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June Reading – Space Opera & Alien Life

I suppose we all go through phases with our reading. As a wee small thing I was…

I suppose we all go through phases with our reading. As a wee small thing I was everything fantasy, which rather rapidly became everything fantasy and scary, then everything fantasy, sci-fi, and/or scary, and then … Well, actually, that one stuck for quite a while. I may still be in that phase, if I’m honest. I’ve merely refined the parameters a bit.

I do go through stages of reading thrillers, or detective stories, or literature-type things, and I’ll grab a science-y non-fiction at times, or even – gasp – the odd memoir if it sounds funny/interesting/weird enough.

Lindsay Buroker, Star Kingdom, sci-fi, space opera, book review

But I always come back to my personal happy place – genre fiction. Mostly, these days, my love is fantasy in a world that resembles ours, or ideally is ours. I was put off horror after too many ‘scary’ books that were just splatter, and I’ve put down too many sci-fi books that were about manly men from manly spacecraft being manly while doing manly things, or were so mired in technical detail that I wandered off to get tea and never came back.

I’m only just realising that, for someone who claims to read widely, I’m really fussy.

Which is why I was so, so happy when my lovely friend Sam introduced me to the Star Kingdom series, by Lindsay Buroker. It’s eight glorious books of unlikely heroes, strong friendships, snarky dialogue, and unexpectedly personable robots. There’s plenty of action for my action-loving heart. There are entertaining, believable characters with ‘flaws’ that are their strengths. There’s suspense and humour and commentary on humanity and our suitability (or lack thereof) of having the opportunity and responsibility of exploring other worlds. There are villains who are distinctly heroic, and heroes who need to learn to be a teeny bit villainous. And more strong (without being one-dimensional or invulnerable) female characters than a cat-woman can throw across a room. Which is a lot.

Lindsay Buroker, Star Kingdom, sci-fi, space opera, book review

Do not be misled by the skipping. Or the nice nail polish…

Sam, you’ve broken my TBR, and I have zero regrets.

I also want more of this sort of sci-fi, so if you have suggestions, send them this way, lovely people! I have given up all hope of ever actually seeing the bottom of my TBR, even at a distance, anyway, so I’m just going with it at this point.

Oh, and rating? All the fizzop a beleaguered roboticist can drink, and a full hamper of baked goods made by his mother.

Check out the vid for my full chat!

And I did mention the first book I’ve picked up since finishing Star Kingdom, which is A Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy by Dr Arik Kershenbaum. So far it’s a really interesting read, but I shall update on that next month, when I’ve actually read enough of it to not still be thinking about snarky droids.

Now over to you, lovely people – what genres do you keep coming back to? What ones have you loved but moved away from? Let me know below!

bookworm, currently reading, Lindsay Buroker, reading, star kingdom


    Oooh! I just read the synopsis for “Shockwave” and I can’t wait to read it. Thank you so much for the suggestion 🙂 I’m always looking for new authors even though I also have a totally out of control TBR list in hard copies (which I sadly can’t read the print on easily anymore) and mostly in ebooks. Boy, I read a lot of genres although I suppose Sci Fi and Fantasy and mysteries have always been my first choices. I discovered Andre Norton’s books at age 11 and never looked back. I guess the only thing I really dislike is graphic sexual content in any genre. It’s just not my bag. Have you read Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series? It’s fabulous! It’s another series like both of yours that I keep going back to. If my life is especially stressful like now (medical stuff, ugh!) they are comfort reading for me. Although considering the content ( zombies and Gobbelno and the dead in the Old Kingdom) I suppose a lot of people would wonder at that 😉 Currently I’m reading “A Manor of Life and Death” (Beaufort Scales book 3) on Kindle and “The Sauropod Dinosaurs” a huge hardback that was a birthday present. Apparently I’m never outgrowing my obsession with dinosaurs 🙂 Off to take a loaf of Blueberry Zucchini Bread out of the oven. Speaking of being taken over, the Zucchinis argh!!

    1. Kim M Watt says:

      Not the zucchinis! In my one attempt at veggie gardening, they were my sole success. And they were really, really successful…! Luckily I quite like them, but I would have liked them even more if I’d had blueberry zucchini bread on the menu 😁

      I haven’t read Garth Nix at all – I evidently need to remedy that! And I hope so much that you enjoy the Star Kingdom series as much as I did. It’s always fab finding a new series that we can feel at home in. Thank you SO MUCH for including mine in your reread list – that’s just such an amazing things to hear. Knowing people enjoy the books is always wonderful, but knowing they enjoy them enough to REREAD them… well. Happy writer!

      I hope you get those zucchini under some sort of control!

      1. MARIE CORDALIS says:

        I know! I begged my husband to skip Zucchini this year after last year’s Zucchiniopolis but he couldn’t resist growing one plant and we’re still overrun. I made a Blueberry pie this morning and snuck some into it. shhh, don’t tell anyone 🙂 and also some muffins so I’m currently caught up but Chuck’s out picking in the garden right now so I’m sure that won’t last long.
        Thank YOU for writing wonderful books I can always count on!

