Tag Archives: sci-fi

Three Romances I Wanted To Love But Didn’t

Sometimes, books just don’t work out for me. It’s not even that these books are bad, because they aren’t. They just each pushed some buttons and I didn’t enjoy them as much as I hoped I would. I decided to do shorter reviews for books that didn’t work for me from now on, since my posting schedule is different and I’d rather spend my time and effort talking at length about books that I actually loved.

Love Story (Love Unexpectedly #3) by Lauren Layne
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Links:

Source: Publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: contemporary NA romance.

My rating:

Love Story…Ahh, I wanted to love it so much. I read it at the end of a serious Lauren Layne binge (I discovered her last year and was then lucky enough to read this as an ARC, so I’m super late posting my review, oops), and maybe that’s why I wasn’t entirely impressed by it.

I mostly just couldn’t connect with the characters. Lucy was too “spoiled princess” for my taste, I didn’t really see what her conflict was here, and Reece was an asshole one too many times. I mean, the plot itself (a road trip across the US and a second chance romance) should have been enough for me to completely fall for it because those are some awesome tropes right there. And I did enjoy it, it was a quick read, I just wished to empathize more with Lucy and Reece.

It’s a standalone, even though it’s listed as a part of a series, which is kind of nice in the world of romance. If you’re already a Layne fan, go for it, you might connect better with the main characters. But if not, try another LL book first and fall in love with those (they’re great and she’s one of my favorite contemporary romance authors).

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Rescued by the Space Pirate (Ruby Robins Sexy Space Odyssey #1) by Nina Croft
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Links: Goodreads.

Source: Publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: space opera erotica.

My rating:

(Trigger warning for rape and dubious consent) Uhhh this book. I wanted this book to be campy and ridiculous and maybe sexy. I mean, when you pick up a book with such a title, you don’t expect to find serious literature of Nobel-prize-winning kind. But I expected some sort of space opera, with kissing. (Somebody find me that, please, I really want it now!)

What I got instead was alien porn with questionable consent and some uncool views on rape. *sad trombone* No but seriously, a hero who takes one look at a woman who was repeatedly gang-raped by weird tentacly aliens and says “she’ll get over it, people can adapt to anything” is not a hero I want to read about. Our heroine also gets bullied (aka fired from her job) into accepting the position of a spy which gets her into a situation where she gets touched by an alien against her will (she gets an orgasm out of it but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s non-consensual), so I wasn’t too impressed.

Look, I kind of wanted to continue reading the series because a three-way with a hot blue-skinned alien and a man who’s half-droid sounds like great fun (in writing, lol) but there were just too many issues for me to ignore. Now please, give me your space romance recs (aliens and tentacles are…fine, just as long as everyone’s there of their own free will).

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Royally Screwed (Royally #1) by Emma Chase
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Links:

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: contemporary romance.

My rating:

Whyyyyy are allllll the heroes such assholesssss? Don’t get me wrong, I like a good bad boy now and then, but not if he’s a straight-up jackass. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews for Emma Chase’s Royally series, and this was a fast read (what contemporary romance isn’t?), but I didn’t get the appeal of Prince Charming, so the whole thing fell short for me.

He behaved atrociously towards Olivia, insulted her and treated her like crap, AND YET she went with him and they somehow fell in love. Being fantastic in bed doesn’t make a hero a good person, and at the end of the day, I want my romance heroes to be good guys the heroine can trust to stand beside her no matter what. Prince Nicholas just didn’t deliver on that. Meh.

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Give me all your romance recs, especially the sci-fi kind if you have any. 

Any new contemporary romance authors I should try? I’ve been on a real contemporary kick lately.

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir
Published in 2014 by Crown.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: sci-fi thriller.

My rating:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive. But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

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Andy Weir’s The Martian is one of those books that are completely out of my comfort zone and yet I enjoyed it immensely. I read it after my husband kept asking me to for a month (he’d read it in a couple of days, he reads a lot but he really flew through this one) and I’m really, really glad I followed his advice. I read sci-fi sometimes but it’s usually YA dystopias or something similar, and my last attempt to read “true” sci-fi was not all that successful. So you could say I was worried, going into this book, that I would hate it – it received an ungodly amount of hype, got turned into a blockbuster movie, and everyone I know has been raving about it. This is why I am doubly glad it didn’t disappoint.

