Gorgeous cover. Everything I read by Tchaikovsky so far was very good. And it‘s amazing, how different Tchaikovsky sounds in this book compared to some of his other offerings. In a good way. Just not my way.
In the first few pages it felt as if I had stumbled into something written by Joseph Conrad. With a not very likable MC, who thought too highly of his own intelligence, status and education. And a few pages later, when we reached The Island, I had to think of Papillon by Henri Charriere.
When I picked up this book, I thought I was getting apocalyptic SF. And there were brief glimpses…
”The morning sun was rising from behind the trees like a bloated red mushroom. The mists that hung about the jungle were the colour of blood. I have heard that the sun is dying by degrees, swelling up with some illness and parching the land into the lifeless deserts you find to the west of the city.”
What shall I call this? Period-drama fantasy with a pinch of SF? I dragged myself until the middle of the book, until I was ready to admit that this was not working for me. It‘s not horrible, Tchaikovsky can write. It’s just not the least bit what I expected or wanted. I am not a fan of ponderous exposition, cruelty or prison settings. Perhaps I should look more closely at book blurbs and tags again.
There were elements that I found interesting enough to not abandon the book completely. Instead I skimmed very, very heavily. I obviously missed a lot, but I picked up some very inventive details. The last 10% of the book I read a little more carefully and actually liked. I can understand why some of my reading buddies loved this book. It was just not my kettle of fish swamp monster.
This was fun. Set in an alternate universe during the Napoleonic wars, the British and the French not only fight each other with their powerful Navies, but also with aerial combat — the captains not flying in planes, but riding on dragons. Well written, it reads a bit like a mix of Patrick O’Brien and Anne McCaffrey.
A serial killer starts killing in a small Kansas town. The corn is high, the heat is hot and the agent, that appears out of nowhere, dressed all black, is really weird….
If you are into graphic violence, this is for you. Really nasty murders, with a lot of detail! Ewwww. I sort of made my way through that book in small doses. Pretty gruesome. And that agent was really very weird.
I like Clancy and Jack Ryan is one of my favourite characters. With only slightly over 600 pages this is one of Clancy’s shorter efforts. It was ok at the time. But I do not recall any of the storyline, which usually means that it was nothing special.
At the end of the 19th century our main characters travel to Africa to make their fortune and search for their father, who disappeared into South-East Africa several years previously. They encounter the British Navy, slave traders, African kings, elephants, treasures, witches, buffalo, malaria, love, betrayal, loss and their destiny… To be continued in the next book… 😉
My next and last two offerings are colouring books! I have the German versions, but both have originally been published in English.
This is going to be a bad job. I know it from the angular smile of the wizard-ruler seated before me.
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction and other speculative works inspired by his West-African origins. His new epic fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic, is forthcoming from Orbit, beginning in May 2021 with Son of the Storm. His highly-anticipated debut, the godpunk fantasy novel David Mogo, Godhunter (Abaddon, 2019), won the 2020 Nommo Ilube Award for Best Speculative Novel by an African. Learn more at suyidavies.com.
from the author‘s website
I can‘t say much yet about the book, as I have only read a few pages so far.
More about the African Speculative Fiction Society and the Nommos here. I didn‘t know about the Nommos and I am quite pleased to have discovered them.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! Full review to come.
Thisweek‘s topic: Books I‘d gladly throw into the ocean. You can want to throw a book into the ocean for a number of different reasons, both good and bad…
I used to never DNF a book and would force myself to read through those books that I truly did not enjoy. Not a great experience and it would keep me from reading more enjoyable books. So, eventually, I started to DNF those books, although it always felt tremendously unsatisfying. These days I have changed tactics again, I just skim like a fiend. That way I at least get some closure and find out how it all ends…
I was excited at first at the prospect of characters with Vulcan traits meeting shapeshifters., I was skimming by chapter two and felt no compulsion to pick this up again. Made myself read another two chapter of nothing much. Boring. I don’t care about the MCs or their inner monologue. Bla. She’s constantly worrying about her own inadequacies, he’s disrespectful of her boundaries and personal space. If I was her, I would have punched him by the second time he touched me without invitation, especially after I had told him not to. Pulling her plait? Is he twelve?
