Recent Posts: Page 2
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.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Shadowblade

Posted: September 6, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Hate Meta: Anna Kashina, Fantasy
Shadowblade

You can tell a lot about worldbuilding by the curse words.

I think this holds particularly true for the constructed swearwords, the ones that are supposed to give the reader a hint of ‘in-world’ flavor. A well constructed curse can be a great way to learn about societal taboos, religion, and character values.

Cursing is also a great way to show character: who swears the most? The least? The most creatively? In Anna Kashina’s SHADOWBLADE (Amazon) all the characters, regardless of class, race, or gender, all curse identically. “Dear Sel” is the invocation/epithet of choice about ninety percent of the time.

And I want to be clear here. I’m not saying that I need (or want) LOTS of cursing in a novel. But variety matters. It’s something I don’t notice until, like in SHADOWBLADE, someone says or thinks “Dear Sel” for the umpteenth time and it rings false, because it’s the only curse word I’ve seen for two hundred pages.

It’s a relatively small issue, but it’s indicative that the quality of the worldbuilding (and sometimes the characters) is shallow. And that indicator held true for Anna Kashina’s SHADOWBLADE.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Black Lotus Kiss

Posted: September 3, 2019 by Allan Bishop in Books We Like Meta: Jason Ridler, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Occult Fantasy
Black Lotus Kiss

BLACK LOTUS KISS (Amazon) is an unabashed pulp mystery with a side of Marlboro Man smoke-crowned charm, and a kiss on the neck of the Black Dahlia homage to cheesy occult detective novels of the 1970s.

As far as mystery novels go, BLACK LOTUS KISS hits all the marks: character, location, and plot. It doesn’t try to be more than necessary: an over-the-top Hell’s Angels is in league with an eldritch deity-controlled Girl Scouts cookie drive style of mayhem. It is inane, irreverent, and utterly unapologetic in its absurdity.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Akata Witch

Akata Witch

Do you know what the biggest problem is for an author trying to write a novel about kids that are caught in the middle of very dangerous events? Parents. Well, adults in general. How do you keep the grown-ups from coming in and hijacking the story completely while still making it all believable. I have a difficult time believing that any story that is told expressly about kids has a more important question to answer. This was a very interesting novel to read, given that perspective. Because on the one hand, this story totally has adults “dealing with the important stuff”, but on the other hand, there are also several adults that are more than willing to throw children into deadly situations, shrug their shoulders, and say, “If they live, they live. If they don’t, they don’t.” Was an interesting dichotomy to try and swallow, and not the only one I found in this read.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Light Brigade

Posted: August 27, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Kameron Hurley, Military SF, Science Fiction
The Light Brigade

Every once in a while I go to the library looking for books. It seems somewhat ludicrous that between all of the books that I really want to read, and all of the others that publishers/agents/etc send to us, that I could ever find time to read something I found at a library. And yet, I do. Because I’ve found that I’ll still occasionally find something that pushes my buttons. In my profile for the site, I mention that I have no patience for “plots that don’t grab by the throat, the heart, or the funny bone”. Yeah. I judge. So anyways, I was walking through the library this one fine day, saw this book, and thought the cover art was pretty intriguing. So I picked it up. Then I opened the cover, flipped through the first couple sheets, and came across a nearly blank page with a single statement printed near the top:

“Don’t just fight the darkness. Bring the light.”

Instantly I found that both my heart and my throat had been grabbed. My decision had been made and another book added to my TBR list.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Trail of Lightning

Posted: August 23, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Love Meta: Rebecca Roanhorse, Fantasy
Trail of Lightning

I’m a sucker for the just slightly off-kilter world. The ones where the setting simultaneously feels like a very possible future but also brings in the mythical and magical. I love a good post-apocalyptic, monster-killing, magic wielding story. And sign me up for anything with a hint of romance.

All this is just a very long lead in to say that TRAIL OF LIGHTNING (Amazon) checked A LOT of boxes for me.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Children of Blood and Bone

Posted: August 20, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Tomi Adeyemi, Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy
Children of Blood and Bone

I think there are a lot of readers these days that are “coming to an awareness” of the fact that there are considerably more books written by people that belong to neither the male half nor the white portion of the world’s population. Whether they’ve come to that realization by dint of the more vocal portion of the reader/authorship populace, or just because of their own level of self-awareness, I think that it’s by-and-large a good thing. At least, if they decide to do anything about it. I’ve always been one to share my opinion that I’m a staunch supporter of this widening of our story-source base. At the same time, however, I do my best to never pull any punches expressly because of who the author of a book is or what they’ve decided to write about. If a story is good, I’ll crow about it. If I feel like it let me down, I’m going to say so. And why. I am trying to review these things, after all, right?

This book is the first of my concerted efforts to make sure that the books I choose to read are “diverse” enough. Prior to this point, I just plainly never paid attention. I read what I was given. Granted, there were definitely times when I steered away from cliched-sounding YA or those that looked like they were going to be primarily romantic in nature, but that was about the extent of my filtering. The decision to diversify my reading choices will by no means keep me from passing by a book that just doesn’t sound interesting, regardless of who wrote the thing. It will, however, encourage me to make sure that I’m looking for options that will widen my view of what is currently being written in today’s publication sphere. I know there are going to be some of our readers that will groan at this, and some that crow. I hope to be able to both disappoint and please all of you in turns and become better overall as a result. Wish me luck.
Read the rest of this review »

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

Meet Me in the Future

Meet Me in the Future

Kameron Hurley owns weird.

Since her first novel, GOD’S WAR, she’s developed a motif. All writers have them. All writers hone them. And in the near decade since she crawled out from a dead man’s corpse with her first novel, she’s consistently gutted it toward nasty perfection. I’d be biased to say I don’t love her disgusting motif.

She’s New Weird with her body-hoppers, mind-wipers, and amoral assassins. Also, she had a literal bee gun that eats the flesh of its victim in last year’s APOCALYPSE NYX (EBR Review), so there’s darkly creepy done sinister. But with her latest book, MEET ME IN THE FUTURE, a short story collection, Hurley turns to a different theme.
Read the rest of this review »