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DMS

Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Novel

The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson Provenance - Ann Leckie Raven Stratagem - Yoon Ha Lee Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

Two sequels and several set in space. The downside of this list is that Orbit tends to only include excerpts. The upside, there's only one Orbit title I didn't already own.

 

  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor) - 3 Stars. Fun romp, fun narration, but did not love.

 

  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit) - DNF'd early, could not get into.

 

  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit) - I DNF'd this pretty early. Great writing, but not at all my style of story.

 

  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) - 4.5 Stars. An excellent book. I look forward to reading the conclusion of this trilogy.

 

  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit) - 4 Stars. A solid read I enjoyed quite a bit.

 

  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) - 5 Stars. One of the best books I read last year and easily the top of my ballot for this award. An excellent conclusion to a brilliant series.

 

So, yeah, kind of an obvious top of ballot here in The Stone Sky. I really liked both Six Wakes and Raven Stratagem. It's a hard choice, but I think Raven Stratagem will go next on my ballot. Fourth with be Collapsing Empire, and I just won't include the two novels I didn't finish. Wow, this is usually not such an easy category for me.

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Novella

All Systems Red - Martha Wells Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor The Black Tides of Heaven - JY Yang Down Among the Sticks and Bones - Seanan McGuire River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

Novella is a length I tend to struggle with as a reader. Often I find them either rushed, or stuffed with filler. This year has several I enjoyed, though.

 

  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing) - 4 Stars. Top of ballot, one of my favorite novellas ever. The narrator is excellent.

 

  • And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017) - 4 Stars. A murder mystery at a convention where everyone is the same person. Another excellent example of the right amount of plot for the length. This works really well. I didn't even mind being ahead of the narrator in solving the crime.

 

  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing) - 3.5 Stars. Well written, but has some of my usual issues with serialized ficiton.

 

  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing) - 3.5 Stars. Great worldbuilding, but not as solid across all elements.

 

  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing) - 4 Stars. I am surprised by how much I liked this given how underwhelming I found the previous novella in this series.

 

  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing) - 3.5 stars. Great characters, but this felt incomplete. Like the first 30% of a great book, but not quite enough content to be satisfying.

 

So, obviously All Systems Red will be at the top. Followed by And Then . . and Sticks and Bones. Black Tides next, then Home, and River of Teeth. This is a very solid selection of novellas.  

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Novelette

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

All available online for free, so I've included links.

 

  • Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017) - I really like de Bodard's space faring short fiction, but this one is part of a series I'm just not in love with, and that's true for the short fiction as well as the novels. She's an excellent writer, but this isn't for me.

 

  • Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, February 15, 2017) - Set in the same universe as Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem, I just wasn't in love with this adventure from our favorite mad strategist's past.

 

  • The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017) - This was cool, but felt like it fell straight out of the late 90's space adventures.

 

  • A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017) - Great title. - This was a lot of fun to read. Prasad is now a name I'll look out for. What a lovely approach to forgery and food.

 

 

  • Wind Will Rove,” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017) - An interesting use of generation ships to look into common bad criticisms of liberal arts, but I didn't love it.

 

So, I think A Series of Steaks is leading Small Changes by a sliver. And I'm not going to rank the rest on my ballot.

 

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Short Story

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

All of these are available online, so I've included links.

 

  • Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017) - A well written story with a different take on the spoons metaphor, I liked this quite a bit. It's both cute and sharp.

 

 

  • Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017) - Adorable tale about robots and fan fiction. So cute! Probably my favorite on this list.

 

  • The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata (Tor.com, July 19, 2017) - Well written, but feels out of date. Like it was written in the early 90's or something.

 

  • Sun, Moon, Dust by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017) - Good, but not even in Vernon's top 10.

 

 

For me, Fandom for Robots is top of the ballot. The story just fires on all cylinders. Roanhorse's story is second, followed closely by Yoachim and Vernon. I'm not sure I'll list the remaining 2 on my ballot. I just didn't feel strongly about either one. 

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Series

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

Best Series is a real award now. Last year's Worldcon included it as a special category in advance of voting to ratify it as a new category. Thank you to all the voters who did so. 

 

  • The Books of the Raksura, by Martha Wells (Night Shade) - I've been meaning to try this series out for ages, but hadn't quite gotten to it yet. The first book gets a slow start, but the last half more than makes up for any issues I have with the opening couple of chapters. 

 

  • The Divine Cities, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway) - Another series I've heard wonderful things about, but haven't gotten to. It just hasn't quite looked like my thing. I listed to the audiobook, and I am not convinced it is my thing. There's an interesting, action packed section in one act, but the last act is just far too talky. There are some cool concepts, but not presented in a way that works for me.

