Friday, December 31, 2021

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K.J. Parker

 I had never read anything by KJ Parker before, but I remember Jo Walton speaking fondly about his prior books in this world, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City and How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, so I was thrilled to get an eARC from Orbit and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Jo Walton described Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City as a “grabby” book - a book that grabs you, that you can grab and not want to put down. This book was definitely grabby, with a fun first person narrator that was not necessarily likable but fun to be in the head of. 

As a former classical studies major, I really appreciated most of the author’s callbacks and references to actual history (those that I picked up on, at least - I’m sure I missed a bunch). 

A few times, towards the end of the novel, some of the coincidences felt a little too contrived, but this is a minor quibble. The book was super fun from start to finish and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I am going to go check out the earlier books by this author soon!

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Year's Best Science Fiction Vol. 2 edited by Jonathan Strahan

 As I have said before on more than one occasion, I am wary of anthologies - I worry about changes in quality and tonal whiplash between stories in themed multi-author collections.  But I really enjoyed Jonathan Strahan’s first volume of this year’s best series last year, and I was right that I would like this year’s too! Thanks, NetGalley, for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.  Probably my favorite story was The Pill by Meg Ellison, an amazing story that had a real core of truth to it. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Chef's Kiss by Jarrett Melendez

 After weeks of contemplating the cute cover of this graphic novel, I finally requested it from NetGalley.  I’m glad I did! The book was as cute as the cover made me expect it would be. The story is slight - Ben has graduated college, looking for work, finds a restaurant where he fits in, despite his original plans to be a writer.  The story is a nice. Owing of age tale of a boy/man learning to make his own decisions. The romance is nice, a tad slow, but overall very cute.  Some weird choices marred the book from being perfect for me.  The stoner roommate character detracted from every scene he was in - he added nothing to the plot and was just overall terrible.  The pig-as-food critic idea was kinda neat, but the scene where he is smoking a cigarette as a shorthand way of saying he was having a food orgasm fell completely flat.  Overall, a book long on cuteness, if a tad short on substance.