As I sit down to write this review of The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe, I’ve come to realize that it’s hard. Not because I don’t have a
lot to say about the book – I do. Not because I didn’t love the book – I did
love it. But, really it comes down to that I’ve said it all before, most likely
better than I could again. So, go read the review I wrote for Wisp of a Thing.
Everything in that review applies to The Hum and the Shiver. Bledsoe’s Tufa
books are probably the books I’m enjoying most right now, and that earlier
review really says all I need to say.
Still here? OK, again, go read that earlier review if didn’t
already, because this is where I simply get nit-picky. The Hum and the Shiver
is the first Tufa book – in sequence of writing, publishing, and occurrence in ‘book
world’. It tells – The Hum and the Shiver has a few bumpy spots that weren’t
present in Wisp of a Thing. Most notably is the relatively slow start. This is because
this is not an action book, and all the conflict is truly personal conflict
that comes from within. This is tricky ground to cover in a society (and genre
for that matter) that craves action and real, in-your-face conflict. Related to
that, some of the subplots never quite melt into the full story. It’s just a
little rough around the edges.
But for all of that, by about halfway through the book, it’s all
gone. I was completely immersed into the story and couldn’t even come up for
air. With these books it’s just best to let it all go and lose yourself in the
music of the story.
Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach is the final book in the Paradox trilogy which falls somewhere in the area of new space
opera or military science fiction, or whatever – really it doesn’t matter how
you choose to (or not to) shelve these books. What does matter is that they are
so much fun and such a pleasure to read1.
In my review of the first book in the series, Fortune’s Pawn, I get into a bit of discussion on entry-level SF
and even the similarities of Fortune’s
Pawn to urban fantasy. I think that all was an interesting discussion, but series
has long-since moved forward and so should we. Heaven’s Queen takes us from
the cliffhanger of an ending to Honor’s Knight and wraps up the trilogy in a
very satisfying way.
So far in the series, Devi has spent a lot of time reacting to the
situation she’s found herself thrown into – in Heaven’s Queen, she raises a rather giant middle finger to the
entire galaxy and makes them play by her terms. Now it wouldn’t be a very fun
book if everything went as planned, but it was a necessary shift in the narrative
for her to get the chance to take charge of the big picture rather than just
the tactical incidents of the past. This of course has been building through
the series, but it’s great to see it truly play out.
As I had come to expect from the series, loyalties are challenged
and unclear. Who is good and bad and ugly? What is the right thing to do? And
let’s not forget the romance, because there is a rather beautiful romance
underlying everything else.
As with the previous books in the series, it adds up to a great conclusion.
Call it a beach read, an escape read, or what you read on Tuesday night – it
has that feel. It’s complex and ‘deep’ enough to not feel cheap, but it’s still
got plenty of explosions, violent encounters with aliens, lovely moments of
romance, and a prison-break worthy of the Death Star2. All in all, this
is a great conclusion to the series, right down to the neatly wrapped end of
1 This is basically word for word out of my review of Honor’s Knight. I don’t
care, I liked what I wrote then and I like it now – it applies. And I can plagiarize
from myself as much as I please. In fact, this whole review is parasitic
plagiarism at its best.
2 Ok, this is a poor analogy, because the
prison break arc is well done and Star
Wars never could actually explain the ease of their escape. Even if they
did let them go.
Or, how I make myself look cooler by namedropping actual cool
Phoenix Comicon happened back in May and it’s fast becoming
recognized as a very strong convention for SFF authors, which I’m told is
strategic goal of the comicon. Well, I didn’t have time to attend the actual
Con, but I did happen to be in Phoenix the night before the Con where there was
the Elevengeddon author signing event at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore (you can get signed books by all those authors by contacting them). It was the
brain child of Kevin Hearne and it ended up having around 17 authors signing
I would guess that about 100 people showed up. The event was
rather loosely organized with so many authors – basically just a signing. Kevin
Hearne’s line was the longest, which meant there was a great opportunity to
chat with the other authors. I only took one picture of the event, which is
posted here. I’m pretty sure Sam Sykes had a live feed of the signing for the
first 15 minutes or so, I have no idea where that lives on the internet, but if
you were so inclined, you could find yours truly lurking at various points of
Anyway, the event seemed like a who’s who of my Twitter feed. I
brought 3 bags of books to be signed. I bought another bag’s worth at the
event. Without counting, I probably had about 30 books with me to sign. The
link to the event lists all the authors that were present – the names below are
authors who’s books I got signed (in no particular order)
And even with the 30 or so books I had signed, I still missed
some. When I got home I realized that I had other books by Naomi Novik and Myke
Cole that didn’t make the trip. I also had books by Jason Hough that didn’t
make the trip. Add that to me bringing a couple of books by Kevin Hearne that
were already signed, and it was a bit frustrating. There’s always next year.
At the signing even I had some nice conversations with a few of
the authors. Myke Cole was awesome – especially once he realized I ran this
blog. He was very complimentary and fun to chat with. Brian Staveley was also
fun to chat with as we discussed his books, the forthcoming final book of his
trilogy (he had just submitted a draft of before coming on the trip), and
ideas for future books in the world.
But if it was just a signing event, I probably wouldn’t bother
with a blog post. Because then I headed to the bar with a few of the authors.
This is where the name dropping gets more fun because drinks were involved.
Sam, Myke, Kevin, Wes, Delilah, Jason, Brian and Brian all headed to a nearby
bar, with a few others, including Myke’s significant other.
Some hilarity ensued – first I proved to be a rather worthless
blogger by calling Brian McClellan by the wrong name – I confused him with
Chuck Wendig. Laughs were had. Later I once again got something wrong about
Brian by assuming he lived in Utah (he lives in Cleveland) – not that it was
such a bad assumption because he used to live there. Anyway, Brian was a good
sport about it. We’ll see if that holds up if I read and review his books one
day and intentionally throw in a bunch of factual errors just to be consistent
with my past behavior.
Sam was there, so poop was discussed.
Myke was quite amused that in Arizona it’s necessary to post signs
about not bringing your guns into bars. Kevin shared that his family had been
coming to that specific bar for generations. Several of us are relatively close
in age and have young children – so we chatted a bit about that.
And of course there was a fair bit of industry gossip that I even
contributed to a bit. Apparently I could contribute some interesting info since
I’m on the receiving end of marketing. I’d love to name names and dish out the
dirt, but then I wouldn’t get to play next time. In the end it was declared
that someone must have something on someone else. #nocontextforyou
So, does this make me less objective as a reviewer? Well, I’ve
never claimed to be objective anyway, so I don’t care. I’ll continue to say
what I think of books in my reviews. But, the last three books I’ve read were
by authors at that signing. And I have plans to read others in the near future.
So, there is that.
Anyway, lots of fun was had as I actually interacted with real
people that I have known from the internet. And next year, hopefully I can
actually attend the Con.