Friday, December 1, 2023

Through Clouds of Smoke: Freud's Final Days by Suzanne Leclair

On a lark, I requested an eARC of this graphic novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The description sounded interesting; I thought that this would be a comic exploring the final years of Sigmund Freud, who was a fascinating historical person. I was looking forward to getting some insights into the man, but I was disappointed. The dialogue was stilted at best. None of the characters talked like real people, and I’ve gained no insights into who Freud was as a person. The art was interesting, but I found the lettering to be frustrating to read. I would suggest that you skip this one.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

A Few Rules for Predicting the Future by Octavia E. Butler

I first read Octavia Butler when my science fiction book club read Kindred a few years ago (we loved it but felt it was fantasy and not science fiction). I read her collection Bloodchild and Other Stories when I got it in a nebula award winning humble numbed and really enjoyed it. After that I would buy kindle editions of all of her series when the collected editions went on sale and I read and loved the Xenogenesis trilogy. But her other books stayed on my TBR shelf, getting passed over for newer things, until I recently read Octavia E. Butler: The Last Interview and Other Conversations which reminded me how much I loved her.  I’ve recently read Wild Seed and Parable of the Sower.  So I was excited when I saw this book on NetGalley and I got a copy from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  

I was hoping for an essay collection.  Instead this book is one essay.  It is a reprint of a magazine article with some disappointing and distracting illustrations.  It’s a good essay! I enjoyed it! But I wouldn’t pay what the publisher is charging to own this.  

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Saevus Corax Deals With the Dead by K. J. Parker


A while back, I became a fan of K. J. Parker. It started when I read an eARC of A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K.J. Parker and loved it! It was grabby (in a “can’t put this book down” kind of way) and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I said I’d be looking out for more books by K. J. Parker and I later really enjoyed an eARC of the Long Game and Pulling the Wings off Angels, which were both delightful books! After that, I went back and read Sixteen Ways to Defend A Walled City and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, which were also wonderful. Parker’s books that I have read have been first person tales whose protagonists are usually clever bastards (in a thoroughly enjoyable manner). 

The titular Saevus Corax is no different - a man who is too clever by half that runs a business reclaiming armor and other loot from battlefield corpses. I don’t want to spoil the plot, which was full of delightful surprises, but suffice it to say that Corax is more than he originally appears, and he cleverly gets into and out of various and sundry scrapes. 

When I tried to start reading this book the first time, I wasn’t quite in the mood for it, and couldn’t get more than a few pages in, but when I went back to it, I could not put it down. It has that same grabbiness as the other Parker books that I have read. 

With Parker’s books, you know exactly what you were going to get. This book feels very similar to every other Parker book that I’ve already read, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Anyone that has ever enjoyed any of his books before should enjoy this one. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Ravensong by TJ Klune

Ok, that’s it, I’m giving up on this series.

I was curious about this series before I started it. I really enjoyed the Extraordinaries trilogy by TJ Klune (although his strong pro- and anti- police stands in different volumes gave me whiplash), but I didn’t really vibe with Under the Whispering Door. I enjoyed the sentiments of House on a Cerulean Sea but felt the world building was weak in a way that took me out of the book.  But I still liked the author enough that I was full of anticipation when NetGalley and Tor gave me an eARC of Wolfsong and Ravensong, reprints of the first and second books of Klune’s Green Creek series in exchange for honest reviews.

Going in to that first book, I thought it was going to be more urban fantasy than paranormal romance. I was wrong. It was totally a paranormal romance, which was interesting because I don’t usually read in that subgenre. The first book was enjoyable but a slog - as I said I’m my review of that volume, there was like a novella’s worth of story here and the book was like 500+ pages.  I also didn’t like the age gap between the romantic leads.  

Sadly, this sequel was more of the same in the worst ways.  There felt like there was barely a short story’s worth of plot in Ravensong and it was so long and boring to get to it.  The characters are not interesting enough to spend time with and, once again, the main romantic relationship of this book also starts with an age gap with one of the parties below the age of consent.  It’s icky. I was bored and even the cliffhanger epilogue wasn’t enough to get me to pick up volume 3.

I’m not curious enough to try the next one - I’m tapping out here. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine--The Dog of War by Mike Chen


Star Trek is my fandom. I saw Star Trek IV in the theater in 1986 when I was ten.   I remember when I became a Trekkie (spring of 1989) and I have loved Trek ever since. If you re curious, my current ranking of best Trek series as of today is:












But this could change tomorrow.  I have been a Next Gen fan since season 2, and have been to more than my fair share of Trek conventions. I remember as a kid picking up Star Trek comics at a Creation convention and being so excited to get more stories from the Enterprise.  I recently have started reading more Star Trek comics (I just finished and enjoyed Godshock) so I was happy to get an eARC of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine--The Dog of War by Mike Chen from IDW and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story was fun and light. Set during the Dominion War, shortly after the retaking of DS9, it involves everyone going wild over a corgi that Quark has acquired while  also dealing with some recently found Borg technology. The overall story is very frivolous, and the characterization and likenesses of some of the characters feel off, but it is mostly a fun romp.  It was an enjoyable way to pass the time.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

System Collapse by Martha Wells

We all love Murderbot, right? Murderbot is one of the absolute best characters to come out of SF in years. I remember when I read the description of Martha Wells’s All Systems Red and thought to myself “I’ve got to put that on hold at the library!”  And I was right - it was excellent. I have eagerly awaited each new Murderbot book and also have been reading some of Ms. Wells’s other fantasy books. The Witch King was good, but my heart belongs to Murderbot. 

So I was very excited when NetGalley and tordotcom gave me an eARC of System Collapse, the new Murderbot book, in exchange for an honest review. 

This was stellar. Before this, Fugitive Telemetry was my favorite Murderbot book, but this one surpassed it. I was so excited to see the fallout from Network Effect and to see what else was going on on that planet. And more ART is always appreciated. This book moved the story forward while simultaneously giving us a close look at Murderbot’s emotional state and it was very satisfying. 

This book is a must buy!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


I’d seen the name Silvia Moreno-Garcia around on best of lists and upcoming books to look forward to, but it wasn’t until the Hugo nominations this year were announced that I decided it was time to put her to the top of my to-read pile. I started reading the Daughter of Dr. Moureau while on vacation in Mexico this summer, which felt fitting. I enjoyed it and was excited when I got an eARC from NetGalley of her newest book, Silver Nitrate, in exchange for an honest review. 

This book reminded me of 11/22/63 by Steven King strongly - I really enjoyed both books, and for both books I really would have liked to see how the author would have written the story without anything supernatural going on. 

This book is set in Mexico in the 90s and our focus is on a woman who is a film editor and her best friend, a mostly washed up actor. Their lives and their difficulties feel so real and so poignant that I was almost sad when the Nazi magic started coming to the fore. 

The horror is creepy and interesting but not so scary to be off putting to me (I don’t usually do horror) and I really enjoyed this book. I was a little disappointed that the author didn’t delve a little deeper into what it meant that the villains were literal Nazis. In the current state of the world, ignoring the actual victims of the Holocaust, even in fiction, feels like the first step on the road to antisemitism. But maybe I’m feeling especially sensitive due to current events. 

I enjoyed this book and I think even people that don’t love horror could enjoy it.