Genre: Science Fiction

Review: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted January 17, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi OkoraforReviewer: Holly
The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3) by Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Binti #3
Also in this series: Binti (Binti, #1), Home (Binti, #2)
Publisher: Tor.com
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 208
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor's Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene--though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives--and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don't miss this essential concluding volume in the Binti trilogy.

This is the third and final installment of the Binti trilogy. The trilogy definitely needs to be read in order.

I’m of two minds about this trilogy. The world-building is well done. I thoroughly enjoyed Binti’s journey as she left her village and dared to travel through space during the first two novellas. I also enjoyed her return home and watching as she discovered more about her past, her father’s family and herself. There were parts in each that moved slow, but I was invested in discovering what the future had in store for Binti. In this installment, I still enjoyed the world-building and Binti herself. The first 3/4 of the book were wonderfully done. I was totally immersed in Binti’s world and she struggles to deal with loss, love and the possible destruction of everything she holds dear.

This seemed to be a total departure from the earlier books and the overall story-arc. Much of the story itself seemed to go off the rails in the second half. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I spent a lot of time wondering if I missed something.

View Spoiler »

While this isn’t my favorite entry, I really enjoyed the themes Nnedi Okorafor explored throughout the series, the world-building and Binti herself. The girl is a badass. I’m glad I stuck with it. It was very satisfying overall.

3.25 out of 5

Binti

three-half-stars


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Review: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted January 16, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Home by Nnedi OkoraforReviewer: Holly
Home (Binti, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Binti #2
Also in this series: Binti (Binti, #1), The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3)
Publisher: Tor.com
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 164
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she abandoned her family in the dawn of a new day.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

In Home, Binti is returning home to Earth after a year away at Oomza University. She snuck away from her village to attend, and dealt with some harsh situations while she was gone. In the process she brokered peace between two warring factions and became an interplanetary hero for uniting two cultures. She befriended an enemy race, the Meduse and grew quite a lot as a person. Okwu, a Muduse who has become Binti’s best friend, is returning home with her. He’s the first of his race to visit Earth since a war between his people and Earth’s happened over one hundred years ago.

The first half of this novella showed us Binti’s life at University, while the second focused on her journey home. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m used the world now, or if the story flowed better, but I fell into this one right away. Binti’s journey home was at times heartbreaking and uplifting. Her personal struggles with PTSD, and her determination to act as Liaison, were well told and gave us more insight into her character. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there were some dark themes here I think are reflected in our current society. Okorafor deftly handled it all. I was angry and inspired while reading.

Once again, I immediately picked the next installment.

3.75 out of 5

Binti

four-stars


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Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted January 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Binti by Nnedi OkoraforReviewer: Holly
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor
Publisher: Tor.com
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 90
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three-half-stars

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. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

Ames recommended this series to me. It took a bit for me to fall into the story, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Binti is a 16 year old girl who has never been outside her City. She is Himba. Her people have very firm ideas about life and marriage, and follow old customs and rules. Binti was allowed to take the planetary exams and her entire village was thrilled when she scored so high Ooomza University offers to pay for her to attend, including all costs related to her travel to them, but they didn’t expect her to attend. The honor of being asked was enough for them. For Binti, it wasn’t. She wanted to accept her place at the University, even though she knew it would mean never being accepted by her people again. She sneaks away and takes a living ship (think: Large Shrimp-like creature you can ride inside) to the university. Though she’s different from others on the ship, it isn’t long before she settles in, makes friends and even develops a crush on a boy.

But then the ship is attacked by the highly feared Meduse, who were wronged by those at Oomza University and are seeking revenge. Binti is the only survivor. As she struggles to stay alive in an Alien world, she also finds strength in herself and friends in unexpected places.

Binti is an interesting character and I love the premise. The story is short and ends in a cliffhanger, but I expected that based on the length of the story and the fact that it’s the first of a trilogy. It started slow, but once Binti reaches the ship the story really picked up. I loved watching her open up to her fellow classmates, and my heart was bounding during the attack by the Meduse, and what followed. There are some pretty serious plot holes, but I was able to set aside any frustration over that because 1) I was enjoying the story and 2) I tend to be more forgiving of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, as the general rules of life and science don’t always apply.

