Tag Archives: sci-fi

August 2019 Recommended Books

We ended up breaking in the new patio with a barbecue. Was pleasant to actually have space enough for people for the first time :) After, Steve went out and bought a on-clearance gas fire pit that almost (but not really) matches the blocks we used. Call us lazy, but building a patio was a bit back-breaking so I’m just as happy to hold off on the next phase.

We had a bit of a medical issue with the girl that was originally diagnosed as cat scratch disease, allowing the sores to spread all over her body, only to have it end up being impetigo. Miss Thing got blamed at first and it wasn’t anything to do with her! Poor girl has been on medicine for the past two months to keep her nose from breaking back out in a rash again, but at least the rest of her sores have healed up or turned to scars.  That’s been an adventure.

This was my first time reading Novik’s work and I’m right now waiting for my library to get in Her Majesty’s Dragon to keep going :)

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik
(Fairy Tale Fantasy)

I adored this novel. I normally read library books and only buy when I loved the book yet this one I bought before I’d even finished reading the story. It’s technically a retelling, a tale about a dark Wood that is swallowing the land and all of the inhabitants, with only a single wizard standing in the way. The lead is a stubborn young woman convinced more can be done. She’s heroic without being masculine, powerful without being cruel. The Wood itself is terrifying in its creation and yet gorgeously described. Highly recommend this one!

Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Beneath the Sugar Sky and In an Absent Dream by Seanan McQuire
(Portal Fantasy)

I read the rest of McQuire’s Wayward Children series in July and found them to be just as dear as the first. Sticks and Bones is a wonderful example of how expectations and pigeonholing our children (and adults) will stunt them, force them into a mental frame where they imagine they can only be this or that, but never this and that. Sugar Sky is more a quest-type tale, but gave us a journey through multiple worlds where the rules aren’t always the same, which is no different then growing up, moving away, and realizing that sometimes everything you’ve learned no longer applies in this new place. In an Absent Dream is arguably my favorite of the series thus far. The goblin market is destructive and manipulative and yet seductive in its inherent fairness. It also holds a lesson at its heart: that fair doesn’t always mean right and equitable doesn’t always mean the same. These are perfect for both adults and youngsters.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
(Science-Fiction)

This is one of those stories that sticks with you, making you think, long after you’ve finished. Robson packed so many ideas into such a small space that you might suspect there’s not enough room for it all, but there is. She handled ecological concerns, bodily biases, and historical tampering all along with the simpler themes of the morality of playing god and asking the questions of what makes a monster a monster. The interpersonal conflicts of the characters were on point as well because traits were called out, forcing the lead to reexamine her beliefs and behavior.

June 2019 Recommended Books

We built a patio this June, something large enough to eventually put in a fire pit and bench when we get our strength and motivation back (and maybe when summer is starting to fade). I have been informed I could now officially be an apprentice to a mason as I have gained some basic sand-slinging and leveling skills.

Taught my son to play Misty Mountains on the keyboard as well! He picked it up quick enough, transferring over his training from the violin, and we had a great time coming up with personal mnemonics to remember the notes. Great Big Dinosaurs Fart Atrociously was perhaps the winner. He’ll certainly not forget it, which was the point XD

These are my favorite books I read in June, with an addendum that I also read and enjoyed Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (a YA Fantasy about dangerous, fantastical libraries) and that it’s gone on my shelf awaiting to be picked up by the girl in a few years.

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The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
(Fantasy Mystery)

This book. Probably one of my favorites for the year so far. While reading I could clearly see the nod to Agatha Christie and it was no surprise to discover Turton made a comment about her in his Q&A at the back end of my copy. This blend of mystery and fantasy is one I continually reach for and yet, quite often, the urban fantasy that overwhelmingly attempts to tap into the mystery genre does not come close to satisfying my desires. The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle went beyond my expectations despite all the praise I knew it to have. The prose by itself would have made the story. Then add in all the twists, the turns, the confusion and excitement, and the existential question of who is Aiden Bishop underneath all these hosts he wears made this novel go straight to sitting next to some of favorite Agatha Christie. I can not wait to see what Turton writes next!

Five Unicorn Flush by T. J. Berry
(Science Fantasy)

Sequel to Space Unicorn Blues, Five Unicorn Flush came out this past May and covers what happens after the separation of some of the characters at the end of the previous novel. I can’t say much for fear of spoilers, however, I was relieved that our lead, Jenny, did not suddenly and magically become able-bodied, since that would have felt unrealistic and unachievable, and she continued to be the stubborn, successful character we met before. The darkly humorous bent this series owns continued on through this book, making it fun despite serious under-workings.

