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Novella Review: Auberon by James S.A. Corey

Title: Auberon

Author: James S.A. Corey

Series: The Expanse #8.5

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Auberon is one of the first and most important colony worlds in humanity’s reach, and the new conquering faction has come to claim it. Governor Rittenaur has come to bring civilization and order to the far outpost and guarantee the wealth and power of the Empire.

But Auberon already has its own history, a complex culture, and a criminal kingpin named Erich with very different plans. In a world of deceit, violence, and corruption, the greatest danger Rittenaur faces is love. -Goodreads

The Review:

A full review for a novella?! Only when it’s from James S.A. Corey. These novellas usually focus on periphery characters, and I love how in-depth and meaningful the authors make them. The stories are always about the human connection and digging into what motivates us. Auberon took a few pages to warm up, but quickly built momentum. I was totally enthralled by the end. There’s one scene in particular that about had me out of my seat in shock. And that ending! O_O

Auberon dives into the culture and struggles of an outpost colony. It presents some interesting dynamics regarding settlements that take on lives of their own, moving increasingly away from the entities that originally colonized them. It’s seems, no matter the setting, humanity is self-serving when resources are scarce, dragging its corruptive ways to the edges of the universe. Then throw in a character (Gov. Rittenaur) who’s supposed to show up and restore focus and order to this lot with absolutely no backing save his supposed “authority”… and you have a fascinating tale. And a stressful one.

And amidst all of those exterior dynamics, the story also provides an examination of personal vices and how they shape our behavioral patterns. I personally found Rittenaur’s vice especially poignant: perfectionism. A need for things to go according to plan and a strong desire for structure. The story really immersed you into the internal struggles of these characters, and I also thought the authors did an especially good job at incorporating sensory detail.

I’m not usually one for novellas unless it’s a series I’m super passionate about (The Expanse qualifies), and even then, I find they often don’t add a whole lot to the main story. The Expanse novellas are the exception. They may not always have direct influence on the story, but they always immerse you into what it means to be human – the point of the whole series, IMO. Auberon was a glimpse into the lives of those on the fringes of society, and it was a heart-wrenching one at that. These authors are brilliant at making me care about even the most insignificant players, and I’m always holding my breath, wondering what choices they’re going to make. People are beautiful, wretched, resourceful, loving, greedy, and always full of surprises, and this novella highlighted that variety for me.

Side note: apparently they incorporated a character from the Churn (another Expanse novella) but I read them so far apart I didn’t make the connection (or even remember the character lol). I’m not sure how this story will play in the bigger picture (if at all), but it was a good teaser to keep me satiated until the final novel comes out (I can’t wait!!).

Recommendations: The Expanse is one of the easiest series to recommend – it has a little bit of everything and is consistently good throughout the series (happily ignoring the tangent that was book 4). And the novellas are equally as good. If you haven’t picked any up, now’s a good time to start with the finale just around the corner…

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Three Thursday [3]: Top Three New Releases for the First Half of 2018?

Top Three New Releases for the First Half of 2018?

This is a new feature hosted by Fantasy Buddy Reads over at Goodreads. :)


Being a book lover wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without new releases on the horizon to look forward to. Although I’m anticipating many in 2018, these are the three titles at the top of my list:

Guardian is book three in the Alternate Detective series by A.J. Hartley. The covers are what first caught my attention, and then I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the second book from TOR Teen, and from there I was hooked! Everything about it screams originality to me, because I can’t say as though I’ve read anything quite like it before. I am eager to see what mystery unfolds next in this third book.

Starless is the latest from Jacqueline Carey, one of my all-time favorite authors (famous for her Kushiel Saga, which I love). It appears to be a stand-alone novel. I can’t wait to get back into this writer’s beautiful prose and immersive world building. She’s one of the most lovely writers I’ve ever read and I will continue to devour anything she chooses to write.

Nyxia Unleashed is the second book in Scott Reintgen’s Nyxia Triad series, and even I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first book. It had great elements of competition and an interesting concept, and I think it’ll only get better as the series progresses.

Honorable Mentions: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (not included because I’ve already read it :D), Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron, and Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore (currently reading).


What 2018 releases are you eager for? :-)

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Top Three Thursday [2]: Series I’m Keen to Start in 2018

Top Three Series I’m Keen to Start in 2018

This is a new feature hosted by Fantasy Buddy Reads over at Goodreads. Blog posts aren’t required to participate, but I thought it would be fun to compose one, anyway. :)


Admittedly, the series I’m most excited to start often changes from week to week, but luckily there have been a few I’ve been eager to get to for several months now:

Malice is the first in the Faithful and the Fallen fantasy series that several friends in my Fantasy Buddy Reads group are seriously losing their shit over. It’s evidently a slow burn, multiple POV series that sounds right up my alley. We have a buddy read for this starting in May.

Burn for Me is the first book in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews and it seems to be getting the same amount of positive attention as her Kate Daniels series. As I am now a Kate Daniels super fan, I’m going to trust everybody who says to ignore the super ridiculous & cheesy covers and look forward to diving into more works by these brilliant authors.

Unclean Spirits is the first book of The Black Sun’s Daughter Series by MLN Hanover… A pen name for an author you may recognize as Daniel Abraham or one half of James S. A. Corey. Because I absolutely loved the Long Price Quartet and the Expanse series, respectively, I am hoping this urban fantasy will also knock my socks off. We have a buddy read for this one also starting in May. I can’t wait!

Honorable Mentions (meaning I’ve already started them this year): Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley & Malazan by Erikson/Esselmont


What series are you looking to start in 2018? :-)

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Top Ten Series I’d Take With Me on a Deserted Island

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I’ve modified this week’s topic a bit because the original (Top Ten Characters I take on a Deserted Island) definitely would’ve been a mix of my Top Ten Book Boyfriends and my Top Ten Favorite Female Characters so I decided to take a different route entirely and present my:

Top Ten Series I’d Take With Me on a Deserted Island

Kind of a hodgepodge, isn’t it? These titles represent my lengthier book favorites across a few different genres. While series length doesn’t necessarily coincide with excellent books (although there is a relation… authors who write better tend to get longer publishing deals), I decided to be strategic with my choices and take the series that provided the most long-term enjoyment. It pains me not to bring some of the shorter ones, but I think I’d get tired of them sooner. I should clarify that if a saga consists of multiple series, I’m counting them as one as long as they have continuity. That might be considered cheating, but I don’t care – I want to bring ALL the books.

What series would you take? :)

by Niki Hawkes