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review 2017-09-23 05:55
The Crimson Meniscus, 7 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Stories from the Bubble by Jason Werbeloff
The Crimson Meniscus: 7 Mind-Blowing Sci... The Crimson Meniscus: 7 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Stories from the Bubble (The Bubble Chronicles Book 1) - Jason Werbeloff

The Crimson Meniscus, 7 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Stories from the Bubble by Jason Werbeloff did not disappoint. I've enjoyed this author's writing for a while and although some of it is a touch creepy, it's nevertheless intriguing. I gave it five stars.

 

Manufacturing Margaret is an intriguing science fiction/futuristic story about an android named Margaret.

 

"But my speech routines aren't programmed to express such thoughts. Instead, I find myself blurting my only programmed response to these situations. 'Please note that all activities in this cab are recorded.'"

 

Margaret drives a cab and observes thousands of humans. "I fly over Canal Street, parallel to the river, as though my grav motors are propelled by the spirits of the humans coursing through the thoroughfare below. From up here they look like an army of blood cells pumping through an artery."

 

Margaret discusses her increasing consciousness. "It's strange to think that everyone, everything, had a first moment of awareness. A point before which nothing was, and after which nothing would ever be the same."

 

Investing Isobella begins on a puzzling note. "'Look,' he says, 'I'm not going to lie to you, Paul. There's a risk. Sure.'

 

Jono Falanges slicks back his hair--his fingers leave track marks through the grease. He interlaces his hands behind his head. Stretches.

 

He knows I'm waiting with a thundering heart. Knows he has my full attention. I'm a desperate man."

 

It is a creepy tale indeed.

 

Oscillating Olaf tries to remain in an erotic dream but is interrupted by a phone call. He then has a sense of deju vu when the Roach called. Everything is going wrong. "My jaw was so tight, my teeth sang." He was learning to oscillate between two phases simultaneously. He was receiving messages from the future. A nice surprise twist at the end.

 

Patenting Peter is married to Cassandra who has what he called 'Lizard Eyes'. "Her gaze tore off me like a waxing strip. Landed on the frayed edge of the fedora on my head." She hated when he wore his father's hat.

 

His neighbor, Misaki with whom he had been flirting over the past few months as she came to borrow items arrived to borrow milk. He grabbed her wrist. "In the confusion, Misaki dropped the milk, which erupted in an ic spray over my naked feet. It took every fiber of my masculinity not to squeal."

 

Severing Sidney is an intriguing story about Geppetto's daughter Simona's merging with Neville. It's hauntingly poignant.

 

Aborting Andromeda is a twisted tale that is unusual to say the least. Christian works for the post-natal abortion clinic. A lovely surprise ending.

 

Defragmenting Daniel is a mesmerizing, yet somewhat creepy book. I gave it five stars.

"After six years working in the Organ Farm, Daniel still didn’t know why it was green – the Rejek they pumped through the organs. They’d said something in class about photosynthesis. All Daniel knew for sure was that after you ran Rejek through an organ, it was good for transplant."

 

Even those who work with harvesting organs have had many of their own taken away. "The knee was cybernetic, and you’d think it wouldn’t mind the cold. But ever since they’d harvested it when Daniel was nine, winters had been difficult. It was summer now, but the cold air in Administration wasn’t helping."

 

Daniel changed after they removed a segment of his brain. "He counted the full 49 seconds this time. Didn't feel the icy jets on his back. Daniel stood resolute against the arti spray. Even as the tears streaked down his cheeks, his mind tucked into itself. Numbed within a crease of a fold of a distant dream."

 

I received a complimentary copy from the author. That did not change my opinion for this review.

 

Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073PNRHK3

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review 2017-09-22 20:47
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death) - Nnedi Okorafor

This short, futuristic novel is essentially a power/revenge fantasy focused on the exploitation of people of African descent, especially in medical research. (Calling it a power fantasy isn’t necessarily a criticism; much of sci-fi and fantasy consists of power fantasies for white male nerds, so it seems only fair for others to get a cut of the action.) Despite a compelling start and socially relevant themes, however, this one flopped for me.

Phoenix lives in a future America in which powerful corporations perform medical experimentation on people, mostly black, who live locked up in mysterious Towers. She knows nothing else and is content until something awful happens to her best friend and love interest, at which point she starts to rebel and discovers the powers with which she was endowed. This is a prequel to a post-apocalyptic fantasy tale and has a frame story, so it’s no secret that somewhere along the way the world as we know it is destroyed, and most readers will guess how; nevertheless, this is your warning that this review will contain SPOILERS.

Okorafor sets the stage well, with an oppressive dystopian setting and a young protagonist struggling to make sense of it and survive. The first third of the book makes for compelling reading, with a fast-paced story full of danger set in a believable world. But as in the companion book, Who Fears Death, the protagonist becomes too powerful, leaching the story of dramatic tension. Once Phoenix learns that she can fly for days on end, die and regenerate as many times as necessary, and move through time and space in an instant and apparently without limit, the story no longer presents obstacles that really challenge her. She attacks one of the Towers alone and without planning and succeeds, so the long stretch toward the end spent preparing to attack another with a group seems unnecessary and anticlimactic (though from a narrative perspective, it allows some down time and for Phoenix to bond more with other characters).

