Book Review: Not Your Sidekick

81vl4z7n7il

4-star

Title: Not Your Sidekick

Author: C. B. Lee

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Goodreads

Book Depository // Booktopia


Do you remember Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson? That series where super powered humans emerge in a post-apocalyptic world, quickly dividing society into factions? Well, I have good news for those who enjoyed it – Not Your Sidekick gives you a similar premise, but filled with a whole lot more of diversity and heart. Although it dresses up in superhero capes and fun action – at its heart Not Your Sidekick is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever felt the yearning  to be a part of something more.
not-your-sidekicks

Comic book superheroes and supervillains gets a makeover in Not Yout Sidekick. Aside from action sequences and save-the-world type plotlines, we also get an introspective and character centred novel. While the book was extremely fun during its engaging action scenes and exposition, it shined brightest due to the lovable and diverse cast of characters. Alongside with saving the day, Jess and the crew also have to contend with romantic mixed signals, embarrassing siblings, and the difficulties of finding gainful employment without work experience. It’s comic superheroes at their most relatable.Read More »

Blog Tour: A Diabolically Good Playlist

diabolic_bloggerbanner_2

I am honoured to host the first stop in the Australian The Diabolic Blog Tour. Today, S. J. Kincaid will be sharing with us her Diabolically awesome playlist.  I love listening to music that inspired or aid the author in the creation of their book, it makes for such a visceral and immersive experience reading experience.

the-diabolic-15-09-16

Try- Pink

When I was conceiving Nemesis’s character, expanding on that girl I’d written only a single page about and wanted to know more, I was listening to this song and suddenly had this image of an immensely powerful, athletic woman charging down a hallway. That helped me figure out just what Nemesis would be, and what a Diabolic would be.

(Aentee’s notes: I love this song, it’s totally my summer anthem. The lines ‘Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame. Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned’ captures one of the pivotal relationships in this book so perfectly!)Read More »

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

294754474-star

Title: A Closed and Common Orbit

Author: Becky Chambers

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? Companion Novel to The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

Goodreads

Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Booktopia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Note: This review will contain spoilers for the prequel The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. Common Orbit can be read as a standalone, although you will be spoiled for part of Small Angry Planet’s ending.

I read Small Angry Planet earlier on this year and it catapulted into my all time favourite list, it’s a scifi bursting with heart and soul. Needless to say, I have been anticipating the release of Common Orbit ever since.

Companion novels are a mixed beast for me, although I love revisiting the world, I am always afraid I won’t love it as much as the original if the characters I grew to love are no longer around. My fears were quickly dispelled as Common Orbit prove to retain all the heart that made me love Small Angry Planet. It also stood on its own two feet as an excellent, thought provoking novel that examines the meaning of family and identity.

Common Orbit.png

Read More »

Recs: Diverse SFF Short Stories

Diverse SFF Short Stories

If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, you’ll notice that the community is abuzz with discussions on representation in fantasy. I can barely believe that it’s still up for debate. I am continually disappointed that while white and heteronormative narrative continues to dominate the genre, we still get people leaping to its defense when someone questions about the absence of diversity.

Somehow, there’s an idea that diverse fiction is a genre unto itself, that we should not demand to see ourselves reflected in popular fiction. In my mind, good fiction should be relatable and to some extent, it should accurately reflect the real world – even if it’s a fantasy.

To soothe my anger at the twitter debate, I went on Tor’s website to read through several of the SFF short stories they publish. I love the fiction published on this site because i) it’s free! and ii) it’s always quality and pushes to be inclusive. At the end of the day, the best way to support inclusive stories is to read them and shout your love to the world about them. So here’s a list of great SFF stories you can enjoy by just clicking on the link!


THE WEIGHT OF MEMORIES by Cixin Liu / translated by Ken Liu

We made a terrible mistake in thinking that replicating memories was sufficient to replicate a person.

Cixin Liu took the world by storm with The Three-Body Problem, one of the first Chinese science fiction to be translated into English. I love how he uses daring ideas on science, and reapplies it to answer questions about humanity. This short story about engineered and inherited memories between a mother and her unborn child captures his style perfectly. Ken Liu delivers a smooth and technically impressive translation, as always.Read More »

Book Review: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

25201920

5star

Title: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

Author: Becky Chambers

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series? Yes, companion novel out this year!

