A Desolation called Peace by Arkady Martine – Book review

I’m catching up with my sequels as part of the March of Sequels hosted by Sue’s Musing and the sequel to A Memory called Empire was on my list.Here  is my review of A Desolation called Peace by Arkady Martine.

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Texicalaan Duology

Source: My own

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever. Review

Review

It has been a while since I read A Memory called Empire, so I have to admit – it took a while to get back into the complicated world created by Arkady Martine.

The book gets off to a slow start picking up not long after the events in the first book but not just in The City. This time the story and action take place in space on the station world of Lsel and on the spaceship tasked with stopping the alien invasion.

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The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong- Book Review

There aren’t a lot of books featuring a circus set in outer space, so I was fascinated by The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong with an asexual hero and amazing world building.

Publisher Angry Robot

Date of Publication: 8th March 2022

Source: NetGalley

Jes is on the run from a cruel and nasty research faculty who want to find out more about his abilities to manipulate gravity and his uniqueness. Jes is a mixed species who never really belonged on his own planet and an empath whose powers don’t seem to fit the usual mould. He finally escapes to a pleasure moon, Persephone- 9, where he joins the circus and finds a place where he truly belongs. Unfortunately, he finds himself blackmailed by the local crime boss, Niko Dax, to do his dirty work. But when the crime boss threatens the safety of his new home, Jes and his friends have to find a way to bring him down.

Review

I received a copy of this book for an honest, unbiased and free opinion.

This was a weirdly fun read despite some of the darker themes that run through the book. The players in the circus have talents that are vividly described by the author and I must admit this is one show I would have loved to have seen if it was real!

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36 Streets by T.R Napper- Book Review

I found this  sci-fi thriller set in Vietnam thought-provoking with its themes of identity, memory and the how changing the narratives of the past can change the present. Read my review of 36 Streets by T.R Napper,

Genre: Science Fiction/Cyperpunk

Source: Netgalley

Publication date 8 February 2022

Lin is a gangster living on the 36 Streets, the only part of Hanoi now controlled by China in the future.  She was born in Vietnam and now lives there but spent her childhood and teenage life in Australia. But she feels like an outsider, neither Australian nor Vietnamese.

One day her boss, Bao Nguyen, asks her to take the case of a missing person- the co-creator of the immersive and addiction game Fat Victory. As result, her life and the people she loves are changed forever when she is drawn into a complex conspiracy involving the powerful who will do anything to achieve their goals.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free, unbiased, honest opinion.

The cover hooked me in as did the promise of cyberpunk themes with thought-provoking questions set in a different setting. I haven’t read anything before set in Vietnam and this book didn’t disappoint. The author’s description of Vietnam in the future and the past are lush and vivid, especially the food Lin has delivered to her flat.

The tech in the book is explained well but not in too much detail to distract from the story. I appreciated how the author highlighted who spoke in English and who spoke in Vietnamese and what was translated.

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Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen- Book Review

That’s another one ticked off my #beat the backlog challenge created by @owlbesatreading. I enjoyed this space-opera by Essa Hansen.

Genre:Science fiction,space opera

Source: my own

Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans. He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

Review

I bought this book when it was on a Kindle deal as the blurb looked interesting and I was in a space-opera phase and started it as soon as it downloaded. I stopped reading after the first chapter as Caiden, the main point of view character telling was fourteen years old and I didn’t fancy reading a middle-grade book.

So, do I feel a bit stupid when I read this as a part of the beat the backlog challenge . This is an adult science-fiction with many dark themes. Caiden in fact undergoes a procedure of accelerated growth to become a grown-up and thoughtful hero of twenty.

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Absynthe by Brendan Bellecourt – Book review

I enjoyed this Art Deco, historical Science Fiction by Brendan Bellecourt. In the alternate America of Absynthe, where reality isn’t what it seems.

Source: Bought by me

Liam Mulcahey suffers from amnesia and can remember every little of his life before the war but his best friend Morgan and his grandmother are there to help through this. Liam settles into post-war technologically advanced America which is still under threat from its enemies. But one day  Morgan suggests a trip to Club Artemis to cheer Liam up and he reluctantly agrees. So, Liam finds himself drinking Absynthe, a powerful hallucinogenic along with Morgan but his view of the world changes forever and everything he has ever cared about is in danger.

