Posted in Reviews

Review: The XY by Virginia Bergin

The XY by Virginia Bergin

Recommended: eh
for an okay story with WAY too much FONT STYLING!!!, for some nice lines about philosophical things, for some entry level critical gender conversations

Summary

Sixty years ago, a virus wiped out almost all men on Earth. Now women run the world, and men are kept in repopulation facilities, safe from the deadly virus. At least, that’s what everyone has been led to believe…until River discovers a young man on a country road—injured but alive. Mason has been outside for five days since escaping from his facility, and no one can understand how he has survived. Hiding the boy violates the rules of their world, but as the women of the town band together to try to save him, River begins to suspect that the truth behind Mason’s existence is darker than she could have imagined.

Thoughts

Alright look. The story is meh at best and weakly done. BUT: the title begins with an X, and is not erotica. If that’s not why you’re looking at this book then good for you! You’re probably an eager minority. If you ARE looking at this book for the purposes of an x-title-related reading challenge, then yeah it’ll do.

This book wasn’t terrible, but it did feel like something an advanced student would write (and in fact truly does remind me of one student’s entry for NaNoWriMo in 2016). There is soooooo much text styling on the page and it feels aggressive and tiring and over the top. There are bolded words, italicized words, lots of all-caps text, and multiple question marks and exclamation points — often a mix of several of these things are combined. And yo, reading this in a physical copy was exhausting to look at the page with all of that. I actually switched to a digital library copy because I just couldn’t handle it. So this was an unusual case where the actual format and look of the words on the page almost had me wanting to DNF it.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Recommended: yes!
for a lot of help understanding the story through visuals, for condensing some of the weird longwinded parts in the prose novel, for a simple color palette that conveys so much of the world and characters

Summary

Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction masterpiece set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society, tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics, Dune is a powerful, fanstastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the integrity of the original novel, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Thoughts

Boy am I impressed with this one! I have a weird relationship with Dune at this point, because I started reading the novel, stalled on it about halfway through before finally allowing myself to give up and admit it wasn’t for me, then I saw the movie, and now I’ve read the graphic novel. So through it all I’ve had a lot of confusion, understanding, disappointment, appreciation, intrigue, and more. I’ve loved it and hated it at various points.

This graphic novel has me firmly on the “loving it” side! Yay!!

Continue reading “Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Recommended: sure
For a very strange atmosphere, for people okay with embracing a bit of confusion, for people okay with doing a little bit of work to figure out what’s going on, for people who adore a fascinating and gothic world. FYI that there’s not a lot of focus on the bone orchard itself, weirdly. More the results of it, the symbol of it.

Summary

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow. Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. Now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart. Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

Thoughts

Well, it was weird and absolutely not what I expected. Not bad, but definitely strange. I felt like an outsider the whole time. Sometimes I missed the subtleties of exchanges that were carefully worded between characters to carry secrets. I only understood when someone laid it out plainly later on, or when an action happened that I was confused by and thought about until I connected it to their previous plotting that I had missed. That feeling lasted, and while it should have been more alienating, it was intriguing in a way as well.

I rather liked that this book was not straightforward to me. I rather liked that I felt a bit offkilter, because it put me on more even footing with Charm and the boneghosts. The scheming and intrigue was at times a secret even from me: that’s how clever our characters are.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Noor, 11/9/21!

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is
Expected Release: November 9, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • AO is mostly a robot after her weird AF birth and a further accident that basically meant she had to go robot or die. I am so pumped about a futuristic cybernetically-enhanced-human story. The fact that the blurb starts with her parents hoping they miscarried so she wouldn’t be born because “she was wrong” even as an embryo… what on earth is the deal with this girl? I’m absolutely riveted and can’t wait to find out.
  • I imagine with metal limbs you probably get pretty strong and basically impervious to most pain. Which could easily lend itself to criminal dealings because hey, it’s probably super simple compared to the perils of weakling fleshy bodies. I don’t know if AO is evil, or even tempted, but it sure seems like the rest of the world is convinced she is. And as for her being on the run with a societal labeled madman? Holy crap am I thrilled and burning with curiosity over what could have possibly happened to frame them these ways!
  • The setting sounds like it will have so much life it will become a character of its own. Deserts seem to draw me in as they’re simultaneously barren and bursting.
  • Nnedi Okorafor is also the author of Binti which I somehow have still not read, but am similarly interested in and curious about. Given that I’ve been attracted to multiple books by this author, I think it’s safe to assume I generally like their ideas and will probably be pretty into this.

Summary

Anwuli Okwudili prefers to be called AO. To her, these initials have always stood for Artificial Organism. AO has never really felt…natural, and that’s putting it lightly. Her parents spent most of the days before she was born praying for her peaceful passing because even in-utero she was wrong. But she lived. Then came the car accident years later that disabled her even further. Yet instead of viewing her strange body the way the world views it, as freakish, unnatural, even the work of the devil, AO embraces all that she is: A woman with a ton of major and necessary body augmentations. And then one day she goes to her local market and everything goes wrong.

