Reviews :: Book Rating :: Books We Like...and Hate

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

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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Review

Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir

Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir

I am generally indifferent to superheroes. I actively dislike noir. Based purely on the title, this is a book I normally would have browsed past faster than a speeding bullet. It seems like a mash-up of superheroes and noir has the potential to be one big, self-important cliche.
Luckily, the EBR Fairy who sends you the books you’ve requested always includes a few surprises. And PINNACLE CITY:A SUPERHERO NOIR was a smart, entertaining surprise.
Edgar (Eddie) Enriquez is the epitome of a noir detective: addicted, cynical, and from the wrong side of the tracks. Despite all this, he’s still got a strong sense of right and wrong. Recruited by a supervillain at a young age, Eddie served time in prison and then tried to redeem himself by joining the army. He got out with a wounded shoulder and an implant that makes his super power even more useful. Eddie can see the history of anything he touches. Where the object was, who had it, what was happening nearby–and now […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Last Astronaut

The Last Astronaut

First contact is the kind of experience that’s ripe for miscommunications and misinterpretations that can literally reshape the world.
From more traditional hard sci-fi stuff, like Clarke to Reynolds, to the more literary offerings of LeGuin or Russell (she wrote THE SPARROW), first contact is a recurring theme in speculative fiction.
While there’s a million different ways to parse and taxonomize this (sub) genre, you can trace a big divide between texts that explore first contact with aliens who share fundamental premises of existence with humans (in psychology, if not in size or number of eyes) and texts in which the aliens are really, really… alien (think “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, which is portrayed in the movie Arrival).
David Wellington’s THE LAST ASTRONAUT belongs to the latter category. Let’s just say that there are no little green moon men here.
Sunny Stevens knows something that no one else does. There’s an object heading […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Vigilance

Vigilance

I recently found a rash of novellas at my local library from authors that I enjoy reading, and I picked up a few of them. This is the first of those, and was likely the one I was second most excited about to read. Robert Jackson Bennett has been a favorite of mine ever since I stumbled across his Divine Cities series (EBR Archive), and so picking this one up was a no-brainer.
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Review

Electric Forest

Posted: June 13, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Tanith Lee, Science Fiction
Electric Forest

At first glance you’d think ELECTRIC FOREST by Tanith Lee would be a fluffy YA Sci Fi short novel. You would be wrong. Tanith Lee doesn’t know how to do fluffy, that’s your first clue. Instead we get a dark, cyberpunkish, Science Fiction story with seriously flawed characters, a world that is beautiful on the surface but has a dark undercurrent, and a question about the ethics of life-extending science.
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Review

Thin Air

Thin Air

So it’s been a while since we’ve had a new Richard Morgan book, yeah? Even longer since it was a science fiction book, as Morgan spent a bundle of time trying his hand at the grimdark fantasy genre with A LAND FIT FOR HEROES (EBR Archive). In general, we here at EBR haven’t been particularly enamored with any of his stuff. Fantasy, Science Fiction, or otherwise. It’s just all sat itself solidly in the middle of mediocrity for us. So, if I’m being completely honest… I put this off for a while. And when I finally decided to bite the bullet and pick it up, I wasn’t overly surprised by what I found.
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Review

Bloodwitch

Bloodwitch

After WINDWITCH’s exciting ending, you had to know the story continued, right? Now we’re at BLOODWITCH and the continuation of the stories of Safi, Iseult, Aeduan, Vivia, and Merik and their role in protecting the world against the machinations of The Raider King.

Who also happens to be Aeduan’s father. Poor kid.
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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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