Review

This is a hard book to summarise- there is so much going on and to go into details would be spoiling the story.

I haven’t read many science fiction books set in the 1920s and I think the time feels right for this story.

This story is told from Liam point of view in the third person but he is slightly unreliable as a character as he can’t remember and can’t trust his own memories. He is a sympathetic character and his plight and confusion are believable ( as I imagine anyone’s would be when they discover their reality is not what it should be).

I couldn’t put the book down when I first started it- the first few chapters are quick-paced, full of mystery and I had to know what was going on. But then the pace slows down for the science part and I did find this a little repetitive and perhaps we didn’t need so much detail. Luckily the action picks up towards the end and I had to keep reading as the twists and surprises keep popping up.

The worldbuilding in the book is impressive. A perfect blend of Art Deco, post-war fatigue and steampunk-ish technology including fast trains, androids and futuristic weapons. But while the societal attitudes towards women, the poor, mental illness and people of colour are realistic, they are given are science fiction twist.

Content warning

Violence, medical experimentation, rape fantasy, death of a child ( off-page)

Perfect for fans

Who love steampunk and good old fashioned science-fiction tale.

Summary

Four Stars- a riveting read with some amazing world-building.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell- Book review

I really enjoyed Winter’s Orbit by Evernia Maxwell ,  science fiction, space opera with intrigue, mystery, romance and the impact domestic abuse can have.

Genre: science fiction/romance

Source: My own book

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

Review

I don’t generally read romance but occasionally I do like to read a genre book with a strong, romantic thread. I saw this book on another blogger’s Top Ten Tuesday and it fit the bill.

The romance isn’t too heavy and the main plotline is the mystery around Taam’s death the need to sign a treaty, so that Iskat isn’t thrown out of the resolution and what is going on with the Kingfisher project. I had to keep reading to find out more.

The world-building is good but familiar with good representation which is deftly woven into the story. Jainan and Kiem are the third points of view characters and it was easy to tell them apart without reading whose chapter it was. 

I liked Kiem voice, fun but thoughtful, a good counterpoint to the more serious and wounded Jainan. The romance between them is slow but realistic ( although the insta attraction is still there) and any steamy scenes are off-page.

The main difference between Winter’s orbit and the usual science-fiction or romance book is the description of the aftermath of domestic abuse. There are very few overt scenes in the book describing this but we know fairly soon that Jainan has been in an abusive relationship by his behaviour and his need not to upset anyone.

This seems to be a recurring theme with me at the moment but I seem to love the secondary characters more and I would have loved to spend more time with Kiem’s very efficient assistant Bel and the scatty but brilliant Professor Audel

Content warning

d Past descriptions of domestic abuse, cohesive control

Perfect for fans of 

Ancillary Justice ( but would have liked a little more romance) or anyone who likes science fiction romance.

Summary

Five stars-I enjoyed the mystery and the romance was just right- I will be keeping an eye out for more books by Everina Maxwell.

The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben Winters- Series review

It has been a while since I posted a series review. The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben Winters is one that I still think about even though I read these books  ages ago.

Books in series (completed)

The Last Policeman

Countdown City

World of trouble

Review

Detective Hank Palace just wants to do his job- solve crime but he is hampered by the impeding destruction of earth by an asteroid hurtling to earth.

The books focus on Hank’s obsession to getting the job done particularly in the first book. The Last Policeman features a suicide that Hank is convinced is murder and the book follows a typical murder mystery until we find out why. The other two books focus on Hank trying to find his missing sister- his last case and an asteroid will not get in his way.

The book has an apocalyptic event in the background, rumbling ever closer to the destruction of earth. There are no last-ditch attempts to save earth or escape earth just the total acceptance that this is the end. While the books focus is on Hank’s investigation, there are vivid descriptions of a world on the brink of destruction and how society adapts to this. Hank meets various people – some trying to take advantage of the situation, others bunking down with their families and friends, those who keep going as normal and those who have turned feral.