I skimmed and picked at some bits of this novel and it all reads and feels like the first few chapters. Read a few pages in the last chapter and the epilogue. Really don’t care. Perhaps this is too much PNR for me. Add to that antiquated gender models and I am done.
DNF at 56 pages and some nilly-willy skimming through later bits of the book. It’s probably me. I think I have UF/PNR-burn-out. I am really not interested anymore in the same old tropes, clichées and tired, old plot devices.
World building: Imperial airships. Some gods appeared briefly every now and then, but other than that this was conflicts between houses, conspiracies and war.
At times this felt like a historical novel set in another version of China. Reading other reviews, I realized that this is exactly what it was. Ken Liu took real events of China’s history and transplanted them into a fictional setting, tinted with light fantasy elements.
All not bad things, but the narrative felt very dry to me. More an account of things that a captivating narrative.
Characters: I found it difficult to relate to the characters. They felt very one-dimensional and simplistic, almost like paper cut-outs from children’s books. This is the hero, this is the bad guy, this is the supportive wife… There was not a lot of life or development to these characters.
Plus there was a huge cast with unusual names. Added on top were the many place names and I really struggled to keep everything straight.
The lack of strong female characters has been commented on quite a bit in other reviews. It’s not a topic I tend to get militant about, but I did take note of the lack of interesting females. There was one with a bit more time on the page early on, but she was barely more than a side character. Towards the middle another one popped up, but she was as flat as the other characters.
Plot: Slow. Changing points of view and settings in every chapter made the plot progression even slower. They did not help with my struggle to remember names and who-was-who either.
There was a lot of talking and very little doing. I wish there would have been more “Show, don’t tell!” As mentioned above, this read like an account of events, as if the various plot points were simply ticked off. There was no suspense or meaningful build-up.
I found this book a curious mix of boredom and glimpses into a great storyline. Those were the rare moments, when the plot did take a step forward. The flowery and stilted prose added to my difficulties with relating to the characters or the story.
DNF at 46%. Too many books, too little time.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! Sorry that my review has not been more favourable!
PS from present-day-me: I have read some short stories by Ken Liu that I liked and I plan to try one of his other books eventually…
The beginning of the book is a little confusing, as it isn’t very clear that the character is having flashbacks. The ebook formatting of my advanced reading copy is also pretty wonky, which made reading this not any easier.
Initially some nice world building, some interesting characters. But the book never gets off the ground. There is a lot of talking, the characters have the maturity of really shallow teenagers and the plot never develops at all.
The main character is an ex-marine and has been on two tours to Afghanistan. She sounds like she’s still in high school. Her male counterpart starts off with a lot of potential, but also goes nowhere fast.
There are various clans, fighting each others in the name of some Norse gods. A quarter into the book I still hadn’t figured out why and it all felt pretty pointless.
One bonus point for a Tolkien reference, but other than that I was bored and did not care what happens next. I kept pushing myself from one chapter to the next, in the hopes of something interesting happening, but finally gave up at 35%. Even the main character finding her wings couldn’t convince me to try for a few more chapters. If there is a good story somewhere, it took too long to raise its head.
I received this ARC copy of The Unleashing from Kensington Publishing Corp./NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Sorry that it didn’t turn out better than this.
DNF at 63%, 373 of 582 pages. I am fed up with this cluttering up my currently reading shelf. The 15 stories that I did read, average out at three stars. It’s not a bad collection, but it’s not really interesting either. I doubt I will pick it up again, but you never know.
