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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

Review: Half-Resurrection Blue

Half-Resurrection Blues - Daniel José Older Battle Hill Bolero - Daniel José Older

I wasn't exactly planning to read this one. Last year, I read the sequel, which I loved. And didn't feel like there was back-fill I needed from the first volume. I thought I'd just continue on from the second book.


I've learned all the wrong things from Dresden books.


Recently, I started Battle Hill Bolero and was completely lost. There's a lot of history the book tried to remind me of that I just did not have. So I picked up book one, and here we are. 


This book is great. So much happens, I had to keep rewinding to catch details. As with the other two books in the series, the narration is excellent. So good that I'll just keep rewinding rather than swapping to text. 


And now I'm back to book 3!

Review: Ms. Marvel Vol 6

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II - G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Kelly Sue Deconnick isn't writing Captain Marvel any more? Her appearance in this installment of Ms. Marvel is a complete stranger to me. Maybe I'd have enjoyed it more if I didn't find the difference so jarring.


There's some great stuff that happens around the Minority Report riff that makes up most of this volume. (Also, delighted that a character references that movie at one point, because, yeah.) There is also some stuff I'm struggling with. In Vol. 5, Kamala's the cause of her own problems because she's trying to do too many things, and be too many people. In this volume, she lets her hero worship for her namesake override everything else. It's a far less interesting, less appealing arc saved only by not pressing a specific reset button at the end. 


I loved the last issue in this. I hope she keeps up with her new friend. And I hope there's minimal contact with Captain Marvel from here on out. 

Review: Star Wars: A Galactic Pop Up Adventure

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure - Matthew Reinhart, LucasFilm

This month's Fantasy Flights book club theme was Star Wars and I kind of waited until the last minute to get something to read. Um, did I mention a local librarian runs a monthly book club at a bar that does themed flights to go along with each month's reading? 


This is a summary of the prequels that delves a bit deeper into some of the aliens and droids that appeared on screen. 


I'd heard about these on an NPR piece, and wow have pop up books come a long way. This one even has a battery to power a single page's art. It was cool to figure out where all of the pop ups were hiding and to investigate how the movement of them unfolding told it's own story. For example, one page features small fold outs for two characters. Open separately, you're getting info about each individually. Open at the same time and see the two cross sabers in battle.


My younger niece is probably a bit young for this, but I think my sister will enjoy it and if I wait until the niece is older, the battery will just need to be replaced.

Review: Ms. Marvel Vol 5

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous - Nico Leon, G. Willow Wilson, Cliff Chiang, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona

Probably my favorite Ms. Marvel installment so far.


Kamala is just such a great character. Watching her screw things up is hard, and wow does she screw some things up in these issues. Not by not trying hard enough, but by taking on too much and not wanting to ask for help. Her desire to prove herself while burning the candle at both ends is just so familiar. There is no work, school, life balance when you give 110% to each of them.


Great series!

Review: Look to the Sun

Look To The Sun - Emmie Mears

Mears takes on a large scope with this novel, one I'm not quite convinced they have the skill to pull off just yet, but I still mostly enjoyed reading it.


There's a book one character has a crate of copies of, but nobody she knows has read. When she meets a man who has also read it, they feel an immediate connection. Then some parts of real life start to feel like scenes from the book.


There's a fascist regime finally growing enough power to begin overturning society and purging undesirables. This is in a world where families traditionally take on any sort of combination you can think of between consenting adults. But don't worry, in addition to these "deviants," there are also immigrants to blame for whatever the party wants. 


All the pieces fit together in a satisfying way by the end, but much of the story is just these two characters floating along on the world building. Then, inexplicably having secondary characters ask them what to do next or giving them information on the resistance movement that really shouldn't go to such junior members. 


I don't know. I had a hard time getting into this book and never really felt like I had a good grasp of the characters. Solid concepts, though. And some individual scenes are fantastic. I hope Mears tries some more stuff like this. They have some great ideas, even if this particular book wasn't quite a hit for me.

Review: Not Quite Narwhal

Not Quite Narwhal - Jessie Sima, Jessie Sima

Super cute! Especially the illustration where the unicorns are using their horns to roast marshmallows. 

A new cat!
A new cat!

I may have forgotten to mention that I got a cat in March. This is Agent Niles Clawhammer.

Review: All Systems Red

All Systems Red - Martha Wells

A charming voice for a quick, fun read. Humor, body count, introspection, and corporate shenanigans well blended and told from the POV of a socially awkward protagonist who would really rather just watch TV.This is the first of the "Murderbot Diaries," a series I hope will have many more installments.

