Category Archives: science fiction

#UltimateBlogTour Day 9: After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

Self Published

They tell me the country looked different back then. 
They talk of open borders and flowing rivers. 
They say the world was green. 
But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky. 

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality. 

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?- Goodreads

Before jumping into the review, you all have to understand that After the Green Withered won the 2018 Best Indie Award in Young Adult Fiction! So congratulations, Ms. Ward!

Enora Byrnes isn’t exactly having the time of her life. Her parents, who no longer feel or act whole, follow a system called “company.” You know its one of those we are here to help you because the world you once knew ended but Enora doesn’t agree with this lifestyle, which creates a divide between her and her parents. I know that this sounds typical; something that has been done before, however, this book has a completely different feel.

I chalk this up to writing style and a form of familiarity.

With all dystopia books, there are references to technology and modern world. I liked that. I like feeling a connection with a book beyond the characters and that is what the book gives. Despite literally the world being nothing like we know now, there is a connection to what is happening now i.e. the constant invasion of privacy, the constant looking over your shoulder because you don’t know who to trust because someone can turn in on you. It sounds weird but I like that the author was able to add this specific feeling into her novel.

However, the book was slow. There is a lot of building, which is fine but when things reached the peak, I did not feel the YES! I was waiting for. It just felt like “well alright. At least we are getting somewhere.” Do I think the author did a good job developing the story, setting and characters? Yes, it just happened to be a bit slower than I expected and wanted.

In regards to characters. . . Enora was alright. There is a lot of growth with her and I am actually looking forward to see how she grows in the next book. The ending made it very clear things weren’t done and I am cool with that. The cliffhanger didn’t exactly make me upset that there was a cliffhanger but I was more like thinking if I want to read another book. And the answer is yes, yes I would.

Overall,

3 Pickles

When you get the chance, check out the other posts on this ultimate blog tour!

A Tale of Two Pages
Out of This World SFF Reviews
Hiding Behind Books
Never Enough Books
Looking Glass Reads
Cats Luv Coffee
The Artsy Reader
Bookmarks and Stages

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New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl & Rebecca Roanhorse (Contributor)

Solaris
TBP: March 14,2019
384 Pages

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings.

These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.- Goodreads

I am trying to expand my reading tastes; especially when it comes to Black or other authors of colors. It is so easy to pick up more white authors especially if they are the ones being promoted more.

So when I came across this book I was extremely excited for it despite my dislike for short stories. With that being said, I wasn’t exactly disappointed in this book; there was a lot of good but then a lot of so so.

Dear Dancer written by Kathleen Alcala was the first short story that showed promise. The author was able to get me interested in the who and what the main character Tater was. There was a backstory that called for more and then ending left a ‘well why’ sitting at the tip of my tongue. This could be extended into a longer story or at least a novella leading to a full novel.

The Fine Print by Chinelo Onwualu is great as it is. I don’t enjoy reading stories about Djinn as a Muslim they creep me out. This story was no different but beyond that it packed a punch. It was creative and there was a twist that was well thought out. *insert shocked gif* This was good.

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias S. Buckell gave me Fifth Element vibes. Was it as good as the movie, no but it was a solid read that deserves attention not only in the story but in the author.

The remaining stories weren’t bad but they were not my cup of it. They didn’t draw me in nor did they provide the wow factor.

This collection is worth reading because it brings attention to new authors that given a longer word count may be worth investing time into.

Overall, since there were more eh stories than good ones

2 Pickles

Book Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Crown Books for Young Readers
Published July 17th, 2018
400 Pages

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?– Goodreads

If you have not picked up this series, you really should. Emmett is everything you want in a main character. Emmett’s heart and perception is everything you want in a series.

However, despite my love of Emmett, I didn’t get sucked into this story as much as I did with the first book (read my hype here). This book is a build up to what will be an epic finale. The thing about this book is there is so much build up that my focus was going in an out at time. But let me explain.

Emmett is ready to take Babel out. After forcing him into a corner that now has him looking constantly over his shoulder, Emmett is done when he sees Babel’s disregard for the Adamite’s lifestyle & culture. It is a history being repeated. Although the author does not use the term “White people trying to take over things” colonization is used and that is exactly what it is. It pisses Emmett off, rightfully so. Babel is trying to loot the planet as much as possible for their own financial means.

But the Adamite are much more clever that Babel thinks so and its not surprising because colonizers have a tendency to belittle and underestimate the people they want to ruin. I slightly digress but it is hard not to compare real life history to what is happening  in the book. The author does a really good job of not blunting calling it what it is but making the reader as well as Emmett aware of what is happening.

The whole premise of this book is to show that nothing is what it seems and the author does a really good job hiding intentions. I was surprised at some points. My issue with this book was there was a lot of downtime. The downtime makes sense and it is completely appropriate to have considering what happens at the end but it didn’t excite me as much as the first book. Although the pace is really good and there is a lot of things to pay attention to, this read wasn’t as strong as the first book.

