This is How You Lose the Time War, a review

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone is a sci-fi novella that was gifted to me by the wonderful Veronica’s Shelf and I’m so so glad that she pushed this into my hands!

This book was beautiful and stunning and gorgeous and beautiful and UGH!!! Just so good!!!

There are two POVs in this book, one woman who is more mechanical and regimented, and one who is more earthly and natural. Each are written by Amal and Max respectively and I adored how they managed to make both viewpoints intertwine so beautifully between each other. Something which I’ve seen other dual authors struggle with.

With this being a novella there isn’t much space to play with, and the authors knew that and made every word count. The language is incredibly flowery and evocative, filled with suggestions and not-quites and it’s beautiful. I can imagine that some, especially non-native English speakers, could really struggle with this. But personally for me? It’s was stunning and really drew me further into this amazing exploration of our world and others that Red and Blue go on in attempting to find each other.

This is a romance, but wow is it slow burn. Almost not there slow burn. I’m really not a huge romance fan when it’s the main plot of a book, usually I need it to be in the background. Just kind of an extra plot development. So I’d been nervous about this one. I shouldn’t have been. This is such a beautiful exploration of these two characters. Who they are to their core, around their colleagues and their family, but also when it’s only them alone in the wilds of time.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 10, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 which gives a 9.57 score and obviously a 5* rating.

Clearly I adored this book and I’m so so glad that I read it. It will sit with pride of place on my SFF shelves and I’ll definitely have to look into picking up more from these authors!

Highlight here if you want to see the trigger warnings for this book: animal killing, gore, rape (mentioned), self-harm, suicide (mentioned), torture, war/violence[end]

Binti, a review

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Sci-Fi novella that I’d heard so many people talking about so when I had the chance to listen to the audiobook, I grabbed it with both hands!

Unfortunately there was some sort of weird glitch in my audiobook files and I ended up listening to this book in totally the wrong order! It was a little confusing haha, but despite that I enjoyed the book and I think that says a lot about how good it is!

This is such a masterpiece, in that in so few pages Okorafor has managed to create character development, world building, fear, relief, and more. I’m already so invested within this world and I definitely want to read more from this universe!

There isn’t too much more that I can say about this, because it’s only 100 pages long! And I don’t want to spoil anything. So let’s go onto the CAWPILE Rating.

Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 8, giving a score of 7.57 and a 4* rating.

I’m definitely going to be reading more in this series, and fingers crossed I don’t get that glitch again if I go the audiobook route!

Exit Strategy, a review

We’re back with the gang in book 4 of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells! I adore this Sci-Fi novella series so much where we follow a Security Unit gone rogue. The most loveable rogue ever!

Okay so I may be a little biased, but I do love Murderbot. (thank you to Kari from Kar-ing for books for gifting me this!) and I was so excited to be back with the original group that we follow in the first novella.

I had hoped that Murderbot was able to be closer to the group straight away, but I think that’s because I’m used to a traditional story. It makes total sense for them to not feel that closely aligned with them. But they still get on fantastically as a team and I loved to see it!

The team dynamic is done so fantastically in this book too, there’s a moment (I won’t spoil you, don’t worry) where Murderbot doesn’t prioritise themselves, and it’s such a powerful action!

I have to admit the first one was more of a favourite for me, but this was still so much fun. We get to see so much growth from Murderbot, but in this one we also get to see the growth from the humans around them. We get to see them realising Murderbot’s wants and needs and reacting to that.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 9 which gives an average rating of 8.86 and a 4.5*!!

I’m really excited to see how book 5 goes after the ending of this, Murderbot is going to be living in such a different circumstance and I’m excited to see how they navigate that! I really do recommend picking up this series if you haven’t already.

To Be Taught If Fortunate, a review

To Be Taught If Fortunate is my first book by Becky Chambers and I’m apparently really into my Sci-Fi novellas lately! I listened to this one via audiobook but I think I want to pick it up in person too

I do think that listening to this novella was a poor choice for me in this instance and that I would’ve enjoyed reading the physical book more. I’m always a little more engrossed in a physical book and with the audio narration I was left a little detatched.

Despite this however, I still highly recommend picking this novella up! It’s a fascinating Sci-Fi focusing on the individuals inter-personal relationships as they live for a long time with only their few crewmates for company.

It also discusses the ethics of the research that they’re doing, and the decisions they have to make out their on their own. Separated from humanity.

This is definitely a very light sci-fi. Those elements are more in the background as worldbuilding, with the primary focus being on the characters, their relationships between each other and how this alters over time.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 8, Enjoyment: 8 which is an average of 8.14 and a very respectable 4* read!

I will definitely be picking more up from Chambers in the future, I just need to decide whether I’ll be giving the audiobooks another shot.

Rogue Protocol, a review

Yes I did read yet another Murderbot book, no I won’t be accepting judgement. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells is the third novella in the Murderbot Diaries series. We follow an AI unit who really does not want to have to deal with humans. And yet here they are.

Yet again I really enjoyed this book. It was so fun to see Murderbot engaging with other bots, and in a really interesting way this time around (spoiler free so I can’t say much more than that!)