        1. Kim M Watt says:

          I feel Chuck may need to at least contribute to the zucchini menu inspiration, if not the cooking! But it also sounds like you’ve got a superplant there. Watch out for tendrils coming in the windows… 😉

          1. MARIE CORDALIS says:

            Fortunately he’s a sucker for Zucchini bread and I always throw lots of goodies in too 😉 I have had giant Zucchini dreams🙀

          2. Kim Watt says:

            😱 Giant zucchini dreams sound alarming. VERY alarming. Best arm the windows against rogue creeping vines!

  2. Susan York says:

    Oh, thank you, thank you for the Star Kingdom recommendation! I had earlier read the first 3 books in Lindsay Buroker’s Death Before Dragons series, and I enjoyed them, they were well-done, but for some reason personally, I didn’t connect fully to the characters and wasn’t inclined to continue the series or pick up another book by the same author (since I also have a massive TBR list). But I love love love your books, both the Beaufort and Gobbolino series. I connect very well with your characters and with the fact that friendship is the strongest bond in all your books.

    So on your very strong recommendation, I have just finished the first three Star Kingdom books, and have to say you were spot on, they (just like your books) are exactly “my cup of tea.” I’ll be getting the rest of the series shortly! 😘

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Aw, yay! This makes me so happy on two counts – writer happies that you enjoy the Beaufort and Gobbelino books so much (which are huge happies. Thank you so much for letting me know, and the fact that the friendships resonate with you is just the best), and reader happies that I’ve introduced you to Star Kingdom! They really are such fun books. And I know what you mean – I liked Death Before Dragons, but I wandered off after book 3, too. These … well. I’ve gushed enough above!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment – and happy reading! And also apologies to your TBR. Sort of. 😉

  3. Erica Wildwood says:

    I read all genres, fiction and non-fiction, but when it comes to fantasy I hope you know the works of Lord Dunsany, the grandfather of fantasy fiction. He wrote well over a hundred years go, but his stories are wonderful: imaginative, fantastic, often gently ironic. See for instance ‘Miss Gubbins abd the Dragon of Romannce’ which is subtle and slyly comments on the mores of the time, as does ‘Of the Kith of the Elf Folk’ (unfortunately, the Dragon of Romance doesn’t actually speak, but, although he is very different from your adorable dragons, Kim, he is still a wonderful creation) He wrote ‘The King of Elfland’s Daughter’ and if you come across the phrase ‘beyond the fields we know’, he coined it. Many of his stories are set in parallel universes, and he was particularly good at inventing names. A lot of his work is now available online nowadays. He wrote novels and hundreds of short stories.
    Kim, please write more about Toot Hansell and about Gobbelino and Callum. I absolutely adore your books. As well as making me laugh out loud, the feel like a warm hug from a beloved friend.
    Greetings to the Little Furry Muse (aww, she’s cute!) from my big fluffy ginger boy Rufus Tuftypaws. I adopted him five years ago, after his elderly human died. He was four or five then, and had not been properly loved. He’d moved in with the old lady but she already had another cat, and they didn’t get on too well. My vet had a record of him having to be de-matted, so he hadn’t been brushed enough. He settled right in with me and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I’ve always lived with a cat since my early twenties and couldn’t imagine life without a furry friend. I have no family apart from my adult son who lives 200 miles away, and who adopted a rescue cat as soon as he bought his own house 18 months ago. We’re both cat slaves. Cats and dragons! You’ve gotta love them!

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Cats and dragons simply make life better! Greetings and scritches to Rufus Tuftypaws – that’s a wonderful name, and he sounds like a lovely boy. Who also landed very much on his tufty paws when he found you!

      I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve entirely missed the works of Lord Dunsany – I shall have to remedy that directly. Thank you for the recommendation! It’s always interesting reading older works, too. They don’t always age well, but they can be really interesting reflections of the times they were written, as well as great stories in and of themselves when they have stood up to the years. I’ll look for some of his!

      And Beaufort’s sixth book is currently with beta readers! I’m hoping to release that in the autumn. I shall be starting work on a new Gobbelino in very short order. There are plenty of stories still to come, and I’m so glad you enjoy them. It really does make all the difference, hearing from readers, so thank you so much ❤️

    2. Linda says:

      I prefer Cat Servants. And aren’t rescued pets just the best? They, like Gobbelino, hold such a deep capacity for loyalty and live

      1. Kim Watt says:

        Rescued pets are amazing – they can teach us a lot about love and second chances ❤️

  4. Linda says:

    I absolutely love and cannot say enough about Ben iranovich’s the rivers of London series! It has inspired my current obsession which is magical UK detectives. Lol I absolutely love Callum and Gobbelino (Callum has to come first once in awhile) and can’t wait for the next book. I’m finishing up Melee of Mages and then look forward to your Beaufort Scales series. This obsession has also lead to my obsession with builders tea. I was never a tea drinker but constantly reading ‘ a cuppa and biscuits’, and, well…..Taylor’s Irish Breakfast w/milk and McVities Rich Tea biscuits make the world a better place. ;>

    1. Kim Watt says:

      The Rivers of London series is just brilliant! I’m actually very behind on my reading on that one – it got away from me at some point and I think I need to start again from the first book. Such hardships… 😉

      And I’m so glad that you’re enjoying Gobbelino’s adventures! And Callum’s, of course. And Green Snake. I hope you enjoy Beaufort just as much – although, be warned, you may need even more tea and biscuits. And possibly cake. But, as you say, they do make the world a better place, so… Happy reading!

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