Review: The Dark Forest

Hi, blog friends.

Summer Reading 2017 has brought me to the sequel of The Three-Body Problem, which I liked just fine.  But friends: The Dark Forest was phenomenal.

(Per usual for reviews of sequels, I’ll try to keep the spoilers for book one to a minimum.)

dark forestThe Dark Forest starts out a bit slow, but that’s really the only negative thing I have to say about this book.  Once I got past the first 50 pages – which were beautifully written, mind you – I couldn’t put it down.

Most of the events in book two take place 200 years after the first book in the trilogy, and goodness, Cixin Liu has quite the imagination.  It was fun to read his thoughts on where humans and Earth might be some day given certain events and certain limitations due to those events – see, I’m trying really hard to not spoil Three-Body.  Just go read it.

In The Dark Forest, we get to see a few of the characters from Three-Body – some of my favorites in fact.  Liu uses these characters to explore so many different aspects of human nature.  He puts them into situations that push, pull, and strain them, and what he comes up with is amazing.

The whole idea of the Wallfacer Project is highly intriguing, and Liu uses it (plus the Wallbreakers, of course) to take the reader on a while ride through psychological manipulation and ethical dilemmas.

This book is sprawling and immense; it’s epic science fiction, with the scope of epic fantasy and the fascination of hard SF.

If you haven’t read The Three-Body Problem, go do that so you can read The Dark Forest.  And from what I’ve heard, Death’s End is quite the conclusion to this awesome series.

 

Summer Reading 2017 is coming to a close, but here are the reviews you can be looking forward to in the next two weeks:

  • The Stone Sky by N.K Jemisin
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay
  • The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu
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Review: Difficult Women

Hi there.  It’s me again, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since this is my blog…

Summer Reading 2017 is coming to a close soon – just a few more weeks.  If you remember, I got a late start this year, but that just means that Summer Reading lasts till the end of September.  I’m not mad.

My most recent summer read was Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  I’ll keep my review for this one brief – not because it wasn’t good, mind you.

This collection of short stories moved me in so many ways.  They broke my heart, madeimages me angry, made me cry, and disturbed me.

The stories in this book reflected so many different types of women in so many different types of situations.  Women were empowered, and women were broken.  Women were weak, and women were strong.  Women got happy endings, and women didn’t.

Roxane Gay doesn’t skirt around difficult topics and experiences, but she dives right in.  She writes about sex and love, doubt and faith, abuse and intimacy.  She writes sisters, mothers, daughters, lovers, and friends.  Her writing is raw and lyrical, and she tells the truth.  She really tells the truth.

My favorites: “Water, All Its Weight”, “North Country”, and “I am a Knife”.

In Which I’m Excited for Lots of Upcoming Things

Hey y’all!

This blog has been heavy on the reviews and light on the other stuff as of late.  I’m not sorry at all, but I do want to take a moment to share some exciting things with you:

Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story

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Remember Silver Tongue?  And how I’m a huge AshleyRose Sullivan fan?  And how I’ve been waiting for the sequel to Awesome Jones?  WELL IT’S FINALLY (ALMOST) HERE!  Lona Chang comes out on September 8, and I’m not sure I could be more excited.

 

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Provenance by Ann Leckie

Okay, okay, okay, OKAY.  Ann Leckie is coming out with a new book!  You know how much I love the Ancillary trilogy, and this new book is set in the same universe but with different characters and outside the Radch empire.  I’M SO INTRIGUED.  It drops on September 26.. EEEE!

Speaking of Ann Leckie…

On October 2, I will get to meet her and ask her to sign my copy of Ancillary Justice.  No big deal.  EXCEPT IT’S A HUGE DEAL!  She’ll be at Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction bookstore in Minneapolis.  I’m going with my husband and some friends, and we’re already nervous…  Wish me luck – mostly that I don’t make a fool of myself.

