Robert Batten

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Author

Category: Recommendation

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

Kate Harker and August Flynn's families rule opposite ends of Verity, a grisly metropolis where violent acts summon real monsters: bloodsucking Malchai; clawing Corsai; and soul-stealing Sunai. The truce that keeps the families at peace is crumbling, and August is sent to spy on Kate. But when Harker's men try to kill her and pin it on the Flynns, August and Kate find themselves running from both sides, in a city where monsters are real…

This Savage Song is another powerhouse from Schwab and I loved every second of it. Prior to this book, I’d read her Shades of Magic series, which is a stunning urban fantasy trilogy, and I was excited to dive into a different Schwab world. This Savage Song did not disappoint.

Set in a grim world of the future, where the US has separated into independent territories, the story takes place mostly within V-City; a territory divided in two by a shaky truce. It is a city where violent acts give birth to literal monsters. Where some monsters dream of being human. And some humans are… well, monstrous. In the middle of this we meet two youngsters on opposite sides of the divide, who despite everything, forge a connection and must learn to trust each other. The characterizations are deep and wonderful, the world gloriously dark and unique, and the plot sucks you inexorably toward the epic ending.

This Savage Song is the first of two books, with the sequel, Our Dark Duet, already available.

You can buy This Savage Song from Amazon using the link on the right, or from your favourite bookseller. You can also look it up on Goodreads here.

Have you read it?

Add your thoughts in the comments!

Want other recommendations?

If you found this recommendation helpful, you can check out my other recommendations here.

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2018 in Books

2018 was a good year for reading. As they do every year, Goodreads have started generating member’s “year in books” reports, and it’s always fun to dive in and remind yourself what you read (you can view mine here).

The Stats

This year, I finished 65 books, which is way up for me, but is also deceptive, as that includes children’s books I read with my son. If I remove those 31 short stories, that means I completed 34 novels in 2018.

In total, I read approximately 13,000 pages, with the shortest book being only 16 pages (Stephen Biesty’s Trains) and the longest book coming in at 768 pages (The Fireman by Joe Hill).

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Genres: Science-Fiction | Dystopia.

"I live for the dream that my children will be born free," she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them."

"I live for you," I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."

I’ve been getting hassled about reading this series for a while, so finally sat down and read the first installment — Red Rising. It was fantastic.

Red Rising is set on Mars in a distant future. It follows Darrow, a red, who believe themselves the first colonists on the planet, mining the resources necessary to terraform the surface and make the planet safe for full colonization.

Only, that’s not really true.

A series of events reveals to Darrow just how badly they’ve all been lied to. Left with nothing but a hunger for revenge, he agrees to become the enemy in order to bring them down.

“See. That’s what I don’t get. If I am a good man, then why do I want to do bad things?” Darrow.

What follows is a brutal adventure and Darrow’s first steps on his mission. Darrow is a great character who grows significantly throughout the book and Brown does an amazing job building a believable world. I became completely caught up in the narrative and cheered out loud on several occasions as Darrow successfully pulled off something particularly outrageous. He is wild, audacious, and driven, and I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series.

Where to find it

If you're interested in Red Rising, you can learn more on Goodreads here, or buy a copy from Amazon here.

While you're here

If you enjoyed this recommendation, why not have a look at my other recommendations as well?

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Redshirts by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:

1. Every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces.
2. The ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations.  
3. At least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

I listened to the audible rendition of this novel, which is narrated by Will Wheaton. I mean, how could I not? It’s a comedic spoof of Star Trek narrated by Will Wheaton. It lived up to my expectations.

Redshirts is a send up of the sci-fi trope regarding crew members in red shirts dying on away missions (which originated with Star Trek). Whenever an adventure required someone to die for dramatic tension, you could be guaranteed an inconsequential character in a red shirt with minimal backstory would bite the bullet. In Redshirts, Scalzi digs into what might happen if the hapless souls became aware of their precarious existence. It’s a great concept and sets up some fantastic hijinks. I took a little longer to settle into this story, as I adjusted to the tack it was taking (after all, the entire point of this novel is poking fun at cliches), but I soon found myself absorbed with the characters and the mystery of, “What the hell is going on with the Intrepid?”

You’ll like this if…

If you love classic sci-fi like Star Trek and don’t mind making fun of it a little, or if you’re a fan of other send-ups like Galaxy Quest, then you should enjoy this novel.

Finding Redshirts

You can find Redshirts on Goodreads here, or pick up a copy on Amazon here. If you want the Will Wheaton audible version, that's over here.

If you liked this recommendation…

Why not check out my others? Each is for a book I enjoyed and would happily recommend to a friend.

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Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey

I don't really do reviews here, but I do write recommendations for books I love. Enter Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey.

My introduction to this world was The Expanse TV series. I hadn’t heard of the books before then, but thought the show looked cool from the previews and jumped in as soon as it came out. I wasn’t disappointed. The show quickly became one of my favorite sci-fi series and I knew I would need to read the books. I've now read the first installment and am hooked.

"Humanity has colonised the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach."

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in the Expanse series, written by a duo under the pen name James S.A. Corey. The first thing that jumped out at me as I dove into its pages was the science. This is HARD sci-fi in the best way. I mean, check out this post on the mechanics of railguns in space. Couple that attention to detail with an epic plot and engaging, broken, beautiful characters, and you have an amazing novel on your hands. I devoured this book and have high hopes for the rest of the series.

"Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe."

Finding the book

You can read about Leviathan Wakes on Goodreads here, or pick up a copy from Amazon here.

While you're here...

Like my taste in books? Check out my other recommendations. I add to the collection regularly.

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The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin

Note: I received an advance copy of The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin to review. However, I had already pre-ordered it and have attempted to be unbiased in my review.

The Phantom Forest is a supernatural story set in a complex world of blended cultures. It takes place in Khronasa: a small spiritual nation without modern technology conquered by a post-industrial empire. The narrative follows Seicha, a young woman who lost her parents during the invasion and has since raised her younger brother. She’s resolute and resourceful, but also naïve. Seicha’s story is epic, though to describe much of her experiences here would be spoileriffic. What I will say is that events pit her not just against the invading empire, but the very underworld itself.

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