Review: Commanding the Red Lotus

Hey all.

This morning, I’m sitting here at my kitchen table with my coffee (in a Lego mug that says “I Love Grandpa”.  It was a gift from my husband our first Christmas together..), and I’m trying to think of what to share about Commanding the Red Lotus.  I finished it last night, so it’s still fresh in my mind, and I’m doing a lot of starting and stopping here.  Solution: maybe more coffee?

Commanding the Red Lotus by R.J Sullivan (who drinks his coffee out of a Little Mermaid mug) was shared with me after I signed up to be a part of his blog tour.

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I want to be in outer space with a high ponytail dreaming of future voyages on an old red ship.

After reading the synopsis and seeing the AMAZING cover, I was so excited to read this book.  I was looking forward to a strong female lead living the dream in space as she physically saves an old, beaten down ship and emotionally saves its beaten down crew.  I was hoping for adventure, conflict, resolution, and as usual, just a sprinkling of romance.

I didn’t get what I expected.

Sure, there was conflict, some resolution, and adventure.  And I must say, there was the perfect amount of romance for my taste.  But the main character, Sayuri, wasn’t the strong, independent woman I’d foreseen.  She was unsure at times and overly confident at other times.  She was wrong a lot, and she was right sometimes.  She needed saving by her crew, and she had to save her crew.

I got frustrated with Sayuri (and other characters – here’s looking at you Engineer Keller) so much because she was a mess.  I questioned her decisions and actions often.  I shook my head at her multiple times.  I wanted to grab nearly every character in this book by the shoulders and shake them until they did what I thought they should do.  But halfway through, I realized that Sayuri (and Dravin and Terch and Daniels and everyone) was a level of real that you don’t see often in fiction.

Sayuri wasn’t a girl who stepped out of her comfort zone for the first time and discovered that she’d always had an amazing ability to own a ship and command a crew.  Commanding the Red Lotus wasn’t a story about ordinary people who figure out that they’re extraordinary.  There were no chosen ones, prodigies, or best of the best.

These characters were people who were finding themselves.  They took chances and had successes and failures.  They had issues with their dads, issues with past and present lovers, issues with cultural ignorance, and issues with space pirates (which may not make them average by our standards, but that makes them pretty average space miners).  I got to see them learn to handle trauma and insecurities, work with exes, figure out how to sleep in zero gravity, and eat hamburgers.  They were ordinary people doing ordinary (for them) things.

Don’t get me wrong – Commanding the Red Lotus was far from boring.  They’re space miners dealing with an old ship, mutiny, and pirates.  It was adventurous and exciting.  But it was also real and relatable.  Sure, it’s fun to read about amazing people doing amazing things.  But to read about average people doing some not amazing things and some really amazing things – and to have that done so well by R.J Sullivan – that’s something that is unique and unexpected.

So if you like space, if you like pirates, if you like unexpected characters, if you like reading about complicated relationships or trauma, or if you’re an everyday person with ups and downs, give Commanding the Red Lotus a shot.  You might just see yourself in it whether you want to or not.

 

Want to know more about the author of Commanding the Red Lotus, R.J Sullivan?

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Best known for his ghost story thrillers, Commanding the Red Lotus is R.J.Sullivan’s fifth book and his first release in the genre he most adores. R.J.’s critically acclaimed, loosely connected ghost story trilogy and his short story collection are all available in paperback and ebook though Seventh Star Press. R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.

 

Want to check out other stops on R.J Sullivan’s blog tour?

6/27/2016            Sheila’s Guests and Reviews:  Guest Post

6/28/2016            Deal Sharing Aunt:  Interview

6/29/2016            Cover2Cover:  Guest Post

6/29/2016            I Smell Sheep:  Guest Post

6/30/2016            Jordan Hirsch:  Review

7/1/2016              Jorie Loves A Story:  Guest Feature/Interview

7/2/2016             MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape:  Interview

7/3/2016             Swillblog:  Review

7/3/2016             Jorie Loves A Story:  Interview

 

**This eBook was provided to me in exchange for an honest review; no compensation was provided.

To Read the Hugo’s: My Bucket List

I don’t know when I first heard about the Hugo Awards.  I was probably in college, even though I’d been reading science fiction since my brother handed me Michael Crichton’s Sphere when I was 12.  I went on a tear through every Crichton book I could get my hands on.  Shortly after that I discovered Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I was hooked.  I already had a deep love for Star Trek by that point, but I hadn’t realized books could be that way (other than my brother’s multiple shelves of Star Trek pocket books) until I discovered science fiction.  I was hooked for life.

