Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: March 2017

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, including discussing books read that month, challenge progress, and a summary of all posts for the month.

Last month I read a total of fifteen books: Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence, How To Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Miynowski,
Life and Death by Stephanie Meyer, Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard, Drakenfeld (Drakenfeld #1) by Mark Charan Newton, The Named (Guardians of Time #1) by Marianne Curley, The Dark (Guardians of Time #2) by Marianne Curley, The Key (Guardians of Time #3) by Marianne Curley, The Strain (The Strain #1) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor, Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick, A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar, Bastard Prince by Beverley A. Murphy,
Magus of Stonewylde (Stonewylde #1) by Kit Berry and The Still Point by Amy Sackville.

March was an odd month for reading. Before I moved, I wanted to read a load of books from my pile of ‘read then donate’ books – these are ones that I’ve probably bought second-hand and don’t reckon I’ll love enough to keep. I was definitely right, and found myself with quite a few disappointing reads. However, this did mean that I got quite a lot of reading done, and managed to squeeze fifteen books into the month!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve now moved and started a new job. This is one of my first posts in two weeks or so, and posts might be slow for a bit, just while I’m getting used to everything. However I’ve got some recently read review copies, so hopefully I’ll be sharing my thoughts on those soon. 🙂

Challenge progress:

  • I have currently read 44 books towards my Goodreads goal of 52. Still unsure whether to raise this when I hit it, or not…

 

Currently reading:

How was March for you?

Dragons and Jetpacks, Top Lists

Most Disappointing Dragons & Jetpacks Books

Since 2013, I have run a book group called Dragons & Jetpacks on Goodreads. Originally set up with a couple of friends from university, we now have several other moderators on board and over 1300 members, all avid lovers of science fiction and fantasy. Most of the time, our monthly reads (one sci-fi and one fantasy, and a bi-monthly Mod Pick) are fantastic choices, and I frequently discover books I love and may have otherwise never heard of because of the group. But there are occasionally times where books chosen by the group just don’t work for me at all, and those are the books I wanted to discuss today.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick – I normally love PKD’s work, but this one just wasn’t for me. And interestingly, quite a lot of the group did not get along with it either. Although it was a clever idea, I found myself having great difficulty concentrating on it and taking in what happened.
  • Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy #1) by Brian McClellan – When I finished this and ultimately found it was not really at all what I’d expected, that I hadn’t enjoyed it and had barely focused on it at all, I blamed it on my mood at the time. I’d been studying a lot, I didn’t feel like reading that kind of fiction at that point… and more excuses. So I kept my copy with the intention of giving it a re-read at some point in the future, because I thought I’d enjoy it a lot more then. However, a few months later when sorting out my books, I got rid of it. I’d decided it was nothing to do with my mood – however much I wanted to deny it, I just wasn’t going to get along with this series.
  • Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie – I honestly don’t understand how this has won so many awards, and how so many people love it. I found it boring as hell. And at the time that the group read it, I thought I was the only one – but now, looking at my Goodreads friends’ reviews, I’m definitely not.

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher – This makes me so sad. I really don’t know what happened here but this book sounded amazing. And then it was just… eh. It was a huge disappointment after a massive build up, and months of waiting to read it.
  • The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks – Very, very generic feeling fantasy. I’m sure Brent Weeks’ other series are excellent but I’m kind of hesitant to pick them up after this.
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Oh, how it dragged. How little sense it made. Basically, the best bits of this book were the ‘normal’ everyday things.

The Martian by Andy Weir

  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – This wasn’t a bad book, so much as it made me feel very uncomfortable. It was not a nice experience.
  • Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski – So apparently whilst this is the third book in the series, it also works as a standalone and is fine if you’ve not played or even heard of the games. I have played the games, and I didn’t always know what was going on… I definitely felt like something was missing, so perhaps this isn’t so much the book as the fact that it shouldn’t be advertised as a standalone.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – Controversial! Everyone loves it! And the film was great. This is one of the rare instances where I loved the film a LOT more than the book. However, I do plan on re-reading this at some point – I read it on my Kindle, which always changes my reading experience slightly.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Giveaway, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Mission Complete + Giveaway

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

November has now come to an end, and with that another Sci-Fi Month! 2016 was the fourth annual Sci-Fi Month, and just as much of a success. I have been so proud of everyone who has taken part in this event since I started it in 2013 – you’ve shown me that science fiction is not the niche genre I once thought it was. Whilst we don’t always see science fiction in the mainstream – have you ever seen a science fiction title in a supermarket bestselling book chart? – it is definitely popular. And maybe even all our hard work this month has converted some new sci-fi fans, or encouraged people to try out new sub-genres or mediums of science fiction that they wouldn’t have considered before.

