I try to focus on two types of book every November – sci-fi and non-fiction – and I’ve managed to accumulate a lot of both that I’d like to cross off my TBR this year.
So, without further ado, let’s get started…
SciFiMonth is here!
Last year, November ended up being a crazily successful month of sci-fi for me, and I don’t know if the same thing will happen this year because, as I’ve mentioned many a time before, I’m much more of a fantasy girl than a sci-fi girl.
Sometimes, though, I just want a good sci-fi novel, and authors like Becky Chambers are proof that there is fun, quiet sci-fi out there for me.
I don’t know if I’ll have any discussion posts this month, but I do have a TBR consisting of novels I’ve been lucky enough to receive via NetGalley that I’d really like to cross off my TBR…
Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May
When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.
Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.
I’ve been planning to read and review this novel for SciFiMonth for a while. In an ideal world I’d love to review more books close to their pub date, and I know I should be doing that more, but with blogging events like SciFiMonth where I know my posts will be brought to the attention of fellow sci-fi fans, it feels like the best time talk about a book I’ve been sent for review. I love the sound of this one and I’m really excited to give it a try!
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
By the fall of 2007, one well-timed leak revealing that the U.S. government might have engaged in first contact has sent the country into turmoil, and it is all Cora Sabino can do to avoid the whole mess. The force driving this controversy is Cora’s whistleblower father, and even though she hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government – and redirected it to her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him – until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.
To save her own life, she offers her services as an interpreter to a monster, and the monster accepts.
Learning the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to find the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. But in becoming an interpreter, she begins to realize that she has become the voice for a being she cannot ever truly know or understand, and starts to question who she’s speaking for – and what future she’s setting up for all of humanity.
This is another summer release and one that I don’t really care about the content of all that much because I’m a big fan of Lindsay Ellis’s video essays, so that’s the main reason I want to read it. Recently I’ve noticed that I enjoy going into books fairly blind, so I’m excited to try this one!
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The world is stranger than they’d thought. And more dangerous than they’d feared.
Lee’s best friend went missing on Bodmin Moor, four years ago. She and Mal were chasing rumours of monsters when they found something all too real. Now Mal is back, but where has she been, and who is she working for?
When government physicist Kay Amal Khan is attacked, the security services investigate. This leads MI5’s Julian Sabreur deep into terrifying new territory, where he clashes with mysterious agents of an unknown power who may or may not be human. And Julian’s only clue is some grainy footage – showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.
Khan’s extradimensional research was purely theoretical, until she found cracks between our world and countless others . . . Parallel Earths where monsters live. These cracks are getting wider every day, so who knows what might creep through? Or what will happen when those walls finally come crashing down.
This is another one I know very little about, but I saw Bodmin Moor and I was sold. I love Cornwall and last year I ended up loving Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time, so I’m looking forward to trying more by him!
A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers
A young witch is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes , as both troubled muse and frustrated artist, in this haunting debut novel.
In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother attempts a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly binds Juliet to the artist, damning her to re-live her tragic love affair lifetime after lifetime as the star-crossed lovers reincarnate through history.
Luke Varner, tasked with maintaining this badly crafted curse, has been helplessly in love with his charge, in all her reincarnations, since 19th century France. He’s in love with Nora, a silver screen starlet in 1930s Hollywood. He’s in love with Sandra, a struggling musician in 1970s Los Angeles. And he’s in love with Helen, a magazine exec in present-day DC who has the power to ‘suggest’ others do her bidding.
In this life, Helen starts to recall the curse and her tragic previous lives. But this time, she might have the power to break the cycle…
I’ve seen glowing reviews for this debut novel across the blogosphere this year. It’s historical fiction and, at first glance, probably sounds more fantasy than anything else, but it also involves a kind of time travel and, for me, time travel = sci-fi.
Nonfiction November, created and hosted by Olive @ abookolive, is returning for its sixth year this year, and I’m very excited! I’ve had a real itch for non-fiction lately.
Every year Olive chooses four single-word prompts that we can use to guide our reading if we so choose. I have quite a few NetGalley reads that I’d like to try and get to (amidst all my sci-fi!) but so as not to stress myself out too much with a gigantic TBR, I’ve picked one book for each of the prompts.
This year’s prompts are: Time; Movement; Buzz; and Discovery.
So, what am I reading?
Let’s go back in time with a book my friend Elena bought me that I keep meaning to get to and keep not picking up, which is crazy when I’m such a Tudor nut! What intrigues me most about Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Tudor is that it focuses on the lives of the ordinary people of 16th century England, which is incredibly refreshing when so many books focus on the royal court.
Considering the things that have happened in 2020, I couldn’t use this prompt for anything other than the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve been meaning to read Audre Lorde’s essay collection Sister Outsider for a while now, so I’m really looking forward to picking it up. I loved her poetry collection, The Black Unicorn, so I’m sure I’ll love her non-fiction too.
I’m being a little cheeky with this prompt and focusing on something that I’ve become more and more interested in over the years: the history of sex work. Considering Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five was my favourite book of 2019, I’m very excited to read more from her in The Covent Garden Ladies. This is also the book that inspired the BBC show Harlots, which I really want to watch, so it’s about time I crossed this off my TBR!
Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the world and I’ve been lucky enough to go there on holiday a couple of times. The last time I visited my family and I went to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, and its history and rediscovery is like something out of a fairy tale. I picked up a copy of Tim Smit’s The Lost Gardens of Heligan from the giftshop but still haven’t read it, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.