Friday, January 29, 2021

Short Stories I Read In December

It’s the twenty-ninth of January already. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in December. 

Renovation of a Finite Apartment by Tobby Macnutt (Strange Horizons; Issue: 7 December 2020) **Note: there is a podcast version of this story as well** 

I read one short story in December, and it was Renovation of a Finite Apartment. This was a great story that was as much about assimilation and imposed limitations as it was about spaces. Much of Renovation of a Finite Apartment is as its title suggests, and I liked the gradual way the décor was introduced—first as being fine, then dark walls to represent nothingness, and then that it leaned into more colorful and organic theming with plants and creative flourishes. There was some subtle messaging of what a space could tell about a person—decoration or the process of decorating a space can be a very personal endeavor. Since the focus of Renovation of a Finite Apartment was the narrator, the décor acted almost as a physical medium that at time told a lot about the narrator’s state of mind and wants. All-in-all, this was a great story.

From around the web…

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Review: Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells



Title: Rogue Protocol 
Series: Murderbot Diaries #3

Author: Martha Wells
Source/Format: Tor Ebook Club; Ebook
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor.com; August 7, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
SciFi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is. And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.


Rogue Protocol was the first book I picked up in 2021, and it was a fantastic read and the perfect way to start the New Year. There is always something so fun and satisfying about the Murderbot Diaries series, which keeps me coming back again and again for another adventure. Rogue Protocol was no different, and once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down—I ended up staying up past midnight to finish it.

Rogue Protocol picks up sometime after Artificial Condition, and it put a spotlight on some of the lingering questions pertaining to the consequences resulting from the ending of All Systems Red. I liked how the events of the first book directly impacted Rogue Protocol, with the semi-return of GrayCris Corporation. If you’ve read the first book, you already know about some of the crimes the company was responsible for. Rogue Protocol expanded on that, and took a deeper look at other parts of the corporate based world Wells has created—as well as GrayCris Corporation’s shadowy influence (and that laundry list of underhanded actions just keeps getting longer).

At times, Rogue Protocol almost felt like it could have been a ghost story set in space. The setting certainly qualified for it, with it being as abandoned and eerie as it was.

By now SecUnit’s media consumption habit is an endearing character quirk I look forward to. It had been previously shown on numerous occasions that it also doesn’t enjoy interacting with people and does so begrudgingly to meet its goals. However, its character underwent some gradual development throughout Rogue Protocol, and with the introduction of new key characters, it was put in a situation that forced it to acknowledge the emotions it was feeling. I found that side of the story to be one of my favorite parts, and Wells excelled at creating quick emotional bonds between the characters. So as the story unfolded, the delivery of the twists and the revelations about the characters stuck the landing and then some.

Rogue Protocol ended in a good place, and I’m exceedingly excited about the implications for what’s going to go on in the next book in the series, Exit Strategy.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Music Monday (145): SZA, Stephen Rhodes, Marlon Craft, John Fogerty

Rules:

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: SZA recently released a new song called Good Days. It's one of my favorites, and I've already added it to my playlist. 


Adri: A very long time ago, we got a tiny meditation book that had a CD in it. Also a long time ago, that CD disappeared. The pocket that held it has a track list, and, for whatever reason, I never thought about looking it up until recently. I like all the artists, but for today my pick is Flowers of Time by Stephen Rhodes


Andrea: This week I'm listening to songs that further address the societal problems of today. The first song on my playlist is Weeping in the Promised Land by John Fogerty. I'm also listening to  State Of The Union and Family by Marlon Craft. I hope everyone has an amazing week!

 
 



What are you listening to lately?


Friday, January 22, 2021

The Friday 56 (192) & Book Beginnings: Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


Synopsis from Goodreads...

SciFi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is. And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.


Beginning: "I have the worst luck with bot-driven transports."

56: "I was pretty sure I kept my face blank, but Abene and Miki turned to look at me. Wilken kept moving."


Comments: The first book I read in 2021 was Rogue Protocol. I really loved this story, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

We're Back + Books and Albums We're Looking Forward To

Well, hello. It’s been a while, but we’re back and ready to get to blogging. To start the year, we wanted to go over some of the books and albums/Eps we’re looking forward to, as well as some of our goals for the year.

Some Books We’re looking forward to…

Breana: I’m pretty excited for a number of books coming out in 2021. This is just my current list, but I will keep an eye out for other books releasing later in the year. For now, there are a lot of sequels I’m looking forward to with everything from Dark Waters by Katherine Arden, Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, and A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark. Plus, one of my most highly anticipated releases this year is the conclusion to the Nightmare-verse series, A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney, which is one of my favorite retelling’s of Alice. Some standalone novels, graphic novels, and nonfiction that caught my eye were: Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley, Long Lost by Jacqueline West, Root Magic by Eden Royce, Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston, The Heartbeat of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Tidesong by Wendy Xu. Series I want to continue reading include the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, The Case Study of Vanitas by Jun Mochizuki, and The Greenhollow Duology by Emily Tesh.

