Book Review: Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy & Mac Rogers

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Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Thriller

Publisher: Tor

Length: 403 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: November 7th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.

They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. It still sits at the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed eleven years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.

The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.

It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run, they’ll be hunted for what they know. Dak and Matt have only way to be together: do the impossible. Steal Moss and sell the secret of its existence.

And they can’t afford a single mistake.

 

Book Review

 

Steal the Stars is the novelization of the podcast produced in 2017 by Tor Labs. You can listen to the podcast for free here. I actually listened to the entire thing before picking up the book but of course, you don’t have to do that to enjoy the novelization by Nat Cassidy.

Steal the Stars follows Chief Dakota Prentiss, also know as Dak, a woman working for Quill Marine, a private research laboratory lead by Sierra Corporation, an organization so big and powerful that it basically rule the Pentagon. Quill Marine isn’t a simple laboratory but an incredibly complex research facility dealing with alien artefacts and Dak has to assure the protection of the site.

Dak isn’t particularly happy with her job but at least, it is so time-consuming that she doesn’t have to think about how shitty her life is. When she has the time, she spent her money on alcohol and tries to forget about her past in the army.

Every day ressemble the others until Matt Salem, a new recruit, joins the team at Quill Marine. He is young, sweet, beautiful and clearly attracted to her. The thing is, if you work at Quill Marine, you can’t “fraternize” with your fellow colleages meaning that their affair is doomed from the start. You can’t just quit working at Quill Marine because of the things you see at the facility and you cannot run away either since Sierra Corp basically rules the US.

So Dak and Matt’s only solution is to buy their freedom stealing a few things at Quill Marine: an alien named Moss and an harp capable of shutting down electric network. Of course, as you can imagine, things don’t go so smoothly for them.

 

I first experienced Steal the Stars with the podcast. The entire production is really fantastic, it is narrated by a full cast and it has cool special effects. The pacing is also pretty damn perfect and I binge the entire thing in just a few days.  However, I think I prefered the book over the podcast because it allowed me to understand the characters more.

Indeed, in the podcast, I was thrown off by how quickly the relationship between Dak and Matt developped and how intense it seemed. I mean, I don’t like insta-love, I just don’t think things like this happen in real life, of course, attraction can be immediate but love? No. So to see two people barely knowing each other falling head over heels in love after such a short period seemed a bit off to me. However, in the book, I understood a bit more where Dak was coming from, she’s old, depressed about her life and is basically waiting for her miserable life to end so, of course, when a beautiful knight in shining armour arrives, you cannot be indifferent to that. Also she is so desperate that it is easy for her to mistake a simple need for companionship for love.

Their relationship isn’t healthy, it is not something to strive for, they just want to survive and escape their miserable lives. In this book, this desesperation is much more explicit than in the podcast and this explains a lot of what happens toward the end. (The ending is amazing by the way, I totatlly did not see it coming!).

I have to say though that Steal the Stars is much more a character study of Dak than a thriller. The first half is slow-paced and I read a couple of reviews mentionning it as a problem. I didn’t mind it since I listened to the podcast first and I already knew what was going to happen and it allowed me to understand the characters more but I can see why it would bother a few readers. If you are interested by Steal the Stars but you don’t know which format you might prefer, give the podcast a go. It is free and it will give you a sample of the style and the pace.

All in all, I would recommend Steal the Stars, it is a bit different to what I am accustomed  to reading (or listening!) but it kept me on the tip of my toes and I really enjoyed it!

4 stars.

 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tor Books. All opinions are my own.
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La crème de la crème: Best Books of 2017

2017 wasn’t the best reading year of my life but still, I read some amazing books! I already mentionned a couple of my honorable mentions here but, wer are finally here to discuss la crème de la crème of 2017.

All of the books mentionned weren’t necesseraly published last year mind you, but I read them all in 2017.