Goodreads

Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia


Be Warned: I love this book so much I don’t think I can be trusted to be coherent or impartial in this review. The flawless Kynn of Diva Booknerds recommended Small Angry Planet to me last year – as I trust her in all things bookish I purchased it, and it’s been sitting around on my Kindle for months on end. I want to go back and smack my past-self for ignoring this gem of a book for so long. Small Angry Planet is one of those rare books that has both heart and brain, capable of making you think and feel for a long time after its last pages.

smallangryplanet

I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but I do love the genre for exploring contemporary issues in a different setting. Not to mention that space is boundless in its ability to inspire, and the vastness of the unknown is ceaselessly intriguing. Small Angry Planet captures all of the things I love best about the genre, and further delivered a human (or should I say, sapient) warmth to the story. Read More »

Book Review: Radiance

24100491

4-star

Title: Radiance

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No.

Goodreads

Book Depository / Booktopia / Dymocks


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

I know you’ve heard it before, but I love Catherynne Valente and would gladly devour anything she writes, be it short stories, full-length novels, or daily tweets. I love the way she blends existing myth and folklore to construct sublime new worlds. With Radiance, she brings old Hollywood glamour and the age of silent film into celestial space. The result is an enchanting and dream-like mystery spanning across multiple genres.

“She is dead. Almost certainly dead. Nearly conclusively dead.
She is, at the very least, not answering her telephone.”

Radiance

Read More »

Book Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

20706317

5star

Title: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Author: Claire North

Series: No 😦

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads

Book Depository

TFFLOHA

Some of you might have seen me raving about this book on twitter and Goodreads over the past month. I know it’s still January, but I am fairly confident this book will enter my Top 10 list at the end of the year. It was at once an epic tale traversing through numerous timelines, and a quiet study on what make us human.Read More »

Book Review: The Three Body Problem

4-star

Title:  The Three Body Problem

Author: Cixin Liu

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads


I received this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

One of the first things you’ll learn about me is that I detest physics and maths, I have absolutely no mental aptitude for it.  This is one of the first things you’ll see when you Google The Three Body Problem:

{\ddot{\mathbf{x}}_\mathbf{1}} = -\frac{G m_2}{\left(x_1 - x_2\right)^3}\left(\mathbf{x_1} - \mathbf{x_2}\right)-\frac{G m_3}{\left(x_1 - x_3\right)^3}\left(\mathbf{x_1} - \mathbf{x_3}\right)

{\ddot{\mathbf{x}}_\mathbf{2}} = -\frac{G m_3}{\left(x_2 - x_3\right)^3}\left(\mathbf{x_2} - \mathbf{x_3}\right)-\frac{G m_1}{\left(x_2 - x_1\right)^3}\left(\mathbf{x_2} - \mathbf{x_1}\right)

{\ddot{\mathbf{x}}_\mathbf{3}} = -\frac{G m_1}{\left(x_3 - x_1\right)^3}\left(\mathbf{x_3} - \mathbf{x_1}\right)-\frac{G m_2}{\left(x_3 - x_2\right)^3}\left(\mathbf{x_3} - \mathbf{x_2}\right)

I.e. DO. NOT. WANT.  However, I found that the book was surprisingly engaging and accessible despite its deep rooted background in theoretical physics.  Here’s why!

3body

NON-LINEAR PLOT:

The book follows two protagonists and timeline:

  1.  Ye Wenjie, a physicist who watched her father persecuted and murdered during China’s Cultural Revolution during the 1970s, and
  2. Wang Miao, a scientist researching nanofibre technology in present day.  He’s recruited by the police to investigate a group of scientists.  The reason?  Many scientists around the world have started committing suicide,

Ye’s story is the driving force of this book, watching her father’s execution for the crime of intelligence and progress has changed her fundamentally.  Her narratively examines humanity and the price we pay for scientific progress, it questions whether it’s all worth it.

“It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.”

