Posted in book tags/memes

T5W: SFF Besties

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.


May 15th: SFF BFFs -BooktubeSFF Awards Crossover Topic-
— Discuss your favorite friends in Scifi and Fantasy, or characters you’d be BFFs with.


For some reason, this topic was so hard for me :/ It was one of those situations like when someone asks for a book recommendation, or your fave book, and suddenly you forget every book you’ve ever read, only in this case, it was me forgetting every friendship I’ve read about in SFF *sigh*

These might not all be my absolute favorites of all time, all the time, but they were all memorable and I enjoyed reading about their friendships. (And, at least for most of them, I wouldn’t mind being best friends with them.)

In no particular order, as usual…


Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Karou and Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor– Zuze is probably my favorite character from this trilogy, and I think she’s an amazing friend. I loved the relationship between these two a lot ❤

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

The Gangsey from the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater– I love these losers, and I (mostly) love their friendships.

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)

Temeraire and Lawrence from His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik– These two, oh my gods ❤ They are too precious, and I love them. I can’t wait to read more of the series.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

Sissix and Ashby from The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers– I’m not sure my closest friends and I could manage to live together on ship for so long (maybe?), but these two did their best.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Nina and Inej from the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo– I loved these two so much, and while I’ve forgotten a lot of specifics about their relationship (time for a re-read!), I do remember loving it.


Tell me about some of your favorite SFF friendships (or characters you’d want to be BFFs with)!

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Posted in book review

All Systems Red: Reviewed

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries, book 1) by Martha Wells

Genres/Descriptors: sci-fi; novella

Publication: 2017

Pages: 156 (Kindle edition)

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

From Goodreads, because I was struggling too hard to try to explain this one 😛

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.


Review:

You guys, I loved this novella! This book has been on my TBR since (I think) before it came out, and I finally got it last month when I was in serious need of some sci-fi, but didn’t want to dive into something really long. (I know in the description Murderbot is referred to as “it,” which makes sense. But, I opted for they/them pronouns because “it” never really feels right to me when it comes to intelligent beings. I pretty much only feel alright using “it” to refer to inanimate objects.)

First of all, Murderbot is one of the most relatable characters ever, and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing, or if Martha Wells just knows what’s up and wrote a character we can read the thoughts of and think, “Same.”

I mean

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,00 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

Tell me

Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency.

You can’t relate to Murderbot

I liked the imaginary people on the entertainment feed way more than I liked real ones, but you can’t have one without the other.

At least a little bit

You may have noticed that when I do manage to care, I’m a pessimist.

I don’t usually throw in quotes with my reviews, but I couldn’t resist with this one, because I have so many (so many) highlights in my Kindle edition, it’s ridiculous. If I had a physical copy of this book, I probably would have used an entire set of flags to mark passages. Murderbot is so pessimistic and sarcastic, and I love them.

Okay, I think I’ve established that I freaking love Murderbot, so I’ll move on a bit.

While the secondary characters weren’t very fleshed out (probably intentionally, because the book is from Murderbot’s perspective), I still liked the group, overall. I found them very believable, in the way they reacted to and interacted with Murderbot, and I was genuinely concerned for their safety a few times. Also, the ending ❤ I honestly almost teared up with what they did for Murderbot.

I kind of wish we’d seen a little more of the universe this is set it, and the planet the crew was on, but I’m not going to complain too much about that because–again–this is from Murderbot’s perspective. I did struggle a little with some of the tech, though. There were no explanations given to characters about what things are, how they work, etc., so there were a couple of things I wasn’t sure I understood. I’m okay with that, because it wasn’t super important for the story, but it would have been nice to get a little more info.

I loved how Murderbot just wanted to be left alone, was kind of shy/uncomfortable around the humans, but was still ready to kick some ass and do whatever was necessary to keep their humans safe, even though they didn’t have to because they’d hacked their governor module. This book gave me feelings, and I was not prepared. Also, I have to say how glad I am that this one did not do the “A.I./robot/whatever falls in love and becomes more human” trope. I don’t hate that trope, but I don’t love it. Murderbot has no desire to be human. Murderbot just wants to be able to figure out who they are and what they want. I like that, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

I gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Posted in book review

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Reviewed

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Author: Becky Chambers

Genres/Other Descriptors: sci-fi>space opera

Publishing info: July 29th, 2014; Harper Voyager; paperback edition

Pages: 443

Check it out on goodreads


Before I jump in, a quick word: Bear with me while I experiment with reviewing stuff. I’m trying to figure out what’s going to work best for me, because I got sick of the old way I did things.


