renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[personal profile] renay
This summer I read one of the most charming romance novels...and then promptly took a job on a congressional campaign and ceased writing anything about books unless I was also being paid. Whoops! But I wanted to go come back now that everything has calmed down and rec this book, because I loved it so much.

The Kiss Quotient was perfect for me because it had a) fake dating, b) sex being awkward and not necessarily something you're automatically good at like some sort of Sex Wizard, c) characters with complicated problems and lives independent of each other that inform the romance itself.

I've been thinking about The Kiss Quotient all year because it was exactly what I needed when I read it—something realistic but ultimately happy. Stella, who has Asperger's, is a wonderful main character and I loved her and rooted for her so hard. When she finally realizes that she's awesome it was GREAT. The whole premise is her interpreting the pressure from her family to settle down and have kids in the most rational way possible: she has no clue how to date, so she clearly needs an expert to learn from. Cue hiring an escort to teach her to bang. He teaches her to bang and then (OBVIOUSLY) they fall in love. There's family drama and miscommunication that feels authentic to the characters instead of forced (although it may depend on how much romance you read), with lots of chewy backstory for Michael.

I really like reading books containing my favorite tropes and will pick up any book with them (FAKE DATING) and give it a shot, but I really appreciated how much Stella's personality and perspective on the world changed the trope to make it feel polished up and brand new. I'm super excited to read more by Helen Hoang, and we get to in 2019 because The Bride Test is out and I'm HERE for it.
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[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!
spindizzy: (Well when you say it like THAT it sounds)
[personal profile] spindizzy
Cover of Hawkeye Volume One


Mates, everyone has been telling me that Matt Fraction's Hawkeye is the best intro to Human Disaster Hawkeye and Awesome Hawkeye that I'm going to get, and they are exactly right. In this book, Clint Barton: acquires a pizza dog called Lucky, takes on a tracksuit mafia, becomes a landlord, ruins minimum two of his relationships, and is very upfront that Kate Bishop is his favourite Hawkeye. It's delightful.

(Bonus: now I know why everyone has been laughing so hard at the existence of Only Sane Man Hawkeye in the movies.)

Read more... )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
Book cover of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee


Ninefox Gambit is a novel built from numbers. Big numbers. Deep space equations.

If, like me, your last encounter with serious maths was in the 90s then Ninefox Gambit may seem a daunting prospect. Stick with it — all those chains of calculation lead to some exciting places. A fortress of impenetrable ice. A spaceship helmed by an undead General. A world in need of change, revenge and justice. Forget those Statistics textbooks you used to doodle in. This is science fictional maths where there's space travel and explosions for everyone!

Read more... )
spindizzy: (Now it sounds stupid)
[personal profile] spindizzy
The cover of The Assignment; two shirtless men whose faces are not visible.


Detective Nicholas Valenti, tall, dark and stoic, has been best friends with his partner, Sean O'Brian for six years. The two men have seen each other through divorce, disaster and danger and saved each other's asses more times than Valenti can count. Exactly when he started seeing his blond, intense partner in another light Valenti isn't really sure. He only knows that he wants O'Brian in a way that has nothing to do with friendship and everything to do with possession. It is a desire that he will have to hide forever because O'Brian is undeniably straight.

Just as Valenti is coming to grips with his new, unacceptable feelings for his partner, their police Captain puts them on a new case that could blow Valenti's cover once and for all. He and O'Brian are going undercover at the country's largest and most infamous gay resort to bust a notorious drug lord and stop the shipments of poison cocaine that are flooding the gay bars all over the city.

Now Valenti will have to make a choice between friendship and desire. He and O'Brian will play the roles of gay men that will push the limits of their relationship to the breaking point. Will their time at the RamJack forge a new bond between them or destroy their partnership forever?


Guys. Guys.

What the fuck did I just read?!

NSFW quotes and screaming behind the cut! )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
White, yellow and red book cover of Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution featuring an illustration of a llama


It's the start of July. I am trying to review Kameron Hurley's essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution. In my wisdom, I have decided an analysis of her essay, "I'll Make The Pancakes: On Opting In And Out of the Writing Game", would make a great entry point for my review. I reread it to remind myself of the piece's fundamental points:

The more women writers I read, from Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Toni Morrison, the less alone I felt, and the more I began to see myself as part of something more.

It wasn't about one woman toiling against the universe. It was about all of us moving together, crying out into some black, inhospitable place that we would not be quiet, we would not go silently, we would not stop speaking, we would not give in.