Overall, it is important to read this book and not skip because everything comes together at the end. Everything makes sense.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
August 29, 2017
496 Pages

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival depends on trusting each other…- Goodreads

1 Pickle

I normally do not provide a rating for a book nor would I normally review a book that I rate lower than 2 Pickles but this was an arc and I feel that a review is needed for this one.

This read started off okay. It was pretty obvious where the author is going in regards to growth of the characters the moment you start reading. Eighth and Raven have a chip on their shoulder even before they both go through their life changing situation. Which is fine but when reading Raven’s point of view, I didn’t like anything about her. She was clingy/needy and she has tools to stand on her own and she acts such like a badass but none of it is real.

Eighth’s character made more sense. His reactions, thoughts and movements made complete sense and it match the story or at least the summary much more than Raven. However, because the author switches between Eighth and Raven, I felt that there was a lot of story lost. What drove the story was emotion, be it rage, sympathy or love, I didn’t feel like the world was ending and that  Eighth and Raven were the ones that were going to change it.

It was weird because a majority of the book I was waiting for that explosive intensity to make me want to dive into the book. But it never came.

The story felt dragged out, Raven was unlikable, not enough meat to the story and not enough depth.

I did not like this book and that is unfortunate because there was a lot the author could have done to make this spectacular.

Book Review: Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor

Tor.com
Published Sept 22nd, 2015
96 Pages

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.- Goodreads

*This review is for all three books. 

I am going to start with the rating. The first two books, I gave 3 Pickles while the last book I gave 2 Pickles.

The thing about this series is although it is considered science fiction, there wasn’t a whole lot of science fiction in it. Yes, there is space, mathematics and the use of advanced technology but all those things came second. They weren’t are prominent in these books as I thought there would be. I don’t necessarily have an issue with this as I am not the biggest science fiction fan and am slowly trying to get into that genre. However, strangely enough I wanted more of it. The really cool thing was the use of math in this series but I wanted more about the technology and how it is used and who uses it in what way. For the most part, it was brushed over.

What I loved about the book was the culture. Ms. Nnedi may not breakdown every tribe  in full detail. But the ones that are focused on in this book had a lot of detail, imagery and life. It didn’t feel like I was reading a history lesson. My only issue with this is because this is a short story, there was still so many questions I had in regards to each tribe. I am glad Ms. Nnedi didn’t go so far into the history because it would have taken away from the book but a companion book would be fantastic for this series.

But here is why I gave the book 3 & 2 Pickles.

Binti.

She is an amazingly talented, strong and smart girl. At 17 years old, she does a whole lot to prove herself not only knowledgeable but also capable. My issue with her is she whines and complains every step of the way. I get not wanting to change but her who action is change. She set herself up for change and then when there are consequences to the decisions she makes, she starts having a fit. Crying and all of that. This is throughout all of the books. She has some character development, which you see in book two but in book three, I didn’t see it at all. Bigger things are at stake in book three and she just a short of falling out on the floor and kicking her feet screaming.

Binti is way better than this and the fact that all personal growth stopped at book two bothered me. Does she increase her knowledge? Yes. . . reluctantly but yes. But did she grow as a person not necessarily. She is a child and most if not all her actions reminded me of such. With that knowledge and everything she went through, she didn’t mature enough. Her constant complaining and crying really made the last book more difficult to read.

So overall, the entire series gets a total of 2.7 Pickles if you average and total. I enjoyed it for what it was and really love Ms. Nnedi writing style and have every intention of reading her other books.

Book Review: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Tor.com
Published Oct. 3, 2017
128 Pages

The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

Short review for this one.

What can I say about this book? Its intriguing and the vagueness of it catches your attention a lot more than I am willing to admit. It is also slow and a bit of a let down.

The premise that Molly can reproduce other Mollys by bleeding is interesting. At first glance, I thought… well how is that actually going to work. But the author was able to make it make sense. As reading it, the light bulb went off and I was like alright I can dig this.

I didn’t jump into this knowing that this was a novella so a lot of how the story played out made sense. My biggest issue was it did feel like the author was trying to make this novella last longer than it should. There is a lot of Molly did this, Molly did that or Molly simply talking in her head. I wanted more interaction between people and more emotion. Everything was really monotone. Molly didn’t have a whole lot of emotions, which is understandable but I wanted some growth from her towards the end… some humanity that I didn’t really get.

Despite that I did enjoy this read and I want a continuation because this definitely feels like a backstory and also the continuation can be really really good if done right.

2.5 Pickles

Book Review: Starswept by Mary Fan

Snowy Wings Publishing
Published Aug. 29, 2017
400 Pages

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows. – Goodreads

Every main character isn’t going to be the brightest of the bunch. They aren’t also going to come with struggles of a childhood or for the most part have knowledge of some kind of world outside of their own bubble. For Iris, Starswept is her first struggle or test of growth.

Iris is naive and painfully so. I strongly believe the author kept putting that character trait within the novel to remind the reader that Iris is a sheltered 15 year girl. My issue with this is it is so constant that my eyes was in permanent eye roll. It really makes it hard for me, at least, to like Iris. I get it she is young and not every character is going to be older than what they are but at a certain point it became ridiculous.