Excellent, can I have that as a novel, please. 5 stars: Harry Harrison & Tom Shippey, A letter from the Pope (vikings invading British isles, Middle Ages)
Entertaining and enjoyable, 4 stars: James Morrow, The raft of the Titanic Eugene Byrne & Kim Newman, The Wandering Christian (time of Christ to Middle Ages) Esther M. Friesner, Such a deal (Christoper Columbus) Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike (WWII, war against Japan) – excellent! If I didn’t know first-hand already that Robinson is a great writer, this would have convinced me. Ian R. MacLeod, The English Mutiny (England did not conquer India) – liked it, good idea well excecuted. Can see myself picking up something else by this author.
Interesting idea, but I was not really sold, 3 stars: Ken MacLeod, Sidewinders (SF, dystopian future) Suzette Hayden Elgin, Hush my Mouth (American civil war and onwards) Rudy Rucker, The Imitation Game (Alan Turing) – interesting idea, but I didn’t care much for the characterization of Alan Turing or the actual plot. Keith Roberts, Weihnachtsabend (Nazi Gemany and The British Empire form a pact) – the spelling and grammar mistakes of the German sentences were annyoing. The story was a bit odd.
Not interested, mostly skimmed. 1 or 2 stars: A. A. Attanasio, Ink from the new Moon (discovery of the New World, China rules the world) Pat Cadigan, Dispatches from the Revolution (USA, Vienam war onwards, politics, civil rights) Paul McAuley, A Very British History (history of the space race) – boring, I was skimming almost from the beginning. Marc Laidlaw, His Powder’d Wig, His Crown of Thornes (The colonies did not win during the American revolution…) – the story creeped me out, did not like it, skimmed through half of it. Judith Carr, Roncesvalles (Spain, Middle Ages) – felt old-fashioned, talkative, with an overload of details. Lost interest, before anything of consequence happened. Chris Robertson, O One (China rules the world, computation)
Stopped before reading: Harry Turtledove, Islands in the Sea
DNF at 37%. And I only got this far with some skimming. I think I have to stop reading YA, it mostly does not work for me.
I did not buy the main character. Orphaned at 13, living alone and hiding away in a basement for years. And despite that she has these kick-ass fighting skills, capable of offing grown men that fight for a living. Not working for me.
On top of that she is a mean spirited, unlikeable teenager. She was probably written to be like that on purpose and might go through a change later in the book, to become a more mature person. But meanwhile I disliked her so much that I developed no interest in her.
And who wears a trenchcoat to a robbery? And carries the loot in its pockets?
The main themes of the book rang too many bells. Magical, powerful families, as in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. Soul sight, as in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Repetitive writing, in teenager lingo, like. Been there, read it, was done much better in those books. Felt worn and did not engage me at all.
And some of the writing was just so silly. Another girl gets injured during a fight and spouts arterial blood. Our heroine finally gets a closer look and is shocked that it is even worse than she thought. The girl was spouting arterial blood. Come on, how much worse can it get?
Bottom line, unlikeable and unrealistic main character. Don’t buy the action scenes. The pacing was just not right. Action scenes should be fast and action-filled, they shouldn’t be full of explanations and thinky thoughts. Sketchy world building, magical families and talents that might not be intentional copies of other books, but felt so done already. At a third into the book still no monster sighting, which could have been the only novel idea of the book thus far.
If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep and of YA, this is probably a great read for you. But for me, every new scene kept rubbing me the wrong way. Not interested enough to keep going.
Free ARC, provided by Netgalley. Sorry that the review wasn’t positive.
Woman finds out that the supernatural exists and that she is an especially strong and gifted demon hunter, when her Harley-driving granny shows up to save her from evil. Demons chase them, they survive and meet tall, dark and handsome. Who is mysterious and a great kisser. And not entirely human. Potential love-interest. There is also a talking Jack Russel terrier, who doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. Maybe comic relief, but not.
They escape to some bar, meet all the other biker witches, drink lots of alcohol, have a magic ceremony, have some not-quite-road-kill food, and 30% of the book are over without much happening, despite all the action.
