In my post about the first book in the “Take Them To The Stars” series by Sylvain Neuvel, I mentioned that bloodlines are important; they still are in book two of the series Until the Last of Me, published 29 March 2022.
The first book started in the 1940s, with Mia, the one hundredth incarnation, extricating Wernher von Braun from Nazi Germany. The second book starts in 1968, Mia is a middle-aged woman and has to flee from the Tracker with her young daughter Lola. Their flight takes them to the US, where they try to live an inconspicuous life, which is not very easy especially once Lola turns into a teenager.
Without giving away too much of the content of the book, it follows the two women and the family of the Tracker with flashbacks to earlier incarnations of the two bloodlines. There is also a quest when a former friend of Mia’s mother sends them pictures of a bow, which belonged to one of their fore-mothers and has a message carved into its sides.
The story takes us from the Moon Landing, the Space Race, the Voyager probes, to the Spaceshuttle, but also to Victorian London, ancient Egypt, as well as Iron Curtain Russia and China.
Neuvel left the story at a mild cliffhanger. This means, that although part of the plot has been wrapped up, there are, of course, some things unresolved. I’m wondering where he’s taking us next, apart from To The Stars.
3.5/5 Harpy Eagles (that makes it 4/5 stars on Goodreads)
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill, publishing day 07 June 2022.
As an amateur writer I truly liked the concept of this book: a manuscript by a thriller writer being beta-read by a colleague.
Hannah, an Australian writer with some renown, is writing a book set in Boston. In Hannah's book, four people sit close to each other in the Boston Public Library when they hear a woman's scream. Later the body of a woman is found. Among those four people is Freddie, a mystery writer from Australia, who uses the experience and the people she's met as material for her new book. [Did I mention that it is slightly complicated to describe?] Also, Freddie and the other three library patrons become fast friends while trying to solve the murder of the woman. And they are all being drawn deeper into the case than they had anticipated.
Leo lives in Boston, somehow got in contact with the famous writer Hannah. He offered to help Hannah with the manuscript since, due to the Covid pandemic, she cannot travel to Boston to scout the area herself.
I didn't mind the grammar or spelling mistakes in the manuscript part - I'm sure they will be addressed before the book is published - made it feel much more like a manuscript. Sadly, it had a few plot holes and timeline inconsistencies; Leo could have picked up on them, but then again he's only beta-reading the chapters and not an editor. Further, he has his own agenda, like using the connection to finding an agent to get his own book out, or to getting Hannah to write the pandemic into the story.
I wish the mystery had been more thrilling, more mysterious. I puzzled it out early on.
[ARC provided by the publishers through NetGalley.]
2/5 Harpy Eagles
Book Lovers by Emily Henry, published 12 May 2022 (UK edition).
When I opened the book, I wanted to read for about ten minutes, or until my mug was empty, but I couldn't put it down until I had turned the last page.
Was it predictable? Yes, it was.
What kept me turning the pages? Emily Henry's writing, characters, snarky banter.
Third book by Henry that I've read and the third book that I had to finish in one sitting.
[ARC provided by the publishers through NetGalley.]
5/5 Harpy Eagles
The Audacity of Sara Grayson by Joani Elliott, published 25 May 2021.
Sara's mother died three weeks ago. Now Sara is sitting in her lawyer's office, open-mouthed, because her mother tasked her with writing the last novel in her bestselling series.
This debut novel was very inspirational. Sara's journey from disbelief to believing in herself is one everyone of us can understand, whether you are an aspiring writer or not; we all struggle with confidence issues now and then. Sara has to overcome hers quick though, because that book has a publishing deadline and if she wants to write it, she must overcome her angst.
I liked the writing style. Liked the characters with all their flaws. The family secret seemed a tiny bit over the top, but it was well-explained.
Last but not least, even if you don't like all aspects of the story, the quotes by well-known authors at the beginning of each chapter are a treat alone, and they fit perfectly with the chapter content.
Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji, published 05 April, 2022.
The cover and title were the things that drew me to this ARC. I immediately wanted to know answers to all the wh-questions. When I then opened the book, I noticed that it said “Revolutions Book 2” on the very first page. So, obviously, I searched the internet to find out which first book in the series I might have missed. Turns out I didn’t miss a book, this is Oyebanji’s debut novel. Well, it reads like a “not the first” novel in a series. I’m not saying it has middle-book-syndrome, it is a good standalone. It would have been an even better standalone with a tiny bit more background information.
We find ourselves on board a generation ship on the way to Tau Ceti. The inhabitants of this ship, and the two other accompanying vessels, have been on their journey for 132 years or six generations. They have reached the point on their route, where Braking Day is upon them. The day the ship will turn and the thrusters will start decelerating the vessels for about a year to get them into orbit of Destination World.
Our main character is Ravi MacLeod, a midshipman training to be an engineer. Coming from a family with non-academic/non-officer class background it is hard for him to work his way up within the seemingly tight social classes on board. What makes Ravi so special? I am tempted to say he is a chosen one. Sounds YA Fantasy, but in fact he is. He’s the one with the vision of a girl floating outside the hull with no spacesuit on. He’s the one with the voice inside his head and the weird dreams. He’s also the one with a non-law abiding family and hence has had “special” training as a kid and a family to help him out of a tight spot. Especially his cousin Roberta, called Boz, who’s extremely good with technology. And he’s the one who will make sure Braking Day will happen.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the book – it’s not much:
The feeling that I am not reading the first book, hence knowing I am missing some information. I puzzled it together reading the book, yet I am sure there is a “Revolutions Book 1” on Oyebanji’s hard disk and I would love to read it.
Well-known phrases turned so that they fit the generation ship. Instead of ‘for God’s sake’ people say ‘for Archie’s sake’ – the ship is called Archimedes. People do not ‘keep it straight’, they ‘keep it circular’ – because of the rings that make up the ship; which is a very clever world-building strategy. Still, they’ve been out there for only 132 years, or six generations, language does not change that much in such a short time.
Here’s what I liked about the book:
The book is packed with action, conspiracy, good banter, illicit tech, sabotage, and a deadline that they cannot afford to overshoot, literally.
The world-building is very well thought through to holidays, inter-ship sports events and protest organisations, even if I am grumpy about the phrases.
Ravi’s struggle of being true to his family, true to his home/ship, true to his chosen position in life is very real. He’s not only trying to keep his sanity (girl floating in space, voices in his head, dreams), he’s trying to do right by all the people around him.
Sometimes, a book jumps into your way at just the right time. I‘ve read about Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree on Goodreads, and decided to try it to get me out of a reading slump. Gladly, I loved everything about it.
It‘s about an orc called Viv, and she‘s had enough of the adventurer life. She‘s worn out, and her back hurts. So after one last job retrieving a fabled artifact, she moves to Thune to open up a coffee shop.
She quickly gathers a lovely cast of characters around her, including:
Cal, a hob carpenter / handyman who helps her renovating
Tandri, a succubus who supports her as a barista (and also in general)
Thimble, a rattkin who turns out to be an amazing baker
Also, there‘s an epic direcat strolling around and protecting the premises.
Let me just say that everything about this book is lovely. There is a strong found family vibe, as Viv is building a new home against all odds. This story gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings.
Keep cinnamon rolls and coffee on hand when you are diving in, though.