Review – The Raven Tower

The Raven Tower: Leckie, Ann: 9780316388696: Amazon.com: Books

Ann Leckie‘s fantasy is a wild new spin on Hamlet and the revenge story. This book takes risks with structure, some of it is delivered in second person, others first person, the narrative bounces between a god and the right-hand of the prince who is the one seeking his birthright, and his revenge.

It’s a complicated story, with a complicated structure. It challenges the reader to interrogate perspectives, conceptions of gender, society, and divinity, and it asks questions about the relationship of humanity to divinity. This isn’t the proverbial popcorn movie, but it was exceptionally well-crafted.

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Bookshop:

The Raven Tower

Powell’s:

The Raven Tower

Amazon:

The Raven Tower

Review – Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, The Autumn Republic

Duck and Covers: The Art of Orbit Books | Tor.com

Brian McClellan all but pioneered the term “flintlock fantasy” with his Powder Mage Trilogy. Beginning with PROMISE OF BLOOD, he creates a world that draws military inspiration from the Napoleonic to American Civil War eras, weaves in the politics of revolution and representation, and adds social seasoning of labor relations and unrest all atop the push and pull between sorcery of an old sort and magic fueled by gunpowder.

It was a fantastic read and there are more books set in this world than this trilogy, though I haven’t quite gotten to those.

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Bookshop:

Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy Book 1)

Amazon:

The Powder Mage Trilogy: Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, The Autumn Republic

Review – Murderbot

The Murderbot Diaries 1 to 4 by Martha Wells – Track of Words

Martha Wells Murderbot books don’t really need my help in plugging. ALL SYSTEMS RED won a dang Hugo, afterall. However, especially the first four novellas are fantastic, short, fast reads that are perfect escapism with a weirdly-relatable protagonist (weird because we’re in the head a literal murderbot). And, frankly, the first line of ALL SYSTEMS RED is perhaps one of the most gripping paragraphs I’ve ever read:

“I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.”

Look me in the eye and tell me you aren’t going to read the next line. I dare you.

There are currently four novellas and one novel out. Another novel is available for preorder now, so there’s plenty of murderbot to go around.

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Bookshop:

The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy

Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel (The Murderbot Diaries Book 5)

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries Book 6)

Powell’s:

The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy

Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel (The Murderbot Diaries Book 5)

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries Book 6)

Amazon:

The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy

Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel (The Murderbot Diaries Book 5)

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries Book 6)

Review – Gideon the Ninth

Amazon.com: Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1) eBook: Muir,  Tamsyn: Kindle Store

Tamsyn Muir hardly needs me to sing this book’s praises. Frankly, GIDEON THE NINTH struck a cultural nerve, and there are countless people who can hype this better than I can, but I’ll try.

I heard it pitched as “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted castle in space,” which is evocative. I’d describe it as a murder mystery set in a metroidvania… in a haunted castle in space. The thing that this book has in spades is Voice. From the first line, Muir absolutely nails Gideon’s voice. It’s masterful.

Candidly, I haven’t read the sequel, HARROW THE NINTH, but I can’t not include mention of it because that might be the best cover of any book I’ve ever seen. Tommy Arnold, dang.

Book 3, ALECTO THE NINTH, is currently set for release in 2022, and I couldn’t find a preorder link for it yet, sorry.

If it sounds good to you, check it out. If you’ve got a local independent bookseller, please give them your business in this difficult time. If it works, try using the Bookshop link, which tries to support independent booksellers. If your local library has it on the shelf, support libraries!

If Amazon is the what works for you to get books in the pandemic, use Amazon, that’s okay too!

Bookshop:

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2)

Powell’s:

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2)

Amazon:

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2)

Review – Hollow Skulls and Other Stories – Samuel Marzioli

Samuel Marzioli’s collection of horror short stories, Hollow Skulls and Other Stories (released Jan. 8, I was lucky to get an eARC to review), is gripping, terrifying, and frequently unsettling like a sliver of ice buried deep in my spine. From the first page, his command of language, and the way he used words and construction to linger and create a discordant tone set the stage for the horror he was writing and made me dread (in a good way) the stories to come.

More than anything, each story had a moment, a line, a word somewhere in the beginning before everything went wrong that lingered in my mind. A dissonance that I knew would resolve the harmonic tension… but rather than bringing the song to a pleasing harmony it always paid off with a growing sense of dread, and eventually the realization that the thing I feared was inevitable and terrible.

The first story, “A Pocket of Madness” was one the strongest tales and it, along with “Hollow Skulls” presented Marzioli deftly presented protagonists on the fraying edge of sanity. Both left me wondering whether the world they experienced was “real” or a creation of their unsettled psyche. In “Hollow Skulls” in particular, the terror of seeing what was coming but desperately wishing for something else to come to pass gripped me from the beginning. Together, these stories stood out as worth the price of admission.

“Penelope’s Song” takes on the point of view of a woman with developmental issues who lives in a group home. He give her a voice (a thing that is somewhat ironic given the story) and uses the story to hold a mirror to how our society treats the infirm.

“So Praise Him” carries revivalist Christianity to it’s unnerving final conclusion and does so in a way that neither feels dismissive nor exploitative of the faith it uses as a base.

This is a collection with bone-chilling reads. Marzioli uses the genre as a knife to cut deeply into, among other topics, parenthood, mental health, religion and group-worship-dynamics, the treatment of the mentally vulnerable. It’s absolutely a collection worth picking up.

Buy from your local independent bookseller if possible (I included a bookshop.org link, which I think somehow works as an intermediary to indy booksellers), Amazon if you must.

Bookshop.org: Hollow Skulls and Other Stories

Amazon: Hollow Skulls and Other Stories