Brain Candy in space with a romance sub-plot

Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion, #1)
by Jessie Mihalik

Picked this up, because friends kept mentioning it favourably. Started into the first chapter and though that the writing was a bit bumpy. 

I don’t usually look at reviews until I have read a book, but here I made an exception after the first few pages. Romance with an SF setting? Insta-love, too many blond people, thin world building, a Mary Sue, two people great at hiding that keep getting captured and then proceed to repeatedly free each other. Sounds all pretty daft, right? Ok, ok, following the advice of one of my reading buddies: check your brain at the door and have fun.

Brain checked away and… I read the first 8 chapters, 27% into the book. It doesn‘t do anything for me right now, I am skipping paragraphs and find it mainly silly. I would probably really like it, if I was in the right mood for it—the style reminds me of Ilona Andrews. As it is, too many books, too little time. DNF!

I had books 2 (Aurora Blazing) and 3 (Chaos Reigning) of this on my shelf as well. I will kick them off and diminish my TBR pile by two more books, from 217 books by the start of the year to 165 books right now.

Being in more world than one…

ILLUSTRATION: ELENA LACEY; GETTY IMAGES

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

BEYOND THESE STARS OTHER TRIBULATIONS OF LOVE by Usman T. Malik

Bari has to look after his mother, but he is also off into space and needs a way to be in both places at once. Interesting idea, although I wonder if this split consciousness would be possible, considering time dilation and distance. How would that work technically, besides probably making you loose your grip on reality fast?

Maybe a bit short to do the idea justice. ★★★☆☆

Can be read for free here.

I liked his The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn.

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik

“a work of speculative fiction that explores Indian subcontinental folklore and Islamic metaphysics”

This short story was nominated for a Nebula award and won the 2016 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella. And rightly so. Beautifully written, very poetic and dreamlike. Old east meets new west in a story that could have come out of 1001 Arabic nights. Or maybe not, the settings in Pakistan feel too real. Fascinating take on Jinns, memories, consciousness and relationships. ★★★★☆

Available here.

Author’s website: www.usmanmalik.org

September 2022 Wrap-up

My first two weeks of September I spent with hideous headaches and nausea. I finally went to see my doctor and she leaned towards what I has suspected already: my new night brace was too tight and made my bruxism worse. Not wearing the brace at night obviously didn‘t help. I had my brace redone, got pretty heavy pain medication for my headache and aching teeth and face. The right side of my face still hurts, but I‘m doing some exercises and I hope that I can stop with the pain killers soon. I am supposed to get manual therapy for my jaw muscles, neck and shoulders, but none of the local therapists have free slots until January. Oh well. We have a great manual therapist at work who did some work on my neck and stuck me under an infrared lamp. That helped a lot.

I was on a conference in Bremen for four days and my Corona App turned dark red for all of those days. Fabulous. So far I feel fine, disregarding my other pain…

Despite feeling pretty crap for most of September, I still managed to get some reading done…

Sword Dance ★★★¾☆ ebook, m/m romance and mystery in a greco-roman fantasy world.
– Eversion ★★★★¼ audio, Gothic steampunk time-travel space-exploration mystery.
– Ruby Fever (Hidden Legacy #6) ★★★★☆ ebook, another one with Catalina.
– The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2) ★★★★★ ebook, great continuation of Ship of Magic
– Defender (Foreigner #5) ★★★★½ audio, blast-off!
– The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes ★★★½☆ audio, finally finished this one. Some known stories, like The Speckled Band, some more obscure ones as well.
– The Cool Aunt (Hidden Legacy #5.1) ★★★★☆, short, online, set after Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)
– The Tale of the Body Thief (Vampire Chronicles #4), DNF at 45% in August. Finally decided to dump it.
– The Girl Beneath the Sea (Underwater Investigation Unit #1) ★★★¼☆ audio, police diver with treasure-hunter dad chases down drug traffickers in South Florida.

Short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: (ongoing)
– TUNNELS by Eleanor Arnason. This was a pretty wacky story. Lydia is in a pickle and needs to rescue herself… I loved the alien and the world was definitely interesting. Hoot hoot hoot! ★★★★½ For free here: https://www.asimovs.com/assets/1/6/Tu…
– TEST 4 ECHO by Peter Watts. AI and illegal propagation? ★★★★☆ For free here: https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fi…
– UMA by Ken Liu. Our hero uses an avatar to save some people… This one was fun! ★★★★★ For free here: https://web.archive.org/web/202009251…

Comics:
– Lunatic (Moon Knight 2016-2017) by Jeff Lemire ★★★★★ eComic. Wacky! Loved it.
– The Bottom (Moon Knight 2006, Vol. 1) by Charlie Huston ★★★★★ eComic. Much darker and grimmer, a lot of blood and gore…

Currently reading:
– Midnight Sun (Moon Knight 2006, Vol. 2) by Charlie Huston, eComic

Carry-over:
– How the Earth Works, audio
– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– She-Hulk, Attorney at Law, S1, Eps 3-5 ★★★☆☆ it‘s ok, I don‘t feel compelled to continue.
– The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, S1, Eps 3-4 ★★★½☆ nicely done, but leaving me untouched so far. Meh.
– Jurassic World Dominion ★★½☆☆ Oh my, what were they thinking? The plot was a mess and so much stuff was regurgitated.
– Day Shift ★★★☆☆ vampire action comedy with Jamie Foxx, entertaining enough.

