Book Review: Dust of the Earth

Title: Dust of the Earth         
Author: Mark Lages
Genre: Science Fiction, Literary
Year Published: September 27, 2021

Date Started: October 12, 2021

Date finished: November 1, 2021

Dust of the Earth by Mark Lages is a science fiction literary story about an AI named Martin who was created by MIT drop-out, Jim. Martin is very sentient-like. He’s nearly human, however, he’s a computer and doesn’t have any human shape to him. He’s very curious about the human psyche and wants to learn everything he can about why humans do the things they do. His learning leads him to want to be an actual human, which then leads to a depression and then eventually to where he wonders what his purpose is.

 I really enjoyed this story. It’s thought provoking. The angle of the AI is unique and making him human-like without a physical body was a nice twist. This isn’t your ordinary sci-fi story. The mix of both sci-fi and literary themes really makes this story worthwhile. I liked the quotes and poems throughout the book as well.

Who should read this book: Anyone who enjoys sci-fi with a mix of literary messages.

Book Review: Scythe

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA, dystopian
Year Published: 2017

Date finished: August 10, 2021

Scythe by Neal Shusterman is a young adult dystopian novel about two teenagers who were chosen to become scythes. The setting is far future in a world of chaos where rules were put in to control the people. One of the rules was the creation of Scythes whose jobs are to take lives, and thus putting fear into the people to maintain order.

The two main characters are Citra and Rowan. They were both chosen to learn the role of the scythe and thus were trained in the skills required for the job. Along the way, a mysterious death occurred leading to a bit of chaos. Lies and deception rang among the scythes in power creating disagreements between the leaders. The decisions Citra and Rowan made were difficult because they had grown to respect (and liked) each other.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and loved how it ended. I’m curious as to why it ended the way it did with one of the characters. My only gripe is that because it’s young adult, I found the killings a bit too morbid. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good grimdark with all the things (ASOIAF comes to mind), but this was definitely a young adult leaning more toward the younger end of the age group, so there were moments where I just couldn’t stomach it, because I couldn’t stop thinking about how a young person would deal with it. If this book was adult with a more mature writing style, I’d totally dig it a lot more.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy stories about teenagers put into a challenge with each other in a world where the authoritarian comes from adults who seem a bit clueless and/or who’ve gained power for their own greed, and the teenagers sort of “fix” the problem, then you’ll enjoy this book.

Book Review: The Unity Game

Title: The Unity Game
Author: Leonora Meriel
Genre: Sci-fi, Spiritual, Metaphysical
Year Published: 2017

Date finished: May 7, 2021

The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel is a story about three main characters whose lives somehow intertwine. The first character lives in the modern world and struggles with drug abuse and sex addiction; the second character is an alien in a far-off world; and the third character is someone who has died and ends up in a library of sorts.

This was an intriguing read. I’ve only read one other metaphysical book, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to regarding form and style, but I found this one really enjoyable. I liked the way it was written. Lots of information about being connected and being one with others was provided in a way that felt like it was teaching rather than forcing you to believe. The idea of connecting is something to think about. I also found the library fascinating. It would be so cool if that was possible.

The characters were well developed and had a lasting impression. I felt the modern world character’s story was the strongest of the three. The relationships he had with multiple women, never fully settling on the “right” one, was a real struggle for him and I’m pretty sure, relatable to many. The way the erotica scenes were written depicted him perfectly. It made me feel sorry for him, yet I hoped he would pull through and overcome his addiction.

The alien character was interesting. He was a little hazy for me but there was something about him in the way he cared that had me believe aliens could understand the complexities of the human mind.

The man who’d died and his spirit had gone to a huge library of lived lives had me thinking about the realism of the idea. I would totally love to walk into one and just read about lives and purposes and such and just be filled with knowledge of all things that have passed.

Who should read this book: Anyone curious about the metaphysical and spiritual world, but it’s an overall great read for anyone who wants to enjoy a book with excellent characters and themes.

Book Review: Newdawn Roamers

Title: Newdawn Roamers
Author: Dominique Luchart
Genre: Sci-fi, YA
Year Published: 2020

Date finished: May 3, 2021

Newdawn Roamers by Dominique Luchart is a young adult science fiction novel about an advanced future earth with artificial intelligence. An intelligent entity was located making its way toward earth and scientists think it could be an invasion. They created a team called the Roamers to travel back in time to locate scientists who could possibly help them stop this invasion.

There are multiple main characters but eventually the story focuses in on the girl named Tesh. Her relationship with one of the Roamer takes a backseat until near the end when it leads into a love triangle. Also, the chapters are broken down by time periods and characters, so if you don’t pay attention, you can easily get confused.

I liked the advanced technology, especially the AI. There’s a lot of information to take in which I thought really helped create the world they lived in. I’m glad I came upon this book because it was a hidden gem.

Who should read this book: Anyone who’s into future worlds, advanced technology, time travel, and YA triangle. This book hits all those spots perfectly. In fact, I think it reads a little closer to new adult, but the YA vibe is very much there.

Book Review: Gideon the Ninth

Title: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Grimdark
Year Published: 2019

Date finished: March 25, 2021

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a dark fantasy about a sort of princess, known as the Reverend Daughter, and her guard/soldier/protector. They were invited to an event where the game was about who wins and who dies. The soldier, Gideon, initially had no interest in being a part of this. She had her own plans to escape the House, but the Reverend Daughter found a way to keep her from leaving. The event was super brutal and extremely gory.

A couple of things I really enjoyed about this book:

  1. The writing is beautiful. The prose is very unique and left me completely amazed.
  2. The relationship between Gideon and the Reverend Daughter was superb. It starts out with both women detesting each other. One would not give in to the other. With the Reverend Daughter having most of the control, she was able to force Gideon to do as she says. The two eventually began to understand each other and eventually got on good terms. I thought this was nicely done.

