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.

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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.

Writing

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.

World-Building

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.”

Characters

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

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.

The Milan Job by Krista Cagg Blog Tour – Excerpt and Review

Happy Sunday!! Today is my stop for the Milan Job Blog Tour by Psst Promotions! Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in my very first blog tour. I had a blast of a time reading this and putting together this post.

For this tour, I’ll be sharing an excerpt and my review of the book!


Meet Captain Alexandria de Sade, the proud and once loyal captain of Naviwerks chrono-ship #25.
When she learned the truth about how the company was fleecing their customers she turned her back on the promotion they offered her, left the man she loved without a word, and disappeared with her ship.

With a plan in mind to undermine Naviwerks’ business of artifact and heirloom retrieval, Captain Alex hired on several like-minded misfits to crew her chrono-ship which she re-christened The William’s Hunt. They are: An awkward but genius Horotech, an irascible ex-marine, a flamboyant playboy, a churlish physician, and a hot-shot pilot.

Their first venture: go to Milan, Italy 1490 and retrieve the working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s Gran Cavallo before Naviwerks does. What should have been a simple snatch and run mission for the newly formed band of pirates goes south nearly immediately. In their struggle to recover, they learn that there is much more behind Naviwerks’ actions. Captain Alex and the crew of The William’s Hunt are the only ones that stand a chance of putting things right, and it seems as if her crew’s every step takes them deeper and deeper into discovering just how nefarious Naviwerks truly is.


Print Length: 203 pages
Publisher: Corrugated Sky Publishing, LLC (January 18, 2020)
Publication Date: January 18, 2020
Language: English
ASIN: B083VQV8SR
ISBN10: 1950903141
ISBN13: 978-1950903146
Buy it now on Amazon: >LINK<

Excerpt:

Agent Nash was crouched amongst some scrub on the side of a hill that overlooked the walls of Milan. It was mid-morning when they arrived. He had watched them come down the road in the cart then had shifted his position to one knee. With well-practiced movements, he removed from the sack beside him pieces of a rifle to assemble. All the while he kept his eyes on the target. Line of sight was perfect, but from this distance his point of interest was unclear. With steady motions the rifle clicked together piece by piece as the cart drew closer to his position. 

The final piece to fit into place was the tubular sighting apparatus. He polished the magnifying glass on the end with a soft piece of chamois, and then put the rifle butt to his shoulder so he could peer through the sight. Some might find the motion of the world through the lens nauseating, but it didn’t affect Nash as he swung the rifle from side to side until the passengers of the cart came into view.

He observed them for a few moments. Anger welled up within him to see them, the traitors. Other similar emotions tried to join that sentiment, but the neural therapy worked within his brain and suppressed them, as it was designed to do. Nash hadn’t even noticed the adjustments. He simply made use of the focus that remained to load a plasma cartridge into the rifle. He would need only one.

He returned the rifle to his shoulder as he shifted his crouch to allow for recoil, and then he brought his target into view through the lens. He took a moment to admire her. Even Naviwerks and their nanotechnology couldn’t eliminate basic human behavior, and she was certainly worth a second look. But that didn’t change the fact that she was a renegade, a thief, and would-be pirate. His orders were clear.

His finger slid through the trigger guard and curled around the small metal arm as he took aim. “Hello, Alex.”

BLAM!

Review:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

For a while now, I’ve been searching for a good Steampunk book. There’s probably a couple in my TBR list, but I never actually got around to reading any of them. So, when I was sent an email about a blog tour featuring Steampunk, floating ships, strong female characters, time travel, and pirates that have a better moral compass than the antagonists (the “good guys” of the world)…yeah! I was picking it up!

What really caught my attention was Captain Alexandria de Sade. She sounded like a badass Captain, leaving her old employment and stealing an entire ship on her way out! She sounded cool and I’m all for a cool female protagonist especially one that’s now a pirate!

The great monopoly of a company, Naviwerk, is known to make generous contribution to mankind and history by using time travel to retrieve long lost artifacts, antiques, and family heirlooms for their clients; families and museums. They are quite successful in their business…a product of charging these families and museums insane prices for turning over those artifacts that they retrieved from history. Big corrupted businesses do not fly well with Alex and she refuses a promotion before leaving the company, stealing one of Naviwerk’s chrono-ships on her way out!