*FANGIRL MODE ACTIVATED*

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  • In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

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In Order to Live is the memoir of Yeonmi Park, a girl who managed to escape from North Korea when she was just a child. It follows her incredibly hard journey to freedom as she finds herself in the worst situations who could possibly imagine.

It is a difficult book as it is impossible not relate to Yeonmi and to compare your confortable life the the horrors she confronted. It is a short but very impactful book and I will be re-reading this one in the future. It managed to re-shape the way I view my life. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

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Rosewater was published in 2016 and I’m afraid it was ignored by too many people. If you enjoy Nnedi Okorafor’s writing and themes, you should absolutely give a chance to Tade Thompson. After reading three of his short stories and Rosewater, I can say without a doubt that he is one of my favorite author. His works are brutal and fascinating and his protagonists feel incredibly real (even if most of them are assholes) and very relatable.

Rosewater follows the aftermath of an alien invasion in Nigeria and it is a raw tale of survival and discoveries. If you are looking for a challenging read, give this book a try you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)

 

Aaaah this book is everything I wanted it to be and more. The third and final book in the Broken Earth trilogy was simply an astounding  conclusion to a phenomenal series. I was a bit disappointed with The Obelisk Gate so I was afraid about this the ending but, wow, I don’t have words. Just go read it if you haven’t already.

 

 

 

 

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This one I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction and even if I knew it had speculative elements, I was afraid it was going to be too serious and hard for me. However, since it was nominated for the Clarke (and it won!), I read it as a work of SF.

If you didn’t want to pick it up because it’s “not science fictioney enough”, you might be surprised by how much the speculative elements are necessary to tell the story. I mean, you surely have read a couple of books marketed as SF that could have happened in a contemporary setting and without any real important impact on the story, well, it isn’t the case here. Whitehead didn’t use speculative fiction as a gimmick but because it was an important tool to show his point.

So yeah this book won the Pulitzer and the Clarke and it deserves both.

Fun fact, I offered a copy of this book to my father who loved it then my mom read it and loved it and bought a copy to my aunt who is currently reading it and loving it. I’m a bit jalous of my dad who had the chance to meet Colson Whitehead and have his copy dedicated!

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Ah this book was such a delight. I really didn’t like Aurora by KSR so I was extremely hesitant to pick it up but I loved it so much that I can’t wait to gift it to everyone in my family (yeah you can see a recurring trend here, if I love a book, I gift it to everyone!).

This book is amazing and managed to appeal two of my inner geeks: the finance geek and the climate fiction geek. It was fun and challenging, a bit rambly and info-dumpy at times but just the way I enjoy it. It made me laugh several times but it also taught me a lot. It’s not a book I would recommend to everyone but it felt like it was written just for me!

 

 

  • Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer

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Okay so this one I am conflicted about. I mean I LOVED it with my whole heart but I have to admit that it is quite pretentious. I mean the style is quite off-putting and even if I get why Palmer is using it, I feel like she could find an easier way to tell her story. I can definitely see that this book has flaws and I get the mixed reviews this series is receiving BUT I just cannot not love it you know? In my opinion Seven Surrenders is even more amazing than Too Like the Lightning, it made think a lot, I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I re-read some passages multiple times to try and understand what was going on. It was challenging in the best way possible and I loved it. What can I say. At this point, I am just fangirling.

 

 

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I have read some truly amazing books this year but, if I had to choose one, it would be Raven Stratagem. I read and adored Ninefox Gambit last year and I re-read it in preparation for Raven Stratagem (the re-read made me fall in love even more) but for me the sequel is even more amazing because more things happen and it is easier to follow what is actually going on. The characters, the world and the story are all complex and outstanding and I am dying to read the sequel. I have this series in every format possible, I have the eARCS, the paperbacks and also the ebooks, I mean if I have a sudden impulse to read those books at any given times, I can, I’m ready.

 

 

As much as I can find flaws in almost everything I read, this book series is perfect in my eyes and I wouldn’t change a single word!

