store empty handed and I always have a little thing with “it’s fate” if I come across a book more than once.

It remained unread until I’d gone and yanked a couple of books off my shelf and had IG/Twitter poll my next read for me. I spent two slow weeks with this guy, and it was a nightmarish kind of floaty feeling. I still have a book hangover. Fun little note; Perdido Street Station managed to worm itself into my dreams (nightmares?) twice!

Book Title: Perdido Street Station
Author: China Miéville
Length: 710 Pages
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Science Fiction > Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Horror, New Weird

CW/TW: Violence, gore, murder, mentions of rape, kidnapping, hostage situation, medical experimentation, mentions of torture, forced medical procedures, racism (mostly to Xenians and the Khepri), prostitution, sexual abuse of minors, police brutality

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies the city of New Crobuzon, where the unsavory deal is stranger to no one–not even to Isaac, a gifted and eccentric scientist who has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before encountered. Though the Garuda’s request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger. Soon an eerie metamorphosis will occur that will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon–and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it evokes.

Review Summary

Having never read any of the author’s other books before, Perdido Street Station was an excellent entry into his world. Brimming with amazing and detailed description, I found myself easily lost in the Bas-Lag world. Beautifully painted to see every scene and creature that this world and the city of New Crobuzon has to offer, China’s writing is phenomenal and his world-building no less so. In this story, we follow a rogue scientist as he attempts to help a client regain his abilities to fly again, but little does he know, this experiment of his will cost him immensely; no bag of gold could replace and repair the damages and losses that follow suit. After all, we’re fighting something that even the demons of hell refuses to fight.


Out of everything in this book, including pacing, readability, plot, characters, and so on, I think Miéville’s writing and world-building are the two things that stick out the most. It’s one of the best things about Perdido Street Station and while it was kind of dense, making it a little hard to get into the book, I’ll admit that these two points (world and writing) were also what kept me reading. It just…felt like every other page, I was grabbing at my phone to search up a definition for all of his, what I call, “great thesaurus words” (less so towards the end). I even ended up borrowing the e-book version from the library so that I could keep up with my rate of searching things up!

Don’t get me started on the parts when a musing and inspired/obsessed Isaac begins to ramble in science and mathematics. He completely lost me there (rereading the passage for the third time did NOT help).

Yet, it feels like, considering the setting and the world, it also felt wrong if I were to not see words like expostulated, susurration, or ululated, as if it completes the sentence and scene just right. You could easily skip those words, you wouldn’t miss a lot nor does it stop you from moving on in the plot/book, but it does feel like you might not see the full splendid scene unless you look it up either.

In the end, yes, his prose, writing, and choice of words is wild but weirdly amazing. I found myself charmed by his sentences the very moment I’d gone and opened the book. His writing is one of my favorite parts about the book. However, as with a really heavy meal, it’s pretty dense, rich, and savory. I probably wouldn’t be able to read a Miéville book back to back (if they’re all like this), but I’m happily going to add him to my list of auto-buy authors.


Extraordinary, exquisite, OMG-I-Could-Cry amazing, and utterly imaginative in the weirdest sense. For me, his world-building, the world of Bas-Lag, and the way he described New Crobuzon was the best part about this book, even more so than how much I loved his writing. I could write an essay just about New Crobuzon. For all of the 710 pages, it felt like I lived each character’s life through their six senses. I breathed that foul and retched air, I felt the anger of having to live in fear of the magistrate’s brutal and sadistic punishments, I felt the pain of torturous and prolonged agonizing deaths of characters.

New Crobuzon felt like an inescapable hellscape, but so full of life, people working and living to the best of their ability. I could see what each place, each slum, and even what the sewers felt like. As the story moved on, I could picture myself looking up into the skies and seeing the dirigibles and the trains rushing by in the sky-rails; the sky a perpetually polluted sepia of filth.

New Crobuzon was a huge plague pit, a morbific city. Parasites, infection and rumour were uncontainable. A monthly chymical dip was a necessary prophylactic for the khepri, if they wanted to avoid itches and sores.

