Where Love can Outdo Nature: Reviewing Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Hi everyone! There is nothing quite as satisfying as finally getting around to reading that one book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest time. It’s even more satisfying when you really enjoy said book. It was just the book I needed at this time with everything being considered. I don’t write this blog to be political, but it is unavoidable. So, with that vague statement, let’s talk about Her Body and Other Parties.

Carmen Maria Machado’s collection of eight short stories combines horror, a twisted sense of humor, dark fantasy, and psychological analyses to highlight the harsh reality faced by women.

I am going to give a disclaimer at the top of this review that these stories do discuss mature topics about trauma, abuse, and sexuality. Approach with some caution if you are not ready to read about such topics.

With that all being said, I was certainly impacted by these stories. I love the use of defamiliarization that Machado so cleverly uses to highlight the reality that women have to deal with. Machado does let the reader’s imagination run, while still having a clear message throughout. I personally always look forward to that one short story that is going to haunt me and Machado delivered eight of them. Two stories particularly stood out to me were “Inventory” and “Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law and Order: SVU.” I do highly recommend this collection if you are looking for a book about feminism and queerness told in such a unique and dark voice.

There is no chaos – only harmony: Reviewing Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Hi everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this lovely summer weather. I may be in the middle of some life changes but have had just enough time to catch up on my TBR list. You’re all going to be seeing more Star Wars novel reviews from me in the future because I officially have a new obsession. Whether you’re on the light side or the dark, I hope you appreciate my review of Master and Apprentice.

It is the duty of the Jedi to train their Padawans to be fierce and just warriors. Qui – Gon Jinn, however, finds himself at odds with his pragmatic Padawan, Obi – Wan Kenobi. Their relationship is only strained further when Qui – Gon is offered a place of the Jedi Council. Before a decision can be made, the Master and Padawan are summoned to the planet of Pijal by a renegade Jedi, Rael Aveross. Jinn and Kenobi find themselves in the middle of political turmoil. When danger lurks around every corner, Jinn and Kenobi’s bond is put to the ultimate test.

This book was equal parts epic adventure and thoughtful character study, which is what I want in a Star Wars novel. Claudia Gray does and excellent job maintaining and expanding upon the characters of Obi – Wan Kenobi and Qui – Gon Jinn. Even the original characters in the novel are interesting in their own right. This imaginative addition to the Star Wars canon is definitely worth the read for both casual and long term fans alike.

One Match can Light up an Empire: Reviewing Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Hello everyone! Yet again, I find myself finishing a book at an ungodly hour and feeling the need to blog about it immediately after when I should just go to bed. This one, for me, couldn’t wait. I wanted to kick off Pride Month with an LGBTQ+ book review for all of you. I am in the process of moving right now (among other life events) so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read this month. But nothing will ever truly get between me and my need to read every book I get my hands on. So, let’s discuss Winter’s Orbit.

Prince Kiem has built a reputation for himself as the “playboy prince of Iskat,” which puts him in the bad graces of the Emperor, his grandmother. His carefree life is turned upside down when the Emperor calls on him to enter a political marriage with the recently widowed Count Jainan. Neither wants to be married, but it is the only way to settle the disharmony rising up between their home planets. The couple soon find themselves wrapped up in a conspiracy that spreads across the galaxy and must work together to prevent a possible war.

Everina Maxwell does an excellent job balancing a compelling plot and slow burn romance in this exciting sci-fi novel. The pacing was steady and allows for the reader to fully absorb the vast galaxy that Maxwell carefully crafts. The romance between Kiem and Jainan is sweet, awkward, and passionate in all of the best ways. It is definitely more of a character driven novel overall, which I appreciate in this instance. With sci-fi novels, it sometimes feels as though I either get to know the setting or the characters well but rarely both. In this instance, I felt as though both were equally fleshed out through the writing. I am absolutely going to recommend this novel if you are looking for a sci-fi adventure with romance to read this summer.

May the Force Be With You: Reviewing The Last Command (Book Three of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! The snow is starting to melt here, but you can’t really trust the weather. I am in a marginally better mood, however, I hope to see some change in my future. I am still very much in the mood for Star Wars after finishing The Book of Boba Fett. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. A die hard Star Wars fan might disagree with me, though. I digress. Let’s talk about the final book in the Thrawn trilogy.

