Book Review: I, Robot

Title: I, Robot
Author: Isaac Asimov
Genre: Sci-fi
Year Published: 1950 (first published)

Date finished: March 17, 2021

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is a science fiction story about a reporter who interviews a robopsychologist named Susan Calvin. Dr. Calvin’s main role was to study interactions between robots and humans. The book contains nine different stories that are connected via this interview with all of the stories having something to do with how the robots are programmed to follow a certain set of rules in order to live among humans.

This was a great read. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of Asimov’s work being that I love reading, writing, and watching all things science fiction. I liked how all the stories were connected and had their own themes yet were about Dr. Calvin’s analysis. I loved the surprise in one of the stories. I had no idea “he” was a robot. I also like how Dr. Calvin can prove how a robot is really a robot. The robots physically look like humans and act like humans and the only way to know for sure they are robots was to use her method.

Who should read this: This one is a classic and I recommend it for everyone. It’s great for debate and conversations.

Book Review: The Mask Falling

Title: The Mask Falling (Book 4 of The Bone Season Series)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Paranormal Sci-fi
Year Published: 2021

Date finished: February 7, 2021

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon is the fourth book in the paranormal sci-fi, The Bone Season Series. After her recovery, Paige Mahoney finds herself working for a new group of people in what is known as the Domino Program. In her quest to learn more about the events to come, she takes the chance and goes against the group’s directives. Chaos ensues both in her choices and events she wasn’t aware of. The story ends in a cliffhanger.

I enjoyed this book. I also really liked that Warden was in the background. Initially, I wanted more of him, but I think Ms. Shannon sprinkled enough of him that it didn’t feel too overpowering or not enough. It was perfectly done. There were quite a few new characters thrown in that really helped move the story along. There were also characters from the previous books that I was happy to see again.

Who should read this book: Anyone who’s into paranormal sci-fi/fantasy, romance, action, dystopian societies. It’s a great book to escape to with excellent world building and unique characters. Even if you’re not into paranormal, I think you’ll find this book enjoyable.

Book Review: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Title: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Author: Philip K. Dick
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Year Published: 2013

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a collection of short stories in sci-fi and fantasy by Philip K. Dick. I would say it’s some of his best works. There are 21 stories and they were all enjoyable, but my favorites were:

“Beyond Lies the Wub”

“Second Variety”

“The King of the Elves”

“Adjustment Team”

“Autofac”

“The Minority Report”

“The Days of Perky Pat”

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”

“Faith of Our Fathers”

“The Exit Door Leads in”

“I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”

PKD has had quite a few of his short stories and novels made into movies and TV series/episodes. Since this post is about his short stories from Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, I’ll only be mentioning the movie adaptations from these stories. I should also mention that if you have time, read the stories first. However, if you don’t have time because you have a long list of TBRs like I do, then watch the movies.

Adaptations (those marked in red are what I’ve seen):

“Second Variety” – Screamers (1995); Screamers: The Hunting (2009)

“Paycheck” – Paycheck (2003)

“Adjustment Team” – The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

“Autofac” – Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams episode (2017)

“The Minority Report” – Minority Report (2002); Minority Report TV sequel adaptation (2015)

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” – Total Recall (1990); Total Recall (2012); Total Recall 2070 TV series (1999)

Looks like I have a lot of watching to do. If you’ve seen any of these shows, let me know what you thought and if they are worth watching. I didn’t realize PKD had so many of his stories adapted. I think it’s crazy awesome because now I don’t have any excuse not watch TV when I have nothing else to do (non-existent, really) or need a break.

Book Review: The Dawn Chorus

Title: The Dawn Chorus
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, Paranormal, New Adult
Year Published: 2020

The Dawn Chorus is a novella between The Song Rising (the 3rd book in the Bone Season series), and the upcoming 4th book, The Mask Falling. The novella doesn’t give anything away from the main story. It basically delves into Paige’s pain and suffering from the last book. It also gives us a glimpse more into Paige and Warden’s relationship.

It’s been awhile since I read The Song Rising so I really don’t remember exactly what happened. I do remember that Paige escaped to Paris and that she wasn’t doing well. If you are interested in how Paige heals and how she gains the strength to fight back, then give this novella a go, otherwise, it’s totally fine to just wait for The Mask Falling.