 

  • InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW) - I listened to the audiobook version of the first book, Discount Armageddon, and loved it. McGuire had a different UF series on the ballot last year, one which did not work for me at all. This, though, is totally my jam.

 

  • The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan (Tor US / Titan UK) - I've read the first two, and liked them quite a bit. These are fun, inventive, and have a great narrator. 

 

  • The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson (Tor US / Gollancz UK) - The voter packet included a few hundred pages of supplemental material to introduce the world, and I can't say that increased my interest in trying this out. And I DNF'd the first one pretty fast. Meh.

 

  • World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager / Spectrum Literary Agency) - I hated the one novel in this series way back when I read it and I've failed to enjoy either of the more recently released short pieces. Having read 3 complete works, I feel I've given this series more than enough chances. It will be not be on my ballot.

 

So, Lady Trent at the top, followed by InCryptid, then Raksura. Weirdly, all of those are series I've done in audiobook format. After that, Divine Cities, but that will be the last on the ballot.

2018 Hugo Ballot: Campbell Award

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so. 

 

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer gets voted on by the same population and awarded at the same ceremony. Authors are only eligible if their first professional sale was in the last 2 years. Below are this year's finalists, listed in the order they appeared on the official announcement, with my notes on each.

 

  • Katherine Arden - Adren's The Bear and the Nightingale is really well written but bored me out of my mind. After 30% of what I assume is a 4,000 page novel, I just put it down. 

 

  • Sarah Kuhn - Based on the Heroine Complex sample included in the voter packet, Kuhn has a good sense of humor and understands pacing. That sample was a lot of fun, and only the time crunch to complete my ballot kept me from continuing on with the rest of the book.

 

  • Jeannette Ng - I've tried her debut novel, Under the Pendulum Sun, and while the prose is quite good, it is just not for me. She's an excellent writer, and this is a very impressive debut. 

 

  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad - Two of Prasad's works are on the ballot this year. "Fandom For Robots" is at the top of my ballot for the short story category. It's just so warm and oddball.

 

  • Rebecca Roanhorse - Roanhorse's short story Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM is on the ballot for this year's Hugos, and has already won a Nebula. The link goes to the full text of the story in Apex Magazine. It's a lovely little mindfuck of a story about authenticity, stereotypes, and navigating expectations.

 

  • Rivers Solomon - I started An Unkindness of Ghosts and it is amazing. It's also completely not at all what I'm in the mood for. So even though I'm setting it aside, I plan to come back to it at some point. Solomon is a hell of a writer.

 

5 really solid writers. Even the ones who's work I don't love, I can see are very talented. I think Solomon may be the strongest. Ng and Prasad are next, but I'm having trouble picking which to put first. Kuhn, Roanhorse, and Arden after that in that order. Tough call, and there are no wrong answers here. 

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

This category should be fairly self explanatory. For a while, it could have been called "Best Doctor Who Episode, but this year it's The Good Place that has multiple entries.

 

  • Black Mirror: “USS Callister,” written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, directed by Toby Haynes (House of Tomorrow) - I have been hearing about this episode for ages, but am not a Black Mirror fan. Having now watched it, I just don't get why so many people recommended it. Yes, it's Star Trek, but there are far better parodies. The Black Mirror episode on last year's ballot was a far more successful story.

 

  • The Deep [song], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes) - Daveed Diggs' band making another appearance on the ballot with this track. This track is an Afrofuturist tale originally created for an episode of This American Life. I like this quite a bit.

 

  • Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Cymru Wales) - I wandered away from Who after a couple of seasons of failing to appreciate Moffat. This episode is both the end of his reign and the first appearance of Jodi Whittaker in her new role as the Doctor. I also haven't watched it and am just going to leave it off of my ballot. Though I totally plan to pick up the doctor again in the new season.

 

  • The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit,” written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television) - This series was so much fun, we watching the first season in 3 days. So very watchable, and this episode I cannot even talk about.

 

  • The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television) - Unfortunately, this is still a Hulu exclusive and I am not a Hulu subscriber. I'm just going to leave it off my ballot.

 

  • Star Trek: Discovery: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” written by Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander, directed by David M. Barrett (CBS Television Studios). I finally found a friend with CBS All Access, and we binged the whole season in 2 episodes. I loved the season, but felt this was one of the weaker episodes. Still, a weak episode in this gonzo series is pretty good.

