Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/30/21) – Six Wakes

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Six Wakes is one of those books that’s been on the first shelf of my Goodreads TBR since the dawn of time. (Read: early 2017) I forget exactly when I fished it back out of the depths, but the premise looked interesting, so I figured I’d put it on hold at the library. Sadly, Six Wakes befell the same fate as most of the books that sit and wither in my TBR for too long: it didn’t live up to my expectations—average as they were—and ended up just being mediocre.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes – Mur Lafferty

The spaceship Dormire is home to six clones. Each of them were convicted of crimes in their past lives, and by steering the Dormire to a new planet, they will be pardoned of all their past misdeeds. But when they wake up to find the corpses of their previous clones strewn around the spaceship, all six suspect foul play. But with their memories wiped and the Dormire’s AI malfunctioning, will they be able to find the perpetrator of the crime before they strike again?

Deshi Basara | 4orror: In space no one can hear you scream. ...

TW/CW: murder, blood, gore, poisoning, descriptions of death/corpses

From the premise of Six Wakes, I expected a sci-fi thriller. The sci-fi box was ticked off, without question, but the further I progressed in the novel, I was more convinced that all I was reading was 50% fictional cloning history, 48% backstory, and 2% plot.

I’ll give Six Wakes one thing, though; the worldbuilding, at its best, was incredibly thorough and well thought-out. Mur Lafferty clearly spent so much time on creating a rich, century-spanning history of cloning and its ethics, as well as the effects it had on world governments and the criminal underworld. It’s the kind of worldbuilding that made me think, “wow, I doubt I could ever have the patience to create something that detailed.” It was fantastic, really. However, it ended up being a bit of a curse to the rest of the book.

This worldbuilding, extensive and detailed as it was, ended up being delivered in such long chunks that I found myself forgetting what the novel was supposed to be about in the first place. There was so much content shoved in that it distracted from the plot as a whole, leaving it suspended in time for so long that I had to go back and re-read just to remember where we left off before the clone rambling started.

Along with the blessing/curse of the worldbuilding, the other 48% (excluding the plot) that bogged down Six Wakes was the excessive backstory. I may not be a frequent mystery reader, but I’ve read enough to know that the whole point of figuring out the mystery is to very slowly realize key details of the characters. And yet, Six Wakes went and did the EXACT opposite. Almost half of the book consisted of multi-chapter sections of backstories for the characters. Not only were they the most inorganic way possible to learn about the characters, they dragged away from what was supposed to be the main plot, and contributed to my lack of enjoyment for the book.

Even with all that backstories, none of the characters really had much of a personality. At all. We got their stories, sure, but save for maybe Hiro (whose personality seemed to be solely for comic relief), I got no sense for what made any of them tick, or what any of them were like as people. I will say in Lafferty’s favor that at least the cast was diverse—two of the main characters were Latinx (Mexican and Cuban-American) and one character was Japanese, so that was a plus.

All of those lacking plot aspects ultimately numbed me to what could have been an inventive and chilling mystery. By the time I’d trudged through all of the backstory and clone history, the plot twists made me feel nothing. And I still don’t have a clear picture of how the book was even resolved. Maybe that’s because by then, I was just skimming, but it still felt so weak and lacking as a whole.

All in all, a sci-fi thriller that had the potential for greatness but got bogged down by excessive backstory and info-dumping. 2 stars.

space aesthetic gifs | WiffleGif

Six Wakes is a standalone, but Mur Lafferty is also the author of the Afterlife series (Heaven, Hell, Earth, Wasteland, War, and Stones), the Shambling Guides series (The Shambling Guide to New York City and The Ghost Train to New Orleans), the novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and several novels.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (11/15/21) – Entangled

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of A.R. Capetta for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to reading their debut. I’ll read any promising space opera that I come across, and judging from how fantastic Once & Future was, I’m hoping this novel will be more of the same.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (11/15/21) – ENTANGLED by A.R. Capetta

Entangled (Entangled, #1) by A.R. Capetta

Blurb from Goodreads:

Alone was the note Cade knew best. It was the root of all her chords.

Seventeen-year-old Cade is a fierce survivor, solo in the universe with her cherry-red guitar. Or so she thought. Her world shakes apart when a hologram named Mr. Niven tells her she was created in a lab in the year 3112, then entangled at a subatomic level with a boy named Xan. 