Everywhere I turn, there’s some new thing; the awful remades, criminals who have been punished by having their bodies fused with animals or steam-machine parts, the consequences of their actions forever following them in a twisted and sadistic way. There were also the different species that ran along with humans, Vodyanoi (frog-like people), Khepri (the males being mindless giant beetles and the females with their human bodies but a giant beetle in place of their head…), cacti people, and more. There’s even a dancing giant spider who speaks in a word-salad poetic way. I’m still trying to figure out half of what it said.

“Brock Marsh sewers, for example. All the unstable runoff from all those labs and experiments, accumulating over the years . . . makes for a very unpredictable population of vermin. Rats the size of pigs, speaking in tongues. Blind pygmy crocodiles, whose great-great-great-grandparents escaped from the zoo. Crossbreeds of all sorts.

If given the chance, I could probably talk on and on about my experience with “living in New Crobuzon.” Of all my annotations and highlights, most of mine came from highlights of world descriptions, races, and history and lore of Bas-Lag. It’s definitely not a beautiful place, in the slightest (I would NOT want to live here nor would I make it a single second), and Miéville will show you just this.

Just as with the writing, the only con on this end was the same thing that I fell in love with. The sheer volume of information and descriptions coming your way is endless. At times, the world around you is wonderfully crafted and described. But, there’s also times when it slows the story down; certain minor scenes having more description than needed.

Plot & Plot Development

The plot was kind of interesting. Our protagonist, Isaac, is a rogue-scientist who comes across a bird-man, a Garuda, who has lost his ability to fly due to reasons he refuses to disclose. His injury is grotesque (there is a LOT of body-horror in this book), but there’s not much he’s willing to talk about, only that he wishes to regain his ability to fly at whatever the cost. Of course, the gold offered is enticing on its own, but Isaac, being a scientist, is intrigued and enthralled enough just by the sight of the rare creature, that he is willing to take on the case and immediately gets on to studying and experimenting. It’s when one of his experiments gets out of hand when things spiral down hard that it’ll give you whiplash. Suddenly, we’re talking about endangering the lives of the entire city and three organizations wanting Isaac and his friend’s head on a platter.

One trope to describe the plot? “Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.”


The characters were interesting and wonderfully written characters; each with their Santa sacks of traits, personalities, histories, flaws, and moralities. Of the main group, there’s Isaac, the rogue-scientist, his Khepri girlfriend, Lin, who has a giant beetle for a head, Derkhan, one of the writers for a rebellious (and illegal) newspaper that she risks her life for by being associated with it, and of course the Garuda, Yagharek (Yag). There’s loyalty, there’s betrayal, there’s redemption, and there’s the unsavable.


Overall, I loved the book. I’m going to have a book hangover for days to come. Until I return to the trilogy, I’m going to deeply miss the world, the writing, and the prose. The characters went through hell fighting something that even the ambassador of hell absolutely refused to help and I spent a better part of two weeks “fighting” with them.

I’m not a chymist, or a biologist, or a thaumaturge…I’m a dilettante, Yagharek, a dabbler. I think of myself…” Isaac paused and laughed briefly. He spoke with heavy gusto. “I think of myself as the main station for all the schools of thought. Like Perdido Street Station. You know it?” Yagharek nodded. “Unavoidable, ain’t it? Fucking massive great thing.” Isaac patted his belly, maintaining the analogy. “All the train-lines meet there— Sud Line, Dexter, Verso, Head and Sink Lines; everything has to pass through it. That’s like me. That’s my job. That’s the kind of scientist I am.

First Lines Friday

Oh, boy! It’s Friday!
I have family over this weekend, so as soon as I’m done with work it’s off to some last minute cleaning I go. For today’s post: First Lines Friday, featuring my very next read!

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

(Click on the book covers for a link to their GoodReads page)

꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆ F – R – I – Y – A – Y !! ꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆

This week’s lines…

The wind has stopped. I sway, suspended in place and holding on by a one-handed grip on the protrusion from the face of the cliff. It is jagged, eroded by the elements, causing the dense mesh of my gloves to dig into the skin of my palm.

