Will be published November 14th 2023 by Tordotcom…
Everyone’s favorite lethal SecUnit is back.
Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.
But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!
The wandering Cleric Chih returns home to the Singing Hills Abbey for the first time in almost three years, to be met with both joy and sorrow. Their mentor, Cleric Thien, has died, and rests among the archivists and storytellers of the storied abbey. But not everyone is prepared to leave them to their rest.
Because Cleric Thien was once the patriarch of Coh clan of Northern Bell Pass–and now their granddaughters have arrived on the backs of royal mammoths, demanding their grandfather’s body for burial. Chih must somehow balance honoring their mentor’s chosen life while keeping the sisters from the north from storming the gates and destroying the history the clerics have worked so hard to preserve.
Stephen Fry‘s second offering in his Greek Mythology series. We are looking at all of the Greek heroes, some more well-known than others. Lots of names and someone begetting someone else, etc. But as Stephen points out himself early on, don‘t get hung up on trying to memorize them all. I certainly didn‘t. Those that kept getting repeated eventually stuck.
Herakles (Hercules), Jason and Theseus are covered quite extensively and I knew their stories at least in broad strokes. I was foggier on the details of Perseus. But I had never heard of Bellerophon or Atalanta. Orpheus and Oedipus were nice refreshers. The ending dragged. I blame Theseus, he must have been quite a tosser.
Stephen‘s sometimes amusing narration made me think of Monty Python at times. Pity that they never picked up on the Greek heroes. Parts of this could have qualified.
This is quite long, so I listened to Stephen with longish breaks in between heroes. And yes, I recommend the audio, as half of the fun is listening to Fry‘s narration.
I will definitely proceed to the next book. I want to see what he makes of Troy! Should be entertaining.
The story of Troy speaks to all of us – the kidnapping of Helen, a queen celebrated for her beauty, sees the Greeks launch a thousand ships against the city of Troy, to which they will lay siege for 10 whole and very bloody years.
Further reading for the only female hero in this book: I came across a retelling that looks interesting, Atalanta by Jennifer Saint.
From the beloved, bestselling author of Elektra and Ariadne, a reimagining of the myth of Atalanta, a fierce huntress raised by bears and the only woman in the world’s most famous band of heroes, the Argonauts
Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice.
When Theseus, the Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending?
The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.
Yesterday the Year of the Rabbit officially started! 新年快乐! So, apparently, for us bookish people that kicks of the trend of reading books with rabbits on the cover. I can already see it—next time I‘m at my local bookstore, all these rabbits will be looking at me and whisper „buy me, buy me!“
Let‘s have a look at my shelf of owned books, aka the Rabbit TBR! The first rabbit on my shelf is a planned re-read:
I read this many, many times as a teenager, pretty much once a year for a long time. It‘s been so long, I don‘t recall exactly what I loved so much about this book, perhaps it is time for a reread. Perhaps it was the imaginative world building and the strength of the character developments. Plus I am curious—I only ever read this in the German translation, never in the original. So I got a secondhand paperback last year.
This is a 82-page novella and Netgalley, that has been on my shelf since August 2020. Yes, I am very late. I don‘t remember why I requested this.
The Forest God, incarnated into the body of hare, ready to die and live again. The Apprentice Witch, outcast and unwanted, unsure of her path. The Young Lord, frivolous and rootless, inconsiderate of his duties.
Their three souls should be bound to a cycle of death and sacrifice, responsibility and rebirth. But the bonds lie broken and shrouded in mystery. The wood remains in precarious balance for now, but the village withers.
A vaguely dystopian setting in a flooded city. The poor bury their dead by sinking them in the canals surrounding their dwellings. Our MC Jewel is an enslaved courtesan, living a relatively comfortable, if restricted and not entirely safe life in a luxury brothel. One of the other women in her house is beaten to death by a client. But she doesn‘t stay dead. She comes back to life, looking for revenge and taking Jewel along for the ride.
80 pages, pretty odd, with a rambling and overloaded prose. The actual plot could have fit into a much shorter story. The rest didn‘t really work for me. It was just a lot of fluff, with the odd shocking bit in between. I skimmed through the last part. The ending was quite nice, at least for Jewel. But the mystery of the dead girl coming back to life was never explored and the world could have done with a little more background. I didn‘t really like this, sorry.
The cover looks nice, but is as overloaded as the prose.
