#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

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Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Del Rey

Length: 304 pages

Format: eBook/Audiobook

Rating: 2.5 stars

Publication Date: April 26th 2016

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

  “A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?”

 

Review

If you’re interested in new SF releases, I’m pretty sure you’ve already heard about this book. Sleeping Giants was one of the most hyped SF books of 2016. And I mean what is not to love about the premise of this book ? It has been compared to The Martian by a ton of people and it’s about a giant alien robot buried in the ground and a team of scientists and military guys trying to found out how to make it work. Of course I wanted to read it.

Sleeping Giants wasn’t a bad book but it was underwhelming to say the least. I know I probably set my expectations way too high but still, I was disappointed with it. The beginning of the book was strong, I really enjoyed following the discovery and early research of the robot and it was my favorite part in the story. However, I quickly realized that the format of this book didn’t really work with me. It is told in interview transcripts, journal entries and recordings and even if it was interesting at first, after a hundred pages, I was bored with it. Indeed, everything felt very info-dumpy since almost all the interviews are lead by a mysterious dude who seems to know everything that is going on even before the actual protagonists. He’s mysterious, pretty rude, and overall, as much as Neuvel tries to make him so, not that interesting. I have to admit that I was intrigued by this character at first but then, he just annoyed me and I found myself skimming what he was saying.

Another issue that I had with is that, it’s very much a setup book, not a lot of thing actually happen here except at the end of course since this book has a pretty big cliffhanger. It’s much more focused on the politics of what the discovery of an alien artefact could make on the world and I really enjoyed this aspect, however, because of that, it didn’t have the amount of actions I wanted. While reading, I had the feeling that Sylvain Neuvel planned this series to be pretty long (it is at least going to be a trilogy but it could be longer) and because of that he didn’t wanted to put to much actions into this book. Because of that, I found that it has a lot of “filler” elements, for me some of the plotlines could have been cut out to have something far more interesting. For example, the love-triangle and the whole crazy scientist trope were not really essential to the story. I liked the bit on politics and if it had played a bigger part in the story, I would probably liked the book more.

 

Overall, Sleeping Giants is a fun popcorn read and if you’re on holidays and want something quick to read and not to demanding, it’s probably a nice pick. However, if you are expecting it to be “the next Martian” don’t, it’s really not and I canno’t understand the comparision, it’s not hard science at all, it’s not funny, none of the characters acted a bit like Mark Watney, it’s really nothing alike actually except science-fiction.It doesn’t make it bad but it’s not what I had in mind when I started reading. However, the premise was good and the ending did intrigue me and because of that, I’ll probably give the sequel a try. Hopefully, now that the setup is done, we’ll have more action and badass alien robots fighting scenes (I love me some of those !:P).

 

 

 

 

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#RRSciFiMonth Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Re-Read

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey and  is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes if you want to know a little bit more about them you can check the Goodreads group here


 

 

Sorry for the lack of post, I don’t like posting two T5W in a row without any reviews or discussions out but because of exams, I didn’t have much time to write, so here I am for a quick Top 5 Wednesday about the top 5 books I want to re-read! 🙂

 

  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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Since finishing Anathem, I have been  thinkink constantely about this book, I really liked it when I read it but I think that I could get more out of think after a re-read since it’s a very dense hard SF book.

  • The Martian by Andy Weir

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This month has been a little bit complicated for me and The Martian would be the perfect fun read for me right now, the main character is fantastic and very funny and once you start reading, you just cannot put the book down. It’s the book that really showed me how much I could enjoy SF and I think that I’m due for a re-read!

  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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This is a bit of a stretch since it is more fantasy than science fiction but since the whole magic system is based on science, it counts! 😛 I have the sequel, The Obelisk Gate on my TBR but I don’t think that I remember enough of the first book to continue the story so I want to re-read the first. It’s not much of a chore since The Fifth Season was one of my favorite book of 2015!

  • The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

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I read this book during Booktubeathon and I inhale read it, it was a great sequel to Hyperion but since I read it very fast, I don’t think that I appreciated as much as I could have. I re-read Hyperion at the beginning of this year and I think that it was a great idea so I’ll probably do the same thing with its sequel before reading Endymion.

