12 Nov 2021

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: NOOR by Nnedi Okorafor

12 November 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!

NOOR

Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Series: N/A
Source: eARC from Publisher
Publisher: Daw Books
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Summary:

From Africanfuturist luminary Okorafor comes a new science fiction novel of intense action and thoughtful rumination on biotechnology, destiny, and humanity in a near-future Nigeria.

Anwuli Okwudili prefers to be called AO. To her, these initials have always stood for Artificial Organism. AO has never really felt...natural, and that's putting it lightly. Her parents spent most of the days before she was born praying for her peaceful passing because even in-utero she was wrong. But she lived. Then came the car accident years later that disabled her even further. Yet instead of viewing her strange body the way the world views it, as freakish, unnatural, even the work of the devil, AO embraces all that she is: A woman with a ton of major and necessary body augmentations. And then one day she goes to her local market and everything goes wrong.

Once on the run, she meets a Fulani herdsman named DNA and the race against time across the deserts of Northern Nigeria begins. In a world where all things are streamed, everyone is watching the reckoning of the murderess and the terrorist and the saga of the wicked woman and mad man unfold. This fast-paced, relentless journey of tribe, destiny, body, and the wonderland of technology revels in the fact that the future sometimes isn't so predictable. Expect the unaccepted. 
Purchase:
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacted my opinion.

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

29 Oct 2021

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: OF SHADOW AND SEA by Will Wight

29 October 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!

OF SHADOW AND SEA

Author: Will Wight
Series: The Elder Empire: Shadow #1
Source: Audio from Audible Plus
Publisher: Hidden Gnome Publishing
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Summary:

The Consultant's Guild has served the Aurelian Empire for over a thousand years, working in the darkness to hunt dissension and eliminate traitors.

Now the Emperor is dead.For Shera, an assassin in the employ of the Consultants, the Emperor's death is the beginning of a nightmare. Powerful forces hunt the Heart of Nakothi, a cursed artifact that can raise a second Emperor...and corrupt him in the process.

But some desire power at any cost.

The Guild of Navigators, an infamous collection of swindlers and pirates, has been paid a fortune to secure the Heart. Their only lord is greed, their only loyalty to gold, and they would sell the Empire's freedom for the promise of a quick coin.

In the shadows, a woman works to set the world free.

On the seas, a man seeks to raise a lunatic to lord over mankind.

Will you walk the shadows here with Shera? Or will you explore the seas with Calder, in the parallel novel "Of Sea and Shadow"?
Purchase:
I'll be honest, there is another "version" of this story - a companion novel called OF SEA AND SHADOW that tells the story of the first book through a different perspective. I'm still trying to figure out if I should read that one or just continue on with the story. But mainly I am left wondering if I should even continue at all.

Sure, I got these for free through my Audible account, but is it worth it? I almost DNFed a few times because I was straight up bored. After the death of the emperor the guilds of the empire spilt into two factions: those that want a new emperor and those that want the empire to crumble. This book focuses on the latter faction through the eyes of Shera, an assassin in the secretive Consultants guild.

In this book we get to know more about the emperor, which is quite interesting. Mostly we follow the detached life of Shera as she and Calder Martin fight for control of the eternal life giving Heart of Nakothi.

I liked Shera and thought the book was okay but I think I stuck around mostly because Emily Woo Zeller was the narrator. Which is honestly the reason I picked this up to begin with. I couldn't tell you much about the plot, the characters, or the way that I think this story will move forward because I zoned out a lot while listening to it.

The introduction was great because the setup for Shera was intriguing and caught my attention right from the get go. I liked learning about the way these factions worked together and against each other. Unfortunately, the story progression suffered from badly placed time jumps. The last half should have been more exciting than the intro but the jagged story progression killed the flow, and I stopped caring about what was happening.

I think I'll try the companion novel to this story and see if it is any better then go from there. But I'm not sure I can recommend this one!

