Short Story Review – Runtime by RoAnna Sylver

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So, I’m currently participating in the #AceBookClub on Twitter and our first book was Chameleon Moon which I absolutely adored and after devouring it, I just had to read more about Parole and the characters that I’d grown to love.

This is a short story focusing on Regan, one of the main characters in Chameleon Moon. It’s set just before the events in Chameleon Moon and give you an excellent background to the events in the beginning of the book and lets you see what some of the other characters are up to. As somebody who had already read Chameleon Moon, I absolutely adored it for the added look at characters I loved (especially Kari, I can never have too much of her!) and for some interesting insight into Regan’s past. The world-building is just as fantastic in this story and I really enjoyed the additional look at some of the characters and of the world in general. The story can also serve as an excellent introduction to the world of Parole as, being a prequel, there are no spoilers for the first book. Indeed, reading it first will even help explain a couple things in Chameleon Moon.

I would definitely recommend this short story, both to fans of Chameleon Moon and to those who haven’t read it before as an excellent introduction to a fantastic world. I would also highly recommend #AceBookClub because if this is the quality of the books they pick, I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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8 Sci-Fi Books featuring Muslim characters to add to your TBR list!

There’s been a lot on Twitter recently about #MuslimShelfSpace and one genre I’ve not seen mentioned much is that of Sci-Fi, so I present to you a list of Sci-Fi stories featuring Muslim characters to add to your to-read list.

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ISTANBUL: QUEEN OF CITIES. Here histories, empires, and continents meet and cross. It is the mid-twenty first century and Turkey is a proud and powerful member of a European Union that runs from the Atlantic to Mt. Ararat.

In the sleepy Istanbul district of Eskiköy stands the former whirling dervish house of Adem Dede. Six characters’ lives revolve around it.

Over the space of five days of an Istanbul heat wave, these lives weave a story of corporate wheeling and dealing, Islamic mysticism, political and economic intrigues, ancient Ottoman mysteries, a terrifying new terrorist threat, and a nanotechnology with the potential to transform every human on the planet.

 

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In medieval Baghdad, a penniless man is brought before the most powerful man in the world, the caliph himself, to tell his story. It begins with a walk in the bazaar, but soon grows into a tale unlike any other told in the caliph’s empire. It’s a story that includes not just buried treasure and a band of thieves, but also men haunted by their past and others trapped by their future; it includes not just a beloved wife and a veiled seductress, but also long journeys taken by caravan and even longer ones taken with a single step. Above all, it’s a story about recognizing the will of Allah and accepting it, no matter what form it takes.

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In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground.

When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.

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In a decadent world of cheap pleasures and easy death, Marid Audrian has kept his independence the hard way. Still, like everything else in the Budayeen, he’s available…for a price.
For a new kind of killer roams the streets of the Arab ghetto, a madman whose bootlegged personality cartridges range from a sinister James Bond to a sadistic disemboweler named Khan. And Marid Audrian has been made an offer he can’t refuse.

The 200-year-old “godfather” of the Budayeen’s underworld has enlisted Marid as his instrument of vengeance. But first Marid must undergo the most sophisticated of surgical implants before he dares to confront a killer who carries the power of every psychopath since the beginning of time.

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Four centuries after humanity has colonized the galaxy, information freight companies are used as an alternative to electronic communication. On one of her frequent trips into deep space, Katmer Al-Shei, owner of one of the smaller information companies, is accused of smuggling artificial intelligence. When Al-Shei tries to clear her name, she uncovers conspiracy after conspiracy, all set against the backdrop of a looming war.

 

 

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Written for the discerning science fiction reader, the book races from the creation to apocalypse and from the ordinary to utter insanity, while the fire smoldering between the words may indeed set preconceptions alight. He who doesn’t lose himself doesn’t understand or he who understands loses himself. Translated seamlessly by English writer and translator Feyza Howell.

 

 

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HWJN is the #1 selling Arabic book in Saudi, it is a mix between fantasy, SciFi and romance. While most people get excited about legends of spirits and genies (Jinn) and pass it on as the listen to it with awe and horror (after adding their own spices to it); here comes Hawjan. The young Jinni who is in his early nineties to redefine our understanding of the Jinn world that resembles ours in so many ways, still it is a parallel dimension to ours. He shares his tale so that we can live it through a “human” perspective regardless of the differences between our two worlds.

 

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How would the world look like if major historical events in the Islamic world played out differently? How would technology develop?
#Yaqteenya is an alternate history novel that explores those questions from an Middle Eastern point of view, in a setting that is part SciFi and part fantasy.