Grand Admiral Thrawn continues his ruthless attacks against the New Republic with a new weapon at hand: an army of clone troopers. Han Solo and Chewbacca struggle to recruit their fellow smugglers as a last ditch effort to defend against Thrawn’s attacks. Princess Leia must seek out an enemy in the Alliance while also preparing for the birth of her twins. The last hope the New Republic has is in destroying the dark Jedi Master C’baoth and he has only one goal in mind: to bring Luke Skywalker to the dark side or kill him.

This was a pretty satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. My biggest gripe is with the focus on some of the new characters. I personally didn’t get very attached to the some of the new characters that Zahn created but I do respect how these characters helped build the world further. Zahn did do a great job handling the established characters like Luke, Leia, and Han. It felt like a natural progression for them after the original trilogy and they got to have more time to shine. Thrawn is also just a great character to read about. Arguably, he is one of the best Star Wars villains and I would like to see him in live action. I would still recommend this trilogy to any Star Wars fan and I am definitely going to check out more Star Wars novels in the future.

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged: Reviewing Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Hi everybody! I could be asleep right now but it’s a snow storm and it has motivated me to shrink my ever-growing TBR list. If you know me, you know I like science fiction but I am no expert in science. I wish I could know more and I am trying to know more. Thankfully, Andy Weir knows how to make science more exciting through these exciting adventures. Let’s talk about Project Hail Mary.

Ryland Grace wakes up from a coma to find himself the sole survivor on a spaceship. He can barely remember his own name, let alone the purpose of his mission. Ryland soon realizes he must do the impossible to save Earth on his own. Or maybe he isn’t alone after all.

I just want to give a huge shoutout to Andy Weir for presenting complicated scientific principles in a way that someone like me, a book nerd, can properly understand. Not only that, it was wrapped in an exciting and suspenseful adventure that kept me reading. It is certainly comparable to Weir’s first breakout novel, The Martian, but this one had some added elements that really played into my love of science fiction. You don’t have to read The Martian or even be a scientist to enjoy the thrilling ride that is Project Hail Mary.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…: Reviewing Dark Force Rising (Book Two of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I hope you all are coping well with the stress of the holidays. Ugh. It’s a lot. I’m trying to get through my TBR list before Christmas because I basically only asked for books. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted, really. Besides that, I wanted to continue this particular trilogy so let’s talk about Dark Force Rising.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s campaign against the New Republic continues after acquiring what remains of the Imperial Fleet. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Land Calrissian try to uncover treason within the Republic Council and find themselves caught in a much larger conspiracy. Leia Organa Solo finds herself alone as she must gather more allies for the New Republic’s cause. Luke Skywalker, on the other hand, must contend with a Dark Jedi who wants to bring him to the dark side. It is a race against time before Thrawn launches his most powerful attack.

Upon delving into the world of Star Wars, I have discovered people either love the space politics and detail backstories or they just want lightsaber fights. This book contains mostly the former. Personally, I found the book to be very slow at points with the endless negotiating scenes and the political espionage. I am sure a bigger Star Wars fan might appreciate it a bit more than I. I still enjoyed the book, though. There were a lot of emotional stakes that made the world all the more interesting. I am still going to recommend this series to any Star War fan but, be warned, it is a bit long winded.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…: Reviewing Heir to the Empire (Book 1 of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice fall weather and getting just as excited for spooky season as me. I have a few horror novels that I am saving for October. Before I get into this review, I need to backtrack just a bit. About midway through lockdown, I decided that I was going to revisit the Star Wars franchise, but not the main movies. I initially began with The Mandalorian then fell deeper down the rabbit hole with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then I began to read various Star Wars comics. I decided to take the plunge into Star Wars literature as I had heard good things about many of the novels associated with the movies since I need to read every book under the sun. Now, join me as we journey into the famous Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

It’s been five years since the Empire fell. Since then, Princess Leia and Han Solo have gotten married and are expecting twins. Luke Skywalker has become a fully fledged Jedi knight. Together, the three have been working to build the New Republic and bring peace to the galaxy. However, a new threat is on the horizon. Grand Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant and ruthless warlord, has taken control of the remnants of the Empire and plans to wipe out the burgeoning New Republic and, with a newly discovered power, he will stop at nothing to bring back the Empire.

I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with this first novel in the trilogy. Zahn’s novel feels as cinematic and action – packed as any of the movies in the Original trilogy. I am not sure how cannon these books are but I certainly liked how such classic characters like Luke, Han, and Leia were further developed. Thrawn is a great character on his own and he especially made me want to keep reading this book. You don’t need to know a ton about Star Wars lore going into this novel as Zahn creates a whole new journey to follow. I would definitely recommend this to the casual and die hard Star Wars fan alike as it is an immersive and exciting book that I wanted to finish so I could read the next one immediately.