It's hard to see the keyboard when you're trying not to cry.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] bookgazing


Black Wolves is the first book in a new epic fantasy trilogy set in lands of The Hundred, the same world that features in Kate Elliott's Crossroads trilogy. When the book opens, Captain Kellas, the man who long ago illegally climbed to the top of the impenetrable Law Rock without a rope, is hunting for a traitor among King Anjihosh's elite Black Wolves. Successful in his hunt, Kellas is summoned to eat with the royal family and from there becomes embroiled in palace life after the young Prince Atani disappears. Following Atani, Kellas is reintroduced to a beautiful woman he met briefly long ago. Turns out, she has mysterious connections to the palace. This meeting will change the course of his life, and potentially the lives of everyone in The Hundred, as it reveals long hidden secrets about the royal family.

Then, after 87 pages, Black Wolves abruptly skips ahead 44 years. Take a moment to digest the measure of Kate Elliott's mettle. She spends 87 pages settling the reader into her story; establishing the reader's connection to Captain Kellas, and encouraging readers to care about a particular cast of characters. In those 87 pages, she also re-establishes the connection fans of the Crossroads series had with Anji and Mai. Then she pulls the rug out from under everyone's feet by jumping 44 years into the future. In the process, she changes not just the time period of her novel but the makeup of the book's world. In that 44 year gap, which takes place in the blink of an eye for the reader, The Hundred undergoes extreme changes. Two main characters die. And, when the story begins again, it is told from an entirely new point of view; following the life of a (now grown) character the reader briefly met as a young adult in those early 87 pages. Captain Kellas doesn't become the centre of the narrative focus again until page 257. Allow me to express my admiration for Elliott's moxy.

Read more... )
spindizzy: A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic style portrait of me. (Lady Business)
[personal profile] spindizzy
Cover of Beyond Eyes; a little girl walks into a woods.


Beyond Eyes is about a little girl, Rae, who is blind, as she goes looking for her missing cat. I wasn't sure what to expect from it, as it was something I picked up in the Steam Sale for cheap, but I'm still not sure how to feel about it even after I've finished it.

Cut! )
justira: A purple, gender-ambiguous unicorn pony in the style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (lady business)
[personal profile] justira
 photo cover_planetfall_zpsl8doeyuf.jpg

From the award-nominated author Emma Newman, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing...

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony's 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart...


This review is split into two parts: the spoiler-free and the hella spoilery, because this is one of those books that's hard to talk about without ruining some or all of the experience. And Emma Newman's Planetfall is an experience I highly recommend, so if you're not sure about it, read the first half of this review and perhaps that will convince you. Afterwards, come back and talk about anxiety with me!

I mention anxiety because it is a central theme of the novel. No, that is not enough. Anxiety is more than a theme, it is the immersive medium of the novel. Renata Ghali, or Ren, is the 3D printer engineer for a colony on an alien world. When her love, if not her lover (the text is never clear on this), Lee Suh-Mi comes out of a mysterious coma with visions of humanity's destiny on an alien world, Ren and roughly 1,000 colonists follow her to the stars. One of the first things I want you to know about this book is that it stars a 70-year old biracial bisexual woman. That alone is worth remarking on. But beyond that the book is a fascinating exploration of the spaces between community and privacy, religion and science, and, yes, anxiety and ritual.

Spoiler-free review )

Unlocking the mysteries behind the anxieties is the driving force behind Planetfall, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable process.

And now, to SPOILERS

Spoilers beyond this point! )
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[personal profile] renay
No one is more surprised than me that I am back on board the Agents of SHIELD train for Season 3. But the second half of Season 2 managed to be fairly compelling television even though I was furious about the midseason finale. There was a narrative that we don't often see between mothers and daughters and the fracturing of Coulson's iron grip on what SHIELD will become in the future. I'm still on Team "Burn it Down" Rogers, but unfortunately it seems like the MCU as a whole has decided that what we should take away from The Winter Soldier isn't caution, but instead a deference to people with powers and skills, because they know best how to deal with large scale alien or super powered threats. The reborn SHIELD seems to be picking up all the same old bad habits, leaving the whole world vulnerable to the impending struggle to fill that power vacuum and claim control. Anyway, politics are complicated and I made a C in Civics, so I'm not too qualified to talk on that point. I'm just here for the feelings. Read more... )

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