If you would have told me about a month and a half ago that for the foreseeable future I would be having a lot of time off of work (COVID) then I probably would have thought that I would be getting a lot of writing done. How naive I was.
Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten some writing done and even started a new WIP, but I also haven’t written for my other WIP’s in quite a while. So here’s hoping that I haven’t completely dropped them, but I gotta go with what I feel in the moment and write now that’s my current WIP called THE SHAPE OF ECSTACY.
I see posts on Twitter all the time about people writing thousands of words a day or having a word quota. Here I am waiting for that spark. That gut feeling that I get the moment inspiration hits and a scene plays out in my head. Sometimes it will be once a day. Sometimes, once a week. This time it was for my blog, not my story, but writing is writing. As long as I am remaining creative I am happy.
I guess this is just a post about how my quarantine is going. Most of my days are spent waiting for that spark. It’s always in the back of my mind. “I should be writing.” But sometimes I don’t have that gut feeling and if I don’t have it, I think I will only write subpar material (compared to my stuff that isn’t subpar? If that exists).
Like right now. I know where my story is going and what I need to write, but I’m missing that something. That thing that compels me to write in that moment. That writer’s intuition that tells me “this is the time”. I can slowly start to feel it building now even as I write this. I guess it’s time to switch over to my WIP and stare at the page and hope that I start putting some words down.
Happy quarantine to y’all and thanks for reading my thoughts!
The Vanished Birds is the first novel from author Simon Jimenez. It tells the story of a mute boy that is driven by music; more specifically the sound of a flute. It also follows two women: Nia Imani and Fumiko Nakajima. As the story goes on, the three become intertwined in a quest to uncover the truth about the boy and where he came from.
Almost everything about this book is great, but the first chapter or part of this book surrounding a character named Kaeda was amazing. When I finished reading that chapter and realized that he most likely wouldn’t be a part of the story anymore I was sad. His and Nia’s interactions on Umbai-V could’ve been a great novel on their own.
The way that Jimenez wrote the interactions of characters. Like I said about Nia and Kaeda. He also wrote Fumiko and Dana just as well. Something that, normally I would be bored with, I was fascinated by and even hooked on. I think it’s the way he was able to convey that feeling of relationships that weren’t meant to last. Fantastic.
Things go kind of off the rails (in a good way) around the 3/4 mark. I was scared that it would disrupt what the book had going, but I was wrong. The book travels decades it seems and in mere paragraphs makes you feel that time lost and the struggles that characters have endured during that time.
The Okay/The Bad:
To find anything in this book that I didn’t like would be nitpicking and I would have to sit here a while to think of something.
The Final Thought:
I was teetering on an 8/10 right up until the last paragraphs of the book where it was just so beautifully written that I just loved it. I think this is the highest rated book that I’ve reviewed so far and it deserves it. I usually love anything where time plays a huge factor and really conveys that in space time is lost in an instant and how heartbreaking that is to think about.
I highly recommend this book to sci-fi lovers and, really, even romance lovers as well if you don’t mind a sci-fi setting. I look forward to reading more from Jimenez in the future!
Where to begin? I guess I’ll start by saying that I won’t go into detail about what my purpose was in Vietnam, but rather relish in the memories that I had with the people of the country. The reason I was here is a sensitive topic and I’ll leave it at that.
The Vietnamese people are some of the nicest people I have met throughout any of my travels. This is the twentieth country that I have had the privilege to visit. Yes, maybe my views are skewed because I worked along side these people for eight hours a day, seven days a week for about thirty days, but they were always open to talk and try to communicate.
I find this truly amazing due to the history that this country has had. There were locals that I worked with that I am certain were around during the Vietnam War. And, even though they probably have all the right in the world to be terrible to us, they were nothing but kind.
The woman on the left is named Thanh. All throughout my time in Vietnam she taught me different words and joked around with me. It made the monotony of the work more entertaining. I looked forward to working with her everyday.
Here are some of the words and phrases that I can now speak (very badly) in Vietnamese thanks to her:
I can count to pretty much 99 only because I forgot the word for hundred haha.
I can say “See you tomorrow”
I learned worm, grass, dump, throw, rock, green, blue, black, red.
So many things that she taught me and I will never forget it.
