Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What can I say? It felt very much like book one of Harry Potter in terms of plot and situation, only milder and set in Nigeria.

It shouldn't have felt milder. Objectively, there were child mutilations and a serial murderer on the loose. And there wasn't some gigantic castle with enchantments up to protect the students. So theoretically, if I were one of these four kids, I'd be creaming my pants.

Brushing that aside, the setting is deeply fascinating to me, with magics very tied to the place and culture, with masks and masquerades and local spirits and demons and angels. The magic system was solid and cool, as were all the magical beasties.

I didn't even mind the mirroring of HP elements popping up like clockwork... like everywhere... I just let myself enjoy the magic, the discovery, and the coming of age.

Sometimes that's all you need to do. :) I think I might like to continue with the series. It's a comfortable, familiar ride, but just off the beaten path.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Food of the Gods (Gods and Monsters: Rupert Wong #1-2)Food of the Gods by Cassandra Khaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh lordy. When it comes to genre mashing, I'm usually first in line and chortling with glee when it comes to the wild and the wacky. Coming into this one relatively free of any expectations other than knowing it was a group read with some friends, I blanked my mind and began it.

First impressions: Oh! Chinese gods, the underworld, a damned chef and the problem of keeping the ghouls happy with their meals. Oh! Godfather. Oh! This is GORY. Oh! Rupert has one hell of a snark going on and even if I don't particularly like him or what he does, he's funny as hell.

Second impressions, coinciding with the second novella (two of which make up a single novel): I'm really getting into this. Life on the line for the stunt he pulled, he's sent to work for the enemy, I.E., the Greek Gods. As a Chef. And they're all a real nasty piece of work. Survival novel, mystery, and twisty, twisty machinations including new gods, old gods, and a really fun Outsider Cthuhlu god later... CHAOS, BLOOD, and so much gory death. :)

The second one was even better than the first, but I'll put it this way: 3 star, 5 star. This damned chef has really grown on me. Like undead tattoo fairies. Or an immortal youtube cat begging for scraps. :)

So, a word of warning: You must be comfortable with graphic, graphic gore. :) The rest is a very humorous comedy of errors featuring a cannibal chef who keeps getting into trouble with all the wrong gods. It's very reminiscent of some classic mystery/comedies with a huge American Gods twist.


Me, I LOVE bizarro fiction and Khaw's writing skill is tops. No complaints there. Quite funny, great turns of phrase, and always snappy. She just pushes the boundaries as far as she likes with the gore, and I really appreciate that. :)

Now, I need to go take a shower.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

NoumenonNoumenon by Marina J. Lostetter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's always nice to pick up tales about generational starships, a repeatedly cloned crew, and an AI that helps them make the journey.

Sound familiar? I mean, we've had stories like this for many generations aboard this starship and have discussed AIs for as long. We've had a long line and a recent bout of great novels touching upon all these aspects, such as KSR's Aurora and Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, not to mention Tchiachovski's Children of Time, to mention some of the very best among the latest.

Fortunately, this isn't a rehash. It's a serious thought experiment combining new thought in the fields of psychology, sociology, artificial intelligence and even DNA hard data storage techniques. :) I appreciated the subtle explorations and the different directions the author took them, showing me that she knew her SF history like an expert, never running over precisely the same ground.

But it is still all very familiar. And adding that to solid characters with their own personalities, some much more interesting than others, of course, we always have an entertaining and nicely flowing tale. Very few hiccups at all. I especially liked the exploration of Earth after their return. It could have gone so many ways and I'm very pleased with Numenon's final direction.

I can't say this is the best novel of its type but it is written in a nicely flowing modern style with a big focus on characters. It doesn't stint on the science, either, and the big, big focus on the AI is a major bonus in my book. :)

I do recommend this for you fanboys and fangirls. :)

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Only Human (Themis Files, #3)Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The final book in the trilogy!

This one's a hard one to review only because it bucks expectations. Maybe only mine, but still.

Did I want answers and a big robot battle? Yes. Did I get answers and a big robot battle? Absolutely.

The direction of the storytelling will probably take you for a wild loop, however. It did for me. The cliffhanger had all my sights on the alien homeworld (or it's war-staging area) and I'm totally into the epistolary nature of these novels, so now I've got to reconcile myself to the fact that humanity is in WAY OVER ITS HEAD.

Derp. Fast forward another 10 years.

The aliens don't have their crap together. Haven't for a while. Oh, sure, they're technologically advanced and can still vaporize cities and teleport and do these nifty perfect atomic clones, but they're a pretty damn good mirror to our own messed-up selves. You know, US/Them crap about genetics. Purebloods and democracy skewed in favor of said Purebloods. Like I said, very familiar.

And our MCs live in this world for a decade, feeling the weight of the aliens' guilt and embarrassment until it all goes pear-shaped and we spend the rest of the novel back on Earth.

The characters really carry this novel, as they did the previous ones. Our fantastic rock-em-sock-em robot bash and the two battlers turned the scene into some really really tragic, heartwarming and rage-filled. The father/daughter dynamic was pretty brilliant.

I may have shed a few tears. The buildup was intense.

But the end? I really want to talk about the end but that's a spoiler too much. Suffice to say, I'm both conflicted and satisfied at the same time. Some pretty awesome humor and a lot of shame for being a member of this human race.

But then, what should we expect with a title that evokes a shrug? Oh, we're Only Human. Well, no excuses are going to cut this. You go, Rosa. :)

I'm already getting nostalgic. Action and pathos for the win. :)

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Waking Gods (Themis Files, #2)Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-read 2/17/18:

Thrilled as hell to get the ARC of book three, I decided to go on a tear through the first two again.

