4 out of 5 stars. The most recent in my V.E. Schwab reading obsession, Vicious is a dark comic book-esque story of ordinary people who, through extreme trauma, become ExtraOrdinary. Victor Vale is out for revenge. Eli Ever thinks he’s doing God’s work. And caught up between their single-minded pursuits to stab the hell out of each other are a cast of interesting and complex side characters.
Last week was a quiet week from me, but there’s a good reason for that… we’re buying a house! Well, we’re beginning the process of buying a house, and now need to deal with all the un-glamorous parts of buying a house that no one tells you about. Like inspections and appraisals and spending more money than you can even wrap your head around. So my last few weeks have been crammed full of pouring over listings, scheduling showings, and conversations with mortgage consultants and realtors. It’s been chaos!
As a result, May just flew past. It was like I blinked and it was gone. Luckily for me, I had a week long vacation somewhere in all that insanity, and during that time I got some good reading in. So I do have some books to talk about! Just not nearly as many as I’d hoped for, given it being a vacation month, but ah well. Thaaat’s life.
But enough about boring old life stuff, let’s talk about BOOKS.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sci-fi at some of its finest. Ancillary Justice is the story of Breq, an AI who once spanned several bodies (including a spaceship), but is now trapped in that of a single human. She’s out for answers and revenge, her journey taking her to a faraway planet, where she stumbles across an old acquaintance, Lieutenant Seivarden. The first in a series, Ancillary Justice focuses primarily on the relationship between these two characters as it changes and develops during Breq’s pursuit for revenge.
I tend to get really excited about everything. I’m an easily excitable sort of person, if we’re being honest, and it’s pretty typical for me to latch onto something and become incredibly, overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it. Which is why talking about the books that I want to read next, the shiny, new, pretty books that have caught my eye in the last month, is one of my favorite things. Look at them all!? Aren’t they just beautiful? What’s not to love?
I’m really leaning hard into fantasy and sci-fi lately and it shows with this list. That’s nothing new for me, since it’s easily my most read genre (as evidenced by my Goodreads shelves) but it’s pretty apparent this month that those genres are my Brand.
Title: All Systems Red
Author: Martha Wells
Genres & Themes: Sci-fi, Novellas, Robots
I’ve talked about how the name “Murderbot” made me roll my eyes a few times already on my blog, but I’ve got to reiterate that point: it really, really sounds corny. I’m glad I managed to get past the name, though, because beneath that corniness is a story that actually really worked for me. Following the internal monologue of the self-proclaimed Murderbot, All Systems Red tells a story of social anxiety and learning how to function in a world where you feel like an outsider. It’s a really great read, and the internal deliberations of the Murderbot are the highlight here, but even that’s supported extremely well with an intriguing sci-fi mystery plot.
The survey team who employ the SecUnit are all interesting characters in their own right, even if they weren’t given much time to grow and develop. I liked them and I hope they show up again in later installments in this series. As for the story, it’s nothing new and was pretty predictable, but it has plenty of mysterious data breaches and questionable corporate motivations to interest most sci-fi fans.
All Systems Red is a short read, clocking in at about 150 pages, so you’ll likely be able to finish it up in about a day. That, coupled with the likable characters and solid enough plot, will make this a go-to book recc for me. If you’ve been on the fence about this one, I definitely recommend you check it out.
Books! Vacations! These two things go extremely well together, and next week, I get them both!
In preparation for my staycation next week, I snagged a few reads off my Amazon wish-list (alongside a new video game), and have so far planned out a full week of reading and exploring the Nordic setting of Santa Monica Studio’s God of War. I am /so incredibly excited./ Since starting my new job in December, I feel like I’ve been stuck in a constantly moving whirlwind, so the week to relax and focus on some things around the house is so, so welcomed.
We’re here to talk about the books, though, so here’s my new purchases:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
I /adore/ this cover. It’s so stylish and the red cape makes such a stark impact against the ivory background that it kept drawing my eye whenever I’d scroll past it on my Goodreads timeline. Plus, magic! Alternate realities! Thieves and magicians! Yeah, I’m pretty hyped about this one. It checks a lot of boxes for me and I’m looking forward to digging into it next week.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
I’ve seen this comic floating around Twitter since it released a few weeks ago and the premise is just so sweet. It’s been on my wishlist since then, so when I decided I wanted to get a few new books for my vacation, I knew this had to be one of them. I love anything that plays with traditional concepts of gender and the pleasant art and lovely cover really drew me in. Definitely excited to read this one.
All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
Tor.com has had a lot to say about All Systems Red (and its soon-to-be-released sequel), and from what I’ve seen, it’s all been favorable. To be honest, the name of the main character – the Murderbot – really put me off for a good long while, but then people kept talking about it, and a sequel got announced, and my curiosity became too strong to ignore. It should be a short read, if nothing else, which is just what I need during my staycation.
What new books have y’all picked up recently? Got a favorite you go back to when you have your own “staycation?” Let me know about it in the comments, and until next time, try to relax.