  • Starfish by Peter Watts

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I think I read this three or four years ago, I read the entire series back to back during holidays and it was just awesome. I have been meaning to re-read this and read other of Watt’s works for a while now but I have so many books on my TBR that it’s hard to leave place for rereading.

 

What books do you you want to re-read? 🙂

#RRSciFiMonth Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Publishers

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey and  is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes if you want to know a little bit more about them you can check the Goodreads group here


 

This was a very interesting topic, I cheated a bit and mostly chose my favorite imprints and not the publisher because I can love a particular imprint and not whole the thing published by a publishing house. They’re all (expect one) SFF related so I thought that it fitted the theme of SciFi Month quite well! 😉

  • Solaris

I am pretty sure that it is my favorite imprint ever, they tend to publish really unique books that are filled with original and clever ideas. I mean, it published the wonderful Fractured Europe Sequence by Dave Hutchinon and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. I have yet to read a bad book from them (I read Every Mountain Made Low last month and even though I didn’t really like it, it was very clever and unique!).

  • Tor/Tor.com

Again, some of my favorite book of all time were published thanks to Tor, it’s a great SFF publishers, it’s an enormous publishing house so, of course, I am not going to like everything they put out but I like the fact that their selection is broad. Some of my favorite titles are The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, Too Like the Lightning and The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne trilogy by Brian Staveley.

  • Orbit

Another fantastic SFF imprint, as with Solaris, I have yet to really dislike one of their titles, I mean The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (I am just 20% but I can already tell that it’s going to be a great one) were published by this imprint and they’re damn good.

  • Gollancz

This UK imprint also puts out SFF books, I haven’t loved everything I read by them but I tend to be interested by most of their titles. Also, every single of their book covers are freakin’ gorgeous, I mean, I don’t know how they do that but they always manage to impress me with how amazing they look!

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  • Penguin Random House (Spectra/Bantam/Penguin English Library)

Penguin Random House is an enormous publishers and I really like three of their imprints, Spectra and Del Rey publish SFF books, Hyperion by Dan Simmons and The Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brwonare from those imprints. I haven’t read a ton of their titles yet but so far, I really loved what I read!

Penguin English Library is the only non-SFF imprint present here but they publish some of my favorite editions of classic. I am slowly  collecting them and even though I’m not that good about reading classics (I alaways forget that I have them on my TBR), they are gorgeous and good quality!

 

What are some of your favorite publishers? 🙂

#RRSciFiMonth : Short Fiction

If you have been following this blog for a little while you know that I’m part of the “short fiction reader sect”. I read a lot of short fiction and that’s something that has now become very important for me as a reader. I know that most people don’t like this format, considering it to be way too short for any kind of development or just hard to read.

It’s true that shorter fiction can be a bit challenging at first since you have to immerse yourself in a story faster than usual, the writing can also be a little more experimental and sometimes, when you really enjoy a story, you just want more of it.

Up until last year, I wasn’t a huge short fiction reader myself. When I’m reading a novel, I tend to be pretty slow to immerse myself into the world and the characters and because of that, the only times I tried to read shorter pieces, I struggled with it; at the time I was finally interested by what was going on it was basically done.

The first short story I loved was The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, I first heard about this story because it won the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award so I decided to give it a try. It’s very short but it left me in tears and that’s when I realized that short stories could as powerful as big novels. Even more so sometimes because of how short they are. When they manage to move you to tears or to make you laugh, or both, you have to remind yourself that, they did it in a few pages.

Short stories, novelettes and novellas always had an important place in the science fiction genre. If you look at older SF books, you may see that most of them are quite short (most of them are under 250-300 pages). That’s because fifty years ago, paper was very expensive and most publishers couldn’t afford to publish longer books. As of today, a great number of a vintage SF books would be considered as novellas, because of this, most authors at the time also wrote short fiction and those had a real influence on the genre. A ton of authors actually started their career through short fiction magazine such as Asimov, Analog and F&SF. That’s for example the case of Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke whose first stories were published in Astounding (which is now Analog). That was also the case of Alaistar Reynolds who was discovered when he published a story in Interzone.