 

So, I'm thinking "Michael's Gambit" at the top of the ballot, followed by the ST: Disco episode. The Deep in third, and nothing else on the ballot? Yeah, that feels like the best option.

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

At last, a category I'm prepared for. Thanks to my movie buddy, I've actually seen half of these in the theater. And the rest I'd rented before the ballot was even out.

 

  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Alcon Entertainment / Bud Yorkin Productions / Torridon Films / Columbia Pictures) - Good, and the kind of beautiful I'm glad I saw in theater, but I swear this film has a tits timer. Like, every 17 minutes, it's time to show the audience tits. Let's have a long, lingering shot of stone nipples for this scene that doesn't have women in it because tits. 

 

  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Blumhouse Productions / Monkeypaw Productions / QC Entertainment) - An excellent and uncomfortable movie to watch. Highly recommended. Will be in my top 3.

 

  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro (TSG Entertainment / Double Dare You / Fox Searchlight Pictures) - Lovely and fun to watch, but lacks the complexity and relevance of most of these entries. A good film, but not in my top 3.

 

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm, Ltd.) - I have still not decided what I thought of this movie. It's complicated. Probably only above Blade Runner, but man, this is a tough year.

 

  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi (Marvel Studios) - This is the glittery retro-futuristic fun I've been waiting for. A delight to watch. Easily my favorite Marvel Studios film. Top 3.

 

  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers).  - Such a great movie, if a few minutes long. I've watched this 4 times now. I love Gadot's performance. I can almost hold back my tears during the No Man's Land scene. Top 3.

 

So those top 3 are going to change places an infinite number of times before voting closes. Last year was a great year for scifi movies!

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Graphic Novel

Black Bolt (2017-) #1 - Leonard Bacon;Joseph Parrish Thompson;Richard Salter Storrs;Henry Ward Beecher;Joshua Leavitt;Henry Chandler Bowen;Theodore Tilton;William Hayes Ward;Hamilton Holt;Harold de Wolf Fuller;Fabian Franklin;Christian Archibald Herter, Saladin Ahmed Bitch Planet Volume 2: President Bitch - Kelly Sue DeConnick Monstress Volume 2: The Blood - Marjorie M. Liu My Favorite Thing Is Monsters - Emil Ferris Paper Girls Volume 3 - Brian K. Vaughan Saga, Volume 7 - Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

I'd only read 2 of these in advance of the finalist announcement. Two more are properties I'm familiar with from earlier volumes.

 

  • Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Marvel) - 3.5 stars, loved the art and liked the writing. Still laughing that his name is Blackagar Boltagon. 

 

  • Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics) 4.5 Stars, this one I adored to much to even put into words.

 

  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics) -  4 Stars, a stronger book than the first one in terms of pacing, and with the same gorgeous art.

 

  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters, written and illustrated by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics) - Interesting concept, but very slow. I didn't actually finish this book.

 

  • Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image Comics) - 3.5 Stars, did not love.

 

  • Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics) - 3 Stars, fine, but kind of a low point for the series so far.

 

So Bitch Planet is definitely at the top, followed by Monstress and Black Bolt. The other three could go in any order, but maybe I'll just leave them off because I don't really feel strongly about them at all. 

 

Review: Black Bolt, Vol 1.

Black Bolt, Vol. 1: Hard Time - Saladin Ahmed

Great color palette and good story. I only knew this character as one of the Marvel Puzzle Quest options. One of my favorite parts of the writing in this volume is just how many times Ahmed manages to mention Black Bolt's full name, Blackagar Boltagon. Reader, I laughed every time. 

 

The plot is a fairly straightforward story where the protagonist learns to see the world in less black and white terms, but where evil is still easily identified. A good diversion that I might read more of, but not something I'm running to the comic shop to follow up on.

Review: Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon - Seanan McGuire

This is a fun ride with a great protagonist and a ton of fantastic characters. Religious mice, ballroom dancing, ass kicking, and nerding out in a blender on a bar in a strip club called Dave's Fish and Strips. This series has a lot of potential, and I look forward to reading more in it.

2018 Hugo Ballot: WSFS Best YA Award

Akata Warrior - Nnedi Okorafor The Art of Starving - Sam J. Miller The Book of Dust:  La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman In Other Lands - Sarah Rees Brennan A Skinful of Shadows - Frances Hardinge Summer in Orcus - T. Kingfisher

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so. 

 

YA is a new category this year. To which I can only say: IT IS ABOUT FUCKING TIME. This year's business meeting should give it a permanent name as well. " The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Award for Best Young Adult Book" is a bit unwieldy. The proposed name is Lodestar, but of course, no bit of progress can be made without some pushback.