 Cade’s quest to locate Xan joins her with an array of outlaws—her first friends—on a galaxy-spanning adventure. And once Cade discovers the wild joy of real connection, there’s no turning back.

So why do I want to read this?

Snail Mail - "Heat Wave" (Official Video) on Make a GIF

I’m already a sucker for space opera, but guitars? A cherry-red guitar, to be exact? [aggressively slams credit card on the table]

I’ve read nearly everything of A.R. Capetta’s, so that’s already a motivation for me to read Entangled. Their prose is consistently hooking, and their LGBTQ+ representation never fails. Once & Future is their only other sci-fi book, so I’m hoping that reading Entangled will give me a glimpse of how they’ve grown in the genre since then.

Even if it wasn’t A.R. Capetta, I would have 100% been on board! We’ve got a whole host of factors that are simultaneously drawing me in—aliens, outlaws, galaxy-spanning quests…what’s not to love? Plus, I already adore the concept of Cade as this reluctant, wandering traveler who just wants to play guitar. I feel you, Cade, I feel you.

The reviews on this one are leaning on the mediocre side (3.54 at present), but at this point, I’m undeterred. Most of the complaints have been about the flimsy science, which, well…I know when a piece of media is just sticking “quantum” onto every other word to make them sound smart, but I also deliberately didn’t take a physics class, so it shouldn’t be a major issue. As for the execution (the other major complaint)…well, I guess I’ll see for myself.

Visual Typing (Socionics) - Page 9 | Cosmos, Space art, Colorful gifs

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/9/21) – Columbus Day

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

A close friend of mine was the one who recommended this week’s book to me; we’re both sci-fi fans, and she had been listening to this whole series as audiobooks and highly recommended it. Since it was cheap on the Kindle library, I bought it and read it while I was in LA last week. While it certainly wasn’t my favorite sci-fi book I’ve ever read, it wasn’t bad for my first jump into military sci-fi.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force #1) by Craig Alanson | Goodreads

Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force, #1) – Craig Alanson

Humankind has barely breached outer space, but it’s already in the midst of an intergalactic war.

Caught up in a war between the Ruhar and the Kristang—two alien species with unparalleled interstellar might—Earth creates the Expeditionary Force to fight for themselves on the side of the Kristang, bringing in soldiers from the world’s most powerful militaries to aid in the effort. Joe Bishop, a U.S. army soldier from a sleepy town in Maine, finds himself caught in the conflict when he is whisked off-world to join the Expeditionary Force. Amongst old friends and new enemies, he is entrenched in a war beyond his comprehension. But the more he learns, the more he ponders the question: are humans fighting for the wrong side?

Starwars Battle GIF - Starwars Battle Clones - Discover & Share GIFs

TW/CW: graphic violence, xenophobia, misogyny, sexual content, war, death

I’ve been a fan of sci-fi for years, but I think Columbus Day is one of the only military sci-fi books that I’ve read. (The only other one I can think of might be Ender’s Game, but it’s been a while since I’ve read that one.) After reading this, I wouldn’t say that I was impressed, but I wasn’t fighting the urge to vomit, either. Columbus Day was entertaining, but it got bogged down by a series of flaws that built on top of each other.

Columbus Day largely hinges on the prospect that your average reader knows a substantial amount of military jargon. And there is quite a lot of jargon here; on multiple occasions, I found myself lost in a thick, murky swamp of unexplained slang and technical terms. The same treatment was given to the worldbuilding, which, although it was clearly complex and well thought-out (which was great!), it was delivered in such dizzyingly long chunks that it all felt more convoluted than it was intended to be. The frequent comma splices didn’t exactly help, either. I would’ve gone for a few more rounds of editing on this one.

I found most of the characters to be fairly bland and unlikable, but the one thing I will say in their favor is that they worked as characters in this novel specifically. Joe Bishop was infuriating; he’s the kind of heroic but unknowing everyman who is supposed to appeal to everybody, but falls short big time. There isn’t an original thought that goes through his head, and he’s constantly going on about how “humble” and “down to earth” he is and thinks he’s cooler than everyone else because he can…I don’t know, live off the land, or whatever. He’s a horrible character, to put it lightly, but for this kind of military sci-fi, he almost works. It’s supposed to be centered around soldiers with no control over their lives, so Joe…strangely fits?

