The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow

Source: Goodreads

January Scaller has spent the majority of her life within the grounds of Locke House, her only glimpses of the outside world contained within cars, trains, and ships at the side of Mr. Locke on a rare field trip. Raised in her father’s absence to be good and obedient, intelligent and quiet, January has tried her best to fit the mold laid out before her. However, even Mr. Locke’s company cannot completely erase her obvious heritage, on full display in the shade of her skin and the unruliness of her hair. Nor can all of Mr. Locke’s nurturing completely block out her inherent nature – to wander, run wild, and dream as if her life depended upon it.

January’s journey is told in alternating chapters between her life and the stories she reads in a mysterious book, The Ten Thousand Doors. While eventually this story-weaving pays off, it does mean that the first 125 pages were all character introduction and world building, which was interesting intellectually, but not gripping. I actually flipped ahead to see if it got more interesting a couple times, despite many friends telling me the book was really great. There is a marked difference between the first 125 pages and the following 235 pages. Once the story gets going it moves well and everything weaves together beautifully. If I hadn’t flipped ahead, I definitely would’ve been at least a little surprised by the twists the story took, and even after I knew they were coming, they still made me tear up. Ultimately, that’s what pushed me to a higher rating. If I hadn’t gotten so bogged down in the beginning of the book, this would easily have been a five star read. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right head space when I started it – it was the middle of finals, after all – but by the end I was firmly invested in January’s journey and the 10,000 doors.

Shout out to my friend Taylor for lending me her copy, and also for making this her staff pick at our bookstore! I hope many, many readers get the chance to visit January and reignite their imaginations.


HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Notes:
*Off-page animal cruelty, but the animal is ultimately fine*
**This book alludes to physical intimacy, but doesn’t contain any explicit scenes, so it’s a great option for your teen who loves fantasy but isn’t ready for those scenes yet.**

The Guns of Avalon (Amber Chronicles, #2) – Roger Zelazny

Source: Goodreads

There are infinite worlds made of shadow, and only one born of the royal Amber line can navigate them. Among the shadows now move creatures of chaos and darkness, venturing off the black road to incite war, disease, and suffering among the shadow lands. The black road cuts through all, right up to light that is Amber. Corwin of Amber is an expert at navigating the shadow realms, but faced with his own anger and hatred in the flesh, will he be able to overcome it?


The second novel in Zelazny’s epic Amber Chronicles picks up where the first left off, with Corwin recovering form his injuries and going in search of new avenues to the throne of Amber. As we meet a slightly wider cast of characters among the shadow worlds, we also learn more of Amber’s history and the intricate family dynamics. Most importantly, we see the results of Corwin’s curse on Eric – a curse even he doesn’t know the bounds of.

All of these novels are on the short side, but this one actually felt shorter despite it actually being longer than the first. There was a lot of travelling and explanation of how Corwin was morphing the shadows he was passing through, and not a lot of plot or character development. Typical second book slump. The female characters might serve some sort of point in the future, but in this particular volume they felt rather gratuitous. As a man over 100-years-old, you would think Corwin would be a little better at controlling his urges. He also spends a lot of his time thinking about these women, which is why I think they might have some purpose later on – Dara especially. Overall, this installment didn’t wow me, but I’m curious to see where the plot goes.


HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars.



Other Reviews in this Series:
Book 1 – Nine Princes in Amber
Book 3 – Sign of the Unicorn (Review Available July 23rd)
Book 4 – The Hand of Oberon (Review Available August 6th)
Book 5 – The Courts of Chaos (Review Available August 27th)
Book 6 – Trumps of Doom (Review Available September 17th)
Book 7 – Blood of Amber (Review Available October 8th)
Book 8 – Sign of Chaos (Review Available October 29th)
Book 9 – Knight of Shadows (Review Available November 19th)
Book 10 – Prince of Chaos (Review Available December 10th)

Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1) – Ashley Poston

Source: Goodreads

Ana and Di were found floating in an escape pod seven years ago, with no memories of what came before. They’ve built their own family out of Captain Siege’s misfit pirate crew, beings from all parts of the galaxy, ravaged by plague and run out by oppression. To Ana and Di, they are perfect. They are home. But Di, an illegal robot called a Metal, has started to glitch, and Ana will risk just about anything to avoid losing her best friend in the universe.

Robbert Valerio lost his father in the Metal rebellion that also took away The Iron Kingdom’s royal family. As the celestial convergence approaches, and with it the crowning of a new emperor, Robb finds new information that could be the key to finding his father. The possible proof that he survived the rebellion after all is too much to ignore, and Robb begins the hunt for truth.

As the luck of the goddess would have it, the search for an answer to Di’s glitching leads Ana right to Robb, and the two realize that there could be a lot more aboard the mysterious ship Tsarina than each originally imagined.