I don‘t DNF a lot of books. I used to be one of those people that did not DNF books at all. I HAD to read them to the end, even if it took me months. Eventually I came to my senses and started to occasionally DNF a book, if I did not enjoy it after 50-100 pages (depending on allover length) or it took me more than a few days to get that far. I still never DNFd more than perhaps one book per month or less. And these days I tend to rather skim heavily rather than DNF, because I often want to know how it ends. I just read about the rather tempting idea of “…will DNF a book if it takes me more than 2 days to read 50 pages.” That would mean that I would have DNFd my current eye read days ago. I finally made it halfway and there are some fascinating ideas in the book, but it is still not a gripping read.
So, what books did I DNF last year, because not even heavy skimming could take me to the end? Well, there were some comics.
I bounced off hard of Sin City by Frank Miller. Some classics probably only work for men. I disliked the art. The story was too offensive to finish it. I can only take a certain amount of sexism, before it really puts me off.
Copra by Michel Fiffe was a big disappointment. I have read some superhero comics, mostly Marvel, but it‘s not my favourite genre. Here I had ti deal with Unlikeable superheroes to boot. I am not a big fan of characters that are just mean for no obvious reason and don‘t seem to have any redeeming features. If I don‘t like the characters or they don‘t interest me in another way, why bother?
They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young was another disappointment. Essentially another superhero comic, with teenager developing psychic powers. Didn‘t like the artwork. The story didn‘t do anything for me, could not be bothered to continue for long or pick it up again after putting it down. It took too long to get interesting.
I started to re-read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice with some reading buddies last year. I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. However, by the time I got to book #4, The Tale of the Body Thief, I was throughly fed-up with it. 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 had been several decades since I read this last. That scene pretty much killed the book for me. The callousness really bothered me. Maybe this was done intentionally by Rice, but I couldn’t get past it. Don‘t get me wrong, I get that this is fiction and authors explore all kind of things—I just re-watched four seasons of Dexter, who is a sociopathic serial killer and I love the series and Dexter. But I couldn’t deal with Lestat raping that waitress. Killing her and drinking her blood, no problem…. I get how nuts that it.
How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper… *sigh*. UF leaning towards PNR. A decade ago I barely read anything but UF. I was oversaturated. So I stopped, with very rare exceptions. PNR was always a gamble. The heroines tend to be TSTL. I can‘t tolerate that. Why do female authors write these stupid cliches of their own gender? Anyway, back to this particular book. The love interest is a dragonshifter and the town’s sherif. The couple has zero chemistry, there is no decent world building. Nothing of consequence happened in the first 40% and I was to disinterested too listen to more of the audiobook.
Polaris Rising by Jesse Mihalik was another book in the same direction. I had that trilogy on my TBR shelf for a while and quite a few of my buddies love Mihalik. Yep. So not my cup of tea. Brain Candy in space with a romance sub-plot. 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? It was.
Gallant by Victoria Schwab was more unexpected. A haunted house, relatives with a mysterious past and a hostile cousin, a vaguely creepy and gothic atmosphere. No romance elements. I didn‘t find the story as such terribly suspenseful, although it is definitely well written. It was too straight forward for me and too predictable. I liked the story, but started to drift off around the middle—there was just not enough tension or interest for me to keep going.
There was another comic, two Clarkesworld magazines and a Great Courses Lecture series that I broke off. Oh yes, and an autobiography by a German TV presenter who loves camping. I mostly got that one for my mum. It was ok, just not my kind of thing.
How about you, what was your most disappointing DNF of 2022?
This week‘s topic: top ten most anticipated books releasing in the first half of 2023
Another meme that I haven‘t done in a really long time. And I doubt that I will get together ten books. I don‘t check and plan ahead a lot for my reading. It‘s more of an accidental affair. So, anyway, let‘s see what I have planned already in terms of new books for this year…
I do not actually have anything newly published on my list until late April. So the title of this Top Ten Tuesday is right out of the window. Anyway, April!
This one is a maybe, I have plenty of other books on my T.J. Klune backlog.
In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.
Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-E, In the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.
Next one. I am not even sure this here will be published in May, as I can‘t find any dates about it anywhere besides its Goodreads bookpage:
Twelve years have passed since a widespread blackout triggered the rapid collapse of society, when the constants of the old world—cell service, landlines, satellite and internet—disappeared. Twelve long years since the steady supply of food and fuel from the south became a thing of the past.