The same went for most of the characters; the only depth we got out of any of them (Joe Bishop included) was the prospect of “wait, are we fighting on the right side of this war?” and the concept that nothing is black and white. Most of them came out with the same factory settings, and were then assigned a single personality trait. However, there is one delightful exception to the rule: Skippy! He really stole the show—yeah, he got saddled with all the banter, but the banter was somehow LEAGUES better than any of the other dialogue in the entire rest of the book. I know that it’s way too common for sci-fi to hand all of the comic relief in the entire book to the sassy ship’s AI, but you know why everybody does that? Because it works! And Skippy was certainly a highlight of Columbus Day. Maybe even the best part.

One more thing that I’ll say in Columbus Day‘s favor—it has some pretty solid action scenes. They’re a little drawn out at worst, but Craig Alanson does a great job of throwing in twists and keeping you on your toes when you least expect it. I did enjoy the final battle scene quite a bit, even if there wasn’t a whole lot of substance to it. That’s another thing—Columbus Day is more candy than anything; if you’re looking for a book that muses on the nature of man’s place in the universe or something along those lines, you won’t find it here. But that’s okay! It’s somewhat shallow, but that’s just fine. It’s the perfect book if you’ve just read something heavy and you need something to distract yourself. That’s the merit of these kinds of books—if you’re looking for substance, you’ll be disappointed, so think of it as a 300-page action movie.

All in all, a sci-fi novel that was bogged down with excessive jargon and unlikable characters, but partially made up for it in fast-paced action and sassy AI. 3 stars.

star wars battle gifs | 2048

Columbus Day is the first book in Craig Alanson’s Expeditionary Force series, which spans over 12 books (!!) and counting. In addition to Expeditionary Force, Alanson is also the author of the Ascendance trilogy and the Mavericks series, which are Expeditionary Force spin-offs.

Today’s song:

excuse me for a moment [SOBS]

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (11/1/21) – Orion Lost

Happy Monday, bibliophiles, and happy first day of November! Can’t believe 2021 is nearly over…

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I haven’t read a whole lot of middle grade in the past few years, but this one caught my eye. I’ve seen a lot of sci-fi books with stranded ships and AI with ulterior motives, but I’m interested to see how it translates to a younger audience!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (11/1/21) – ORION LOST by Alastair Chisholm

Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm

Blurb from Goodreads:

After a catastrophic Unknown Event leaves the colony ship Orion stranded deep in space, it’s up to thirteen-year-old Beth and her friends to navigate through treacherous and uncharted territory and reach safety. But a heavily damaged ship, a mysterious alien species, space pirates, and an Artificial Intelligence which Beth suspects may be lying to her mean that getting home has never been so difficult.

Hugely gripping, with incredible twists and a fast-paced, action-packed story, this is an unputdownable science fiction adventure – perfect for fans of Mortal Engines and Star Wars.

So why do I want to read this?

futuristic interface | Tumblr | Cool gifs, Cyberpunk city, Cyber

Right off the bat, the blurb reminded me a lot of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe; both involve characters who are unexpectedly deserted in the vast reaches of space, faced with the challenge of navigating their way back home by themselves. I’ve seen a lot of YA and Adult sci-fi books with similar plots (I love books like these, full disclosure), but I’ve never seen anything like it in the world of Middle Grade. As 13-year-old Madeline would vehemently attest to, I’ve found that there’s a general dearth of sci-fi—good sci-fi even more so—for elementary to middle school-level readers, so I’m always happy to see something like this pop up on my radar.

Beyond that, every little thing peppered in the synopsis makes me more and more excited to read Orion Lost! Aliens? Shifty AI? Space pirates? Middle school Madeline would’ve been all over this, and I’m all over it now. I’ll have to see if it’s available at the library.

Aesthetic Ship GIF - Aesthetic Ship Space - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

it’s always a good day when Radiohead releases something new

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

Found Family Sci-Fi recommendations

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done a recommendations post/something other than a book tag or a review in a while, so I figured it would be fun to mix things up a little bit.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. This is a very specific post. But these are the kind of books I love, and I know other people love them too, so I thought I would put this out into the world.