This whirlwind adventure takes the old-as-time story of Anastasia and launches it into space, where it takes on a life of its own. Multiple races from across the universe find danger, hope, and love (in many forms), in this interstellar saga. Poston does a fantastic job of world building through her characters’ eyes, showing the reader the world as they see it, rather than info-dumping huge amounts of data abut space colonies and future-world-orders. With plenty of nods to all the Sci-Fi stories of our youth, this book was a delight form start to finish. I, personally, cannot wait for the second and final book in this duology to be published next month.

This is one of those books that is definitely YA – the characters are mostly in their late teens – but also appeals to readers of just about any age. So far, there’s nothing inappropriate for younger readers either, so barring anything happening in the second book, this one would be safe for precocious younger readers who’ve exhausted everything else in the middle grade range.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other reviews in this series:
Book 2 – Soul of Stars (Book available July 23rd, Review available August 13th)

Other reviews for this author:
Once Upon A Con, Book 1 – Geekerella
Once Upon A Con, Book 2 – The Princess and The Fan Girl (Review Coming Soon!)

Nine Princes in Amber (Amber Chronicles, #1) – Roger Zelazny

Source: Goodreads

A man wakes up in a hospital, sure he is in danger, but unsure of just about anything else. After escaping, he makes his way to the one place where he might find some answers, and ends up unraveling his past – which is decades longer than he imagined – and starts a daring adventure that could lead him to some interesting discoveries about his future.

After more than a year of insisting I was about to start this 10-book arc, I’ve finally finished the first one! My mother read these books growing up and has always raved about them, but it’s actually quite hard to discuss them without any spoilers! The books themselves are short – 100-200 pages – but rich is description and plot, and fascinating in concept. Oberon, the former lord of Amber, the one true city, has disappeared, and his many children are at odds about who should take the throne. Corwin, one of 15 sons of Amber, has been missing for almost a millennium, but even memory loss and near-death experiences cannot prevent him from going after what he believes should be his.

I loved where this story went, and seems to be going, and the character development is absolutely stunning and yet subtle: I felt that I knew them and then realized we as readers had been fed breadcrumbs along the way to make it that way. This was in large part due to Corwin acting in certain ways and then making discoveries about himself and his personality and actions previously. It’s a rather novel way of writing, and I can’t wait to jump into the next book and see what awaits our main character. I’m not even sure if he is a hero or is destined to be the villain. Only time can tell.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars


Other Reviews in this Series:
Book 2 – The Guns of Avalon (Review Available June 25th)
Book 3 – Sign of the Unicorn (Review Available July 16th)
Book 4 – The Hand of Oberon (Review Available August 6th)
Book 5 – The Courts of Chaos (Review Available August 27th)
Book 6 – Trumps of Doom (Review Available September 17th)
Book 7 – Blood of Amber (Review Available October 8th)
Book 8 – Sign of Chaos (Review Available October 29th)
Book 9 – Knight of Shadows (Review Available November 19th)
Book 10 – Prince of Chaos (Review Available December 10th)

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 – P. Djèlí Clark

Source: Goodreads

In Cairo, 1912, Agent Hamed and his new partner Agent Onsi, of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, have a case on their hands. The Superintendent of Tram Safety and Maintenance at the largest hub in the city – Ramses station – insists that one of his tram cars is haunted. Ever since the space between the human world and the spirit world of the Djinn was perforated, The Ministry has been in charge of dealing with any uncanny police matters, which also, occasionally, includes hauntings. But Tram Car 015 is no normal haunting, and it will take all of the agents’ faculties to find a way to exorcise this spirit.

The steampunk-like setting for this story is beautifully imagined, and the suffragist movement created added depth to the world and its characters that I didn’t know I needed, but which absolutely made the story what it is. Deeply engrossing and mysterious, I was sorry it ended so quickly, but was 100% satisfied with the story. I think I just really want this to be a series? and maybe eventually a television series? Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, but this story seems like it would adapt well to the screen and be just as captivating so long as Clark were at the helm. Personally, I can’t wait to go out and read more of Clark’s stuff, like The Black God’s Drums because this was just so, so good.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Star Trek Watch Through Part 5: The Original Series – “Miri” and “Dagger of the Mind”


Original image via Wiki Media Commons

Welcome to part five of my Star Trek watch through! I had some downtime over the holidays and was able to get back on track with my watching habits. This post will cover The Original Series, Episodes #8 and #9, “Miri” and “Dagger of the Mind.” Other posts in this series can be found linked at the bottom, and the watch order can be found on the first post, here.

Episode #8 – “Miri”

Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Spock, and Yeoman Rand beam down to a new Earth in what seems to be an exact replica of our solar system after they receive a distress signal. The planet seems to be halted sometime in the 1960s, and the crew only finds children alive. One of the older children, a girl named Miri, explains that the ‘grups’ (grown-ups) all contracted a disease, went crazy, and died. The crew of The Enterprise soon discover that the ‘disease’ was a failed attempt at immortality, and that it slows aging to a rate of 1 month of aging to every 100 years in children, but rapidly sends adults into a frenzy that ends in death. The children are the only survivors, and they will contract the ‘disease’ when they hit puberty. Before they are able to make this discovery, the oldest boy alive and defacto leader of the children, who call themselves ‘onlys’, leads a team to steal the crew’s communicators, so they have no contact with the ship or its computers to use in finding a cure. The crew begins contracting the disease after making contact with the children.