The sudden end of the world as everybody knew it, and the horrors of that first winter since everything became dark, only steeled the resolve of Evan Whitesky and the other members of the Anishinaabe community to survive on their own terms. Because the world wasn’t ending, as the community elders reminded them. It had already ended with the original displacement of their people to the far north by colonial authorities. They have seen this “apocalypse” before. They’ve seen it—lived it—over and over. But they had always survived. And they will survive this too.
The book was supposed to come out last year. Maybe Corona threw a wrench into the works? On Rice‘s Twitter he posts about a Fall 2022 draft, so work is still going on, fingers crossed. Sequel to MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW. My review of that book wasn‘t too favourable, when I read it in 2019. But the story has lingered, so it can‘t have been that average.
The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us the third and final novel in an extraordinary space opera trilogy about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.
“I didn’t know you were a… demon.” “You idiot. I’m the demon.” Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….
After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.
Doesn‘t sounds all that different to dear old Murderbot, right?
And we finally move into June. ANOTHER IMPERIAL RADCH!!! Boy, did I wait long for this one! I got so fed up with waiting, I re-read the first Imperial Radch trilogy in 2021. Tea did not help with the waiting, dear!
The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across the stars in this powerful new novel by award-winning author Ann Leckie.
Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn’t “optimal behavior”. It‘s the type of behavior that results in elimination.
Squeee! Presger translator! So looking forward to this one!
At some point in 2023 there should be Mercy Thompson #14 by Patricia Briggs. That‘s all I know. No title or cover art yet. But I will definitely read it, when it comes out.
That was only six books, sorry! We‘ll see what other books will sneak up on me in the next few months! And then back to my owned pile of TBRs….
Finished on New Year‘s Day! And I actually backdated the finishing date to the 31st of December, so I can start the new year with a clean cut. It might throw off my statistics a little — I already wrote my yearly wrap-up, it will go online on Friday or thereabouts. But I am not fussed enough to update that post. Or rather, I am working on letting go of my OCD. It makes me a little twitchy, but I‘ll cope… 😆
Ok, back to the last few stories of this anthology:
TELLTALE by Matthew Hughes ★★★☆☆ Fantasy “Raffalon’s world had become monochrome: the thief stood on a shingle beach of gray stones, lapped by a gray sea beneath a gray sky.“ The author likes to use plenty of adjectives. Add to that a stilted prose, presumably to give a „fantasy“ feel. Ugh. The writing became more fluent after the first paragraphs. The story had the feel of a fairytale and had absolutely nothing to do with a dyeing Earth. It was ok.
THE MEAT PLAINS by Jeremy Megargee ★★½☆☆ SF “Humans are a mass now, a great hideous stretch of fleshy plains spanning from one end of the globe to the other.“ Ugh, this was absurd and really disgusting.
THE MIDWIVES by Jude Reid ★★★½☆ SF Earth dies, some chose ones leave. This is the story of the descendants of those left behind.
THE SNOWS OF ADALON by Scott J. Couturier ★★★☆☆ Fantasy/SF “Clouded over by perpetual white-gray miasma, wroth with terminal frost and cold, the planet is muffled in a cloak of blizzards.“ A blend of Fantasy and SF, with a sorcerer and his daughter stuck on a planet that was plunged into eternal winter. Salvation might be an escape capsule and the planet‘s moon.
ALONE IN IMALONE by Christopher Stanley ★★★★☆ Apocalyptic Amusing little story about a guy trying to get onto one of the shuttles leaving Earth, before it blows up.
CONVERTIR Andrew by Leon Hudson ★★★★★ Fantasy? “When even something so evident as the changing of the climate becomes a matter of faith, to be accepted or rejected at the whim of the individual… in what sense is there a settled material reality at all?” We start at the compound of a religious cult, but end up debating the perception of reality, fake news and the willful ignorance of facts that seems to be so abundant right now. Pretty wacky, but good.
What I liked about this anthology: It reminded me that I like Sue Burke. She is probably the main reason why I got this a while back. I met some new authors.
What I did not like about this anthology: Considering the name of this anthology, I expected stories of the apocalypse. Dyeing Earth. Right? In quite a few of these stories the presence of Earth was incidental and we could have been anywhere. And even the apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic setting seemed to be more of an afterthought or something in the sidelines. It was not a focal point. The title also incorporated „Ends of Time“, but it still feels a little like the book topic was missed. Still, mostly enjoyable.