Thanks to Internet, thousands of SF shorts are published every year, so, when I hear that short fiction is a dying art, it does drive me a little nuts! On the contrary, short fiction is back in fashion. Thanks to Tor.com Publishing and their line of amazing novellas, I discovered some wonderful short fiction writers such as Kai Ashante Wilson, Matt Wallace, Angela Slatter for example. On Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Nightmare and Uncanny to name just a few, you can read hundred of short stories for free including ones written by very famous authors and some that are just launching their career. If you want be a little bit of an “hipster” it’s a great way to discover some amazing authors when they are just starting their career. 😉

If you want to start reading shorter works, I have several general recommendations:

  • If you really enjoy a particular author, look if he has any written short stories. Short stories and novel writing doesn’t require the exact same talent but it’s still an interesting place to start.
  • Check Tor.Com,  Clarkesworld Magazine, Uncanny Magazine  or any short fiction magazine website basically, most of them put their stories online for free and it’s a good way to see if any of those magazines publish stories that you may enjoy.
  • If the stories that you have previously were not really you thing, it doesn’t mean that you will never enjoy this format, it just means that you still have to find the style you’ll like so persevere and I’m sure you’ll find something for you!

 

Here is a list of some of my favorite stories if you’re looking for a place to start. I have read many of them so I won’t link all the ones I loved but here as some of the ones I would absolutely recommend and that are available for free on Internet!

 

Well I could probably recommend twenty more with no problem but it’s still longer than what I had originally planned so I’ll stop there. A quick disclaimer, almost all of those stories are depressing and some of them are fantasy and not SF but they’re all great! 😉

 

 

Do you read short fiction ? If not, why ?

 

 

#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

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Genre: Hard Science Fiction

Publisher: Harper

Length: 981 pages

Format: eBook/Mass Market Paperback

Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: September 9th 2008

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s description (very much so full of spoilers, read at your own risk..)

  Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside “saecular” world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent’s walls. Three times during history’s darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent’s gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious “extras” in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn’t seen since he was “collected.” But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.

 

Book Review

 

I read this wonderful book last month but I wanted to save the review for Sci-Fi Month so here it is !

Anathem is a hard science fiction that takes place in an alternate universe but has strange similarities with our own. The structure of this world’s society is peculiar, indeed, all the intellectuals are secluded in Concents (which are basically monasteries) and they have almost no contact with the people living on the outside of the wall fo their concent which is why, the people living outside are called extramuros.

Inside each concent, the avouts, are divided in different math, which representent the different sections of the Concent. Depending on your math, you’re allowed to allowed to go outside the concent every year, decades, centuries or millenium. Otherwise, contacts with other people than the avout in your math are forbidden. Moreover, the avouts don’t have any access to technologies wich means that the only way they can study is through observation and pure theorics.

Our main character, Fraa Erasmas, a young avout of the Concent of Saunt Edhar, is a Tenner (a member of a math which opens its doors every decade) happily studying and learning theorics with his friends. At the beginning of the novel, we learn that Apert, the name of the event where the doors of Concent opens to the extramuros, is going to happen. Of course, it’s one of the biggest event for the avout because, it means that, for a week, they can see their family and see how the world around them has changed. However, toward the end of Apert, for unknown reasons, the Saecular power, the leaders of the extramuros, decides to close a particular part of the Concent, the observatory. Of course, since the avout don’t have access to any information, questions are asked. Why their only mean of astrological information is stopped ? What does the Saecular don’t want them to see ? How could it impact their lives ?

Well you have 900+ pages to learn. And believe me when I say that it is freakin’ epic.

 

Anathem is a book that must have been very long to write, every bit of history, of science and politics felt real and developped. Stephenson literally invented millenias of history and, believe it or not, they actually were incredibly important to the story.