Enjoyed that preview? This week’s book is…

The Journey Of Artemis : EXODUS by Lamonte Louis

In the aftermath of a long ruthless interstellar war with an alien race called the Anpu, it has turned the Earth into a wasteland. With humankind left desperate, the Earth’s special force team chose Artemis to lead a mission into space to find another home for the humans and their alien allies. Joined by a crew of the best in the galaxy, Artemis begins an extreme journey of unexpected rivals, secret saboteurs, and mysterious hunters who aim to kill her. In this unique and captivating space opera sci-fi novel, join Artemis and her team as they risk it all on their world-spanning mission. Equipped with her resourcefulness and self-assurance, Artemis must find humankind another world or risk being swept into a whirlpool of mysteries.

Book Review: Dome City Blues by Jeff Edwards

Prior to this book, I’ve probably picked up only one book that had been labeled as Cyberpunk. It was a good read and afterwards, having been genre hopping at the time, I hadn’t thought about reapproaching Cyberpunk again. What stirred my interest in the subgenre again was having played Astral Chain and watching playthroughs of Cyberpunk 2077 back when it had released in December of last year. After that, my interest in Cyberpunk, and sci-fi in general, only continued to grow. By the time I made my September TBR I was so ready to dig into Dome City Blues that I was vibrating with excitement at the anticipation of reaching the book.

The other reason that I was so excited in getting to this book was because it was long overdue for a review. I had received this book a while back (many years!!) as a Goodreads giveaway book, and when I had gotten around to it, it was in the middle of moving homes (and I’ve moved a lot in life). During one of the many moves, I’d gone and lost my copy (along with a couple others). In yet another move, I’d unearthed it. You should have seen the joy on my face! It was like Christmas from clumsy past me!

Book Description

Title: Dome City Blues
Author: Jeff Edwards
Publisher: Stealth Books (2011)
Length: 300 Pages (Paperback)
My edition was a Goodreads Giveaway First Reads and may be slightly different as GR has it down as 318 pages, but I only have 300.
Genres: Science Fiction > Cyberpunk, Science Fiction > Dystopia, Mystery > Crime, Mystery > Noir, Thriller

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, via a Goodreads Giveaway, in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and all opinions are my own.

TW/CW: Violence and Blood, Graphic violence, Language, Death, Loss of love one, manipulation of a memory of lost one, PTSD, graphic scenes of suicide, home invasion, sexual scenes (mostly fade to black), prostitutions, sexual exploitation of minors (not on screen, but in ch. 11, David investigates a lead that brings him to a club where some of the girls are extremely young).


The book sets in ruins of LA; a future world where a decent life is manageable only for those that live under the Domes. Outside? The air is thick with pollution and radiation that stings the skin. Without adequate preparations, it’d be hard to wander outside unless you were running from the law or something.

Our protagonist is David Stalin (Sarge by his best friend, and Joe by his childhood friends; an inside joke referring to his last name). A sculptor now, David is actually an ex-PI, having quit after what should have been an easy case left his partner and wife dead. At the start of the book, he encounters a woman named Sonja Winter who begs for him to take a look at an old and closed file. But, having been retired and traumatized over his final moments as a PI, David refuses to accept the job and sends her on her way only to find her at the door of his home trying to get him to accept if he would only listen to her story. Eventually he reluctantly agrees to at least take a look for her, but that’s about it, just a look.

But the more he investigates this case, the deeper in he’s dragged until there’s no turning back. He knows too much…to live. 

The storyline was pretty good and there are good handful of moments where our hero finds himself in a scuffle. After a solid few hits made on him, he knows that he’s poking his nose in the wrong (or rather right) places and the recipient isn’t too happy about that. Dead cases ought to stay dead and he needs to mind his own business.