The end also proved unsatisfying. Phoenix suddenly decides the world is irredeemable and that the goddess Ani – who, mind you, does not appear in the book – wants her to destroy it. This decision made little sense to me: after all, her lover is alive and needs rescuing, and while she did just discover that several powerful and corrupt men have used the Towers’ research to extend their lives indefinitely, there’s nothing stopping her from hunting them down individually. The connection to the writing of the Great Book and the world of Who Fears Death also seems strained, though I enjoyed the chapters of the frame story as an independent short story.

Meanwhile, the characterization is fairly simplistic; reviewers who have interpreted this as intentional due to Phoenix’s chronological age may well be correct, but I have my doubts, as the book portrays Phoenix as an adult woman in her intellectual capacity and ability to form relationships. Likewise, the writing style is simple and sometimes staccato, which suits the dystopian setting fine. The world has texture and is a conceivable outgrowth of our world, an important but often-overlooked element of a good dystopia. On the other hand, some details seem under-researched: the bizarre chapter in which, despite the secrecy in which these projects are shrouded, the only records of ongoing medical experiments turn out to be catalogued and housed in hard copy in the Library of Congress (which apparently will switch to Dewey Decimal in the future?) available for browsing by anyone with ID, has been thoroughly dissected in other reviews.

Overall, while this book has some interesting ideas, their execution proved to be a letdown. Not having thought much of Who Fears Death either, I’m ready to conclude that Okorafor’s work is not for me.

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text 2017-09-19 02:52
Reading progress update: I've listened 60 out of 360 minutes.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

I figure an hour when I have time should work for this.

 

So far so good. Enjoying the audio a lot. Trying to read this was a no go.

 

So far I didn't recognize that many voices. Max Brooks (the author) I found out was the narrator and I can see why many people said eh to him.

 

Hoping to finish by the time I get back from Boston on Tuesday (next week)! Planning on listening on the plane rides. I leave Friday so will be quiet with some pop ins if I have a chance. 

 

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review 2017-09-19 02:01
ARC Review: Saved (Breaking Free #1) by A.M. Arthur
Saved: Breaking Free #1: An Omegaverse Story - A.M. Arthur

I've never read an A/B/O book such as this one. My only exposure to Alpha/Beta/Omega is in shifter books, but this isn't a shifter book.

In this A/B/O universe, there are no shifters. There are no females. There are Alphas who are in charge, Betas who are barren but are allowed to hold jobs and adopt children (usually Beta and Omega children), and Omegas who are the lowest of the low and whose sole purpose, it seems, is to be mated to Alphas and be good little breeders.

Hmmm... that sounds familiar.

In this dystopian future of the United States, the Federal Government is no more, constitutional rights are a thing of the past, and the country is broken up into small provinces which all have their own rules and laws. 

We first meet Braun, an Omega, 20 and close to his first heat, upon his father's death. Now a ward of the state, since omegas are third-class citizens at best, unable to inherit, unable to make any personal choices, Braun is sent to a group home for orphaned omegas. Beaten regularly by his father, abused not just physically but mentally as well, told all his life that his sole purpose is to become some alpha-hole's breeding bitch, Braun is certain that alphas cannot be trusted and that happiness is not something he can expect at all. His own brother Kell is mated to a horrible Alpha, and Braun knows that Kell's lot in life is his future as well.

This was a difficult book to read, and it's just as difficult to write a coherent review without spoilers. I would advise any potential reader to heed the warnings in the blurb. Be prepared to RAGE at the injustices within. There were numerous times when I sat in my chair, my Nook gripped in my hands, and my eyes blinded with tears caused by helpless rage. 

Consent isn't required between an Alpha and his Omega. Domestic discipline is within the law. Omegas have no rights to speak of, and little protection from abuse. 

Yeah, I raged. A lot. 

The themes in this book are rather comparable to our current political climate, and there are many parallels that can be drawn between what happens in the book and what's happening in this world today. 

I liked that Braun, despite his circumstances, still had fight left in him. I liked that Tarek (the Alpha who helps Braun) was considerate and kind and patient. He took the time to win Braun's trust, something Braun didn't give easily, and he helped Braun as much as he could. He wasn't perfect, far from it, but he tried and tried to do the right thing by the young man in his care, no matter how hard Braun fought believing that an Alpha could be kind. 

I also quite liked the two Betas who take Braun in and conceal him, and who help him through his first heat. It wasn't easy reading to watch Braun go through that.

None of this book was easy reading, though there is reason for hope that things may start to change to make the lives of omegas a little easier. 

Kell's book is next. That will likely be even more difficult to get through.

Despite the dark themes inside, I would recommend this series. 



** I received a free copy of this book from Indigo Marketing & Design. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-09-18 17:30
Pale and Crimson #Halloweenbingo2017
Pale and Crimson: A Dystopian Horror Short Story (The Outsider Chronicles Book 0) - Kayti Nika Raet

For a short novella this book packed a punch and has me wanting to read the next book. 

So we are introduced to two brothers who want to eventually help kill these creatures called Slithers. Well when they learn that one of them is on the train they are traveling on that is when curiosity killed the cat and all those around them. 

Just pick this up so you can read it yourself and see if reading about Slithers sound good to you!

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