Once on the run, she meets a Fulani herdsman named DNA and the race against time across the deserts of Northern Nigeria begins. In a world where all things are streamed, everyone is watching the reckoning of the murderess and the terrorist and the saga of the wicked woman and mad man unfold. This fast-paced, relentless journey of tribe, destiny, body, and the wonderland of technology revels in the fact that the future sometimes isn’t so predictable. Expect the unaccepted.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Recommended: eh, I guess
Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions….
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

Thoughts:

What I liked about this book is probably what everyone who reads this is drawn to: the interesting premise of a human-designed AI taking over the human afterlife. WHAT. AN AMAZING. IDEA. And probably a new fear for a lot of people. This premise is so unique and cool that I can see a lot of similar content sprouting up after people get wind of this idea. And I liked the end, and that may be it’s saving grace to keep me reading this series. I’ll probably give it a second chance to improve.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Verdict: WOW, this was not for me. Atmosphere is 100 and everything else is 0.

Recommended: not really…..
Recommended for highly metaphoric and visual language and an unreliable narrator. Not recommended for a coherent plot, not for a quick or easy read, not for readers who prefer linear or stable stories, not for people who think “the book is always better than the movie”

Summary

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. This is the twelfth expedition. Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

Thoughts

Oh wow, was this very much not for me. The nature of it is to focus on incoherent ramblings, and VanderMeer nailed that. Unfortunately for me, that’s not something I enjoy or found interest or meaning in. It was just exhausting meaningless gibberish — which was exactly as intended? I don’t know anymore. I’m just exhausted.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Dune – The Graphic Novel, 11/24

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to write about an upcoming release I’m excited about! Today’s is a new adaptation of an old classic… that I have still never read. Maybe this graphic novel will be my entry point to Frank Herbert’s Dune!
Expected Release: November 24, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I’m excited to have an approachable path to this intimidating book. Though it seems to have all the elements I would enjoy — a fantastic new world, a dramatic environment, a zero-to-hero character, betrayal — I’m not 100% sure I actually WILL. A graphic novel might help bridge any barriers to writing style or dryness that could pop up in the original 600+ page prose.
  • By all expectations, this story seems like an EXCELLENT candidate for a graphic novel adaptation. The desert world alone is ripe with possibilities for stunning landscapes and stark contrasts to really breathe life into the story. Just look at the cover above! I have very high hopes for the art with this.
  • If I like this “part 1” graphic novel, I will probably read the original someday as well. It’s a good sampler, and I desperately want to read this ultimate-classic kind of book for the world of science fiction. This is like my chance to read a little taste of the overall story, but not have to commit to the entire Beast.

Summary:
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for. When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. Dune is a powerful, fanstastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the integrity of the original novel, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers.

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟) released today! Grab your own copy at Book Depository or check out the full review here!

Recommended: yessss
for big book aficionados, for a story that takes its time in unfolding, for a plot that weaves in and out and around until you’re entirely surrounded in it, for adult Paolini goodness that shows how much he’s grown as an author

Summary:
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Poems from space: odes to TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS

if you’re wondering
where Eragon’s author went:
floating in the stars

yes, I mean, it’s true
everyone has a story
but Kira’s is best

aboard the Wallfish
you learn to love a stranger
become family

complex math, research
thorough realism of space
dude did some good work

so good it made me
cry, dream, hope, savor, tense up —
wouldn’t change a thing.

Continue reading “Poems from space: odes to TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars v. Battlestar Galactica

I’m currently reading To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (advanced copy, praise the stars! Release date on September 15, 2020). I’m also currently watching Battlestar Galactica for the first time. And since they are both, at their simplest, space stories about fighting/fleeing other life forms, there’s a lot that’s similar between the two.

And I keep getting them mixed up.

This isn’t really a bad thing! It just gets confusing when I try to remember where I left off when I resume either of them. I’ll read some Sea of Stars and then watch some B.G. that night and before beginning an episode think, Okay, so last episode was where they were in an unknown system searching a planet for something, and then the bad guys showed up…. wait…. was that in the book or the show???

Luckily the show has a recap before each episode. 😂

Also, that example sentence above is 100% real and 100% accurate for both the book and the show, at the moment! So while moments like that can get kind of muddled, it’s also really fun to see the similarities between them on a larger scale! Below are some that I’ve noticed, with no spoilers for the book, I promise everything I reference is known early on or even in the blurb or general enough to be obvious. Even their covers look similar!

  • both are in the middle of wars with other life forms — and losing, badly
  • both have to make constant FTL jumps to try and evade their pursuers, often with tricky recalculating tactics
  • flash tracing is a concern in both (basically when they make a fast than light jump and their pursuers make on in the opposite direction then watch through a telescope once the light from the event reaches them to see where the first group were pointed when they jumped. science!)
  • both have pretty crazy alien life, that is way more tech advanced than humans (but like, when aren’t aliens way more advanced)
  • and, in general, both are facing a lot of issues and having a pretty tough time of things

And, the most obvious similarity: both are FANTASTIC! Sometimes it can take some doing for me to get really interested in space stories, but each of these has done a stunning job. They’re complex and exciting and intellectual and so, so good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go spend some time with…. one of them, I’ll have to decide! 😁