But Why?

Because they're just that good. Great characters, fantastic dialogue, and action, action, action. What kind of action? GIANT ROBOT ACTION.

I hated to see who died and loved to see who took over. I'll leave it at that. I would like to call this pure popcorn fiction, but it's a bit better crafted than that. Deceptively simple, even, sprinkled with very sharp quotes and humor. I'd say don't miss this SF if you're at all a fan of SF at all. It's pure fun. :)

And with that cliffhanger.......

I'm SO HAPPY to have the new book! WOOOO! WOOOO!

Original Review:

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

I've been looking forward to this one ever since I read the ARC for the first, and I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was when I got the second. :)

In the first, we get an adventure and the assembly and the loss and the regaining of the Giant Robot Themis, with our motley pilots and oh-so-mysterious Interviewer.

In this one, we dive right into the thick of things ten years after the adventure began with the arrival of rival robots from right across the universe. We'd already heard tales of them in the first, from strange long-lived people who'd stayed behind to see through the bloodlines, but this is where things get really wonky.

And where the death-count starts rising.

And if you're more interested in the characters and their arcs, never fear. Some very interesting developments are happening. Am I just as thrilled for the Neon Genesis Evangelion nod? Hell yeah. Do I love this tale and the odd kinds of twists and turns surrounding our original researcher? Double hell yeah.

As for our not-so-favorite geneticist? I feel nothing but loathing. That's kind of the point. She rather deserves it. :)

No spoilers since this won't be released for several more months, but suffice to say I really enjoyed it and I really want to sing its praises. I love my big robots! I love ALL my big robots, even if they're not on our side. They still give me the warm tingles. :)

All told, if you guys haven't enjoyed the first novel, then get on it. The second is just as delicious and its satisfying all types of unfulfilled SF niches for us. :)

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Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Update 2/17/18:

Boy, I keep re-reading this stuff and I never seem to have any problems doing so. I'm still having fun and it's still popcorn fun!


So why did I re-read? I just got the pre-release of book three, Only Human. It's CALLING TO ME! :)

Update 12/10/16:

Just re-read and what can I say? I still love it. Didn't really miss anything from the first time, but that certainly doesn't matter when I'm just having fun. :)

Robots! ROBOTS!!!! *squeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

And now that I've got the ARC for the sequel, it's more like *double squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* :)

Old review 2/2/16:

A big thank you goes to Netgalley, and I can only ask for an apology for holding off so long before reading this novel. I suppose I figured that anything that would give away such a long lead-time is either playing the really hopeful card or the really cautious one.

I'm here on the other side of reading it to say that I had a great time!

I do hate blurbs that say misleading things to link an author to other big items like The Martian or World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, and honestly, this novel is really nothing like them.

It deserves to stand on its own. And thanks to a little reconstructive surgery, I'm sure it will! ;) Sorry. That's a little inside joke. Read it and I'm sure that'll become crystal clear. :)

No, if I really HAD to make a connection with this and some other media, then it's closer to Pacific Rim or Neon Genesis Evangelion than some space adventure or a zombie apocalypse. Indeed, in some ways it's better written than either of those novels.

I've had the pleasure to review a few novels with epistolary writing recently, and this one happens to clock in at one of the easiest and interesting, based entirely on transcripts, so it's completely a novel of dialogue. I loved it.

Out of all the characters, I think I loved the interviewer best. He or she, whatever the person's name is, has got to have one hell of a head on his or her shoulders. All I can say is, "Bravo on the Long Game!" I wanted to cheer!

This is an absolutely delightful and pure SF novel that doesn't dumb down to us, expresses true joy at revealing the nature of the universe, and for the rest of us who are in it for a grand adventure with high stakes and much, much higher stakes to come thanks to the Titans, you're in for a treat.

I was never bored. Not even once. I loved the scientific progression that led to the political horrors all the way to the ruthless exploitations. But what really sparked my fire was the quick return to something wonderfully idealistic, even if, or despite its being paraded about as an absolute necessity.

There's something delightfully evil about it.

If this isn't a brilliant start to a wonderful new SF series, then I'll be a monkey's uncle. I'd read the living hell out of the entire series and chortle all the way, knowing that SF is not dead or dying... it's just preparing for a new and JUST life as a Giant.

Is this a Heroic novel? Hell yes. I think that's what we've been missing all these long years. :)

Wonder and heroism and a nice handful of mythology to boot.

Read this. Read it, everyone. We need more stories like this on the market. :)

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Legend of Sumeria (Life · Blood · DNA)Legend of Sumeria by Biju Parekkadan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This first installment grabbed my attention nearly for the subject alone. I love Sumeria and everything related to it and I have a rather large fondness for genetics, too.

I kinda expected something along Zecharia Sitchin's work transformed into a comic or something along these lines. I didn't care. It could get as wild as it wanted. :)

The story in this is fine, kinda written in broad strokes and high emotion and less meat than I might have preferred, with the exception being the drawings of blood from a science standpoint. That was meaty, so to speak, but it was almost the entire meal. The rest was... okay. It didn't really grab me one way or another.

The drawings were not good. Angles and perspectives were highly unflattering or even odd in a way that never came close to being psychedelic or a part of a greater story. It was annoying.

Some bits and pieces of the whole work showed a little promise, but the alien angle was as rushed and bland as the character development back on Earth.


At least I still like the generalized idea behind it!

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