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Rachel Recommends: The Space Between Worlds

Genre: Sci-fi This book is a soft sci-fi story about multiverse travel – but you can only travel to universes where you’re dead. It’s also a dystopian novel, and explores themes of class and privilege – because only the poor, from outside the walled city of the wealthy, are likely to be dead in other realities and therefore able to travel to them.  My mother used to say I was born reaching, which is true. She also used to say it would get me killed, which it hasn’t. Not yet, anyway.’Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, she’s on a sure path to citizenship and security – on this world, at least. Of the 380 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but 8. Cara’s parallel selves are exceptionally good at dying – from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun – which makes Cara wary, and valuable. Because while multiverse travel…

Rachel Recommends: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Genre: Solarpunk / Sci-fi   This little novella packs a punch for its size, and it was a refreshing and hopeful read. Tor Books commissioned Becky Chambers to write a two book novella series in the solarpunk genre, which looks forward to a sustainable future, where humanity has managed to solve the major contemporary challenges, particularly climate change. It won a Hugo award this year.   It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honour the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of ‘what do people need?’ is answered.   The dedication of this book reads “For anybody who could use a break.”, and this book is that. It is a philosophical look at the purpose and meaning of life, and a comforting slice of life, and hope for the future we might have. I highly recommend it.   In stock, CHF 22.50

Rachel Recommends: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Genre: Science Fiction This is the fourth and final instalment in Becky Chamber’s Wayfarers series, and like the books before it, this one too is an absolutely beautiful book about interpersonal relationships, with the characters stranded at a truck stop equivalent in outer space. I’ve loved each of these books, and this one was no different, despite being much lighter on plot than many space opera novels. This book is about prejudice and xenophobia, and how people are different and strange to one another, and how people communicate and connect, and I highly recommend it. When a freak technological failure halts traffic to and from the planet Gora, three strangers are thrown together unexpectedly, with seemingly nothing to do but wait. Pei is a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, torn between her duty to her people, and her duty to herself. Roveg is an exiled artist, with a deeply urgent, and longed for, family appointment to keep. Speaker has never been far from her twin but now must endure the unendurable: separation. Under the care of Ouloo, an enterprising alien, and Tupo, her occasionally helpful child, the trio are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go,…

What Rachel Read Over Christmas

Well booklovers, it’s been a year! I have struggled with the attention span for reading during the pandemic, and I haven’t read nearly as many books this year as I usually do. I ended up cancelling my travel plans for Christmas, and used some of that free time to catch up on some of the books at the top of my TBR list, and they did not disappoint – they were all excellent reads. The first book I read was The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop (I was lucky enough to get my hands on a preview copy), and it was fantastic – it was a great book to pull me out of my slump, as the way Caroline writes is incredibly engaging. I finished the whole book in two days, and it would have been less if I hadn’t needed to do some Christmas meal prepping! This book is out of my regular Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres, and it was a fantastic read about female friendship and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone! 1957, France. Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a…

Rachel Recommends: A Deadly Education

Genre: Fantasy I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I love magic school type books, and I think this one might be my favourite yet. A school with no teachers, where the school is trying to kill you, and the protagonist has a talent for destruction? Yes please! Well okay, not the school exactly, so much as the creatures that reside within it, but still. I tend to love everything written by Naomi Novik, but this is definitely my favourite (so far).  Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die. El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school. Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.  This is book 1…

Rachel Recommends

Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi   Well booklovers, following my posts about my top unread books of last year, it made me really want to dive right in, so I started with The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda Hall. It was a beautiful book (not to mention a gorgeous cover!) and felt like a fairy tale. It’s classed as YA, but I whole-heartedly recommend it, no matter what your age. Sometimes YA books can feel a bit too… YA, but this one didn’t at all – it was just a wonderful story. It’s also LGBTQ+ friendly! This is a standalone book.   In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady find a connection on the high seas. Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is headed to an arranged marriage she dreads. Flora…

What Rachel’s Reading

Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Superhero   Well booklovers, I finally got my most-anticipated book of 2020 this month, Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War, book 4 of the Stormlight Archive. This is my favourite epic book series, and this volume didn’t disappoint! I’ve been restraining myself from rereading it again immediately – I’m saving that for Christmas! If you like epic fantasy and haven’t heard of Brandon Sanderson, you probably haven’t ever talked to me about books (I may be known to recommend his books often). I opted for the US cover, with the beautiful commissioned Michael Whelan cover. Email us if you’d like to order in a copy – they take around a week to arrive.   After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move. Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of…

Rachel Recommends: YA

Genres: Fantasy/alt history, Sci-fi   I haven’t been reading very much Young Adult lately, but two of the titles that I have read recently have really been standouts. The first, Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, just sounded cool.   Trained at Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls in both weaponry and etiquette, Jane McKeene is poised for a successful career protecting the wealthy from the encroaching plague of walking dead. But when families begin to go missing, Jane uncovers a conspiracy that pits her against some powerful enemies. Sent far from home, Jane will need all her resourcefulness, wit and strength of character to survive.   I mean, I loved Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series, and this one sounded similar – weapons and etiquette? Yes, please! It’s a fantastic zombie book, set in a post-Civil War alternative history, that deftly explores racial oppression throughout the action and tension of the story. This was a fun, engaging read that kept me hooked and interested the whole way through, and I highly recommend it. There’s also an excellent review of the book over at Tor. The sequel, Deathless Divide, is also out.      The other YA book that really…

What Rachel’s Reading: Sci-Fi Trilogies

Genres: science-fantasy, science fiction    Well booklovers, it’s been quite some time since I posted some recommendations, and I’ve read a number of very good books in the past few months! It had been awhile since I read much new science fiction, so I set about ticking a few of the books off of that list – although most of them were more science-fantasy than strictly science fiction.   One of the books that had been on my list for ages was Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsin Muir, as it was nominated for a bunch of awards. This was a very fun read (exploring a haunted gothic castle in space? yes please!), and was adjective-tastic. Gideon is a great snarky protagonist, and I highly recommend this quirky science fantasy book. This is the first in a trilogy, the first two of which are out. The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense. The first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, this book unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants….

Children’s Picture Book Picks

Well booklovers, in the past few years I (Rachel) have become an aunt several times over, which means I get to buy picture books! Here are some of my top picks from the past year or two:   I am Bat by Morag Hood   Bat does not like mornings, but he loves cherries – and his cherries start going missing! This book is aimed at the preschool/toddler age, and is one of my favourite new children’s books. have I also read it aloud to friends? I sure have. I also love Morag Hood’s Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea, which celebrates the differences between friends.     Dave the Lonely Monster by Anna Kemp   This is a fun story about a lonely monster called Dave, who lives all alone in his retirement cave. It’s a story about friendship, and treating others the way you’d like to be treated, and the rhyming story will definitely appeal to young listeners!     Mini Rabbit Not Lost by John Bond   The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful, and the story will definitely appeal to kids who like cake! Mini Rabbit and his mother are making a cake, but he…