The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo
(Middle Grade Fantasy)

I don’t normally recommend the middle grade books I read to my kids, but this book is so touching and well-crafted I can’t help but make an exception. The main story is told by an African grey who desperately wishes to fly free from the pet store in which he’d been born, while two other (human) characters are shown through journal entries and letters. The underlying theme of grief and growth is seamlessly folded into each character’s arc in a poignant, but different way. Enough so that while reading the second half of this book my daughter kept telling me she felt funny, felt like she needed to cry, and I agreed with her wholeheartedly. Even better, Leonardo took famous poems as inspiration to write others from the bird’s perspective in such a way that the poems were accessible to children who had never heard of Carroll or Frost or Keats. I ended up adoring this book!

March 2019 Recommended Books

I haven’t had much action going on in the submission/publication department, but even with this dearth, I’ve been keeping busy the past few years with reading, writing and general lifey-type things. Since I’ve begun (again) the ever-consistent process of submitting, I thought I would at least keep better track of what I’ve been reading. And then, since I’ve been keeping track, I can now look back over and consider which books I’d recommend to friends (or at least to friends who enjoy similar genres XD)

So, here are my favorite books that I read in March!

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
(Dark/High Fantasy)

This was a delicious blend of the macabre and the fanciful that I wasn’t quite expecting when I began, but absolutely adored by the end! The spirits in this story are disturbing, strange and carry all of the wrath of old fae-type legends and makes for a scary undertone in an otherwise beautiful setting. Incredibly quick-paced, even during its comparatively slower portions during the lead’s training sections. I loved that there was a welcoming inclusion of female friendships (the women more often working together despite the competitive nature of their chosen path in the world) that didn’t overshadow the rest of the adventure and action. Recommend to anyone who isn’t afraid of a little death and dismemberment ;)

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
(Science-fiction)

Finally picked these four books up, though I don’t know why it took me so long considering I’m a big fan of Wells’ Raksura books. All Systems Red has been on my list since it came out and I just kept adding to it with each subsequent publication. A part of me is glad I waited though, because I got to read them back to back without much break between to forget details of the stories. They’re each a fun romp with an interesting lead who is constantly balancing its own secrets with its desire to protect the humans around it. Each story revolves around a new (or newish) conflict, goal and enemy, with the lovable rogue SecUnit at its core. They’re softer sci-fi, more focused on the character of Murderbot and its introspection and humanization, though they don’t delve too far into what it means to be human, keeping instead to the adventure and character development of Murderbot itself. I think I liked that best about the story overall, because it was a beautiful story about someone who didn’t want to be anything but itself in a world that expected it to want to be something it wasn’t.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
(YA Historical Fantasy)

I hadn’t tried Chokshi before so this book was a fun surprise. The Forging abilities were not only fresh and interesting in a magical design sense, but they were also embedded in every scene, on every page, in both the history of the world and in the details of the everyday. At its core, the story is a heist, with puzzles and math and specialized characters each with their own unique views and skills. It is YA, but it’s most definitely open to a wider audience. Even if you don’t generally enjoy historical settings, I think you’ll like this one because it’s put together beautifully.

Ship of Smoke And Steel by Django Wexler
(YA Fantasy)

This was another author I had not tried before; I had a few of them this month hoping to find some new fun adventures for my bookshelf. This one made me pick it up because…ghost ship! And the ship was just as intriguing in the reading as it was before I opened the book, and a whole lot bigger. You could call the Solitan a labyrinth it’s so huge. There are strange creatures and ghostly mysteries, not all of which are solved by the end of the book, but enough to leave you satisfied. I’d say, that although the genre is considered YA, the novel feels geared toward an older YA to adult audience given some of the more gritty representation and blunt, experienced characters.

Space Unicorn Blues by T J Berry
(Science Fantasy)

Another one with an interesting ship concept, this time in space. I admit, the Jaggery, a living ship where the bulk of this story takes place, is part of why I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. (It has a lake and a secret network of tiny tunnels for all its dwarves!) That, and the interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy that often had a comical undertone to it despite the dark situations. As for the characters, there’s a half-unicorn, a disabled ex-military, a trans ‘business-woman’, and a grizzled older pilot, all of whom have lost and suffered because of choices they’ve made in the past. The fact that these characters had to deal with actual loss because of past (and later current) choices, made this story more layered than just what seems to be on the surface.

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I did read more science-fiction novels in March, but unfortunately they weren’t quite for me. Maybe next month! I also read a couple of older books, including a few Agatha Christie. I started a quest to read her work a few years ago and I don’t think I’m even half-way through yet, but I’m three books closer :) They’re nice, calming stories that are good to read as almost a reset button if I’ve struggled to enjoy the last few books.