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!