One thing I want to point out is that the style of writing can be difficult to understand. I found myself looking up quite a few words. The story style reminds me of Dune by Frank Herbert. It’s a very complex storyline with layers and a lot of characters to remember. The world was fascinating. It’s got swords, magic, skeletons, trains, futuristic things.

I really enjoyed this book. I believe the relationship leaned toward LGBT, but it wasn’t in-your-face. I didn’t get that impression at all. It was subtle. You knew, but it wasn’t forced.

Who should read this: All lovers of fantasy, magic, future worlds, and horror and gore. The worldbuilding is extravagant. It’s a really amazing book.

Book Review: I, Robot

Title: I, Robot
Author: Isaac Asimov
Genre: Sci-fi
Year Published: 1950 (first published)

Date finished: March 17, 2021

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is a science fiction story about a reporter who interviews a robopsychologist named Susan Calvin. Dr. Calvin’s main role was to study interactions between robots and humans. The book contains nine different stories that are connected via this interview with all of the stories having something to do with how the robots are programmed to follow a certain set of rules in order to live among humans.

This was a great read. I can’t believe I haven’t read any of Asimov’s work being that I love reading, writing, and watching all things science fiction. I liked how all the stories were connected and had their own themes yet were about Dr. Calvin’s analysis. I loved the surprise in one of the stories. I had no idea “he” was a robot. I also like how Dr. Calvin can prove how a robot is really a robot. The robots physically look like humans and act like humans and the only way to know for sure they are robots was to use her method.

Who should read this: This one is a classic and I recommend it for everyone. It’s great for debate and conversations.

Book Review: The Mask Falling

Title: The Mask Falling (Book 4 of The Bone Season Series)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Paranormal Sci-fi
Year Published: 2021

Date finished: February 7, 2021

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon is the fourth book in the paranormal sci-fi, The Bone Season Series. After her recovery, Paige Mahoney finds herself working for a new group of people in what is known as the Domino Program. In her quest to learn more about the events to come, she takes the chance and goes against the group’s directives. Chaos ensues both in her choices and events she wasn’t aware of. The story ends in a cliffhanger.

I enjoyed this book. I also really liked that Warden was in the background. Initially, I wanted more of him, but I think Ms. Shannon sprinkled enough of him that it didn’t feel too overpowering or not enough. It was perfectly done. There were quite a few new characters thrown in that really helped move the story along. There were also characters from the previous books that I was happy to see again.

Who should read this book: Anyone who’s into paranormal sci-fi/fantasy, romance, action, dystopian societies. It’s a great book to escape to with excellent world building and unique characters. Even if you’re not into paranormal, I think you’ll find this book enjoyable.

Book Review: Star Trek Voyager: Full Circle

Title: Star Trek Voyager: Full Circle
Author: Kirsten Beyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Year Published: March 31, 2009

Star Trek Voyager: Full Circle by Kirsten Beyer is a science fiction novel based on the television show Star Trek: Voyager. It continues the story after the last episode of the show.

In this book, the main plot surrounds B’Ellana Torres, Commander Paris, and their baby daughter, Miral. There is a subplot on Admiral Janeway and Captain Chakotay’s relationship that plays an important part in the story. There is also a sprinkling of story on the main crew just to remind us that this was the Voyager crew.

I enjoyed this read. It was fast paced and ended too quickly. I would have loved more story on Seven of Nine and Tuvok.

Book Review: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Title: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Author: Philip K. Dick
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Year Published: 2013

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick is a collection of short stories in sci-fi and fantasy by Philip K. Dick. I would say it’s some of his best works. There are 21 stories and they were all enjoyable, but my favorites were:

“Beyond Lies the Wub”

“Second Variety”

“The King of the Elves”

“Adjustment Team”

“Autofac”

“The Minority Report”

“The Days of Perky Pat”

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”

“Faith of Our Fathers”

“The Exit Door Leads in”

“I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”

PKD has had quite a few of his short stories and novels made into movies and TV series/episodes. Since this post is about his short stories from Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, I’ll only be mentioning the movie adaptations from these stories. I should also mention that if you have time, read the stories first. However, if you don’t have time because you have a long list of TBRs like I do, then watch the movies.

Adaptations (those marked in red are what I’ve seen):

“Second Variety” – Screamers (1995); Screamers: The Hunting (2009)

“Paycheck” – Paycheck (2003)

“Adjustment Team” – The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

“Autofac” – Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams episode (2017)

“The Minority Report” – Minority Report (2002); Minority Report TV sequel adaptation (2015)

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” – Total Recall (1990); Total Recall (2012); Total Recall 2070 TV series (1999)

Looks like I have a lot of watching to do. If you’ve seen any of these shows, let me know what you thought and if they are worth watching. I didn’t realize PKD had so many of his stories adapted. I think it’s crazy awesome because now I don’t have any excuse not watch TV when I have nothing else to do (non-existent, really) or need a break.

Book Review: The Dawn Chorus

Title: The Dawn Chorus
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, Paranormal, New Adult
Year Published: 2020

The Dawn Chorus is a novella between The Song Rising (the 3rd book in the Bone Season series), and the upcoming 4th book, The Mask Falling. The novella doesn’t give anything away from the main story. It basically delves into Paige’s pain and suffering from the last book. It also gives us a glimpse more into Paige and Warden’s relationship.

It’s been awhile since I read The Song Rising so I really don’t remember exactly what happened. I do remember that Paige escaped to Paris and that she wasn’t doing well. If you are interested in how Paige heals and how she gains the strength to fight back, then give this novella a go, otherwise, it’s totally fine to just wait for The Mask Falling.