In this book we get to see Murderbot become a lot more adept at dealing with humans, as well as understanding their emotions (and their own) a lot better than previously. I adored the stark contrast we had between Murderbot and one (god damn adorable) character and Murderbot’s reaction to this themselves.

On CAWPILE I gave this book: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 10, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10. That gave me a total of 9.14 which to nobody’s surprise is a 5 * rating.

This Sci-Fi series is one of my absolute all time favourites and I’m still so so grateful to Veronica from Veronica’s Shelf got me into this series and clearly made my life infinitely better! So excited to read more of these!

All Systems Red, a reread review

Yes, you’re right, I did indeed reread All Systems Red in the same year I originally read it! (see my first review here) But after picking up Artificial Condition during a reading slump I knew I had to go back and re-enjoy this novella!

After my reread I can confirm this is one of my all time favourite books! I laugh out loud while reading it seeing Murderbot attempting to deal with these humans wanting to emote with them. And the plot itself is the perfect vessel to frustrate Murderbot progressively through the story!

If this is your first exposure to Murderbot, I feel like you should know that they’re a SecurityUnit (AI) that has gained control over its governor module so it’s no longer controlled by its owning company. But despite it’s name, Murderbot doesn’t want to kill humans. It just wants to be left alone to watch soap operas all day! But instead the human’s that it’s been tasked as security to are stupid and need protecting.

For my second read I on CAWPILE I gave: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 10, Plot: 10, Intrigue: 10, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 which gives a massive 9.86 average which is obviously a 5* read!

I adore this series so much and I’m so excited to catch up with the books that are already out!!

Artificial Condition, a review

I was having a pretty rough month in October, moving house, moving jobs, and my body feeling completely overworked. So I was barely reading. I kept trying to pick up my tbr books and failing. So on the evening of the 26th October I said “fuck that” and picked up book two in the Murderbot Diaries. And boy am I glad I did!

I adore Murderbot, the ridiculous machine that they are. And in contrast to the first book, this time they have to blend in as a human. This massively changes the dynamic and the internal monologue we get is so much fun!

Of course I can’t say too much more than this about the plot because this is a novella and I don’t want to spoil it for you! The character development that we get out of Murderbot is fantastic, with them being forced into interactions they most definitely do not want and having to learn to adapt.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 10, Plot 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, Enjoyment: 10, giving an average of 9.43 which is a 5* read!

I adored this book so much. The novellas are such short and fun reads and I will forever love them.

The Annual Migration of Clouds, a review

I requested this audiobook on a whim, I wasn’t even supposed to be browsing NetGalley (who provided the audiobook for free in return for an unbiased review) but here I was and when I spotted this cover I knew I was going to request to read it!

In The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed we follow a young woman who has received an invitation to leave her small community to travel to a prestigious school. However, the novella is set in a post-apocalyptic world where some people are infected by “Cad” (although they’re still able to live almost normal lives… to a point) and climate disasters have ruined the land so people struggle to get by.

Reid wants to go, but she’s worried about those she leaves behind. How will her mother cope with the infection as she gets older? How will her childhood best friend be now that he’s lost all of his family and friends? How will they harvest the crops and do all the tasks that are usually meant for her? And to top it all of her mother doesn’t want her to go.

This little book was absolutely fantastic. I blasted through the audiobook in two sittings (only taking a break because I was listening to it at work and took my lunch break!) and adored it. I think the narrator does a great job at inflicting each character with their own personality and emphasising just the right point in sentences. I definitely want to read more from Premee Mohamed and I’m also here for listening to more audiobooks narrated by Eva Tavares!!

All Systems Red – a review

The wonderful Veronica from Veronica’s Shelf gifted me All Systems Red by Martha Wells as a surprise, and I had heard of it before but it wasn’t yet on my tbr. Apparently Veronica knows my taste better than me because this 100% should’ve been on my tbr!!!

ALL SYSTEMS RED: 1 (Murderbot Diaries): Wells, Martha:  9780765397539: Books
All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red follows Murderbot, this is the name the droid has given itself after it was able to hack into it’s own systems and override protocol. They can do anything, the Company no longer has control over them. And they use their power… to watch soaps and daydream all day! But Murderbot is assigned to a mission, and when the neighbouring mission goes dark it’s up to Murderbot and the scientists it’s there to serve to get to the truth.

This. Book. Is. So. Fun! I adored all of the character interactions. I adored being in Murderbot’s head and learning about the world through their unique viewpoint! And the ending? I totally didn’t expect that! I definitely want to pick up each and every book in this series!!

They’re very short books too, all of them being novella’s and book one being under 150 pages. So ya girl needs to get them onto her shelves!

My ratings on CAWPILE are:

Characters: 10

Atmosphere: 9

Writing: 9

Plot: 9

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 9

Enjoyment: 9

Which gives an overall score of 9.14 which is a 5*!!! I adored this book so much and I can’t wait to read more in the series!

Highlight here to read the trigger warnings: violence, murder, slavery, body horror, medical content, panic attacks, self harm, fire