At first this book is overwhelming, Stephenson wants you to know everything about the world he created, about the architecture, the reflexion and the science behind everything. You know about the plants, the food, the buildings, the differents types of people and all of that, pretty early on. I think that’s why at first this book was such a challenge for me. I tried to read it twice before and I had to give up because I couldn’t immerse myself into the world. However, I knew it was the perfect time to give this book another chance when I found myself in the mood for a very dense brick with a lot of scientific facts because well, that represents most of Stephenson’s works.

If you’re not just a tiny bit geeky or eager to read about science and philosophy, I won’t recommend this book. It’s dense and it’s full of very long dialogues where people are discussing scientifical and philosophical theories. Those were my favorite parts in the book but it’s definitely not for everyone.

As I said, I really loved all the scientifical and philosophical parts and I really liked how, in this world, science and religion are basically the same. The point is made very early on since the avout basically live secluded like monks in monasteries-like buildings and i found this aspect particularly fascinating.

 

Even though I rated this book five stars, it has some flaws. As I mentionned, it is quite dense and hard to get into, some dialogues are very long and evn if they were interesting, I strongly believe that some of them could have been cut in half because sometimes, I just wished that Stephenson could make his point a little faster. I didn’t bother me too much but still, I think it’s worth mentionning.

Oh yes and the ending isn’t good, Stephenson just isn’t good at them. Either that or he just doesn’t care at all about them, I don’t know. Seveneves was a little better than Anathem in this aspect but it just seems that, he doesn’t know how to end his book so basically, he doesn’t. The ending didn’t affect the overall story so, it didn’t ruin anything, but, it’s just not good. I mean, if you read the book, I’m pretty sure you think teh same thing. When I read the last sentence, I thought that my book was missing pages and well I realized it didn’t, I ran to my father (who has read the book) screaming « What the fuck is this random ending ??  Really ? That’s how he finished this ? ». It did made him laugh at least.

Anyway. I’m still frustated about it.

Since I can’t seem to write a coherent review, let’s just say that : try Anathem. Yes it’s dense but the story, the characters, the world and the science behind it are amazing. This book is going to suprise the hell out of you. It goes in direction you will never expect and who doesn’t want to read a book like that ?

 

Highly, highly recommended.

 

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#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: Cyber World: Tales of Humanity’s Tomorrow

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Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk/Dystopia

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Length: 250 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: November 8th 2016

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Cybernetics. Neuroscience. Nanotechnology. Genetic engineering. Hacktivism. Transhumanism. The world of tomorrow is already here, and the technological changes we all face have inspired a new wave of stories to address our fears, hopes, dreams, and desires as Homo sapiens evolve—or not—into their next incarnation. Cyber World presents diverse tales of humanity’s tomorrow, as told by some of today’s most gripping science fiction visionaries.

Overall Review

I have interested by this anthology for a while, I don’t read a lot of cyberpunk but I like reading this genre and I was curious to encounter some new authors I would like. Also, the fact that both Alyssa Wong and Paolo Bacigalupi contributed to this anthology was a bonus for me.

Overall, it was a strong anthologies, as always with those types of books they were hits and misses, I DNF’d a couple of stories that didn’t work for me (mostly because they confused me too much) but other stories such as Reactions by Mario Acevado, The Bees of Kiribati by Warren Hammond,  Panic City by Madeleine Ashby,  Your Bones Will be Unknown by Alyssa Wong, Other People’s Thoughts by Chinelo Onwualu,  A Song Transmuted by Sarah Pinske, It’s Only Words by Keith Ferrell and Small Offerings by Paolo Bacigalupi were extremely good.

All the stories were short and very different from one another which was great because I never felt bored. I flew through this collection in two days and I liked the broad selection of themes it tried to tackle. Some of the most recurring themes were family, pregnancy, gender and gender fluidity, information and body’s transformation.

I would absolutely recommend this anthology even if you’re not a fan of cyperpunk or short fiction because I tryuly believe thatCyber World: Tale of Humanity’s Tomorrow contains something for everyone!

 

Story by Story Review

 

Serenade – Isabel Yap ★★★1/2

This story follows Anj, a young techgirl who has to access certain files that may be very important for one of her clients. In this future, most of the files are protected by Ais which means that you have to “confront” them to access the info contained in an AI-USB. This story wasn’t particularly unique but it was pretty bittersweet which I liked and it was dealing with issues such as grief, letting go and growing up that are always interesting to read about

First sentence: “Anj was in the shop late at night on Thursday when the new client walked in.”