Book Review: Aftershocks

Title: Aftershocks
Author: Marko Kloos
Genre: Sci-fi, Military Sci-fi, Space Opera
Year Published: 2019

Aftershocks by Marko Kloos is a military sci-fi novel following four characters. The main character, Aden, a POW on a foreign planet, is freed and makes his trek to a new home. Things don’t go as planned and he ends up working for another group of people under a fake identity.

The other characters are minor to Aden, but they equally share their stories: Solvieg, a young vice president of her father’s business has just started her position when terrorists attack her city. She’s also Aden’s younger sister; Idina, a ground soldier whose team was destroyed in an ambush; and, Dunstan, a fleet captain whose cargo ship also comes under attack.

The story is about interplanetary treaties and things going awry when one or more groups choose not to keep their word. Those on the planets agreed to work together due to limited resources, but due to power control, the planets with the most resources have the upper hand and those in charge then manipulate the others, leading to confusion as to who started what and who to trust.

This is book one of The Palladium Wars. The ending was a cliffhanger which makes sense being that it will continue in future books.

I enjoyed the military and space opera writing. Kloos is an amazing in-depth military storyteller. I loved all the details and space/military terms. It was well done. I thought Aden was put together well. I like how his story started and where it ended. Dunstan wasn’t so bad either. He didn’t have a lot of chapters but I’m guessing there will be more of him in the following books. What I didn’t enjoy so much were the two female characters. Idina was tough at the beginning but then her character changed. I wasn’t sure what role she played after the ambush. And, Solvieg seemed way too young to be vice president of a large company. She’s 23 and came aross clueless. Initially, it came across as though she worked hard for the position but then as her story grew, it felt more like she was handed the position. I wasn’t sure if that was the point or if she was meant to be a strong, intelligent character.

Overall, it was a good read.

Book Review: The Pale Dreamer

Title: The Pale Dreamer
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, paranormal, new adult
Year Published: 2016

The Pale Dreamer by Samantha Shannon is a prequel novella to The Bone Season series. It gives us a taste of Paige Mahoney’s first job with mime-lord, Jaxon Hall. The story takes place when Paige is sixteen, three years before The Bone Season.

In this story, Paige is given the opportunity to use her ability as a dreamwalker to prove to the mime-lord and her cohorts that she is worthy of working with them. The job was to track down a poltergeist as a team. It turns out, Paige did a lot more than what she thought she could do and what the others thought she was capable of. This gets Jaxon’s attention and he makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

I read The Bone Season series up to book three (The Song Rising). Book four is not out yet but should be later this year. The Pale Dreamer was a free download from the publisher on Instagram. I had plans to read this novella but kept forgetting and new books kept being added to my TBR list pushing this one even further back. I’m glad that I came across the ad. It was worth it to know how Paige joined Jaxon’s team of clairvoyants and how she became his most important member.

Book Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the book, The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood at Barnes & Noble. It was B&N’s book club pick and I’ve never gone to a book club before so I figured I’d give this one a go. The book club experience was really enjoyable. I was super nervous but the others made it very welcoming. Our facilitator was also pretty cool. Her questions got us all thinking. I wasn’t able to finish the book before attending but we still had good and debatable conversations about it. A few days later I finished the book and found myself completely immersed and loving it.

The Testaments is the second book to The Handmaid’s Tale. I read The Handmaid’s Tale five years ago and liked it but it wasn’t as powerful as this one. And since it’s been awhile, I really can’t remember the details or the characters. What I do remember is that it was from one character’s point-of-view and the world she lived in was completely controlled.

The Testaments is written in first-person point-of-view through three female characters and tells their story. At first, I wasn’t so sure I liked the idea but as the story moved along, I began to really enjoy it. The Testaments is right up there with 1984 and Brave New World, and even A Clockwork Orange. Atwood mentioned something along the lines of, “2+2 sometimes equals 4.” In 1984, 2+2 always equals 5.

The Testaments is a powerful story about totalitarian in a dystopian society in what was once New England. It’s about control going awry and how three women, but mainly one strong woman with a plan to save the two from losing their lives and bringing down the Republic of Gilead.

When I purchased the book, I saw this notebook with the cover from The Handmaid’s Tale and just had to have it. I don’t have the book though (borrowed it from the library). Not sure what I’ll be using the notebook for.

