Shaykitteh's World of Books

A reader, reviewer, proofreader, and editor; my goal is to share my love of books with others, so this is where I will be posting my reviews!

Review: Serenity - Leaves on the Wind

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind - Zack Whedon

While it's always fun to step back into the 'verse and visit the crew from Firefly/Serenity, this graphic novel was a bit of a disappointment. While the plot is good, it suffers from a bit of a cliffhanger ending. The worst crime, however, is the horrible artwork. The cover and the artwork on the chapter pages are beautiful, but the remainder of the artwork - which is 95% of it - is just terrible, with the characters all looking too much alike so that I had a difficult time sometimes figuring out who was supposed to be who.

*Library Copy*

Review: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned

Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 1 - Daniel Arthur Smith

Tales from the Canyons of the Damned takes us into the mist, giving us three short stories filled with unknown - and sometimes unseen - horrors. After first having been introduced to the mist and what lies within in his short story Tower, we now see the fate of others in what I have to imagine is the exact same mist.

In Sandhogs, a work crew is stranded six hundred feet below the streets of Manhattan. The Penthouse brings us to a view from within the mists itself, as a man named Jack drinks alone while pondering his fate. The Harbor takes us out to a ferry, where a visitor just wants to go home with her daughter. All three of these locations have one thing in common... the mists, the creatures within, and the end of the world as they know it.

Though I will admit that I liked Tower better, the author's story that introduced me to the mist, this was a great collection and I enjoyed the chance to see the fates of others when brought face-to-face with a reality filled with nightmares.


Review: Tower

Tower - Daniel Arthur Smith

When the lights went out, Nathan Farthen was high in the tower at One World Trade. With the memory of 9/11 fresh in their minds, the workers trapped need to regroup and plan an escape. But when the mist creeps in, bringing the tentacles, Nate realizes that this attack is far from mundane, the actions of something other than human.

Would they be able to survive?

This short story is delightfully creepy. With a Lovecraftian feel, the unexpected horrors that await our protagonist and his new coworkers will keep the readers on the edge of their seats, hoping for the best while wondering what will come next. I really hope to someday find out what exactly happened to bring these events to New York City.


Review: Haven

HAVEN: A SciFi Short Story - Drew Avera

Haven: (noun) A place of safety or refuge.

Or is it?

In this short story, written by Drew Avera, we learn that what you expect isn't what you always get. When the world is falling apart, the view through a young boy's eyes shows us the hope, despair, and corruption prevalent in a society where people are desperate to survive.

Is this a haven in truth? I guess you'll have to read it to find out.

I received a free copy of this book through the author's email list.


Review: The Time Travel Chronicles (The Future Chronicles)

The Time Travel Chronicles (The Future Chronicles) - Ernie  Luis, Rysa Walker, Anthony Vicino, Lucas Bale, Ann Christy, Daniel Arthur Smith, Erik Wecks, Stefan Bolz, Samuel Peralta, Ernie Lindsey, Crystal Watanabe, Tracy E. Banghart, Robert J. Sawyer, Carol Anne Davis, Michael Holden

I've recently become hooked on anthologies, finding the experience of reading connected short stories to be an excited way to learn about new authors and become reacquainted with worlds I already enjoy. The newest addition to my kindle is The Time Travel Chronicles, part of The Future Chronicles. I have enjoyed every one of the Chronicles I have picked up, and this was no exception.