 

 

Enough about me, what were your favorite books of 2017?

2018 Goals

New year usually means new resolutions! I am not gonna lie, I’m pretty terrible at actually accomplishing them but they are fun to make anyway so…

 

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I mostly failed last years resolutions because 1) I wasn’t a consistent blogger at all 2)I didn’t keep track of my short story reading because it was almost inexistant in 2017. However, I didn’t request too many books from Netgalley, I DNF’d a bit more and I didn’t buy too much physical books. So everything isn’t a complete failure!

To continue the tradition, here are some bookish goals for 2018!

  • Read at least 52 books

This one is pretty easy as it means reading a book a week which is completely doable. I didn’t read as much as I wanted in 2017 but I realized that I don’t want to put pressure on myself this year. 52 books is way more than what the average anyway! If I read more, that’s good, otherwise, it isn’t really a big deal. Who cares how much I read anyway?

  • Read more than 2 non-fiction books

99.99% of my reading is fiction and I would really like to branch out more in the realm of non fiction. I read two last year and they were absolutely amazing so I want to read more than two this year. I do have a couple of them on my Kindle already so that shouldn’t be too difficult!

  • Read more literary fiction

Same as non-fiction, I don’t read a lot of literary fiction even if I seem to be really enjoying it. I don’t have a set number in mind but I just want to read a couple more than last year. I know it’s vague but, I’m not good with constraints 😛

  • Not fall into the hype of a new release

I read a good number of 2017 releases last year which was fun but I neglected a bit my backlist reading. I have a ton of older books on my Kindle that I am drawn too but I was too excited for new releases to give them a try. So less new releases and more backlist!

 

So as you can see, my goals are pretty achievable! As for non-bookish goals, I only have two of them and those I really have to accomplish:

  • Pass my driver license test
  • Finish my undergraduate years and start biological engineering studies. (The French system is pretty different from other education systems so I hope it makes sense because I don’t really know how to translate it otherwise)

Those goals really matter to me, the other ones are for fun!

 

What are some of goals for 2018? 🙂

Best Books of 2017: Honorable Mentions

I don’t know how I persuaded myself that 2017 was such a bad reading year. Sure I didn’t read as much as the last two years but still, looking back at what I read, I discovered some really good books!

Today I am here to talk about very good books, books that might not have blew me away this year but that I am still very happy I ended up reading and that I think are very much worth a mention.

So here are my honorable mentions (in no particular order, they are all good):

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The Fortress at the End of Time follows a soldier working in a miserable space sation at the end of the word where boredom is the only think think striving. This is not an action packed military SF book but a quiet story of someone who just want to have more for a life than  a slow death on a planet where the suicide rate is so high that people won’t talk to you for the first few months “just in case”. This is a very sad book but it touched me and I still find myself thinking about it to this day.

 

  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

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I don’t know why I haven’t read this earlier, I mean this book is a classic (and one of my dad’s favorite book) for a reason. It is so relevant that it could have been written today. I don’t have much to say about it except that, if you have not read it yet and you love SF, you should definitely give it a try. I really have to read more Asimov this year!

 

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison

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Beloved is a heartbreacking tale about motherhood and slavery. It is sad, hard, complicated but also beautiful. This is one of my mother’s favorite books so I guess my parents must have amazing taste because I tend to really enjoy the things they love!

As with I, Robot, I think I should probably re-read Beloved in the future to get more out of it.

 

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On a completely different note, The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden is an utterly crazy book full of witches, AIs, drugs and uprisings. Is it perfect? No but it’s bloody fun and I am eagerly waiting for Drayden’s next novel coming out later this year.

 

 

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Someone has to explain to me why Roberts isn’t more famous, his works are amazing. Granted, I have only read two of his books and a couple of his short story but that’s enough for me to know that 1) the man is smart and has a great sense of humor 2) I don’t know where he finds his ideas but he make them work very well. The Real-Town Murders is an exciting thriller that manages to be very humorous while still presenting a future where humans have left the Earth for Internet. Highly recommended.