Yaqteenya is facing its first civil war, To save it from it self, Al-Baz needs to break its #1 law and leave Yaqteenay to find answers about the truth that the rulers of the land.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are there any books I missed out that you think should be included? Let me know!

All the descriptions and cover images are taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the cover image will bring you to the relevant Goodreads page.

Must-Read Sci-Fi/Fantasy Short Story Collections! Part 1

Welcome to my first recommendation post! I plan on making one of these every month to feature some books I’ve really enjoyed reading. I’ll only be featuring books that I have personally read however I may also make posts highlighting books on my “to-read” list too if there’s enough demand.

I have split these recommendations into two posts. This one will focus on collections by a single author while part two will focus on collections by a range of authors.Anyway, without further ado here are some of my top recommendations for Sci-Fi/Fantasy short story collections.

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Joan Aiken’s short stories of the gothic, the uncanny, and the unexpected have captivated readers for fifty years. They’re funny, smartly observed, and occasionally very, very scary. The nineteen stories collected here for the first time include two previously published under the pseudonym Nicholas Dee as well as six stories never before published. There are also two introductions: one by Aiken herself, and the other by Lizza Aiken, her daughter.

 

 

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Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future–a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.
Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world–all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov’s trademark.

 

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Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story-a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane-Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year-stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

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Boiling up a unique brew of fairytale, fantasy, horror, myth and mischief, Kelly Link creates a world like no other, where ghosts of girlfriends past rub up against Scrabble-loving grandmothers with terrifying magic handbags, wizards sit alongside morbid babysitters, and we encounter a people-eating monster who claims to have a sense of humour.

 

 

 

 

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With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie. This mesmerizing collection features all of Ken’s award-winning and award-finalist stories, including: “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” (Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards), “Mono No Aware” (Hugo Award winner), “The Waves” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” (Nebula and Sturgeon award finalists), “All the Flavors” (Nebula award finalist), “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” (Nebula Award finalist), and the most awarded story in the genre’s history, “The Paper Menagerie” (The only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards).

 

 

10755520 A novella and thirteen short stories of brilliant diversity, from a master of literary fantasy.

Step into a London ravaged by unearthly creatures at once utterly alien and chillingly familiar. In China Miéville’s award-winning novella ‘The Tain’, we learn the reason for the invaders’ terrible revenge. One survivor must trek through the ruins of the city with a desperate plan to stand against their assault.

In addition to ‘The Tain’, this superb collection contains thirteen short stories, of visionary cityscapes and urban paranoia, ghosts, monsters and impossible diseases.

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Gathered together for the first time from a major publisher are the short stories of Adam Roberts. Unique twisted visions from the edges and the centre of the SF genres. Stories that carry Adam Roberts’ trademark elegance of style and restless enquiry of the genre he loves so much. Acclaimed stories, some that have appeared in magazines, some in anthologies, some appearing for the first time. Stories to make you think, to make you laugh, to make you wonder, to make you uneasy. Stories that ask questions, stories that sow mysteries. But always stories that entertain.

 

 

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Robert Sheckley was an eccentric master of the American  short story, and his tales, whether set in dystopic city­scapes, ultramodern advertising agencies, or aboard spaceships lighting out for hostile planets, are among the most startlingly original of the twentieth century. Today, as the new worlds, alternate universes, and synthetic pleasures Sheckley foretold become our reality, his vision begins to look less absurdist and more prophetic. This retrospective selection, chosen by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich, brings together the best of Sheckley’s deadpan farces, proving once again that he belongs beside such mordant critics of contemporary mores as Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and Thomas Pynchon.

 

 

All descriptions are from Goodreads, and each book cover links to the corresponding page on Goodreads.

Book Review -Tumbling by Caela Carter

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I picked this as the book for the first challenge of Book Riot’s read harder challenge “Read a book about Sports”. This was the category that put me off the challenge most, as I’m not a huge fan of sports and the idea of reading a novel about it put me off. But, I figured that was the whole point of the challenge! I used to do some gymnastics when I was younger and so decided that I’d pick a book focusing on that so at least it would be something I had some familiarity with.

This book focuses on the stories of five different Olympic hopefuls during the two days of the US Olympic Gymnastics trials as they all hope to be one of the five girls selected out of 12 contenders. Each girl has her own struggle – Grace’s whole life revolves around Gymnastics and she’s determined to be the best no matter what, Leigh loves gymnastics but is afraid that she is too big, Camille qualified for the previous Olympics but that dream was shattered due to a car accident and so she’s now hoping to make her comeback, Wilhemina was just a few days too young last time to compete and so she’s desperate to make it in this year and Monica is new and young and feels like she doesn’t belong.