What’s it about?

This is a mostly light and fun space opera, featuring an ensemble, multi-species cast, as they travel across the galaxy in their ship, Wayfarer. The Wayfarer is a tunneling ship, and it’s their job to create new wormholes from one place to another. When Rosemary Harper joins the crew, hoping for a fresh start, she doesn’t really expect much from the old ship, or the motley crew. Just a bed, steady work, and a chance at a different life. But, a new job opportunity for the Wayfarer will test everyone aboard the ship as they navigate to their destination, and through the obstacles and adventures along the way.

Review:

First of all, this is absolutely a character-driven story. If that’s not your cup of tea, you might not enjoy it. I usually enjoy character-driven novels, but I was super nervous going into this one, because I know it’s really popular, and I was worried about being the weirdo who didn’t love it. Alas, my fears were unfounded! I blew through this book in one day, and I feel like it’s going to stick with me for a very long time.

I had so many feelings about the characters on the Wayfarer. It took me a little while to really like Rosemary and Ashby (I didn’t dislike them in the beginning, I just needed to get to know them a bit more), but from the start I loved Sissix, Dr. Chef, Lovey, Jenks, and Kizzy. Sissix was probably my absolute favorite character, and I definitely have a new fictional crush haha. I just adored her, and at times my heart broke a little for her. By the end, it was patched up a bit, though.

We mostly learn about all the different species through Rosemary, and her interactions with other characters, but it’s never like an info-dump or anything like that, which was so great. The way we learn about their cultures, religions, foods, similarities and differences to other species, relationships, etc. was really interesting, and I actually found myself wishing for even more. We learn a lot about them, but it was done so well that I just kept craving more and more.

I do very much enjoy sci-fi, usually, but sometimes I can get lost if there’s a lot of focus on the science part. This one does have some actual science-y stuff going on, but I never felt totally clueless. I might not have fully understood everything, but I got enough to have a pretty good idea of what was going on. (I think I read an interview or something with Becky Chambers in which she said she actually scaled the science-y stuff back a bit to make it more accessible, and I appreciate that.)

Going back to the heartbreak talk, something near the end of this book almost made me tear up. I won’t say what (or who it involved), but it was kind of devastating. I didn’t actually cry, but I felt like I might, for a while. Especially when there was that tiny glimmer of hope, but then it was snuffed out 😦

I liked how things mostly ran smoothly, as far as the relationships between the characters were concerned, but there were still issues that came up. Something happened a little over halfway through the book that was pretty terrible, but watching the aftermath of that incident play out was pretty satisfying, at least in terms of character development for one particular character. I’m not sure I fully condone the actions of a characters involved, near the end of the book, but I think the choice that was made was probably the right one.

The representation in this book kind of amazed me. I mean, I went into it knowing it was good, but having experienced this book (and this book is An Experience ❤ ), I’m still so happy. I wish there were more books like this. There’s m/f relationships, f/f relationships, discussion about gender and pronouns, there are non-monogamous relationships, inter-species relationships, etc., and it’s just…normal. It isn’t really treated as anything out of the ordinary, and it was so satisfying to read about.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a utopia kind of thing. There’s still snobbery, speciesism, and taboos. But those things aren’t really common, and there’s at least one character who’s reprimanded for their specieist talk.

And! There’s discussion about AI, and things like whether or not they deserve the same rights as biological sentient beings and stuff like that, which was really interesting. AI kind of freaks me out, honestly (as much as I loved AIDAN, I totally read the Illuminae Files with the lights on 😛 ), but the AI in this book was so lovable oh my gosh.

The story is told in a way that kind of feels like episodes, and I think this book would translate well to being adapted into a television series. (I would love to see this adapted, but only if it’s done well.)

