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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

Review: A Conspiracy in Belgravia

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (The Lady Sherlock Series) - Sherry Thomas

The second Lady Sherlock novel, and even better than the first. I adored this. I stayed up too late three nights in a row reading it. One night, I fell asleep reading it and hit myself in the face with my Kindle.

 

The prose is lovely. All the characters are well realized and wonderful to read about. And the mystery is so much fun to follow along with. 

 

And the conclusion. Oh my, every scene in the last act is dynamite. Such a delight to read!

 

I really want to see a BBC adaptation of this, one book per series. Or a visual novel adaptation on my iPad. Something to take all the clothing and food descriptions off the page and into beautiful visuals for a solid story with great characters.

Review: Raven Stratagem

Raven Stratagem - Yoon Ha Lee

I liked this book quite a bit, but I stumbled through the first 20% wondering if I had massively misunderstood the end of the last one. Because all of the narrators are new to the story and are quite certain of something I recalled being not true.

 

It's a very strange thing to have a major reveal in the last act be something the audience knows for the whole length of the book. I am undecided on it. The whole book holds together with or without that bit of information. But it made the experience of reading it feel like rereading a suspense novel, while simultaneously having no idea what was going to happen.

 

Interesting, but I think I enjoyed the first one more. Super excited to read the third one.

Review: A Song for Quiet

A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata) - Cassandra Khaw

This feels like it starts from the same seed as LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom, but goes in a completely different direction. Both are lovely, almost complimentary tales.

 

While this is a second Persons Non Grata novella, John Persons' inclusion is more like The Doctor's in Blink than a regular episode. Not a complaint, it works quite well. However, I'm glad I had read the first one first so I knew who he was.

 

Will be delighted to read more of these. 

Review: Hammers on Bone

Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata) - Cassandra Khaw

Love the prose and characters in this one, but it felt a little thin on plot. More like the outline of a story not quite completely fleshed out. 

 

Conceptually, this is another Lovecraft inspired tale with far better writing. The main character feels like one with a lot of opportunities for future stories.

 

Good, but not as compelling as some of Khaw's other stories.

Sad News for Shadow Police Fans

London Falling - Paul Cornell The Severed Streets - Paul Cornell Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Paul Cornell

I missed this blog post when it went up on the 21st, but saw it earlier today. Tor UK has dropped the line, so the last two books remain unwritten. These dark, procedural UF novels are excellent and I was so excited to read the next one. They are desolate and hopeful and one has a fucking Neil Gaiman cameo.

 

I would be more saddened, but the cover art rework and the format change to a paperback release for the third book make this also not terribly surprising.

 

If anyone sees him doing some crowd funding to finish the series, please let me know. I will definitely throw money at him for two more books.

Review: White Trash Zombie Unchained

White Trash Zombie Unchained - Diana Rowland

Is this . . . the last book in this series? I honestly can't tell. There's a lot of plot threads that seem to reach an end here, but maybe the series is just headed in a new direction?

 

Anyways.

 

Not quite as funny as some of the previous ones, but with a lot of interesting content. And one annoying habit on the narrator's part. There are three doctors heavily featured in this book, but only the male one is consistent referred to as Dr. The two women with the same credentials are consistently referred to by first name with no title. I know that's a pretty minor complaint, but it really got on my nerves. 

 

Whatever, hopefully the FBI agents will show up more in the future if there are more of these.

Review: Bearly a Lady

Bearly A Lady - Cassandra Khaw

On my flight back to the states, I went on a bit of a Khaw bender, ending with this paranormal chick lit adventure about a werebear who's just trying to get laid and not kill anyone.

 

This is the second paranormal chick lit story I've read this year, and I think it's a genre I fucking wish was real. Why the fuck isn't this a genre I can easily pull up lists of recommendations for, for fuck's sake? Is it so much to ask for urban fantasy heroines to star in stories about friendship, sex, and fashion?

 

Anyway, not at all the splatterpunk aesthetic of Khaw's other work, but quite successful in it's own right. 

Review: Sovereign

Sovereign: Nemesis - Book Two - April Daniels

While the end of this one is great, the journey to get there was far less enjoyable than the previous book, Dreadnought.