 

The Mighty Phin – Nisi Shawl ★★

This story was previously published on the Tor.com website so this was a reread for me. I didn’t like it as much after rereading it because even though, it is fairly unique, it’s hard to understand. It follows Timofeya Phin, a woman who has been uploaded into an AI. We soon learn that the AI is losing some of the files and while it tries to hides it, weird things start happening in Timofeya’s life. I guess that it was mostly about loveand gender fluidity but it was pretty confusing. It was very hard to relate to the characters, I really couldn’t care less about them. I don’t really like Shawl’s short fiction which is why I’m pretty hesitant about reading her debut-novel Everfair that came out this year…

First paragraph: “Timofeya Phin glared at her bare brown hands. They were hers, all right. They looked the same as the orginals. Unlike her feet.”

 

Reactions – Mario Acevado ★★★★★

One of my favorite story in this anthology, this story follows the aftermath of war on a young soldier. It deals with PTSD, grief and love. It was very powerful and I really like the voice of the main character. I will be looking out for more of Acevado’s works!

First sentence: “<Cease fire. Weapons hold.>”

 

The Bees of Kiribati – Warren Hammond ★★★★1/2

Another really good one, it was pretty creepy and once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I don’t want to say too much about this one but I don’t think I ever read a story about surrogate mothers and refugees as powerful as this one. The ending was really impressive!

First sentence: “I spotted Detective Inspector Keo at the end of the corridor, his back against the wall, smoke snaking from the cigarette lodged between his fingertips.”

 

The Rest Between Two Notes – Cat Rambo ★★1/2

This story was very promising at the beginning and as much as it had interesting themes (dealing with an oppresive family, being different etc..) it felt a little flat toward the end. it didn’t really had a plot except the fact that the main character hates her mother and it was pretty meh overall.

First sentence: “I kill my mother.”

The Singularity is in Your Hair – Mathew Kressel ★★★

This one was a weird one, most of the story is set in a virtual reality where our main character works for an AI who promises to upload her on  a server when she dies and in exchange, she has to program all kind of things. In “real life”, the main character is suffering from Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystophy which means that she can’t leave her wheelchair and that she only has a few years left to live. With an premise like that, I really expected to story to make more of an impact on me and, sadly, it didn’t…

First sentence: “When the door opens, the brown-skinned mailman stands smiling on the stoop in his rolled-up baby-blue short-sleeve shirt, top buttons opens, his chest hair exposed.”

 

Panic City – Madeleine Ashby ★★★★1/2

This is one is pretty unique since the main PoV of the story is… a city. And this city doesn’t want anybody to go in… or out.

First sentence: “Devoured by the blades of Fan Six, high above the Service Sector quadrant of the city and suspended over her many rings, something went still and cold.”

 

The Faithful Soldier, prompted – Saladin Ahmed ★★★1/2

This story is about a soldier who wants to find a cure for his wife illness, since leaving the army, he still receives prompted with instructions and some of them may be the key of his wife illness. I think that the concept could have been pushed farther but it was interesting and different from the overall tone of the anthology.

First sentence: “If I die on this piece-of-shit road, Lubna’s chances die with me.”

 

Your Bones Will be Unknown – Alyssa Wong ★★★★1/2

One of the main reason I was intrigued by this anthology was that it contained an Alyssa Wong story. Following a young assassin infiltrating a crime lords meeting, the story was pretty intense.. and gory. I mean we are talking Alyssa Wong here. As usual with this lady, the story is gripping and well-written.

First sentence: “I stuck close to the wall and let my corneal camera watch the action for me.”

Staunch – Paul Graham Raven – DNF

Sadly, this was a DNF for me, I was very confused while reading and I couldn’t get what was going on so I decided to drop it.

First Sentence: “The Hackney Kid’s kidneys go into shutdown on our way out Gunchester.”