I liked how the author tried not to do a insta love. It is dangerously close and hilarious how Iris has someone she is interested in and doesn’t make a move but when she sees the Adryil boy, you never hear about her original interest. Another eye roll.

Beyond Iris, the story overall was pretty decent. The idea that a advanced race is buying out Earthlings talented in the arts for their entertainment is creative and I appreciate the author opening that door. I loved the complexity of the surrounding characters and I did like the fact that the author didn’t solely depend on them to push the story through. Although I felt the story was long, I can see why the author chose to stretch it out in order to fully develop and show Iris growth.

Surprisingly enough, I wish there was more music in the story. I think the stretching would have benefited from melodies being shown within the story line as well as Iris having other interest. But the story sucks in you because you know something is off about the whole world and you want to find out have a 15 year old naive girl shakes things up. It sounds cliche but the story really isn’t.

I strongly believe that a book 2 would blow book 1 out of the waters because Iris has not passed the stage of doing things blindly at the cost of others.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Crown Books for Young Readers
Published Sept. 12, 2017
384 Pages

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

I am not into science fiction. Therefore, my excitement for this book was fairly non-existence. I went into this not expecting anything other than probably a cliche love triangle.

Dude…

I was so wrong. This book is freaking amazing. Like A. MAZE. ZING.

First off, the diversity within this book is great. To be able to show all types of people and not make them stereotypical was A+ for me. Emmett is like a long lost brother. I was able to relate to him as another Black person and the struggles him and his family emotional go through. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. Emmett’s family history is one of the most touching parts of this book. Also his vulnerability, his honesty, strength, his curiosity, his loyalty, his music choices, I can literally go on how much I love this boy and how much I am looking so forward to the man he becomes in this series.

Enough about Emmett (for now). Here is what I liked about the story, romance did not dominate this book. Was there some romance in it? Yes, towards the end and honestly I think it was in there to appease some masses because although it was great for how it went, it was not needed nor did I desire it in this book.

I was a sitting upright when I read this book. I was waiting for the world to end on this spaceship. And the worst happened and I was devastated. I look at the book and almost through my kindle across the room. But the issue regarding one of the turning points in this book was it didn’t exactly change a whole bunch. Emmett’s drive was renewed, yes, but overall nothing changed and that shocked me a bit.

But the author was able to keep the momentum going, keep me wanting to read what will happen next and when he introduces the other turning point it leads to a perfect book two. Was there some predictability? Yes, if you are paying attention then you will see it. Was the story overall creative? Yes, in the fact that it is in space and the Nyxia is extremely cool. But the story does touch upon what has been happening in real life for years. A country finding a resource in another country and proceeds to do whatever it take to get it. Sounds straight-out the history book to me. But overall I though this was quality writing that leads much to the imagination.

5 Pickles

Short Story Review: Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor

Tor Books Published Nov. 2nd, 2011 32 Pages
Tor Books
Published Nov. 2nd, 2011
32 Pages

There is witchcraft in science and a science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually.- Goodreads

*Short Review*

The summary doesn’t really give away anything. So I really took a chance on this read. Also I will say this time and time again, me and short stories do not get along. It is rare that I enjoy a short story or a short story collection…. This is one of those rare times.

As short as this was, I enjoyed it. I was captivated mainly because I wanted to know more. I wanted a backstory to the witches and I wanted more details to why things were turning out the way they were.  The story doesn’t really lead up to anything. You are right there at the beginning of a battle scene.

My biggest with this is the fact that it is a short story. The ending stops mid scene, which pissed me off because it is like how can you do that? Right when everything was happening :(

Overall, for what it was I enjoyed this but wish it was leading to a larger story.

3.5 Pickles

Graphic Novel Review (Spoilers): Alex + Ada, Vol. 1 (Alex + Ada #1-5) by Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn

 Image Comics Published July 16, 2014 128 Pages
Image Comics
Published July 16, 2014
128 Pages

In the near future, robots are a real thing. But the last thing Alex wants is an X5 as an companion. When Ada arrives at his door, Alex realizes that his outlook may not be as accurate as he thought.

Let’s cut right to the chase. This graphic novel is predictable but it is one of those I know what is going to happen but I like reading it anyway.

As stated the story-line was predictable and I really didn’t like Alex. The whole concept is he went through a bad break up and is lonely, so he receives the X5 as a gift from his grandmother, He doesn’t like the fact that Ada is a robot, so he gets her hacked to be a human.

I think that is ridiculously because you want a human girl but you don’t want to put in the work to be with a human girl, so you use a robot and make her more human.  -_-

The story moves really fast and Ada falls into a fast stereotype of over-reacting female faster than any none human can.  But what I liked about this series despite the character flaws was how it showed that given the opportunity humans may not act so human at all. Granted this is not a new concept but it still was not horrible to read. It showed how jealous and petty people can really be when they don’t get what they want.

I enjoyed the artwork very much. It was bright and detailed not cliche in the least. It wasn’t sloppy and other than Alex being stale face most of the time, other characters displayed emotion in a realistic way.

As stated before this series is very basic but there something like-able about that you just keep reading it. This a I happen to see it read not I need to buy it read. So much more could have been done.

 

3 Pickles