Month In Review: July 2018

Month In Review2

Well another month has come and gone!

Things are looking up here at Off The TBR. The really crazy hectic period at work came and went, and we hired another person in our department to help pick up some of the load which means I should be working less on the weekends which means MORE TIME FOR BLOGGING! This has already played out this month just in terms of reviews. I went from no reviews at all in June to posting two in July, and if it weren’t for a weekend long power outage across practically the whole city I might have posted a third.

So here’s what happened this month… Continue reading

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Waiting On Wednesday: Noumenon Infinity

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and continued now by Tressa at Wishful Endings under the heading “Can’t Wait Wednesday” where readers and bloggers share and discuss books they are excited about reading and which have generally not yet been released. I’m sticking with “Waiting On Wednesday” just because I like the way it rolls off the tongue.

One of my favorite book surprises last year was Noumenon, by Marina J. Lostetter. I read it back before I started the blog so I never wrote a full-on review, but I did include it in my Best Books Of 2017 post at the end of the year. Here’s what I said about it at the time:

“Noumenon is a story of humanity’s exploration of the stars. Or one star in particular. An anomalous star has been discovered that seems to defy the laws of physics. Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer proposes a plan to send a deep-space mission to investigate it and return home with its findings. The big catch however is the journey will take centuries. Generations of crew will live and die before the mission ever returns home. How will they do it while also ensuring a talented make-up for the thousands of crew spread across nine ships required for this undertaking? The answer…clones.

This book was nowhere on my radar until just about the time it was released. I read a few early reviews and picked it up. It was a lot more than I expected. I’d say it’s more social science fiction than hard science fiction. It explores what might happen on a scientific journey through space lasting centuries while retaining the same genetic make-up through the use of clones. What kind of society forms out of that pot? How does it evolve? What conflicts arise? What has to be shed from their previous earthly cultures? What remains? How do they return home? Will Earth even be home anymore?

There were times reading Noumenon that I felt joy and times I felt gutted. Lostetter did a fantastic job with her debut and I look forward to more.”

Well, more is coming! Noumenon Infinity drops on August 14th from Harper Voyager and I can’t wait to get a copy. The blurb is below, but if you haven’t read Noumenon maybe don’t look any further down the page than the cover as  it does give away a couple of minor plot points. If you haven’t read Noumenon I recommend you pick it up, then join me for Noumenon Infinity.

NoumenonInfinity

Continue reading

Month In Review: June 2018

Month In Review2

Wow is it already July? Half the year has already gone by. That just feels crazy. Well, it’s time for another Month In Review And A Look Ahead, and this one is pretty interesting. To me at least.

June was a pretty spectacular month at Off The TBR and at the same time not much happened. I didn’t post a single book review and I had the best month ever in terms of traffic on the blog along with the single most viewed post I’ve ever had. Now, that isn’t saying much since this little ole blog has only been around since November 2017, but I’m kinda excited about it. Ok…here’s what happened… Continue reading

Smoke Eaters Book Review

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Author: Sean Grigsby
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publication Date:  March 6, 2018
Format: Kindle e-reader

Those of you who follow my blog know I’ve been busy for the past couple of months and am behind on my reviews. I’m FINALLY getting this one out even though I finished it over a month ago. For this post I’m also trying out a slightly different format to see if I like it. I’m working off of just a few notes and memory but here it goes…

I want to thank Netgalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of this book.

“Firefighter Cole Brannigan is on the verge of retirement after 30 years on the job, and a decade fighting dragons. But during his final fire call, he discovers he’s immune to dragon smoke. It’s such a rare power that he’s immediately conscripted into the elite dragon-fighting force known as the Smoke Eaters. Retirement cancelled, Brannigan is re-assigned as a lowly rookie, chafing under his superiors. So when he discovers a plot to take over the city’s government, he takes matters into his own hands. With hundreds of innocent civilians in the crosshairs, it’s up to Brannigan and his fellow Smoke Eaters to repel the dragon menace.”

