fantasy

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Binti [the Badass Feminist Heroine] – A Beautifully Written Sci-Fi Novella for Younger Readers

bintiBinti by Nnedi Okorafor
First published on September 22, 2015
Tor Books
Source: I bought it
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“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. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.” Source: Macmillan.

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Review

How I wish I had been reading books like Binti growing up instead of Nancy Drew! While the latter firmly serves to reinforce all stereotypes known to humanity (blonde = beautiful perfection; brunette = chubby side-kick; non-white = ….. [non-existent]; materialism = rah, rah! etc and so on)- Binti unapologetically forges her own path, seeks her own meaning, explodes structural barriers sustained by history for generations: she is, in other words, one fully badass feminist heroine I’d want my (hypothetical) young daughter emulating.

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Peter Clines’ The Fold – A Pulp Fantasy Thriller Devoid of Science

the foldThe Fold by Peter Clines
First Published on June 2, 2015
Paperback First Edition on March 1, 2016
Penguin Random House
Source: from publisher via Blogging for Books
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“Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so that a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step. The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the Door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems—and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.  [And] it may only be a matter of time before the project destroys…everything.” Source: Penguin Random House

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Review

A man is born who is perhaps one of the most intelligent on the planet (if you believe in IQ scores and such quantitative measures of human worth). Yet he chooses to put this brilliance aside in order to live a ‘normal’ life as a mere English teacher. But then one day, this man is recruited by an old friend, now DARPA rep, to conduct an inspection of a field site in the desert where experiments are being conducted with some curious, mysterious effects.

The Fold has an excellent premise and may be a fun romp, depending on your disposition. (more…)

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All the Birds in the Sky – A Magical Quest to Recover a Relationship with Nature in the Technological Age

birdsAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Published on January 26, 2016
Tor Books
Source: I bought it
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“Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them… Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.” Source: MacMillan.

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Review

I love weird books (those that don’t subscribe to conventional formulas or genres, that question boundaries of our perception or “reality”, that refuse to be constricted by reader expectations). And, despite having read reviews for months praising the oddity of All the Birds in the Sky, I still managed to be taken aback by the ways in which this book stands outside – or forges its own – tradition. (more…)

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A Disappointment After All the Hype – Purposeful Obtuseness Ruins The Library At Mount Char

The libraryLibrary at Mount Char by  Scott Hawkins
First Published on June 16, 2015
Paperback First Edition on March 15, 2016
Penguin Random House
Source: theReadingRoom Advanced Readers Program Finished-Copy
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“A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe.
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.

Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling—and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.” Source: Penguin Random House.

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Review

The Library at Mount Char is an odd little fantasy about a tribe of orphaned children being raised in a “library” by Father, an enigmatic cult-like leader (or so it seems at first).

That’s as much positive as I can muster before the “BUTs…” begin spilling out. This is a very popular, highly-rated book, and you may enjoy it. I personally wavered between acceptance and true detestation. Perhaps I just don’t “get it”; feel free to tell me so in the comments. (more…)