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[personal profile] renay
I'm excited for way more books than I will ever read. I've accepted this as my lot in life and I'm resigned to my fate. Here's some of the books coming out in February that caught my eye. Read more... )

What books are you excited for in February, on this list or otherwise?
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[personal profile] renay

Hello, it's me, coming in a decade late with Starbucks, a book everyone was excited for ages ago, and outdated memes.

I remember when Captive Prince was an online sensation in circles adjacent to mine (it was fun reading familiar usernames in the back of the second volume that I started immediately after I finished the first), but I didn't read it during that time. I bought the first book in 2016 and it sat on my shelf, and we considered each other dubiously until early January. I have tried a chapter of Dunnett and it seems like it would be very neat but there's just so much of it in very tiny print. She's the author I've heard Pacat's work compared to most often so I was all over uncertain. Turns out there was really no reason to be worried because Captive Prince is great (potentially that means I should really give the Dunnett book I have another try). Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
Artificial Condition, the sequel to one of the breakout novellas of 2017, All Systems Red, returns us to the adventures of Murderbot, a human-like security android that broke the governor module used for control.

Murderbot has used the freedom to watch a lot of television during their downtime after keeping humans alive for another day.

After the events of All Systems Red, Murderbot is on a quest to find out more about their past. Murderbot got their name from a mission they assumed they failed—killing quite a few humans they were meant to protect. But the company that used to own them hushed things up and wiped Murderbot's memory of the most of the event—but not their knowledge of it. Murderbot is determined to find out the truth. Murderbot once again pairs up with some humans to gain the access they need—and gets tangled up in their very human drama while also trying not be to be discovered as not very-not-human security bot they truly are. But this time around Murderbot makes a friend! And what a friend—you may finish the story wanting more of Murderbot and their new pal on space adventures.

Last year, social media was full of people posting nothing but "MURDERBOT!" followed by five to ten heart emojis. Murderbot was truly a bot that we all saw a piece of ourselves in: anxiety; the desire to just hide away from humans and their feelings; the comfort in watching hours and hours of television. One of the best parts of this series is the way Murderbot's experience of humans hews so closely to how neurodivergent folks deal with stress and social interaction. It's hard not to empathize with Murderbot as they try to navigate all the weird human social needs and expectations. Who among us hasn't wanted a break from human interaction and found comfort in the lives and stories of fictional humans we never have to interact with?

If you loved All Systems Red, you'll want to read Artificial Condition as soon as possible. Please go read it and then come tell me how much you love Murderbot's new friends!
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[personal profile] renay
Sherlock Holmes.


Except set in a far-future society where traumatized sentient spaceships can be down on their luck brewers of SPACE TEA that helps humans function in deep space.

I was sold immediately and I assume many others would be, as well, so I am here to spread the gospel of Aliette de Bodard's latest story in her Xuya universe.

Featuring: aforementioned sentient spaceship, The Shadow's Child. Also Long Chau, a caustic customer on the search for a tea that will help her on a job. The job quickly turns into a murder case and The Shadow's Child is tugged into Long Chau's adventures—and a hunt for her mysterious and troubling past.

Subterranean Press did a gorgeous hardcover edition, but there's also an ebook edition that's more reasonable for those of us who aren't collectors and can't drop $40 on a novella (even though we might want to, sob). There will be editions for the rest of the world, too, I have read! Don't worry, eventually everyone should be able to get on this excellent ship that is Xuya and read this super neat novella.

Because this is a novella, to talk too much about the plot is to spoil the experience of the characters and their circumstances. If you've read any Xuya stories, you'll be fine. If you haven't, there are some recs here, as well as some background on the world. Unlike a novel series that gives you all the background, the Xuya universe is built on unrelated but connected short pieces that assume the Chinese found the Americas first. It's alternate future made by creating an alternate history framework and it's fascinating and lovely. I also don't think entering the universe here is a bad choice; it's self-contained and not too hard to follow if you read it as a standalone piece.

(If you're like me, you will not treat it as a standalone piece for long, because you will swallow all other Xuya stories ASAP.)

The Shadow's Child carries us through the story on her perspective as Long Chau turns her whole life upside down. It definitely feels like a Sherlock Holmes remix, but in the best way that deepens the characters in thoughtful ways without an over-reliance of inspiration material. This feels like an Aliette de Bodard story even with the added element of being a remix. Plus, as much as the plot-related mystery is intriguing, more so is the mystery of how these two individuals will resolve their differences to come together as allies. It's an excellent character piece.

If you want a great story about two very different people—a curt SPACE DETECTIVE and a traumatized SPACESHIP—working together and coming to trust each other despite their pasts and personalities, I highly recommend this novella (and the Xuya universe as a whole, as well).