Bookstore trip

The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel - Katherine Arden Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly Tender: Stories - Sofia Samatar The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas Not Quite Narwhal - Jessie Sima, Jessie Sima

I went to a bookstore on Sunday to pick up 2 books I had ordered, and left with 5 books. 


Sofia Samatar's collection, Tender: Stories is out! That and Amberlough were on my order. I've heard so many good things about The Hate U Give that I picked up a copy just because I saw it on the shelf. The Bear and the Nightingale and Not Quite Narwhal were both recommendations from one of the women who works there. She has pretty good taste, I usually take her up on recommendations.

Review: Clean Room

Clean Room, Vol. 1: Immaculate Conception - Gail Simone, John Davis-Hunt, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Jenny Frison

Not the creepiest thing I've ever read, but I will say it was a mistake to read this right before going to bed while traveling without spouse or cat.


I recall Simone talking about this on twitter when the first issue was out, and I couldn't figure out from her tweets what kind of thing it might be besides maybe horror? Turns out, yes, creeping horror, with cultists and monsters. But also badass women being total badasses.


The cult leader is a charismatic woman who survived a car not-accident as a child. The protagonist is a reporter angry and vulnerable after the suicide of her fiance trying to figure out what exactly is going on with the cult. Throw in a handful of competent women, some adorable neighbors, and a few monsters, and simmer for a long, low burning, sleep costing good time.


The writing and the art are both stellar. I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the series. From a well lit chair while holding a cat.

Review: Paper Girls Vol 2

Paper Girls Volume 2 - Brian K. Vaughan

I loved Vol 1, and was not let down by volume 2. This series is fantastic! 


While this volume doesn't have quite the kitchen sink level of sfnal elements, it delves deeper into one of my favorite: time travel!


These characters are great. The art is great. The writing is great. This is quickly becoming my favorite series.

Review: The Great Ordeal

The Great Ordeal: Book Three (The Aspect-Emperor Trilogy) - R. Scott Bakker

So . . . enough of this series, then. Book two's long, boring segments turned out to be setup for more long, boring segments. This was 180 pages worth of content spread over 497 pages of endless tedium. At some point repetitive slaughter is just boring. I was so bored with the Battle of the Bastards that I almost fell asleep watching it, and this is hundreds of pages of the same slaughter without giving me even a single character to care about.


Admittedly, there are some cool scenes, but I am just so done with this whole tedious sausagefest.


I will never get those hours back, y'all.


Please send whiskey, chocolate, and bad ass ladies.

Review: Cloak of War

Cloak of War: The Empress Game Trilogy 2 - Rhonda Mason

Much like the last book I read with a knife wielding heroine on the cover, there is hardly any stabbing. It seemed like she spent most of this book lamenting that she didn't have her knives on her. I find this very frustrating. The last book I read with a knife wielding heroine - wait, the LAST TWO - have had almost no knife fights at all. 


I don't feel my expectations should be lowered. If there's a topless man on the cover, there should be sex. If there's a space ship on the cover, we should spend a good portion of the book in space. If our heroine is holding two kris on the cover, I should get more than one decent knife fight out of it.


It also manages to include some non-hetero characters, something I remember feeling the lack of in the first book. Perhaps book 3 will manage to include even a single one whose role isn't tied explicitly to transactional sex acts. Whether for espionage or for a living in the pleasure district, this book will manage to refer to each as whores. 


Leaving those laments aside, this is a good continuation of the first book, but also quite the change-up. One of the plot lines finds characters on a mysterious ship, and a second offers a glimpse into the lives of rebellion members on Kayla's home world, while the main line continue's Kayla's story. All are interesting for different reasons, and none a retread of the games featured in the previous book. Part space horror, part political thriller, this sets up a third book I'll definitely check out.

Review: Viscera

Viscera - Gabriel Squailia

So apparently I'm just into body horror this year? Right after I finished The Stars Are Legion I picked up Viscera. Twitter promised me vivisection, and twitter did not steer me wrong. 


This book starts with a boy murdering a lone woman in the woods and watching his mentor carve out her organs to trade for drugs. And I even want to tell you anything past that, because it's all so interesting to see unfold. Let's just say everyone has made bad decisions and nothing goes according to plan. It's that kind of book.


I am really pleased with the level of weird, gory books falling into my hands recently. 

SFF Conventions Never Learn

We are caught in a time loop, people. We keep getting fucked the same way by the same people.

We are finished moving things from one house to the other, but now (and for the foreseeable future) trapped in the endless unpacking and organizing. This is my project for today. Maybe next weekend I'll tackle the built in shelves. Assuming I'm not still organizing these.