I think Cpt. Kirk is supposed to be attempting to manipulate Miri in order to get answers about the children, the planet, and the disease, but in all honesty, he just creepily hits on her for the entire episode, while also flirting with Yeoman Rand, which nearly turns Miri and the children against him. There wasn’t much, if any, plot movement in this episode aside from the actual search for a cure.

Episode #9 – “Dagger of the Mind”

The USS Enterprise is delivering supplies to the Tentalus Penal Colony when a Dr. Simon VanGelder, sneaks aboard and asks for asylum. Dr. McCoy asks Captain Kirk to perform a full investigation and Kirk beams down to the penal colony along with Dr. Helen Noelle, to act as his medical eyes and ears. Once on Tantalus, Cpt. Kirk and Dr. Noelle follow the lead penal doctor, Dr. Adams, through a full inspection of the facilities, including a Neural Neutralizer that Dr. Adams explains doesn’t work all that well, but none-the-less was the cause of Dr. VanGelder’s brain injuries.

Back on the ship, Dr. McCoy and Spock try to get some answers out of Dr. VanGelder, who seems to be in immense pain any time he tries to recall something of note. Spock attempts Vulcan Mind Reading on a human for the first time, whereupon they discover that Dr. Adams has been wiping peoples’ memories and filling them with his own ideas. After a struggle with Dr. Adams, Kirk is freed when Dr. Noelle electrocutes a guy and short circuits the security barrier, allowing Spock to beam down to the penal colony with a rescue team.


The two most notable things about this episode are, firstly, the past between Cpt. Kirk and Dr. Noelle, who apparently hit it off at a Christmas party. Kirk seems uncomfortable beaming down to the colony with her and tells Spock to pass a message to Dr. McCoy, that Dr. Noelle had better be the best damn assistant he’s ever had. I assume the feeling here was supposed to be that McCoy let Noelle go with Kirk because she liked him, but it came across as either she was way more interested in him than he was in her and couldn’t let it go, or that he has trouble keeping his hands off of her. Either way, it was icky. Made more so by Dr. Noelle attempting to ascertain if Kirk has feelings for her and Cpt. Kirk falling prey to mind control and then sexually assaulting Dr. Noelle. The over-sexualization of Dr. Noelle’s garb and that single loose lock of hair were all ridiculously over the top as well. That chunk of hair would get annoying fast. No woman would walk about without spare bobby pins in her pocket (do their uniforms have pockets?). And also if you’re a medic, why bother curly your hair like that all the time when a ponytail works so much better.

Secondly, the Neural Neutralizer, which is clearly a basic prototype from which we get the Neuralizers found in the Men In Black films. Flash someone and fill in the blank for their memory. Genius! Put it in all the things!

Overall, not a terrible episode, just the glaring sexualizations that really irked me. I don’t think I will ever get used to it.

Other Posts in This Series:
Star Trek – The Original Series: Season #1
Part 1: “The Cage” and “The Man Trap”
Part 2: “Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
Part 3: “The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”
Part 4: “Mudd’s Women” and “What Little Girls Are Made Of”
Part 6: “The Corbomite Maneuver” and “The Menagerie, Part 1” (Coming Soon)

Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Source: Goodreads

Slaughterhouse-Five is a lively, if strange, jaunt across time through Billy Pilgrim’s life. In the middle of World War II, Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time. Although the rest of the world experiences Billy’s life linearly, Billy himself – his soul, if you will – hops around his own timeline. Sometimes he is in the forests of Germany, sometimes he is at his daughter’s wedding, sometimes he is on the alien planet of Tralfamador, and sometimes he is in his bunk inside Slaughterhouse Five just before the bombing of Dresden.


The overarching theme of this book seems to be the question of whether Billy is actually unstuck in time like he seems, or if he is suffering severe PTSD from the bombing of Dresden that makes him feel that way. The reader is never given an explicit answer. Whatever the actual reason for Billy’s obsession with the Tralfamadorians, there is no denying that this book is written in a confusing way. Billy even has a run-in with the author which just lends to the meta-filled non-plot.

I’ve been hearing about this book in school and in the book world for years, but I didn’t pick it up until a friend of a roommate recommended it based on what he saw on my shelves. I think I had a look of consternation on my face the entire time I was reading it, and ultimately I think I got exactly nothing out of it except for the fact that I can now say I’ve read it. If unreliable narrators are your jam than you might like it, but I can’t steer you in any particular direction regarding it.


HHC Rating: 2 Stars.