 

Alright.  Sorry for the excessive capitalization… now back to your regularly scheduled review programming.  Be looking for my thoughts on Difficult Women by Roxane Gay and The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu soon!

Review: Prophetic Lament

Hey, friends.

I just finished my first non-fiction book for Summer Reading 2017, and it was a good one.  As you might have read in my previous posts, my reading list this summer is only comprised of authors of color.  One of my unwritten goals is to read new authors in the genres I normally read.  Not only those genres of course – but I want to discover new-to-me authors in the genres I love.  Obviously this means lots of science fiction and fantasy, but this also means a lot of non-fiction; I read a lot of Christian non-fiction for work, so I’ve been on the look out for new authors in that category.

Unfortunately, this is the first Christian non-fiction book that I’ve read this summer.  That bums me out a bit, but I’ve got some great ones lined up soon.  Anyway, without further ado.

Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah was challenging and heartbreaking.  Rah walks the reader through the book of Lamentations from the Old Testament, giving cultural context, unpacking difficult passages, and explaining the style of the genre of lament.  Throughout the book, though, he adds commentary on American Christianity and how it has fallen so incredibly short in the area of lament.

The truth that Rah brings about the history of the American church and racism is convicting and so timely.  He challenges white Christians to think long and hard about their own privilege – something that hasn’t been done enough in my opinion.  He challenges American Christians to get over their exceptionalism and actually lament injustices, rather than always being focused on celebration.  He offers actual, tangible ways of doing this; none of them are easy, but all of them are necessary.

I’m still chewing on much of what was written in Prophetic Lament, and I imagine that I will be for a long time.  If you’re interested in the book of Lamentations, the history of the American Christianity and racism, or what the Church is doing now for social justice, get your hands on this book.  It’s worth your time.

Review: Who Fears Death

Hi, blog friends.

I just wrapped up book five of Summer Reading 2017, and let me tell you: it was a doozy.  I’d heard absolutely great things about Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, and it definitely lived up to the hype.  I’m always skeptical of hype, but GOODNESS, this didn’t disappoint.

Who Fears Death is a fantasy story of racism and sexism, war and abuse, love and magic,81h8QE+MbAL growing up too quickly and too slowly.  And much more.  All of this takes place in a dystopian future Africa, with vivid landscape descriptions that place you right in the middle of the pages.  It was captivating and beautiful.

The main character, Onye, is so deep and lively and complex.  She’s strong and fragile, independent and needy.  She is severely flawed, but only in ways that real humans are.  The same can be said of the rest of the amazing cast of characters: Binta, Luyu, Diti, Sola, Aro, the Ada, Onye’s parents, Mwita.  Oh, Mwita – how I love you.

I quickly became invested in each of these people’s lives, making the book so hard to put down.  Okorafor’s writing is AMAZING – so lyrical and raw, making the pages fly by.  There are some graphic scenes; the author doesn’t stray away from or gloss over hard topics.  But the violence is always for a purpose – it’s never gratuitous, which I appreciate.

If you’re looking for really good fantasy, books about race and ethnicity, books that will surprise you and break your heart over and over again – Who Fears Death should go on the top of your list.  It’s that good.

Review: Thunder Horizon

Hey there!

I’m taking another brief pause from Summer Reading 2017, but it’s for good reason, I promise.  Today, I get to partake in the Rayden Valkyrie celebration blog tour!  And there’s so much worth celebrating: two great books and a TV pilot for this amazing series.

ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800 (1)But I’m here to tell you specifically about Thunder Horizon, book two in the Dark Sun Dawn trilogy.  In this sequel, we get to follow Rayden Valkyrie, the sword and axe wielding bad-ass lady-warrior, into more adventure, danger, and battles.  Rayden has to fight both human and non-human, physical and supernatural enemies, and she does it with intense courage and unwavering integrity.

I’m a huge fan of Rayden Valkyrie as a character, and she’s not the only one.  Eigon was great, too, and I was super fascinated by Manak.  I loved scenes that he was in, and he’s one that has stuck with me since finishing the book.  Alcedan was another favorite, though honestly, I feel like each and every character was absolutely bursting with life.

