[Book Review] Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

Once upon a time, I wasn’t the nicest of people. I wasn’t a part of the Let People Enjoy Things movement. So I wrongly looked down upon romance novels and those who chose to read them. A friend of mine told me about Jewels of the Sun in those dark, unenlightened days, and recommended it highly. So I read it on a whim and discovered that it was a romance novel with a hidden fantasy element. I was so enamored with it that I read the two followup novels, Tears of the Moon and Heart of the Sea immediately afterwards. I would go on to read almost a dozen or Roberts’s other fantasy-romance novels, with great enjoyment. I was still a little bit snarky about the romance genre, and I acknowledge that I was wrong. I know better now, and even if I’m not an avid romance reader, I do enjoy them from time to time.

Cut because I love you Continue reading

[Book Review] Rivers of London: Body Work and Night Witch

I return! I was too busy being sick to string together enough sentences for any blog entries last week, other than my review of That Ain’t Witchcraft for Speculative Chic. I really loved that book, and I can’t wait for the next one. It’s going to be a long year. It might be time for an end-to-end reread of the InCryptid series. In the meantime, I’m still working my way through Rivers of London! I have reached the graphic novel portion of the series.

My friend Lane, when she reviewed this series for Speculative Chic, mentioned that she didn’t read the graphic novels, and it felt like there were some weird gaps in continuity. So I treated myself to all of the currently existing graphic novels in the series, and dug up a reading order that included them within the novels’ timeline, and hopped in. This is partially because events that happened in Body Work and Black Mould are referenced in The Hanging Tree, and I wanted to find out what happened, especially given that Sahra Guleed (who is awesome) was involved.

Short reviews, maybe a few spoilers Continue reading

Book Review: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

After the last installment of the Rivers of London series, I was chomping at the bit to get to Foxglove Summer. If you’ve read the book, or my spoilery review, you know why. Unfortunately for me, the massive, twisty not-quite cliffhanger isn’t addressed very thoroughly in this volume. That’s fine; it was still a great read, and I’m still exceedingly satisfied with my reading experience and this series as a whole.

Let me just say right now: you can’t really read and enjoy these books unless you read them in order. Too much either won’t make sense or will have little to no impact upon you as a reader if you aren’t already familiar with what’s going on. Aaronovitch expects you to keep up and unforgivingly gives very little in the way of plot/character rehashing.

A lot of ongoing series have a volume or two that takes our primary protagonist out of their primary setting. The author picks them up and plunks them down somewhere entirely new. This was the first of such books in this series. I’ve found that this type of book can be hit or miss for me. If it occurs in the proper place in the series, it generally works well. If the writer tries to do it too soon, for me, it doesn’t go over well. A series that I love with all of my heart and soul did this in the second volume. That, to me, was entirely too soon. We’d just started getting to know the heroine and knew next to nothing about her world and the way that things worked, then we’re whisked away to what was (at the time) an insignificant place to deal with insignificant things. Now I understand the reasoning behind this alternative setting, but I still think that it could have come a little later in the series and had the same overall impact. Plus, I feel like the book would be better received and enjoyed by new readers to the series. Anyway.

Some spoilers. I don’t ruin too much for you, because I’m a nice person. Continue reading

Book Review: Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Okay, Aaronovitch. You’ve got me. I was already on board with this series, finding Peter to be a likeable and humorous narrator, and quite enjoying the other characters a great deal as well, but this?

This one might have broken me just a bit. I can’t even find an appropriate “mind blown” GIF to insert here, because…just…damn.

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to discuss this book without going into spoiler territory, so I’ll see what I can do to avoid them until at all necessary. Fear not, I will mark them very clearly so that you know when to stop reading.

There will eventually be spoilers. Continue reading

Book Review: The Wiccan Wheel Mysteries by Jennifer David Hesse

Well, okay. This isn’t a proper review, exactly. It’s more like my overall thoughts on the first three books in this new-to-me cozy series.

But first, let me chat with you about cozies. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, just visit this website and the answer to almost any question that you might have is likely here. In short, a cozy mystery lacks gratuitous scenes of bloody murder, features a usually quirky, always likeable protagonist, who also happens to be an amateur detective, and things are wrapped up by the end of the book. There’s almost always some kind of theme that ties the series together — maybe the protag owns a bookshop (which seems to be really popular) or a bakery. Perhaps she Does Scrapbooking, or is active in her church. These are all themes that I’ve found, by the way.

Read on, if you wish to listen whilst I wax poetic about my favorite type of comfort reading! Continue reading

Book Review: Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

So here it is,  book 3 of the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series. This is the book that temporarily derailed a friend of mine from the series, so I wasn’t entirely sure how things were going to go for me. This friend and I have similar tastes, so I will admit to being a bit concerned. Nevertheless, I plunged in.

I do have to say that this book was a little better than I had anticipated. Which is a great thing. I’m still a little leery of Aaronovitch and his very male cast of characters. Stephanopoulos being more in the thick of things was a nice move. Further, I am rather fascinated with Lady Ty and what, precisely, she does. What is she responsible for, within her mother’s court? What’s her role?

Cut because I care. There might be spoilers. Continue reading

Book Review: Normal by Warren Ellis

I admitted in another review that the only reason that I read this book when I did was because I wanted to be able to finish 2018 on an even number of books. I was sitting at 69 when December 31 of last year dawned, and Normal was sitting right there, slim and nonthreatening. After flipping through the book and discovering that it was a mere 160 pages, and having nothing better to do on New Year’s Eve (my life is deeply boring in the socializing department these days), I figured that I could whip through the book before midnight struck, thus making my final book tally for 2018 sit at 70.

I received the book via a horror novel subscription box that went up in terrible flames last year. I won’t name it, because I don’t wish to draw out the thieving troll who ripped off his entire subscription base and did a great deal of damage to several small presses. If the book hadn’t come from that service, however, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. It’s not the most compelling cover that I’ve ever seen. I’ve also never read anything else by Ellis, so there wasn’t a burning need to leap into the pages. And the premise is not the most joyful thing, either:

Some people call it “abyss gaze.” Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.
There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geo-engineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.

For both types, if you’re good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it’s something you can’t do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the “abyss gaze” takes hold there’s only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.

When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels in Warren Ellis’s Normal, Dearden uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future—and the past, and the now.

I’m not always looking for happiness when I read something. The holidays, however, are not my favorite time of year, and this? Did not seem like the best thing to read when one was already in a low mood.

No spoilers. Cutting it anyway. Continue reading