I spent so much time in the science fiction section of book stores and libraries, but honestly, it was so hit or miss.  Some were great.  Many weren’t.  But it never occurred to me that there were people who had put together lists of good ones or that there were awards specifically for science fiction.  I blame it on my dial-up internet.

Anyway, once I heard about the Hugo Awards, I dedicated summer reading to Hugo Award winning novels.  I think that was my very first summer reading list – I didn’t get through very many.  Unfortunately, a lot of the older winners from the 50’s and 60’s are hard to find.

All that the say, it’s been on my bucket list ever since that first summer to read every single Hugo Award for Best Novel winner.  This is kind of hard to do given that a new book is added every year.  But still.  I want to do it.  Not just to say I’ve done it (because many others probably have) but because I want to read good science fiction.   I want to discover new authors, new worlds, new problems, new solutions.  And that list seems like a great place to start.

Thankfully, my summer reading list for 2016 (books I own that I’ve never read) has 3 Hugo winning novels on it:

  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

I can’t wait to finally read these!  And many more, once summer reading is over!  (Though I am craving some Narnia time, too…)

 

Do you have a genre you love?  When did that start?  What contributed to you loving that genre?

Review: The Warrior’s Apprentice

Well, the list of books that I want to read just got significantly longer.. oops.

Two and a half years ago, a good friend gave me Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold; it contained three stories from the Vorkosigan Saga: The Warrior’s Apprentice, “The Mountains of Mourning”, and The Vor Game.  All of these took place when Miles Vorkosigan was young – hence the name.  Anyway, I finally got around to starting it, and let me tell you – I’m hooked.

The Warrior’s Apprentice was so fun!  There were countless times that I laughed out loud while reading – Bujold’s humor was so witty and clever, and I very much enjoyed it.  Not only were the one-liners and inner monologues funny, but Miles’ whole situation was humorous.  Though this was so much more than a comedy- it was a sci-fi adventure with just the right amount of humor sprinkled in.

Humor sprinkles weren’t the only thing adorning this work either – The Warrior’s Apprentice dealt with some pretty serious topics, too: justice, war crimes, sexual assault, political sabotage, being dishonest for profit, classism, and many more.  And I thought Bujold did a lovely job of balancing all that to make it a substantial, enjoyable read.  Oh, and no surprise here: I cried multiple times and am not ashamed of that.

As you’ve probably heard if you’ve been around the blog for any time at all, I love space, but really, with a story like The Warrior’s Apprentice, being set in space was just a bonus.  I would’ve loved it no matter where it took place.

The Vorkosigan Saga has a LOT in it – novels, novellas, short stories.  But this is a world I definitely want to spend more time in.  So of course I’ll be reading “The Mountains of Mourning” and The Vor Game soon.

If you like science fiction, if you like space, if you funny characters, if you like comedies of errors, if you like politics, if you like kingdoms with knights and lords and ladies and counts, or if you haven’t really tried science fiction but are looking for an easy entrance to the genre, give The Warrior’s Apprentice a chance.  It’s a gem.

Review: Gray Widow’s Walk

Boy, is my head spinning from this one.  Not literally, thankfully – unlike a certain character in this book.  Serious creeps, y’all.

Anyway, I was sent Gray Widow’s Walk as a part of Dan Jolley‘s blog tour, and let me tell you – I’m incredibly glad I signed up for it!  Once I started it, I didn’t want to put it down.  And now that I’m done with it… well, I’m just going to say that I’m counting down the days till Gray Widow’s Web.  Because you can’t just leave me where you left me, Mr. Jolley.  You just can’t.

Sorry for my emotional aside.  Okay.