The ending was completely unexpected. I wasn’t expecting the perpetrator to be who they were. There was a fraction of a second where I had suspicions of a certain person but I didn’t follow through with it. The final few scenes were interesting, the climax was a bit heartbreaking, and the actual ending had me cheering. 

I thought it was a compelling read and found myself easily eating through the book, but there weren’t too many scenes that actually had me gripping the book. There’s a couple of hooks, but for some odd reason, I didn’t find myself particularly drawn towards the story. 

I did like the story for some of the trapped moments. Here, David starts out as the investigator to a closed case. He’s prepared for scenarios and he’s the one leading the hunt against the criminal. That is…until the first hit is made on the man and suddenly the tides are turned. The hunter turns prey and David eventually is backed to a corner, so deeply in that corner that the case becomes a personal matter. He’s invested too much into this, blood included.


The worldbuilding, however, I loved. There was a fantastic amount and level of imagery and I was able to picture most scenes. I love the descriptions of everything from the laser styled weapons to the lev, the neon signs, the robotic and cybernetic humans, holograms, and even Turing Scions.

And speaking of the Turing Scions, I found that fascinating. Here we have a way to essentially immortalize a human being via data uploading their personality into a machine where they will remain forever. Miss your significant other? Just plug the machine in and you’ll find an exact copy of your best friend, down to the personality; a machine, someone who isn’t alive but believes they are.

But Turing Scions are for the world. There’s still no true way to achieve self-immortality. If a person dies, they still die, it’s just this data copy that’s left of you. The Scions are there for others, maybe someone who is still grieving the loss or a scientist who needs to ask a deceased expert a question. Even bringing them back won’t make the Scions who they really were anymore.

Cancer is no longer a thing here. There’s even cancer immunizations. Now there’s other diseases to think about like AIDS II! 

There’s also a home AI. Your average Joe seems to have one in their home. Essentially your entire house is an AI and (at least David’s houses had these, not too sure if this is normal for all houses) physical actions are done by the AI’s drone extensions that fly around and deal with things like the dishes. It’s like Alexa on crack and built into the very walls of the house. Want ambient music? Just tell your AI. What them to set your shower up with a particular program? Run the security systems and camera? Have them grab the dishes? Just tell the AI. David affectionately calls his, “House.” The SUPER cool thing? David was able to turn his ENTIRE WALL into a security monitor!!

The funniest thing about this was that, at the end of the book, the author has an authors note that explains how this book’s first draft was back in 1992. When he finally released Dome City Blues maybe 20 years later, he had to debate on whether he needed to majorly edit his book. Afterall, what was “futuristic technology then” might already exist now. Technology evolves so fearsomely quick after all.

Jeff kept it. I thought it was a good idea. In keeping the original level of technology, the reader gets this funny mixture of technology that is supposed to be futuristic but currently already exists, what is now obsolete and gone in our world, and what still doesn’t exist. I made this note because, while I thought it was extremely cool at first, now that I’m writing the review…a house AI sounds a lot like some of the technology that already exists now. 

Sure, it’s not to the level that the house AIs in the book have it (drones to control what needs physical assisting), but we’re pretty darn close. Alexa and Google CAN connect to your home security systems (just not your whole damn wall), can turn to a specific music program, and can set the lighting in your home! Heck, Alexa can even beatbox!

Now, what I really need is that shower system. With a shout to House, David was able to find himself showering in the the middle of the forest, the spray of his shower turned to mimic what a rain shower would feel like!


I thought that the characters were alright. Nobody really drew my attention or kept it, but they were interesting enough. David is a man who is traumatized over what happened to his wife in a past case. She’s gone and he lives with the scars from it. He’s a sculptor now and refuses to return to his old life, but when he needs to, you can see he hasn’t lost his edge. Much of his skills and knowledge on the field might need a bit of brushing up, but it’s there even if it’s under a light coat of dust. 

I thought some of the other characters were pretty interesting. I didn’t care for the love interest or for David’s best friend, but they were vibrant people with distinct personalities. 

