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text 2018-07-19 16:44
The Bloodforged / Erin Lindsey
The Bloodforged: A Bloodbound Novel - Erin Lindsey

As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home…

When the war began, Lady Alix Black played a minor role, scouting at the edge of the king’s retinue in relative anonymity. Though she’s once again facing an attacking Oridian force determined to destroy all she holds dear, she is now bodyguard to the king and wife to the prince.

Still, she is unprepared for what the revival of the war will mean. Erik is willing to take drastic measures to defend his domain, even if it means sending Prince Liam into a deadly web of intrigue and traveling into the perilous wild lands of Harram himself.

Only the biggest threat to the kingdom might be one that neither Alix nor Erik could have imagined, or prepared for…

 

I know for a fact that I would have enjoyed this book much more if I had read the books in order. Unfortunately, I goofed—I read book 3 before this one and so I already had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen. I’m usually a stickler for reading series in order and this experience just reinforces that habit!

I enjoyed this series and I liked the fantasy world that Ms. Lindsey created. Her system of blood magic, in particular, was novel (at least to me) and I thought it was effectively used. I enjoyed having a strong female lead character too. I just wish there had been a little less agonizing over decisions. Lady Alix, her husband Liam, and King Erik all seem to overthink and overanalyze everything and it get tedious after a while. Especially when they are leaders in all other ways.

I suspect that this is Lindsey’s way of letting you know that these characters are “good people.” It seems that good people are unsure and question themselves continuously, while the villains never question their actions or motivations.

I’m glad that I circled back and read book 2 despite that. Now I know the rest of the story, only alluded to in Book 3.

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text 2018-07-17 19:08
Reading progress update: I've read 50%. - sadder and more complex than I expected
Plum Rains: A Novel - Andromeda Romano-Lax

I picked up "Plum Rains" because the premise interested me: a near-future Japan where longevity is rising, fertility is falling and the Japanese, dependent on immigrants for many personal services, start to introduce AI-driven robots that grow and learn as they interact with their owners.

 

I'd imagined a clever SF exploration of the ethics of AI and the relationship between server and served.

 

I got all of that but I'm also getting a very human tale about the youth of a woman reaching one hundred who is now a respected Tokyo matron but started as a mixed-race aboriginal on Taiwan and about a Filipino nurse, alone in Japan, trying to work off her debt.

 

I supposed I shouldn't be surprised. Some of the best writing about AI taps into deep emotions: "Speak" by Louisa Hall and "The Unseen World" by Liz Moore are great examples.

 

The added dimension in "Plum Rains" is that the point of view is Asian rather than European.

 

This is not a fast read but it is a rewarding one.

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review 2018-07-13 18:35
Tripoint / C.J. Cherryh
Tripoint - C.J. Cherryh

Merchanter Cargo Chief Marie Hawkins has never forgiven the crime, nor sought justice. Only vengeance. And, for 23 years, the Hawkins's clan ship, Sprite, has lived with her vendetta - and with her son, Tom, the boy sired in the violent assault.

Marie's attacker, Austin Bowe, is captain of the Corinthian. When both ships dock at Mariner Station, Marie vanishes and Tom searches for his mother...only to find himself trapped on Austin's ship with a half-brother he never knew he had and a crew fanatically loyal to Bowe. Now as the Corinthian flees the pursuing Sprite and a raider guns after both, the lives on board the two Merchanter ships are in the hands of Tom Hawkins. To save them all, Tom must trust his sworn enemy...His father.

 

 

Normally, I enjoy Cherryh’s work a lot—but this novel I struggled with. It’s that whole “story based entirely on a rape” scenario that I have a hard time with. I’m having exactly the same difficulty with Stephen R. Donaldson’s Gap series, which I still plan to continue on with and it’s the reason that I stopped reading Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series after two books.

I had hoped that Cherryh would make Marie Hawkins a more understandable character, a woman who had a son as a result of a long-ago rape and dealt with it. Instead, it seemed to me that Marie was pretty unstable and had made her son Tom’s mental state questionable too. Is it a good thing when the son is better off as a prisoner/crew member with his pirate father than with his mother on a family ship? I guess this is Cherryh’s exploration of some of those problems that we can’t seem to get rid of, rape and child abuse. I don’t know about you, but I really want to believe that we can conquer those problems before we make it into space. Perhaps I watched too much Star Trek as a child.

The ending made me happier with the book, so if you find yourself floundering during the first chapters like I did, I would encourage you to read on. I’m not saying the end justifies the means, but I was quite satisfied with the end result.

Book number 290 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-07-11 10:54
"Full Dark House - Bryant & May #1" by Christopher Fowler - DNF - reluctantly abandoned at 37%
Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler

The premise behind this book was intriguing: a Peculiar Crimes Unit, set up during the Blitz quietly to handle crimes that might undermine civilian morale, leaving lots of room for Mulder-meets-British-stiff-upper-lip humour.

 

The Unit is led by Bryant: an eccentric, ostentatiously intuitive, tactless, scarf-wearing, driven twenty-two-year-old who is more comfortable with exotic books than with ordinary people. His newly-hired first-day-on-the-job side-kick is the enthusiastic, scientifically-minded, charming, good-looking nineteen-year-old May, brought in as a detective despite his lack of experience because all the experienced people have left to fight the Germans.

 

The overall effect was that of a frenetic young "Dr Who" meeting "Endeavour".

I liked the spirit of it. It would make great television. It didn't hold my attention as a book.

 

The opening, in London in the 1990s when Bryant and May are still serving officers although they are both beyond the normal retirement age, didn't quite work for me. It asked me to care too much about characters I'd barely met. I had no context and so didn't get the emotional impact of the devastating fire-bomb.

 

Once the story flipped to London during the Blitz it hit its stride. The writing was strong on visuals, a little predictable on dialogue and way out there on the weirdness of plot.

 

The problem I had was that this retrospective visit to London felt a little too cosy and too nostalgic, a feeling that was amplified by the "Mystique of the Theatre" riff. The murder was surprisingly gruesome but carried little emotional impact.

 

I abandoned the book when my irritation with the changing points of view, sliding timelines and self-consciously look-how-clever-but-quaint-we-were-back-then technology innovations overwhelmed my interest in who had what to whom and why.

 

I'm sure many people will enjoy this. Maybe I'd have ridden with it more easily if there was an all-cast audio version but the text by itself didn't hold me.

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text 2018-07-09 22:38
Reading progress update: I've read 15% and it's getting there after a slow start
Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler

I think this has the makings of a good retro series. The opening didn't quite work for me as it asked me to care too much about characters I'd barely met.

 

Once it went back in time to London during the Blitz it hit its stride. 

 

The writing is strong on visuals, a little predictable on dialogue and way out there on weirdness of plot.

 

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