While there are some really tense parts, and there is some action, mostly you just coast along with the characters, following their day-to-day lives. There isn’t a lot of drama, which I enjoyed. I personally really enjoy sometimes reading something that’s just nice. Not a lot of petty fighting or anything like that, no saving the galaxy and epic battles, just believable tension from everyday relationships and being stuck in close-ish quarters with the same people for a long time.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book, and I can not wait to read the companion novels. I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars (maybe actually like 4.75) ❤

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


If you’ve read this one, what did you think?

Also, if you have any recommendations for books to read after this one, please let me know about them!

Posted in book review

Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Genres/Descriptors: YA; sci-fi

Why I read it: I read and loved Illuminae (it’s one of my all-time-favorite books), so of course I wanted more from the Illuminae Files.

Who I’d recommend it to: People who loved Illuminae.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound


Description (from goodreads):

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.


Review:

This book. Took me. For-ev-er to get into. I ended up checking out the audio book and reading as I listened, which really helped. I think I’d read about 40 pages in 3 weeks on my own, but then finished 90% of the audio book (I listened at 2x speed, but that was still about 6 hours of listening) in one day. I’m not sure why it was so hard for me, because I absolutely loved Illuminae, but I feel like if I hadn’t gotten the audio book, I would have been trying to read this book all year.

First point, the freaking audio book. Oh my gosh, it is so good! So good! I struggle a lot with audio books, but because I was reading along, I guess that helped my issues (basically, when someone is talking to me, or I’m just listening to something, I “see” the words kinda floating around/scrolling/whatever which is super distracting and hard to follow, but I can usually kind of block it out during conversations if I focus hard enough). The cast is fantastic, and I wish my library had Obsidio so I could listen and read it, too. I was really nervous about listening to any of these books, because they’re so visual, but they made it work. I feel like I wouldn’t have lost out much by just listening, if that was my only option, but having the visual with the cast was freaking awesome and I highly recommend it.

I really, really ended up loving Hanna, Nik, and Ella. At first, I wasn’t sure about Hanna, but she grew on me pretty fast. She was awesome and so freaking strong. I thought Kady went through a lot in Illuminae, and of course she did, but Hanna’s experience was a whole new level of “WTF?!” I also really loved how she was a mix of “could totally kick your ass 100 different ways and you’d like it,” “daddy’s girl/rich girl/princess” and a a healthy dose of artsy. It was an interesting combination, and I don’t feel like I’ve read a thousand incarnations of female characters like her in the past, which was nice. (I also felt like Kady stood out, but I’m trying to limit my comparisons between the two because they’re different, from different books, and I love them both.)

Nik really cracked me up on and off throughout the book, and I liked him a lot. There were a few times I just wanted to hug him, though. I was cheering for him from the beginning because he struck me as the kind of guy who only kinda-sorta pretends to be a bad boy, but is mostly just a soft, caring guy.

His cousin, Ella, was also really fun, and I’m kinda sad there weren’t more parts with her. (Crossing my fingers for more in Obsidio.) She was smart, sneaky, and snarky. And a total badass, it turned out. I can see her and Kady either getting along great and being good friends, or hating each other. And I really want to know what happened to the fish.

I kinda saw the thing with Nik near the end coming earlier in the story, but I wasn’t sure if it would happen. By the time it finally did, I’d almost forgotten about my guess, so it was still almost a surprise, which was fun. Well, not exactly “fun” because the shit was hitting the fan, but it was entertaining, I guess. I also saw the thing with Jackson coming from a mile away, but I’m not going to talk about either of those things in any more depth because ~spoilers~ will definitely happen.

 Going in, I knew this was a companion kind of sequel, with a totally new cast, but it was really nice to get a little update on our friends from Illuminae. I am kind of afraid of how much I realized I’d missed AIDAN, though :/ (AI is honestly probably one of my biggest fears and I have no clue why, but AIDAN scared the crap out of me.) Its presence in this book was both frightening (not as much as in Illuminae, though) and entertaining. I think at one point I snorted chocolate almond milk because of something he said, but I can’t remember the exact line now.

