Reviews by Jane Funk

Review

Ball Lightning

Posted: September 11, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Cixin Liu, Science Fiction
Ball Lightning

You’re probably going to do this anyways, so instead of leaving halfway through the review I’ll suggest now that you type ‘ball lightning’ into Youtube/Wikipedia and get it out of your system.

Pretty weird, huh?

Alright, back to the review.

If Cixin Liu’s name sounded familiar to you a few years ago, it might have been because you were following the speculative fiction scene in China, where Liu has won multiple Galaxy and Xingyun Awards (equivalent to winning multiple Hugos and Nebulas, respectively).

If Liu’s name sounds familiar to you now, it’s probably because he was the first Chinese author to win a Hugo award for his novel THE THREE BODY PROBLEM, the first book in The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy.
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Review

City of Lies

Posted: August 21, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Sam Hawke, Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
City of Lies

“I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me” (p. 1). So begins Sam Hawke’s debut novel, CITY OF LIES (Amazon). It’s a good start, with a fun premise that deepens as the story goes. The story follows the dual POVs of Jovan and Kalina, siblings from one of the most powerful families in the prosperous city-state of Silasta. Jovan and Kalina are close friends with the heir to the city, Tain. However, Jovan is more than Tain’s friend; he has spent his entire life preparing to be Tain’s ‘proofer,’ or food taster. Jovan and Kalina’s Uncle Etan, known in Silastan culture as their tashi, currently serves as city Chancellor’s proofer.
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Review

Armistice

Posted: August 14, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Lara Elena Donnelly, Fantasy
Armistice

ARMISTICE (Amazon) picks just long enough after AMBERLOUGH (EBR Review) to have the intervening events thoroughly demoralize our protagonists. The glitter and stage lights are gone, leaving behind heartache and fatigue. And only some of the survivors are back.
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Review

Starless

Starless

About halfway through STARLESS (Amazon), Jacqueline Carey’s latest novel, the narrative takes a distinct turn towards myth and fable. The move from specific to generic forfeits much of what was interesting in the first half of the book in favor of an almost childlike story of wonder and adventure, leaving the reader holding a novel that feels less than satisfying despite many interesting elements.

STARLESS takes place, perhaps not surprisingly, in a world where all of the stars have fallen to earth. Each of these fallen ‘children of heaven’ now rule as a god or goddess in the realm where they fell. Born at the exact moment of an eclipse, Khai is chosen by the Brotherhood of Parkhun to be raised as the ‘shadow’ to Princess Zariya, who was also born under this same celestial event. Zariya is part of the House of the Ageless, the royal family who partake each year of a special seed that prevents aging, keeping them alive for hundreds of years.
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Review

Freeze Frame Revolution

Posted: July 17, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Love Meta: Peter Watts, Science Fiction
Freeze Frame Revolution

Author Peter Watts’ newest offering, FREEZE FRAME REVOLUTION exists somewhere in the squishy space between a novella and a novel (according to the ‘Afterword’ it’s 1,000 words over the length of a standard novella, but who’s counting?). Watts is of the opinion that he has written a novella and I think that the story he tells is well-served at this length, which allows him to explore a single incident in-depth and with a focus that wouldn’t be well-served by irksome sub-plots or other novel-length narrative features.
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Review

Amberlough

Posted: July 3, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Lara Elena Donnelly, Fantasy
Amberlough

AMBERLOUGH is the kind of novel that makes you want to throw adjectives at it. Sleek! Provocative! Captivating! This is due in large part to Lara Elena Donnelly’s prose, which gives the alternate world setting an immediate and richly textured sense of place. AMBERLOUGH (Amazon) is a remarkably self-assured debut, as Donnelly carves an unique space for herself in the fantasy world.
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Review

Soleri

Posted: May 31, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Don't Like Meta: Michael Johnston, Epic Fantasy
Soleri

One of my favorite things about reading a book is reaching that point where you just can’t put it down. It’s always magical to feel immersed in another world. Some books draw you in right away. Others can be a slow burn, but the wait feels worth it when you go from “I’m enjoying this book” to “talk to me in approximately 150 pages.” And then, there are the books that just never take off. Michael Johnston’s SOLERI (Amazon), despite its interesting premise, is one of those.
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Review

Provenance

Posted: May 10, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Ann Leckie, Science Fiction
Provenance

Ann Leckie’s PROVENANCE (Amazon) is not a space opera. While the scope is broad, covering an uneasy interstellar treaty and the implications of a society obsessed with origins and authenticity, the real focus is on Ingray Aughskold, a foster child from a public crèche, acutely aware that in her mother’s eyes, she has always lacked “a certain something” (423). PROVENANCE plays out on an intimate scale, the coming-of-age story of a woman who should have come into her own years ago.
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Review

Weave a Circle Round

Posted: May 8, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Kari Maaren, Fantasy, Young Adult
Weave a Circle Round

I hate to start a review by saying that a book was good because of what it did NOT contain, but when a YA novel does NOT contain handsome supernatural beings, sorting, life-or-death romantic longing, cancer, or shockingly young children being pressed into military service, I feel like that bears mentioning. In fact, I’m not sure I can remember the last time I read a YA novel in which not a single character was sorted into a color-coded societal group. ‘Sorting’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing; like any trope, the success depends on the author’s skill. Still, reading WEAVE A CIRCLE ROUND (Amazon) and not having to remember which ‘team’ anyone was on was… genuinely refreshing.
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Review

The Genius Plague

Posted: April 3, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: David Walton, Techno Thriller
The Genius Plague

I was telling a friend about this book and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “I learned a lot about fungus.” Don’t worry! There are plenty of other fun things to recommend this book, such as NSA code breaking and creepy assassinations, but Walton has found an interesting hook and then amplified it until you will willingly read an entire book about fungus taking over people’s brains. Really.
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