Tag Archives: readinglist

Review: Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Universe

I’ve already reviewed The Tea Master And The Detective, which I really enjoyed, and it definitely put these two novellas on my reading list! All three are set in the same universe and while they’re not linked, some characters do weave in and out.

Also, incidentally, a really interesting thread from Aliette on the background!

I also want a novel in this universe pls. Or a series of novels. Moar writing anyway!

On A Red Station, Drifting

On a red station, drifting coverFor generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the station’s artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives.

But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prosper’s brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the station’s resources. As deprivations cause the station’s ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe. What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance…

I absolutely adore the worldbuilding for these books. I love the idea that your ancestors stay with you, ghosts who can advise; also the mind ships and space stations, minds housed within perfectly formed structures built for them to control – except that sometimes, they fail…

And this novella is about one that is failing, in the midst of the confusions of a war and refugees arriving and political chaos; and because the station looks after her descendants, she’s a member of the family. She’s a mind that’s always been there – particularly for Station Mistress Quyen, who dreads the silence and loneliness. But Quyen has other tensions; her family is fracturing, and when a former magistrate arrives claiming sanctuary, the problem of what to do with someone from a different social league and with different views adds to the tensions.

I adore the writing and the characters in Red Station; the sly jabs and bare-faced insults in poetry form, or said by what is not said, or saying the wrong or right thing – almost a battle of blades and swords except done at every social interaction. The different views on the war, the running of a space station, all bleed into every phrase – and then the way everything comes together at the ending is lovely, and heart-breaking.

This isn’t a heavy read, despite the tensions and the background; it’s about the characters and their interactions, their choices, and de Bodard writes with a light touch despite the darker themes.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls

citadel of weeping pearls cover

Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.

But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel’s power.

But the Citadel’s disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences…

This is a quieter story than Red Station – or more personal. War has come to the Empire, and the Citadel of Weeping Pearls may provide a weapon that enables the Empire to fight back…but the Citadel vanished many years ago. And finding it may prove more problematic than expected…

I love the way the personal relationships dominate this story; both of the main threads want to find the Citadel for their own personal reasons, even though it’s a scientific challenge and a military necessity respectively; one protagonist has lost her mother, the other her daughter. And it’s these tugs that pull the story onwards; never dramatic and always told with a light hand, but with some thoughtful threads and wonderful worldbuilding wound in. I liked the ending of this, too – no spoilers, but just to say that I liked that everything wasn’t neatly tied into a solution.

Together, all three novellas make a lovely collection that expands the universe every time you read them – and I sincerely hope there will be more in the same universe to come!

Review: Moonshine

Moonshine by Jasmine Gower

In the flourishing metropolis of Soot City (a warped version of 1920s Chicago), progressive ideals reign and the old ways of magic and liquid mana are forbidden. Daisy Dell is a Modern Girl – stylish, educated and independent – keen to establish herself in the city but reluctant to give up the taboo magic inherited from her grandmother.

Her new job takes her to unexpected places, and she gets more attention than she had hoped for. When bounty hunters start combing the city for magicians, Daisy must decide whether to stay with her new employer – even if it means revealing the grim source of her occult powers.

Very nicely captures the 1920s air; the new women wanting to work, going out drinking and dancing, playing games and cards – and drinking is a taboo pleasure found in underground bars.

And when Daisy’s new employer turns out to be a bootleg creator of mana, everything gets that little bit more complicated…

The political and social aspects of the city are woven together very nicely, and the everyday working lives and party lifestyles of the characters contrast well; Daisy’s small flat and I-bought-this-in-a-charity-bin dress don’t matter when she’s partying with the smart set, gambling and drinking. She’s a fun heroine; resourceful, smart, a new girl making her own way – and someone with their own secrets to hide; secrets that end up holding a rather more deadly secret of their own making. The simple administrative job ends up catching everyone around her in a web involving gambling, secrets, faeries, assassins – and murder.

Moonshine didn’t catch my imagination as I’d hoped it would; it’s well written and captures the world nicely, but my overwhelming feel for the book is of character tangles rather than the Roaring Twenties, which is a shame. The characters are nicely rounded and there’s some fun moments, and the plot rattles along with some interesting bumps. I’m hoping there will be a second in the series – it would be nice to see some of the wider world and more of the effects of the discoveries from the first book, if they do end up echoing out at all.

So, a nice concept and well-written, but not one that grabbed my imagination.