I thought Gray Widow’s Walk was spectacular.  From the opening chapters (“Who the heck are these people, and how are they connected because they HAVE to be, right?”) to the middle chapters (“You’re breaking my heart, Janey!”) to the last pages (“Keep breathing, Jordan; just keep breathing so you can keep reading.”), I was captivated.  The pacing was perfect, engaging, and riveting at times.  I didn’t want to put it down – and often, I didn’t.  Sorry, husband!

The story has quite the cast of characters:

  • Janey – who uses her ability to teleport and her angerGray Widow_s WalkCover1200X900 to become a vigilante (The Gray Widow) in Atlanta
  • Simon – a teen whose blood-thirst and ability to shapeshift make for a deadly combination
  • Tim – a sweet, romantic guy with hilarious inner monologue who just might be able to touch Janey’s heart after it’s been broken for a long time
  • Zach Feygen – a cop who’s trying to figure out WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON

And there are multiple minor characters who grab your heart, make you laugh, and/or make you double check that the door to the apartment is locked at night.. and during the day, too.

Dan Jolley did a spectacular job in this superhero urban fantasy to make this reader ask questions about our justice system, gun control (such a big topic right now especially!), vulnerability, using sex as influence, and personal responsibility.  All that in an exciting, heartbreaking, horrifying package.  I loved it and already have a list of friends to buy it for and/or recommend it to.

So if you like X-men, if you like urban fantasy, if you like bad-ass women, if you like horror (but not TOO much), if you like action, or if you’re looking for a great book that you didn’t even know you were looking for (that was me..), then check out Gray Widow’s Walk.  It’ll be worth it!

 

Here’s a little more info about Dan if you’re interested:

About the author:  Dan Jolley started writing professionally at age nineteen. Beginning in comic books, he has since branched out into original novels, licensed-property novels, danjolley_smallerWebchildren’s books, and video games. His twenty-five-year career includes the YA sci-
fi/espionage trilogy Alex Unlimited; the award-winning comic book mini-series Obergeist; the Eisner Award-nominated comic book mini-series JSA: The Liberty Files; and the Transformers video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. Dan was co-writer of the world-wide-bestselling zombie/parkour game Dying Light, and lead writer of the Oculus Rift game Chronos. Dan lives somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert cats. Gray Widow’s Walk is his first adult novel.

Learn more about Dan by visiting his website, http://www.danjolley.com, and follow him on Twitter @_DanJolley

 

Want to check out more stops on the blog tour?

6/20/2016            MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape:  Interview

6/20/2016            Beauty in Ruins :  Guest Post

6/21/2016            SpecMusicMuse Interview

6/22/2016            The Word Nerds :  Guest Post

6/22/2016            I Smell Sheep :  Interview

6/22/2016            Cover2Cover:   Top Ten’s List

6/23/2016            Sheila’s Guests and Reviews Guest Post

6/24/2016            Deal Sharing Aunt :  Interview

6/24/2016            Infamous Scribbler :  Interview

6/26/2016            Jorie Loves a Story :  Review/Interview

6/26/2016            Swilliblog Review

 

**This eBook was provided to me in exchange for an honest review; no compensation was provided.

Vacation! And an Exciting NaNo-Announcement!

Hey all!

As I let you know about a week ago, my husband and I went on vacation for 5 days to Illinois to visit some of my family.  It was so great to get time with them, to rest, and to read.  I spent a good chunk of time reading Silver Tongueand instead of getting an audio book, Chris and I decided to read to each other during the long drive.  What book?  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!

It was so fun to re-visit that world, and there’s something special about reading it aloud.  That’s how I first experienced it – my 4th grade teacher read it aloud to us in 20ish minute increments every day after lunch.  So thankful for Mrs. Trimble, for that and many other reasons.

Also, I have some exciting news to share: I’ll be participating in the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo!