The collection starts out with a bang... or rather, a blink. Extant, by Anthony Vicino, takes us into a world where the gifted can freeze time, race through it, or blink to the past. But not everything is perfect... can knowing that you're saving the world make up for the horrifying consequences? (5 Stars)


Gambit by Rysa Walker is the second book of the collection, and asks the question that everyone wonders: can you safely change the past to make the future your own? And... if you can, should you? When I completed this story, I immediately bought the first 2 books of the author's CHRONOS series, which tells you how much this premise intrigued me. (5 Stars)


Were unicorns supposed to be on Noah's Ark? Beasts of the Earth by Ernie Lindsey answers that question, and more. (4 Stars)


Excess Baggage takes us into a whirlwind of a tale, where a boy is swept away into the past accidentally. The ending of the story leaves so many possibilities open to fuel the imagination, allowing the reader to wonder not only about the fates of the travelers, but also the world left behind. (4 1/2 Stars)


Stefan Bolz's The Traveler made me cry... it's a bittersweet story about loss, and the lengths that someone will go through to say goodbye. (5 Stars)


Eighty-Three is a story with twists and leaps through time, showing us a man who randomly jumps into his past and future, interacting with the world-to-be, or that left behind. But it is true, or just a delusion? (4 1/2 Stars)


Everyone dreams of living forever... or to somehow jump into a better future. But what if the future isn't what you imagined it would be? Though I had a premonition of what the ending of Life/Time in the New World would be, it was so well-written and had such an edge of truth to it that I can confidently say that it was one of my favorites in the collection. (5 Stars)


I've been a fan of Robert J. Sawyer's work since I picked up his WWW Trilogy a few years back, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed his short story, Just Like Old Times. This was a fun tale about an alternate death sentence, leaving us to wonder if the past could change the present. (4 1/2 Stars)


Shades is the tale of a boy who can't stay still.. but not by his own choice. Every five years, since his birth, all proof of his existence is wiped clean and he finds himself ten years in the future, with no past, no family, and no hope of a normal life. Can he find the courage to take control back? (4 1/2 Stars)


The smell of blood on the beach foretells a day of horror, when humanity will go back to try to change the past. The Nothing Gate is a morbid tale that leaves you to wonder about the fate of both the main character and the world itself. (4 1/2 Stars)


Meddler by Ernie Luis is another favorite... when you combine a drug dealer with a conscious with time travel, nothing could possibly go wrong, right? I look forward to looking into more books by this author! (5 Stars)


I'm still trying to figure out my feelings toward The Diatomic Quantum Flop. This is a story that will leave you thinking about the possibilities hidden within the human mind while simultaneously wondering what happens next. While I enjoyed this tale, it was a little chaotic to be a favorite of mine, but was still an excellent and intriguing tale. (4 Stars)


Red Mustang is a standout piece in a collection full of stories that shine. What happens if an action of yours not only ruined your life, but the lives of those around you? If you could go back to that moment and relive your life, knowing that you do now, would you? (5 Stars)


Hereafter by Samuel Peralta is a perfect story to close out the anthology, drawing us into a family tied together by time travel. Not only is the timing of the travel clearly thought out, but the impact on the people involved is so well described that this story made me cry as well... not once, but twice. This author will play with your heartstrings while making you wonder about what the future holds. (5 Stars)


At the end of this collection, I'm left with fourteen outstanding tales, and nothing that I would rate less than four stars. I am very happy that I was given an opportunity to read this book, and I look forward to reading more by all of these authors in the future.


While I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book for review purposes, I have also pre-ordered the anthology because I loved it so much. The good news is that you can buy it too... it's currently listed for pre-order on Amazon for only $0.99!



Delay on reading/reviewing
Delay on reading/reviewing

I apologize for the lack of reviews lately. I've been busy editing, and then I broke a tooth and needed to go in to get that fixed as well as some cavities filled. Right now I'm just in pain, but slowly reading again.

Four by R.E. Carr - Initial thoughts

Four - R.E. Carr

Months ago, I saw this book as one of the options on Kindle Scout so I nominated it. The book was selected to be published, so I got a free copy.


Now, when nominating items though Kindle Scout, you get to see the cover image, the book description, and you can also read an excerpt. This is where I admit that I almost never read the excerpts for any of the books, relying solely on the descriptions and the covers to grab my attention and make me interested enough for me to nominate a book.