THE TYRANNY OF BEAUTY by P.J. Richards ★★★☆☆ Fantasy “When the Ways first appeared they felt like our salvation, an escape from the desolation we had created. They were the dream that had tempted humans for generations.“ The Ways to Fairyland or the Otherworld open and release the Host. The view into the Ways might be paradisal, but is a really scary place. Not what I expected in an anthology of a dying Earth, but interesting.
THE CULT OF MOTHER-SUN by James Maxstadt ★★★☆☆ SF A movie director from the future travels back to Earth to make a documentary about the birthplace of humanity. A little light and silly.
IN THE WEEDS by Sue Burke ★★★★☆ Climate fic / SF Climate change has destroyed Earth as we know it. Weeds grow well, plants adapt. Great extrapolation of potential evolutionary steps of our plantlife. I wish this one had been longer.
GOOD MOTHER by Lena Ng ★★½☆☆ Allegory Gaia, the Mother of Earth, gives and gives and we take and take and in our entitlement give nothing back. The author wacks us over the head with what we are doing to Earth. A bit pointless.
TWILIGHT AT THE BASEBALL GROUND by George Alan Bradley ★★★★½ Alternate history The US after a nuclear attack. Set after Star Wars (1977) and before the collapse of the Soviet Union. One boy and his parents in a bunker. Depressing, but well written. Not quite sure what to make of the ending.
A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.
Think Crime Noir à la Dashiell Hammett and add some demons, angels and a sapphic romance. Throw in a murder in a dark alley and a disgraced private eye with shady connections. Stir and voilà! One queer Gumshoe with a dash of magic coming right up.
I picked this up, because I read Witchmark (my review here) by Polk and liked it. Not enough to continue with the sequel—the setting didn‘t interest me—but enough to pick up this short Crime Noir offering.
Took me a while to unterstand the meaning of the title. Pretty obvious, once the coin drops. Potential for a sequel and a spin-off! I would read them…
Good audiobook narration by January LaVoy.
I received an advanced audiobook copy of this book from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. Thank you!
Here is the rare event of the cover drawing me to a book. Over the years I have met Baba Yaga in various mutations. Probably first through Kate Daniels or another UF series and lastly through the Witcher. The chicken-legged hut sealed the deal. A roadtrip in a walking hut? Sounds bonkers. I had fun looking at various images of chicken-legged huts online…
It started more sweet than horrible, until the bad guy showed up for the first time. Creepy.
“In the tradition of modern fairytales like American Gods and Spinning Silver comes a sweeping epic rich in Eastern European folklore–a debut novel about the ancestral hauntings that stalk us, and the uncanny power of story.“
Anybody interested in Eastern European folklore has probably come across Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut before. So colour me intrigued, when I read about the Yaga siblings, their inheritance of a house with chicken legs and a road trip. I had to go along.
The siblings come across as amicable characters, when they are introduced—a wood-working sister and her trickster-like brother. The Longshadow Man though is frightening right off the bat.
Sometimes the plot moved along nicely, sometimes dragged a bit, getting caught up in descriptive prose and inner musings. A bit more plot progression would have been my preference, although the lyrical bits had something, too.
I expected something tenser, with a stronger horror element. After the Longshadow Man showed up for the first time, I thought there would be a growing sense of dread and urgency and of being chased. But the pace remained mostly pretty sedate, with the odd more active interlude. The mystery unravelled slowly, with frequent glimpses into the past of the main characters.
Unusual, different. Not as much horror as I thought. This is not a re-telling of a haunted fairytale. It‘s more a re-telling of horrible, past events. Or a remembering. Some events need to be retold, to battle all those people out there prone to repeat history. Let‘s call it magical realism with a strong dose of folklore and a dash of history.
The defining moment of Baba Yaga is one that has been told many times over for horrific events in history, where the many take it upon themselves to murder and exterminate the few. But I guess these stories need to be told again and again, when I look at the news and experience how stupid people still are, despite everything.
Bottomline, I liked this story. I struggled a bit with the pacing. The active parts were great and well written. The lyrical parts were just that, but they dragged and sometimes they dragged so much that I put the book down and didn‘t touch it for a day. I liked Bellatine and Isaac. What a twat he was. Thistlefoot came alive beautifully. I laughed at it‘s different origin stories. Baba Yaga‘s story was mostly dreadful and the ending is a bittersweet one. Please don‘t think that this novel is only about the past, Bellatine and Isaac live in the now and so do their friends. It‘s a very magical now though.
I would pick up something else by the author, if I liked the blurb.