2017 Favorites

The year flew by. I tried and failed at many things this year, but this last day of the year, I’m going to share the positive things, and my favorites.

The photo above is a dish I made trying out roasted purple cauliflower.  It’s hard to see but to the right of the salmon is purple cauliflower rice, which I made too. The fish is salmon sprinkled with fresh dill, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper, and topped with slices of limes.  I’ve never cooked with cauliflower before but I think this will be my new favorite thing because I really like the flavor and how easy it is to cook cauliflower.

I’m very proud to say that I accomplished two of my five goals this year.  One of them was to start school again…actually, to resume my master’s program from 2010.  So far, I’ve completed three classes and have four to go.  I’m going to try and load up on classes so that I finish by end of Spring 2018.  The other goal was to read 12 books.  I ended up reading 34 books.  A lot of it was due to freelancing as a book reviewer.  I was doing about three to four books a month starting in July.  I still read for leisure and still enjoy it

Here are my favorite books of the year:

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This was such a lovely and fun story with romance, magic, and suspense.

2. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.  This was a beautiful story told through the eyes of a young boy growing up in the 60’s.  The world building was fabulous.  I felt like I was right there with the boy.  The characters were well thought out and vivid.  McCammon really knows how to tug at your heart.

3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.  This was a well written classic about a man upset about the way his cousin died.  He was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery but somehow he becomes completely mesmerized by Rachel.  I saw the movie after reading the book and didn’t think it was as good.  If anything, read the book.


Can’t live without music.  For a sci-fi story I’ve been writing, I’ve got a few songs that go along with certain scenes.  Initially, I was going to submit the story to an anthology but I missed the deadline.  Okay, I have to remember I’m not going to focus on my failures (lol).  Anyway, here’s the cover for the book, and yes, that’s my pen name because I write different genres.

If you want to know a little about the story (the background story), you can check out my writing blog at, The Writing Sparrow.  It’s a new blog and I don’t have much there yet, but come 2018, there will be.

These are the songs that go with a few scenes in my story, but they are also favorites:

1. Immortal by Missing in Action

2. Last Hope by Antoine Heid (it’s just coincidence that my title has these two words in it).

3. Love on the Brain by Rhianna.

4. Elastic Heart by Sia

5. Wings (acoustic) by Birdy


I’ve been somewhat of a movie junkie this year.  I could barely count how many movies I’ve watched at the theater and at home.  It feels great to be able to watch all these movies.  When I had my two kids, I went into a strange zone where I couldn’t watch movies or even TV shows and not think everyone was pretending.  For some reason that bothered me to no ends.  Now, I’m relieved to say that even if they were acting, it’s no problem.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  My favorite movies this year are:

1. Passengers

2. King Arthur – Legend of the Sword

3. Blade Runner

4. Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I didn’t do as much drawing and painted as I had wanted.  There’s just isn’t enough time to do everything so I’ve had to just focus on what mattered to me.  And, what mattered this year was getting my stories out.  I submitted a fantasy to an anthology earlier in the year but they are backed up so they haven’t gotten to telling the submitters who made it or not.  I also sent the same fantasy story to my professor who enjoyed it and gave me an “A.”

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the new year!

Book Review: The Song Rising

The Song Rising
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Paranormal, Post-apocalyptic

“We like to think we’re brave, but in the end, we’re only human.”

The Song Rising is the third book in The Bone Season series. It begins right after The Mime Order ends. If you haven’t read the first two books, the third book would be a bit confusing. This series is dependent on each other.

In this story, the MC (main character), Paige, learns of a weapon that could detect clairvoyants and destroy them. Her goal was to locate the source of this weapon but she finds that it’s harder than it sounds. She’d have to make a decision that could lead to her death.

“The only way to survive is to believe you always will.”

I found this book to be more interesting than the second book. The second book was mainly about creating the Mime order, a collaboration between a clairvoyant group and some Ranthens, in order to defeat the Rephaite sovereign. It also felt a bit slow moving. This book was pretty fast paced. A lot happened and we blow through quite a bit of flashback/history. I’m glad for that because it adds to the world building and characters development, setting the story for what’s to come. It was done nicely. There was a lot going on in this book. The characters were more defined and Warden played a bigger role. I happen to really enjoy his character and every part he’s in. I’m fascinated by his kind, pretty much. We learn of a hidden world underground. We also learn a little more about Paige’s old boss, the mime-lord, Jaxon Hall and his role with the Rephaite sovereign.