I have to admit, and some of you might have noticed, that November was not my month. It started out so well – for the first 10 days or so I tweeted every single post on the day it was posted, was full of enthusiasm. After that, I started slacking, not touching things for a few days, then catching up, but not always commenting – and I definitely haven’t commented on every post like I’d hoped.

And, as I’ve been open about my depression on here before, I will be honest and say that that was the reason why. It came back with a bite in November. I am really struggling with not being where I want to be in life in terms of my career. I withdrew from a lot of things in my life, and basically just shut myself away in my room playing video games or reading. For that reason I’ll probably be rather inactive throughout December whilst I focus on job hunting, as it is going to definitely involve moving again. A massive thank you to everyone for continuing to post and celebrate science fiction whilst I disappeared into the background a bit.

And now for this year’s Sci-Fi Month stats:

These stats were accurate on 29th November, when this post was written.

  • We had a total of 71 participants (at least), which includes authors, publishers and bloggers. And that’s not including all those who read and commented, but didn’t post, so the actual number is a lot more!
  • 315 posts were shared in November, especially for Sci-Fi Month.
  • Most of these were reviews, as with every year, but we also posted others. More specifically… (as of 29th November 2016)
    • 31 intro and wrap up posts
    • 123 reviews
    • 21 discussions
    • 63 lists
    • 12 guest posts/interviews
    • 23 fun & games posts (quizzes etc)
    • 42 misc posts (Waiting on Wednesday etc)
  • Authors reviewed included Wesley Chu, Nina Allan, Isaac Asimov, Emma Newman, Ann Leckie and so many more.
  • The book (or rather books) that seemed to appear the most throughout 2016 were Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
  • Topics discussed ranged from Star Trek to Farscape, dystopia, the importance of science fiction, women in science fiction, starship crews, sci-fi fandoms, time travel, ‘unpopular’ sci-fi opinions, movies and TV shows, robots, aliens, the best reads for book groups, sci-fi tropes, art and music.
  • According to Twitter Analytics, during November the @SciFiMonth account gained 42 new followers, tweeted/retweeted 322 times, and was mentioned 280 times. I also sent out 114 tweets in October, advertising previous years posts in order to build up interest.
  • My own Twitter account gained 12 new followers, and tweeted/retweeted 141 times, the large majority of which were SFM related.
  • I tried out a few tools to track the #RRSciFiMonth hashtag, just to see how many times it had been used in November but couldn’t find one that showed the entire month. However, I did find something interesting via Keyhole. #RRSciFiMonth had a reach of 216,984 in just 10 days, which means that many individual people saw the hashtag! That’s pretty amazing. The image below shows data for the hashtag between 18-28 November 2016:
  • sfm16data

  • Like previous years, I spent hours re-tweeting, tweeting, commenting, maintaining the schedule and making sure things were up to date, as well as just generally spreading the word about the event. So think of all the time we must have collectively contributed towards putting Sci-Fi Month together!
  • Please let me know if you’d like to see anything changed/improved/added for next year, or you have any ideas or suggestions for 2017! 🙂

Thank you so much to everyone who took part this year – without you it would not have been possible!

I have two giveaways to say thank you, one is international and the other is UK only so please make sure you enter the correct one! The UK based giveaway is provided by Titan Books, and is for The Race by Nina Allan. The international giveaway is open to all countries that the Book Depository ships to for free, and is for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

The Race Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

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Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: October 2016

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of fourteen books: Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by V.E. Schwab, The Sin Eater’s Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter #1) by Melinda Salisbury,
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin, Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb, Aristocrats: Britain’s Great Ruling Classes From 1066 To The Present by Lawrence James, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide #1) by Douglas Adams, Goldenhand (The Old Kingdom #5) by Garth Nix, The Fireman by Joe Hill, Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, Nerve by Jeanne Ryan, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I have to say, October was a really great reading month. I managed quite a few books, and half of them were 5-star reads. I re-read two books this month: A Game of Thrones (which I have been meaning to re-read for about five years) and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. It’s really hard to pick a standout because so many were amazing: Goldenhand, Greatcoats, Americanah, This Savage Song… not to mention my first ever Robin Hobb novel, Assassin’s Apprentice. Basically I would say read them all!