The book, The Milan Job, is a compilation of five shorts, episodes, written by Krista Cagg and starts off with the introduction of the former hopelessly unemployed Laurence Kane on the first day of his job. He’s quickly picked up by Nigel Wellington III (the historian) to board the chrono-ship. Laurence eventually meets the rest of the crew: the scary and quick to anger ex-marine turned security officer, Gerald (Geri) Reynolds, the crew’s not quite friendly doctor, Abraham Hennessey, the Pilot, Angelica (Angel) Flynn, and of course Captain Alexandria de Sade.

Third person is my favorite POV and, naturally, I come across a good deal of them, but this is probably my first experience with an omniscient third person POV (and I had to look it up) where there’s more of an overseer to the story and not just to a limited single character’s thoughts or actions. The first time I caught on to this was when, during his tour of the ship, Laurence noticed the lack of luxurious seating that he might have expected to find in the ship’s dining hall, which was decorated to be suitable for even nobility. This comes up again when the reader spends a little time, in the following chapter, with Angel and Alex having a private conversation and this line pops up as the narrator goes to describe Alex’s chair:

“Here were the plush accommodations Mr. Kane had expected in the mess hall.”

It was just something interesting to note upon (at least…it is for someone, like me, whose has never read anything but limited perspective 3rd POVs).

Overall, I enjoyed the book! It was a pleasant and a quick read and while you might have tons of questions by the end of the book, you’re never left stranded without a life jacket here. World building and technical terms of horotechnology, chronotechnology, and time travel is well explained in this book. There is a lot of detail and I really mean…there’s a lot of detail. On one hand, I loved the details because…guess whose never lost?? On the other hand, there are readers that may find this as a turn off.

Not only is the technology well described here, but it includes every single little detail you would need to completely picture the scene, from the details of Alex’s chair (the finishes, the type of wood, the pattern of the etchings) down to Nigel’s fingernails (which Laurence noted to be well-manicured). It’s amazing the level of detail being placed here. For me, I didn’t mind it but it’s something to note on. This was my first steampunk and while I have a good grasp on what cyberpunk might look like, I struggled to picture the chrono-ship because it’s just…so out of my imagination’s grasp.

The crew is a ragtag bunch with only the best of the best (and did I mention ragtag groups are one of my favorite troupes?). We have a comical playboy of a historian and a grumbling retired (but caring) physician. Laurence, I especially liked. I have a soft spot for the poor socially awkward lad. He reminds me so much of myself on my first day on any new job, bumbling, anxious and awkward, and tripping over his own clumsy thoughts. An unrecognized genius, who previously couldn’t find any employment, Laurence is the newbie to the crew and he’s trying his best to see where he fits his personality and talents into this group of people who seem to all already know each other (anyone new to a previously established friend group can relate). Angel knows her stuff as a pilot (a “hot shot pilot” even better at flying ships than Alex) and when I first met Alex, I fell in love. She was calm and cold; she was so cool (I literally said that out loud to myself). She just exuded a commanding vibe.

The pros and cons:

What I loved about this book was the storyline. We’re talking about time travel via a ship that runs off steam, electricity and stimulated atoms. We’re talking about pirates who have a moral compass better than the “big generous corporation that provides historical contributions to museums and retrieve lost antiques and heirlooms to families.” We’re talking about a cool captain with her handpicked and talented ragtag bunch of crew-members. We’re talking about big corrupt corporations. We’re talking about steampunk…all in one book.

I loved that the gang is small. This book gives off Fire Emblem vibes; a small group of six people against a monopoly of a corporation (and thus it’s “we got what we got” versus a corporation with what seems like endless funds to expend on their goals and evil plans). Yet, even with only six people, they manage to do well because each member is brilliant in their own roles. Even our bumbling bundle of nerves, Mr. Laurence Kane, the horotechnologist, is a confident and a capable man of genius ideas and great inventions. When he’s placed in the right environment (say in front of a chrono-engine), Laurence will forget his nerves and notices only the oh so beautiful engine, forgetting about his surroundings.

The concept behind horotechnology and chronotechnology is mind blowing in the fact that…the idea behind time travel, this that world, is so…simple and yet so complicated and complex. With a bit of electricity, steam, and stimulated atoms you could punch through time! I had tons of questions by the end on time travel, of which I’m sure would be answered in the following books.