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

27 Oct 2021

#Review: THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton

27 October 0 Comments

 

THE BELLES

Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Series: The Belles #1
Source: Audio from Audible Plus
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Summary:
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Ooof. That's all I can say about this one. There is a lot of things that could have been really great about this one, but it ended up being a bit of a flop. 

To get it out of the way, one of the lesbian characters die. I want to give the benefit of the doubt that this wasn't a "bury your gays" but a sense of the type of persecution if you didn't quite fit in to the way that our main villain saw the world. But you read it and tell me what you think (or don't lol).

The first scene was a mix of The Selection and The Hunger Games, which hooked me. I wanted to know more about the way that the Belles were judged and selected, but then we didn't get that. It was a jump right into the rest of the book. There was zero explanation about the magic system, the way that the society works, or anything that would really pull you into the narrative of the story.

But Camilla was a terrible main character. She couldn't see or notice anything and it was so frustrating. She would speak up when she shouldn't and didn't say anything when she should. She didn't ask the right questions or do anything with the information she learned. And she completely refused to think of anything but herself and being the FaVOurIte which was terrible to me. She had such a poor sense of judgement and trusted the wrong people for such weird reasons.

The romance was also so bad. Like where did it come from and why? There was no reason for it at all and was barely explored but we were supposed to just believe it? No. I refuse. Especially since we're told time and again that falling in love can taint the blood of the Belles which will take away some of their source of magic.

I have the next book and I will read it but I don't know if I'll enjoy it.

TLDR: So disappointing. Started off so strong and good with the way we were introduced to the characters and the world. But then increasingly became worse and worse. The villains were comically evil, the characters were comically naive, and the magic was the only interesting part and was barely touched. I have the second book already so I'll continue but it's just not shaping up to be great.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick this up?

25 Oct 2021

#Review: GEEKERELLA by Ashley Poston

25 October 0 Comments

 

GEEKERELLA

Author: Ashley Poston
Series: Once Upon a Con #1
Source: Downloaded from Audible Plus
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Summary:
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
This book was cute and fun - and I sped through it pretty quickly. I just felt like it was too fanfic-y for me, especially since the romance felt almost insta-love. I know, I know, they talked for a while. But only via text and never once called each other. And the explanation for not doing that wasn't compelling enough in my opinion.

Toted to me as a love letter to fandom, I did appreciate the way that everyone interacted with the show, the cult following, and more. However, I thought that having a con dedicated to one show/series and then having panels about other things didn't quite make sense. They didn't explain why this con about this cult following show had other things or how it expanded after Elle's dad died.

I liked Darien enough and was glad to see how his character developed. He was geeky and good looking, so every girl's dream guy. But I wanted way more about his time on set, with Jessica, and his handler and bodyguard. It felt like we only saw him in conjunction with Elle too often and it made him fall a little flat some times.

Elle was a great main character and I really liked her. I definitely related to her blogging and wanting to get the most out of the people she interacted with. I wasn't a huge fan of her being like a mini celebrity at the Con because her dad founded it. That was a bit too much for me, but I liked the scene where everyone gave her pieces of their costume so it's all good.

TLDR: I thought this was really cute and I liked a lot of the retelling portions of this. It hit all the right beats and had a pretty compelling storyline. But I thought some of it was just too convenient and could have been better fleshed out. I enjoyed it so I'll probably continue on with this series.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick it up?

22 Oct 2021

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: PART-TIME GODS by Rachel Aaron

22 October 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!

PART-TIME GODS

Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: DFZ #2
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Aaron/Bach
Publication Date: June 9, 2019
Summary:

Life in the magical mess of the Detroit Free Zone is never easy. When you’re laboring under the curse of a certain prideful, overbearing dragon, it can be down right impossible.

My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner. At least, I used to be. Thanks to the supernatural bad luck that turns everything I do against me, these days I’m more of a walking disaster. Getting rid of this curse is the only way to get my life back. Unfortunately, dragon magic is every bit as sneaky and deadly the monsters behind it, and just as hard to beat.