 

Other People’s Thoughts – Chinelo Onwualu ★★★★★

This story doesn’t really has a plot but I really liked it, it follows a girl who was designed by her mother to feel other people’s thoughts and feelings and her relationship with a mysterious customer. I really liked the writings and the ideas and since I never heard of Onwualu before, I’m glad that I discovered her voice!

First sentence: “Zayin walked into my shop on the morning of my twenty-ninth birthday.”

wysiomg – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro – DNF

Another DNF, I might be dumb but this one made no sense to me whatsoever, I think that I only read three pages and then I was “Maryam’s out”! I don’t know if I should try this story again in the future but I’m in to rush to.

First sentence: “Bartolomeu used to puppeter ants and then he went to singU and now he builds furniture out of bugs but a few things happened in between”.

 

We Will Take care of Our Own  – Angie Hodapp ★★★★

Political SF’s story are pretty rare because I’m pretty sure that they’re hard to do well (build a logic political world, adversaries and all for a short story might be a bit of a pain) but We Will Take Care of Our Own was fascinating. It reminded me a bit of Infomocracy and Minority Report and it was dealing with really complex themes like artificial intelligence and conciousness with a refreshing simplicity.

First Sentence:”Senator Tia Isandro stepped out of the Lincoln’s back seat.”

 

A Song Transmuted – Sarah Pinske ★★★★★

A cyperpunk story dealing with music? Oh yes. This was very well done, I am usually a big fan of stories with music eements in them and this one did it wonderfully well! It follows a young girl who loves playing music and her journey to make her body a music instrument. Really good.

First paragraph: “I was a fussy baby. The only thing that quited me was my great-grandfather’s piano. My parents placed my bassinet directly on the piano, with noise-cancelling headphones to keep from damaging my ears. His chords came up through the instrument, up through my bones.”That child is full of music, I’m telling you,” he told anyone who listened.”

 

It’s Only Words – Keith Ferrell ★★★★★

Another great one, it follows the idea that in a near future, everyone is going to be linked “tapped” to Internet thanks to an implant. Our main protagonist, Sem, isn’t and we follow him as he’s writing a school assignment explainign why he doesn’t want to have this implant.

First Sentence: “Eventually Sem began keyboarding.”

 

Small Offerings – Paolo Bacigalupi ★★★★★

I previously mentionned that one of the reason I was interested by this anthology was the Wong story, Bacigalupi is another. I only read one of his short stories before City of Ash but I loved The Water Knife and I was excited to give his short works another try. Small Offerings reached and surpassed my expectations quite a bit, i’s depresssing as hell and if reading about horrible pregnancy and dead babies is something that you can’t stand, well do not read this. I personally found it fascinating and creepy but extremely well done.

First Sentence:”Readouts glow blue on driplines where they burrow into Maya Ong’s spine.”

 

Darkout –  E. Lily Yu ★★★1/2

Set in a society where everyone can observe other people’s life, it’s not suprising that, our “hero” Brandon isan unreliable self-centered douche bag. However, as much as I didn’t like Brandon, I like Yu’s commentary on what may be the future of our society.

First Sentence: “In all of Northchester, Pennsylvania there was hardly forty square feet that was not continuously exposed to public view, on glass walls if you had money or on tablets if you were poor.”

 

Visible Damage – Stephen Graham Jones ★★

I was a bit confused by this one but it has similarities with the first story of this collection, Serenade, because the main character is kind of fighting against an AI. I can’t say much more about this one.

First Sentence: “If it were 2028 or something Dark Ages like that, what Mark had just asked for after casing the place, it would-no, it still wouldn’t make sense.”

 

The Ibex on the Day of Extinction – Minister Faust ★★★

This story follows the aftermath of a regional evacuation. Because of his work, our main character had not way to know that his family was evacuated and he tries to find them, wandering Niger. I liked this story when I read it but I have to admit that it was pretty forgettable in the sense that I had to reread a large portion of it to write this tiny synopsis…

First Sentence: “Kam Manjiri checked his satellite phone for the fifth time that morning.”

