Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Salt LineThe Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There really is a lot going on in here that can't really be done justice in a short review and some of it is quite good.

Dystopian Nightmare Ticks, yes, please.

And then there's the rest. Most of it is a good four-star read. A lot of focus is on regular human relationships and the larger developments like the drug that allows the bunkered enclaves of the "safe" humanity to live without fear of the ticks. The action often feels like a boardroom drama mixed with mafia dons against a dystopian survival novel, but it starts out first as a bunch of rich thrill seekers wrapping themselves in high-tech fibers to enjoy nature without worrying too much about the tick menace.

For a great deal of the novel, I was just fine with this. It had a rather more epic feel with a lot of characters and situations and developments that tended to lean a lot more toward a lit-fic bent than a straight SF or Horror. In fact, most of the possible horror moments and SF elements took a long back seat to everyday folk.

That wasn't actually a plus for me. In fact, I often didn't really care about the folks portrayed and maybe it says more about me that I just wanted to see some epic tick action taking out more people than the guns eventually did.

And then, there was the veiled theme burrowing into the setting. If we read this a certain way, the novel is just a souped-up novel of the Mexican-American border, featuring fear of foreigners and a very, very heavy reliance on drug cartels and related issues. With a new skin, of course. And this isn't much of a problem in itself, but some of the directions it took left a weird taste in my mouth.

And then there are the related associations. The deeper allusions. And while it never comes right out and makes any direct connections, I feel like there's something rather... well, I'll leave it up to other readers to come right out and say it. I'm definitely not sure that there's any kind of intent. It just feels... icky, in a way. Even the border town feels like Tijuana.

So, my hackles rose. No real issues about the whole pregnancy business or the drugs even though the uses and abuses took up a huge portion of the novel. In general, I liked the novel pretty well, but I'm beginning to get tired of the trend to put LIT stuff in SF. It dilutes the really fantastic stuff SF is known for. Just my opinion. :)

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Modern fairy tales. Gotta love them, especially when they take twelve core hearts and totally run with them, allowing an almost meta world-building full of magical doors taking the young at heart (or obsessional) directly to their best dreamland. :)

This third book in the Wayward Children novellas doesn't disappoint. It's Candy Crush land and Mermaids, with a little mix of the skeletal dead and some time travel. Everything a fantasy lover needs, right? Right!

And I think I liked this one a bit more than book 2. :) It had more of the characters I loved and better emphasis on what I loved the most in the first book: the doors and the obsession and the quirk. :)

As I said, it's a fully modern fairy tale with the essence of fairies spiriting away little children, adults losing the magic, and the whole idea that wanting something hard enough or just BELIEVING hard enough will bring you right where you need to be. :) It's quite pretty, but don't start assuming this is totally light. It's not. It's quite dark at times. :)

In other words, fantastic! Seanan always satisfies. :)

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Spaceman of BohemiaSpaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I went through some interesting stages as I read this one. I didn't really have any expectations other than a possible or rather probable literature/SF hybrid, delving deeper into the introspective and lyrical areas of space. Perhaps it could have been an oddball exploration, perhaps humorous.

As I read, I noticed the lyrical bits and there's plenty of deep characterization and family and memory going on, which seems to be the common thread for long missions in space these days, but then something happened. An alien!

I had a great time with that. Everything tied together and I flowed into it pretty nicely.

And then the book took a rather depressing turn that I won't go into without spoilers and then it all just devolved into romantic theme between Jakub and Lenka that got progressively morose let alone objectively sad.

That in itself isn't precisely a dealbreaker, but sitting around feeling bad for oneself through the eyes of a character that could be ourselves is slightly narcissistic and indulgent and the rest of the novel, while I can appreciate it intellectually, became something less than enjoyable.

I'm saying it. I don't think I like this new breed of LitSF titles. I grew up reading Literature before I went nuts with SF, even got a degree in it. I used to think it would be fantastic to see the two meet and grow together, but if this is the flavor of things to come, I think I want to go back to the whole action bits.

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Darkside EartherDarkside Earther by Bradley Horner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1/15/18 - It's Live and Available now! Get Here

I'm putting it on sale, too, for $0.99!