You can read the synopsis for a general idea of what you’re dealing with, but I’m going to go with this: if I was Mark Watney, I would be dead the moment the Mars Ascent Vehicle (and my crew mates) left the surface of the planet. Okay, so I’m a book person, not a science person (or a trained astronaut) but I feel like you’d have to be a very specific type of person to survive being stranded on another planet. I’m not a very relaxed flier and the thought of going into outer space terrifies me. Being left alone is the most claustrophobic (or perhaps agoraphobic, if you consider all that empty space) feeling I can imagine. I have never dreamed of being an astronaut when I was a kid, preferring to center my ambitions in more Earth-bound pursuits.

Anyway, if you consider my personality, it’s even weirder that I liked this book so much. A large part of my attraction to it is due to Mark himself. He is not attractive in any kind of romantic way (at least I imagined him to be kind of scrawny and, uh, smelly) but he’s such a great character. His narration (the story is mostly told through his logs, or journals) is funny, fast-paced, and thrilling. He can be a snarky a**hole sometimes but as he says, he can do whatever he wants because he’s stranded on Mars. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where everything was so strongly focused on a single character – and I loved it.

I have to say that the sciency bits sometimes confused me. I have a very poor grasp of physics and chemistry, due to a general lack of interest and very horrible school teachers, but I was something of a math geek and my biology knowledge is not terrible (I know, it doesn’t make sense but there you have it). Nevertheless, I found myself zoning out and skimming over some of Mark’s calculations (on the amount of air or water or energy needed for his survival, for example). I mean, I bet there are some people who are genuinely interested in this but I just had to take everything Weir had written at face value because I wouldn’t know that he’d made a mistake even if it was glaringly obvious to others.

I also kept comparing Mark Watney to Robinson Crusoe. Their stories are really similar if you think about it (and I half expected some aliens to pop up as a sci-fi version of Defoe’s cannibals). Mark is such a DIY genius, he can tackle everything by himself and sometimes he just seemed too heroic and capable. Don’t get me wrong, I never rooted against him, I just wished Weir had thought of a way to put a different spin on the castaway motif.

But all in all, this was a very good foray into a new-to-me genre and I am looking forward to a) watching the movie; b) seeing what Mr. Weir cooks up next.

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Have you read The Martian? Or maybe you saw the movie? What did you think?

Did you ever dream of being an astronaut? Would you travel into space if you got a chance?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Saga (Vol 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga (Saga Volumes 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Published in 2012-2015 by Image Comics.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: sci-fi graphic novel.

My rating:

Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples. The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series.

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saga22015 was the year of trying out new things (sort of), which included graphic novels. I hit jackpot with my first choice (Nimona was fantastic) and continued to have good luck with Saga. This is an ongoing series with five currently published “volumes” (each includes six chapters which are also published separately, as far as I can tell) while the sixth is scheduled to appear this year. I have read four of them and will be buying the sequel soon. 

I gave five stars/hearts to the first three parts and four to the fourth; I thought the story is getting a bit too fragmented – and batshit crazy, if you’ll forgive me for saying so. Space is a vast playground and it’s easy to get lost if you don’t take care – and it just looks like the authors are opening some doors that will require a lot of energy to close. I’m not sure how many parts there will be or if the authors even know that (I did no research on the matter, sorry), but they seem to be pushing ahead at full steam with no end in sight.

saga3This is the story of a family where the mother and father are from opposite sides of a decades-long war. Their baby, Hazel, who is the narrator of the story, is probably the first child of mixed race (ever? in a while? who knows?) and very dangerous because of it. So people are out to get them, assassins are hired, and there are some ex-lovers thrown into the mix so it gets more fun. And while I do understand why the authors wish to give the side characters their separate stories, their lives sometimes take up valuable page time (I find that in comics, economy is key. Everything just takes such a long time to say! Pictures take up way more page space than words.).