 

How Nothing Happens – Darin Bradley ★

I remember finishing this story and rereading the last paragraph to see if I missed something. It follows a main character that takes notes but who may have come from the future.. Maybe ?

First Sentence: “It’s strange to listen in, knowing at once nothing and everything about the discussion.”

 

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exhange for an honest review.

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Most Misleading Synopses

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey and  is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes if you want to know a little bit more about them you can check the Goodreads group here.

 


This is a great topic, it was hard to come up with five answers because first of all, I don’t like reading synopses since I’m always afraid that it is going to spoil half of the book. I tend to skim the first half of it and if it sounds interesting, I pick up the book. Of course, sometimes, since I don’t read the whole synopsis, some of the books that I pick up tend to be far from what I expected from them but I don’t really mind that.

I tried to find five synopses that really suited the topic so here are my answers!

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

“Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Gansey is different. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”

This is the synopsis of the first book in the series, the Raven Boys. When I first read that, I thought that there was no way I was going to enjoy this book. It made the books sounds like it was a very cheesy YA book with a hint of paranormal elements. This book is way darker and interesting than that. It’s not straight up horror but it has a very eerie and dark feel to it. The story is really good but the characters are the most fascinating part of the book. I would highly recommend this quartet, I don’t read much YA but this is definitely a series that I would recommend to anyone even if you are not a fan of YA literature in general!

Phèdre’s trilogy by Jacqueline Carey

“The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good… and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission… and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair… and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.”

When I first read the synopis, I thought that this book was straight up erotica. Because of that, I didn’t plan on reading it until I heard amazing thing about this series and Carey in general on a fantasy forum I was part in at the time.

This has now become one of my favorite series of all time. Yes the main character is a courtesan and yes, the book has a lot of sex scenes. However, the story, the characters, the worldbuilding, the writing are just wonderful. This is really amazing, if you like political fantasy and you haven’t give it a try, please do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Jacqueline Carey is a master storyteller.

 

The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan

I won’t quote the entire synopsis, I think G.R.R. Martin’s blurb is enough:

“It’s like a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones”.

I mean what? When I read this, I was so pumped about this book, however, I can safely say that’s it not amazing at all. Heck, it’s not even good. It was a boring fantasy novel with a weak worldbuilding and a poor worldbuilding. And a ton of sexism. The cover is gorgeous though but save some time and don’t read this book, it’s just not good. It doesn’t even have that much dinosaurs in it…

Dark Matters by Michael Dow

“When an unlikely duo finally unravels the mystery of dark matter… will it save our world? Or destroy it?

Take an epic journey to a not-so-distant future of extreme income inequality, controlled by a handful of the über-elite. A world where wealth, science, and the power of the human spirit get one last chance to determine humanity’s ultimate fate.

Rudolph “Rudy” Dersch is the newly minted CEO of the world’s largest, multi-trillion-dollar corporate conglomerate. But the job comes with an unexpected twist–an invitation to join the Consortium, a small, secretive group of global elites who effectively decide what’s best for the rest of humanity. How does Rudy’s struggle to reconcile business and family impact the world’s future? And who, if anyone, can break the Consortium’s iron grip on the status quo?

The answer may lie with a renegade physicist, close to unraveling one of the universe’s greatest mysteries. And a headstrong art curator, driven to find the meaning behind her increasingly compelling visions. From a life-changing moment in a crowded Singapore marketplace, to the business end of an assassin’s gun, they face a power beyond any the world has ever seen. To survive, they’ll have to decipher the truth about dark matter–before the Consortium can achieve its ruinous end game.”

This synopsis gave me sci-fi thrillers vibes. I was expected it to be full of cool science and fascinated characters and it really didn’t gave me what I wanted. It’s not a bad book, it’s well written but everything in it felt way too easy. Basically, every time the characters encountered a hard decision or a problem, everything was solved in a page. I wished it gave me more suspens, more science, more female characters.. just something more! If you’re looking for a great sci-fi thriller though, just read The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, this book is the bomb.

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip

“Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, Heloise tells her son the truth about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen; and, Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.

As Pierce journeys to Severluna, he learns that things are changing in that kingdom. Ancient magic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to legendary glory—or destroy it.”

