24 Jan 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE TIME OF CONTEMPT by Andrzej Sapkowski

24 January 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

THE TIME OF CONTEMPT

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski cover
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Series: The Witcher #4
Source: Audible
Publisher: Orbit/Hachette Audio
Publication Date: August 27, 2013


Summary:
The New York Times bestselling series that inspired the international hit video game: The Witcher

Geralt is a witcher: guardian of the innocent; protector of those in need; a defender, in dark times, against some of the most frightening creatures of myth and legend. His task, now, is to protect Ciri. A child of prophecy, she will have the power to change the world for good or for ill -- but only if she lives to use it.

A coup threatens the Wizard's Guild.
War breaks out across the lands.
A serious injury leaves Geralt fighting for his life...
... and Ciri, in whose hands the world's fate rests, has vanished...

The Witcher returns in this sequel to Blood of Elves.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD

Read my review of BLOOD OF ELVES!

I really enjoyed this one and thought it was a good continuation of the story. The dinner event and subsequent fight scene were written perfectly. There was enough detail to let us feel like we were there but not so much that it took away from the rest of the story. I highly enjoy and recommend this series!

I loved so much of this book, especially once Geralt and Yennifer reunite and attend the party together. I loved how politics intermingled with cattiness and general amazingness. The boyfriend and I like to say we are a healthier version of Geralt and Yennifer because we have the banter without the murders.

But Ciri is really coming into her own and I am so here for her learning how to be a person without centering her identity on Geralt or Yennifer. She is learning that she's a combination of both of them and that is so heartwarming to me because FOUND FAMILY and ADOPTED PARENTS is everything I could have wanted from this. Especially as we learn more about her grandmother and how she basically used Ciri to be a mini version of herself.

I also love that even though this series as a whole is about Geralt, the series is not about Geralt too. It is about everything else that pressures him to be who he is and how that affects the decisions he makes (even when he doesn't want them to). I just love seeing him as a main character, but also not. Because this isn't necessarily about him.

I can't wait to continue this series (and there are so many scenes from this book that I want to see in the Netflix show!!!) and see how this all plays out.

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

23 Jan 2020

#Pondathon Sign-Up + TBR!

23 January 0 Comments
Pondathon: The Quiet Pond's story-driven readathon. Image: Two swords with vines wrapped around it frame the words 'Pondathon', with three little forest sprites sitting on top. One forest sprite has a leaf on its head, the middle has twigs for horns, and the right has a mushroom on its head.

What is the Pondathon?

The Pondathon is a co-operative and story-driven readathon hosted and run by CW from The Quiet Pond. The aim of the Pondathon is to read books and collect points to protect the friends over at The Quiet Pond from the encroaching malevolent forces that threaten our friends in the forest. Have fun participating in the Pondathon readathon by joining one of five teams, each with a unique way to collect points and signing up! You can also follow the story of the Pondathon as it unfolds, and participants can also complete 'side quests' during the readathon to collect extra points. The readathon takes place from January 24th 2020 to March 7th 2020. More information about the readathon can be found here.

Information about Joining the Pondathon

  1. To join the Pondathon, simply sign up anytime between January 18th 2020 to March 5th 2020.
  2. Choose a team, create your own animal character for the Pondathon and create a character card!
  3. Create a blog post, bookstagram post, booktube video, Twitter thread, or whatever medium you wish, with '#Pondathon' in the title or your tweet. Share the character you have created and your character card!
  4. Link back to this post so that others can find this readathon and join in.
Share your updates on your blog/bookstagram/booktube and social media. You are more than welcome to tag @thequietpond or @artfromafriend on Twitter or Instagram in all your updates! We'd love to see all of the beautiful and awesome characters that you create!


I'm joining...



My Pond Character

My Pond Character is named Pepper and she is an angelic floof that helps turn pages and stay focused on the task at hand (usually petting her). She is a team member of Team Xiaolong and is helping Xiaolong with the frontlines and the darkness that is threatening the pond. Because Pepper is a black cat, she can blend into that darkness and bring her angelic light abound to push back those dark forces and turn some of them to the light! She is ready to protect.

My Pondathon TBR

22 Jan 2020

#Discussion: Five 2020 Debuts I Need Now!

22 January 0 Comments

Five 2020 Debuts I Need Now!

I am always excited for the new crop of debut YA/MG authors! 2020 is no different and there are so many really exciting releases coming up. Last week I talked about 2020 releases in general, but today I'm telling you all about some debut novels that you should definitely add to your TBR!