There was one thing that I did not like and it was pretty disappointing. One of the main reasons that I was so interested in this book was because of the strong and proud, Alex . However, she and Angel did not get much of “screen time” or scene time. She comes in with a sword and plasma pistol but both weapons are unused because…well…she never got to be part of the action. She’s still the mentally strong and ready to kill you with a glare woman I expected out of her, but I had expected something a tad bit more.

However, this is the first volume and it’s mentioned that there’s more to come. This volume gives you a taste of the world, setting, conflict, and the characters as they begin their involvement with something far bigger than previously imagined. The pacing isn’t too slow. There isn’t a lot of character development yet as The Milan Job helps to give you a peek of everyone’s personalities, quirks, talent/abilities, and where they fit into this crew. A small team, everyone has their own place to belong. So, despite the lack of attention to a couple characters, I am sure they will be further fleshed in the future as everyone gets their fair share of adventures. A great and quick read!

About the Author:

According to her mother, Krista has lived in her own imagination since birth. The real world let her down. It was, frankly, boring beyond belief. After she discovered fantasy novels and comics there was no going back. This didn’t win her any popularity contests (or dates) until after high school. Art school introduced her to other geeks and the wonderful world of AD&D. A love for RP eventually led to LARP (the goth/vampire era of her life). Finally, sci-fi/fantasy/fandom conventions introduced her to the beautiful world of Steampunk. Music. Clothing. And books. She dove into the books she took a shine to and absorbed them. But something was missing. She wasn’t satisfied. During her recovery from neck surgery something she’d heard somewhere stuck out in her mind: “If you can’t find the stories you want to read then write them yourself.” On a couch in Savannah, GA. with Sons of Anarchy playing in the background, The William’s Hunt began.
Currently, Krista lives in her home town in Pennsylvania with five cats, a husband, and a weiner dog, Pete, who watches from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
Check out her website: https://www.kristacaggauthor.com/ and follow her on social media.

August TBR [Maybes]

I finished July in a burst of last minute adrenaline. Three books took everything out of me so I’m hoping August will be a little less busy. While my list here is a bit extensive (for me) and maybe pushing it, I’m hoping that I can get through at least 2 or 3 of the books on this TBR and hopefully, if miracles can happen, I might finish the first book of WoT too 😅

Not Tonight, Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small-Town America by George Mahood

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Cover from Goodreads. Link to book description >HERE<

Again, I went on a Amazon hunt for any new “Free to Read” books. The first of the two books I picked out, for this month, is “Not Tonight, Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small-Town America” by George Mahood. I know nothing else about this book besides that it’s a book about a road trip between two British guys and the last time I read a travel book, I loved it, so I might as well try another one.

Goodreads Summary:

Two Brits, George and Mark, set off from New York City to explore the back roads of America. In this calamity-ridden travel tale, George sets out in true clichéd fashion to discover the real America.
Throw in plenty of run-ins with the police, rapidly dwindling finances and Josephine – the worst car in the world – and you have all the ingredients for a classic American road trip. Will George and Mark make it all the way to California?
And then there is Rachel, George’s girlfriend, left back in England. Would travelling to the United States without her turn out to be the stupidest decision he had ever made?

The Light in the Hallway by Amanda Prowse

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Cover from Goodreads. Link to book description >HERE<

I loved my first Amanda Prowse book, “The Day She Came Back” which also happened to be my first Netgalley read. It was the first time I cried so much that I started to keep a cry count (not even kidding). The first chapter made me cry, the last chapter made me cry, every other chapter in the middle made me cry, the book was Niagara Falls inducing!

So when I found an Amanda Prowse book on the Prime Reading list, I was overjoyed. This is one of the books I really hope I can get to during this month!

Goodreads Summary:

When Nick’s wife Kerry falls ill and dies, he realises for the first time how fragile his happiness has always been, and how much he’s been taking his good life and wonderful family for granted. Now, he suddenly finds himself navigating parenthood alone, unsure how to deal with his own grief, let alone that of his teenage son, Olly.
In the depths of his heartbreak, Nick must find a way to navigate life that pleases his son, his in-laws, his family and his friends—while honouring what Kerry meant to them all. But when it comes to his own emotions, Nick doesn’t know where to begin. Kerry was his childhood sweetheart—but was she really the only one who could ever make him happy?
And in the aftermath of tragedy, can Nick and his son find themselves again?

