Reviews by Jane Funk

Review

Gideon the Ninth

Posted: March 17, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books We Love Meta: Tamsyn Muir, Fantasy
Gideon the Ninth

I had to restrain myself from writing this review in all-caps. That’s how much I enjoyed Tamsyn Muir’s novel, GIDEON THE NINTH (Amazon). It was spiky and weird, with magic that kept surprising me and the kind of characters I love–a little too smart for their own good, sarcastic, and tragic.

Gideon Nav has two goals in life. The first is to escape the smothering, incessant gloom of the Ninth and become a soldier in the Emperor’s Cohort. But Gideon is indentured and without the permission of Ninth House, she’s stuck. So she spends her days planning (and failing) to escape and training with her sword.

Her only other desire is to do everything in her power to make Harrowhark Nonagesimus, the powerful necromantic heir of the Ninth, absolutely miserable. Harrow has tormented Gideon unceasingly since childhood, and Gideon hates Harrow as much Harrow hates her.
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Review

The Electric Heir

Posted: March 10, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Victoria Lee, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult
The Electric Heir

Beautiful, self-destructive teens placed in abusive, impossible situations. An interweaving of magic and technology. An ongoing sense of dread.

Welcome back to Victoria Lee’s Feverwake series! THE ELECTRIC HEIR, the dark and compelling final installment carries our protagonist, Noam Álvaro towards a brutal confrontation with tyrant and with his own choices.

A brief note: while I tried to avoid spoilers for THE ELECTRIC HEIR, this review has MAJOR spoilers for the first book in the duology, THE FEVER KING. Reader beware.
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Review

Buzz Kill

Posted: February 21, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: David Sosnowski, Science Fiction
Buzz Kill

BUZZ KILL (Amazon) is a narrative journey without a destination. The journey itself is interesting as author David Sosnowski explores the ramifications of social media; hacking; AI; a networked world, and the unregulated power of corporations to pursue projects for profit. Pandora and George, the two POV characters, are sympathetic. But a weak final third of the novel leaves readers with too many loose character threads and an abrupt conclusion that significantly weakens the narrative.
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Review

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Posted: February 4, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Becky Chambers, Science Fiction
To Be Taught, If Fortunate

If you’ve been keeping up with our reviews (and frankly, who hasn’t?) you’ll know that we enjoyed Becky Chambers RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW (EBR Review) and we’re looking forward to happily reading along with where she takes the Wayfarers Series. In the meantime, we can gladly recommend her standalone novella, TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE.
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Review

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

Posted: January 24, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: K.S. Villoso, Epic Fantasy
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO (Amazon), originally self-published back in 2017, fought its way to the top of the fantasy charts on Amazon, catching enough people’s attention along that way that Orbit plans on publishing a trade paperback version in February 2020.

So what’s the hype about?

Well, THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO is an epic fantasy with world building elements pulled from a variety of Asian countries and a compelling female protagonist.

Cool, cool, cool. Sign me up.
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Review

The Library of the Unwritten

Posted: December 3, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: A.J. Hackwith, Fantasy, fantasy
The Library of the Unwritten

If you’re into books-about-books, A.J. Hackwith’s novel, THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN (Amazon), explores the power of stories and imagination. If that sounds corny and sunshiny–DON’T PANIC. This novel is literally set in Hell; there’s plenty of stabby demons, and betrayals, and grumpy librarians who need more tea and less talking. While the overarching drive of the novel is a race between Hell and Heaven to solve a mystery, Hackwith’s characters and their interactions take center stage.
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Review

The Athena Protocol

Posted: November 19, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Shamim Sarif, Thriller, Young Adult
The Athena Protocol

Jessie, Caitlin, and Hala are a team. Not a team associated with a government or mercenary group; instead, they work for a secret organization known as Athena. With plenty of advanced tech and weapons training, their mission is to bring justice to women around the world.
While on a mission in Africa to free kidnapped schoolgirls, Jessie shoots a target instead of turning him over to the proper authorities. The resulting chaos exposes Athena to possible investigation and scrutiny and the trio of women who run Athena kick Jessie out. This is especially rough for Jessie because her mother is one of Athena’s leaders.
The main plot of Shamim Sarif’s THE ATHENA PROTOCOL focuses on what happens after Jessie’s expulsion from the group. With Jessie gone, the team will be one woman short as they travel to Belgrade, hoping to steal the evidence to stop Gregory Pavlic, a notorious human trafficker.
When Jessie uncovers information that Pavlic’s daughter, Paulina, has […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Crown of Coral and Pearl

Posted: November 5, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Mara Rutherford, Fantasy, Young Adult
Crown of Coral and Pearl

Mara Rutherford’s debut novel, CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL (Amazon), follows twin sisters Nor and Zadie who have spent their entire lives being (literally) groomed to be the next queen of Ilara. Nor and Zadie’s mother is obsessed with ensuring one her daughters becomes queen, and after Nor scars her face on a blood coral, their mother turns all her efforts on Zadie.

When Zadie is indeed chosen to be the next queen, she defies everyone’s expectations and secretly injures herself, making it impossible for her to travel from the small island nation of Varenia to Ilara. The last time the Varenians sent ‘the wrong girl’, Ilara cut off supplies to Varenia for weeks. Desperate to avoid another reprisal, the village sends Nor masquerading as Zadie.
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Review

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Posted: October 18, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Alexis Hall, Fantasy
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

There are heaps of stories about Sherlock Holmes. Mountains of them. Oceans of them. Even if you dive down and start looking only at queer Sherlock Holmes re-imaginings, or alternate-reality-Sherlock-Holmes re-tellings, or gender-swapped Sherlock reworkings… well, you’re going to be here for a while.
THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER rolls a little bit of all of these variations together and while the result is absolutely bonkers, it’s also delightful.
Author Alexis Hall goes straight for the wild and weird. He does not set his version of Sherlock in a slightly-different-but-still-recognizable London. Or even a deliberately-not-London-but-clearly-still-familiar locale. Nope. THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER is set in the city of Kelathra-Ven, a cosmopolitan gathering place in a world full of witch kings, Eternal Lords, re-animated corpses, vampires, and inter dimensional portals.
It’s a big swing, but what keeps the reader grounded, rather than afloat in the rush […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Like Never and Always

Posted: September 10, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Ann Aguirre, Fantasy, Young Adult
Like Never and Always

Grounded by a sympathetic narrator, Ann Aguirre’s LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS (Amazon) is a largely successful exploration of identity–with a supernatural twist… and plenty of kissing.

Liv and Morgan are best friends, and have been since they were in elementary school together. Morgan is flawlessly, effortlessly cool. She’s fashionable, arty, and very wealthy. Liv is a little more down to earth, with an interest in science and a loving family.

When Liv is thrown from a car after a tragic accident while driving with Morgan and their boyfriends (who are brothers!), she wakes up to find that her soul is stuck in Morgan’s body.
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