The Book Pile: June 2018

Saga vol 1 coverSo I got my hands on Saga Volume 1 a little while back, during an ill-advised trip to Inky Fingers in Oxford (aka. I spent too much money and have been avoiding it since lest I spend more money) and I picked up several things that have been on my list for a while! Saga was one; the second was Lumberjanes, although I picked up Volume 2 on recommendation as apparently it can be read out of order.lumberjanes vol 2 cover

I’ve also been reading the new coloured Halo Jones, which is futuristic and female-centred and fab, and I’m working my way through the Anderson stories – I get to read Dreddverse novellas for work, so I think that counts as a win too!

In text-based series, I’ve been loving Ghost Girls on Wattpad – it’s by my friend Kat and I’ve read a version of the story previously (although I don’t think I read the ending…or if I did, I can’t remember what happened) and it’s just the most adorably sweet story.

Ginny finds the most perfect little flat, just far enough away from her university campus that she shouldn't be bothered by noise and parties any more. The only catch? Yukiko already lives there.

A cute and quirky, own voice, lesbian romance about a girl and the ghost she falls in love with.

In novels, besides the multiples at work that I’m reading, I’m just finishing Moonshine by Jasmine Gower and I have Jen William’s The Ninth Rain to read next, followed by Lucy Hounson’s Starborn…and then the rest of my TBR, of course. And people keep recommending books to me! *flails*

But hey, the problems of a bookworm life!

Book to Read: Anachronism

Anachronism front cover

I am so glad that Anachronism by Jennifer Lee Rossman is now out, because now I can squeak about it!

It’s the same old story: Time traveler meets girl, time traveler tells girl she’s the future president, time traveler and girl go on a road trip to prevent a war…

Petra Vincent is at the end of her rope – or rather, the edge of a bridge. Her world is falling apart around her and she sees no way out of the meaningless existence the future has in store. But when stranded time traveler Moses Morgan tells her that she will one day
lead the country out of the rubble of a nuclear civil war as President of the United States, she’s intrigued – and when another time traveler starts trying to pre-emptively assassinate her, she realizes Moses might be telling the truth…

Anachronism is a time-traveling, adventure-filled novella with a whole bagful of danger, twists, and snarky banter.

I think my favourite line is, “mad as a bag of snakes and half as likely to accomplish anything,” closely followed by “having a house full of ferrets was perhaps the only thing worse than having a house full of cats,” and a close-runner up with, “I order you to leave me the hell alone, or I swear to God, I will veto your brain from your skull.”

I may have slush-read it and formatted it, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it every time – I may have been quoting bits and giggling to myself every time I read it (and I think I’m on about seven reads now…) and the twist at the end is so good – but then the whole thing is excellent!

In short, I adore it; and you should buy it, read it and enjoy it with me!

Review: Artificial Condition

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells – book 2 of The Murderbot Diaries

It has a dark past—one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

My review of All Systems Red (Book 1) is here; this has possible spoilers if you haven’t read the first, although nothing major.

Artificial Condition continues the story on from where All Systems Red left off – it doesn’t really spoil the first one to say that the Murderbot leaves to continue its search for its past, as the fun in the first book is the ongoing chaos that gets it to the end! So while it’s the same universe and there’s an ongoing storyline worked in, Murderbot is now heading to find out more about its own past – and, on the way, taking on another job that involves dealing with humans. And those humans tend to pry into things that Murderbot would rather they didn’t, and get themselves into trouble that Murderbot then has to fix.

I liked that the extra mystery plot is wound around the original discovery thread; Murderbot does want to find out about its past, but also gets involved in other things – and meets more people. Murderbot definitely becomes more human (not that they’re very happy about that development) and makes some friends. I absolutely adore ART, the transport ship that Murderbot ships out on: it’s sarcastic in a “I’m smarter than everyone else and I already worked out the answer” way, and I love the developing relationship between the two of them. Also, I love that ART needs someone to watch TV with! Some of the moments are just adorable.

The book feels too short, but in an “I want more!” rather than an “unfinished story” way ; there’s plenty of mysteries left for the next two books, and I’m really looking forward to them. I’d also love a longer piece with Murderbot involved, but then hopefully the four-novella series will fit that desire perfectly!

So – a good continuation of the first Murderbot book, and enough mysteries left to tug me onwards into the rest of the series; plus, extra sarcasm from ART as well as Murderbot! What’s not to love?