It's a Bloody Science-Fiction love story!

Um. Literally. Space-Opera, YA romance, Virtual Worlds, and a space battle.
And it's available on Amazon, Jan 15, 2018!

I hope you LOVE IT!

I'm putting in the edits for the second book in the series even now, and then you'll have Degrading Orbits. It might be even better than this one. :)

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Strange WeatherStrange Weather by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These four novellas were very solid. Even the one about Rain. Or maybe I should say, the Rain novella was more than solid: it was hard as diamond. :)

In all cases, the characters shine. There are tons of fat comments, 80's memorabilia, and POLAROIDS in "Snapshot". The concept behind it was pure horror and quite interesting, but I was on the fence about the wrap-up. I appreciate the whole thing, the human element, and the character growth, but the oomph was kinda drowned out by it.

"Loaded" was probably my least favorite, but it had its gun-loving charms. It was more a police thriller than anything else, going round and round the danger until his world falls apart for good. Heroes and Villains, indeed.

"Aloft" was pretty brilliant from the imagination viewpoint and I rather rocked to the whole fear and astonishment and discovery angle. :) This is my second favorite story in the collection.

But it was "Rain" that just stole the whole damn show. Terrorism and global warning and easily the best complicated and delightful characterization I've seen out of Joe Hill, yet. That's including the Locke and Key series. I loved just about everything in this one, from the horror to the crazy to the wicked. :) That rain is nuts! I love it most. :)

It probably doesn't matter if you're a fan of Joe Hill or not if you're looking to this for a good read. Chances are, you might just fall in love with the author just from this. :) It's well worth it and super enjoyable.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

EmergenceEmergence by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We're back in the politics, or rather, we never left. That's not a bad thing in this series because the Atevi and the humans are just ripe with the social craziness. To think we (as in Atevi and Humans) are held up as a standard of getting along and making rational decisions and compromises is just too funny.

What I think is best about this book, in particular, is how Cajeiri and his mother finally bond in a trial-by-fire way. It really picks up big time from the previous novel's events, but more than that, I'm getting a great sense of major alliances finally pulling together in a really big way.

It helps that we get a lot of great action and suspense, but it's Cajeiri who shines here. He's really growing up. Big time. :) Adult responsibility and everything. Great-Uncle is turning him into a man. Um. Alien. Whatever. :)

Mospheira is another thing. The island of humanity is kinda crazy right now thanks to a certain documentary depicting the living conditions on the space station and when that and the refugee issue really comes to a head, it really boils over. Reunioners and ancient hate is a big deal. As always, Cherryh knows how to make great world-building like a perfect mirror for us.

And also, as always, Cherryh knows how to turn communication and politics into a really fun and fast popcorn fiction. That's even when the actual tale is intellectual, thoughtful, and measured. I don't know how she does it. Or perhaps I do.

It's the characters. Beautiful and exciting characters can turn ANYTHING into something grand.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Convergence (Foreigner, #18)Convergence by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oddly enough, I was fully expecting more space, more diplomacy, and more aliens, but that's done for now. Non-aggression treaty and Rosetta Stone signed, in hand, and now shipped downwell, Bren and crew have a brand new problem.

What the hell are they going to do with all those station refugees? Atevi won't take them and there's definitely not enough resources to keep them for long on the station around the Atevi world.

Oddly enough, the simple solution takes this series in a seriously awesome direction I'm surprised hasn't been explored as fully as now: Mospheira. The island where all the humans are kept penned in like livestock. :) Or not livestock, but clannish and fearful refugees from 200 years ago thinking they still have a good handle on things when in reality they're just being tolerated by a very understanding Atevi. :)

I was drawn all the way in. I'm surprised how much I enjoyed seeing the human populace for once instead of just dealing with them (or not dealing at all) from the mainland where the Atevi rule. Cajeiri's side-story was quite interesting and develops his character and relationships nicely in a new-adult way, but honestly, I was very much more invested in Bren dealing with all his old colleagues and detractors without getting to rely on all the honors or stations of the Atevi political side.

A good diplomat always tries to work from a position of power, and it was too funny how he worked it. :)

Still a great series! And there's one more that came out! Woo! Can't wait! :)

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