I also loved the theme of reconciliation that ran through Thunder Horizon.  The idea of putting aside differences with your enemies to fight alongside each other for the greater good is so powerful.

And obviously, there were amazing battle scenes – no surprise, there.  The Dark Sun Dawn trilogy is so much more than that, though.  While there are notes of Xena and Beowulf (both of which I LOVE), it’s an incredibly unique series in all the best ways.

My biggest overall thought after reading Thunder Horizon?  Stephen Zimmer loves what he does – and that hands down makes the best books to read.

Friends, check out this trilogy, starting with Heart of a Lion.  You won’t be disappointed!

Oh, and head on over to Youtube to check out the teaser trailer for the TV pilot!

 

Want to know more about Stephen Zimmer?

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Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

 

Want to check out the other stops on the blog tour?

8/16     The Temple of the Exploding Head – Guest Post

8/16     The Page Turner – Guest Post

8/16     BOOKS TO CURL UP WITH – Author Interview

8/16     Bookishly me  – Author Interview

8/16     DarWrites – Guest Post

8/16     Sheila’s Guests and Reviews  – Guest Post

8/16     Sapphyria’s Books  –  Guest Post

8/16     Deal Sharing Aunt  – Top Ten’s List

8/17     DarWrites  – Review

8/17     Bookin Around Town  – Author Interview/Podcast

8/17     Full Moon Bites  – Character Interview

8/18     BOOKS TO CURL UP WITH   – Review

8/18     The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn – Top Ten’s List

8/18     I Smell Sheep  – Guest Post

8/19     Paranormal Pleasures  – Review

8/19     The Page Turner – Review

8/19     Bella’s Book Reviews – Review

8/19     Jeni’s Bookshelf – Guest Post

8/20     3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – Guest Post

8/20     The Seventh Star Blog  – Guest Post

8/20     Stuart Thaman Books  – Guest Post

8/21     MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape – Author Interview

8/21     SpecMusicMuse  – Author Interview

8/22     Beauty in Ruins  – Guest Post

8/22     Discover New Authors  – Author Interview

8/22     Butterfly’s Booknerdia Blog – Review

8/23     The Occult Detective  – Review

8/23     Bookishly me – Review

8/23     Jeni’s Bookshelf – Review

8/23    Jorie Loves a Story  – Interview

8/23     Readers Life With Trisha Ratliff  – Review

 

**This eBook was provided to me in exchange for an honest review; no compensation was provided.

Review: The Three-Body Problem

It’s still Summer Reading 2017, and I’m still on a mission to read every Hugo Award winner for best novel (in addition to Summer Reading.  My reading list this summer is only comprised of books by author of color).  So naturally, I got my hands on The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

Three-Body was first published in China in 2008 after being serialized in 2006.  In 2014, Tor published Ken Liu’s English translation, and in 2015, The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award for Best Novel – the first ever translated work to win in that category, I believe.

This was a fun read for me.  The scope of the novel was immense and overwhelming at times.  Spanning from the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960’s and 70’s to present day China (and beyond), Cixin Liu beautifully wove hard science with history, politics, environmentalism, psychology, and of course, virtual reality video games and aliens.  So much and so good.

You know (or maybe you didn’t, but you do now) that I LOVE first contact stories.  And the first contact scenes in The Three-Body Problem are absolute gems.  They’re going to stick with me for a long time.  And not just those – so much of the writing in this book was gorgeous.  This work was full of haunting chapters – deep, complex, and moving.

To top it all off, there were many times that The Three-Body Problem felt like a Michael Crichton book in all the best ways.  And I loved the feeling of being transported back to when I was first introduced to science fiction in junior high with Sphere, Andromeda Strain, and Timeline.

Looking forward to reading its sequel, The Dark Forest, soon!