Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Last Watch by J S Dewes


I heard some good pre release buzz about this first novel, and I’ve been really looking forward to some meaty space opera since the Machineries of Empire series ended. So I was happy when the publisher and NetGalley gave me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 


While this book was fine, it didn’t scratch that great space opera itch for me. It had a bunch of “first novel” issues with pacing and characterization. The book took too long to get going, then lagged and dragged a ton, then the finale felt rushed and a bit unearned. The two main characters, Adequin and Cavalon, seem half baked at best. Not quite likeable, not quite unlikeable, we keep being told of their flaws but then they keep heroically surpassing them every time in a way that made the flaws seem flat and the danger nonexistent. Sadly, the book might’ve been more fun as a novella - it felt very bloated. I might check out the sequel, but I don’t really care too much about what happens next.  

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Flash Fire by TJ Klune

 


What fun! This is the second book in this YA series set in a world of superheroes. The author has perfectly captured his protagonist’s voice, a gay teenage boy with ADHD, a love of fanfic, and a burgeoning sense of his own power and place in the world. The politics and corporate villiany seem a little two-dimensional, and the book’s view of policing did a complete 180 from the previous book, which was itself almost one-dimensional. I’d rather the author just acknowledge life is more complicated than either  “thin blue line” or “ACAB” because it detracts from this otherwise excellent and fun novel. Be warned! It ends on a Cliffhanger!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Murder By Other Means by John Scalzi

 I really like John Scalzi’s books, and I enjoy the Dispatcher series, but if you asked me what my one problem with them are , I’d have to answer “core concept”.  His worldbuilding is virtually nonexistent- he wanted to write mystery stories, gave them a fantastical bent, and never bothered to explain the how or why of resurrection (but only from murder). It allows him to tell the stories he wants to tell (I assume) but it leaves me unsatisfied, like eating only candy for dinner. That being said, his newest Dispatcher novella, Murder By Other Means, is fun, fast, and entertaining. The mystery is fun, although it might be deemed to be more of a noir thriller, since the reader doesn’t have the necessary clues to solve it, but just goes along for the ride. And it would be nice if Mr. Scalzi’s legal education came from anything other than fiction. In spite of all that, I enjoyed it, and will happily read the next volume when it comes out. Thanks to Subterranean Press and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

 This is the book that I didn’t know I was waiting for. 


Like many people, I first encountered Katherine Addison when I found the Goblin Emperor on a bunch of awards ballots. I was immediately enchanted. Within six months of reading it, I doubled back and listened to the audiobook. Goblin Emperor is charming and delightful and wonderful and even deeper than I realized the first time though. I also adored her book last year, the Angel of the Crows. It was delightful and I hope everyone goes out and reads it. 


So I was thrilled beyond all imagining when Tor and NetGalley gave me an eARC for her new book, The Witness For the Dead. 


Like her last novel, the overarching plot isn’t the heart of this novel, but instead it is the characters and relationships. The protagonist, the titular Witness for the Dead, had a minor role to play in the Goblin Emperor, but here we get to see him living his life in a smaller municipality, getting involved in various cases and investigations. The character’s headspace is so perfectly realized that I could not put this book down. It was the most enjoyable reading experience I have had in months. 


I cannot enthuse enough about this book. Go buy it right now!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Beyond by Mercedes Lackey


I have loved Mercedes Lackey’s books for thirty years. As I said in my review of her last book, I still have the SFBC omnibus of the Last Herald Mage trilogy on my shelf and Ican’t tell you how many times I read it. 


I haven’t read many of her Valdemar books in the last few years. I listened to the audiobooks of the Collegium Chronicles series, which was fun, but I felt it dragged on too long, with too many kidnappings, and Mags’s accent drove me bananas. I lost touch with the series when my library stopped buying the ebooks of the Herald Spy series after Closer to Home, and I was disappointed in Spy, Spy Again, the third volume in the series focusing on Mags’s kids. 


Last year, when I reviewed that book, I said that I hoped that Mercedes Lackey kept on writing Valdemar books. Well, my hopes were answered! I just finished reading her newest novel, Beyond, the first part in a trilogy? series? about the founding of Valdemar. It was so much fun! (BTW, Thanks again to NetGalley and DAW for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.)


This book goes way back to before the founding of Valdemar the country, when the Duke of Valdemar the region of an evil soul crushing empire dreams of escaping with his people to a new land. In this book, the characters pop, the story flies, and the FUN is back. I loved seeing little tidbits that help connect the dots to the books we know and have loved for years. And this book is a lot less rapey than the last one. All I can say without spoiling things too much is Vrondi!!!!!


If you like the Valdemar books of old, you’ll enjoy this. Can’t wait for the next one!

Friday, May 21, 2021

A Hole in the Sky by Peter F. Hamilton


When I finished reviewing the Salvation Sequence by Peter F. Hamilton, I said that I looking forward to trying his next series. And I was so right! I got an audio advanced reader copy of A Hole in the Sky and it was fantastic! I love Hamilton’s space opera, and I love a good generation ship story, and this was so much fun! 


I didn’t realize that this book was a YA book when I began listening to it, so in some ways it came across as a breath of fresh air. Some of the sex and violence in some of Hamilton‘s other books gets a little grim, and it was a pleasure to have a teenaged female protagonist in this book that I wasn’t going to have to worry about. 


The mysteries of how the people on the generation ship lost their access to technology war well plotted and well revealed. I didn’t wanna stop listening to this book because I kept wanting to find out what was going to happen next. I am very much looking forward to the sequel and everything else Mr. Hamilton chooses to write. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Angel of the Overpass by Seanan McGuire

 


Short version: one of the best books of 2021 for sure!


Long version: I came to Seanan McGuire late - I didn’t realize that she and her pen name, Mira Grant, were the same person for a long while. I found Mira Grant when Parasite was nominated for the Hugo award and my librarian bought all of that year’s best novel Hugo nominees for the library’s ebook collection. I loved Parasite, devoured the Newsflesh trilogy, and then went looking for more. I was too intimidated to start one of her long running urban fantasy series, so I picked Sparrow Hill Road, which I believed at the time to be stand alone. I loved it so much! It was lyrical, haunting, utterly amazing. I was hooked. 


So I was thrilled when DAW and NetGalley gave me an eARC for Angel of the Overpass, the third (but I hope not concluding) book of the series. This one picks up on where we left off with Rose Marshal, the hitchhiking ghost, in the last volume, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. This novel also follows up on some world-shattering events from the Inncrpytid books (specifically the final Antimony book) that have massive repercussions for the ghost roads. I wondered, reading this book, if Seanan McGuire had sold it to her publisher as a chance to resolve dangling plot threads and provide closure to some storylines, because the book manages to do that incredibly well. The first novel was a fix-up, as the material had originally been published as connected short stories. That format seemed to result in some inconsistencies and didn’t always have enough room to allow some of the ideas to breathe, especially related to Rose’s high school sweetheart. This book satisfied tremendously on all fronts. 


Two things I must point out that made me sqee, which I will try to keep as spoiler free as possible. 1) dinosaur! 2) there was a moment in the book that didn’t mean much to Rose, but meant the world to me as a fan of Sarah from Incrpytid. 


What are you waiting for? Go buy this right now!!!