Reviews and Comments


Joined 1 year, 1 month ago

Brit in Canada. I read when I can't sleep, so yes there's a lot of books here. Nearly all SF.


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reviewed Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher (Clocktaur War, #1)

T. Kingfisher: Clockwork Boys (Paperback, 2018, Argyll Productions) 4 stars

A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It’s not …

Enjoyable fantasy romp

5 stars

Very easy to read. Was on a train all day and just powered through. Turns out I remember very little from the first time. It's quite funny for a book that is basically set in a war zone.

Ann Leckie: The Raven Tower (EBook, 2019, Orbit) 4 stars

Listen. A god is speaking. My voice echoes through the stone of your master's castle. …

Nice god POV

5 stars

Standard fantasy narrative, except...

The narrator is a god and uses second person narrative to follow a human "main" character. The human is trans, and this isn't a defect, or a super power, it just is present in the world and accepted. Although twins are hated and feared in some cultures, despite not controlling how they are born.

Very Leckie, and also my favourite, I think. It's faster paced than the Ancillary books. Less tea and gloves.

qntm: There is No Antimemetics Division (Paperback, 2020, SCP Foundation Wiki) 4 stars

Good, but too much in one go

4 stars

I should have read this slower, the book is fine. SCP lit in long form, done well. All creatures that cause you to forget them, or other things. It starts as short stories, and then the links start appearing.

Uses some Memento backwards story telling to keep the audience in the right mind frame. Too bleak for me by the end.

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Ogres 4 stars

Ogres are bigger than you. Ogres are stronger than you. Ogres rule the world.

It’s …

Nice twist

5 stars

Adrian's short stories seem to all have the SF twist ending but this has a couple of neat ideas in it that I don't want to mention. Some were more obvious than others to me but no less welcome.

Narration is in the second person and not my favourite, but didn't spoil my enjoyment. Short and sweet, a new favourite of his for me I think.

Aliette de Bodard: The Red Scholar's Wake (Hardcover, 2022, Orion Publishing Co) 4 stars

Xich Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship …

Perhaps not the best introduction to the universehe

3 stars

Having finished the book I still don't understand what 'bots' are in this, they're small but not too small and fix things but also provide touch?

I think I'm not really destined for romance, the plot is interesting until the main characters have a fight that feels needlessly dramatic.

Also one of the lovers is also a spaceship, and emotions cause displays to flicker or even loss of attitude control.

reviewed Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (Legends & Lattes, #1)

Travis Baldree: Legends & Lattes (Paperback, 2022, Tor Books) 5 stars

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes …

As description: light froth

5 stars

If you are in the mood for incredibly low-stakes and predictable cozy fantasy, this absolutely ticks all the boxes. The few twists are so trope-y they aren't even twists. I'm absolutely sure if this was set in the real world I would find it immeasurably dull.

A Tim Horton's French Vanilla of a book: cloyingly sweet.

reviewed Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (The Band, #2)

"A standalone adventure featuring a band of female mercenaries in the world of Kings of …


4 stars

I struggle with my opinion of Eames' books; like Orkonomics, it's sort-of comic fantasy. Well, I really like Discworld books, so this should be an easy fit? Except for me I don't always gel well with the humour for reasons I can't quite explain.

Re-reading Hearts of the Wyld helped before starting Bloody Rose. This one feels more serious. Again, harkening to Discworld, like some of Pterry's later work where he corrects injustices. I wonder if it's inspiration. The world is getting a bit more fleshed out, with some people from the first book returning as secondary characters. Towards the end everything feels quite blurry though - a Marvel-style everyone fighting and dying and surviving all at once.

I'm also missing a lot of jokes again, I'm sure. It took me a while to realise why red hair die came from hucknall beans.

Getting four stars for being an enjoyable …

Mark Lawrence: Road Brothers (Paperback) 3 stars

Perfectly fine

3 stars

I think I've read this too far apart from the actual trilogy, so even with the notes from the author after each short story on how it ties in, I can't really remember. However it was an easy read. Most injuries seem barely survivable but I'm pretty sure the Thorns books are exactly the same.

Generally I've enjoyed all of these but they're so bleak I don't think I'll rush to read them again.

Michel Rabagliati: Paul à Québec (Paperback, French language, 2010, La Pastèque) 4 stars

Sweet but sad

4 stars

I asked for a comic by a Quebecois author in Montreal, and eventually (very grateful to the staff in Librarie BD for staying in French to help me practice) picked this one as it looked a bit easier and prettier than other offerings.

It's not easier! A lot of Quebecois sacrés and petits sacrés (e.g. caline is the "shoot" to calisse) and elisions ("chui" -> "je suis") but the overall story is fine to follow.

It is of a family's grandfather as he ages and enters respite care. Starting with big family sleepovers, having him tell the story of his youth (bad). The shots of Québec that I recognise (bits of Montréal and Québec City) are good enough for me as a tourist to recognise.

Walter M. Miller Jr.: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback, 2006, Eos) 4 stars

Highly unusual After the Holocaust novel. In the far future, 20th century texts are preserved …

Three interesting post-apocalyptic stories

5 stars

I originally read this just before Anathem was released as Neal Stephenson's book was going to have a similar idea. Which is sort of true, and sort of not. It's set in three eras after a nuclear war in the 1960s, the first in a barely-subsistence age, secondly in a medieval time, and thirdly with a tech level greater than our own..but still with nuclear weapons and tension.

The focus point of all three is the abbey, and none of the stories are cheerful. Re-reading it, the third one was a particularly hard read. The monks are Catholic and the third story deals a lot with the ethics of euthanasia. Speaking of Catholicism, there's more Latin in the book than you might originally expect.

The moral of the book is as unsurprising as it is heavy.

John Scalzi: The Kaiju Preservation Society (2022) 4 stars

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver …

Mindless fun

5 stars

This is written and set in late 2020. Much like Netflix' Glass Onion, it uses COVID in the backdrop, and then gets onto its main bit. This is about as much COVID as I want in a book.

Equally you get the feeling that Scalzi has a lot to say about US politics and is resisting only dropping a few things before getting back to his main hobby of dropping his favourite nerds in as backing mentions (or ship names in Old Man's War).

This was exactly the right amount of silly for me, I didn't quite get into Redshirts. It gets a bit close when they discuss how kaiju are tropes but then follows with a Peter-Hamilton-level exposition dump about how the pretend science works.

Who cares, there are kaiju, and also a bunch of characters who respect others' chosen pronouns. It's like a much snarkier Becky Chambers book.