The found family trope is easily one of my favorites in media as a whole; usually, it involves a character, often an outsider, who meets a series of strangers, often outsiders as well, on whatever journey they are on, and these strangers become a family to them. Often, these characters have very different personalities, but their differences are what make them stronger. They come to accept each other no matter what, growing closer than they ever could have imagined. As someone who has been more than a little bit of an outsider over the course of my life, the trope has resonated with me a quite lot; I’m glad now to have found friends that love me for being as weird as I am, and I love them for being weird too. And for those of you who are in the place where I used to be, I promise: someday, you’ll find people who love you and celebrate you for who you are.

In my opinion, sci-fi is the most entertaining genre to see the found family trope in action. Sci-fi has a tendency to throw all of the characters into a life-changing adventure, and if the execution is right, their relationships deepen along the way, making for a tight-knit group of what I love to call “chaotic space misfits.”

Now, the books I’m putting on this list aren’t exclusively space-centric sci-fi. I’ve included a few books from other sci-fi branches, but all have similar found family themes. It’s mostly YA, but I have a few Adult and MG books on the list as well.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

Welcome To The Kingdom Of Geeks And Dorks - Tumblr Blog Gallery

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S FOUND FAMILY SCI-FI RECOMMENDATIONS

Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders

Amazon.com: Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, 1): 9781250317315:  Anders, Charlie Jane: Books

young adult

Fast-paced and full of heart, Victories Greater Than Death is a perfect fit for longtime sci-fi fans and readers that are new to the genre! The relationships in this novel are so sweet, and I’m excited to see how they develop in the sequel!

Aurora Rising – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720964: Kaufman, Amie,  Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Two YA sci-fi books with purple covers with beautiful and VERY powerful space girls on them? In one post? It’s more likely than you think.

Aurora Rising is, in my opinion, the textbook-perfect example of the found family trope, and both the platonic and romantic relationships within it never fail to make me feel soft and happy inside.

The Disasters – M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters: 9780062657671: England, M. K.: Books

young adult

The Disasters is the perfect book for you if you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy-esque characters and banter. This one has action, drama, and misadventures in space aplenty!

Gearbreakers – Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers eBook : Mikuta, Zoe Hana: Kindle Store - Amazon.com

young adult

Nothing like taking down giant, overpowered robots to bond a couple of people together…

The bonds between all of the characters in Gearbreakers truly shone, and the balance of soft levity, dystopian grit, and brutality were so well-handled!

Skyhunter – Marie Lu

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu – RARELY IN REALITY

young adult

Continuing on the dystopian train, here’s an action-packed book from one of of my favorite authors! Amidst all of the horror and desolation in Skyhunter’s ravaged world, the relationships between Talin, Red, and the rest of their ragtag gang of Strikers brings hope to a bleak novel. I read it almost a year ago, and it was just the thing that I needed to get through a rough patch in my life.

The Search for WondLa – Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for WondLa | Book by Tony DiTerlizzi | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

middle grade

Looking back, The Search for WondLa wasn’t just my gateway into sci-fi literature—it was probably my gateway to the found family trope as well. This was my favorite series from late elementary school through middle school, and even when I look back through it, I love it just as much as I did when I was younger. Middle school Madeline would be elated to hear that I still highly recommend it; an intricately crafted piece of sci-fi, filled with an immersive world, unique characters, and beautiful illustrations.

Honor Among Thieves – Ann Aguirre & Rachel Caine

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine

young adult

Spaceships are often the perfect vehicle for interstellar bonding (and anything interstellar, really), but have you considered…sentient, intelligent spaceships? What’s more fun than having your own spaceship join the found family?

Honor Among Thieves, with its diverse and chaotic cast of characters and intergalactic intrigue, is sure to both capture your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Wayfarers 1 eBook :  Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

adult

I said earlier that the found family trope often involves the characters bonding over some life-changing adventure, but it isn’t always—and never has to be—the case. It seems to me that Becky Chambers has pioneered the “soft sci-fi” novel, one that’s set in a future universe filled with aliens and strange politics, but there are no cosmic, fate-of-the-world wars or over-the-top conflict. It’s more slice-of-life, but in space. (Oh, look at me and all my hyphens…) Which I love.

