Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mini-Review: The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

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.

The Hum and Shiver (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon)
Long Black Curl (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mini-Review: Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach

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 the end.

Heaven’s Queen (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon)

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. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Few Weeks Ago I Got to Hang Out With a Bunch of Cool Authors

Or, how I make myself look cooler by namedropping actual cool people.

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 books.

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 that.

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.


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