Smoke Eaters is a thrilling science fiction/fantasy mash-up sure to whet your appetite for that page turning spring or summertime read. Full of action that blends near future scientific advancement with the legendary reptilian monsters of fantasy lore, Grigsby’s debut offers something for fans of both genres. I liken it to a fun summer action flick of a movie…er book. Continue reading

Still Around…Still Reading…

In case you were wondering, yeah I’m still here. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my Is The Month Over Yet post things have gotten a little hectic around here. Between the kids’ extra-curricular activities and a crazy busy work schedule that hasn’t calmed down for nearly a month my average night lately has me sitting down to relax somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 PM. At that point I just don’t have it in me to blog. The weekends haven’t been much better. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not really complaining…well maybe a little…but seriously I enjoy the kids’ stuff and being busy at work is good job security (in theory) so I’m only partially complaining.

Now, I may be too tired to blog, but I’m not too tired to read! Which means I’m starting to get way behind on reviews, not just random posts about anything book related. And I feel really bad about this guys. Most of what I’ve been reading lately are books I’ve either requested, or that have been sent to me by a publisher/publicist (which I agreed to accept)…which means I kinda owe it to them to get the reviews done. The only problem is my best time to write is on the weekend and I will probably be working the next couple of weekends. This sucks. But whatever, it is what it is.

Anyway, below is what I’ve been reading and what I hope to get reviews up about soon.

img_3604Smoke Eaters by Sean Grigsby

Dragons VS Firefighters. Need I say anything else? I really enjoyed this one. Fun sci-fi/fantasy mash-up with hints of Ghostbusters. If you don’t want to wait for the review just know that I really liked it and think you will too. Unless you don’t like dragons or firefighters, or ghostbusters…but then you’d just be weird.

 

 

img_3605-1The Song Of All by Tina LeCount Myers

Fantasy in a Scandinavian setting. Have I ever told you how much I like snow? I kinda love it. This book actually hit on a bunch of my reading goals for the year. Debut author…check. Non-western European setting…check. Independent/small press or self-published author…check. Books with snow…check. OK that last one wasn’t on the list but c’mon. I even ended up with an extra copy of this one and held my first book giveaway. The problem was I didn’t really like it. I’m still trying to figure out why and how I want to review it. Like is it just not for me or something else? Stay tuned…

IMG_3798.jpgApex Magazine: February 2018 Issue

One of my goals this year is to read more short fiction. One solution to that has been to buy more short story collections in book format. The other solution I hit upon…crazy I know…was reading some sci-fi/fantasy magazines. Then two things happened. I discovered Apex is published right here in Lexington, and I read one of the short stories for the month and absolutely loved it. So I bought the issue. This will be my first review of a magazine and I’m kind of excited about the different format.

img_3599Gedlund: A Tale Of The Verin Empire by William Ray

This is my current read and I’m about half-way through. So far I’m loving it. It’s blackpowder fantasy (which I thoroughly enjoy) with goblins, elves, and the undead. yeah.

Ray has also done his homework when it comes to some of the details of 19th century army life and it gives me all the feels. In a previous life I was a re-enactor (story for another day) and as I read I’m like “that! exactly that!” Ah memories. Anyway I’m really looking forward to the second half of the book.

Well that’s it for now. I’m gonna try really hard to get a new review up sometime in the next week.  But then again I had said I wanted to get one posted last weekend and it didn’t happen. We’ll see. In the meantime happy reading, and let me know what you’ve been enjoying lately.

2018 Vintage Science Fiction Month Recap

Vintage SciFi

Well January has come to an end and with it another Vintage Science Fiction Month is in the books! I wanted to pop by with a quick update on how my month went…

This was my first year participating in Vintage SciFi month and I have to say I enjoyed it. Had I not joined in I probably would have put off reading the two books I read forever, which would have SUCKED and I wouldn’t have known it.

IMG_3372.jpgI kicked off the month with The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. You can read my review here. If you didn’t guess by reading the review (or if you didn’t read it) I absolutely loved this classic science fiction war story. My most succinct summary was simply “so. damn. good.” Not much else needs to be said. I’d been meaning to read The Forever War for a while but just never got around to it. Once I decided on participating in Vintage Science Fiction Month however I knew I couldn’t make excuses any longer. For this book alone I’m glad I took part. If you’ve never read it and decide to participate next year I highly recommend it. Continue reading

The Forever War Review

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Author: Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Published 1974, this edition 2009

“So. Damn. Good.”