Most things aren’t. Most events haven’t: Reviewing It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Hi everyone! We have officially left 2020 in the rearview and 2021 is ahead, uncertain but hopeful. I wasn’t expecting to get a book review out this soon, but I fell into one of those wonderful reading spells where you just don’t want to put down the book. In this case, the book is another one based off of my favorite podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. You can check out my review of the first novel inspired by the podcast, which has the same title. Now, let’s get into It Devours!

As an outsider, Nilanjana navigates her strange new home of Night Vale with logic and reasoning. Working with fellow outsider and Night Vale’s most handsome scientist, Carlos, she is sent to investigate the giant sinkholes appearing around the town. This leads Nilanjana to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, where she meets and develops feelings for one of its members, Darryl. The two must question their beliefs as they realize that there is something darker beneath the surface that could mean the end for Night Vale.

As for anything related to Welcome to Night Vale, I really didn’t know what to expect with this novel. I did, however, love the way it expanded on the already bizarre world of Night Vale. It was equals parts profound, bizarre, and romantic as the novel explored complicated topics like religion and science. There was also plenty of tension and action that made this such a compelling read. I love how Fink and Cranor put so much care into their world building. It’s somehow realistic among the trademark weirdness that one would expect. Any Night Vale fan in guaranteed to love this novel and, if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you may still be able to appreciate what the novel is saying.

I Have Built a You in Me: Reviewing This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Hey everybody! Well, it has been a decent chunk of time since I’ve been on here. Fortunately, I am reaching the end of fall semester so I will be doing a lot of catching up during the winter break. Next semester I will be teaching a class so I will definitely be blogging about that. Thankfully, I was able to get a hold of this novel as I had seen it everywhere and was ever so curious. So, let’s talk about This Is How You Lose the Time War.

Red is deadly, resourceful, and relentless on the battlefield. She comes from a future ruled by the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue is strategic, cunning, and just as deadly. She belongs to Garden, an omnipotent and omniscient consciousness contained within all organic matter. The two agents are sent by their respective societies to stop the other from changing the future. Red and Blue, however, begin a correspondence that transcends time and space. Soon, they will have to choose between the future of their worlds and their own futures.

I was incredibly intrigued by this novel upon seeing it online and I am so glad I was able to get my hands on it because I loved it. This novel combines the abstracts and language of poetry and the thrill and action of science fiction. It is a fairly short novel at just under 200 pages. I became emotionally invested quickly in the characters. The language of their letters is fascinating. They feel like real people in a sense, the way that Blue and Red express their emotions through humor or angst. I don’t plan on making this review too long as I don’t want to give away too much. I do recommend this novel if you are looking for a quick read that will captivate you with its world building and poetic structure. You don’t have be a huge sci-fi fan either to enjoy this book. Also, bonus points if you wants a book that features LGBTQ+ characters.

Bring Back God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Only Human (Book Three of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hey everyone! I’m back at it again with another book review. I hope you all missed me. In exciting life news, my grad school orientation is happening this upcoming week as I’m writing this. I’ll definitely try to give some more life updates about grad school, if anyone is interested. For now, let’s talk about the final book of The Themis Files trilogy.

It’s been almost ten years since Dr. Rose Franklin, Vincent Couture, Eva Reyes, and General Govender were transported to the alien world of Esat Ekt. They successfully returned to Earth, only to find a war between Russian and America raging on. With the use of alien technology, the human population is doomed to destroy itself unless Rose and the rest can find a way to stop it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi trilogy as I haven’t read one that had such a strong human element that balanced out the fantastical sci-fi elements. I will admit that this novel did feel slow in the beginning as it goes back and forth between them discovering their new alien home and them being interrogated in Russia. I did enjoy the parts of Esat Ekt, though, and how it felt so similar to the world as we know it. It almost gave the feeling of walking into your living room, but everything was moved two inches to the left. Another element I enjoyed about this book is how it was able to include the very timely topic of racial profiling and interning people just because of their ethnicity. Some people might see it as preachy. I, however, appreciated how Neuvel was able to integrate it into the story without it feeling like it was coming out of nowhere. I was also able to appreciate Neuvel’s take on familial relationships and what it means to be a family. Only Human was nice, solid ending for Neuvel’s trilogy. Overall, I found the trilogy immensely enjoyable and would recommend it to all sci-fi fans, especially fans of giant robots.