Next to Ye, Wang is a slightly duller protagonist.  Through his eyes we are able to slowly uncover the rest of Ye’s story, as well as immerse in the titular Three-Body Problem.  Unfortunately, Wang is a bit of a blank slate, however, I did enjoy slowly seeing how he i) goes through the Three Body Game – I found myself cheering for him whenever he advanced in the game and ii) his story (and really, the story of the larger world) connects to Ye’s narrative.Read More »

Book Review: Archivist Wasp

Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace

5star

Title:  Archivist Wasp

Author:  Nicole Kornher-Stace

Series? No.

Ratings: 5/5

Goodreads


August has been a fantastic reading month for me thus far! Archivist Wasp was purchased because I saw The Book Smugglers, some of my most trusted book bloggers, gushing over it on their site. Equipped with a unique setting, beautiful writing and compelling characters, this book was sure to steal my heart.

Archivist Wasp

A LAYERED & DEEPLY FLAWED PROTAGONIST

I am the Archivist.  Catchkeep’s emissary, ambassador, and avatar on earth.  Her bones and stars my flesh; my flesh and bones Her stars.  Mine is the mouth through which the dead world speaks.  Mine are the hands that record what the dead world left behind.  Mine are the eyes that hold vigil, so that the old world’s death does not return to kill the world anew.

Archivist Wasp has been serving as the Catchkeep’s mortal emissary for three years.  She was not born into the role, Wasp had to kill the previous Archivist to attain this position.  Every year, Wasp has to fight and eliminate younger upstarts to keep her spot as Archivist.  It’s kill or die, though Wasp has tried in vain to spare the upstarts who challenged her.

As Archivist, Wasp’s primary function is to seek out, contain and record information on the many ghosts that inhabit her post-apocalyptic world.  None of the ghosts can speak, so many generations of Archivist have searched in vain for an answer to why The Before world has perished.  At the beginning of the book, Wasp encounters the first ghost in recorded history who can speak – and together they embark on a quest to the underworld.Read More »

Book Review: Steelheart

5star

Title: Steelheart

Author:  Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series: Yes.  1 of 3.

Goodreads


Oh my goodness this book was so fun!  If the rest of my reads this August is as entertaining as Steelheart, I’m in for a treat this month!

I know I was harping on about how I was sick of dystopia just like one review ago.  This book is a post-apocalyptic type scenario but I loved it so much, here’s all my reasons why.  SPOILERS:  It’s because Brandon Sanderson is a freaking genius.

Steelheart-by-Brandon-Sanderson
Silhouettes + Cityscape Vectors from Freepik.

1.  SUPERVILLAINS!

Epics had a distinct, even incredible, lack of morals or conscience. That bothered some people, on a philosophical level. Theorists, scholars. They wondered at the sheer inhumanity many Epics manifested. Did the Epics kill because Calamity chose—for whatever reason—only terrible people to gain powers? Or did they kill because such amazing power twisted a person, made them irresponsible?

Since an event known as Calamity, numerous humans throughout The Fractured States developed superpowers.  Instead of following down Spiderman’s path and exercise the whole ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ stint, all of these mutants – now called Epics – just kinda went ‘Hey, screw the rest of mankind, I’m gonna enslave you all’.  You know the old adage, ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

“I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.
And I will see him bleed again.”

The villain of this piece is Steelheart, a High Epic with super strength, impervious to all assaults, shoots lasers out of his hands, and oh… he can turn everything into steel.  No one’s ever seen him vulnerable, except for our young protagonist: David.  David witnessed Steelheart bleed when he was 8, right before the Epic ruthlessly killed his father. He’s been plotting his revenge ever since.

All of the different Epics and their varied super powers + corresponding weaknesses: there’s Faultline who can cause earthquakes, Nightwielder who can hold an entire city in darkness, Fortuity with precognitive abilities, all must be taken down by a different method.  I’ve always admired Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems, despite set laws so much is possible!  The plans our protagonists have to devised to take down each Epic is particularly fun.

If you loved the X-men, you’ll adore this.  If you liked superheroes, you’ll adore this.  Heck, even if you’re sick of Marvel’s cinematic sea of sameness (like myself), you’ll adore this!Read More »