The relationships of the crew of the Wayfarer made my heart so happy, and I bet they’ll make you just as happy too!

Heart of Iron – Ashley Poston

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron: 9780062652850: Poston, Ashley: Books

young adult

The main cast, along with the rest of the crew of the Dossier are the sweetest, messiest found family, whether they’re human, robot, or alien. If you love retellings, lost chosen ones, and plenty of banter, Heart of Iron is the book for you!

Larklight – Philip Reeve

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of  Space: Reeve, Philip, Wyatt, David: 9781599901459: Amazon.com: Books

middle grade

Here’s another one for middle school Madeline…

Larklight, from my memory, is imaginative, kooky, and perfect if you’re a fan of steampunk. Never a dull moment if there are pirate ships and floating houses in space, right? Plus, all sorts of odd creatures…

LIFEL1K3 – Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike): 9781524713928: Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Turning back into dystopian sci-fi, LIFEL1K3 is another fantastic example of a novel that finds the smallest bits of hope in the bleakest (and I mean BLEAKEST) of times. This series HURT me, truth be told, but Jay Kristoff is the master of writing friendships that you want to root for with all your heart.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with the found family trope? Have any sci-fi recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (9/14/21) – Tell the Machine Goodnight

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I have my dad to thank for finding the book I’m reviewing today, so thank you! It was in an NPR article that he sent me a month back that talked about the ways that sci-fi literature has changed in the past decade. I’d read or shelved a book or two from the list, but I added Tell the Machine Goodnight after reading it because of how fascinating it sounded. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Tell the Machine Goodnight: A Novel: Williams, Katie: 9780525533122:  Amazon.com: Books

Tell the Machine Goodnight – Katie Williams

In a near-future world, the secret to happiness can be obtained with the click of a button. Apricity is a company that has created a machine that can, with startling accuracy, predict exactly what someone needs to be happy.

Pearl has worked for Apricity for many years, earning her notoriety from her coworkers and her manager. But as she looks out into her life–particularly her teenage son, who rejects happiness above all else–she questions the purpose of the machine. Is “happiness” truly what she sells?

Bee Honey GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

TW/CW: substance abuse, eating disorders, stalking, violence, emetophobia

Tell the Machine Goodnight feels like what would happen if Noah Hawley sat down and tried to write a Ray Bradbury novel from scratch. Which is to say, I loved this book.

Everything about this novel felt like a dazzling callback to all of my favorite sci-fi classics. It’s set around 14 years from now, and everything is more or less the same, but there are just some aspects that are fundamentally off. It’s mainly Apricity, among other things, but Katie Williams did a fantastic job of making a world that was simultaneously familiar and unsettling, like something that could feasibly emerge in the next few decades.

I’ve read a lot of reviews that said that they felt that Tell the Machine Goodnight had no plot, but for me, the lack of structure added to the appeal of the narrative. It’s presented as a series of interconnected vignettes of life in Williams’ near-future world, and what society looks like when personalized, surface-level happiness dominates all else. One in particular stood out to me; in one thread, Pearl’s ex-husband creates modern art out of the Apricity suggestions. (One of them was to eat honey, and so he made an art form out of eating honey in excess and then vomiting it out.) Little quirks and stories like these made the world feel all the more fleshed out for me, and I enjoyed every page of it.

To top it off, I firmly believe that good sci-fi should make the reader think, and Tell the Machine Goodnight nails this right on the head! A lot of sci-fi media these days tends to tout that they “comment on the role of technology in our lives,” but I’ve found that very few books/movies/etc. that are advertised as such actually hit the mark. That’s not the case with this novel–it explores some very relevant themes, and does them in creative ways. Throughout the novel, there are themes of the meaning of true happiness, relationships, and our growing reliance on technology that does everything for us. Is computer-generated, temporary happiness truly happiness? It got me thinking, and I’m sure that I’ll be thinking back to it for years from now.

All in all, a modern sci-fi novel that has the feel of a classic and is sure to become a modern classic. 4 stars!

Bbc scales vie GIF on GIFER - by Thorgahuginn

Tell the Machine Goodnight is a standalone, but Katie Williams is also the author of Absent and The Space Between Trees.