The Milan Job by Krista Cagg

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Cover from Goodreads. Link to book description >HERE<

The most exciting part of August is here! I’ll be taking part of my first book tour hosted by Psst Promotions! I’ll be sharing an excerpt and a review for this book towards the end of August so look forward to it (because I sure am!!) Finally a Steampunk book that suits my extra picky tastes :’) I’m…really…REALLY excited…! I read the first few pages and already have this bubbly giddy feeling in my tummy.

I’ve been craving a steampunk-like book for a long long time and it’s been an even longer time since I last read a book with a decent female protagonist that doesn’t fall into my least favorite trope where the female protagonist starts out strong…only to need rescuing by her love interest (I’m 80% sure it’s called the “Damsel in Distress” trope). The book comprises of five episodes in roughly 200 pages. I’m gearing up for a good time reading these shorts (which I’ve come to discover that I love). Paired with one of my favorite tropes (the “ragtag bunch of misfits”) I can only expect an exciting and adventurous read.

Goodreads Summary:

Meet Captain Alexandria de Sade, the proud and once loyal captain of Naviwerks chrono-ship #25. When she learned the truth about how the company was fleecing their customers she turned her back on the promotion they offered her, left the man she loved without a word, and disappeared with her ship.
With a plan in mind to undermine Naviwerks’ business of artifact and heirloom retrieval, Captain Alex hired on several like-minded misfits to crew her chrono-ship which she re-christened The William’s Hunt. They are: An awkward but genius Horotech, an irascible ex-marine, a flamboyant playboy, a churlish physician, and a hot-shot pilot.
Their first venture: go to Milan, Italy 1490 and retrieve the working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s Gran Cavallo before Naviwerks does. What should have been a simple snatch and run mission for the newly formed band of pirates goes south nearly immediately. In their struggle to recover, they learn that there is much more behind Naviwerks’ actions. Captain Alex and the crew of The William’s Hunt are the only ones that stand a chance of putting things right,and it seems as if her crew’s every step takes them deeper and deeper into discovering just how nefarious Naviwerks truly is.
All five of the monthly episodes of the maiden voyage of The William’s Hunt are collected here in The Milan Job! Follow Captain Alex, Laurence Kane, Geri Reynolds, Nigel Wellington, Dr. Hennessey, and Angel Flynn as they try to stay one step ahead of Naviwerks and Agent Nash, all the while making a grab for the swag that will keep The William’s Hunt in operation.

Walks with Sam: A Man, a Dog, and a Season of Awakening by David W. Berner

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Cover from Goodreads. Link to book description >HERE<

My Netgalley selection of the month is another, “Read Now” book. I had waltzed into the wrong section earlier, my exhaustion-cloud hazed eyes and my cotton candy brain had mistook the humor section for the horror section (again!) and went through 3 scary summaries before realizing I was in the wrong section and promptly hopped right off. I spent a good few seconds in the humor section before giving “Nature and Outdoors” a try. to my surprise, the genre isn’t all “garden guides” like I had assumed…An ARC with a publication date of August 28th, I hope to finish this before then and get a review up maybe a day or two beforehand.

Goodreads Summary:

A man, his dog, and a long walk can lead to unexpected discoveries. In the tradition of many literary walkers, David W. Berner sets out on foot hoping to reexamine his life, look back and forward, and most importantly, through the help of his young dog, Sam, try to find harmony in new beginnings and the uncertainties of the present.
In a series of chapters, each dedicated to one walk during a summer of hiking, the author finds that it is his beloved pet that allows him to awaken to a new spirit of mindfulness, finding beauty, wonder, and comfort in the ordinary, and to see a life, a neighborhood, and even a country with brand new eyes.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

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Cover from Goodreads. Link to book description >HERE<

Now this one is really pushing it. Every time I look up recommendations for epic fantasies, the same few series keep popping up and one of them is The First Law series. I’ve read a Mark Lawrence book (Prince of Fools) and commented about how much I loved the witty dialogue and writing and someone (on Reddit) had mentioned that this book had a similar witty writing style. SOLD. I actually have no idea what the book is about. I never made it past the first two chapters before I fell into an affair with maybe 10 other books, but I’m hoping to get back into this one and give this well hyped book a try. Maybe not this month…it’s 500+ pages…so I’ll throw it into the “very much hopeful, but extremely unlikely to start or finish” pile.

Goodreads Summary:

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.
Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

Note: None of these books are in reading order… I simply grouped up the Prime Readings up top because there’s two of them. I’m going to tackle the ones that have “deadlines” first (Milan and Sam).