The magic ships go a little mad…

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)
by Robin Hobb 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Just as good as the first book. Paragon‘s story really takes off. There are some interesting things happening with Reyn and Malta as well. 

Malta evolves from spoilt girl to a more mature person. I did not really buy this change of personality or maturing, it was a bit abrupt. She was an annoying brat and then she was not, from one chapter to the next. It did work out in the end and I really liked her last chapter, where she really comes into herself. I still don‘t like her though.

Kennit is just too enamored with himself. At the end he seems to feel something for Wintrow, maybe because he sees something of himself in him. Other than that he is a nasty piece of work. 

Wintrow takes something of a backseat here, compared to Ship of Magic. Althea is still the best developed character. I am still not sure if I like Brashen. Anyway, many great characters, lots of great developments.

The serpents become very interesting here as well, compared to Ship of Magic, where they felt like superfluous interludes. And the ending was excellent. Great action sequence.

I liked the settings. Divvytown was memorable and I loved Treehaug and the Rain Wilds.

I am really tempted to continue to the last book of this trilogy right away, but I will take a break first… maybe. 5 stars!

PS: Goodness me, it took me two months, with lots of other books in between, to make it through these 900 pages.

Sloan McPherson, Pirate Cop.

The Girl Beneath the Sea (Underwater Investigation Unit, #1)
by Andrew Mayne (Author), Susannah Jones (Narrator)

New to me author that I picked up because of the glowing reviews of a goddreads friend, along the lines of „guilty pleasure“. My usual brain candy is romance or creature feature horrors, but why not! Added bonus: the main character, aka the titular girl beneath the sea, is a scuba-diving police officer in South Florida, dipping underwater for fornsic reasons. I love all things underwater.

Ok, so she goes diving and finds a corpse that has practically been murdered and tossed in the water while our MC was down there. Her dad is a treasure hunter and her uncle is in jail for drug trafficking, so naturally she comes under suspicion right away. To save herself and solve the case, she has to team up with the police officer that arrested her uncle and wrecked her youth. What else could go wrong?

Nothing special, but entertaining enough for a long trip by train. I might even be tempted to pick up the next one in the series.

Crime Noir meets Moon Knight, slasher style…

The Bottom (Moon Knight, #1)
by Charlie HustonDavid Finch (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a much grimmer Moon Knight than the version by Jeff Lemire. That one was lighter, entertaining action. Here the world is darker and much grimmer. Moon Knight has lost a fight, was badly injured and ceased being a hero. The title seems to indicated where Marc Spector is at the beginning of this comic—the bottom. 

The artwork is darker as well, with a very plastic look. Which I like. Although we are a bit over the top anatomically and occasionally slightly off with the proportions. Which I don‘t like. The look of that first villain is also pretty creepy. So quite a different kettle of fish to Jeff Lemire‘s Lunatic. Violent and bloody.

Chapter #1 shows us Moon Knight in his prime and then Marc Spector at the bottom…

Chapter #2 shows us how he got there. He is badly injured in a fight and gives himself up. Lost faith, maybe? In Konshu and/or himself?

Frenchie, Marlene and Crawley make an appearance, so I guess they are recurring characters.

We get some backstory, mixed with Spector struggling away from that bottom. Well told. Oh, and there seems to be a Batcave-type deal…

I have never read anything by Charlie Huston. I might take a look at Already Dead. Crime Noir with vampires in New York sounds tempting. 

This was good, in quite a different way to Jeff Lemire. Collects issues #1-6. Onwards to volume 2.

Dewey’s October 2022 READER Sign-Ups

And the next Dewey‘s Readathon is just around the corner. I signed up. And as usually I do not know how much I will actually read. My current plans for October:

– BR Redshirts, ebook, owned. I‘ve been meaning to read this for quite a while.
– BR Polaris Rising, ebook. New to me author.
– StoryGraph #2 Komisch, alles chemisch!, paper, non-fiction. Not sure I want to read this.
– BR Chosen, ebook. Ongoing series.
– BR Ship of Destiny, paper. Doorstopper number 3 in this trilogy.
– BR Memnoch the Devil, paper. High likelihood of getting dumped, as I didn‘t like the Body Thief anymore.
– NG Into the Riverlands, ebook. Thank you, Netgalley! Ongoing series. Or #3 of a trilogy? Not quite sure.

BR = buddy read. Yes, I am overcommitted and reading too many buddy reads. Maybe next year will be my year of mood reading and the diminishing of my existing TBR pile.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Welcome, welcome one and all! The October 22, 2022 Readathon is coming up fast, and we would LOOOOVE for you to join us! Can’t read the whole day? No big deal! Make this Readathon your own with as little or as much reading as you want! We’re just happy to have you along for a celebration of books.