I have to take a moment to completely agree with Ella: poor cow cows 😦 (I shall say no more, because ~spoilers.~)

The things…Whatchamacallits… The slimy space lizard-y, worm-y things that make the drug (“Dust”)… What the actual hell? I am very afraid of Amie & Jay’s brains right now, because those things were terrifying. Even the initial description of them freaked me out. It was interesting having such different enemies to face in this book, though. Humans and space creepy-crawlies. Fun combo, and I definitely read with the lights all on, and freaked the hell out when something slimy feeling slithered across my arm (it was my cat’s tail, most likely damp from dropping it in the water bowl like he does about 10 times a day) while reading one particularly tense scene -_-

And that ending, oh my gods. I cackled. (But honestly, that last line is probably the cheekiest one I’ve ever read, and I loved it.) 

Oookaaay, I need to wrap this up because it could just go on and on as I babble.

Basically, this was almost a 5 star book for me, but because it took me so long to get into it, and so long to become invested in the welfare of the characters, I knocked off a star :/ I’d still call it 4-4.5 stars, though, and I’m super excited about starting Obsidio (which I will have already started, hopefully, by the time this review goes up).

Posted in book tags/memes

T5W: SFF Authors On My “Auto-Buy” List

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

April 11: Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors – Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic! 
— This month’s crossover topic is your auto-buy authors that write SFF.

Ok, I’m stretching this a bit because A) I literally only have like…2? 3? authors on my “auto-buy” list in general, and B) I can’t always afford to buy books (I end up having to wait months or even years sometimes for books a lot of the time) so… We’re cheating a little.

This is my “perfect world” list, in which I have enough money at any time to be able to buy a new book, instead of having to wait for over time and stuff like that. So, these are the authors I’d probably pre-order in that scenario, and would most likely buy anything they published.

In no particular order, except the first two are already authors I just auto-buy ASAP.


V.E./Victoria Schwab– Do I need to explain? (I’m still missing 1…or 2? of her books, but I’m collecting them all, even though I’ve only read the Shades of Magic series so far.)

Leigh Bardugo– I think I still need to pick up the original Grisha short stories, maybe, but otherwise I think I own all of her books now, and I’ll probably continue to buy them.

Jim Butcher– Husband and I both love The Dresden Files, and now we’re on the hunt for his other books. So far we only have a partial collection of TDF, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass, but we’re working on it.

Gail Carriger– Ok, I’ve only read I think the first 2 or 3 of her Parasol Protectorate books, but I loved them. And the covers are ❤ so honestly I would probably buy her books just for those if the price was right. (I actually not have the entire Parasol Protectorate series for my Kindle *inhuman screeching* I’m very excited to get back into the universe.

Moïra Fowley-Doyle– I’m pretty sure she counts for this. I haven’t read Spellbook of the Lost and Found yet, but The Accident Season is a favorite of mine and she landed on my wishful auto-buy list (aka authors I will definitely buy the second I have the money). Husband, wonderful man that he is, actually picked up Spellbook for me last year shortly after it came out, but reading slumps and ARCs got in the way of me actually reading it (soooooon, though).

Laini Taylor– I’ve actually only read two of her books so far (the first two in the DOSAB trilogy), but I have the entire DOSAB trilogy and Strange the Dreamer and I honestly don’t even know what Strange is about because I just heard she was writing a new book and then bought it ASAP after it came out. (I still don’t know anything about the plot.)


I got a bit lazy this week, so no images and links. Insomnia is kind of trying to ruin my life. Fun times 😐

Honestly, this topic was so stressful for me because there are a lot of authors I still haven’t read enough from to know if they could be auto-buy-authors, and then there are the now deceased authors (looking at you in particular, Douglas Adams) whose books I already own all/most/many of (I have to get the Dirk Gently books, dang it, and The Meaning of Liff). Then of course there’s J.R.R. Tolkien. I really want nice editions of LOTR and The Hobbit, and I also want Beowulf, and…Well, everything, really. It just didn’t feel right to include them, because there’s nothing new coming out. (Well, no new creations, I guess I should say.)

Wow I’m getting rambly, so time to wrap this up… If you’re actually reading this, thank you ❤ And I’m sorry 😛


**Edit: I’m not sure if I should laugh or beat my head against a wall omg haha. I just realized I can’t count, apparently. (Actually, I had a plan, but I was so tired when I wrote this that it fell apart.) What I think I intended to do was have Victoria and Leigh as tied for the number one spot, the unquestionable two I will buy books from without even knowing anything about the book. Then the other 4. But oh well, let’s just have 6 instead of 5 this week 😛 **


Do you have any auto-buy SFF authors?