But I’ve never been one to take her doom at face value. Cornered doesn’t mean defeated, and in an awakened city that rules herself, dragons are no longer the biggest powers around. 
Purchase:

Before I get started, I love this series. I think the worldbuilding, the magic, and the characters are all fantastic. I am eager to read NIGHT SHIFT DRAGONS and then every other book that Rachel Aaron has written because, honestly, SO good.

One of the coolest things about this series is the setting.  The DFZ is a city run by a magical God, it has buildings that move and change.  If you default on your rent, then your place goes on the auction block, for someone like Opal and her newly acquired partner, Nick, bid on it against others, for the opportunity to make money on anything left inside and clean it up for the city to rent out again.

Opal has a few problems in her life right now.  She tried to outwit a dragon, who just happened to be her father (long story) and ended up with a huge loan to pay off to him.  She was doing really good at it too until said Dragon put a curse on her to make it even harder for her to make the money to pay him back.  Dragons. Now with the help of Nick, a cybernetically enhanced human with a questionable past, Opal is trying to find a way to not default on her load so she can be free from under anyone’s control.

I do like Opal for the most part.  She has a lot of magical power potential and has tried her entire life to do anything with it but unfortunately most of the time it just ends up blowing up in her face.  Girl also has some HUGE daddy issues, probably to be expected when you know you were named Opal because you are seen by your father as a pretty stone of little worth .  Opal has a huge chip on her shoulder and she is going to prove to everyone that she can do it all on her own.

Good news is there is a smidgen of a romance happening between Opal and Nick.  It has a few kinks in it but I liked the start up of a possible relationship between them. We also get some time talking with the Spirit of the City and we get to see some of the motivations of a god walking among the people.  

The downfall is this story doesn’t wrap up at the end, we are left with a bit of a cliffhanger and will have to wait until the next book to see how all of the events play out.  

I enjoyed Minimum Wage Magic just a little more than Part-Time Gods, just because of the situation Opal was in, how laser focused she was on the tree she missed the forest.  Still a lot of things happened and I have some big hopes for the next installment. 

TLDRI am so in love with this series. So many different elements that work together in an interesting way. I think this is such a fun series that takes a look at family dynamics, curses, and magic in a way that doesn't make me want to bash my head against a wall. Highly recommend!

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

20 Oct 2021

#Review: THE BRIGHTSIDERS by Jen WIlde

20 October 0 Comments

THE BRIGHTSIDERS

Author: Jen Wilde
Series: N/A
Source: Downloaded from Audible Plus
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Summary:
A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde's quirky and utterly relatable novel.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Content Warnings: emotional manipulation, alcoholism, parental abuse, gaslighting, car accident, biphobia, transphobia, anxiety attack, vomitting

Honestly, this sucked. I barely made it through and the second star is only because the representation was so well done and integrated into the story. The story doesn't read or feel realistic at all. When I was copying over the summary for this review I laughed at the line "utterly relateable" because nothing in this is relatable in the slightest.

But I would have liked way more to be done in terms of the plot (which was laughable and basically self-insert fanfiction...) and to develop the relationships. Sometimes with large casts like this in a contemporary setting, there isn't as much development for each character.

I think there was a start to a good representation and tackling of the abusive relationship aspect (both romantic and parental). But because there were so many other things going on and other characters to introduce, it got a bit lost in its way. My expectations were way higher for this one because lot of people I trust raved about it in their reviews. But it just didn't land with me. 

To be honest, most of the characters I could only identify by their "identity" rather than what drives them or what they want to do. Which also isn't great, but it's at least better than completely forgetting them. 

And since this book was supposed to be about music, there wasn't a whole lot of that either. Sure, we heard some snippets of songs, but it definitely wasn't about a "teen rockstar" in the way that I wanted it to be - or as it was advertised. I would have liked more time spent on getting ready for touring, coming up with set lists, etc. and not as much time on "Is TMZ going to get a picture of this."

TLDR: I had such high hopes for this one. I loved Queens of Geek and thought that this would be a nice follow-up, but it was just... not great. The only good part of it was the representation which was amazing. But the rest left a lot to be desired. Overall, I don't recommend this one.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick it up?