Over the two days, the girls compete in their events while revealing more of their dreams and motivations. The focus is a lot less on the sport, and more on the girls themselves which is part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed watching each of them deal with their own personal struggles and the constant doubting on whether they were good enough. There was a lot of focus on their relationships – both with each other and with those in the “outside world” as they never knew if they could trust their fellow gymnasts or not. I was rooting for all five of them to make it, even though I knew some of them would fail. The ending in particular was excellent and I really enjoyed seeing who made it into the team and who didn’t, along with their reactions to that.

Despite thinking this was going to be the worst book of the challenge, I ended up really enjoying this and would definitely recommend it to fans of contemporary YA. It seems really well researched and has a useful glossary at the back of gymnastics terms for those that are unfamiliar with the sport.

#DiverseAThon 2017

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So, I’m taking part in the #DiverseAThon over on twitter that’s running for the rest of the week and I’m very excited about it. The most exciting thing is definitely going to be seeing all the wonderfully diverse books people are reading and I expect my tbr list is going to be significantly larger at the end of the week.

I’m very much a “mood reader” and dislike planning out what I’m going to read too much. If I have a huge list, that’s fine because something is bound to appeal but for this, I’ve decided to just pick three books that I’m really excited about reading and then the rest will be picked as I go.

So, the three books I’m definitely planning on reading are:

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Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

 

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Award-winning translator and author Ken Liu presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China. Some stories have won awards; some have been included in various ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies; some have been well reviewed by critics and readers; and some are simply Ken’s personal favorites. Many of the authors collected here (with the obvious exception of Liu Cixin) belong to the younger generation of ‘rising stars’.

 

 

 

 

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“A seamless blend of fantasy and Latinx culture, Labyrinth Lost feels both strikingly authentic and badly needed: in the overwhelming white world of YA literature, a cast of characters comprised almost entirely of people of color—combined with a fantasy world both inspired by a non-white culture and written by a member of that culture—is sure to change the lives of many teens who rarely see themselves reflected in the books they read. But there is another layer of importance to the novel, and that is Alex’s bisexuality. Presented matter-of-factly, without any cheesy plot twist attached, her bisexuality becomes visible but not defining, and the mere fact of its healthy portrayal makes it essential to a group of queer people long erased in mainstream media.” —Lambda Literary

 

A couple other books on my tbr list that I might get around to are Huntress by Malinda Lo, Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed and Beauty and Cruelty by Meredith Katz.

Book Review – Augustown by Kei Miller

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I picked this up from the library from their display of quick reads because the cover was just so striking. I’d briefly heard of it before and it was on my Goodreads to-read list and so I figured I would give it a shot, knowing almost nothing about it.

The book is set in the fictional area of Augustown in Kingston, Jamaica, which is based on a real area called August Town. It follows the story of a family and the events that occur after a young boy called Kaia comes home in tears, having had his dreadlocks cut off by his teacher. His great aunt, Ma Taffy, tells him a story of the flying preacherman to calm him down while they wait for his mother to return home. His mother Gina, or Miss G, works for the headmistress of the school and has her own secrets. The story is short, but delightfully written and I really connected with all the characters.

All the characters are very well developed, and even the ones I disliked (such as the teacher) were still well rounded and interesting to read about. The book jumps between the present day and the past with Ma Taffy’s story and is a delight to read. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the use of Jamaican Patois in the novel which really helped to immerse me in the atmosphere and it was very interesting to figure out what the words meant.

I adored this book and found the writing absolutely fantastic so not only do I highly recommend it, I’m also definitely adding the authors other books to my to-read list and I hope they will be just as wonderful.

Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge

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This is my first time taking part in the Book Riot challenge, but I decided that it would be an excellent way to really get me out of my comfort zone and read books I wouldn’t otherwise have chosen. Some in particular I’m really excited about,  and I’m looking forward to having fun finding books for each category!

The List:

  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  12. Read a fantasy novel.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (From Daniel José Older, author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, and YA novel Shadowshaper)
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten bestselling historical romance novels)
  21. Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Marvel’s World of Wakanda, and the forthcoming Hunger and Difficult Women)
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng, author Everything I Never Told You and the forthcoming Little Fires Everywhere)
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series, including The Unquiet Dead, The Language of Secrets, and the forthcoming Among the Ruins)
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension)

The Plan:

As there are 24 books, I plan on trying to read 2 books a month towards this challenge. I’m also going to make sure to write a review for each book in this challenge that I read so that it can help others find books for each category.