This is where we ate with some of the Vietnamese people every day for lunch. They cooked for us everyday. It was always a family style meal with rice, usually some kind of pork, a soup, and fruit. I got super excited on the chicken days. The chicken legs were amazing.
Working in such close proximity with the Vietnamese people was awesome. Everyone would always say hello and mess around. I had some of the women calling me four eyes when I would wear my sunglasses, but it was all in good fun. At the end of each day Thanh would always tell me that she wanted to work with me again the next day and we always would. She was/is an awesome friend. Thank you, Thanh.
Cibola Burn is the 4th book in The Expanse series. It takes place on an alien world called New Terra/Ilus. James Holden tries to maintain piece and compromise between the settlers of the alien world and the RCE employees as they both believe they have claim to the land and its resources.
If I had to pick something from this book that I liked, I would say that it would have to be the first quarter of the book. That’s where the most action happened. I enjoyed the character of Coop and thought that he would have made a way better villain than Murtry.
Honestly, most of the book fits in this category for me. I thought I was really going to enjoy Basia’s story line, which I did, but I think that just the slow burn of the book burned me out on the story overall.
James Holden’s chapters. This was a shocker for me, but I think it’s because he spent the entirety of the book away from his crew (other than Amos). The crew dynamic is one of my favorite things in the series.
Elvie and Havelock. I’m not really a fan of either one of these characters. Elvie would go on and on in science-speak, which I get it…she’s a scientist, but it wasn’t told in a way to get me invested in it. And for Havelock, half the story is him training some dudes with paintball guns. Wasn’t for me.
Murtry. Either deal with him in the first quarter of the book or not at all in my opinion. The whole situation could have been expedited.
Holden and Miller. Miller tried to get Holden to take him to the dead spot for the longest time. They don’t go until the very last chapters of the book.
The Final Thought:
I know I complained a lot, but this book made me consider moving on to another series. That’s how much I am not a fan of it. It didn’t have anything that I liked from previous books. At least if the crew were all together I would have those chapters to look forward to, but they were all separated. Glad to be moving on to Nemesis Games.
I’ve read that Cibola Burn is the polarizing book of the series and I could definitely see that. I also read that if you didn’t enjoy this book then you will probably love Nemesis Games, so I’m keeping a positive outlook!
Abaddon’s Gate is the third book in The Expanse series. It follows the crew of the Rocinante, Anna Volovodov, Bull, and Mulba Koh as they are all forced to face the Ring in the far reaches of the solar system.
Once again, the chapters told from Holden’s point of view remain the chapters which I look forward to reading the most. Though, the other characters were way more enjoyable to read here compared to Caliban’s War.
Where Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War focused on the protomolecule, I was glad to see that Abaddon’s Gate, while not necessarily moving away from the protomolecule, focused on a much larger scale threat.
Awesome characters. Melba Koh/Clarissa Mao was a great antagonist. You are able to empathize with why she is doing the things she is doing. Ashford, while a more shallow antagonist, was still a good addition to the story that offered a sort of balance to Clarissa’s character.
The first third of the book was a little slow. I was also super busy in my personal life around this time where I would go a day or two without reading which might have seemed to make this part of the book drag more for me.
Bull and Anna, while eventually became more interesting characters, were boring at first. Around the half way point, things really start to fire on all cylinders for all characters.
Honestly, I don’t really have anything bad to say about this book. Once every character was where they were supposed to be and doing what they needed to do, this book was great.
The Final Thought:
Abaddon’s Gate still didn’t reach Leviathan’s Wake for me, but it was damn close. I think LW is so good because it consists of only Holden and his crew and Miller.
I’m very interested to see where they take Miller from here and whatever is controlling him. I’m hoping we see some sort of big alien antagonist in the coming books!
Caliban’s War is the sequel to Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. It follows James Holden and crew, Bobbie Draper, Praxidike Meng, and Chrisjen Avasarala as they work to figure out where a new threat originated and stop it.
Caliban’s War starts out about as action packed as you can get. I believe it was the first chapter, told through Bobbie’s POV, that I was audibly saying “Damn” throughout.
The dynamic between the crew of the Rocinante is still as good as ever with a couple of the new characters thrown in to shake things up.
I loved the idea of Meng’s storyline and how he is on a system-wide search for his daughter.
Though, I really liked the idea of Prax’s story, I felt that it didn’t hold enough emotional weight. Maybe that’s because he is a new character and I didn’t care about him at first.
