Tuesday 27 July 2021

Books Received in June & July 2021

Many thanks as always to the publishers who sent my books over the past few months.

The Undertakers by Nicole Glover - This is the second book in Glover's Murder & Magic series. I loved The Conductors and really enjoyed this book as well. My review, and the book, will be out November 9th.

Nothing bothers Hetty and Benjy Rhodes more than a case where the answers, motives, and the murder itself feel a bit too neat. Raimond Duval, a victim of one of the many fires that have erupted recently in Philadelphia, is officially declared dead after the accident, but Hetty and Benjy’s investigation points to a powerful Fire Company known to let homes in the Black community burn to the ground. Before long, another death breathes new life into the Duval investigation: Raimond’s son, Valentine, is also found dead.

Finding themselves with the dubious honor of taking on Valentine Duval as their first major funeral, it becomes clear that his passing was intentional. Valentine and his father’s deaths are connected, and the recent fires plaguing the city might be more linked to recent community events than Hetty and Benji originally thought.

The Undertakers continues the adventures of murder and magic, where even the most powerful enchantments can’t always protect you from the ghosts of the past . . .

 The Offset by Calder Szewczak - The premise here sounds so interesting, and reminds me a bit of Neal Shusterman's Unwind, which I liked.   Out September 14th. 

It is your eighteenth birthday and one of your parents must die. You are the one who decides. Who do you pick?

In a dying world, the Offset ceremony has been introduced to counteract and discourage procreation. It is a rule that is simultaneously accepted, celebrated and abhorred. But in this world, survival demands sacrifice so for every birth, there must be a death.

Professor Jac Boltanski is leading Project Salix, a ground-breaking new mission to save the world by replanting radioactive Greenland with genetically-modified willow trees. But things aren’t working out and there are discrepancies in the data. Has someone intervened to sabotage her life’s work?

In the meantime, her daughter Miri, an anti-natalist, has run away from home. Days before their Offset ceremony where one of her mothers must be sentenced to death, she is brought back against her will following a run-in with the law. Which parent will Miri pick to die: the one she loves, or the one she hates who is working to save the world?

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Video: Sleep Sound (D&D)

R. A. Salvatore has written a nursery rhyme introducing his famous Drow warrior Drizzt Do'Urden, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch with some stunning visuals. While it's called an 'introduction', if you're unfamiliar with the Forgotten Realms (now just called Dungeons & Dragons apparently), then you won't understand what's going on or who any of the characters are. Also, don't watch this if you don't like (not cute) animated spiders.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Book Review: We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

Pros: interesting protagonist, tense action, compelling mystery

Cons: somewhat frustrating opening

Grace Park is the Orbiter on the spaceship Deucalion, a psychologist sent to monitor the crew on their mission to scout out a newly discovered planet and prepare it for colonization. Her role, her standoffishness and the fact that she not a conscripted member of ISF makes her something of an outsider among the crew, fitting in more with the androids on board. Things immediately start going wrong when they arrive at the planet. Facing mistrust and paranoia, Park has to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

The opening’s a bit slow as you’re introduced to a lot of characters, settings, and history. It’s also frustrating as you’ve only got the information that Park is privy to (with the exception of some emails at the start of some chapters), so it takes quite a while before you both begin to understand what’s going on. That slow opening pays off at the half way point when the tension ramps up and it becomes very hard to put the book down.

The book begins with a mystery but parts in the middle felt very much like a horror novel. The action is fast and explanations limited (though eventually you do learn enough to understand what’s really going on).

Park is a challenging protagonist as she has a limited range of emotions. It’s easy to understand why she’s ostracized by her peers, but seeing her actions from the inside helps the reader empathize with her. I did find it a little strange that a 13 member human crew could make a 3 floor ship feel crowded and full of ‘cliques’, but those early complaints faded as the action ramped up. I enjoyed seeing Park’s friendship with various androids as the book progressed.

It’s an interesting book. Definitely worth pushing past the opening to see where the book goes. The ending felt right, though it left unanswered questions.