 

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This book is insane but also hilarious. I didn’t know I could have so much fun reading horror books. I devoured this one in a couple sittings and I want more.

 

 

 

What are some of your 2017 honorable mentions? 🙂

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy 2018 everyone!

I hope 2017 was a good year for you and that 2018 will be even better for you. 😀

2017 was a pretty bad year for me hence why I disappeared a bit in the last few months, I couldn’t bring myself to read and because of that, I wasn’t in the mood to talk about books. I was so tired that I just couldn’t concentrate on anything except work, podcasts and cheesy TV shows. However, in the last few weeks, I slowly started to get out of this slumpy mood and I allowed myself to read total guilty pleasures read (I binge read the first six books in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning in a month, a urban fantasy series that doesn’t have the best intrigue but that I still very much enjoy). I also gave myself the time to read some books I didn’t have the chance to read earlier in 2017 such as Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer and Acadie by Dave Hutchinson. I ended up loving Seven Surrenders even if it took me a month to read and I slowly realized that I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to read. I read for fun and it shouldn’t feel like a chore.

Anyway, yesterday I started to write extra short reviews of some books I enjoyed this year and it made me so happy, I didn’t realize writing about books missed me so much. So here I am again. New year, same me, I still love books and I love talking about them and I will continue to do it as long as it is fun.

I wish  you a really awesome 2018, hopefully you’ll see a lot more of me and my posts as I slowly learn to organize myself to take the time to do the things I love.

I will see you again very soon with all the round-up posts of the year.

Happy New Year!

 

Maryam

Book Review: The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

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Genre: Horror

Publisher: Orbit

Length: 336 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: March 3rd 2016

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances. 

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy. 

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

 

Book Review

Jack Sparks, a journalist famous for his controversial books, his outspoken tweets and his overall terrible attitude wants to write a new book. After his last bestseller Jack Sparks on Drugs, a book that sent him a couple of months in rehab, Jack is ready for another ride. And what is more controversial than a big dive into the supernatural?

Jack Sparks and the Supernatural will be his next bestseller, he doesn’t care if it means that he’ll have to assist to exorcism or watch creepy videos (especially very realistic ones published on in own Youtube channel without his knowledge). Jack has to show everyone on Earth what a supercherie this supernatural thing is. It will be his best work…if he can survive it.

Well, as we learn in the prologue, he couldn’t. Jack Sparks died while writing the manuscript of what should have been his masterpiece. Now published posthumously with some add-ons such as testimonies of friends and family, The Last Days of Jack Sparks is Jack’s account of his (mis)adventures diving into the supernatural.

But what exactly caused Jack’s death ? Was it ghosts or other miscellaneous creatures or simply an excess of cocaine ? And what about the mysterious video posted on his own Youtube channel that he certainly didn’t put there? Who did and for what?

Reading The Last Days of Jack Sparks, you’ll soon come to the realization that Jack Sparks and his entire squad are definitely unreliable, they all have secret motives to say what they say and hide what they do. Which means that you cannot trust anyone and you are the only one able to decide what you should trust: and it only makes it more fun.

Another thing that you might want to know before going in is that Jack is a bit of an asshole: he’s rude, self-obsessed and a complete drug addict. I usually don’t like main characters who happen to be total douchebags but, in this book, I woudn’t have wanted anything else: it suited the story perfectly.

This book is hilarious and if, like me, you tend to be intimidated by horror books just because you’re afraid you won’t be able to sleep, give this one a try. It was such a fun ride, I almost devoured the entire thing in a day because I wanted to know what was going to happen! The mystery is going to keep you on the edge of your seat and the tone and sarcastic voice of Jack is definitely something to experience!

Highly recommended if you’re looking for a hilarious read for Halloween or any other time of the year!