 

The category was added as a separate award from the Hugos, which is how the Campbell was already classified. Of course, the Campbell's been treated just like a Hugo forever, with only the occasional footnote to point out that it isn't one. But now that there's a YA category, blogs feel the need to lead with it not being a Hugo. It's voted on by the same people as part of the same ballot and awarded at the same ceremony. 

 

  • Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking) - I started Akata Witch years ago, and abandoned it a quarter of the way, and didn't make it quite as far in this sequel. I'm just not in love with the protagonist or with the habit of every person around her constantly being hypercritical and challenging her every word and action. I'm just not the right audience.

 

  • The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen) - I didn't make it more than a few chapters into this one, but I have a very hard time reading about eating disorders. I was hoping this would be a bit more metaphoric, but there's a scene where the narrator accidentally eats some tater tots and finds himself powerless, and I just can't. Again, I am not the right audience.

 

  • The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Knopf) - I read a sample and didn't find anything interesting enough to bother continuing. 

 

  • In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House) - I completely missed this title in spite of it being from one of my favorite YA imprints - the same small press that published Archivist Wasp. While the cover art is kind of lackluster, the story is dynamite. Portal fantasy with a pacifist bi protagonist in a low magic world where most humans train to be soldiers. Brennan discusses writing this as a serialized work on her blog in the afterwards. As a complete novel, it's a delight to read. Easily my favorite YA novel on the ballot.

 

  • A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK / Harry N. Abrams US) - This has a bit of a slow start, but turns into an interesting, somewhat dark jaunt across war torn England. The main character is a very appealing form of bold, constantly subverting the expectations of those around her. 

 

  • Summer in Orcus, written by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), illustrated by Lauren Henderson (Sofawolf Press) - This novel was also a portal fantasy originally published in a serialized format. It was also a fun jaunt, but it felt a bit young for a YA novel. Like it would be better classified as the high end of middle grade.

 

So my favorite two of these were originally serialized stories, which is not consistent with my usual view of serialized short fiction. Perhaps encountering them already collected into a continuous narrative makes them work better for me. In spite of my reservations about the categorization of Summer in Orcus, it will place second on my ballot after In Other Lands. Third will be Skinful of Shadows, and the rest I may just leave off the ballot.

Review: Monstress Vol. 2

Monstress Volume 2: The Blood - Marjorie M. Liu

I liked this one far more than the first and I am not even sure why. The art is just as gorgeous and the prose as high quality, but somehow this felt stronger than the first volume. 

2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Professional Artist

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

I'm relying heavily on the voter packet here as well to ensure I'm judging eligible works. Professional Artist tends to be dominated by cover artists, and it's nice to see someone from the graphic novel world on the list. Actually, the same someone as last year. Four of these 6 were on last year's ballot, and Galen Dara was on the top of my ballot.

 

  • Galen Dara - Dara's art is breathtaking, distinctive, and I'm not sure why I don't own any. Certainly deserves a place high on my ballot.

 

  • Kathleen Jennings - I didn't love anything in Jenning's voter packet material. Style and color choices really just not my cup of tea.

 

  • Bastien Lecouffe Deharme - Oh, right, this is the artist that did the Shroud of Eternity cover. His stuff is good, but the colors are a little dark for my tastes in several of them.

 

  • Victo Ngai - Fine, but nothing I'm in love with in the voter packet. 

 

  • John Picacio - I like the clean presentation of what he's included in the voter packet, and I love his Mexican Initiative for this year's Worldcon, but I'm not really in love with his art. 

 

  • Sana Takeda - I adore the art in Monstress. It is so rich in detail. Takeda is just knocking it out of the park with that book.

 

So Dara and Takeda will be fighting it out for the top slot on my ballot. Followed by Deharme, Picacio, and Ngai, probably in that order. Jennings is in last place, but everyone in this category is talented. 

Review: Saga, Vol 7

Saga, Volume 7 - Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan

Volume 6 was so amazing that I went back and purchased the two previous volumes I'd missed. 7, well, maybe not so much. It felt very thin on content. Very little happened and then lots of death, which was pretty much the only way the scenario could end. 

 

I'm pretty much done with The Will, but apparently the narrative wasn't. 

 

The art is still great. Maybe the next one will have some momentum.

Review: White Night

White Night - Jim Butcher

I think this actually benefited from sitting on the shelf for like 8 months because of a lack of road trips long enough to bother starting it. Like, having to juggle paying attention with trying to remember how the hell we ended up in this cave party in the middle of a fight was actually engaging.