For months, the book languished in my kindle... until the author contacted me though another site I post my reviews on, wanting to know if I would be interested in receiving a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. I admitted to her that I not only owned the book, but that I had nominated it to be published, which made her happy.


Since she asked nicely, I was happy to pull it out of digital mothballs and start reading it.


And I'm glad that I did. Only one chapter in - roughly 3% - I'm cracking up. Silently, because my husband is sleeping, but I'm already really enjoying this book. The author does a great hon at getting you interested right away, and I'm excited to read the rest of the book.

Soundless - Chapters 1 & 2

Soundless - Richelle Mead

In what was once a fertile valley, long blocked by avalanches, a village exists in silence. Trapped and dependent upon a town at the foot of the mountain for food and supplies, the villagers have been organized into castes: the artists, who observe and report news in drawings; the suppliers, who send the metals down off the mountain and negotiate for food in return; servants, who serve and take care of the artists and suppliers; and the miners, the lowest, who toil deep in the mountain to bring up the metal they need for trade.


But when the miners start to go blind as well as deaf, the entire village suffers.


Though NetGalley, I was able to read an excerpt of the book, the first two chapters only, which is enough to make me want to read this entire book. Already, I am interested in the characters and their plight, especially that of Fei and her sister, Zhang Jing. I only hope that I will get the opportunity to read the entire book!

Review: The Snow Globe

The Snow Globe - Jenna Nelson

Sondrine never expected to find herself in the middle of a war, seemingly the only hope to defeat an immortal queen. In fact, all that she wanted was to avoid an arranged marriage and to somehow continue practicing her magic. But when Sondrine leaves her aunt's emporium and apothecary shop in the light of a full moon, she finds herself transported from London to Winterhaven, trapped by an insane king who somehow knows her name.


The author has created a wonderful world that draws the reader into the middle of an adventure. This is a world where everyone has at least a touch of magic, where monsters and myths come to life, and where deception lurks in unexpected places. The author is really able to print the characters to life, developing them over the course of the book, allowing you to slowly peel back the layers to reveal personality and a fascinating history. Even the secondary characters are interesting enough that you’ll want to read more about them.


As this is a fantasy book, you expect certain things to be true. There will be magic, unlikely heroes (or heroines), villains, and adventure. All of this is true, but it’s just the outer trappings of the convoluted plot woven together. The author doesn’t just provide the answers to you, but instead drops hints and tidbits until you at some point realize that you somehow knew it all along. There are still questions left unanswered at the end, without being a cliffhanger, giving a deep desire to read the next book in the series.


Overall, this is a wonderfully fun book, full of humor and mischief, as well as danger. While this was my first book that I have read by Jenna Nelson, it certainly will not be my last.


I received a copy of this book for review purposes.




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Poison Study Read-Along Chapters 9-17

Poison Study  - Maria V. Snyder

For Poison Study's tenth anniversary, the author Maria V. Snyder is hosting a Read-Along of the book. The week, the "assignment" was Chapters 9-17.


Chapter 9 opens with Yelena realizing that even in Valek's rooms she may not be safe, brought to light by a message scrawled in the dust. Still an outsider, Yelena finds herself at odds with even the kitchen staff, friendless and alone. But is she? Valek and Yelena grow closer together, with him seeming to care about her as more then just a convicted-criminal-turned-servant.


But a magician is after Yelena, and Valek grows suspicious. In a land where magicians are killed - if they can't escape - Yelena's untrained magic is as much of a threat to her life as the poison that keeps her from running away.

(show spoiler)


This section ends with Yelena making friends in unlikely places, giving her a semblance of hope. 


I love this book, and reading it in short sections is a fun experience, since it causes me to actually think about the sections and how they all work together to create a wonderful adventure.

Poison Study Read-Along Chapters 1-8

Poison Study  - Maria V. Snyder

For Poison Study's tenth anniversary, the author Maria V. Snyder - along with Two Chicks on Books - is hosting a Read-Along of the book. This week, the "assignment" was Chapters 1-8.


