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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders — This book was on my radar (and it was hard to miss due to the author's connection with the massive io9) but not in a way where I was like, "I must read this immediately!" Even when the positive reviews rolled in, I largely requested review copy because Ana and I wanted to cover the book for Fangirl Happy Hour. It was perfect: science fiction, interesting premise, and not too long, which is important when your podcast co-host is working 19,654 jobs. I opened the book to read a chapter to see what the narrative voice was like. I read the first 150 pages without stopping and when I came up for air an hour later my brain was like, "WHOA." Not only did I find the characters interesting, the mysteries intriguing, and the questions the book was raising important, the style is just so readable that I just wanted to keep turning pages. This book has so much that I love: friendship, love, communication, and asshole animals. — Renay

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace — If this doesn't show up on the Hugo Award's Best Novel shortlist I am going to throw something. It's such an original piece of post-apocalyptic world building, focused on a surrealist quest to the underworld, and full of carefully crafted descriptions and emotion. I loved the heroine, her determination and her conflicted life as a deadly girl who, each year, works so hard to win a deadly position she doesn't even want. I loved the realistic physicality of the book. And the ending just cut me down in the best way. Fanfic writers—please write world rebuilding fanfiction about what happens to the upstarts after they depose the priest. So, yeah, I'm just having a general lovefest over here for this book. — Jodie

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — Well, I loved this novella a whole lot. Ana and I discussed it on Fangirl Happy Hour and we both came away from it super happy, although Ana read it last year (I am slow). I loved Binti's strength, her determination to stay true to herself and her culture, and her willingness to embrace change when the situation demanded it. The world Okorafor created also felt different (in a good way) and fascinating. I would love to see more of it, because the glimpse we do get is a bit aborted due to the plot of the story, but what's here was bloody, hard, lovely and thoughtful. There's also a friendship in this one that drew me in and made me so happy at the end, too. I guess this is my month of friendships. :) — Renay

Late Night Tales: Jon Hopkins curated by Jon Hopkins — I've been listening to a lot of calming music on Spotify lately to help with my focus and energy maitenance, and I've really been enjoying Jon Hopkins’ electronica. Late Night Tales is a series where musical artists are invited to curate a perfect "late night" mix, and Hopkins' mix is superb. I, for instance, am terrified of Holy Others' "Yr Love" (the intro skews way too Five Nights at Freddy's for me), but Hopkins frames it so perfectly that I was halfway through it before recognizing it. If you need something to listen to while you work that is also awesome, I highly recommend it. — Clare

Leverage series 1 — So, it turns out that Leverage is actually the show of my heart? I love things involving heists and found-family/teams that work really well together, so Leverage kinda suckerpunched me with how perfect it is for me. The heists and cons are sometimes improbable almost to beyond belief, but I adore them for it. Plus, everyone is good at their job; the learning curve is in them trusting each other, not in their skills. (Also: emotional payoff of the show's primary ship from episode four? This is exactly what I like from my shows.) There are some developments and reveals that made me shriek with rage, but for the most part? I don't think I could adore the series more. — Susan

Planetfall by Emma Newman — I adore books with unreliable narrators, and the things this book did with anxiety and character-building and narrative worked so well for me. The protagonist, Ren, is a mixed race bisexual woman in her 70s, which was so refreshing. The focus on 3D printing technology was a very well-articulated future; I found it very believable and good scifi. Overall I just loved this book. — Ira

Star Wars: The Force Awakens — I've never been a big Star Wars fan, although I certainly enjoy the original trilogy (you will pry my theatrical cut VHS tapes out of my cold dead hands) and the prequel trilogy is so bad that's become hilarious to me. (I have so many questions, starting with how on earth did Anakin get his black leather karate gi past Jedi dress code?) But The Force Awakens is so fun, so good, and so human that I cried. (Although, to be fair, I was crying as soon as the words "General Organa" popped up in the title crawl.) It's just such a great ride of a film with more thematic depth the more you think about it. And it's a stellar example of how diversity in SF is AWESOME AND GOOD FOR EVERYBODY. This movie has made me a Star Wars fan. I can't wait for Rogue One (which is THIS YEAR that is BONKERS!!!). — Clare

Star Wars: The Force Awakens — I genuinely wasn't expecting to love this movie, but oh god I was so wrong! The new characters are amazing, I love them and how seeing this world from their perspective actually made something about the franchise click for me, like oh, oh this is why people love it! Plus, what they did with General Organa is so great; Leia is my formative memory of Star Wars, so seeing that extend so logically and wonderfully into the present day made me do a happy dance in the cinema. Every scene with Finn, Poe or Rey made me so happy, as did looking at the background characters and seeing how many women and people of colour there were! Look, look, it's like we're slowly getting to the future! *lies on floor to feel intensely about this movie* — Susan

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein — This book was first published in 1989. It's obvious it was because the narrative feels very straightforward and matter of fact, but never boring. It's a novel about science, magic, and friendship, and the power each has to change the world. Before I read it most people hadn't talked up the great core relationship in the book between the main character and a companion she meets, but I walked away from this title going, "well, I guess I ship that now, thanks bunches Rosemary Kirstein, for this pairing that will probably have NO FANFIC." Anyway, the book is lovely, and the...mystery...at the center of the book is fascinating (especially since there are sequels). I'm not even sure I would call it a mystery—there's hints enough—but I loved discovering things with Rowan as she did. Another book where discussion and communication are important! I'm spoiled. — Renay

Storm, Vol.2: Bring the Thunder by Greg Pak — I already used a lot of words to explain why I enjoyed these comics, and why I think you should try them, in my post Storm: Thief. Goddess. Headmistress. Queen. Just wanted to bring them up again and make sure you didn't forget them :) — Jodie

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes — This is probably the book that most surprised me last year. I'm not a huge fan of celebrity books. I'm very wary both of books that look like they might aim to "fix" the introverted, and 'The Year Of...' concept books. And the cover of this book does not help itself at all. Still, I love Shonda Rhimes's series How to Get Away With Murder. I wanted to learn a little bit more about her career. And the book's blurb contains a pretty good hook: an off-hand comment from her sister — You never say yes to anything — pushes her to change her entire approach to life. With three reasons against reading this book and three reasons for, I decided to just dive in and see what happened. Great decision, me: The Year of Yes is so often funny, revelatory and smart. It was fantastic to read about a successful woman who, in many ways, is leading such a non-traditional life, and how she's committed to building female-centred stories about women who also live outside the mainstream. And it was wonderful to follow her journey as she worked out what she wants next, and how she was going to get it. — Jodie

Date: 2016-02-05 04:02 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Xena and Gab walking/riding away together, text says "Journeys" (Xena: Journey)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Oh, I don't think I'd even heard of The Year of Yes, but that sounds neat and like something I might get some use out of!

Renay, if you have the time and inclination I definitely recommend the rest of the Steerswoman series. Or, at the very least, the next book, The Outskirter's Secret. For starters, it seems to be most people's favorite (and book 1 is probably many people's least favorite). It is definitely mine! Also, it is excellent for shipping and/or friendshipping Rowan and Bel. <3

Date: 2016-02-05 05:28 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
Love this write up! So many books on my 'to read' list!

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