I was particularly interested in some of the people that David encountered, his street help. In fact, I think I found nearly all of them interesting, especially the ones he encounters later on in the book. There are pieces of evidence, mostly “insane people” and graffiti that points towards a group of people that later on helps David, but mostly as a part of something much bigger. I can expect to see them in the next book.

The antagonists had me slightly in shock and their motives and history was even better than I had expected. I had said that the story wasn’t particularly drawing, but there were still small moments that had me sitting there in disbelief. I thought that revelation chapter was amazing!

Overall Thoughts

The story wasn’t particularly drawing but there were still moments where I sat there gasping or even gapping. There were some characters I wasn’t too interested in and some that I was fascinated with. However, for me, what drew me in the most (and kept me around) was the worldbuilding. The imagery fascinated me. With the draft starting over 2 decades ago, I thought it was amusing to note the mixture of old, new, and current technology to compare to our worlds to. 

The story’s climax, revelation, and conflict were all pretty good. I was shocked with who the antagonist turned out to be, but the story behind them and their motivation was fantastic. 

The Hands We’re Given [Book Review]

Book Name: The Hands We’re Given
Author: O.E. Tearmann
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Pages: 428
Genre: Science Fiction > Cyberpunk, LGBT, Romance > MM Romance, Dystopia, Fiction, Military Fiction

There’s graphic sex scenes in this book. (The author even provided a warning at the beginning of the book and I’m happily surprised. Kind of wish more authors did this and more books came with warnings.)

Cover from GR. Find the book’s page >HERE<

I came across the book during my search for some cyberpunk reads (right around the time Cyberpunk 2077 was released). It sounded interesting and dystopian enough and with a ragtag team trope, the “Holy shit I sorta kinda don’t know how I landed myself into a commander position” main character, the themes around LGBTQA+, and the joker/ace/cards vibe, I was ready for a good time; sort of like…the many cherries on top.


It’s 2155 and America has completely changed. Gone are the days where we had political parties; Corporate America (named the United Corporations of America) runs the show now. 

Our team is a base for a group called the Democratic State Force, whose mission is to fight back against the Corporation and the dystopic hell they’ve given birth to. Base 1407 is unlike any of the other bases. They stand out and have quite the reputation that sets them apart. Named the Wildcards, their records are peppered with disciplinary write-ups. But it’s not just this behavior and attitude of theirs that leads to them having as insane of a reputation as they do. They had, in the past two years, 198 successful mission whereas the average per base was around 75 successful missions in that same given period. They were effective. They were good at their job. VERY good.

But after Commander Taylor passes away, they haven’t been on their game and have already run out two seasoned commanders off their base. It’s Aidan’s job to get them back on the mission. With their increase in disciplinary write-ups lately, the sector is threatening to disband them if Aidan fails to get them back into shape. One last commander, one last chance for the Wildcards. 

According to rumor, the Wildcards had been unstoppable. The stories about missions they’d pulled off, executives they’d disgraced by outing information to the Net, and things they’d invented were legendary. The base had been insane in their success record until the commander who had led them had developed bone cancer. No one had been able to supply the base with the right treatments. In the six months before the man’s death, everything in the unit’s record had gone to shit.

Tearmann, O. E.. The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild Book 1) (pp. 15-16). Amphibian Press. Kindle Edition. 

The last two commanders to replace Taylor had been complete assholes who nearly worked the team to death. When Aidan first joins, the Wildcards are not pleased. Some are already planning on how to get this one to high tail out of their base; pranks and snippy greetings included. They don’t trust him in the slightest and Aidan? He doesn’t want to be there. They have enough of a reputation to scare him even before his first day at work and it truly is his FIRST day at work. He’s straight out of commander training and he would rather be anywhere but at the head of a terrifying base that two other “seasoned” commanders couldn’t even handle.


