Wednesday, May 31, 2017

REVIEW | The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Science Fiction -Space Opera
Series: The Wayfarer #1
Awards: None
Format: eBook
Narrator: NA

WHY?:  Lots of people raved and it sounded awesome.  Plus there were Firefly comparisons which always hook me.

WHAT HAPPENS?: To escape some family problems, Rosemary joins the crew of a deep space tunneling ship, the Wayfarer, and is pleasantly surprised to find a new family.  The ship gets a commission to take on a long haul (year or more) job that puts them in dangerous space.  It's a risk but the money is great and they know they can handle it.  They have a couple of adventures on the way and the job is more than they bargained for and that's all exciting but mostly it's about the 9 crew mates on the ship and how life happens even when you're hurtling through space.  

This book is not hard to review at all though I don't know that my thoughts on it will add anything new to the reviews already out there.  It's really brilliant and is just overflowing with heart while somehow managing not to get schmoopy.  It's really genuine in a way that few books are.  The found family trope is one of my absolute favorites and this book gets it just right.  

The set up of the book is a thinly glossed series of vignettes, each of which helps the reader become more acquainted with each member of the crew.  There's the overarching story line about the trip to the mysterious and dangerous Hedra Ka (the small angry planet) but it almost just serves as a framework for the smaller stories that happen as they hurtle through space.

Half the crew is human but the other half are alien and Chambers does a fantastic job creating aliens that actually feel alien while also being recognizable. Sissix is a species that is evolved from a reptile-like ancestor and her character and the exploration of her society is awesome.  I love the Aeluons who communicate by using the changing colors on their cheeks which have infinite meanings.  It's obvious Chambers has really thought through everything and so they all feel very real, alien but also comfortable. 

In relation to the above, I really enjoyed how the book explored diversity in this future where humans are a somewhat insignificant species.  I especially connected with Lovey and how the universe is still grappling with Artificial Intelligences and how to treat them.  I'm glad the second book sounds like it focuses on this even more.

And that Firefly comparison?  This is the first book I've read that really does have that vibe.  It doesn't quite have the humor or the excitement that Firefly did but the found family and character dynamics really hit the sweet spot.  And Chambers totally has the knack, like Whedon does, of meshing the fantastical with the everyday mundanities, and delights, of life. 

It doesn't quite get full marks though it's close.  It's a little too feel good and drama free for it to be exciting and it did drag a little in places.  A little more conflict would have spiced things up.  Still really really lovely and well done.  

And if you want a glimpse of the humor this was one passage that made me laugh out loud:
“I ate a har—monica! These socks—match—my hat!” “Kizzy.” A tool clattered to the ground. Kizzy’s hands clenched into fists as the music swelled to a stormy crescendo. She danced atop the shuddering ladder, her head still in the ceiling. “Socks! Match—my hat! Socks! Match—my hat! Step on—some—sweet—toast! Socks! Match—my hat!” “Kizzy!” Kizzy ducked her head down. She pressed the clicker strapped to her wrist, turning down the volume of the nearby thump box. “’Sup?” Jenks quirked an eyebrow. “Do you have any idea what this song is?” Kizzy blinked. “Socks Match My Hat,” she said. She went back up into the ceiling, tightening something with her gloved hands. “Soskh Matsh Mae’ha. It’s banned in the Harmagian Protectorate.” “We’re not in the Harmagian Protectorate.” “Do you know what this song’s about?” “You know I don’t speak Hanto.” “Banging the Harmagian royal family. In glorious detail.” “Ha! Oh, I like this song so much more now.” “It’s credited with setting off the riots on Sosh’ka last year.” “Huh. Well, if this band hates the establishment that much, then I doubt they’ll care about me making up my own words. They can’t oppress me with their ‘correct lyrics.’ Fuck the system.”

FINAL VERDICT:  Loved it and all must read it, particularly if you enjoy aliens, journeys through space, found families and character driven narratives.  4 out of 5 Stars

OTHER OPINIONS ARE AVAILABLE:  Read It and Leap | The Book Smugglers

Monday, May 29, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Most Anticipated Reading in the Second Half of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  

This week's topic is "Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017".  This usually refers to books that will be released in the next few months but that's not really how I read, so the list below is a mixed bag of upcoming releases, relatively recent releases that I'm particularly looking forward to, a couple of older books and one book that I really wish were being released this Fall.  I am excited about reading all of them in the next 6 months.


1) Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions (Kopp Sisters #3) by Amy Stewart

I'm obsessed with this historical mystery series that takes place in pre-1920 New York and is loosely based on the true life of America's first female Deputy Sheriff.  Constance Kopp and her sisters are the best.  I'm going to read the crap out of this one when it comes out in September!

2) Avatar The Last Airbender: North and South by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Gurihiru (Illustrator)

I am a huge Avatar fan and loved this graphic novel series which continues Aang and the gang's adventures.  The collected volume of this newest installment should be out this Fall.

3) The rest of The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

I am re-reading this historical fiction series in audio and I am loving them even more than the first time I read them in college.  I haven't even gotten to the really good parts yet!  So far I've read The Game of Kings and am in the middle of Queen's Play.
4) A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2)  by Becky Chambers

I recently read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and really loved it. Brilliant, found family Sci Fi. I will not be letting much time elapse before picking up this companion novel.

5) A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab 

I timed the reading of this trilogy just right, having finished book two a couple months ago.  Just in time for the concluding book to be available.  *pats self on back*

6) Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith

One thing I've learned this year?  I like when J.K. goes dark and gory and uses curse words.  I recently flew through the first two books of this mystery series and they were seriously top notch. Great mysteries and awesome characters.  I can tell this will be a series that will have me waiting impatiently for the next installment!

7) The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

A YA title that I've been very intrigued by for a long time and I now own it in audio format so no excuse not to slurp it into the old noise intake holes this Summer!

8) Starfall (Starflight #2) by Melissa Landers

I put this one on here with trepidation.  I adored Starflight when I read it earlier this year but the verdict on Starfall seems to be a big NOPE.  This is from readers who also loved Starflight and the two issues brought up most frequently are big negatives for me as well.  So. Nervous. But hopeful.

9) A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn

I fell so hard for the first book in this historical mystery/adventure series.  Features two anthropologist/naturalist main characters. LOVE. Must read book two now!

**Books I am Disappointed I will not be reading in the second half of 2017**

10) Peace Talks (Dresden Files #16) by Jim Butcher

Where oh where is this book?? It's been in the works for a while.  We've had a title and an outline of the story for at least two years but there is no pub date on the horizon:(.  He's usually quite prolific and he has a general idea of how and when the series will end  (i.e. he's got a plan) so I wonder what writing obstacles he's hit with this one?  This one's supposed to focus on Molly and Molly kinda sucks (my opinion only)... so maybe that's it?

Those are some books I will definitely be picking up with enthusiasm in the near future. Plus one book about which I will pout and complain about its tardiness.  What's on your super VIB (very important book) must-read-soon TBR list?

Well. That was unexpected....

Hi!  It's been awhile!  I kind of, sort of, completely unintentionally dropped off the face of the Earth.   When last I blogged, at the end of March, everything was still mostly brown.  Now, as the Golden Alexander above attests, Spring has most definitely sprung.  Hurrah!

I wish I could say my disappearance was because I was kidnapped by space pirates who ended up being really nice and having hearts of gold and we had many adventures and bouts of sea (space?) shanty singing before they dropped me back home on Earth. Alas, the reality is that work got all demanding and sucked away all energy for anything but it so I took a break during a particularly busy week which turned into 2.5 months. This may have been more exciting if "work" wore a scary black mask and breathed through a respirator while laughing maniacally but really my job is all right.  It just sometimes gets overwhelming and needs all my brain power.  *shakes fist at feeble brain power*

Anyhoo, with that much time away, it does feel awkward and a little rusty to get back in the game but I have continued to read and watch TV and I have stuff to say about all of it.  And I want to know what you think about all of it. Plus, I've missed adding 20 books to my TBR each week because I haven't been keeping up with all the book bloggers I've come to rely upon to feed my addiction (in a good way:).  In short I miss the book blogosphere and all the wonderful people in it.  I even got a little defensive of it when I recently read The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith and some not-so-complimentary things were implied about book review blogs.  That better have been the opinion of your snotty, literary fiction writing characters and not you, J.K.!  Bottom line, I'm going to try and creep back into this world slowly and hope I am able to get the knack of it....I'd say again but I'm not sure I ever quite got the knack.  So, how about I'm going to re-start my clumsy blundering and have a great time doing it.

So what have I missed?  How've you been?  What was your favorite book that you reviewed in the last couple months?

Ella's getting bigger and bigger and we have fun.
Jasper and Rudy continue to be adorbs.