 

Danny is pretty angry throughout this book, and while I understand it, the fact that it's a first person POV really didn't work for me. Her perceptions of so many things are so far off base that it was difficult to get through some sections. And she makes some really poor decisions, usually erring on the side of starting a fight when stopping to listen would have benefits. 

 

I'd read another book set in this universe, I think, but I'll be fine leaving here as well.

Review: Shadowhouse Fall

Shadowhouse Fall - Daniel José Older

Incredible. Even better than the first one. Great series, excited to read the next one. 

 

 

October update

Hi all, sorry for the silence. We did some travelling that left me with enough time on planes to go on a small Cassandra Khaw bender and finish book 2 in, uh, 4 different series (serieses? seriesi?). But as soon as we got home I caught a cold and as soon as I was done antibiotics, I changed jobs.

 

We watched the RiffTrax version of R.O.T.O.R. a couple days ago, and I am still haunted by the line, "you look like you got both eyes coming out of the same hole." 

 

What the what?

 

Anyway, will try to get back to reviewing real soon.

Review: Dead Light March

Dead Light March (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Novella 2) (Shadowshaper Cypher, The) - Daniel José Older

This novella is the least stand alone piece of Older's work I've read so far. It's written from the perspective of a character introduced in the previous Shadowshaper novella, and important in the next novel, and introduces some aspects of magic that would be hard to get at from the perspectives present in that novel. However, it feels like 3 info dumps standing on each other's shoulders, dressed up in a plot coat, trying to pass for a story.

Review: The Dinosaur Hunters

The Dinosaur Hunters: A Secrets of the Dragon Tomb Novella - Patrick Samphire

A MG girl adventurer novella with a great setting. Ready for it?

 

Victorian era Martian colony with airships and dinosaurs. 

 

There is a mystery plot, but really this is all about the setting and the protagonist. 

 

I'm sad to see the other books in the series don't have her as the lead.

Review: An Extraordinary Union

An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole

Quite an enjoyable romance novel where nothing is easy. This is set during the American Civil War and doesn't shy away from the horrors of slavery or give the hero a white savior role. 

 

A+ romance arc. A+ spy adventure plot. A+ heroine. Basically just a great read all around.

Review: Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - Jenny Lawson, Jenny  Lawson

A funny book about overcoming adversity, especially when it's source is your own brain and body. Like Lawson's previous book, she narrates the audio version, which we've been listening to in bits and pieces over various road trips.

 

Nothing in this book made me laugh so hard I nearly got into an accident, but it still had some quite funny parts. And, more importantly, Lawson pulls no punches in describing her dealings with depression and the importance of both moving forward and knowing when to hide in your hotel room for a few days.

 

Part self help, part philosophy, part taxidermy, and all heart.

Review: Ghost Girl in the Corner

Ghost Girl in the Corner: A Shadowshaper Novella - Daniel José Older

I was going to plunge right into Shadowhouse Fall, the sequel to the excellent YA UF novel Shadowshaper, but noticed there were 2 novellas set between the novels. This is the first, and follows a secondary character, Tee from the first novel. 

 

A satisfying read that leaves open a potential new threat for the novels in the series while still reaching a conclusion for the mystery of the ghost girl.

 

This story also has the cluelessest of white ladies who wants to make sure everything has a happy, optimistic twist to it. I definitely have worked with that lady. 100% guaranteed to be colorblind. I kind of wish we'd gotten a little more resolution there. Tee's journalism project is left off at a point where the white lady wants to talk about potential misuse of funds, and having finished both novellas and half the next novel, this hasn't come back up.

 

The printing press hasn't been mentioned at all in the other stories. Like this short was meant to introduce some stuff to the series for later, but the rest of the stuff it is built from doesn't exist in the novels. At least not yet. Having read Older's Bone Street Rumba trilogy, it may just be further out in the series that this comes back into play.

Review: Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling - Tony Cliff

A fun adventure about a swashbuckling, selfish, adventurous protagonist and her frustrated and ever practical traveling companion. This is the second in a series, but functions fine as a stand alone graphic novel. Appropriate for the upper end of middle grade reader looking for a girl adventurer.

 

There are some class/race issues that could have been delved into deeper, but at least aren't ignored or brushed over. 

 

I may pick up the next one as well.