 

And if I didn’t manage to convince you, go read Mogsy’s and Tammy’s reviews, they both convinced me to pick up The Last Days of Jack Sparks and it was definitely worth it! 😀

Book Review: Null States by Malka Older (Infomocracy #2)

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Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 432 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3 stars

Publication Date: September 19th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

The future of democracy is about to implode.

After the last controversial global election, the global infomocracy that has ensured thirty years of world peace is fraying at the edges. As the new Supermajority government struggles to establish its legitimacy, agents of Information across the globe strive to keep the peace and maintain the flows of data that feed the new world order.

In the newly-incorporated DarFur, a governor dies in a fiery explosion. In Geneva, a superpower hatches plans to bring microdemocracy to its knees. In Central Asia, a sprawling war among archaic states threatens to explode into a global crisis. And across the world, a shadowy plot is growing, threatening to strangle Information with the reins of power.

 

Book Review

 

The sequel to Infomocracy (2016) is not a high tech thriller following a Supermajority elections full of corruptions but a story focused on the aftermath of such an election. It focuses mainly on centenals (micro nations of 100 000 inhabitants) that just joined the micro democracy system and it opens up with the murder investigation of the former governor of the Darfur centenal. The actions mainly takes place in Darfur but also Geneva and China and it was interesting to see how Information differed in various places.

I won’t talk about the plot in any more details just because it would 1) completely spoil Infomocracy and 2) also spoil Null States since not a lot actually happens and it would be too easy to disclose a bit too much about the story and you wouldn’t have much to discover by yourself.

I am pretty torn about this book and I don’t really know if I enjoyed it or not. I felt the same way about Infomocracy but I hoped Null States would convice me a bit more. I really admire this series for the worldbuilding, the ideas and the tech. The most interesting parts for me were all the parts about Information: how it worked, how it installed itself in all the centenals and how it influenced the micro-democracy system. All the centenals part of the system have complete access to the Information network but it also means that everything they do is recorded. For people brought up with Information (like all the main characters), being recorded at all time is nothing special and having access to everything in a matter of seconds is as natural as breathing. However, for people new to the system, this constant surveillance is too much and most of them tends to find this quite unsettling if not threatening.

In Infomocracy, Information was definitely the “good guy” of the story: an organization that worked in favor of democracy and distributed information to everyone while always being partial. In Null States, we can definitely sense a shift in their role, a lot of their actions are quite questionable and they don’t seem to be supporting the Supermajority goverment as much as replacing them completely, the elected government turning into a figurehead while the real decisions are made elsewhere.

This aspect I found fascinationg, however, as I said, I have mixed feelings about this series, my main problem being that I disliked almost all of the characters except two minors characters that happened to be inhabitants of Darfur. I found Ken and Mishima flat and bland and I actively disliked Roz, the main charactre of Null States. I don’t have to love characters to enjoy a book but when they all annoy you and act completely selfishly during the entire book, it starts to get on my nerves.

Roz was unbearable, she was rude to everyone including the people she worked with, she was extremely close-minded and couldn’t bring herself to at least attempt to open herself to other cultures and opinions other that her own. She acts like a robot 99% of the time and suddendly transform herself into a cheesy mess when she decides she’s in love with a guy just because she’s attracted to him. I mean I almost gave up on Null States several times just because I was so fed up with Roz’s behaviour.

It’s a shame because this series has a lot of potential and clever ideas however I don’t know if I am going to read the next book, I want to know how this series is going to end but I don’t know if I want to read it in those characters perspectives…

If you read and enjoyed the first book then you’ll probably like Null States too but if you didn’t, I don’t think you’ll enjoy this one either infortunately…

3 stars.

 

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to Tor.Com. All opinions are my own.

September Wrap-Up & October Reading Plans

I seriously don’t know where this year is going , September went by extremely fast and now October is upon us and I still feel like we are at the beginning of the year!