 

Challenge progress:

  • I managed to defeat October’s villain, Jack O’Lantern, in the DC vs Marvel Challenge. Next month’s villain is Indigo, who I am not familiar with.
  • I have currently read 107 books towards my Goodreads goal. I’ve now hit the goal of 100, but I won’t raise it as I don’t want to pressure myself.

 

Currently reading:

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
How was October for you?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2016

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of fourteen books: Speak by Louisa Hall, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Fated (Fated #1) by Benedict Jacka, Winter Be My Shield (Children of the Black Sun #1) by Jo Spurrier, A Room With A View by E.M. Forster, Thor: Goddess of Thunder (Thor #1) by Jason Aaron, The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu, Hawkeye: Little Hits (Hawkeye #2) by Matt Fraction, Vicious by V.E. Schwab, Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth, The Bees by Laline Paull and All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.

The stand out books of the month were definitely Vicious and The Lives of Tao. I’d been waiting to get round to Vicious for so long, and finally bought myself a new copy. I pretty much read the entire book in one day; it was so fantastic to have a book from the point of view of villains, or if not villains then at least morally grey characters. Bossypants was also hilarious, naturally, being written by Tina Fey. The Man in the High Castle was a major letdown, definitely my least favourite PKD novel so far. I also finally started reading graphic novels again!

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read eight books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge and managed to defeat January’s villain, the Penguin. I’m pretty happy with that, I want to try and defeat every villain this year. February’s villain is none other than Mystique, one of my favourite Marvel villains.
  • I have currently read fourteen books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
How was January for you?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, January 2016

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Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

DJ_SF
The Man in the High Castle

Goodreads

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

DJ_F
Gardens of the Moon

Goodreads

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting, and bloody confrontations. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

But it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Have you read either of this month’s picks? What did you think?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: November 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

 

The Emperor's Blades Golden Son Edge of Tomorrow Feed Ubik Illuminae The HIve Construct Clariel by Garth Nix A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Brooklyn

 

Last month I read a total of ten books: The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown, Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy #1) by Mira Grant, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill, Clariel (The Old Kingdom #4) by Garth Nix, A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

As last month was Sci-Fi Month, I tried to read as much science fiction as possible. Golden Son was definitely the stand-out book of the month, and my review will be posted in January, as part of the readalong in preparation for the release of Morning Star! I also particularly enjoyed Ubik, from one of the masters of science fiction, Philip K. Dick. In true PKD style, it’s odd but so, so unique and wonderful. Brooklyn was sweet, not at all my usual sort of book but I went to see the film with my mum when I visited my parents last week, and it was a gorgeous film, which encouraged me to pick up the book.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read two books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge. The final villain of the challenge is Mister Sinister.
  • I have currently read 90 books towards my Goodreads goal of 100.

 

Currently reading:

The 100
How was November for you?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: It’s The End of the World As We Know It

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

A common trope of science fiction is to show the Earth greatly transformed, or even completely destroyed, in some way. Our poor planet has been used and abused throughout the history of the genre. Here’s a brief guide to the (post-)apocalypse, or dystopian future, covering books, TV, films and video games.

Aliens

Mass Effect The 5th Wave Defiance The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds Independence Day The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham 826847

In these titles, Earth is either destroyed or invaded by aliens. In the latter, it is altered to a state where it is unrecognisable: either through the collapse of society and government, or destruction of large portions of the planet. Sometimes the extra-terrestrials are aggressive, sometimes they are just inquisitive, and other times we’re not even aware of them until it is too late.

Mass Effect, The 5th Wave, Defiance, The War of the Worlds (plus the 2005 film version), Independence Day, The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos.