 

Book Review – The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

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I found out about this book on an excellent list of books with ace/aro characters on Two Book Thieves . I was immediately drawn to it just for the name alone and since it’s only a novella I felt I had plenty of time to fit it in amongst my other reads.

So, this book follows two characters – the first is Clara who is a skilled technician who works on “Raises” which are robotic AI companions in the shape of various animals. She moves around a lot, and the book starts with her moving to Seattle. While there, she visits The Cybernetic Tea Shop which is run by Sal, one of the few remaining humanoid robots. Robots were declared illegal years ago and Sal now has to cope with dwindling business and threats from groups who are against Robots. When Clara meets her, she has been running her tea shop for almost 300 years, in memory of the original owner. Clara then becomes a regular at the tea shop and a relationship begins to grow between the two of them.

I adore this novella. I love every single thing about it from the fantastic world-building to the excellent characters. If I was to try and find a complaint, it would be that it was too short and that I want even more! However even then, the story never felt rushed and felt very natural. The characters are very well developed and I adored the fact that it is an Asexual romance story. The “Raises” were one of my favourite parts of the world-building as I can definitely see that becoming a thing in the future as who wouldn’t want a cute AI pet?

Anyway, this is a novella that I strongly, strongly recommend. Unfortunately it’s only available in e-book format which is a pity as this is something I’d absolutely love to have on my shelf. However, that does mean that you can get it and start reading it straight away!

Mini Bloggiesta!

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So I’ve just found out about this and think it’s a fantastic idea! The idea is to create a to-do list and spend the weekend doing blog maintenance. As my blog is very new, it definitely needs a lot of work done and so this is the perfect way to do it!

The List:

  • Write at least two reviews
  • Finish blogging about the challenges I’m doing and update challenge posts
  • Write recommendation post I’m planning
  • Create my “About Me” page
  • Try and pick a good theme
  • Hopefully create a site banner (or get somebody to do it for me)  
  • Look through my old blog and see if there’s any material I can salvage for this one.
  • Participate in the Twitter chat and meet other Bloggers!
  • Add categories to all my posts

 

The Plan:

First off, the most important thing for me is to meet other Bloggers via the Twitter chat. I’m quite new to this and so the more blogs I can follow and read, the more I can learn!

Secondly, I have several reviews I’d like to write while the books are still fresh in my mind. I read a lot and so I know I can’t review everything so I also need to try and decide which books I want to review.

The about me page is something I’ve been putting off because I dislike writing about myself, but I know I don’t need to do too much and so if I at least have something there then that’ll be enough.

I’m planning on doing weekly “recommendations” posts and have picked my first theme but kept putting it off because there’s a book I think would be perfect for it that I haven’t read yet so I need to either read it, or just go ahead and make the post and do a separate “Book I haven’t read yet but want to” recommendation post.

The site theme and banner are very important as first impressions count, although I’m horrible at art and creating pretty things so I think I’m going to have to get help with that. For now though, I feel this is the least important as if I don’t have any content, I won’t have any visitors and so I can worry about making it look nice once I’ve got things to actually draw people to my site!

Book Review – The Memory Book by Lara Avery

 

This is not normally the type of book I’d have chosen to read, but I received it as an ARC and it sounded interesting enough so I thought I’d give it a read. I’m not a big fan of contemporary YA (If I read YA, it’s usually Sci-Fi/Fantasy) but this book just blew me away.

The main character, Sammie, has been diagnosed with Niemann Pick Type C which is a condition where she will slowly lose her memories. Because of this, she decides to keep a journal as a “Memory Book” so that she can read it to remember who she is.

The book takes the format of a diary in first person, and is very much what you’d expect the diary of a typical teenager to be like. She talks about being on the debate team, about her future plans for college and how she’s never been to a party. However, as the book goes on, you can see her condition slowly worsen starting with one-off instances where she forgets where she is then more severe instances. Some of these occur while she is writing her Memory Book and so you can see her confusion and struggles with the condition represented as they happen.

I really liked the characters in this book, they all seemed very well fleshed out and realistic. I don’t have a favourite as they were all so great. I was slightly disappointed that the book features a love triangle as they are one of the things I just really do not enjoy. However, I will admit that it was very well written and handled well. Finally, I was quite pleased that there were quite a few diverse characters. Sammie’s best friend, Maddie, is in a lesbian relationship with another character and one of her love interests, Stuart Shah is Indian-American.

I ended up giving this book 4 stars, since although I really enjoyed it, it just lacked that special something to give it five. I would definitely recommend it though but I suggest making sure you have tissues handy as it gets very emotional.