The characters are very interesting and each have their unique personalities and roles to the team. Every team member is a tailor fit to what the base needs and losing any of the Wildcards would be a devastating blow to the base. Aidan is our commander who is struggling with his transition from female to male (physically: his lack of resources to acquire the surgeries he needs and mentally: his previous confidant had let his secret slip and it ended up horribly). He’s got horrible anxiety and occasionally questions himself on his role and competence as a leader. But honestly, this makes sense. He’s fresh out of training and has never commanded any other bases before. The Wildcard is a wild place to start your commanding and leadership career so naturally Aidan has his fear.

Worldbuilding is done nicely here too. You get small glimpses of a future run by corporations that fall together to form the portrait of the “What Could Be” of America being run by megacorps rather than political parties. In this future, genetic manipulation is the norm. You either come perfect and on the Corps’ side, or you’re not, and good as dead or worse, be an enemy of the Corps. 

The bases are located just outside the Corp zones; close enough for them to act on their missions and for supply stock ups but far away enough to stay hidden from the watchful eyes of the Corporation. Life on the outside is tough but when it comes to fighting, there isn’t much of it.

I love the characters. I love Aidan because I could relate to his work anxieties. I loved Kevin for collections of things considered antiques in this future (including old films, movies, music and even outdated WORDS.) In this time and period, certain words are so outdated, they’re considered antiques and people might give you a weird or confused look for using them like. Quixotic? Sovereignty? What the heck are those?? I think one of my favorite things about this book were all the words that people didn’t know because they were “antiquated words.” I wish I took better notes on this book for every word Kevin used that he got blank faces in return for. It really shows the passage of time when certain words we might use today falls out of use by 2155.

And then you have the other smaller things that sets that world apart from ours. Corrective eye surgery is normal. You don’t even have to be a rich Corp to fix your vision problems. Even as a Duster, you get weird looks for having glasses. Why risk being a liability when glasses get blown off your face, while running and hiding, when you can permanently fix vision issues? Aidan has a holograph of his sister on a tablet that he consults for his anxiety or for personal advice. Sure it feels a bit more like the colder and more soulless version of your deceased friends and family…but they’re programmed to be as close to their original personalities as possible (I would like one please). This world is rich with new things and the differences between what you can access on and off the grid is very notifiable. What you might be able to easily get on grid could potentially cost you your life out in the Dust.

This book did not disappoint me. The characters are complex and the relationships are complicated. Characters can be flawed. People get angry and they might stop talking to each other (to a given extent; cold shouldering isn’t exactly a safe way to go about when teamwork and cooperation is a 110% necessity for survival sake). They make up and sit through problems together. They grow with each other. New friendships are made as characters, who hated each other in the beginning, learn to understand the other. This book taught me that not every military fiction needs to run on guns and combat. Sometimes, stealth and running away is how you win a fight. It’s not about engaging with the enemy, it’s about living another day for the sake of your base! Actions, even if done in the interest of others, can result in an entire base’s collapse.. You have to think for yourself and your base for every action you decide upon.

Tearmann paints a rich world, even if it’s no longer so bright. I just kind of wish there was a glossary for all the new terms in this book. They insult each other with the word Gamma! Like… “You gamma dipshit”, “You gamma bastard”, “That gamma piece of garbage” 110% amusing. Love it.

I savored the little pieces scattered everywhere through the book. There were so many small moments that really made this an enjoyable read (such as the “old” words or “pre-dissolution aged music”). I loved the depth of the characters and their growths. I loved the descriptions of the Corporate world and the Dusters. O.E. Tearmann did a great job with this book and a fantastic job tackling many different topics. This is only a glimpse of the major antagonist. Book 1 sets the premise and introduces the reader to what’s to come. An exciting start to the Aces High, Jokers Wild series.

“NatBank buys us and ZonCom sells. 
ArgusCo tells us where we dwell. 
TechCo owns what we read and play. 
AgCo decides what we eat today. 
EagleCorp tells us to obey. 
Cavanaugh drugs us to make us well. 
But one day we’ll ring the Liberty Bell. 
And then all the Corps will go to Hell.”

Tearmann, O. E.. The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild Book 1) (p. 79). Amphibian Press. Kindle Edition.