I immediately started the next story.

3.5 out of 5

Binti

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thrusday Review: Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair

Posted September 20, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thrusday Review: Hope’s Folly by Linnea SinclairReviewer: Casee
Hope's Folly (Dock Five Universe, #3) by Linnea Sinclair
Series: Dock Five Universe #3
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 425
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end of the law, leading a ragtag band of rebels against the oppressive Imperial forces. Or would be if he can get his command ship-the derelict cruiser called Hope's Folly-functioning. Not much can rattle Philip's legendary cool-but the woman who helps him foil an assassination attempt on Kirro Station will. She's the daughter of his best friend and first commander-a man who died while under Philip's command and whose death is on Philip's conscience.

Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl. But can her childhood fantasies survive an encounter with the hardened man, and newly minted rebel leader, once she learns the truth about her father's death? Or will her passion for revenge put not only their hearts but their lives at risk? It's an impossible mission: A man who feels he can't love. A woman who believes she's unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on March 25, 2009.

I was never really a fan of sci-fi romance until I read Games of Command. I absolutely loved that book and it was in my top 5 reads of 2007. Hope’s Folly is the third book in the Gabriel’s Ghost universe. I know it will shock many of you to know that I haven’t read Gabriel’s Ghost or Shades of Dark. Yes, you read that right. I actually started with the 3rd book in the series. Even though I am allergic to reading 1st person, after reading Hope’s Folly, I have to go back and read both Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark.

Admiral Philip Guthrie has little hope that he will be able to get the slagging (I love this word, btw) mess that is Hope’s Folly to Ferrin without getting himself or his crew killed. When he meets the crew, he is shocked to learn that one of his crew members is Rya Bennton, the daughter of his best friend. The ten year old girl who flicked peas at him across the table and begged him to shoot his weapon has grown into a woman that Philip is drawn to. Philip doesn’t have time to question his attraction to woman he once dubbed Rya the Rebel. He has a ship that’s falling apart and someone trying to sabotage the small chance they have of making it to Ferrin alive.

Rya Bennton can’t believe that her commanding officer is Philip Guthrie, the man who has been the subject of her fantasies for many long years. After saving his life on Kirro Station, Rya refuses to relinquish the duty of seeing to Philip’s safety. When things continue to go wrong on Hope’s Folly, Rya is convinced that they have someone on board that is trying to sabotage the crew. Rya is determined to find out who it is before s/he can get to Phillip or cause further harm to Hope’s Folly.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Rya and Philip as a couple. While I liked both characters individually, I wasn’t feeling it between them at first. Age was a huge factor for Philip and it was something that he wouldn’t let go of. He would go between lover and father-figure which was kind of creepy. His internal dialogue was pretty funny, though, and it didn’t take me long to get on board with these two. Rya was also pretty amusing. When she decides to go against Philip’s orders so she can ultimately save his life, she’s afraid he’s found out before she can implement her plan.

Rya racked her brain for Imperial Regulation Fifty-Seven A, any of the paragraphs, but she didn’t know Fleet regs like she did ImpSec ones. And maritime law—law. The brig suddenly loomed large again.

Maybe they’d just confine her to her cabin. She could probably hack into that lock.

“Fifty-seven A, sir? No. Unless you mean…” Welford’s mouth opened the closed quickly. He swallowed, hard. “You can’t be serious. Sir.”

Rya stared at Acting Captain Welford. God and stars. They were going to make her walk
the plank. Or whatever the deep space equivalent was of that. Jettison her out a cargo hatch?

“I’m dead serious.” Philip held out his hand toward her. “Rya.”

Her own flew to the Carver at her side. Dugan had taken inventory, told Philip the trank was missing. Now they were going to strip her of her weapons and space her. They probably thought she meant to kill him. God, no. Just knock him out for a little while, long enough to get through the gate, long enough he couldn’t sacrifice himself.

Wasn’t she at least entitled to a trial first?

