Reviews by Jane Funk

Review

A Memory Called Empire

A Memory Called Empire

A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE (Amazon) is full of political intrigue and deception and culture-shock and poetry, all of which is to say: I loved it. For fans of Ann Leckie, Arkady Martine’s debut novel has rich worldbuilding and a sympathetic narrator that will pull you into the galaxy-spanning Teixcalaan Empire.
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Review

Jade City

Posted: July 2, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Love Meta: Fonda Lee, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Jade City

JADE CITY by Fonda Lee has been nominated (and won) a number of awards in the past year. I was interested to see if it lived up to the buzz and I am happy to report that it did.
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Review

Into the Drowning Deep

Posted: June 25, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Mira Grant, Horror
Into the Drowning Deep

INTO THE DROWNING DEEP (Amazon) is the kind of book I would normally recommend as a beach read. First, I guess I should clarify that by beach read, I don’t mean trash. A good beach read is straightforward enough that you can pick it up and put it down whenever you need to take a dip in the water or reapply that sunscreen. Ideally, beach reads also have enough forward motion that I can while away the hours with ease. INTO THE DROWNING DEEP meets those criteria–it’s engaging and fun with a good dose of horror and an embrace of the absurd.

It’s also about killer mermaids.
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Review

Zenith

Zenith

ZENITH (Amazon) opens on Androma Racella, aka Andy, aka The Bloody Baroness, flying free. She and her all-female crew are between jobs when they’re intercepted by Andy’s old flame, Dextro. Dex is a bounty hunter and Guardian (of the Galaxy… don’t sue me Marvel) who is working for General Cortas. Cortas is Andy’s old boss and the father of her best friend, whose death she feels responsible for.
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Review

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

If you’re reading this review, the odds are good it’s because at some point you read a book with a dragon in it–and realized that most subjects could benefit from dragons, such as: endless political machinations, the Napoleonic Wars, and yes even tacos.

Everything’s better with dragons.

And now that list includes Russian history.

“The dragons were harrowing the provinces again. They did that whenever the Tsar was upset with the Jews.” Jane Yolen wasn’t planning on writing more dragon stories but when these lines popped into her head, the image of leathery wings in dark northern skies wouldn’t leave her. We should be grateful for the whims of creative fate because THE LAST TSAR’S DRAGONS (Amazon) is a well-written, clever novella that’s worth your time.
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Review

A Brightness Long Ago

A Brightness Long Ago

Imagine you’re a chef and at your restaurant you only make one meal. It’s beautiful and satisfying and no one’s complaining about the plate of gorgeous food in front of them. In fact, you have plenty of repeat customers, because hey, a lot of people go to restaurants and order the same thing every time. Why venture into the unknown towards probable disappointment?

But no matter how great your one meal is, some of your customers are eventually going to wonder what the dessert menu might look like.

And that analogy is close to where I find myself as a Guy Gavriel Kay fan. I’ve been reading him for close to a decade now and I’m a completist (except his poems, haven’t read those). His books make me cry. They’re lovely and poetic and full of ordinary and extraordinary people alike trying to make good choices when the world doesn’t seem to give them any.

Even as a fan, I’m cognizant that his books tend towards a certain… sameness. He works with archetypes — the poet, the warrior, the artist, the lover, the priest — and continually revisits themes of fate and choice. He does it well, but while reading his latest offering I found myself wondering what else he has to offer.
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Review

Amnesty

Posted: May 9, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Lara Elena Donnelly, Fantasy
Amnesty

AMNESTY (Amazon) is the final book in the AMBERLOUGH DOSSIER and if you’ve read my earlier reviews for AMBERLOUGH (EBR Review) and ARMISTICE (EBR Review) you know that I love a good character driven, unrelentingly grim novel. If that isn’t your scene, I recommend browsing through some of our other reviews because AMNESTY follows closely in the same vein as the first two novels in the series both in attention to characters and level of grimness.
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Review

The Silver Scar

Posted: April 25, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Betsy Dornbusch, Urban Fantasy
The Silver Scar

Betsy Dornbusch’s writing in THE SILVER SCAR is spare and lean, which gives the novel an immediacy that works in concert with her grim vision of a post-apocalyptic Colorado. While the book builds steadily, the beginning was rocky enough that I had a hard time getting into it and I bumped it down a ratings category or two.
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Review

Seven Blades in Black

Posted: April 9, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Sam Sykes, Fantasy
Seven Blades in Black

SEVEN BLADES IN BLACK (Amazon) is Sam Sykes’ newest novel and the start of a new series, THE GRAVE OF EMPIRES. I’ve seen it described as “action fantasy,” which I guess is fantasy but with more punching? While there’s plenty of punching (and shooting and eviscerating) in SEVEN BLADES, what makes it memorable is that at every turn Sykes seems to be asking “how could this be even more awesome?” and then delivering. The result is break-neck chase scenes on ostriches, riverboats full of assassins, unspeakable monsters, souped-up magical fights, and a lot of poor decision making.

You could call it action fantasy.

Or you could call it a lot of fun.
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Review

The Antidote

Posted: February 19, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Shelley Sackier, Fantasy, Young Adult
The Antidote

THE ANTIDOTE by Shelley Sackier reads like a fairytale–and not one that the Brothers Grimm recorded; there is no real peril here in Sackier’s stage-set world building. With a lively protagonist and a plenty of twists, THE ANTIDOTE should be a bubbly little read, but a fumble on some story fundamentals makes it more frustrating than fun.
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