But I love the main story. I mean, both Marko and Alana make some spectacularly bad decisions in part 4, but their lives are hardly easy. Hazel is an interesting narrator, she reports on everything, including her parents’ sex lives, which is kind of weird. I do wonder how far into her life the story will go – she’s currently still a toddler! :) And space toddlers aren’t that different from human, Earth-born toddlers, let me tell you that.

saga4The story is hilarious. It’s also really gruesome sometimes (seriously, there is a lot of gore, you’ve been warned) and very, very explicit when it comes to sex. I think this might be a part of its attraction? Most of the characters have really unusual sexual lives, I liked this exploration into non-heterosexual territories, especially when it came to couples who belong to completely different species (though why anyone would want to get involved with a sexy spider is beyond me). I do think a lot of these scenes are there to shock and amuse and hardly contribute to the main story, but they have this pulpy quality to them that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I like the artwork, it’s crazy imaginative and very expressive. I haven’t read enough graphic novels to really form a personal taste in comic book illustrators, but I can say that it’s very different from Nimona, for example, which has a much cleaner style. Both are great and I think they serve their genres well. 

I’ll definitely be continuing with the series though I should really check out how many parts it’s supposed to have, just so I have some timeframe in mind. 

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Have you read Saga? Did you enjoy it?

Do you have other graphic novel recommendations that I might enjoy?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin Bow
Published in 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

My rating:

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

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Going into books blind seems to be a theme lately. I recently reviewed Illuminae, a book where I knew absolutely nothing about the plot before I started reading it, and it really didn’t turn out all that well. I requested Scorpion Rules on Netgalley after I saw an author I admire call it fantastic and I also didn’t read anything about it before plunging straight in. I’m wondering now whether this is a good tactic – I liked this one okay but didn’t love it. 

Scorpion Rules is the beginning of a post-apocalyptic series that’s different from others of such type I’ve had the (dis)pleasure to read. The premise is quite similar to Hunger Games or Divergent, with the world divided into new countries, the life conditions perilous, the political situation uncertain – but this time, the world is controlled by an artificial intelligence system which made peace by blasting several large cities off the world map until people started paying attention to it. 

Now, children of the rulers of each of the world’s countries are taken (a person can’t rule a nation without having children) and they spend their time in camps, waiting to see if their illustrious parent will start a war. If this happens, the child is taken and executed for their parent’s sin. 

When we meet Greta, she’s almost old enough to be released from this obligation, she’s living in the middle of a desert with other children of peace, trying to keep her head down, hoping her mother, the queen of one of the largest territories that also has large supplies of the most coveted resource: water, won’t start a war or enter one if attacked. That’s when Elián lands there, he’s the grandson of a general of a new country that borders Greta’s. He doesn’t know how to behave, is reckless and gets punished constantly by the robotic guards and instructors running the facility. 

Now, you may be rolling your eyes at this, suspecting the plot is surely very predictable from here on out: the girl and the boy fall in love, he makes her see that fighting for the right cause is good, they run away together and fight for a better future for all humanity. Well, not quite. First of all, the love triangle (yes, there is one) here is much more interesting than usual, mostly because it involves a same-sex relationship without giving it labels and without making a fuss about it. I know coming-out stories are extremely important, that having openly gay characters deal with the problems in the society is necessary, but it’s also nice to see a relationship where being gay is… not extraordinary. Or rather, it’s nice to read a book where gender isn’t the deciding factor for choosing one’s partner. 

Anyway, if you like post-apocalyptic sci-fi and you’re tired of angsty teenage stories, this is a good book to check out. I was a bit thrown by the ending (I can’t really see how the story will continue with things being as they are) and I thought the pacing was too slow at times – the tone is much more… contemplative than is usual for YA (not necessarily a bad thing, I just wished the story moved on faster because I wanted to know what would come next). These are the reasons for my lower rating – purely personal. So if the premise sounds interesting to you, give it a try, by all means, because it’s really nice to read something that deviates from the mould from time to time.

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Have you read Scorpion Rules? What did you think?

Do you have any good postapocalyptic recs?

I’d love to hear from you!

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published in 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: borrowed from a friend.

Genre: YA sci-fi.

My rating:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

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If you’ve been around my blog before, you’ll probably have noticed my dislike for over-hyped books. Or rather, my wariness to read them because I feel that the hype invariably causes my expectations to soar so I am disappointed by the time I read the story. It’s not the author’s fault, nor is it mine – it’s just a combination of a ridiculous amount of publicity and my excitement. 