Today’s song:

I’M SEEING HER ON THURSDAY NIGHT I’M SO EXCITED

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/23/21) – Every Sky a Grave

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I put this one on my TBR almost exactly a year ago, and it looks like a fascinating twist on your typical space opera! And if it’s described as being perfect for fans of Star Wars…well, I’ve been led astray by that line maybe one too many times, but I love Star Wars, so I don’t think I’ll stop any time soon.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/23/21) – EVERY SKY A GRAVE by Jay Posey

Amazon.com: Every Sky a Grave: A Novel (1) (The Ascendance Series):  9781982107758: Posey, Jay: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

HER WORD IS HER WEAPON.

Mankind has spread out and conquered the galaxy by mastering the fundamental language of the universe. With the right training, the right application of words, truth itself can be rearranged.
Language is literally power.

Peace reigns now. Order reigns.

For if a planet deviates too far from what the authorities plan, an agent is sent out to correct that. To quietly and with great skill, end that world.

One such agent is Elyth – a true believer.

But on a clandestine mission to stop an uprising before it can truly begin, Elyth comes to realise she hasn’t been told the whole truth herself. There’s so much she doesn’t know. How can there be people whose truth is different to that of the authorities?

Elyth’s faith in the powers that be is shaken just when she needs it most. While on her mission, a dark and unknown presence makes itself known at the edges of the galaxy – and it cannot be controlled, for nobody knows its name…

So why do I want to read this?

Beeple - Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk Art - Album on Imgur | Cyberpunk art, Cyberpunk  aesthetic, Cyberpunk

Ooh, the fundamental language of the universe? I’m certainly interested.

All of us sci-fi readers have seen all sorts of intergalactic tyrannies come and go in literature, but I haven’t seen one quite like the one that Every Sky a Grave promises – I’m super interested to see where Posey takes the concept of this fundamental language of the universe and its reality bending powers, as well as the powers controlling it.

Also, Every Sky a Grave is such an eye-catching title! I bet it’s the kind where somewhere along the 75% mark, it’ll appear somewhere in a quote and I’ll have that “oh…OH! They did that! They did The Thing!™️” moment. Hey, it’s the little things in life.

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (8/17/21) – A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! Wow, already the last day of summer for me…I go back to school tomorrow, bright and early…oh, joy. At least I’ll be able to see my friends again.

Anyways, here’s one of my library holds from this week that I enjoyed immensely! I found out about it after reading (and loving) the Wayfarers series. I put it on hold and forgot that I had, and it unexpectedly came in the library last week! And I’m so glad that it did – A Psalm for the Wild-Built was just the kind of book I needed: heartwarming, gentle and philosophical.

Enjoy this week’s review!

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) by Becky Chambers
WHAT GAVE THE COVER ART THE RIGHT TO BE SO CUTE

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) – Becky Chambers

My library copy ft. a nice filter and my backyard

Sibling Dex is tired of their quiet life as a monk in the city. Insistent on bringing spice into their life, they leave for the rural parts of town to become a tea monk, giving out tea and consolation to those who need it most. But something is still missing, so they take their tea cart into the uncharted woods.

There, they come upon Mosscap, a robot living in the woods who is eager to know about humans and their ways. Robots are the stuff of legends in Sibling Dex’s world; centuries before, they migrated to the woods, never to be seen again, leaving humans to their own devices. Knowing nothing about each other, Dex and Mosscap embark on a journey through uncharted territory, seeking answers – and finding more than they expected.

The Iron Giant" movie review | Movies & TV Amino

TW/CW: honestly? I’ve got nothing here, there’s nothing terribly violent, tragic, or graphic in any way here. It’s a gentle book, and honestly? We need more books like this

Okay, this book had no right to be JUST WHAT I NEEDED. I’d already fallen in love with Becky Chambers’ penchant for making sci-fi tender and human in the Wayfarers series, but A Psalm for the Wild-Built was truly the book equivalent of a warm hug.

Everything about this book made me all soft and warm inside. Chambers’ writing made for a beautiful, atmospheric world, filled with lush plant life, factories grown over with vines, and quirky robots wandering the woods. My mind tended to wander back to the Redwoods and Sequoias while picturing the setting – lots of tall trees, bright greenery, and all sorts of little creatures in every nook and cranny. The worldbuilding was spectacular – I was instantly immersed in the world of Dex and Mosscap, and the fact that it was all squeezed into less than 200 pages was even more impressive. It truly felt like a lived-in world, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to grab a tea cart and take a ride through the woods in.

And the characters? I now have an aggressive need to give both Mosscap and Dex hugs. Sibling Dex’s struggles with dissatisfaction and restlessness were all too relatable, and I loved their journey over the course of the novel. And Mosscap? Mosscap was just all kinds of delightful. From the cover, I pictured a shrunk-down sort of Iron Giant with the voice of C3-PO for it. It was such a cheery, eager, and curious character, and it was the perfect match for Dex’s more introspective tendencies. They made the sweetest pair, and I loved exploring Becky Chambers’ world with them.

Through it all, there’s consistent themes of dealing with dissatisfaction and the meaning of life itself. Like I said – A Psalm for the Wild-Built me told me exactly what I needed to hear, and that is that any time you feel dissatisfied, think of how miraculous life itself is – the existence of the universe and consciousness is such a marvel, why not treat it that way? Which, in a world where we’re all fed up and cagey from staying home and living out day after day in constant repetition, is a crucial message for us. I’ll be doing my best to take it to heart.

All in all, easily the sweetest sci-fi/fantasy novel I’ve ever read, equal parts journeying into the unknown and musing on the nature of life itself. 4.5 stars!

shinrinyoku

A Psalm for the Wild-Built is the first novel in Becky Chambers’ Monk & Robot series, continuing with the forthcoming A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, slated for release in 2022. Chambers is also the author of the Wayfarers series (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, Record of a Spaceborn Few, and The Galaxy, and the Ground Within) and the novella To Be Taught, If Fortunate.

Today’s song:

UGH THE GUITAR IN THIS SONG…this album is magic

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (8/10/21) – The Darkness Outside Us

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Last week, before my trip, I trawled the Kindle library for books to read to tide me over until I could get to the books I bought. I’d had it on hold at the library for a bit, but I realized that it was available on the ebook library, so I checked it out immediately. I was initially excited for it, but I had no idea what I was truly in for; The Darkness Outside Us is more than just a thriller or a sci-fi romance – it’s a heartrending and harrowing exploration of love and grief on a cosmic scale.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

The Darkness Outside Us – Eliot Schrefer

After waking up from a strange, deep sleep, Ambrose finds himself on a spaceship with a critical mission – rescuing his older sister, Minerva, who is trapped on a base on Titan. His ship, the Coordinated Endeavor, holds infinite mysteries – it has the voice of his mother, robots with minds of their own, and secrets hidden in every corner. But the most enigmatic of all is Kodiak, his isolated shipmate from a rival country on Earth. Kodiak is bent on keeping distance between them, but when the mission’s true nature becomes clearer, their only choice is to work together.

Quiz: Ripley, Our Lady of Survival | Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

TW/CW: grief, loss of loved ones, violence, descriptions of illness, death

What can I say other than the fact that I’m truly in awe of this book?

The Darkness Outside Us started out like any other sci-fi thriller. We find Ambrose waking up and slowly realizing his surroundings, and figuring out that things about the Coordinated Endeavor are not what they seem. We witness his developing romance with Kodiak, and all the puzzle pieces seem to come together.

But trust me. Once you hit the halfway mark of the book, you may think you’ve predicted all the plots twists (I thought I did…), BUT YOU WON’T. Just as quickly as everything seems to go disastrously wrong, the real plot starts to come together. I don’t want to spoil anything for this novel, but it’s hard to say anything about what happens next without revealing the last half of the plot, but I’ll try my best. It’s better if you go in blind about this one.

For the first half of the book, I thought that I’d give it a 3-3.5 star rating; the characters were decent, the queer enemies-to-lovers romance was well-done, and the mounting tension was well-written. But the further I got on, the surer I became of my 5-star rating. The Darkness Outside Us is far more than what it was marketed as; yes, there’s romance, and yes, there’s a mystery to be solved in ✨space✨, but there is truly so much more than meets the eye. It’s not every day that I truly feel like a novel is a work of art, but this one was. It’s a testament to life itself, appreciating every minute of it while you still can, and the power of love that binds us and shapes us.

We don’t get enough sci-fi/fantasy novels that delve into these core human emotions quite like The Darkness Outside Us did. And if I’m being honest, I think sci-fi can sometimes be an even better vehicle to explore these kinds of themes. With the dizzyingly cosmic scale that this novel takes place over, there’s a unique opportunity to show the transcendental power that love can span over many years. There’s a bleakness to everything, and most of the last half was heartbreaking to read, what with all the grains of hope that were spread throughout being overturned and crushed in seconds, but Schrefer leaves us with a hopeful ending that nearly brought me to tears.

I’ve said several times that part of what makes a good sci-fi is that it makes you think. The Darkness Outside Us fits the bill in every sense of the word. I had…well [ahem] several existential crises over the course of the last half, but in all seriousness, this novel is deeply introspective and philosophical. It’s all about reckoning with our past choices and the choices of others, of breaking free of cycles that have controlled you for millennia (literally), and the enduring power of love and the complicated nature of relationships. I ended up staying up a *little bit later* than I intended to because I just HAD to see what happened, but all that time, I had the space to ruminate about life. Needless to say, this one had me staring at the ceiling and pondering the meaning of life until I fell asleep, despite my attempts to distract myself.

In short, I don’t use the word “masterpiece” lightly, but The Darkness Outside Us truly is one. It’s an ode to love to light the way in the darkness and a musing on the nature of love, relationships, grief, and choices. It’s haunting, heartbreaking, and nothing short of immense in its scale, and will surely leave you thinking about all manner of things after reading it. It’s the book equivalent of Spiritualized’s “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” – “I will love you ’till I die/And I will love you all the time/So please put your sweet hand in mine/We’ll float in space and drift in time.” Books like this don’t come around often, so pick this one up. You won’t regret it. 5 stars!

cyber-black | Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk anime, Cyberpunk art

The Darkness Outside Us is a standalone, but Eliot Schrefer is also the author of the Ape Quarter (Endangered, Threatened, Rescued, and Orphaned), The School for Dangerous Girls, The Deadly Sister, Glamorous Disasters, and many more novels for young adults and children.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/9/21) – Retrograde Orbit

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I’m finally back from Florida, and it’s so good to be back home. However, it was more than jarring watching the plane go through a layer of wildfire smoke to land…CLIMATE CHANGE IS VERY VERY REAL, FOLKS

[ahem] anyways, Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I don’t usually put graphic novels in these posts, but I figured this one would be a nice change. Retrograde Orbit seems like a very unique comic, with a sci-fi aesthetic blended with themes of home and relationships!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/9/21) – RETROGRADE ORBIT by Kristyna Baczynski

Retrograde Orbit: Baczynski, Kristyna: 9781910395424: Amazon.com: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

At the outer edge of the solar system, on the mining planet Tisa, Flint and her mother live in the colony of Swift Springs. Displaced by a nuclear event, Flint’s family settled in Swift Springs two generations ago to become miners. Soon Flint will be old enough to begin her apprenticeship at the refinery. But is the home that her family has built for her enough, or will a mysterious, irradiated planet pull her away from them? By following in their footsteps and leaving to forge a new path, is she betraying her family, or honouring their legacy? Exploring notions of home and the desire to leave it, Kristyna Baczynski’s first graphic novel is a story of relationships, of time and of the motion of the universe.

So why do I want to read this?

page 75 – Broken Frontier
art by Kristyna Baczynski

When I looked up images of some of the comics panels, I was immediately reminded of Tillie Walden – the monochrome color scheme with colors that shift from act to act, and the simultaneously cartoonish and intricate style of the illustrations. I’m not sure if I like how Flint and all the other aliens design-wise, but I do like Baczynski’s art style.

Beyond that, this sounds like just my kind of quiet sci-fi! We don’t often get sci-fi novels that deal with the softer, more mundane aspects of life; more than not, it’s all big explosions and high drama. Quiet sci-fi and fantasy is something that I really wish would be done more, because even though they’re set on different worlds, it can sometimes be even more impactful to explore everyday things through the eyes of something or someone completely imaginary. Retrograde Orbit looks like it promises a lot of that – a coming-of-age exploration of independence, family, and leaving things behind. I’m on board!

Slings & Arrows
art by Kristyna Baczynski

Today’s song:

wh…why is Damon wearing that hat…why…

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!