Chrisjen Avasarala. I am not one that likes to read chapters upon chapters of politics and that’s virtually all this character was. That being said, when she teamed up with Draper and the rest of the crew I wouldn’t say that I started to like her story, but it became more tolerable.
I think that Bobbie Draper is a really good character, but it was just the fact that she was stuck with Avasarala for the whole story that made it just okay. Though, I enjoyed her chapters more than Avasarala’s.
Dr. Strickland. We spent the whole book looking for him and he dies in like 2 paragraphs. I guess I expected some revelation or something, but apparently the Prax’s assumptions were right all along and they were just trying to infect her with the protomolecule.
I’m not going to say that it was necessarily bad, but there was a lull in this book that started to bore me. Mostly, Avasarala and he sitting with admirals talking at conference tables and so on. I’m reading on a Kindle and I would say it was around the 20%-40% portion of the book. Once I hit around the 45% done marker it really started to pick up and I flew through the second half in two days.
The Final Thought:
Nowhere near as good as Leviathan Wakes, but it is good. There is a lull around the 2nd quarter of the book, but it picks up after that. There was a lot of politics in this book that I didn’t really care about or understand that much. I liked Prax’s storyline, but I wish we could’ve explored it more. I felt like it got overshadowed by the protomolecule often, but I do understand that is the main overarching plot of the series.
*I’m about to start the novella Gods of Risk and then start Abaddon’s Gate after. My goal is to finish it in a week and have a review up!
I would like to preface this review by saying that I have only seen maybe one or two episodes of The Expanse’s first season. I can’t remember why I quit watching, but I think it was because I thought the plot was confusing with Earth, Mars, and the Belt. Now for the review:
First of all, let me say that I am a reader that has a hard time with finishing books. I usually get halfway through, but end up putting the book down and never picking it back up again. I think a big part of that is the length of chapters. I know that it will be a huge chunk of time reading a chapter in those books.
The great thing, for me, about Leviathan Wakes is that the chapters are short. I can sit down and read a couple of chapters in thirty minutes and feel good that I made progress on the book. And a lot happens in those chapters as well.
The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Joe Miller and Jim Holden. This also kept me reading because of the fact of “Well, I read Miller’s chapter so now I have to read Holden’s chapter.” It was only fair.
The pacing is AMAZING. I looked forward to reading this book everyday. There are some books that I want to like because the concept is cool or maybe the story is even interesting, but it takes so long for anything to happen. I didn’t have to worry about that in this book. If I did come across a chapter that was slower it didn’t really matter because the chapters are short anyway and then I’m on to another perspective.
The setting is interesting to me. In a world full of Star Wars’ and Star Trek’s, I love when a story is contained to a “small” area. A space opera that takes place in the solar system is interesting to me because it’s something that could, at least, start to happen in the next couple of generations. Side note: If you haven’t seen the movie Prospect, it’s really good. I could see a story like that happening in The Expanse’s universe.
The characters. The characters are really good. I’ve never smiled while reading a book before reading this book. There were multiple times where the crew of the Rocinante would just be hanging out and talking and it would actually be really funny. I could picture the conversations happening and each character had their own voice.
I loved the whole story with Julie Mao, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole “virus turning people into mindless minions” thing. It wasn’t super unique, but it wasn’t bad.
This may be ignorance on my part, but I’m not 100% positive on how Eros is propelling itself across the solar system. Is it just because of its spin? I’m not sure. Again, not really a criticism, but I thought I’d add it here.
Not a big deal at all, but I looked forward to reading Jim Holden’s chapters way more than Joe Miller’s. I think it’s because there is a lot of cop talk explaining how things work in the world, where Holden’s chapters are a lot more action and character interaction. Just my preference though.
I’m just going to put this here to show how good this book is! Nothing that I can say bad about this book.
The Final Thought:
I’m so glad that I read this book. It has helped me realize things about the space saga that I am currently writing and will definitely only help me get better. Never in my life would I have thought that I would start reading a series of books with NINE books, but here I am. And as soon as I finished Leviathan Wakes I went ahead and bought Caliban’s War. My goal this year is to read all nine books. Fingers crossed!
*If you’re an author and would like me to review your book, just let me know! I enjoy sci-fi the most, thriller, crime, etc. Hit me up on Twitter at @fitewrites if you would like a review.