View original post

Egypt, the Moon and Beyond… This is nuts!

Lunatic (Moon Knight, #1)
by Jeff LemireGreg Smallwood (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Yes, I‘ve seen the mini series on Disney+ in June 2022. This is what I wrote in my June Wrap-up: S1, Not bad, but a lot silly. ★★★½☆

And yes again, that‘s why I got this comic. Everybody seemed to read it after watching the TV adaptation. To be honest, my days of superheroes seem to be a thing of the past. So, uphill struggle! On the plus side, I am a Lemire fan. I loved the Descender/Ascender comics.

Ok then, let‘s start… in Egypt! Which is a location in the TV series as well. Excuse my ignorance, if fans of the series are rolling their eyes now, in case this is a doozy. Never read any of the comics before!


Then we go off on a weird tangent… Bertrand Crawley, anybody? *shrugs* 


Oh, hold on, we are in a hospital in the TV series as well, right? Here we start with it though.

What is real, Egypt or the hospital? Marc Spector doesn‘t know. We don‘t either. He seems to have been institutionalized since he was 12 years old… or maybe not? Time to find out, with a little help… or maybe it doesn‘t actually matter, what is real?


Good sense of humour, good pacing, likable characters, well plotted. 

Unexpected ending to issue #4! And then it really got wacky in issue #5! Wut? Cool 2-page spread! Nice artwork! Surprising change in style. And then again… and again… huh? Rollercoaster ride!

I really like the different technique used to portrait Konshu. Too bad I don‘t like the guy. I was gonna say Nice Finish! And then I was screwed again. What on Earth were they smoking when they did issue #5? The heck? I am so confused! That was bloody brilliant. Is there another volume? 

Collecting Moon Knight (2016-2017) Issues #1-5.

Review with a spoiler

The Tale of the Body Thief (The Vampire Chronicles, #4)
by Anne Rice

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Ok, this review contains two big spoilers. So if you still want to read this book and do not want to be spoiled, navigate away from this page now, please! On the count of …..

3….

2….

1….

Re-read. Lestat is turned back to human by swapping bodies, stupidly assuming that he can switch back after trying it out. Obviously, the other guy decides to keep Lestat’s body, powers and riches. D-oh. The rest of the book is Lestat trying to get his body back. No, that is not the main spoiler.

I read roughly 270 pages with some light skimming (a little under halfway, 45%). There were some scenes I remembered fondly, namely the part in the Gobi desert—which I had attributed to another part of the series. But overall, it felt dated and lacked tension. Knowing the plot wasn‘t helping, obviously. Too much detail, repetitive bla-bla and over exposition of almost everything. I skimmed quite a bit to get to the body swapping part, but was willing to plod on.

Then the rape happened—I had no recollection of that scene from previous reads. Or maybe I didn‘t understand and didn’t consider it rape before—it has been several decades since I read this last. That scene pretty much killed the book for me. I read on for a little bit, then put the book down with the plan to pick it up again at a later date. It‘s been sitting there for a month, looking at me and I feel absolutely no compunction to pick it up again.

Knowing that Lestat will end up turning David against his will, another sort of rape, didn‘t entice me to continue either. Lestat has no impulse control and no concept of what he is doing. I am not sure how intentional this presentation was from Rice. The rape of the waitress was pretty arbitrary and the point could have been driven home for Lestat without committing it. Or he could have actually felt and shown some guilt for what he clearly understood to have done. The callousness really bothered me. 

Besides that, I was bored with the tone and endless navel-gazing and lost all interest in continuing. I can‘t even be bothered to skim my way to the end. I have the next two books of this on my shelf. I am not sure if I want to continue. At this point I am considering to dump them and call it for this series, I‘ll see.

AIs underwater and Avatars in trees…

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

TEST 4 ECHO by Peter Watts

Six days before the money ran out, Enceladus kicked Medusa right in the ass.

Onboard thermistors registered a sudden spike—80°, 90°, 120°—before the seabed jumped and something slammed the probe from the side. A momentary flash. An ocean impossibly boiling. A rocky seabed, tilting as if some angry giant had kicked over a table.

Beginning of the story

You can tell that Watts is a zoologist and marine-mammal biologist. I really have to get back to reading all his stuff, although it usually does a number on my brain. I have to confess that I only have a vague idea of what happened in this story, but it was good regardless. AI and illegal propagation? ★★★★☆

Can be read for free here

UMA by Ken Liu

“A Utility Maintenance Avatar is vaguely humanoid, but only about three feet tall fully stretched out and no more than fifty pounds in weight.“

Our hero piggy-backs one of those to save some people… This one was fun! Very fluently written, it really pulled you in right away. ★★★★★

Can be read for free here — please follow the link to look at the illustration accompanying the story. I love it. A small part of it is shared at the top. Initially I had it uploaded fully here as well, but I was unsure how the illustrator feels about sharing, I couldn‘t see any info about it. So I took it down again. .

I really enjoyed all of Ken Liu‘s short stories so far, much more than the one novel I tried to read, The Grace of KIngs.