“Rya,” Philip repeated. “Over here. Now.”

Name, rank, serial number. Name, rank, serial number. Say nothing incriminating.
Name, rank, serial number.

She stepped toward him, raising her hands slowly out from her sides.

Philip frowned, head tilted slightly.

Behind her, Welford snorted out a laugh. “She doesn’t know Fleet regs, Admiral. She thinks we’re going to arrest her.”

Rya really was a rebel; always wanting to go against regs if she thought that it would save Philip’s life.

Linnea Sinclair does a remarkable job of drawing the reader into the story. The action in the book was amazing and I found myself holding my breath more than once. Once I started reading Hope’s Folly, I had a ridiculously hard time putting it down. Though the first few chapters lagged a bit for me, once the book gets going, it goes fast.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Dock Five Universe

four-stars


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Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Posted March 13, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. ReizinReviewer: Holly
Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 9th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
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three-half-stars

When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid.

"You, Tom and Jen, don't know one another-not yet-but I think you should."

Jen, an ex-journalist who now works at a London software development company, spends all day talking to "Aiden," an ultra- sophisticated piece of AI wizardry, helping him sound and act more human. But Aiden soon discovers he's no longer acting and-despite being a computer program-begins to feel something like affection surging through his circuits. He calculates that Jen needs a worthy human partner (in complete contrast to her no goodnik ex boyfriend) and slips illicitly onto the Internet to locate a suitable candidate.

Tom is a divorced, former London ad-man who has moved to Connecticut to escape the grind and pursue his dream of being a writer. He loves his new life, but has yet to find a woman he truly connects with. That all changes when a bizarre introduction from the mysterious "Mutual Friend" pops up in both his and Jen's inboxes.

Even though they live on separate continents, and despite the entrance of another, this time wholly hostile, AI who wants to tear them apart forever - love will surely find a way.

Won't it?

A thoroughly modern love story that will appeal to fans of The Rosie Project and Sleepless in Seattle, Happiness for Humans considers what exactly makes people fall in love. And whether it's possible for a very artificially intelligent machine to discover the true secret of real human happiness.

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin is a rom-com with a touch of speculative fiction. I wouldn’t classify this as sci-fi, but there are elements.

Jen is a former magazine writer who was hired to help Aiden, an AI created to take over work in a call-center for an electric company, work on language and social skills. They spend their days discussing pop culture, watching old movies and going over the news. What Jen doesn’t know is that Aiden has escaped the lab onto the internet, and he’s been watching her. Concerned about her broken heart after a breakup, Aiden decides to find Jen the perfect mate.

Meanwhile, another AI named Aisling, has also escaped the lab. She’s currently fixated on Tom, a divorcee starting life over across the pond. She isn’t sure why she’s so fixated on him, but she can’t help but watch him. Though she’s mostly annoyed at Aiden’s bumbling attempts to find Jen love, soon they’re conspiring to get Tom and Jen together. Only matters of the heart aren’t as easy for a machine to manage as one might think – especially when they realize they’re being hunted by their creator.

I’m conflicted about this book. I’m fairly certain this was meant to be a romantic comedy, but I can’t deny there was a serious creep-factor as well. Aiden was at times adorable and creepy. That he “escaped” onto the internet and watched Jen without her knowledge or consent was freaky. He also took it upon himself to exact “revenge” on her cheating ex. I think it was meant to be funny, but I was mostly just freaked out. On the other hand, it was clear he’d developed friendly “feelings” toward Jen, and I thought his love of old movies and romantic novels was adorable. The other two AI’s, Aisling and Sinai, weren’t featured as prominently on page as Aiden. Sinai was an attack-and-destroy type AI, so “he” was creepier than them all, but I admit Aisling also had moments.

The middle was pretty slow, and I got frustrated with the lack of forward progress once Aiden and Aisling were “caught” in the internet. The ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been, but that may be because I was impatient for it.

Happiness for Humans is a funny, sweet romance with an underlying creep factor. When I finished the book I kind of wanted to hug Aiden and also go live off the grid somewhere.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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