16 year old ethan can't wait to get out of his one-horse south carolina backwater town, and he's counting the days until graduation...morea solid 3.5 stars.
16 year old ethan can't wait to get out of his one-horse south carolina backwater town, and he's counting the days until graduation will set him free. nothing ever changes here (even the prom queen is the same girl several years running) until mysterious lena moves into her crazy uncle's ramshackle plantation house, and sets everyone's tongues wagging.
given a small-town setting with a hidden something supernatural going on with these high school kids, comparisons to 'twilight' are inevitable. thankfully, the similarities end there, and if anything, the story is reversed: ethan is much more the bella of this relationship. Garcia & Stohl hit all the high notes of both southern gothic (shutters are painted "haint blue" to keep the ghosts out, gators splash into distant swamps, everyone speaks in dialect, and biscuits are made by hand) and YA UF. there is a romance in here, and while it's plenty angsty, it feels real to the teen experience and blissfully doesn't rely on standard tropes of mis- or non-communication for dramatic tension. it's a very fun story, marred only by the ending falling apart (but thankfully not being a cliffhanger).
bonus: with the recent movie adaptation, check out a poster or promo shot of the cast so you can deliciously imagine jeremy irons at his most unctuously serpentine as macon ravenwood. (less)
Tara was a talented student of magic until she managed to simultaneously graduate and get kicked out of the hidden schools. living back home with mom...moreTara was a talented student of magic until she managed to simultaneously graduate and get kicked out of the hidden schools. living back home with mom & dad just isn't going to work out, but fortunately an opportunity to work with a very prestigious firm opens up when the god of a foreign city dies under mysterious circumstances.
after reading some fairly mediocre stuff on airplanes lately, i was hoping for a comfort-food-type actioner UF thingy, and got this twisty little mystery instead. i was caught up in the story right from the prologue (read those few pages as a sample, they're very representative of what you're in for), and thoroughly enjoyed it. throughout the first 1/3 of the book, Gladstone tosses in shiny little gems of ideas, seemingly as brief gee-whiz moments, only to pick them back up as more developed plot threads several chapters later. in this way, you're steadily braided into the rich worldbuilding, and this is indeed a fantastic world to get lost in. characters are multi-layered, occasionally morally ambiguous, and all kinds of interesting.
i'll definitely be checking out what Tara's doing next.(less)
still doesn't quite live up to the awesomeness of the first one, but this story of first contact and AIs and nanotech ends quite solidly. two...more3.5 stars
still doesn't quite live up to the awesomeness of the first one, but this story of first contact and AIs and nanotech ends quite solidly. two wildly different alien ships arrive above the air of a war-torn and climate-damaged earth, and neither the alien tech nor the complex geopolitical tension stories play a 2nd fiddle to the other. it's a much richer story than your standard adventure or military SF, with nuanced characters rather than clear cut good vs evil.(less)
this may be the worst case of middle-book-itis ever. the twisty loose ends of plot from the first book collapse into a hot mess that's occasionally co...morethis may be the worst case of middle-book-itis ever. the twisty loose ends of plot from the first book collapse into a hot mess that's occasionally confusing to follow, and the unusual sex triangle gets a little silly. still, by the end, the plot snaps back to tightrope tautness, and someone's gotta save the world, whether or not it deserves it.
as a random aside, wtf is up with these covers? this buxom white chick in a wardrobe malfunction from sgt pepper is NOT the heroine of this book.(less)
not every tale in here is 5-star flawless, but so many of them are 6- or 8-star amazing, you have to round up. there's a real trick to catching the wh...morenot every tale in here is 5-star flawless, but so many of them are 6- or 8-star amazing, you have to round up. there's a real trick to catching the whole of a reader's interest in a short story, without the longer narrative's space to spin out exposition, and Johnson absolutely has that trick. each of the tales here takes a unique "what if?" and spins it out into uncharted territory, with the human response to the what-if being infinitely more important than any gee-whiz factor. there are themes here (love of animals, especially dogs, self-reliance, perseverance of the individual's dream through adversity), but no repeats.
"26 monkeys, also, the abyss' and the title story are masterworks. highly recommended. (less)
your average UF book is about a wizard/witch/spellcaster of whatever flavor that's a little bit badass, going to battle for the forces of good and all...moreyour average UF book is about a wizard/witch/spellcaster of whatever flavor that's a little bit badass, going to battle for the forces of good and all. i love a good hero/ine as much as the next girl, but i've read that story enough times that it's nicely refreshing to come across one with an entirely different approach.
Edie is a nurse, about a year out of school, worried about everyday mundane things like where her student loan payments are going to come from and how she's going to get back that furniture that her junkie brother pawned last week. she ends up working the night shift at a secret hospital ward that cares for supernatural patients; shenanigans (e.g., warring vampire courts) ensue. Edie is refreshingly "normal" - her problems and her responses to crazy things happening are completely relatable - so she makes a great window into this world. it doesn't hurt that my mom is a nurse, so i could have fun imagining a younger version of her bandaging up a zombie. bonus points for the lingo peppered throughout this book being dead-on accurate.(less)
4.5 stars: (view spoiler)[i can't decide if i love the ending, or am a little let down by it. awesome that she didn't feel the need for some gratuitou...more4.5 stars: (view spoiler)[i can't decide if i love the ending, or am a little let down by it. awesome that she didn't feel the need for some gratuitously epic battle scene, because that was so not what this book was about. but without a grand "final struggle" of some sort, it felt a bit rushed. (hide spoiler)]
NK Jemisin has gotten all kinds of praise for her fairly short body of work, with both this one and the first in her other series each nominated for several of the big f/sf book prizes. and wow, does she deserve it. 'the killing moon' rises over a not-quite-egyptian theocracy, with a richly designed caste system and a complex priesthood serving their goddess by practicing a novel magic. but all of the most wonderful worldbuilding written is boring as hell if there's no connection, and the characters here are what makes this book fantastic. everyone here is nuanced - there's neither a moustache-twirling villain, nor a knight in shining armor - but the textured ambiguity of these people doesn't mean we're stuck in some grimdark, gratuitously gritty-for-gritty's-sake slog. Jemisin also manages to have race and gender be important here via the subtle but totally effective method of simply having richly realized characters of more than one race or gender.
all of this makes it sound way more weighty than it is, as though i was reading it with a monocle in one eye and an MLA reference book at my elbow, so ignore all my bla-bla and just go with this: awesome story, with characters you can really give a damn about, doing fascinating stuff that isn't a rehash of the same-ol same-ol.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
somehow managing to be lovely and earthy at the same time (lyrical little bursts of magic happen to broken-souled wage slaves), Sedia's novels are muc...moresomehow managing to be lovely and earthy at the same time (lyrical little bursts of magic happen to broken-souled wage slaves), Sedia's novels are much more about the journey than the destination. if you're expecting gun-slinging KGB agents when you see the word "Moscow" in the title, you'll be wondering where the action is. if instead you're content to sink into a richly imagined set of worlds - both the mundane and the underground are each richly textured places of colors and scents and the temperature of the wind on skin - this is a journey well worth taking.(less)