While the books have dark themes there is sense of optimism particularly in how most people will try to help each other. I have thought back to these books as the pandemic unfolded and it does feel the author has captured how humanity reacts to terrible situations.

Hank is the person holding the stories and books together- a decent cop, a decent brother and friend but most of a decent human being.

There is no magical solution at the end but despite this the end of the series made sense and celebrates all that is good about humanity- I confess to shedding a few tears at the end.

Content warning

Violence,descriptions of suicide

Summary

This trilogy would appeal to anyone who loves a good murder mystery and to those who like a bit apocalyptic doom.

Leviathan Falls by James S.A , Corey (Final book in the Expanse series) – Book Review

Read my review of Leviathan Falls by James S. A Corey, the final book of The Expanse. I  love the fact we see our heroes grow old but are still brave, adventurous, optimistic, stupid and sexy. And it is this realism that makes this one of the best series I have read.

Series The Expanse ( series review here)

Please note there will be spoilers for the previous books and this one.

History is soaked in blood. The future probably will be too. But for every atrocity, there are a thousand small kindnesses that no one noticed. A hundred people who spent their lives loving and caring for each other. A few moments of real grace.

 Holden

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The Second Shooter by Nick Mamatas – Book Review

I enjoyed this fast-paced, mind-bending science-fiction thriller by Nick Mamatas full of twists, action unique characters and conspiracy theories. Read my review of The Second Shooter here.

I received a free copy from rebellion for an honest and unbiased review

Publication date : November 2021

Publisher :rebellion

Book review

Sometimes you come across a book that is so different and unique, it can be hard to describe the story or genre and The Second Shooter is one of those books.

Mike Karras, is a freelance writer who has been commissioned by an obscure, left-wing publisher intriguing named Little Round Bomb Books. His investigation is focused on the conspiracy theory of the mysterious second shooter, that witnesses claim to have seen at mass shootings and assassinations. He is sceptical until he finds himself in the middle of a mass shooting, becomes the target of a right-wing radio host, and is followed by drones. He tries to uncover the truth with the help and sometimes hindrance of his editor, some pesky teenagers, and a family of conspiracy buffs, the Alazars.

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The Body Library by Jeff Noon – Book review

I found The Body Library by Jeff Noon, a weird but strangely compatible mix of science-fiction and detective noir with complex world-building that appealed to my inner bookworm.

#bookreview

I picked up this book in the science-fiction and fantasy section as I thought it had been misplaced but the book refers not to a body in the library but the Body Library ( to say any more would be a spoiler) but bought it anyway. I was sold by a line on the book jacket with the words ‘Clues scattered like punctuation’ and had to read the book.

Story summary

This is a hard book to summarise. John Nyquist is a PI in town where stories and words can be used against people. You are either the master of your own story or a character in someone else’s story. Everyone is required to be honest and write their story with oversight from the Story Police and Narrative Council who makes sure writers are following a conventional method of writing.

John has been hired to follow Patrick Wellborn and erase him. He follows Patrick one night and is led into a world with a God-like saviour, drugs made of words, violence and a mysterious woman called Zelda. The next day he wakes up and finds himself mixed up in a murder investigation that only he can solve.

Review

I found it hard going at the start of the book, it felt like I was reading the account of someone high on a drug trip. The style is very much noir but the book got a lot more interesting when the actual mystery began and the narrative is a little more conventional( the Narrative council know what they are talking about!)

Jeff Noon’s prose is deliciously sparse but evocates the strange world of Storyville brilliantly. The world-building in this book is intricate and complex with ideas that stories are currency particularly intriguing. Some cracking lines will make bookworms and writers smile or groan with sympathy.

Despite the book being only 382 pages long, it did take me a few days to read with its complex word building, twists and turns.

The romance between John and Zelda was sweet but a bit too quickly established. I thought Zelda was a two-dimensional heroine, a bad girl with a heart of gold, but imagine this was deliberate given the strong Noir elements.

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Perfect for Fans

This is a hard one as I haven’t I have read a book like this ever.

Summary

This really wasn’t my kind of book but other readers may love this quirky book.

Content warning-

References to substance addiction, suicide.