An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

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So. Many. Amazing. Quotes.

“The point is what you do when you don’t have the details. Do you interrogate? Do you examine? Or do you settle for the obvious answer?”

I mean seriously. This book was Snowpiercer on a spaceship and everyone is queer. I loved it. I loved that the characters were complicated and both likable and unlikable. I loved that it was haunting without the supernatural. I loved that it had faith but it wasn’t preachy.

How Lucifer felt upon leaving the Heavens. He didn’t fall. He dove.

Oh, and spoiler alert: they’re all dead.

Juuuust kidding (I think?) This book has plenty of scientific explanations and medical terms, but one thing stood out to me:

She’d been helping Aster scrub down X deck with ammonia and bleach, a failed attempt to rub out the stink of what had happened there.

For a second there as I read it I thought I had a ‘EUREKA’ moment. They’re all dead from toxic gas and this book is about them as ghosts trapped in the ship for all eternity!

But then I was like nah, it was probably just an oversight on the writer’s/editor’s part. The rest of the book seems to uphold the sentiment (which is why I don’t count this as a spoiler), unless you consider Earth actually being Heaven/the afterlife. Who knows? (Dun dun dun…)

Anyway, I don’t like depressing stories and while this book was dark it was also full of hope. I loved it and I think fans of Snowpiercer would love it too.

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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The first day my husband came home after he started listening to this audiobook he told me I had to read this book. I said ok, I’ll check it out, but it seems too real-world for me. Guy wakes up to find his whole life is different – his family doesn’t exist and he’s a famous scientist instead of a teacher. An interesting premise but meh. I didn’t expect to get through chapter one.

I finished it the next day.

This book was WOW. I loved the staccato writing style, it made me feel like I was watching scenes in a movie. The inner thoughts of the people were like seeing someone’s dreams. Intense and relateable and just perfect for the story. I couldn’t tear my eyes from it I had to know what happened every page. It made me think of the TV show Legion (X-Men universe) and how insane it was and how it just kept getting more and more insane. This is that kind of book. By the end I had no idea how it was going to get resolved but it did.

Overall, I absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi because it’s a fun crazy romp worth the time and satisfaction of flying through it.

The Genius Plague by David Walton

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I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I saw the author’s AMA on Reddit. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but the premise was too intriguing to pass up: a fungi infection can make you super-smart, but it also takes over your mind and affects your actions to ensure its survival. It’s a symbiotic relationship, except for the fact that you can’t control how you feel about things like killing people when they want to give you antifungals.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read. It played out like any apocalypse movie, where you just don’t ask questions and enjoy it for what it is. Action and thrills and *insert charismatic white male actor* protagonist you can’t not like. A fun book that brings up some really interesting concepts.

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Armada by Ernest Cline

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My husband finally got around to reading Ready Player One, just in time for the movie, and he wanted to check out another book by Cline, so we both started reading (and listening) at the same time. I LOVED Ready Player One so even though I’m not huge of scifi I figured I’d like this one too.

And…I mostly enjoyed it. I love Cline’s writing, it’s so witty, and coupled with Will Wheaton’s narration it becomes just a fun ride. I could listen to him read it all day. The thing about the story is that for the first half it was so silly I kept wishing the main character would just wake up and realize it was all a dream or something. But then when it was explained and I was like ok, that actually makes sense, I really like this! it went on to follow the exact same tropes of every story like this. I even made a bet with my husband about all the things that would definitely happen and sadly I won every one of them. I didn’t want to. I wished he would subvert the tropes somehow, but no, it all laid out exactly like I thought it would.

I know a lot of people are complaining he ripped off Ender’s Game and some others, but I don’t mind the similarities. Re-tellings are my favorite genre! I don’t need a new idea, just great execution and some twists to shake it up. This had two of the three, and I’m glad I read it, especially as a gamer.

The only thing that bothered me though, is when the World of Warcraft playing mom said ‘Late for a video game’ with practically an eyeroll. Umm no. Anyone who plays WoW competitively knows that you don’t make 20+ other people wait on you because ‘it’s just a video game’. Everyone’s time matters. People make sure their work schedules and family time doesn’t fall on raid nights to be able to play, and when you can’t start a raid because someone’s not there you’re wasting that time. In my guild, that costs you your raid spot.

Anyway, a pretty good read, but it’s no Ready Player One (aaaaah I can’t wait for the movie!!!).