I love fall but as always (and I think it’s the case for everyone), September is an extremely busy and exhausting month. I didn’t have a lot of time to read and when I did, I either took naps or watch TV shows that were less demanding to my brain… So that’s why there isn’t a lot of books in the Books Read section but oh well, naps are important.

Books Read

  • The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts ★★★★
  • Interzone #263 ★★★
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel ★★★
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon ★★
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer [REREAD] ★★★1/2
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells ★★★

I didn’t have the worst reading month ever but most of the things I read didn’t really impress me. The Real Town Murders was the only book that really stood out to me this month. Station Eleven and All Systems Red were nice enough but they didn’t managed to meet my expectations. I already managed to forgot the names of the main characters so that tells you something.

However, the biggest and most surprising disappointment is my re-read of Too Like the Lightning, yes I know, shocking considering that it was one of my favorite book of 2017. However, I didn’t find it nearly as good after another read, I’m still intrigued by the sequel but this time, I found the style incredibly pretentious and plainly annoying. The intrigue was still good but the style felt overdone and almost awkward at times and it didn’t felt right with the setting of the story.  I guess it didn’t bother me as much the first time around because I was more interesting in the world and the complex political intrigues… Anyway, at least this time around I understood all the political maneuverings a bit more but I wouldn’t consider this book to be a favorite anymore. 😦

Best Book of the Month

 

I don’t know about you but during fall I love to read spookier things and I have a ton of books I really want to get to this October! I started IT by Stephen King a few weeks ago and I would like to finish it this month. So far I like it even if I thought it was going to be much more scary than it actually is. However, since I have only read the first part yet, my opinion on the level of “scariness” may change. I’m also 10% in Null States by Malka Older which is the second book in the Infomocracy series and so far so good.

As I said, I am currently in the mood for scarier/spooky books this month and since I am considering a lot of options, I will just list the ones I really want to get to soon. If you see a particular title that looks interesting to you or that you would like me to read, please say so, it would help me narrowing down the list!

  • Reaper’s Gale by Steven Erikson
  • Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
  • The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
  • Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
  • The Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward
  • The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  • Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe
  • The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata

 

Hope you had a great month! 🙂

The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

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Genre:  Sci-Fi, Mystery

Publisher: Gollancz

Length: 240 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: August 24th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying.

Alma’s partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine.

So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.

What follows is a fast-paced Hitchcockian thriller as Alma evades arrest, digs into the conspiracy, and tries to work out how on earth a dead body appeared in the boot of a freshly-made car in a fully-automated factory.

 

Book Review

 

Set in world where people are addicted to the Shine, a virtual reality way more interesting than the real world, The Real-Towns Murders follows Alma, a private detective trying to solve a locked room mystery.

The situation? A body was found in a car booth of a car factory. The problem? Video footages show the car being built to scratch by robots and no humans entered the factory during this span of time. You could blame the AIs taking those footages but infortunately, they are incapable of lying, which means that a body magically appeared in the car while it was built by robots. So how the hell did it manage to appear in this place and why?

It is the mystery our dear detective Alma has to solve. However, soon after she’s engaged on this particular mission, she found herself in a lot more than she bargained for: it appears that the government doesn’t really want her to find who did it or why and if she really want to solve it, she’ll have to do it with government agents trying to stop her.

The thing is, Alma’s situation is a bit peculiar, she has to attend her sick partner Maguerite every four hours (not a minute less or more) or she’ll die. Indeed her partner was attacked a while back by a gene hacker who linked Alma and Marguerite’s DNA together. This means that Alma is the only one able to attend her partner and she can only use the expensive treatments provided by the hacker: welcome to the new bioransomware…

Of course, in a daily normal life, having to prevent someone from dying horribly every four hours isn’t exactly stress-free but, when you are being pursued by governments agents who clearly want to kill you, it’s even more complicated, especially when the partner in question is so big that it can’t leave your home.