Clicking on the cover will take you to the Goodreads page for that book.

What 2020 debuts are you excited for?

20 Jan 2020

#Review: BEST LAID PLANS by Lauren Blakely

20 January 1 Comments

BEST LAID PLANS

Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely coverAuthor: Lauren Blakely
Series: Lucky in Love #1
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Little Dog Press
Publication Date: February 27, 2019
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:


Summary:
That time I had the brilliant idea to ask my good friend for lessons in sex-ploration…

Awkward? Maybe. But how else is a good girl going to find out if she likes being naughty?
And Gabe is charming, trustworthy, aces at seduction (or so I hear) and willing to give me lessons. But to guarantee it won’t ruin our friendship, I want these classes to be hypothetical more than hands-on.
So what if he’s hella sexy? I can handle that, no problem.
***
I have it bad for Arden. She’s bright, brilliant, and insanely fun. When she asks for my help, I see my chance to win her sweet heart by showing her how much fun we can have getting spicy.
Trouble is, she has a different idea of what “sex-ploration” should mean. Now I’m going to have to get really clever to win her over.


Good thing I know exactly how to upend her best laid plans.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters
This was okay and had some cute (and sexy) moments, but I felt it was kind of bland. And definitely too predictable. I enjoyed it enough but it didn't WOW me like I wanted it to. But for an Audible Daily Deal, it was fine.

I liked how this story started and came to be. It was an interesting meet-cute/reunion and I liked that the two became friends. But we didn't really get to see that - it kinda skips ahead and we're to assume that they are BFFs.

Beyond this, I hate when miscommunication is the plot. And that's what this is. Both assume they are communicating with the other when really they say something vague and then are like "yeah they totally know what I mean" or say something similar to what they mean but that has a VERY different meaning and assume the response would be the same. I wanted to shake both of them and be like "this is not how you communicate!!!"

But I liked their relationship overall. I definitely think they would be a good couple IRL and I liked reading about the sexy times, especially at work which made it feel very mischevious. Although I did accidentally press "play" without my headphones connected so THAT WAS FUN.

Also, I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook. The performance by Erin Mallon and Joe Arden is really outstanding. Because 1. they do the dialogue for their own characters, so even if it was Arden's POV, Joe would do Gabe's dialogue and vice versa. This made for so much more exciting and interesting dialogue and scenes because you felt as though they were there together. Which made it that much more real. I think a whole star of my rating is because of how fantastic the audiobook is. Plus at the end, they interview each other about recording it together, their lives, etc. and it is very cute!!!!

Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

17 Jan 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: #Interview with Chana Porter, #author of THE SEEP

17 January 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!
A while ago, I posted a round up of the Queer SFF releases you could expect in 2020! You can read that post to learn more about all the releases upcoming. But today I have something very special for you - an interview with Chana Porter about her novel THE SEEP!

But first, let's learn more about the book!

THE SEEP

The Seep by Chana Porter cover
Author: Chana Porter
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Summary:
A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.
Purchase:


Describe THE SEEP in 10 words or less.

Chana PorterBenevolent alien invasion. Divorce sucks! Expect the unexpected. 


What was your favourite scene to write in THE SEEP?


Chana Porter: Oof, too many to name! I had so much fun writing this book. Highlights for me are the church service for people worshiping the past on the high speed train, and the restaurant that gives you what your body needs (rather than what you want to eat!) The infamous fish eating scene. Likewise, I loved describing Instructions, the commune of people wishing to dissolve all barriers by having no personal space. There, I’m poking loving fun at my time spent in different group houses and collectives. 

What do you anticipate being the most exciting part of your debut year?



Chana PorterWhat a sweet question. It’s been a long process, about seven years, so I’m very excited for The Seep to make its way through the world. I’m very much looking forward to going to bookstores and reading, meeting people who are enjoying it. It’s absolutely a dream come true. 


How is writing a novel different than writing a play? Which do you enjoy more?



Chana PorterI love them both, and they are very different. I like saying that plays are a blueprint for a larger experience, meant to be collaborated with designers, director, actors. So I try to write plays that leave room for other artists to play in. Writing a book is a more complete experience. Sometimes it feels like reading a book I’ve always wanted to read, very, very slowly. I love spending years writing a book, taking some months away, going back into it with fresh eyes. I’m one of those freaky people who enjoys each step of the process-- I love editing, I love rewriting, I love first drafts. I love getting notes. Each part is a pleasure. I feel very lucky. 


