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I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. Last ones I got to were probably the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (Amazon), which are brilliant good fun, especially when they’re read aloud. I was trying to remember what books I was reading around that age and realized that at 11 I was pretty deep into the Dragonlance Chronicles series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (Amazon), thanks to my good friend Scot. It might be because of this, that I don’t remember reading an awful lot of funny, goofy, adventure romps like this one. There’s a part of me that thinks I might have missed out, but another that can’t help but remember how much I enjoyed reading back in those days. So I can’t have missed out on too much, can I?
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Spensa has always dreamed of being a pilot. When she was a child her father was a pilot for the DDF, the military force that protects the planet Detritus from alien Krell incursions. But one fateful day during a defining battle against the Krell, her father ran from the battle, died, and was labeled a coward. As a result, Spensa and her mother and grandmother live on the fringes of society. But now that Spensa has come of age, she can test for pilot training and prove to everyone that cowardice doesn’t run in the family.
But the DDF doesn’t make it easy for her.Read the rest of this review »
Record of a Spaceborn Few
Science fiction is not known for being gentle. Technical? Yes. Explosive? Often. Operatic? You betcha.
RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW eschews explosions in favor of internal drama. Like the rest of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers Series (Amazon), this quiet story explores what it means to be a part of a family, a crew, a community, a species–this time through the fate of the Exodan fleet.
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VALLISTA is a weird story, and Vlad Taltos, Steven Brust’s long running, on-the-run ex-gangster fantasy series, embodies the series’ increasing strangeness. The novel focuses predominantly on everyone’s favorite time and worlds-travelling stealth hi-byer, Devera. While Devara drags her Uncle Vlad into a search to help her escape her predicament (it makes sense as you read), Vlad soon finds himself in a strange manor where rooms lead nowhere, the patrons and denizens are a lot of miserable secrets and wretched histories, and a monster stalks the halls. The House itself, which is alive and delightfully a character with its own soul and history, takes the center stage.Read the rest of this review »
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown
So I REALLY wanted to get this one put away before Halloween, what with this being an actual ghost story and all. For some reason, those don’t come along all that often. But, it didn’t happen. Them’s the breaks. Hopefully though you’re recognizing this as the culmination of the promise I made to several months back to buy and read these books after the author, Seanan McGuuire, tweeted about the freak that uploaded an electronic copy of this very book to a free download site. She was less than ecstatic about it, to say the least. Still gets me riled up just thinking about it myself. I’d like to think that book-reviewing peoples as a whole are a pretty solid bunch of honest individuals. Unfortunately they’re not all individually solid, honest people. What can you do? It’s always going to be that one guy that ruins things for everyone. Way the world is. Still, regardless of the events that prefaced me being introduced to and reading these stories, I’m really glad of the outcome. Because finding these books and fitting them into my reading schedule was SO worth it.
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Empire of Sand
Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of the local provincial governor, her father the official representative of the Emperor and the Emperor’s spiritual equal the Maha. While her father is powerful, her mother’s heritage, the Amrithi, are not only outcasts, but are hunted down by the Maha and his mystics. The best thing for Mehr to do is lay low and be the obedient daughter. But she isn’t yet ready to give up the dances and rites that worship the faith of her mother’s people.
Mehr and her family, including a beloved younger sister and a hostile stepmother, live near the desert where her mother’s people originate. The desert is also where the gods of this world sleep and dream, their dreams heralded by the sandstorms that blow through the city where she lives.
There is magic in those storms, and Mehr can hear it calling in her blood. When she inadvertently uses that magic for the first time, she attracts the attention of the Maha, who sends a delegation of mystics–among them a new husband.Read the rest of this review »
Considering the sometimes tortuous path of traditional publishing, DAMSEL by Elana K. Arnold debuts precisely as the narratives we tell about sexuality and power have come under close examination.
DAMSEL exposes the undercurrents of violence/power/sexuality in established narratives while (mostly) avoiding feeling too heavy-handed. Particularly considering this is a YA novel, DAMSEL may be the first time that many readers have come across this topic in a way that isn’t explicitly didactic while still providing teens with a way to grapple with the discomforting questions that fairy tales elicit. Read the rest of this review »
With Halloween just around the corner, STRANGE PRACTICE by Vivian Shaw seemed like just the novel to review–with a plot full of vampires, ghouls, and creepy cultists, it’s a fun (and seasonally appropriate) read.
Like many doctors, Greta Helsing (her family having quietly dropped the ‘van’) works hard to keep her solo medical practice afloat. However, as one of the only doctors in England who caters to the supernatural community, Greta deals with an additional set of stressors including anything from keeping her patients’ identities safe to hand-carving new bones for disintegrating mummies.
When Greta’s good friend (and vampire) Lord Ruthven calls with an account of a mysterious assault, Greta’s life only gets more complicated. The victim is Sir Francis Varney (also a vampire) who was assaulted by a group of men dressed like monks. Their weapon of choice was a strangely shaped dagger smeared with poison that appears designed to target a wide-spectrum of […]Read the rest of this review »
Nebula Awards Showcase 2018
When I mentioned to my husband that I was reviewing the NEBULA AWARDS SHOWCASE 2018 he asked: isn’t the fact that all of these pieces were nominated for an award a review in and of itself?
It’s not a bad question. But I think the answer is only: sort of? Anthologies are are hard. Even anthologies where the stories have all been previously vetted can feel bloated or uneven. In fact, I haven’t picked up an anthology in long time for these two reasons–the last few I read felt like a lot of panning and sifting for very little gold. So even with the words “Nebula Awards Showcase” emblazoned across the front I was skeptical.
And I was wrong. This anthology is full of strong pieces, both short stories and novelettes, as well as (unfortunately, but probably inevitably) excerpted novellas. Jane Yolen, who was the editor of this anthology, faced a tough job but I felt like the pieces she included from the awards spoke to the breadth and depth of the field. She arranged the […]Read the rest of this review »