Wednesday
Oct172018

The Fated Sky

So, it's hard to say much at all about this book without spoiling The Calculating Stars so I won't. If you liked the first you'll love the second.

The things I had issues with in the first book didn't go away for this one. The social issues that serve as antagonist were personified in Stetson Parker, first man in space. So it was interesting to see him get a bit of a redemption arc (though I never felt bad for him) while the social issues never really went anywhere. They were overcome to a point, but yeah... racists gonna racist.

The book was fun and infuriating and heartbreaking in equal measure, but it ends on a uplifting note. I had a lot of questions about some of the characters from the first book who weren't really in the second, but it looks like Mary will be writing more in the series, so I look forward to that.

Both books are really good. Mary's research is so extensive and it shows (and only rarely does it show a little too much). So go check out Calculating Stars, and if you like it, this one won't disappoint.

Monday
Oct152018

The Calculating Stars

This is alternate history sci-fi, taking place in the 50s and giving a whole new meaning to the space race after a meteor strikes the Earth in a possible extinction-level event. Instead of reaching the moon, the ultimate goal is Mars and space colonization due to fears that the Earth will very soon be uninhabitable.

And since it's the 50s and the main character, Dr. Elma York, is both a woman and an extremely gifted mathematician, sexism and racism are front and centre. While the meteor serves as a catalyst, these two social issues are the real villain throughout the book.

Elma's is a former WASP and her husband is the lead engineer working to get humans into space and give them all a future before Earth becomes inhospitable. Elma takes work as a computer with the IAC and strives to convince the men in charge that women belong on the astronaut teams.

But in addition to fighting the racism and sexism of the day, Elma has to overcome her crippling social anxiety. There are plenty of bumps and hiccups along the way.

There was a lot of cool space/rocket science stuff in this book, and Mary did some really excellent and extensive research in preparation for writing this, and that was easily one of my favourite things about it (even if some of the jargon got to be a little much). At first I didn't think I liked this book because all the ingrained racism and sexism was driving me absolutely crazy. But the end has a good pay-off to make up for that. Also, lots of hilarious rocket-related sexual innuendo. Hee!

While on the surface, this is a book about surviving an extinction even on Earth, it's really about social justice and friendships. It's a slower burn than I usually read but that doesn't mean it's boring. Highly recommend!

Wednesday
Oct032018

Furyborn

I really loved the concept of this book, and overall it was pretty cool, but a lot of things just fell flat for me so I didn't love it the way I hoped I would. I didn't hate it either, it was just kind of meh.

This is the story of two queens separated by 1000 years but with a surprising (not really) way that their lives intersect. In this story, angels are the enemy and humans are waiting for the Sun Queen to save them from utter destruction.

While this book does some fun things to invert tropes, I found it was a bit of a mess in how it did so. And I didn't care a whole lot for any of the characters. Both MCs were well portrayed, fully actualized characters, I just didn't connect with either of them. And Simon's character was just a hot mess. Nothing he did made a single lick of sense if I put any thought into it at all.

I just felt like the author was constantly trying to shoehorn in sexual tension with mixed results. And then there's the way the book just sort of... stops. I know that this is part of a trilogy and expected a lot of things to be left open, but there was no proper "end" all the same.

Anyway, having two lady MCs who kick a lot of ass plus some really cool world-building with a fun magic system makes this book worth reading despite the issues. I'll likely pick up the next book, Kingsbane, when it comes out.

Monday
Oct012018

Exit Strategy

It's impossible for me to talk about the Murderbot diaries without gushing so you're just going to have to bear with me because I just love this series so damn much! The final novella is no exception. If you haven't read All Systems Red, then pop over to my review of it and then maybe grab a copy. The series is a little dark and brutal, but also delightfully snarky and fun.

So Murderbot has been drifting through the galaxy, collecting adventures and trying to figure out just what it wants out of life. It has faced down its murderous past and started looking at ways to take down GrayCris, the corporate political entity whose murderous greed kicked off the series to begin with.

And after returning from its last adventure, Murderbot discovers that its mostly-owner and probably-friend Dr. Mensah is missing and probably in trouble. It could be nothing, it could be a trap, and Murderbot kind of just wants to hide out in a hotel and watch TV because it's having way too many feelings about all of this.

But it goes after Dr. Mensah, intending to save her and bring down GrayCris for good. It finds other members of its original team and starts plotting with them. Hilarity and chaos ensue. The ending is so good it made me laugh AND cry, at the same time.

Murderbot stories always make my black little heart grow three sizes and something about this particular book filled me with hope when I desperately needed it on this dark and stupid timeline. One of the best things about the series is that it's a novella series. These stories are snack sized. Like candy for your soul.

There's a full length Murderbot novel coming out in a couple of years and I'm super excited for it. But this final book in the novella series closes enough doors to be satisfying, but leaves enough open that I wish the novel was out already. So I highly recommend the entire series.

Monday
Sep172018

Space Unicorn Blues

I'm back from a month+ hiatus which included my first trip to WorldCon (which was cool and wherein I bumped into this novel's author, who is delightful) to tell you that you need to read this book. Everything you need to know is in the title, really. But I will try to expand upon the awesomeness that is Space Unicorn Blues.

There are a lot of things that I loved about this book. For starters, it's about a frickin space unicorn. Okay, Gary, the MC is part unicorn. But that somehow makes it even better. Everything about this book is zany. Magical creatures from mythology, referred to as Bala, are in fact real and just (often magical) aliens from other planets. And when humans reach out to the stars after destroying Earth, they make contact. And then war.

Because humans are kind of garbage. *looks at news* Yep, we're kind of garbage. One of the smart things I loved about this book is the way the author spells it out. She uses her zany world-building to magnify the garbage things we do. The lone white guy in the book is also the worst piece of shit bigot and I hate him so much. Poster boy for white mediocrity and failing up.

Anyway, there's a redemption arc in here, just not for the garbage white dude. And it takes the entire story for the mystery of Gary's "victim" to come full circle, but you'll hate garbage white dude even more when you get to it.

And while this story is a lot darker than I generally like to read, the utter insanity of the world-building and the total ass-kickingness of the two female leads -- disabled war vet, Jenny Parata, and con artist transwoman, Ricky Tang -- make it fun despite the darkness. There is some magnificent snark and banter to be found in these pages.

I could have done without all the times the bad guys misgendered Ricky, but this book had so much to say about diversity. I loved how Jenny's disability was portrayed. And it was also refreshing that sexual violence never came in to play. That's one of the many reasons my reading preference is shifting away from male authors.

And the book even offers a glimmer of hope that humans and the Bala maybe don't have to constantly be at war. The sequel comes out in the spring and I've already pre-ordered it. This has got a zany but brutal Kameron Hurley feel to it that I love.