That was my reaction and the first words I wrote after finishing The Forever War. My thoughts after letting the book sit with me for over a week have not changed. It is not only a great science fiction war novel (many would say the best), it is a great war novel. period. Continue reading

2018 Reading Goals

So I’ve been mulling over setting some reading goals for the new year. I don’t like setting hard goals to meet and I never make New Year’s resolutions. But, I do have some general goals I’d like to accomplish this year and going forward.

When I started the blog back in November I didn’t have any goals other than start the damn blog! Then once it launched I tried to post at least twice a week. That was it really. But now that I’m a matured and seasoned blogger (of about two months) it’s time to get serious. In a non-committal kind of way. So here’s a few or more general things I’d like to start doing.

READ MORE DEBUT NOVELS

IMG_3522.jpgThis year I want to read at least one debut novel a month. I know, right there like two paragraphs above I said I don’t like setting hard goals, and here I’ve set a number. Shush…I can do what I want, it’s my blog.

Anyway, I’d like to read at least one debut novel each month. For a long time I’ve only read books after the author is established. But that means I miss out on the excitement of finding a new author and getting to tell everyone about them. And yeah it may mean I read a few duds, but my guess is I find some gems too. If 2017 was any example there is great potential for some awesome new fiction. So, one new debut a month and by the end of the year maybe I can post a decent best of 2018 list.

For January my debut is Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. Now I know, this isn’t exactly a debut because he self-published it a few years ago, but it just got picked up by Orbit and released today. It was his debut novel, and I’m treating it as a debut for 2018. Continue reading

January 2018 Update

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on what’s going on, and what to look forward to at least in the short-term.

Vintage SciFi

Right now it’s Vintage Science Fiction Month! If you’d like to participate choose some vintage science fiction and read along. Blog about it if you blog, tweet about it if you tweet, facebook about it if you facebook, insta if you insta, whatever. There are no hard and fast rules about what qualifies for “vintage” science fiction but I (and others) are using our birth year…if it’s older than you it’s vintage.

If you’d like some more details about Vintage Science Fiction Month check out this post from Andrea at the Little Red Reviewer for background and on Twitter @VintageSciFi_ (with the underscore at the end).

IMG_3471.jpgA bunch of us have joined together for a Dune read along on twitter. Each week we read a portion of the text then participate in a group chat. At the end of the month we’re talking about watching the 80’s Dune movie and doing a live chat. Look for #ReadDune on Twitter.

So far I’m really enjoying my second reading of this SF classic. There’s soooooo much I glossed over in my first reading 15 or more years ago. That and age has given me a wider context for things unfortunately.

I’ll probably do some sort of review at the end of the month. Continue reading

Best Books Of 2017

It feels a little strange to be writing this post today. I started 2017 with a goal of trying to see just how many books I could read in the year. There was no set amount, I was just going to note a few words about them as I went and post pictures to facebook and twitter with pictures of my bedside bookshelf as it filled up with each read. By the end of the year I was blogging and writing reviews. So who knows what I’ll be doing this time in 2018.

Last night I took a look back at my list. I read 47 books in 2017. I’ve discovered that’s not a lot compared to some of you but I feel pretty good about it. I’ve put the full list at the bottom of this post. There’s some really good books in that list. I didn’t get to read as many works published in 2017 as I would have liked and there were a lot of great books to come out in the SFF world this year. I wish I could have got to more of them.

Anyway, for this post I’ve listed the seven books that I either gave a five star review on the blog, or that I would have given a five star review had I been blogging at the time I read it. Four of the seven are debuts! Not all of them fall into the speculative fiction focus of the blog but I do read a wider selection. You’ll even notice some history books at the bottom where I’ve listed all the reads of the year. So here you go…my best of 2017 in the order I read them. Continue reading