I first read Poison Study back in late 2005, early 2006. I remember seeing it in the local bookstore, still in hardcover, and something about the cover - maybe the title, maybe the counts - drew my attention. Unsure if I would actually like the book or not, I sat in one of my comfortable over-sized chairs scattered throughout Schuler Books and started the story.


Ten years later, I own ever book written by the author.


But back to the Read-Along.


Starting the book, the readers are immediately thrown into Yelena's horrid situation as she leaves the dungeon on the way to be executed. Her crime? Murder. She doesn't deny it, but didn't give a reason either, making the reader curious about what could have happened to cause an eighteen-year-old girl to fill the son of the General who raised her.


Yelena is spared the noose, however, when she is given the opportunity to become the Commander's poison tester.


The first eight chapters introduce us to Yelena, giving us brief glimpses into her past, as well as Valek, the head of the Commander's intelligence network, who is also in charge of training Yelena. The author introduces us to different tasting methods as we learn with Yelena, and we also start to get an idea of the internal politics and how Ixia became the military dictatorship it is.


This is a book designed to grab the reader's attention immediately, subsequently giving just enough information to keep interest while building the world around the characters.


Review: The Immortality Chronicles

The Immortality Chronicles (The Future Chronicles) - Gareth Foy, Harlow C. Fallon, D.K. Cassidy, E.E. Giorgi, Paul B. Kohler, Drew Avera, Will Swardstrom, Thomas Robins, John Gregory Hancock, D. Robert Pease, Samuel Peralta, Patricia Gilliam, Carol Anne Davis

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be immortal? After a while, what would you do? The quest to gather wealth would eventually grow boring, and with every movie watched and ever book read, after having watched all of your friends and family die before you, would you crave the cold caress of death?


The Immortality Chronicles is a collection of stories all dealing with, well, immortality. It's not a comfortable book, but it is a good one, making you realize how sweet mortality is even as the days pass by. As children, we all want to grow up, but as adults many of us wish for the carefree days of our youth. This collection takes us into the minds and stories of the people who can't, who are doomed - one way or another - to live forever.


I always have a difficult time reviewing collections, because while each story has its own merits and thrills, the book as a whole has to come together seamlessly, taking us from story to story in a way that makes us want to read more until we come to the end, sad that it is over. Samuel Peralta has once again gathered a talented group of authors to share their stories, and I'm happy to say that there wasn't one story I disliked.


This collection has everything from time folds to immortality serums, from a plague that makes the world stop aging to a man who becomes more machine than human in his quest to live forever. If I had to pick a favorite story, it would probably be "Eternity Today" by Thomas Robins. In this story, an accident on Near Year's leaves humanity reliving January 1st over and over again, coming together to find a solution even though actions have to be restarted every morning. Another favorite is Harlow Fallon's "A Long Horizon," where we learn the tale of a woman destined to live hundreds of years, only to reach the end of her journey as one of the only survivors on a prison ship. A third favorite made me actually stop reading for a while - "Rememorations" by Paul B. Kohler caused me to think about how ever person and every decision is tied together in my past, and what the loss of one would do to everything else in my life.


After reading this collection, as well as a few others in The Future Chronicles, I'm excited to read more by these authors. Not only did I find a book that actually made me appreciate my own life so much more, but I also was introduced to a few more authors that I hadn't yet looked into. This is a great 4 1/2 star book and one I would recommend to any fan of science fiction.


*Borrowed from Kindle Owners' Lending Library*




If you have enjoyed my review, please help me share it be marking it as "helpful" on Amazon. I have included the link to the Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.


Review: Jerry Is Not a Robot

Jerry Is Not a Robot: A Novelette - Gregory Marlow

Twenty years after the robot war, humanity is still healing from their losses. To protect themselves, anything even slightly mechanical or electrical has to be created in a simulation and approved first, to reduce the chance of another disaster. Joel, a simulation engineer student, finds himself thrown into a nightmare when he finds out that his new internship assignment is to work on a robot... 