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If you’ve been with the blog for a while, you might remember the April session where I worked on revising my first draft of Bombshell.  Well, I’ve continued revising it since then (though less vigorously), and I’m ALMOST done with a lovely second draft.  I hope to set aside time in July to finish that up so it can be sent off to more readers for critique.  Look for updates on that starting in July 🙂

Review: Silver Tongue

I’m back from vacation!  Yay!  I’ll let you know soon about what I did (and didn’t do!) while away from my regular life, but first I want to tell you all about the book I finished a few days ago.

**Summer reading, book 4**

I discovered AshleyRose Sullivan a few years ago through her My Year of Star Trek blog.  Seriously, she watched every minute of Star Trek (both TV series and movies) in a year and blogged about it so I was instantly a big fan of hers.  Through reading her blog, I found out that she had two books coming out, and I immediately got my hands on Awesome Jones.  Such a fun read!  (Also rumor has it that AshleyRose is working on polishing the Awesome Jones sequel.  AHHHHHH!)

Anyway, when Silver Tongue came out I ordered it but didn’t get around to reading it until last week.  Let me tell you about it.

Silver Tongue is an alternate history book – that’s a genre that I’m not super familiar with and that I was kind of skeptical of.  Not sure why.  I just was.  I don’t mind historical fiction and have even written some of it, but alternate history just didn’t feel like my kind of thing.

Let me tell you – if other AH books are like this one, SIGN ME UP.  I was so captivated by the world: set in 1839 North America, but in Silver Tongue, the colonies lost the Revolutionary War.  AshleyRose’s re-imagining of North America after that was so creative and believable!  I loved it!

I’m a big fan of the characters: 3 friends, all unique and endearing and frustrating  (so realistic in that way) are growing up in Nouvelle France, which geographically isn’t too far from where I actually grew up.  The friendships and romantic relationships that they have are messy and life-like.  Add experiencing each other’s dreams to the mix, and they just get more complicated.

The book opens with quite the bang, then Claire, Phileas, and Sam set off to solve the mystery and seek justice.  It was fast-paced and super hard to put down – so glad I read it during vacation 🙂  I often felt what the characters were feeling – a roller coaster of both the good and the bad.

So, if you like alternate history, if you like complicated relationships, if you like just a touch of fantasy, or if you like a good mystery, check out Silver Tongue.  I can’t wait for the sequel!

Review: The Wee Free Men

**Summer reading, book 3**

(You might be wondering about summer reading, book 2.. it was Red Sector by Diane Carey and is book 3 of a 6-book series.  I’ve decided to just do one review for the whole series, so be watching for that in, say, 4-5 weeks.)

The Wee Free Men was a Christmas re-gift.  Some friends of mine were gifted this book, but since they already own 2 copies, they re-gifted it to me which I was just fine with.  It’s been sitting on the shelf, tempting me with it’s beautiful cover.

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Doesn’t it just invite you in to join the adventure?

I don’t know why, but I’m loving this edition’s cover art by Jim Tierney.  It’s simple, clean, and pleasing to my eyes.

 

I’ve never read any Terry Pratchett, but a few of my writers’ group friends adore his books, so I was excited to finally check him out.

The first word that comes to mind when I think about reading this book is pleasing.  Plain and simple – it pleased my heart to read it.  The Wee Free Men were so endearing and funny and sassy.  The main character, Tiffany, was strong and independent and such a thinker – I’d love it if all the little girls I know read this book and were inspired by her.  The pacing was excellent, too – I didn’t get bored, and flashbacks and dreams were used SO well.  If this book is any indication, Terry Pratchett was a master story-teller.  (I KNOW, I KNOW.  I’m so late to the party.  Nearly everyone who’s read his work has told me this, but sometimes you just gotta find things out for yourself.  I’m just being like Tiffany Aching.)

But my favorite – my absolute favorite – was Granny Aching.  You only get to see her in memories, but I loved her spunk, how able she was, and how she cared for others in the only ways she knew how.  It made my heart happy and sad all at the same time.

Anyway.  I SO enjoyed reading The Wee Free Men.  If you like strong women, if you like humor, if you like adventure, if you like Narnia (it felt very similar at times in the best ways), read The Wee Free Men.  Heck,  if you are just looking for a fun, easy read, read The Wee Free Men.  And after you read, share it with the women you love.