This month in the mine shaft: November

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  • Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir ★★★★☆
  • Nightlife by Rob Thurman ★★★★☆
  • Allie Beckstrom Series #1-5
    • Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk ★★★★☆
    • Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk ★★★★☆
    • Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk ★★★☆☆
    • Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk ★★★★☆
    • Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk ★★★☆☆
  • Kate Daniels Series #6-10
    • Magic Rises  by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★
    • Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★
    • Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★
    • Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews ★★★★☆
    • Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews ★★★☆☆
  • The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith ★★★☆☆
  • Mind Games by Carolyn Crane ★★★☆☆
  • The Wing Commander’s Curse by Gillian St. Kevern ★★★☆☆
  • Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson ★★☆☆☆
  • Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold ★★☆☆☆
  • Sacrificed in Shadow by S.M. Reine ★★☆☆☆
  • The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren ★★☆☆☆

Onward to December! What’s on your to-read list?

 

 

This month in the mine shaft: May

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  • Nightmare Ink by Marcella Burnard ★★☆☆☆
  • Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks ★★☆☆☆
  • The Invisible Library Series ★★★★★
    • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman
  • Working Stiff by Rachel Caine ★★★★☆
  • Legion Series ★★★★★
    • Legion by Brandon Sanderson
    • Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
    • Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson
  • Innkeeper Chronicles ★★★☆☆
    • Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
    • Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
    • One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
  • Alex Craft Series ★★★☆☆
    • Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
    • Grave Dance by Kalayna Price
    • Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

 

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(But what’s this, two novels with the same title? Stay tuned for a battle of the Night Lives and their goth protagonists.)

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Book Watching

Onward to June! What’s on your to-read list?

 

 

[Book Review] Where no man has gone meta before

redshirtsBook Review: Redshirts by by John Scalzi

This book was talked up so much that almost nothing less than a comic masterpiece could have met my expectations. I was also just coming off reading three Bujold books in a row, so my humor bar was set high.

And so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this book didn’t quite meet them.

In case you haven’t heard about this book, here’s the setup:

In a Star Trekian style universe, Ensign Andrew Dahl joins the Intrepid, a spaceship that explores the universe and fixes problems. He soon realizes something screwy is going on. The crew is acting weird and every Away Mission seems to involve some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces. And while the senior officers always survive, at least one low-ranked (red shirt uniformed) crew member is, sadly, always killed, often in the craziest of ways. As he starts digging into this mystery, the craziest theory begins to make the most sense: Are they characters on a campy science fiction show?  Continue reading

[Book Review] Find the exiled commando ninjas, save the universe.

Blackcollar by Timothy Zahn (Blackcollar #1)

After a lackluster first encounter with a backcopy of Timothy Zahn’s writing, I hesitated before picking up Blackcollar. The back blurb (which combines all those keywords I just can’t resist) hooked up with my curiosity and convinced me to give it a go. And man, I take back all the disgruntled things I said about Timothy Zahn’s writing.

Spies! Elite, genetically-enhanced guerrilla commandos! An alien occupation and one special agent sent out on a suicide mission to contact a resistance cell on another planet –

It was love at first premise.

The human worlds have been under occupation for nearly thirty years now. Allen Caine has spent his entire life preparing for an infiltration mission: impersonate a government official, get off Earth, travel to a former colony planet, and rally the resistance movement there…assuming there even is one there, anymore. Because in his head, Caine has information that, for the first time in decades, could mean a fighting chance against the alien occupation.

A wrench is thrown in Allen’s plans within the first six pages, and the story is off. Even when Allen makes contact with Earth’s once-elite guerilla commandos, in a world where anyone could be a collaborator and anyone could be a spy, betrayal is just one trap away. Continue reading

[Book Review] Recreating the world, one story at a time

Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear

My quest to read something by Elizabeth Bear started a little over a year ago, and it’s been riddled with false starts. First, I ended up grabbing Trading in Danger (by Elizabeth Moon). Then Dust was nowhere to be found. Then I got All the Windwracked Stars (isn’t that a stunning cover?) but couldn’t find the time to read it. Seeing Shoggoth’s in Bloom up for grab was serendipity, and I went into this collection to get a sense of what Elizabeth Bear can do – in small, bite-size pieces.

I got that, and more. This collection brings together 19 short stories by Elizabeth Bear, including two Hugo winners, “Tideline” and “Shoggoths in Bloom,” plus one never-before-published piece original to the collection, “The Death of Terrestrial Radio.” With one exception, the stories average around a few-to-twenty pages and cover a truly mind-boggling range of genres and styles. We get an urban fantasy with a ritual gone wrong, historic fiction written through letters between John Adams’ wife and Thomas Jefferson about running for office during a time of suffrage, a lovely elegy in prose about a dragons and a museum curator, a folktale about a blacksmith’s commission, and a story about the slow death of the fishing industry. Each story is powerful, heart-rending, and memorable in its own way. Continue reading

[Book Review] What does planet and a spider have in common?

Book Review: Spinneret by Timothy Zahn

This 1985 sci-fi novel fell into my hands as a result of me realizing it’s high time I read something by Timothy Zahn, and the Spinneret’s serendipitous re-release as an eBook. (And just in case the book isn’t representative, I have Blackcollar on hand, and Dragon and Thief on my To Read shelf.)

But here is Spinneret. In the far, far future of 2016, humanity has made it to the stars (well, who knew in the 80’s that we were going to scrap our space programs?), and is all ready to colonize the stuffing out of the universe. But it turns out the universe is already chock-full of technologically advanced alien who have already called dibs on all the habitable planets.

So humans get Astra, a useless piece of real estate, for an exorbitant price.

But soon after a reluctant colonization effort, the new owners of Astra discover that they are sitting on something unique – and uniquely priceless. Add a dash of military rule, a pinch of restless third world activist, a data worker with good intentions,  and a UN desperate to hold on to its newfound power, and you get something that approximates the delightful political machinations and intrigue of Spinneret. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] There’s Christmas in Battle School Too

A War of Gifts, an Ender Story by Orson Scott Card

I received A War of Gifts in the mail a couple days ago, just in time for the Holidays, and finished it in under an hour last night. Though this book is sometimes called the tenth novel in the Ender universe (I’m looking at you, wikipedia), it’s best viewed as a short novella.

In 126  small, wide-margin pages, it tells the story of Zeck, an abused minister’s son, Dink, later one of the eleven children who command the counteroffensive against the aliens, and Flip, a Dutch boy who is homesick for something familiar. When Dink makes an impulsive gift to Flip for Sinterklaas Day, that small act sets off a chain reaction of rebellion, kindness, resentment, and religious tension through the school.

The story will be a treat for long-time Card readers. The book is filled with Easter eggs, and fans will be making connections left and right–here is the Rat Army, there is Dink remembering an off-hand commend he made to Ender, and here are the seeds being sown for the Muslim Caliphate from the Shadow series. We see Colonel Graff as he deals with the children and get a glimpse of a pre-Christmas crisis in the Wiggins household on Earth.

While the religious and moral Message (capital M here, please) part of the novella jarred me, the story wraps up with a lovely bit of bittersweet feel-goodness. It also puts the Shadow series books solidly back on my to-read list.

I have questions now: Were Peter’s parents truly aware of how much of a psychopath their older son was? Was the harsh treatment of Peter by his mother really part of the family dynamic? Does Orson Scott Card deal less superficially with religious issues when he has the elbow room of a novel-length piece?

I want to read more Card now, and that is the perfect Christmas present.


Complementary copy received
courtesy of GoodReads and TOR.

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