Adri:

I don't have too much to say about the books I'm looking forward to so here's a list.
  • Euan Angus Ashley: The Genome Odyssey
  • Erin French -Finding Freedom (I have an ARC)
  • Monica West -Revival season
  • Jean Hanff Korelitz -The plot
  • Reese Eschmann -Etta Invinsible
  • Shakirah Bourne - Josephine Against the Sea

Music…

Breana: All I’m looking forward to right now is The Bitter Truth by Evanescence. Some unscheduled stuff includes Lorde’s third studio album and Tkay Maidza’s Last Year Was Weird Vol.3.

Adri: Right now I'm mainly waiting for two albums. One is Omega by Epica in February. The other is Unstable by Tetrarch which I'm super excited for. I don’t see a set release date for it though.


Some goals…


Breana: Last year, my plans…well, what plans? 2020 did what it wanted to do. So my plans for 2021 are going to be light. I still want to read Lord of the Rings, and I did buy a ominibus of the trilogy. My only other blog related goal is getting my Instagram account back on track. I kind of fell-off of posting there at least once a week, but that was mainly due to the pandemic, loss of motivation, and switching to mostly ebooks.

Adri: I don't really have too many goals. This year I want to get through some books that are already on our shelves. I also want to focus on art more than I have been. And finally, I want to grow my CD collection; be on social media a little more; and maybe talk about my dream journaling.


What are some of the books or albums you're looking forward to?



Monday, January 18, 2021

Music Monday (144): Tayla Parx, Idris Elba, Boys World

Rules:

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Over my break from blogging, I got caught up on some of the albums I initially missed in 2020. One of them was Coping Mechanisms by Tayla Parx. I enjoyed this album (more on that later on a separate post), and one of my favorite songs from it is Dance Alone.


Adri: Thanks to Youtube recommendations, I found a new group called Boys World. Needless to say, their new song called Girlfriends is stuck in my head.


Andrea: This Music Monday post is my first post of 2021. I hope that everyone is doing well, and I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year. You can only guess that one of my New Year's resolutions is to be more active on the blog. With that said, I would like to share what I am listening to this week. I came across a newly released song, Paradise Circus-Gospel 21, by Idris Elba. I don't follow Idris Elba, so I was unaware that he could sing. I was pleasantly surprised by his new songIt's so relevant to the past year. Well, that's it for now. Have an amazing week!Andrea



What are you listening to this week?



Tuesday, January 12, 2021

ARC Review: Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Title: Tales from the Hinterland
Series: The Hazel Wood # 2.5

Author: Melissa Albert
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy; Short Stories
Publisher/Publication Date: Flatiron Books; January 12, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
A gorgeously illustrated collection of twelve original stories by the New York Times bestselling author of The Hazel Wood and The Night Country

Before The Hazel Wood, there was Althea Proserpine’s Tales from the Hinterland... Journey into the Hinterland, a brutal and beautiful world where a young woman spends a night with Death, brides are wed to a mysterious house in the trees, and an enchantress is killed twice—and still lives. Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans alike, Melissa Albert's Tales from the Hinterland features full-page illustrations by Jim Tierney, foil stamping, two-color interior printing, and printed endpapers

Stories lie at the heart of The Hazelwood duology. After all, much of the story in The Hazelwood and The Night Country revolved around Alice, an ex-story trying to figure out her life. Tales From The Hinterland is a collection of short, fairy tale like stories from that universe. Some of them I don’t recall having read before and others are recognizable because they were already featured in the duology or because of their characters—who should be relatively familiar by now. Some of those stories deeply impacted the events of the duology (such as the story Alice-Three-Times). Many of the stories in this collection follow the trend of darker fairy tales full of magic and hidden dangers. The writing was atmospheric and engrossing. The setting was vivid in its detail, and the endings were often reflective of the cautionary and somewhat morose tone to the stories. Be careful what you wish for never had a truer meaning than in some of these stories.

As with all story collections, I had my favorites out of the bunch. I liked all of them, but some of the standouts were Death and the Woodwife, Hansa the Traveler, and The House Under the Stairwell to name a few. All I can say is that these were truly stories fit for Hinterland.

If you liked the duology, then you’ll likely enjoy Tales From The Hinterland.

About the author....

Melissa Albert is the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog and the managing editor of BN.com. She has written for McSweeney’s, Time Out Chicago, MTV, and more. Melissa is from Illinois and lives in Brooklyn. The Night Country is her second novel.


Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Flatiron Books) via NetGalley for this review, thank you!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year! It's 2021!

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over, and 2021 is here. We’re not back to blogging just yet, but we’ll see you later in the month. Have a great day!



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