I give this 14 cups of (in this case, delicious and not mind-altering) space tea.
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[personal profile] renay
Portal fantasies feel like a staple of childhood. I missed most of the literary ones. I loved In Other Lands, but as much as it is a portal fantasy it's also a critique of them, a loving celebration and deconstruction of their tropes and politics, and I probably missed 95% of everything this book does. Does it do what it set out to do well? Yes, says the portal fantasy newbie, whose experience with portal fantasy as a Youngster comes in the form of the following:

  • Through the Ice by Piers Anthony and Robert Kornwise
  • Labyrinth, starring David Bowie
  • The Neverending Story; too bad about those racial politics
  • Cool World starring Brad Pitt, which I watched when too young
  • Space Jam, the best sports movie after Cool Runnings

I understand if people, looking at this list, take my opinions about In Other Lands with a grain of salt. Because I missed Narnia until my 20s and quit after two books, only cared about Alice in Wonderland because of the weird poems until my 30s (I still have poem about The Jabberwocky memorized) and only watched my favorite portal fantasy ever, Spirited Away, after I came to college.

In Other Lands drew me in because I recognized so much of myself in the main character, Elliot. He's rude, cruel, and casually degrading to everyone around him except one of his best friends, Serene. His other "best friend" is Luke Sunborn, who is what passes as a popular kid in the Borderlands. They clash over and over, but because Serene and Luke are close, Elliot has to put up with Luke, too. Elliot is so emotionally maladapted due to parental neglect and societal bullying that his main mode of operation is to strike first in every situation with the most cutting words possible. In Other Lands is his journey as he slowly begins to acquire some emotional intelligence. It felt so close to my own journey that I started to wonder if Brennan secretly visited my former classmates and did interviews about their experiences that she later turned into dialogue for Elliot.

There's burgeoning war, politics, identity crises, romances of youth, a brutal look at the price of parental apathy, and yes, mermaids. If you love portal fantasy, I rec it cautiously as a portal fantasy novice. If you love sarcastic asshole main characters who slowly learn to be good, I enthusiastically rec it. And if you've been wanting some bisexual rep in your portal fantasy, here's an excellent place to start.

I give it ten golden harpy feathers.
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[personal profile] renay
Good job on surviving January, friends. That sure was a long year.

FACT: I was convinced that I wouldn't read anything because I kept falling asleep when I tried to do anything mentally taxing. Luckily, once I hit the middle of January I was feeling much better (constant naps are restorative, I suppose) and I started reading and flying through books with no problem. I'm so relieved. ;__; Depression is the WORST. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
Coming to The Bone Witch, an elaborate piece of YA epic fantasy, without having read any fantasy for quite some time, was refreshing. This take on the magical-girl-goes-big-time fantasy is pulling from non-North American cultures to flesh out the world and characters, which is sorely needed in fantasy, but there's plenty to find familiar. (Monarchies aren't extinct, don't worry.) The food the characters eat; their clothes and the industry behind those clothes; and the rules of court they have to follow were all excellent touches. It reminded me so much of the thoughtful, nuanced world building of Kate Elliott's fantasy that there was no way I wasn't going to fall hard for it. Someone get Rin Chupeco an adult fantasy trilogy and the word count to go with it so I can jam it all into my brain. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
At the beginning of 2017, I worried I would struggle with reading given that it was primed to be a trash fire year. Well, the last 12 months exceeded my expectations, but it turns out reading became a place I went to escape. In some ways this was good! In others, it was not so good, but I'll come back to that. First: let's talk about all the books I liked!

favorite books! )

review 2017 reading goals )

reading goals for 2018 )
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[personal profile] renay
Last month I decided to read a bunch of the graphic novels I had been collecting. I didn't read all of them, but I did make some headway! Read more... )

My 2017 reading goals so far:
  • Read 110 items
  • Read 30 new women writers — 21/30
  • Read 10 nonfiction titles
  • Space Opera Challenge: read 15 titles — 5/15
  • Read 10 books I own purchased before January 1, 2017 — 2/10
  • Read 5% of my anticipated 2017 titles — 10/56
  • Read some graphic novels — 6/16

September Reading Goals

Now that my main reading goal is finished, I'm focusing on the other goals I have perhaps ignored a little too much. Like the goal that tells me to READ THE BOOKS I HAVE IN MY HOUSE STOP GOING TO THE LIBRARY BUYING BOOKS BORROWING FRIENDS BOOKS LOOKING AT REC LISTS FOR NEW BOOKS. I have a problem, but everyone who reads this has the same problem and can't help. Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
cover for Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live

Fiction has been a place of solace for me this year, but in the last two months I haven't had much energy for it. But at my darkest points or times when I feel the worst, I will pick up something that gives me a boost, that makes me think more deeply and snaps me out of a funk, or is just so charming and has just the right tone that it leaves me feeling like I can keep pushing on through the misery of 2017. The most recent story to provide that for me is "Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live" by Sacha Lamb. Read more... )


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