Quiet Shy by Brandon L. Summers

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Ok, so I know what you’re thinking, but let me explain. While this cover screams self-published-unedited-made-in-MS-Paint, I’m telling you – it’s not. It’s an ARC request I got in my email, and I won’t lie, I was going to turn it down immediately just by looking at the attached cover photo (which kind of creeped me out to be honest) but I read the description and I was like huh, that actually sounds pretty interesting. Maybe I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

And I’m kinda glad I didn’t.

Alexandria Fix hates her job as an archaeologist for a renowned institute as it keeps her away from her sensitive wife, Quiet Shy, who comes from the future of an alternate reality. The sentiment only intensifies when Alex’s life becomes entangled with the pursuits of an evil cult of robots.

First of all – an f/f couple always has my attention. We just don’t have enough of these kinds of books in the mainstream. Oh wait – we don’t have ANY of these kinds of book in the mainstream. Most authors rely on queer-specific small presses to publish f/f scifi/fantasy. There’s plenty of gay erotica out there, but just your normal, run of the mill f/f relationship with magic or spaceships? Nope.

Aaaaaaanyway, this book. I have to say, it was extremely unpredictable. When I thought one thing was going to happen, the complete opposite did. When I expected a certain event, something else took its place. The scifi is layered very strongly, a futuristic world with cool tech and robots and lasers. It left a lot on the reader to pull it all together, but I don’t mind using my imagination a bit. It makes the story partly mine, in a way.

The relationship between Alex and Shy was very sweet. Veeeerrryyyyyy sweet, bordering on cheesy. If you’re looking for a lot of ‘sweetie’ and ‘you’re so beautiful’ and ‘I love you so much’ in every conversation, then this is the book for you. There’s intimacy, though not super graphic, and plenty of talk about wanting to be intimate and how sexy their bodies are, to the point where it’s like we get it, she’s curvy and has ample breasts. I did like that their relationship was portrayed as strong and unapologetic, and they know exactly what they want. It was nice to see two women so utterly in love, without the guilt.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It was different from anything I’ve ever read before, and I think there are plenty of people out there who would love to read about a wholesome f/f relationship with robots and aliens.

Quality DNA by Beth Martin

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It’s so cool to see books you read in the beta stage get published. This book was one of my first beta reads, and it was a well-polished novel then. I liked it so much, in fact, I re-read it in its final form (and I very rarely do that because reading time = precious!)

Plot: In the future, due to overpopulation, each person is only allowed to have one child. DNA is monitored and men are sterilized after fathering an offspring. Except for some reason, babies are being born matching the DNA of dead men of exceptional talents, and it’s up to the social department’s investigator Irene to figure out how it’s possible.

First of all, I loved the diversity of this book. The main character is a lesbian woman, married to a bisexual Korean woman. You want to read it already, don’t you? Race, gender, and sexuality is represented not only well, but in abundance, and with no negative connotation. A+ in my book!

The characters are another big plus. No one is perfect or pure evil, just like in life. The relationships in this book, be it friends, family, or romance, are very real. I had genuine feelings when things happened to them.

The story itself is quite on the sci-fi side, and more than a dose of suspending disbelief is required. For many of the main points, such as the reasoning for population control, you just have to take them as is and not try to pick it apart. Enjoy it for what it is and you won’t be disappointed.

You can pre-order Quality DNA on Amazon.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Sometimes you read a book, and you wonder ‘why did I wait so long?’ Because it’s So. Freaking. Good.

That’s how I felt about Ready Player One.

Maybe I’m biased, because a small part of me lives in World of Warcraft (though there was a time when all of me did, much like the book). Wade’s feelings were a mirror of my own on so many levels, from friendships to anxiety to the sense of belonging in the virtual world more than the real one.

And who is to say what’s real and what isn’t? The people are real. The excitement over finally killing a raid boss is real. The memories of playing are real. As John Lennon (and many others) have said, Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

They may be just pixels on a screen but we are all just atoms in the universe. 

Anyway, back to the book.

Since I grew up in Russia I didn’t get most of the 80’s references, so for me it wasn’t as a trip down memory lane as for most people reading this book. ‘Nostalgia-porn’ as other reviewers seem to call it. I had to piece together a lot of it from my pop culture studies and teenage years in the anime club. Still, I enjoyed everything from start to finish. I truly did not want to put this book down. It made me wish Blizzard did a scavenger hunt in WoW, but at the same time it would just be datamined so it probably wouldn’t work. Still, maybe a live hunt, where you had to find a dev in game in a certain amount of time and then get a clue to the next place. That would be awesome. No million dollar reward needed.

I truly loved this book and boy was I ecstatic when I found out they were making a movie! /dance

So if you like MMOs you will probably enjoy this, even if you haven’t grown up in the 80s or in English-speaking countries.