Oh hey, we are putting this post out in a more timely fashion than last year! Do we deserve an applaud, or what? Last year we more or less failed at our plans, but we also had a lot of things come up we absolutely didn't anticipate. Such as getting to be a judging blog for SPFBO, me starting a part-time freelance business, going to Dublin for WorldCon among other things. But our enthusiasm is still strong, and we are here again to set up some reachable goals so we could watch how much we actually achive (or not) in this year ahead.
Overall I did enjoy Rivers of London. It had some really good ideas and the mystery kept me guessing until the endgame, but the characters fell a bit flat for me. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in the series, but Rivers of London being the first book, it definitely set the base for a great series. I can see why many people seem to love it, and though we need to work on each other a bit more, I believe we'll get there in the end.
The Bone Ships is the nautical fantasy I didn't know I needed in my life. I loved the characters who weren't just "good" or "bad", I loved the different creatures that made this world so vivid and mysterious, I loved how Jude Owusu made me feel and react to his reading. If you are looking for a character-driven fantasy, which is not filled with fighting scenes but focuses more on exploring human nature, then look no further. I'm pretty sure the Tide Child and the arakeesian would be grateful for the company of another adventurer.
Dispel Illusion brings a most satisfying ending to the Impossible Times trilogy. The threads are closed seamlessly and there aren't unanswered questions left. Maybe a few smaller ones, but in general, you can't have much complains. I had high expectations for Dispel Illusion, and it didn't disappoint. Just as full of heart, and life lessons as the previous books. I highly recommend the whole trilogy if you'd like to dive into a tale about time travelling, love, friendship, decisions and second chances.
We've read and reviewed this book for SPFBO5. Please keep in mind these are personal thoughts only. We will update this post as the judges read along and add their opinions. This book has already been eliminated from the competition, but one of us liked it enough to write a full review.
Despite my complaints, I still enjoyed Angel's Ink. Books with snarky protagonists are my weaknesses and besides I really dug the idea of a magical tattoo shop. Especially one in which there is at least one person with a great music taste - fun fact, when I almost got my first tattoo, I bonded with my artist over my favourite Hungarian band, so that was cool and set the mood early on. The Asylum Tales (I swear this wasn't an inspiration for my feature) has the potential to be a good series if it gets a bit cleared up and the world itself gets a bit more attention.
Even though I didn't fell in love as much with The Ten Thousand Doors, I still recommend it for those who are looking for a heartwarming story about love, about never giving up and taking your life into your own hands. Harrow's debut novel is absolutely worths the attention and I'm pretty sure she'll be opening many Doors in the literary world in the coming years.
Jeffrey L. Kohanek has a knack for giving them fun personalities and lots of humorous interactions with one another. This is popcorn so it’s light on some of the rounding out of the characters - we do see clear motivations but occasionally there is a leap to get us from point a to b in the story, that’s ok too because this is unapologetically fun and isn’t trying to be anything else.
There is a lot to love in A Hero Born though, and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to read this Chinese classic.
Shields in Shadow was an exciting popcorn read - thriller-type pacing, good gory battles, and some fun characters to root for. All in all it looks to be a great start to a series that is worth keeping an eye on.
Limited Wish, the second book of the Impossible Times trilogy is just as fast paced, intriguing and full of heart as the first book was. Maybe even more so. Maybe some twists didn't sit as well and was a bit predictable at places, but I'm just really nitpicking here. I would have jumped right at book 3 if I could, but alas, I have to wait - impatiently - for it to be released.
After a well deserved break - Adrian, chief editor of Grimdark Magazine (GDM) got married, congrats once again! - the Nineteenth issue was released with a strong line of contributors. You can read a short stories from Joe Abercrombie, Trudi Canavan, Alan Baxter, Michael R. Fletcher and Lee Murray, an interview with Geoff Brown and Syama Pedersen, two book reviews of The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht and Blood of an Exile by Brian Naslund, plus an article from T. R. Nepper.
The story was quick, lots of fun, with some fluttery first-time love feelings, and a good dose of danger for our heroine to overcome. I liked the first half because of the setting and the sisters, and second half for the characters and the intrigue. The ending felt a tad bit rushed but I enjoyed this book as a whole and blew through it in a few sittings.
The characters do have a lot of introspection and awareness of their own faults with good reasons for their choices. At times I thought they were maybe a little too aware of their own shortcomings during these self-examinations but the characters really were wonderfully handled. Even Calypso and other support characters had motives beyond just being bad, for the sake of being villains.
This one was an assorted bag of fabulous, and some odd, not quite sure how I feel about it stuff. It’s a slow building world that relies on the MC Richard, to tell the story through a combination of flashbacks - partly through sharing stories with his daughter Ana (who is mute for the most part), combined with present day events.
As military fantasys go, I found a lot to like in this one. There’s a lot of battles which get progressively bigger until the finale. There are organising troops, gun use, and marching - some of my favorite parts were the parade row marching and just any of the scenes where they had to keep or use a tempo. I especially loved the use of sound combined with the visuals to bring the scenes alive.
This opens with a bang, befitting the title but it’s weird bang - kind of like small town fireworks with the reload time between the bursts of color, as this stops mid-action to give us a bit of catch-up. Once we are caught up though, it’s go-time, and the rest of the book is an easy, quick, and fun read.
I honestly don't know what is it about this series that I absolutely adore. I mean, this is as grimdark as it can get - well, okay, maybe not as much, but you know - and most of the characters aren't exactly nice, or loveable. And still. Here I am, trying to gather my thoughts and coming up with something to criticise. I'm afraid this will be one of those unbalanced reviews where all I do is gushing. I guess I need to have those every once in a while. I'll keep this review spoiler free, unless you've not read Priest of Bones yet. You might get spoiled then.