Reading this synopsis, I was expecting this to be an epic arthurian retelling. Well it is. But it’s not. I mean, it does make a lot of reference to arthurian myths, the main character is on an epic quest to restore an old artefact, however, the synopsis doesn’t mention the fact that this is set in a modern setting! It’s pretty undetectable in the first chapter but the moment the main character mentionned his car, I had a little bit of “say what?” moment. This book is really good though, just not at all what I was expecting to read!

However, I have to say that it has the best descriptions of food I had the pleasure of reading in my entire life. And also if you enjoyed the Raven Cycle I actually think that you might really like this too!

Well this was a lot of fun!

What about you? 🙂

October Wrap-Up and November Reading Plans

October is finally over and November is now upon us (Sci-Fi Month yay!). October was great month reading-wise. I read some amazing books and discovered wonderful authors. Also, it was the first month in a while that I really got back into reading, August and September were very meh month in terms of reading, I had issues connecting with anything and I had trouble finishing books, however, now things are back to normal which is good! I haven’t read that many books this month but since some of them were pretty long and that I don’t have that much time to read, I’m very happy overall! 😀

Also, I am pretty happy with how some of the reviews I wrote turned out. I feel like the more I review books, the more I understand them  because I spend a lot of time thinking about them after reading. My blog is now a little over a year old and I’m so glad I started it, I think that it helped me a lot to improve my English (it’s far from perfect but I reread some of my older reviews and ugh, they are full of mistakes that I didn’t see at the time) but it also made me discover great blogs and great books! I know I’m not the most regular blogger but, I really love the process! Anyway, stop rambling Maryam, let’s talk about books!

Books/Anthologies Read

 

Favorite Read of the Month

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I haven’t posted a review of it yet because I was waiting for Sci-Fi Month but I really loved it. I attempted to read Anathem several times this year and I couldn’t get into the story but I’m so glad I persevered. I now want to read everything written by Stephenson!

A Taste of Honey and Children of Earth and Sky were also pretty damn amazing so I have to make a little honorary mention for them! 😛

DNF

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I read a quarter of this book before giving up, it was just way too weird for me, I like weird but I like to understand a bit what I’m reading too and it wasn’t the case at all with this book. I wasn’t the right person for this book, I’m sure it has its public (if you enjoy Jeffrey Ford you’ll probably love this) but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

 

 

 

Currently-Reading and November Reading Plans

November is Sci-Fi Month so I’ll be reading a ton of SF! At the moment, I’m reading Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel but I don’t know if I’ll end up finishing it. I am halfway through and I don’t especially care about the story at this point. The audiobook is very good though so I might continue on. I would also like to read Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson, I read the first chapter on a whim and it was pretty amazing! I would also like to read The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner, Faller by Will McIntosh, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, A Closed and Common Orbit by Beckie Chambers, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, Revelations Space by Reynolds, Arkwright by Allen Steele. I know I won’t be able to read all of them but I would like to read as many of them as possible. Also, I kind of want to reread Seveneves. I don’t know, so many books !

 

How was your month? What books do you want to read this month? Are you participating in Sci-Fi Month? 🙂

Have a great month of November!

Sci-Fi Month is upon us!

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I heard about this amazing event last year when some of my favourite bloggers took part in it. Infortunately, since I didn’t have the time to prepare, I didn’t participate. This year is a bit different, this time, I’m in!

In case you never heard of this before, Sci-Fi Month is a monthly event that takes place evry year where all the partipants celebrate SF in any form. You can post discussions related to sci-fi, talk about your favorite SF books, tv-shows, comics whatever you want as long as it’s related to SF. This event is hosted by two great blogs  Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow!

If you’re interested and want to know more, you should check this great announcement post on the Rinn Reads blog! 😀

I don’t know how many posts I’ll be able to post yet, I have a ton of ideas but since I have exams this month and that I’m terrible at planning, I don’t know how many posts I’ll be able to put out… However, I am really hoping to write discussions topics on SF, reviews, hauls and all that kind of fun things. If you’re interested by something in particular, just say so! 😉

Have a great month!