Thumbs up for The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern by Robert Morrison. History.
I was puzzled, at first, by this book: why in heaven’s name does it start with crime, punishment, and riots? The violent political backdrop of the Regency is certainly important, but starting there—in a somewhat academic style no less—immediately excluded this book from being what I thought it perhaps was: a narrative primer of the period.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee. Science fiction.
If you love Leckie’s Ancillary Justice books, you should read Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy. But don’t read Revenant Gun until you’ve read the first two books; it will make zero sense. To be honest, I have read the first two and while I (mostly) always understood what was going on in Revenant Gun, I sometimes had no idea why.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Vulcan by Dayton Ward. Science fiction.
A nicely done fake travel guide to the planet Vulcan, for hardcore Trekkies only. The author must have put in a lot of work. I appreciate the callbacks to a couple of the better novels, such as Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan, as well as the reference to Mark Gardner’s Vulcan Language Institute (very politely sourced, even!).… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Paperbacks from Hell: the Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix. Literary history.
When I requested an advance reader’s copy of this from the publisher, my expectations were low. It might have been a boring catalog of authors and publishers. Or it might have centered around mocking old horror paperback cover art, while being light on historical detail.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. Children’s graphic novel.
A girl whose mother won’t talk about why she emigrated from India discovers a shawl that transports her to a magical version of the land. Cute, but I wish the characters had been more deeply developed. (I think that would have been possible even granted this was marketed toward children.) This seems to be the author’s debut as a graphic novelist, which seems about right.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney. Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Erotica.
Sophisticated reason to read a book: I was intrigued by the title. But it turned out to be charming. Tully Truegood ends up as a courtesan accidentally (as one does), then in prison (quite intentionally). Here, she recounts events. A pleasing costume-drama confection. Light on the erotica, light on the romance, gently witty, very nice use of the heroine’s magical ability to turn ghosts manifest.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Spill Zone, Volume 1 by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland. Young adult sci-fi/horror graphic novel.
A young woman supports herself and her little sister by sneaking into the Spill Zone to take photographs. No one knows exactly what the Spill Zone is, but some bad, bad things live there. Nicely creepy, but not disgusting. Intriguing story but I can’t say I cared much for the art.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Company Town by Madeline Ashby. Science fiction.
It seems strange that the word that would come to mind for a novel about a physically-disfigured young woman who works as a bodyguard for prostitutes on an oil rig in a gritty near-future Canada would be “sweet.” And yes, there’s murder and fighting and bombs, because it is after all a suspense story.… >> Read more