Quick Review: IN OTHER LANDS by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)

BrennanSR-InOtherLandsAn often amusing and sometimes moving subversion of entrenched fantasy tropes

Elliot doesn’t want to fight, keeps saying the wrong thing, and is definitely the grouchiest human in fantasyland.

Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s… Elliott. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.

I picked this up for my partner when it was released last summer, and she devoured it (and has since read it multiple times). This past week, we started listening to the audiobook on a drive back to the city, and I really liked what I heard: it was funny, a little gonzo, and I enjoyed the way Brennan played with classic genre tropes (and all that in just the first two hours). When we got home, I immediately started reading the book. It’s been a long time since a novel made me laugh out loud, let alone do so multiple times or consistently. In Other Lands did just that. It is not, however, just a funny book: Brennan has also written a story that often packs an emotional wallop. Continue reading

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Quick(ish) Review: RUINSTORM by David Annandale (Black Library)

AnnandaleD-HH-RuinstormThree Legions attempt the journey back to Terra…

Imperium Secundus lies revealed as a heretical folly. Terra has not fallen, though it remains inaccessible. Sanguinius, Guilliman and the Lion El’Johnson, the primarchs of the Triumvirate, must reach Terra at all costs. They seek to defend the Emperor, and to atone for their sins. But the Ruinstorm, a galaxy-wide maelstrom of chaos, hides the Throneworld from the primarchs. Now the fleets of three Legions depart Macragge, and the primarchs will stop at nothing to overcome the Ruinstorm. Yet an insidious enemy watches their every move, and plots against the weaknesses of the errant sons of the Emperor. Each has his own inner storm, and each marches towards his own ruin.

In this, the 46th novel in the Horus Heresy series, the three Legions stranded at Ultramar have sallied forth, attempting to break through the Ruinstorm and make their way back to Terra, to be by the Emperor’s side when Horus launches his final attack on the Imperial throne world. Annandale brings his A-game, and from the get-go we’re thrown right into the story. It’s Chaotic, interesting, and moves the story forward nicely. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Review: THE CRIMSON KING by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

The Thousand Sons grapple with their new world and reality…

After the razing of Prospero, Magnus the Red spirited the Thousand Sons away to the aptly un-named Planet of the Sorcerers, deep within the Eye of Terror. Removed from the concerns of the galaxy at large and regarding the Warmaster’s unfolding Heresy with cold detachment, he has dedicated his hollow existence to the preservation of all the knowledge once held in the great libraries of Tizca, should mankind ever seek such enlightenment again. But his sons can see the change in their primarch – he is a broken soul, whose mind and memories are slipping away into the tumult of the warp. Only by returning to the scenes of his greatest triumphs and tragedies can they hope to restore him, and allow the Crimson King to be crowned anew by the Ruinous Powers.

A Thousand Sons, Graham McNeill’s first novel focusing on Magnus the Red’s legion, was the first in what I consider to be the Horus Heresy series’s revival, and the beginning of a hot streak that has continued (pretty much) ever since. In The Crimson King, McNeill continues the story of the Thousand Sons, and looks at how they are coming to terms with not only their new status as traitors, but also their new reality and freedom. It’s an excellent continuation of the series. Continue reading

Review: THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly (Little Brown/Orion)

Introducing an excellent new detective character

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.

I recently binge-watched the first three seasons of Bosch, the TV series based on Connelly’s main series. I absolutely loved it, and that gave me the necessary kick up the backside to start reading Connelly’s novels. As it happened, I received a review copy of The Late Show, so I decided to start here. This is a fantastic introduction of a new character, and a great crime novel. This is the first novel by Michael Connelly that I’ve read. It will not be my last. Continue reading

Review: THE FORCE by Don Winslow (Harper Collins/William Morrow)

WinslowD-TheForceUKPossibly the best thriller (or novel) of the year?

Everyone can be bought. At the right price…

Detective sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

Don Winslow’s latest novel is a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, and a searing portrait of a city on the edge of an abyss. Full of shocking twists, this is a morally complex and riveting dissection of the controversial issues confronting society today.

The Force is the first of Winslow’s novels that I’ve read. It will definitely not be the last. There was a lot of pre-publication buzz surrounding this novel, and I can certainly now see why: it’s superb. On almost every level, this novel is a triumph. Continue reading

Review: DON’T LOOK FOR ME by Mason Cross (Orion/Pegasus)

CrossM-4-DontLookForMeUKAn excellent fourth Carter Blake novel

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six long years Carter Blake kept his word and didn’t search for the woman he once loved. But now someone else is looking for her.

He’ll come for you.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people — dead or alive. His next job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, who is harbouring a secret many will kill for.

Both men are hunting the same person. The question is, who will find her first?

I loved the first three novels in Cross’s Carter Blake series. They could be seen as an opening trilogy, and after that story’s explosive ending, I wondered where Cross would take his character in the future. In Don’t Look For Me, the author adjusts the focus a bit, and gives readers a smaller-scale story that is no less gripping and enjoyable. Continue reading

Review: ACADIE by Dave Hutchinson (Tor.com)

HutchinsonD-AcadieA very cool sci-fi mystery

The first humans still hunt their children across the stars…

The Colony left Earth to find their utopia–a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore the colonists’ genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries.

Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.

Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Acadie. I’ve only heard great things about Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe trilogy, so I had pretty high hopes for this stand-alone novella. I’m happy to report that it exceeded my expectations, and was a lot of fun. I think a lot of people are going to love this. Continue reading