Characters are supposed to be weird and quirky, I guess. The various witches were confusing, as they all come across alike. Not a lot of world building, no explanations about the main character and her powers. I felt like watching the Halloween episode of Golden Girls.
Bored and glad that I got this for free from Amazon. DNF at 32%
Nice idea. Unfortunately the heroine does not track a thing in the first 20% of the book. She just drives around, visits random people and keeps telling herself, what a kick-ass bitch she is.
I am guessing the introduction of a bunch of people with various, amazing skill sets is intended as a set-up for the rest of the series. Those characters are mostly clichees. Enter the young, paranoid hacker, living in a wired dump, sourrounded by CCTV and swilling root beer. Et cetera.
I am sorry, I am not feeling it. I don’t like the main character, I am not connecting with the story at all. I keep finding other, more interesting things to do, just to avoid reading another chapter of this book. I am out. DNF at 21%.
I liked the artwork, the story didn’t do it for me. By issue #3 I was skimming.
Vader is the ultimate bad guy and seeing him not being the top dog was strange. I did like the glimpses into the parallels of the original Star Wars movies, but the storyline as a whole did not interest me.
I read, skimmed to 35% and Had to DNF. I could not continue with this.
The female main character is TSTL in such a monumental fashion that it was painful to read. I don’t care if it is on purpose and if she would have turned into Superwoman in the last three chapters. Nobody can be this ignorant. Squeeze eggs out of a chicken? Give me a break.
And I can’t develop any sympathies for a character that willfully lies and deceives and is stupid enough to think that she will get away with it.
There is no world building to speak of. Few descriptions of people or settings, I did not really get a mental picture of anything. The plot had potential and could have been fun, but lacked… not sure what. There were inconsistencies in the POV and also things that just didn’t make sense. For example, he is a rancher, she walks away from him with jingling spurs and he wonders where that noise is coming from. Is he deaf and directionally challenged? She wears boots that the mysterious person gave her and that she isn’t supposed to know about. He sees her take off those boots and…. nothing? I don’t know, everything just aggravated me about this book, I had to put it down.
In these cases I usually give two it-was-me-not-you stars. But this books annoyed me so much, I had to downgrade it to 1 star.
Thanks to the publisher for this freebie! Sorry, didn’t work for me!
We have a portal fantasy of some sort here, jumping back and forth between New York and another world. There are good and evil champions and a narrative that drives them along. Our presumed hero is a teenager from New York, with a mum working as a lawyer.
“Visions of a dark and fantastic world haunt Paul Tanasin, but when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything. Dark One examines the dual roles we often take on in life―the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer.“
So Paul, our main character, is destined to be a dark force and his opponents in that other world are the Light, the supposed force for good. Which makes it slightly unusual, because Paul feels like the good guy and the opposing force more like the bad guys in this narrative. We get to see a lot of grey shades. I am actually curious to see where Sanderson will take this next.
The artwork is not much to rave about. There were one or two moments where I really liked depictions of unusual animals in Mirandus. The rest was flat and pretty middle-of-the-road.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
I finally finished, halleluhjah. Only took me two years. I really did not enjoy this book. A lot of my friends love Brandon Sanderson to pieces. I am bowing out. Done, not going to pick up this author anytime soon. Endless, mind numbing details and blah blah blah. Sorry.
Yes, lots of world building, great magic system, lots of good ideas and concepts.
But eventually it all was just so boooooring. The book is long. Long book. It takes forever for something to happen. Long book is long. More plot would be better. A faster evolving plot would be better still.
I started the ebook in May 2016, read about 200 pages and then stopped to pick up something shorter and more exciting sounding. I never went back to it. People kept raving about Sanderson and my buddies continued the series, full of enthusiasm. So, in another attempt at this I got the audiobook, all scary 45h 34m of it… I listened at 2x speed, to end my suffering sooner. I really had to force myself to pick this up every now and then and plow through another hour of it.
