Author to Author with Victor Manibo (The Sleepless)

Happy debut day to Victor Manibo and The Sleepless. If you’ve ever been in the depths of toxic productivity and wondered, “what if I just stopped sleeping,” well, this twisty science fiction mystery presents several arguments as to why that’s a terrible idea. Add in a layer of biohacking, and Jamie, our intrepid journalist protagonist, is in for a bad time when his boss turns up dead, and it looks like he might be the culprit.

I’m thrilled to have Victor on the blog today to talk about putting together a compelling mystery as a mystery lover, adding the speculative elements, what he’s working on now, and what he’s reading next.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

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Manga Review: THE ROKUDO ROUNDS by Serina Oda (2022)

Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In an underground world, the only way to achieve any kind of social mobility is to participate in the Trial of the Six Realms (which also happens to be an alternate translation of the series’ title). En is a street rat living in a literal trash heap, until he’s betrayed by a beloved mentor and discovers he’s actually a cyborg with lightning powers. There are many like him and they all fight in the Trials. He enters and it’s a bloodbath with uncertain outcomes and even more unpredictable characters.

If you’re searching for a seinen anime with the trappings of a shonen battle saga complete with over-the-top powers and people shouting their abilities before using them, give this a read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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ARC Review: THE SLEEPLESS by Victor Manibo (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: August 23rd, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an Advanced Bound Manuscript obtained from ALA AC 2022
Trigger/Content warning: suicide, burnout, gun violence, beating, alcoholism, drug abuse

In the year 2043, the world has passed through a plague like any other, one that rendered a quarter of the population Sleepless. We follow Jamie Vega, a reporter, who didn’t develop hyperinsomnia via the illness. He got it by biohacking, and it leads to some serious problems. Like forgetting the details of what happened the night before he found his boss, Simon, dead. Mysteries and a global conspiracy unravel, with twists on twist on twist.

This sharp examination of the cost of non-stop productivity at a personal and a global level includes a personal character journey as Jamie tries to clear his own name and get to the truth of what really happened that night.

An interview with the author will be going up on release day, August 23rd, 2022.

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Author to Author with Izzy Wasserstein (All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From)

Happy release day to All The Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From, a collection of speculative fiction short stories from Izzy Wasserstein. There are multiverses, quests, terrifying boarding schools, haunted museums that need to be emptied, people resisting, people trying their best, and more. I’ve found many treats within these pages, and I can’t wait for other people to discover them as well.

In today’s interview, the author tells us about how she finds inspiration, the spawn points of stories, putting this specific collection together, and what she’s working on now.

Buy Links: Neon Hemlock | Unabridged Books | Bookshop.org

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ARC Review: ALL THE HOMETOWNS YOU CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM by Izzy Wasserstein (2022)

Genre: Adult Speculative Fiction Short Story Collection
Year Release: July 26th, 2022
Buy Links: Neon Hemlock | Unabridged Books | Bookshop.org

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher

This collection is full of queer stories that cross streams between science fiction, fantasy, and horror, sometimes crossing over, but never being shy about it. There are multiverses, quests, terrifying boarding schools, haunted museums that need to be emptied, people resisting, people trying their best, and more. I inhaled these in rapid succession. You will find intricate worldbuilding and complex characterizations within these pages, and I’m excited to share my faves.

An interview with author Izzy Wasserstein will be going up on July 26th, 2022.

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ARC Review: A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY (Monk & Robot #2) by Becky Chambers (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: July 12, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from NetGalley
For my review of the first book, click here

Crown-shyness is a phenomenon where, if you look carefully at the canopies of trees, you’ll notice that they don’t quite touch each other. There’s no overcrowding and a mutual respect for space, though it’s unclear why this is. It’s a wonderful metaphor for the types of villages that exist in the world of Monk & Robot. Mosscap and Dex continue along their journey and encounter groups with different relationships to technology and the world around them.

This series continues maintaining an air of kindness born out of the ashes of a world that simply didn’t work. It’s cathartic, but comforting, with a focus on community and the meaning in existence.

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May 2022 Reading Recap

My May goals were fairly modest: get new glasses, start the process of renewing my passport, and continue working on the revision. I did all that! And I worked out 3-4 times a week, and I feel like things are steadily trucking along. I think I can finally listen to audiobooks again, and I super missed it.

There was an author interview practically every week. Take a look:

June is my birthday month! And my goal there is to catch up on my reading goal (I’m 4 books behind), especially since I’m traveling at the end of the month.

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ARC Review: THESE PRISONING HILLS by Christopher Rowe (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: May 31st, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: PTSD, self-administered eye surgery, bombing, subjugation, kidnapping

It’s another post-apocalypse in Appalachia, but this one has to do with a war long thought over against an AI named Athena Parthenus. Decades go by, and the main character, Marcia, is about to retire until she’s reinstated for one more mission to investigate an automaton that’s reawakened.

The world-building is really cool in this one. There’s a band of Owl and Crow resistance groups who cosplay as their respective birds, and it’s interesting to see the different community dynamics of the few remaining human enclaves. There several different types of robots, and it’s not entirely clear if all the people aren’t some kind of cyborg as well. The writing is clear and crisp, and it’s easy to keep all the different factions clear.

It’s a bit on the nose in its exploration of the collapse of an empire and the cycles of violence that come with it, citing examples of Greek and Roman history in casual dialogue. But for a small vignette of a greater world, it simply deepens the worldbuilding.

Due to the brevity of the work, the character development loses a bit of its depth. That being said, it’s rad to have a genre work about a reckoning with past and present while AI have different agendas with regards to where the world goes next.

Manga Review: COLORLESS Vol. 1 by KENT (2022)

Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gun violence, kidnapping, body horror

This science fiction requires much suspension of disbelief in order to work. Basically, the premise is that a solar flare knocked out all the color on Earth, and all humans are monsters now. A bunch of technology got wiped out as well. So, when hitman are going after a café waitress, it’s up to a rogue Professor to get her back, until everyone realizes she has a pre-solar flare human visage. Mysteries unfold, but Chie’s life is still very much in danger.

I really like the art in this one. The lines are crisp and the monster designs are unique. The city designs are also rad, the urban landscape feels very much lived in with its own sets of rules and curfews that really fit where the story kicks off. But, most importantly, I’m a sucker for the trope of a character who only knows her name and not much else, so I’m super invested in how she fits in among the different groups at war.

Like, there’s a color-worshipping cult that I want more insight about and, more generally, how Earth adapted and evolved into the world as established in this manga.

Author to Author with Ren Hutchings (Under Fortunate Stars)

Happy UK debut day to Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings! A fun space heist that leads to the trappings of two ships in a time rift. There’s a Miguel-and-Tulio dynamic between the captains of the Jonah, plus compelling history fanning from the cast of the Gallion. It’s a fun space opera about people trying their best to preserve the future and then some.

Join me in welcoming this book with Ren Hutchings. She talks about bringing the Jonah and the Gallion together, fabricating a galaxy-sized collective mythos, the evolutions this story has taken, and what she’s working on next.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

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