Weekend Reads: Sci-Fi Alternate History & #OwnVoices Iraqi Speculative Suspense!

Good morning and a merry Saturday to all!

Along with my current non-fiction Japanese history obsession, I have been in the mood to read some strange science-fiction stories! So, in addition to finishing up a couple of last week’s books, I plan on starting some new ones that sounded bizarre and fantastic to me! One of these novels are actually on my Top 15 #OwnVoices SFF Books by Authors of Colours list, so that doubles the enthusiasm and excitement!

Check out the four books that I will be focusing on over the course of the next few days. Please, let me know in the comments if any of you have read the books listed, or if they sound appealing to you. 😊 I’ll start with the one’s I’m almost finished with and then move on to the two that I shall be starting this afternoon.

Annihilation (Southern Reaches #1) by Jeff Vadermeer

This is a new weird science-fiction book and the first in a trilogy. The book takes place in Area X, which has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has overtaken large vestiges of human civilisation. Then people began to send in expeditions to check this area out. The first one reported pristine landscapes; the second ended with mass suicide; and with the third one all of the members turned on each another in a hail of gunfire. There was an eleventh and all of the members died within a week, from cancer. Now a twentieth expedition is being sent it, comprised entirely of women. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X.

I have about fifty to sixty pages left in the book and I must say that it was almost completely unpredictable for me. I really didn’t know what to expect from it, but what I received was a brilliant and strange-as-hell surprise. The book captures uncertainty and the fear and anxiety that comes with that, along with the inherent paranoia that stems from betrayal amid an already high-pressure situation superbly! I’m claustrophobic and while reading this book, with the way everything is described, I began to feel sensationally claustrophobic and just as freaked out as the characters in the book. That is the essence of ambiance and it’s spectacular in Annihilation.

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

The book is a young adult crime thriller that takes place during the Victorian era in England. It’s about a young girl who has recently lost her mother to illness. Her family wants her to learn how to become a proper English lady. However, completely obsessed with death and the very nature of death as a means of processing her grief, she denies them. Instead, she secretly takes up an apprenticeship with the local coroner. Then one evening a mutilated body comes into the morgue and rumours of a “Ripper” begin to spread through the city. The young woman finds herself caught up in the midst of the crime and she is determined to solve these dreadful killings.

I figured this book would be extremely cheesy and predictable, and honestly, flat-out boring. But it isn’t. It’s brutally vivid with imagery as the bodies of the murdered women are described so impeccably. The autopsy scenes are just as gruesome, but in a more scientifically sophisticated way, so as not to seem viscous for the sake of shock. The banter between Audrey and a gentleman who’s studying death along with her is charming and very amusing. Their chemistry is natural, and their bickering just makes me grin like a moron. It’s essentially very British and fitting to the time period, which is making me devour this sucker. This is another delightful reading surprise!

A Kill in the Morning Graeme Shimmin

A science-fiction, alternate history thriller that takes place in a messed-up version of 1955. It is fourteen years since Churchill died and the Second World War ended. In occupied Europe, Britain fights a cold war against a nuclear-armed Nazi Germany. In Berlin, the Gestapo is on the trail of a beautiful young resistance fighter, and the head of the SS is plotting to dispose of an ailing Adolf Hitler and restart the war against Britain and her empire. Meanwhile, in a secret bunker hidden deep beneath the German countryside, scientists are experimenting with a force far beyond their understanding. Into this arena steps a nameless British assassin, on the run from a sinister cabal within his own government and planning a private war against the Nazis. And now the fate of the world rests on a single kill in the morning.

The cover looks so badass and while the premise does sound like it’s super ambitious, I am looking forward to seeing if the author can pull it off in a cohesive and fluid manner. If they can, then I know I’m going to fucking love every page of it! If not, then it will be fun to talk about where it all went wrong. #SorryNotSorry

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

This is an #OwnVoices Iraqi fiction literature novel that I refer to as science-fiction because the premise really can be construed as a work of speculative fiction, at the very least.

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi—a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café—collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal is for the government to recognise the parts as people and to give them the proper burial they deserve. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders begins to sweep the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who cannot be killed, not for a lack of trying. Hadi soon realises he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive—first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.

I’m an avid lover of the original Frankenstein story—the 1818 edition, specifically—by Mary Shelley, so when I saw this version with setting and scenario, I was instantly intrigued. I knew I had to read it as soon as I could. I was lucky enough to find it at my local library last week, so I snagged that sucker hella fast!

I’m hoping my weekend will be filled with imagination and wonder! Please, let me know in the comments if you are interested in a full review for any of the titles listed. While I do tend to write reviews for most books that I read, if not all, occasionally I will pass on a review if I don’t have much to say about it, or in the case of The Travelling Cat Chronicles, I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion to construct a cohesive review for the book at the present time. But if there’s an interest for it, then I definitely put it on my review list. 😊

Thank you for visiting me today! I wish you all a splendid weekend ahead. Until next time, happy reading and happy otakuing! 🌼

4 thoughts on “Weekend Reads: Sci-Fi Alternate History & #OwnVoices Iraqi Speculative Suspense!

    • It really does! My cousin, who has read it, said it’s more of commentary on the nature of war and how the civilians and every day people aren’t even viewed as people when two nations go to battle, which sounds super intriguing to me.

  1. Ooh, review for Frankenstein in Baghdad please! (If you want to, ofc!) XD

    • Okay, got it! After reading the first few pages or so, I think it’ll be one that I will definitely want to talk about. 🙂

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