I write this post with trepidation It’s a gross departure from what Staffer’s Book Review has been about since day one. Nevertheless, the new job, the death of my father-in-law, Christmas, an increasingly needy three year old, and my general slacking of my duties as a blogger, has found me desperately far behind in my reviewing. In an effort to catch up, and get back on top of my pile, I present my “as-yet-unreviewed-reading-log-from-late-November-to-February”, or at least half of it:
Rapture by Kameron Hurley — Of all the books on this list, Rapture is the one I’m most comfortable reviewing in a few sentences. That’s mostly because I’ve done nothing but sing Kameron Hurley’s praises with the previous two volumes God’s War and Infidel. Rapture continues the pattern and provides a tremendous ending to the series. I can’t help mentioning that there are moments in all of Hurley’s books that will scour your soul with moments of utter bleakness. Nevertheless, they are highly recommended.
Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri — I wish I had the time, or wherewithal to review Manieri’s debut in more depth, because there’s quite a bit to talk about. The book’s highpoint is definitely the tremendous world building. It’s vibrant, and interesting, and full of unexplored mystery without being opaque. From a storytelling perspective, I found it to be in the mold of debut. Rocky at times, with moments of excellence, Blood’s Pride never quite comes together as a great read. Regardless, it’s got the bones to become a really good series. Recommend, but not without some trepidation.
Exile by Betsy Dornbusch – I really tried to like this one. The premise is pretty cool. A warrior’s wife is murdered in cold blood and he’s framed for it. For the crime he’s exiled to the land of his nation’s enemies where he escapes and must survive behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, it’s one of those stories that just tries to do too much and never really connects the reader to the characters or the plot. I feel like Exile could have benefited from being cut in half and expanded to flesh everything out. Alas, I cannot recommend it.
Fade to Black by Francis Knight — Knight’s debut is good. That’s the most hyperbole I’m willing to give it. Her main character is a down on his luck private investigator who casts spells fueled by pain. A missing person case turns in to a lot, and before you know it there’s all kinds of conspiracies afoot. Told in the first person with a bit of a noir sensibility, Fade to Blade is a less accomplished, but more fun, version of Daniel Polansky’s Low Town. Recommended.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan — On a scale of one to ten on the boredom scale, parts of Brennan’s novel will be an eight. It’s slow, and placid, and very Victorian. Strangely, it’s also pretty freaking good. Part travelogue, part nature text, part memoir, part love story, A Natural History of Dragons is a really well put together novel that a lot of different kinds of readers will enjoy. Recommended.
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord — Reading this I was strongly reminded of Storm Constantine’s Wraethu, largely because like Constantine’s novel, Lord’s lacks any easily identifiable plot. Or rather it’s a plot that doesn’t adhere to any of the typical conflict based narrative structures. Instead, it’s a story about societies, and cultures, and human relationships. Best of All Possible Words is a truly unique experience. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel remotely inspired by it. Impressed, but lukewarm.
Is it just me or are all those books by women? Check back next week for the rest of them!