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text 2017-11-26 16:07
Square 10 Task - 5 Favourite Books this Year
The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett
On a Red Station, Drifting - Aliette de Bodard
Forest of Memory - Mary Robinette Kowal

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. 


Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!


I'm afraid I can't really do the second part because most of my chosen books are ebooks. 


It was also pretty tough to figure out what should make the cut. I stuck mostly with my higher-rated books and ones that have stuck with me or led me to try out more of the author's work.


1. The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

This one was a no-brainer. I keep telling everyone I know to read it because it was awesome. It's basically pure escapist fun and it was like a breath of fresh air after Frederik Pohl's Gateway which I was reading at the same time. It was also the first novel that I read by Kameron Hurley and I've been slowly working through her back catalogue. It's basically a story about a bunch of people who live in dying worldships trying to find a way to gather enough resources to keep going. It's a fun adventure romp, basically. And the best part is that there are no whiny males who beat up women in front of little kids and justify it to themselves with a bunch of pathetic psychobabble (see Gateway). Don't get me wrong; these aren't all nice, peaceful people. But it was a nice break from the patriarchal norm.

My review of The Stars are Legion.


2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This was a reread but I liked it so much I went out a bought my own copy of the author's preferred text. Neil Gaiman doesn't always work for me in the sense that although I usually like his books, I frequently don't love them. This one works for me though. I like the creepiness and the Marquis de Carabas.

My review of Neverwhere.


3. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

This first book in Dunnett's Lymond series was well-constructed and riveting. Not an easy read, but still pretty awesome. I'm including this because I'm slowly working my way through the series and so far the first has been the best (ok, so I've only read 2 of the 6 books so far). Lymond is a great example of a protagonist who's almost too awful to like but does actually have redeeming depths. I need to get back to this series, actually.

My review of The Game of Kings.


4. On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

This novella was my introduction to Aliette de Bodard's writing and a great atmospheric read. It was a kind of family drama, really, which isn't usually my cup of tea, but this world with its far-future Vietnamese empire was just neat. Plus throw in a faltering AI, politics, and a slow-burn narrative... Aliette de Bodard seems to like to create science fiction and fantasy worlds with unusual settings. Here we have a futuristic Dai Viet Empire, and in one of the other series of hers that I'm reading, the books take place in the Aztec Empire.

My review of On a Red Station, Drifting.


5. Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

This was another read that just clicked for me, and it was also my first introduction to Mary Robinette Kowal's writing. It was a creepy and thought-provoking tale of a woman who drops off the grid in a hyper-connected world when she's kidnapped by a man whom she surprises tranquilizing a deer. A lot of questioning of how much we can take data for granted and did I mention it was really creepy?


So...three sci fis, an urban fantasy, and a historical fiction. I guess I really do like science fiction. :)


Some honourable mentions:

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben This popular science book with its descriptions of how trees in a forest communicate and share resources was so close to making the cut but I went with Forest of Memory instead. I do think a society that could actually communicate with its forests and negotiate with them would just be downright cool, and so I still say this should be mandatory reading for science fiction writers.


There's also a bunch of stuff about how trees that don't grow up in a mature forest get short-changed in how their wood develops because they aren't forced to grow slowly. The book explains it better. Go read the book.


My review for The Hidden Life of Trees.


Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story - Angela Saini This was a great concise overview of the issues that have set back women’s rights, societal expectations, and health. It was an interesting read, and I used it to find more interesting reads via the references it makes. I've even started to go down a bit of a rabbit hole because those books have led to other books which have led to yet other books right down to my current read, Alas, Poor Darwin.


I thought it was so good that I bought a copy for my shelf and ended up with two copies because Canada Post was so slow that the first copy took two and a half months to get to me. Still haven't figured out what to do with the extra copy.


My review for Inferior.

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review 2017-11-23 19:23
Infidel by Kameron Hurley
Infidel - Kameron Hurley

Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha #2


How to explain Infidel? We find Nyx, the former bel Dame, sort of bounty hunter, sometimes on security detail, even more down on her luck, with a smaller, even crappier team and driven to go against more rogues from the bel Dame council. The bel Dames are the government-sanctioned bounty hunters who hunt down runaways from the Front. A couple of countries have spent several centuries at war and still haven't gotten to the point where they're just throwing rocks at each other. It's a kind of dark, twisted, shoot 'em adventure romp, and Nyx still hasn't learned how to shoot.


I'd call it fun if it weren't so dark, so I'm not sure what to call it. If this sounds like any of the Festive Squares, please let me know.

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review 2017-10-29 20:26
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
The Mirror Empire - Kameron Hurley

Series: Worldbreaker Saga #1


I generally expect more from Hurley's books. This was alright but my interest waxed and waned throughout the whole thing. There are some really cool concepts but a lot of stuff I could have just done without, and I wasn't all that keen on some of the characters, particularly Zezili. Even Lilia did some really stupid things. I wasn't impressed by her search for a mother who couldn't know her.


This book follows several characters in a fantasy world where several nations are at war, and the entire world is being threatened by invaders from beyond it. Oh, and there are binary suns that are so close together they form an hourglass shape in the sky. And walking trees that remind me of triffids.


I plan on reading the next book, but I'm not hopeful it'll be up to Hurley's usual standards. Maybe she needs worlds with spaceships to pull off awesome. And more ick factor.

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review 2017-08-24 01:23
God’s War by Kameron Hurley
God's War - Kameron Hurley

Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha #1


Picture an alien world with two suns colonized by humans from various Islamic sects where two major world powers have been at war for the last three hundred years over religious differences. There are “shifters” and people literally have bug technology. The doctors are called magicians and their biological and genetic technology is impressive. Gene piracy is a thing. The society is heavily skewed towards a female population because even though women go to the Front to fight too, all of the men are required to. The bel dames are an elite group of bounty hunters who work for the government.


Nyx is a whiskey-drinking, hard-living former bel dame bounty hunter who lands a special “note” (bounty) that promises to pay both her and her team a great deal of money. It’s not an easy task, naturally, and she’s up against another team of bounty hunters as well as running into trouble with her former bel dame cronies. I’m making it sound a lot of fluffier than it is. It’s seriously gritty and sometimes quite graphic tale about people who have been majorly fucked up by war. It’s also pretty cool at times and has some great lines and moments.


Previous updates:

51 of 286 pages

1 of 286 pages

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text 2017-08-21 14:03
Reading progress update: I've read 51 out of 286 pages.
God's War - Kameron Hurley

Humans have colonized the backwater planet Umayma. For reasons that aren't clear, two main factions, Nasheen and Chenja, are at war and pretty much everyone able-bodied gets sent to the Front (except for a few specialists and other exceptions). Nasheen is run by women since men over the age of sixteen or so get sent to Front and very few make it to forty to come back. Chenja seems to keep back a few men to run things but otherwise it's pretty much the same story.


Nyx spent time at the Front and is now a bel dame, a kind of government-sanctioned bounty hunter (as opposed to a regular bounty hunter that isn't employed by the government) who hunts down deserters from the Front among others but she spends some of her time as a regular bounty hunter and gets involved in some illegal stuff that gets her sent to prison. Oh yeah, and she's supposed to cut off her target's head as proof, so I'm guessing that's what's supposed to be wrapped in the bundle she's cradling on the cover.


It's definitely gritty.

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