This book is utterly crazy but the kind of crazy I love: it is crazy in a very clever way. It’s quite funny and quirky but at the same time, it really managed to deal with serious issues.

In this world where everyone escape in the Shine all the time, the Real Towns or R!Towns are left empty and the only ones roaming the streets are robots or people immersed in another world entirely. No one interacts directly anymore prefering the confort of conversations through screens and Roberts really managed to show how it affected the society and the way it was reshaped by this fact.

The whole book was an extreme example of how the future could turn out to be if we continue to bury ouselves into our smartphones and computers. It really made me think about how social media change the way we interact. Yes, it allows us to communicate way more easily but at the same time, it creates a barrier between people. In the Real Town Murders, people are so used to dealing with each other through screens that they are almost incapable to have a normal conersation face to face anymore (it made most of the dialogues in this book pretty hilarious!).

If you are looking for a fun read with important themes and discussions, I would highly recommend this book, I haven’t read many things by Roberts (even if I own most of his works) but I really need to fly through his backlist because he has really interesting things to say and I really like how he says them.

Highly recommended.

 

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to Gollancz. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Genre: Hard Sci-Fi, Climate Fiction

Publisher: Orbit Books

Length: 613 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: March 14th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

 It is 2140. 

The waters rose, submerging New York City. 

But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever.

Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island.

Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building, Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides.

And how we too will change.

Book Review

 

New York, 2140. The waters have risen by more than 50ft but the submerged City is still going strong.

In this brilliant book, Kim Stanley Robinson explores an hypothetical future where the melting of glaciers and climate change completely reshaped the world as we know it. New York 2140 follows a bunch of characters all living in the Met as they slowly all meet thanks to a series of happy  (or not so much) adventures revolving around the disapperance of two coders who may have try to shatter the world of finance. Yeah, just that.

I can’t say that this book is very plot-driven; it is certainly centered around the disapperances of the two hackers but, it mostly remains KSR’s study of climate change and how humans could survive the mess we are currently making with our planet. I personally enjoy climate fiction since this genre allows me to see how our current actions could possibly influence our future and to see some solutions presented by the author. I like it when books are set way after a disaster because you can then see how the society was reshaped by this particular event.

In this book, it was fascinating to see the ideas KSR came up with, both in terms of technical progress (seeing New York as Venice was very interesting, KSR imagined a city where bridges are connecting the different towers and everyone has his own personal boat and/or airplane) and finance’s evolution. In this world, the most important asset is real-estate particularly real-estate in the intertidal, a zone of New York where the buildings are partially submerged and the state of those buildings and the predictions of several agencies on their “health” is, of course, creating a new finance bubble. And bubbles like to pop.

I will say it right now, this one isn’t for everyone, if you don’t care about New York or finance, this will probably bore you to death. I know some basic finance stuff (very basic but once upon a time, I wanted to work in the field, but that was before 2007, now it doesn’t interest me so much) and some passages completely went over my head. However, what really worked for me was the style of this book, it is written in a very peculiar way, some parts are only written in dialogues, some parts are 3rd person or 1st person and every few chapters, KSR has passages written by “a citizen” which are basically KSR’s free spaces in the book where he express his political opinions on finance and climate change. In those we often encounters extremely detailed en lenghty pieces on finance theory or New York’s history. Those parts are either going to make you fall in love with the book or despise it completely because they are quite info-dumpy and biaised. I have to say that some of “the citizen”‘s essays were a bit boring to me but for the most part, I enjoyed them and I found them interesting! Also, I really enjoyed reading about the majority of the characters and I really appreciated the fact that they all had distinct voices.

I read Aurora by KSR earlier this year and I had a lot of issues with this book so I almost didn’t read NY 2140 but I am so glad I gave this author another go because this was amazing, it was dense but so clever, witty and a whole lot of fun and I will definitely re-read this book in the future! I also want to read his impressive backlist starting with the Mars trilogy!

Highly highly recommended to cli-fi nerds.