The only downside for me was that there wasn’t much said about the Emite (aka buzzers). At first I got the feeling that these creatures were going to destroy the world if not controlled. It appeared as though the Rephaim had kept them under control but somehow, through a portal of sort, some escaped. I thought Warden was spending all his time tracking the escaped. In the end of the story when Warden was to leave Britain, it didn’t make sense. Who was going to do the work of keeping the Emite away? I hope to learn more about this part of the story in the next few books only because in the first book, when Warden was training Paige, the Emite seemed to have been the focus. I thought she was going to have some part in their demise or at least in keeping them from escaping.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It was one of those books where I had to almost read straight through because it’s that good.

“The wonderful thing about living in a morally bankrupt world is that every human being can be bought in one way or another. Everyone accepts a currency. Money, mercy, the illusion of power – there are always ways to purchase loyalty.”

January 2017 Book Reviews

A goal this year is to only read about 12 books.  One book per month or around there.  I’ve really reduced it because I want to focus more on writing than reading.  I know I’ll probably end up reading more than 12 books but if I do, that’s okay.  I don’t want to stress out over trying to hit my numbers.  So far, I’ve read two books this month.  It wasn’t expected but once I learned Veronica Roth’s book, “Carve the Mark,” was out, I had to buy and read it.  Below are the reviews for the books I’ve read this month.

Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller

behindcloseddoors_350This story is about a couple whom everyone thinks has the perfect relationship but deep down there are secrets.

Although the pacing is fast, the story starts out a bit slow.  There is a tenseness in the beginning especially when one of the supporting characters, Esther, questions their “perfect” marriage.

The characters were well developed and stayed true to themselves. The back stories to the main characters really helped in shaping them. The setting was clear and done well. The story line was interesting and kept me in suspense and intrigue, which was what kept me reading.

What bothered me most about the story was the protagonist and the main antagonist. Grace didn’t seem very smart or wise and Jack wasn’t as evil as he could be. I felt that Grace could have easily gotten away from Jack and even reported him but she let it go on for too long, doubting herself all the time, and not trusting her own intuition. She was so strong and determined at taking care of her little sister, I didn’t get why she suddenly gave in to Jack and put her sister on the sideline. As for Jack, I wanted him to be even more evil than he was but he seemed to also give in. There was no explanation why he gave in to Grace so much since his back story made him to be this person who enjoyed torture/pain, etc. If it was because he was afraid he’d get caught, then that fear should have somehow made it into the story or the back story.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The suspense stretched out further than I had anticipated which almost led me to stop reading because it got to the point where I almost just didn’t care what happened (because as mentioned, Grace wasn’t very smart) but Esther got me hooked. She was the person who made the story interesting. I was annoyed by her at first but I was also curious as to why she was always prying. I was surprised by her at the end, and have to admit, I cried. She was amazing.

Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Young Adult

carvethemark_350This story is about…I’m not even sure exactly what it’s about, to be honest, but I’ll do my best to describe it.  I believe it’s about two families who are enemies, where the evil family gains rulership and tortures the other family in hopes to continue ruling.

The story was interesting and the powers the characters had were unique. I liked the idea that it took place in outer space and other planets.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I had expected. It was pretty fast paced. Too many characters were introduced so I couldn’t feel for the main characters. Some characters were introduced and then only had small, almost irrelevant, parts. I tried to visualized the world they lived in and found it difficult because I felt as though there were pieces of Dune by Frank Herbert and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Every time I came across the word “Benesit, ” (the name/title of one of the families) I kept wanting to say “Bene Gesserit” from Dune.

As for the relationship between the two main characters, I felt very little for them. As mentioned, because it was so fast paced and so much information was being thrown in, I really couldn’t relate to the relationship or to their situation.

What was very obvious was the pain the protagonist felt and how she learned to deal with it. I think if the focus was solely on this as the story, how she was chosen to have this type of power that would cause herself pain, and how she learned to control or manage it, would have been a great story on its own.

I really wanted to like this story. I love sci-fi and fantasy combined and I love Veronica Roth’s style. The scenes merge seamlessly and the transition from first to third person was well done.  I’m just a bit bummed that there was so much thrown into it and it felt rushed.