Besides the ridiculous length, the institutionalized racism of the book really bugged me. Yes, it is obviously an integral part of the story, but I found it tiresome and the variance of human appearances unlikely. It somehow rubbed me the wrong way.
I was also not a fan of how women were portrayed.
Have I mentioned how boring I found the book for very long stretches of the way?
And many characters were TSTL. I don’t expect this amount of stupid in a fantasy novel. And they all did too much navel-gazing. I don‘t care for pages and pages of what, if, why, if it leads to no action.
What else? The book felt old-fashioned. Lack of humour, sarcasm or irony. Have I mentioned that the book is too long? And lacks action? Too much repetition and endless build-up? Boring?
I am sooo glad I am done with this. I am now going to delete Warbreaker from my kindle. Tried Brandon Sanderson, done, thank you.
1.5 very relieved-to-be-done-with-it stars
At around the same time I started the above, I got a Sanderson comic from Netgalley, that I read a lot faster. Here is my review from 2016:
The artwork is disappointingly grainy and blurred, which does not make it very enjoyable to read. I had a look at a preview on Amazon, where it was better. So I am guessing it is not the fault of the comic as such, but rather of NetGalley offering a not very good ARC.
The story is intricate, there is a lot of world building, explaining and introducing of various characters and settings. So it’s pretty complex for a comic/graphic novel. If that is your kind of thing and you are a fantasy fan, this is a pretty great offering. If you are a Sanderson fan, you will probbaly end up missing the detail and depth of his writing.
Later chapters alternate between different POVs, which makes it pretty lively and a little confusing at times. I had a hard time to take the main character Kenton seriously though. I was not sold on the petulant teenager morphing into a responsible adult.
But the story definitely has a lot of potential. And if the artwork in the published comic has a better resolution, it should be very nice.
So, got another comic from Netgalley, currently reading:
So far not much of an idea what this is about. Fantasy prologue (city under siege) and now a present day setting (New York?) with a slightly dysfunctional teen who sees and talks to a ghost (his sister?) and has a lawyer mum, who is preparing to defend a serial killer.
Went back to the beginning and read the comic‘s jacket…
Visions of a dark and fantastic world haunt Paul Tanasin, but when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything.
from the back cover
More to come, as I make progress with this…
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
Outside, scavenging for food, meeting Jesus… Rick is a little psychotic in this one, at least in the beginning. Something good happens and the ending is very upbeat. Oh boy, the next issue is going to be really horrible, right? Because of you-know-who….
Normally my next comics read would be The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear (Comics), especially now, with Negan on the horizon. But I think I need a breather from The Walking Dead. I watched Alita Battle Angel on TV last night — well, I watched bits of it and missed the ending, because I got distracted. Still, it looked good and it turns out that some of the comic is available on Kindle Unlimited. At least I won‘t have gotten the free KU trial for naught! So, next:
I am slowly making my way through my current reads.
In The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World (Comics) I finally reached a spot in the narrative that is new to me. I never got this far in the TV series. New territory from here on out! And tonight I took a trip down memory lane and rewatched the first episode of the TV series. It was fun!
I read this for the first time in October 2017. Here is what I had to say about it back then:
I wonder if our writing team follows a how-to-list for their books, something like…. 1. boy or girl disappears / is kidnapped / dies and introduced a main plotline for the book doing so, 2. Holden shows up and contemplates his life, 3. Several new, possibly major characters show up, never to be seen again in the next book
I liked Anna, Clarissa, Bull, Sam, Serge…. Corey is good at making characters come to life. But, OMG, did Corey take writing hints from GRR Martin? I also liked the slightly time shifted chapters with alternating POVs, that made it very lively. The plot was more straight forward than in the previous two books, which makes it simpler, but dragged me along much faster, too.
Very good, really liked this book, looking forward to the next installment!