Illness/Disease

The Passage by Justin Cronin Blindness Oryx and Crake Partials by Dan Wells Parasite I Am Legend by Richard Matheson The Stand Children of Men The Strain

These titles show an Earth ravaged by illness, disease or plague, including technological viruses and biological warfare. In many of them, the illness transforms humankind into something else, often zombie or vampire-like creatures.

Humankind

The Hunger Games Divergent The 100 The Years of Rice and Salt Unwind The Man in the High Castle How I Live Now A Canticle for Leibowitz

Science fiction frequently shows how humankind causes its own downfall, often through war or revolt. This is a particularly popular theme in current Young Adult dystopian fiction, although it’s not exactly a new trend in the genre. This is one of the more frightening sides of sci-fi: how we become our very own worst enemies. Occasionally, it shows a glimpse into an alternate future or past.

Natural Disaster

2012 The Day After Tomorrow The Maze Runner by James Dashner Deep Impact Armageddon The Drowned World

This could also technically come under ‘Humankind’, because most of the time the natural disasters are caused by people, namely through global warming and climate change. This category includes these as well as other things such as asteroids/meteors, tsunamis, earthquakes etc.

2012, The Day After Tomorrow, The Maze Runner, Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Drowned World.

Brainwashing/Government

1984 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Fahrenheit 451 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand V for Vendetta

Another terrifying thing about science fiction is how government is often portrayed. Often it is shown as being a totalitarian or ‘Big Brother’ society, a term coined from George Orwell’s 1984. Citizens often have very little freedom, or even free will, having been brainwashed into behaving in certain ways.

Machines/Artificial Intelligence

I Robot Robopocalypse Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick Love In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Prey Neuromancer

Okay, maybe there’s a lot of scary things about science fiction – another one being the very thought of the Earth being overrun or overtaken by machines or artificial intelligence. Many a sci-fi tale tells of the invention of some fantastic new technology, only for it to become sentient and rise up against mankind.

Can you think of any other titles that would fit in these categories, or any categories that I have missed?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: YA to Adult SF Recommendations

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Science fiction can be a scary genre. The potential that it holds can be daunting, and it can be difficult to know where to start. I know many readers who are more than happy to delve into Young Adult science fiction, but are wary of going any further. So I thought I’d make some recommendations of ‘heavier’ science fiction, based on YA books. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share your ideas!

If you enjoyed Insignia by S.J. Kincaid…

YA to Adult Recs

… then try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

In both books, real life and online gaming become very entangled. So many of my fellow bloggers have read and loved both of these books! The 80s references only serve to make Ready Player One even more awesome.

If you enjoyed Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld…

YA to Adult Recs

… then try Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding.

Although one is an alternate history, and the other is a space western, they’re both steampunk books that really gave off the same sense of adventure to me. If you loved the steampunk inventions of Westerfeld’s series, as well as the fast pace of the story, you’ll enjoy Retribution Falls!

If you enjoyed All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill…

YA to Adult SF

… then try Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

Why? Because TIMEY WIMEY! Hyperion features a lot of (complicated but amazing) time travel, and is just a fantastic, fantastic book that I can’t recommend enough (seriously I’ve recommended it so many times over the past two and a bit years).

If you enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth…

YA to Adult SF

… then try Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

If you want the classic dystopia disguised as a utopia, as seen in Divergent, then give Brave New World a try. It’s a harrowing tale of good intentions gone horribly wrong.

If you enjoyed Cinder by Marissa Meyer…

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… then try Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

If you enjoyed reading about cyborgs in Cinder, then you might enjoy PKD’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Like the cyborgs in Cinder’s world, the androids of this book are so human-like that it is almost impossible to tell. Philip K. Dick was a master of science fiction, and this is one of my absolute favourite science fiction books.

If you enjoyed Beta by Rachel Cohn…

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… then try House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.

Now I have to admit that I haven’t actually read Beta, but I really wanted to recommend House of Suns as it is another of my favourites – and as both books are about the lives of clones, I thought it was a good match. Now to read some more Alastair Reynolds and see if he is favourite author material…

What recommendations would you make for someone wanting to move from YA sci-fi to the ‘heavier’ stuff?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, November 2014

DJ16

Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

DJ_SF
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Goodreads

A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep… even humans.

DJ_F
The Six Gun Tarot

Goodreads

Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.

Have you read either of this month’s picks? What did you think?