But is Jerry a robot?


The title of the novella claims that Jerry is not, but the reader will need to make his or her own decision based on the facts of the story. Tying Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics to human decency  - and perhaps even a little revenge - this short story is sure to please most lovers of science fiction, and shows that a tale can pack a surprising amount of information and wonder into just fifty pages.




If you enjoyed my review, please help me share it by marking it as "helpful" on Amazon. I have included the link to the Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.


Review: The Testing

The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau

Set after the Seven Stages War that left the world devastated, The Testing begins by introducing us to Cia Vale on the day of her Graduation. Only sixteen years old, she has completed school and is now considered an adult, expected to pick an occupation and help toward rebuilding and revitalizing the area around her Colony. Her only hope to leave the Five Lakes Colony is to be picked for The Testing... but while she is intelligent and ambitious, no one from her Colony has been selected for The Testing in ten years. When an official appears the day after Graduation and announces that Cia and three others will be traveling to Tosu City to compete for the chance to attend University, Cia begins to realize that being picked may not have been such a good thing after all...


I really enjoyed this book. The author does a great job at making the majority of the characters likable, but as we find out later in the book, being likable doesn't always mean that the character is "good." What I found so interesting is that the author does a great job at showing how the fear of death as well as the competitive nature of the four tests can twist people and blur the lines of what is acceptable behavior. Cia stands out, however, since even in a competition where her life is on the line, Cia still tries to do what is best for the people around her, never knowingly sacrificing someone just to further herself. 


In a post-apocalyptic book, especially one with a dystopian theme, I expect there to be layers upon layers of plots and conspiracies that the main character discovers over the course of the story, and this book doesn't fail to deliver. Nothing is straight forward, and even something that you think might be okay - such as getting medical treatment - is yet another test, with the goal to somehow narrow the prospective students from one hundred and eight down to twenty.


Reading the book, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what characteristics the testing officials are looking for. Is it knowledge, intelligence, charisma... or is it the ability to do what is necessary - not matter how wrong - to survive? Just when you think they're looking for teamwork, you realize that The Testing is designed to also divide teams and get everyone to work against each other, with sabotage accepted if not also rewarded.


While not perfect, this is a book that I can see myself reading over and over again, finding something new in each turn of the page, connecting plots and sub-plots that were foreshadowed but not made evident until later in the tale, and I can certainly looking forward to continuing this series.


*Library Copy*




If you enjoyed my review, please help me share it by marking it as "helpful" on Amazon. I have included the link to the Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.


Reading progress update: I've read 108 out of 284 pages.

The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir - Dee  Williams

This is unfortunately a DNF. As much as I think Tiny Houses are neat (but I'd have to have two - one just for my books!) I found this book itself to be a little too boring and returned it to the library without finishing it.

Review: The Testing Guide

The Testing Guide - Joelle Charbonneau

I just finished reading The Testing this evening (review coming tomorrow) so I decided to pick up The Testing Guide since it's listed as a prequel to the series. I'm glad that it was free, however, since it didn't actually provide any new material or answer any questions.


Set six years prior to the events in The Testing, this prequel tells the very short story of Cia's neither Zeen, and his disappointment at not being selected for testing. Though told from Zeen's POV and centered around his graduation, it's essentially a rehash of the events that will happen six years later at Cia's graduation. There are no need revelations, and minor details could have been included within two or three paragraphs maximum in The Testing.


Final opinion is that there really isn't a need for it, and you certainly won't lose out of you don't read it, but it's written well and is consistent with the story told in the first book of the series.

Currently reading

Imager's Battalion: The Sixth Book of the Imager Portfolio by Modesitt, L. E.(October 29, 2013) Mass Market Paperback by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Solstice by Jane Redd
China: The Flense (Volume 1) by Saul Tanpepper
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
Progress: 24%
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman