This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It was also discussed pre-publication on Episode 021 of the ReadiThis audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It was also discussed pre-publication on Episode 021 of the Reading Envy podcast, if you want more background. I had not read the book at the time.
This is a debut novel from Marguerite Reed, and I feel I should first say this is not the kind of novel I typically read. It is also not a typical novel. Some of the elements combined together in a way I was not expecting and I had to talk myself through it. I think I'm using the review to think it through even further.
The novel takes place on a planet called Ubastis, a relatively unexplored and uncolonized planet that is being considered as a new home for humanity. Vashti, who the publisher summary refers to as a xenobiologist, is on the planet for further study. She holds multiple roles, from safari guide of sorts to political activist, to mother. Several scenes in the beginning of the novel detail Vashti having important conversations about her husband's death and what she should be doing, interrupted by her toddler being hungry or wanting help with the bathroom. I have to admit that I was a bit startled by this element. I'm not used to women being mothers in military science fiction (a label I am hesitant to use but is the closest I can come). Thinking about it more, I realized that in all those urban fantasy type novels, the main subgenre where you see kickass female heroines, those women are always lone wolves who have hot sex or revenge sex or daddy issues. Their solitude allows them to have the strength and independence. I feel like the author really pushed herself to create a more complex character, one who is grieving the loss of her husband, struggling with self-harm and guilt, and still loving a tiny child that occupies some of her mental and physical space. It isn't something I have seen before. Her humanity is tangible, almost uncomfortable, and it becomes more important as the story moves forward.
There is a lot more going on, from discussions of humanity to independence. This is the first book in a series and Marguerite Reed definitely ends the book with a clear direction in mind. I think readers of urban fantasy with kickass women would really like this, and enjoy the change to space and genetic modification as the setting.
I listened to this in audio and liked the narrator for the most part. She does something strange where she whispers the last word in a sentence, or speaks it in a very low tone. It took me a while to get used to it, and ended up speeding up the recording to 1.5x which helped a great deal. I realized I was waiting for the last word of every sentence and missing what the words in the sentence were, and had to start over. Let me see if I can replicate it in text, with words in asterisks the words spoken low or whispered.
"In Moira's apartment I ate and drank what she set in front of *me.* She remembered something of tact, thank God, and did not interrupt until I had finished scraping my *plate clean.*"
I don't know if this is the narrator's style, if it is the style she chose for the book, but at first it really took me out of the listening experience. I played it for a few others to see if I was crazy and they noticed it as well. By the time I got halfway, I stopped noticing it and the last half of the book flew by....more
I read this because it was selected as the May book for the Sword and Laser book club and I hardly ever get a chance to read along! I had not heard ofI read this because it was selected as the May book for the Sword and Laser book club and I hardly ever get a chance to read along! I had not heard of this author or this book in either form (it is also known as The Sea-Kings of Mars.)
It is important to look at the era a book was written. This is from 1953, pre-moon landing, pre-scientific Mars information. It isn't surprising, then that the main character (Carse) and all the other humans on Mars don't mention struggling to breath or survive. You just have to suspend a lot of disbelief.
Is this the first book with time-lords? Perhaps Doctor Who fans should be reading this book. It's like Indiana Jones on Mars meets time travel meets pirates. It was actually a lot of fun to read and I thought some of the descriptions were more beautiful than I would have expected from something pulpy, and the different groups were creatively presented. Who wouldn't want to envision Mars in a former glory era? Ah heck, I'm adding a star.
I can't remember which book it is I read, maybe Burroughs, but I remember a short tale about a trip to the moon where all the people needed were rifles and fur coats. This feels kind of like that. I didn't care for the main character who is a bully and a thief but still enjoyed the book overall....more
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
The other books I have read by Gene Wolfe were intricate, dense books of deI received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
The other books I have read by Gene Wolfe were intricate, dense books of detail and magic, books that almost required a re-read once you reached the end. This is not like those books, and I'm trying to separate my surprise at the change in writing style from the book itself.
The publisher describes it best:
"E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.
A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated."
At its heart it is more of a mystery novel with a twist. Light and fun to read, but I'm not sure it's a reread type....more
A very fun YA novel in a new series by Gail Carriger, about a young woman who gets recruited to finishing school, but it is the "other" definition ofA very fun YA novel in a new series by Gail Carriger, about a young woman who gets recruited to finishing school, but it is the "other" definition of finishing.
The characters and world feel similar to the Parasol Protectorate series but much more an adventure series, with much milder romance.
The audio is highly recommended, because the reader does a great job at accents and distinguishing the characters from each other....more
I had a copy from Edelweiss but waited too long to get into it, and my download expired. I wasn't sure I would finish anyway. I started out assuming iI had a copy from Edelweiss but waited too long to get into it, and my download expired. I wasn't sure I would finish anyway. I started out assuming it would be a lot like Divergent, and it is similar in that people can get tested and placed into an affinity group. But not everyone tests into one, and not everyone gets tested. Affinity groups seem to be an evolution in the family unit, replacing it, but it is fairly new in society. By the place I reached in the story, one group had received information that they had the potential to change the world, and were starting out to do so (likely with some significant push back.)
Kind of utopian, and as many utopias go, looked bound for dystopia....more
This is really more like 3.5 stars. The ideas are fun but there are too many for the length. I would have loved a full novel to explore more of it forThis is really more like 3.5 stars. The ideas are fun but there are too many for the length. I would have loved a full novel to explore more of it for longer. I suppose this is a reflection of the crowd-funded process when something is written outside the normal method (you know, with editing!)
But virtual worlds... near-future San Francisco... quantum computers... detective stories... falafel... if you like those things you are likely to enjoy it....more
I can see why this is such a fantasy classic. I was well-served to read it alongside other people, forced to read only a few chapters a week - this alI can see why this is such a fantasy classic. I was well-served to read it alongside other people, forced to read only a few chapters a week - this allowed me to notice more things and appreciate the small bits in a way I don't usually do. Besides having a decent story, Beagle has a good balance of quirky, humor, romance, and deep thoughts. Perfect for younger and older readers....more
I probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announI probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announced as one of the Nebula nominees.
It's not my normal fare, in other words. It was described to me as a steampunk-fantasy court drama novel, but I would characterize it more as a coming of age, fish out of water, court drama novel. The steampunk is far in the background and as much as I don't geek out about those kinds of details, I think more of them would have made the world more interesting - more magic too, please! It's there, but so far in the background.
The other parts of the world, from the elaborate family names to the complex kingdom rulership borders, to the elfin-goblin conflicts, were interesting and didn't feel like many other things. Actually I did keep thinking of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin but I'm not sure others will see the parallels.
The best part, in my opinion, is the character of Maia the goblin emperor. I think the author writes him very compassionately, although flawed. He has quite the wardrobe.
I am surprised this isn't the first in a trilogy or series because it feels like everything just gets settled by the end, and after all of this world has been created, it might be nice for the author to keep writing in it.
You would think this fulfilled my fantasy reading for the year, but no. My usually post-modern literary book club has selected a fantasy novel for our next read, one I never would have read.... well here we go....more
Neil Gaiman is an excellent teller of stories, and I usually enjoy his audio. This is an entertaining short story, not as twisty as some of his, but I liked the musical interludes and accompaniment. He seems to be writing several stories set in the Hebrides and this was a nice trip there.
I'll have a longer review of the set of stories soon!...more
As usual with short story anthologies - some I was not interested in, some I loved. What I wish was less often - how many of these stories I'd read alAs usual with short story anthologies - some I was not interested in, some I loved. What I wish was less often - how many of these stories I'd read already, published in other compilations. I know it's an author's prerogative how they bundle and republish their work, but I'd prefer to be given new stories.
Don't skip the introductions. They put each story into context and one has a hint of a future novel (very exciting!)
-The Thing About Cassandra
-The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains (recommended: the separate Audible production with the FourPlay String Quartet)
-Black Dog It is important to note that depression is often referred to as the "black dog."
-The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury - a lovely tribute to an author and more generally, ruminations on what happens to works once they're out there
"I sometimes imagine I would like my ashes to be scattered in a library. But then the librarians would just have to come in early the next morning to sweep them up again."
-In Relig Odhráin - largely because it was set on a tiny island that both the author and I adore. I would love to go back and read this story again while standing near this place.
Stories I'd already read: -Click-Clack the Rattlebag -The Sleeper and the Spindle -Feminine Endings
I think this book falls into the category of just not really my thing. There are some books of China Miéville that I have really loved - Embassytown bI think this book falls into the category of just not really my thing. There are some books of China Miéville that I have really loved - Embassytown being my favorite so far. I think there was less going on in that world, and because of that, characters were free to tell more of a story. In this novel, there are so many creatures and places and intrigue to describe, it was hard to settle in to any of it in an enjoyable way. I think I would have really liked the reluctant librarian hostage as unlikable as she is, if I had just spent more time with her in the library. I was interested in her understanding (and confusion) with some of the men but many of those storylines fell flat in favor of the action in the story. So some of the time there wasn't enough action, some of the time it was a focus right when I was starting to care about the rest of it.
The nice thing about Miéville is that every book is so different, that not exactly enjoying this won't deter me from trying future books. I'm not sure I'd return to Bas-Lag/New Crobuzon, but perhaps another universe.
I read this because it was a pick for one of my book clubs, where we meet in a virtual space. I can't wait to see the costumes!...more
Great adaptation of this book! While Adam feels like the focus in the book and audiobook, this seemed to better feature the angel/demon duo, kind of aGreat adaptation of this book! While Adam feels like the focus in the book and audiobook, this seemed to better feature the angel/demon duo, kind of a sad end to a very civil war, soon to end with Armageddon.
Still too many uses of the word ineffable, but I think that's a joke....more
It was an interesting experience to reread this book, because I remembered nothing about the plot or characters, just the world itself.
In the introducIt was an interesting experience to reread this book, because I remembered nothing about the plot or characters, just the world itself.
In the introduction the CBS Radio production of Brave New World in the mid 1950s, Aldous Huxley (serving as narrator) indicates that he meant the book as a warning about what would happen with our society if we continued on the path of consumerism and technological advance to the detriment of our humanity. He uses the term "negative utopia," and twenty years after the publication thought he had overestimated the number of years it would take us to get there - the novel was set 800 years into the future, and 20 years later, he decided it may be more like 200. He is very stern in this recording, a prophet of warning.
I think this time around I was struck most by the debate about happiness. Is happiness truly the greatest pursuit? Or should it not be the "first thing?" (subtle C.S. Lewis reference, booyah)
In the world of BNW:
"You can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma."
Conditioned to only want what you can have, and if that's not enough, a mood-altering drug to balance you out. That's the world of BNW, until it is disrupted by John the Savage and a few Alpha males who long for things their society is not set up for - one desires isolation and one desires poetry.
Women are resigned to "engaging" with men on a regular basis, pregnancy is simulated to cheer them up, birth control is something they are conditioned to do, and marriage and other long term relationships are considered pornographic. The greatest compliment a man can pay a woman is to say she is "pneumatic." But if this is a negative utopia, perhaps Huxley knew that increasing the number of castes, and keeping women from the top, would only be a part of the calm but controlling world he feared.
I wish Huxley would have written a novel set on one of the islands where the outliers are sent. It seems like the conversations and advancement of ideas in those places would have been more interesting than the rinse-repeat-condition universe of The World State. ...more
I picked this from my bookshelves (one of the many to-read) to take on a trip to the Bahamas, and ended up reading most of it on the ship. The premiseI picked this from my bookshelves (one of the many to-read) to take on a trip to the Bahamas, and ended up reading most of it on the ship. The premise is interesting - a woman's father dies and as she mourns and hits menopause, her old "finding" abilities start coming back. Items from her childhood start reappearing (often dropping from the sky, but also an entire cashew orchard) and then a little boy washes up on shore.
I liked the setting although the island, Dolorosse, is imagined. The language throughout has a Haitian patois to it, and that alongside the description of the landscape and food makes it feel like a real place. But I liked the place far more than the characters. I sense you are supposed to dislike the main character Calamity but the rest of the people in the novel are a bit unknown to us, leaving me just with the character I didn't much like.
I saved this book to read until I was on a trip to Florida, so it had been about six months since reading book #2 in this trilogy. At first a few of tI saved this book to read until I was on a trip to Florida, so it had been about six months since reading book #2 in this trilogy. At first a few of the details that are referenced were specifics I had forgotten, but it made more sense as I went on.
There are some answers in this book, some of what I was expecting, some that was surprising and more disturbing. A very good finish to the trilogy and I was glad to read all three in one year. I know this was an impossible feat but I wish more trilogies were published this close together!
Something about VanderMeer's writing really creeps into my head. I must have read this too late at night after wandering a remote Florida island, because I woke up shouting with visions of (view spoiler)[ time-traveling, space alien atemporal whales (hide spoiler)] in my head. But that is why I read-in-place, trying to pick books that match the places I travel. Can you match Area X?
"This island is about fourteen miles long, six broad, and forty in circumference, containing what I would estimate as about eight-four square miles or more than fifty thousand acres. The pine-and-oak forest comprises most of the interior, sprawling down toward the shore on the landward side, but the side facing the sea has been assaulted by storms, and there you will find mostly scrub and moss and gnarled bushes."
"You are only partly alive. We can help you more than you can imagine."
I had never heard of this book before it was selected for an SFF Audio Readalon"You are only partly alive. We can help you more than you can imagine."
I had never heard of this book before it was selected for an SFF Audio Readalong discussion, and I think I liked it more after we talked about it for an hour or so.
There is a lot to think about here. The novel is in four sections and quite a bit of it has hints of other dystopias - the community with scheduled sex and neighbor-reporting is similar to We, the drugging of society feels like Brave New World, and I was completely expecting it to go in the direction of the ending of 1984.
This book won the Prometheus Award from the Libertarian Futurist Society for examining concepts of freedom. Hmm, I have read 18 books from their list. What does that mean?
But that may be the most interesting part of the novel, or at least what I was thinking about while reading it. Many people rate the book low because of the rape scene, and while it feels gratuitous in the moment, I actually think it is our first huge clue that Chip is a questionable hero. What is he going to do if he overthrows Uni? Would he be someone to follow? And what is worse, knowing the truth or living a passive, expected life?
And one little quote, one I felt very deeply considering recent events:
"We’ve got to fight, not adjust. Fight, fight, fight." ...more
Well now I'm even more convinced this book had no business in audio version, since half the printed book is image and illustration. It's an odd littleWell now I'm even more convinced this book had no business in audio version, since half the printed book is image and illustration. It's an odd little short story about a visit to a strange library with a lot of repetition and not much else. Definitely not one of Murakami's finer moments, in my opinion, not even one of his better short works. I read one of his stories in the New Yorker that was far superior in the past year. And I love libraries, strange ones included. Puzzling....more
I'm not much of a superhero comic book reader. I've seen a few volumes of Batwoman, and I've read other graphic novels, and okay if Sandman counts, I'I'm not much of a superhero comic book reader. I've seen a few volumes of Batwoman, and I've read other graphic novels, and okay if Sandman counts, I've read all of that.
But other than a few episodes of Agent Carter, I am willfully ignorant of the Marvel universe. Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, mentions that Captain Marvel hasn't been spotted in a few years once she becomes Ms. Marvel.
Vol. 1: No Normal is very much about Kamala becoming Ms. Marvel, with a lot of information on her (very conservative, also Muslim) family. Less than five stars because I pretty much expect future volumes to be better, now that the groundwork has been laid.
I'm looking forward to hearing G. Willow Wilson speak at ACRL, and I'll bring this along in hopes that she can sign it!
The art is decent, although not breathtaking. And there are several cells where detail is lacking. I just never understood why that happens, when characters become more like color blobs. That's probably a stylistic preference, and I prefer beauty and detail....more
I'm still wrapping my head around this book, so consider this review a (possibly perpetual) work in progress. My book club discusses it on Monday so II'm still wrapping my head around this book, so consider this review a (possibly perpetual) work in progress. My book club discusses it on Monday so I might have more to add at that point.
It is thanks to two Gene Wolfe fans that I have read this book - one for selecting it and one for providing useful resources to help me understand it better. And of course as with anything by Gene Wolfe I've ever read, now that I know more, I feel like to really appreciate this book I would start again from the beginning.
This is different from some of the other books by Wolfe that I have read, those combining science fiction and fantasy, in a far future post-tech landscape. These instead are set in the historical ancient world and rely heavily on actual texts, plus fantastical elements of the mythology. Having only a basic basic knowledge of these ancient times and zero experience with the texts referenced, I may not have had all the background that would have made this an even more enjoyable experience. Gene Wolfe is for smart readers.
The basic premise is that of Latro, a mercenary with a memory loss problem. Because he can only retain about a half of a day at a time, he is constantly transcribing what is happening so he can refer back to it. You really only know that he is not a local, and there is so much between the lines that I point you again to the external resources to understand the book!
The part that will be intriguing to discuss with the book club is whether or not Latro is seeing what he thinks he is seeing. Oh and the ending.
