Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed

Last year, when I reviewed Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed, I said “After reading this book, I will definitely pick up the next book by Premee Mohamed.  This author has a great deal of potential and I look forward to seeing what else she writes.”  When NetGalley listed this new novella by Ms. Mohamed, I was happy to check it out, and I’m glad I did.  The Annual Migration of Clouds is much more polished and better written than her debut novel.  This is a post-apocalyptic novella, set at a repurposed university where survivors are ekeing out an existence, where many people are infected with a parasite of some sort that changes their behavior to push self-preservation.  The protagonist is offered acceptance into a college far away that her mother argues does not exist.  The author captures the mood of this world perfectly, even if she doesn’t quite put forth enough worldbuilding to  fully justify how it could exist in its current format.  Like in her first novel, the character work and evocative descriptions are standouts.  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire


Amazing, satisfying, full of joy! The worst part of this book is the title - no sorrows here, only happiness!

I love Seanan McGuire. (Note: I review a bunch of her books so I am copying part of some of my other reviews here to save time.). She has quickly become my favorite living writer and I feel very lucky that she is so prolific. I was first introduced to her work when her book Parasite, written as Mira Grant, was nominated for a Hugo Award. I loved it and quickly devoured the Newsflesh series before I realized that Mira Grant and Seanan McGuire were the same person. 

I started reading her works under her own name, starting with Sparrow Hill Road, which is amazing, but I picked it because I was intimidated by her long running October Daye series. I had read some Urban Fantasy before, and I fondly remember Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde books, but my tastes run more to science fiction and then secondary world fantasy, so I was hesitant to dive into such a long series. I picked up the first book, Rosemary and Rue, when it was on sale as a kindle daily deal, and I found it somewhat disappointing compared to her other work. I reminded myself that it was her first published novel, so I cut it some slack. Then Incryptid was nominated for the Best Series Hugo in 2018 and I dove into that instead. I loved it! So I vowed to give Toby another chance. And I was so glad that I did! It is no one of my favorite series. 

I was overjoyed when The publisher and NetGalley awarded me an eARC of When Sorrows Come (I had already preordered a copy beforehand). Minor spoilers: this is the wedding we have been waiting for! October and Tybalt! And it’s everything you could want. Bringing back old characters, royal coup hi-jinx, so much stabbing, so much blood, and just marvelous character work. And the bonus novella just kept on bringing the joy! It’s all character work, with some long simmering tensions starting to thaw in a way that is incredibly satisfying. 

October Daye is on the top of my best series Hugo ballot - she deserves to win. This type of long running series excellence is what this award was designed for and none of the other nominees come close. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. Valente

I love Cat Valente's books - my daughter and I read all of the Fairyland books together and I ADORED Space Opera. So I was excited when Tor announced what I thought was a sequel to The Future Is Blue, my favorite story in Ms. Valente's short story collection of the same name.  So I was initially confused and disappointed when I started listening to the audiobook eARC I got from NetGalley and it turns out that The Past is Red is an expansion, not a sequel.  The story was enjoyable, but so incredibly grim that it really detracted from my enjoyment of the book - until the end, when a glimmer of hope sparkled, and I could climb out of the funk that the book had put me in.  The narrator, while good at her job, had a very thick accent and I don’t personally think she was a good fit for the content.  This wasn’t my favorite Valente,  but even weak Valente is still pretty darn good. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

 Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

I loved the Extraordinaries and Flash Fire by TJ Klune, so I was so excited when NetGalley and Tor gave me an eARC of his new book Under the Whispering Door in exchange for an honest review. Sadly, this one missed the mark for me. The book is a about Wallace, who starts out as an asshole who is a horrific caricature of a greedy lawyer. Seriously, it’s like the author’s only experience of what a lawyer is is from the “Single Female Lawyer” show on Futurama. Anyway, Wallace dies, and meets a Reaper and a Ferryman who are supposed to help him move on to the next plain of existence. Then, in an utterly unconvincing manner, Wallace changes his entire character and becomes a good person and also falls in love with the Ferryman. Finally, in a completely unearned development that upends the core premise of the book, Wallace is resurrected to live happily ever after. Of all of the ghosts we encounter or hear of in this book, Wallace is the least deserving of resurrection - what about young Lea?

If this had been a novella, maybe I could’ve been convinced to like it, but this book was incredibly long and drawn out and just draaaaaaged. It was well written, and I like the author a lot, and will totally read his next book, but this one did not work for me. Your mileage may vary.