What do you enjoy most about writing speculative fiction? How is this incorporated into THE SEEP?

Chana PorterI think imagination is one of the most important forces in the world. Speculative fiction, in particular, gives us a lens to look critically at our own reality while expanding possibilities for the future. Often, when we feel so mired in problems, it’s easy to slip into thinking that things have always been this way, or will always be this way.

But our current reality is a set of agreements that have been made, both historically and contemporary, individually and collectively. Our civilization did not grow up around us, like mushrooms. Decisions were made, structures enabled. Libraries are my favorite example of this. They seem so ubiquitous, but a public library, especially one paid for by taxes, is a relatively recent widespread development in America. In many ways, our world is raw clay, waiting to be molded. It’s dangerous when we think our world is rigid.

For example, the Star Trek Universe posits a united federation of planets without scarcity. Through technology, everyone has more than enough and there is no more money-- you don’t have to work in order to survive in Star Trek. Sounds futuristic, yet we could be living like this right now. We could engage in Universal Basic Income— it would save us money to do so. We could give everyone free healthcare, free college, the way we decided at one point to make primary education a citizen’s right. We used to throw the contents of our chamber pots out of windows!

Real progress is possible-- we have to dream it, and then we have to remember we deserve it. And then we have to demand it and create it. 


Trina's relationship with the Seep appears to be a love-hate one - how does this change throughout the novel as she grows?

Chana PorterThe Seep tries to be a benevolent force, but there is something quite malevolent about wanting to take away all pain-- to fix everything and everyone, whether they like it or not. Trina does appreciate how The Seep has made the world better, but she’s understandably wary of something that might numb or bypass less pleasant emotions or sensations. And while she does change quite a bit over the course of the story, I think she maintains an intelligent level of awareness throughout. 


What can we expect from you next?

Chana PorterI’m hard at work on my next novel! The next one is also speculative fiction, a big meaty novel with multiple shifting points of view set on another planet. I’d love to eventually write a children’s book and a YA novel. In my theater life, I’m writing an opera based on a short story of mine with the composer Ted Hearne, and several plays of mine are in development in theaters around the country. I’m very excited for what the future holds. 
Chana Porter, writes the NY Times, “uses incongruity and
exaggeration to suggest some midnight-dark truths about human life and endeavor.” She is an emerging playwright, speculative novelist, and education activist. Her plays have been developed or produced at The Flea Theater, Playwrights Horizons, The Catastrophic Theatre, La MaMa, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Cherry Lane, The Invisible Dog,  & Movement Research. Houston Press writes “Porter’s type of risky storytelling is, well…. like a lion’s roar in an all too often timid jungle.” She is a MacDowell Fellow, a New Georges Audrey Resident, a Target Margin Artist-in-Residence, and the recipient of Honorable Mention for the Relentless Prize. She is currently writer-in-residence at The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Chana is the co-founder of the Octavia Project, a free summer writing and STEM program for Brooklyn teenage girls and non-binary youth. She has taught her embodied creativity course Writing from the Body at University of Houston, Fordham University, Hampshire College, Goddard College, Weber State, and with Sarah Lawrence’s Global Classroom. She is currently at work on her next novel. 

Connect with the Author:

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

15 Jan 2020

#Discussion: 2020 Releases I Can't Wait to Read!

15 January 2 Comments

2020 Releases I Can't Wait to Read!

I am always trying to stay on top of upcoming and new releases (whether or not I read them at that point is a completely other story - don't judge me). So here are some books releasing this year that I am SUPER excited about! Some are debuts, others are new series, and some are standalones!

Clicking on the cover will take you to the Goodreads page for that book.
2020 Releases I Can't Wait to Read Banner
A Beginning at the End by Mike ChenSia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez GillilandIncendiary by Zoraida Cordova
When We Were Magic by Sarah GaileyNameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlinAll the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel IbanezWe Are Totally Normal by Rahul KanakiaDon't Call the Wolf by Aleksandra Ross
Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch and Kristen SimmonsA Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. BrownThe Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth JohnsonOf Silver and Shadow by Jennifer GruenkeStar Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Ghost Wood Song by Erica WatersThe Sound of Stars by Alechia DowThe Seep by Chana Porter

What 2020 releases are you most excited for?