"Pinadros shook his head as if in wonder. 'Is it because you can't remember the past that you're so wise, Latro?'" (104)
I read this because it is October and Zelazny is on my reading goals for the year. It is a clever tale from Snuff the dog in the month of October, andI read this because it is October and Zelazny is on my reading goals for the year. It is a clever tale from Snuff the dog in the month of October, and his pal Jack. There are talking animals and all the science fiction and fantasy tropes of classic literature, and some conclusions the reader needs to draw on his or her own. It was a light read with great drawings and I enjoyed it.
It was very Octoberish with bits like this: "I breathed the smells of woodsmoke, loam, and rotting windfall apples, still morning-rimed, perhaps, in orchard's shade, and saw a high, calling flock V-ing its way to the south."
And clever with bits like this: "You wander these lands in dreams of catnappery?"...more
I've had this sitting on my NetGalley list for months and decided to read it in a quiet afternoon.
With all the books on clones and robots out there, II've had this sitting on my NetGalley list for months and decided to read it in a quiet afternoon.
With all the books on clones and robots out there, I can't say there is much to recommend this one. It focuses on a genetically engineered scientist trying to understand what it means to be human. A lot of the future setting makes no sense - genetically engineered computer-beings make up the majority of the workforce but there are still bookstores, and honeybees play a major part (they would be extinct by then!). The interesting bits are glossed over and implied while a lot of time is spent inside the bot's head, defining words and processing possibilities. It just sounded better than it ended up....more
I got about 1/4 in and decided I wouldn't finish. I liked the first novel of the author's previous trilogy, Bitter Seeds, but never went back to the oI got about 1/4 in and decided I wouldn't finish. I liked the first novel of the author's previous trilogy, Bitter Seeds, but never went back to the other books in that series. I think it is for similar reasons that I don't think I'll finish this one. Ian Tregillis very creatively weaves automatons and clockwork people into historical events. The previous trilogy looked at World War II, and The Alchemy Wars are set more during Louis XIV. If you are interested in how issues of mechanical beings would fare during this era, you would probably love this book. Solidly not for me, but maybe for others....more
I found this on my parents' bookshelves and decided to read it. It reminds me of a lot of the turn-of-the"The love of knowledge is a kind of madness."
I found this on my parents' bookshelves and decided to read it. It reminds me of a lot of the turn-of-the-century science fiction that had more to do with imagination than science. After all, all you really need to take with you to another planet to survive is a decent fur coat!
Still, I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of the aliens - the cultures and beliefs and language systems were intriguing; and the planet - the fauna and the layers really lit my head up. I kind of wish Lewis hadn't made it a planet we know, because then I would have been ALL IN. It's just so off from the reality that it doesn't make any sense. I might read the other two books in this trilogy some day, but I'm not in any hurry to do it. ...more
I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a fun, quick read about an advice columnist in dystopian America. TI received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a fun, quick read about an advice columnist in dystopian America. The government steals back her stolen chickens during a "negotiation" to get her to work as a propaganda artist for zombie-free America. I liked the vivid world-building in this novella, just wanted more of the story! I had not heard of this author before, but I'll be back.
The timing of this story was terrific because I was on my first day of three weeks of zero internet access, and in the story, the Internet gets turned off! Dystopia is now.
The writing makes it a fun read, and I could picture it as a tv show because it is snappy. Here are a few examples:
"Maybe she's doing something like good cop, bad cop?" "You need two cops for that." "Looks like she's an overachiever."
"I open the package and look inside: a gluey glop of hot-as-hell contents, chunks of almost identifiable foods swimming in the sludge. It's the perfect meal to eat while watching a terrorist act unfold."...more
Abandoning 212 pages in. At first I thought this was so much better than Saturn's Children - fast-paced, interesting story, funny at times, creative sAbandoning 212 pages in. At first I thought this was so much better than Saturn's Children - fast-paced, interesting story, funny at times, creative setting within the freyaverse, pre-established. I was really into it for 95 pages. Then the author decided to stop writing the story and instead, went on and on about the economic system he'd created. He really wants the reader to understand his concept of Slow Money. I got it. I wanted to move on and tell me more during the story. But he kept stopping and giving mini lectures, and I just couldn't take it anymore.. It does take work to incorporate these details into your novel. Treating them as interludes does not make for an enjoyable reading experience. Unfortunately this repeating tendency masked my enjoyment of space mermaids when that should have been the coolest idea ever (my term.)
I'm hoping Ancillary Justice is better. I may have to call it off with space operas, Hugo nominees and all....more