I have to say that Illuminae is exactly such a book. I think it must have been one of the most hyped-up releases of 2015 and it received fantastic reviews on a number of blogs I read. I wasn’t even going to read it (or I’d have waited for the release of book 2 to see if the general obsession with the story continued), but I got a chance to borrow a copy from a friend and I took it. And… well, I’m not sorry I read it, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.

I went into the story blind, without even reading the synopsis, and all I knew was that the story was supposed to wow me. I liked the innovative formatting – most of the story is told through reports, chat logs, interview transcripts, etc, and even includes spaceship schematics. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi so this was a new experience for me – and let me tell you, I would not do well in space. The thought of being separated from the endless void by a mere metal wall is terrifying. I never wanted to be an astronaut when I was little. 

I did like Kady and Ezra, they were cool kids and I liked that their story was complicated before the action even begins (they’d just broken up when their home planet is destroyed), so there was no danger of insta-love or anything. No love triangles, either, which is refreshing. But I wished I could see into their heads more. I wished for a more personal view of their thoughts and actions – the fact that the story is told through reports and such means we never really know what’s going on with them in the moment, not really. I lacked some sort of personal connection that would have made me root for them more. 

I also didn’t know the book would have a horror-tinged conflict at its heart. I am a total chicken when it comes to horror so I avoid it scrupulously, but since I didn’t know anything about the story before I started reading it, I was in the middle of the carnage before I realized what was happening. Would I have read the book if I knew that this would happen? Honestly? Probably not. I don’t need mental images of these things and it really seemed like a lot (and I mean a lot) of these scenes were there just for the shock factor. Eh.

In any case, I probably won’t be continuing with this series, it just isn’t my cup of tea. I know others liked it because it’s action packed and a fast read and different from other stories, so I’m sure the sequel will be just as well-received by the majority. 

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Have you read Illuminae? What did you think?

Do you ever go into books completely blind or do you always read the synopsis first?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Published 2015 by Harper Collins.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: YA fantasy/sci-fi graphic novel.

My rating:

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

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Gah, I’ve had this post saved as a draft for months. I read this book… ages ago, it seems, but it’s stuck with me and I even included it in my “best of 2015” post because it’s great. And I’ve successfully made my husband read it (he loved it, too) and now my copy is with my brother who loves comics and graphic novels and I’m waiting for his thanks, to be honest. :)

Nimona is the first graphic novel I’ve read in a long, long while. I used to read some comics when I was in high school (mostly the stuff my brother bought, so PeanutsCalvin and Hobbes and Dilbert were featured strongly) and I read Blankets, which was really nice (I have to re-read it sometime soon) and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was cool but not amazing. And then I just… stopped. I don’t even know why. But then I saw Nimona popping up all over the book blogs that I like and everyone loved it and the artwork looked cute but special so I gave in and ordered it. Best. Decision. Ever. (Okay, maybe not ever but it was really great.)

nimona7Nimona (the character) is a shape shifter with a tendency of turning into sharks at unexpected moments. Her origin and the exact extent of capabilities are a mystery and she pops up in Lord Ballister Blackheart’s secret lair and joins forces with him to destroy the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics, which isn’t as heroic as they would like everyone to believe. Their foremost champion is Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, Ballister’s old buddy-turned-nemesis.

I really liked both the plot and the characters of this graphic novel. I was afraid of the characters falling flat because there can be no descriptions or whatever in this type of story, you only get their actions and dialogue. But Stevenson did a great job giving these three main characters some serious layers (and complicated relationships <3) – and even the villains are cool.

nimona6I also loved the mashup of sci-fi and fantasy: dragons combined with laser guns and mad scientists may sound like an overkill but Stevenson somehow makes it work without the illustrations being over-the-top crazy. Her artwork is clean and cute but never doubt it: there are some serious issues tackled in this novel, so it’s not just fluff and explosions.

Nimona is a standalone graphic novel – and while this is great because the story is concise and the pacing amazing, I kind of wish to read more about these guys. I’ll most definitely be reading whatever Stevenson does next (I know she’s the artist for Lumberjanes but I’m waiting for a collected edition of some kind…). Oh and if you like reading about Star Wars, feminism and geekery in general, I highly suggest following her on Twitter.

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Have you read Nimona? What did you think?

Do you have any similar graphic novel recs for me? (I’m reading Saga, too.)

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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