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BOOKSHOPS & BONEDUST by Travis Baldree

Tuesday January 2, 2024

Review by Abe Ziesing

If you enjoyed LEGENDS & LATTES, you're sure to have fun with this book as well.  This is actually the prequel to L & L despite being listed as book 2 at the time that I'm writing this.  The books can be read independently or in either order without missing much.  There are a couple of tie-ins that you'll recognize regardless of the reading order.  

It pains me to use the phrase "cozy read", but in this case it cannot be avoided because... well, because it makes you feel all cozy inside as you read it...

Favorite Reads of 2023

Monday January 1, 2024

by Abe Ziesing

Of the 50 novels that I read in 2023, I came up with a top 10 list that includes some books old, some books new, some borrowed and, well, there weren't any blue books but you get the idea.  I had to cheat a little on number ten, which is actually two novels.  Let us know what your favorite reads of 2023 were!

1) NETTLE & BONE - T. Kingfisher
2) SYSTEM COLLAPSE - Martha Wells
3) COLD MOON OVER BABYLON - Michael McDowell
4) SPEAR - Nicola Griffith
5) IN THE NIGHT WOOD - Dale Bailey
6) THE EXTRACTIONIST - Kimberly Unger
7) THE MOUNTAIN IN THE SEA -...

OGRES by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Wednesday August 23, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

This wonderfully paced, steampunk-ish novella, written in the second-person singular point-of-view, places you, a human, directly into the driver’s seat, on a collision course against the oppressive rulers of this dystopian world - the ogres.

I’ve heard it said about some of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s lengthier works, that pacing can be a drawback, such as in the second and third volumes of the CHILDREN OF TIME series.  Mundane world-building and long narrative backstories that st in which heep away from the action, seem to be common criticisms.  With this book, Tchaikovsky scarcely gives you an opportunity to take a....

SILVER NITRATE by Silvia Garcia-Moreno

Tuesday August 22, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

Part suspense/thriller and part supernatural horror, with a cinematic theme and a Mexico City twist.

Montserrat and Tristan are lifelong codependent friends working on the fringes of the early 1990's Mexican movie scene, doing small-time sound editing, acting and voice-overs. As their working hours and opportunities dwindle, they become more and more desperate. When a once prominent, now obscure, horror film director's mail accidentally gets delivered to Tristan's address, they have an idea of how they can use this to their advantage and decide to make an attempt at creating a documentary about this enigmatic man...

WITCH KING by Martha Wells

Friday August 18, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

Demons, angels and witches make up the cast of characters in this high-fantasy adventure novel. It’s quite the departure from the Murderbot Diaries SF of Martha Wells and her other recent works. A plethora of unusual names of people and places would be overwhelming if it weren’t for the convenient inclusion of a map and dramatis personae at the front of this novel. Instead, the originality and richness of the naming conventions enhances the world building significantly. The magic systems (plural) are wildly varied, with each race having specialties and specific rules that aren’t explained in...

IN THE NIGHT WOOD by Dale Bailey

Thursday August 17, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

This is like Arturo Pérez-Reverte meets Algernon Blackwood - classic gothic horror with a contemporary mystery makeover.

While attending his grandfather's wake, young Charles Hayden happened upon a curious leather-bound volume, nearly 150 years old, and with the most extraordinary woodcut illustrations. He was so captivated by it that he kept it for himself. Stole it. Many years later it would haunt him and lead to him living out a most extraordinary story of his own, or perhaps reliving the dark fairy tale encapsulated within the mysterious book. Will he be able to unravel this deadly conundrum...

THE TERRAFORMERS by Annalee Newitz

Saturday August 12, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

When a novel is literally about building a new world, you'd expect the world-building to be the principal literary element of concern, for both writer and reader; and indeed, THE TERRAFORMERS is a stone-cold tour de force when it comes to world-building, but for me, it's much more.

Tens of thousands of years into the future, terraforming planets is big business, and Sask-E is the latest offering for investors, entrepreneurs and rich tourists to enjoy, exploit and ravage. The only problem is that this soon-to-be privately owned planet already has an 'indigenous' population consisting of the...

THE SPARE MAN by Mary Robinette Kowal

Thursday August 10, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

Cornball version of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, in space.

An uber-rich and over-sentimental newlywed couple take a honeymoon cruise to Mars and get caught up in a series of 'mysterious' murders. Fortunately for them, their little West Highland White Terrier is onboard to keep them safe. Highlights include knitting, conversations with their annoying lawyer, as well as interactions with the dull security crew and other super wealthy passengers. Weak and obvious misdirects do little to keep this story a mystery for long. That said, it's got more going for it as a mystery than it does...

THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Friday July 28, 2023

Review by Abe Ziesing

It takes a brave soul to take on the masterpiece of an all-time great, and reimagine it into an original work of your own, as Silvia Moreno-Garcia has done in THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU.

I went into this skeptically despite having read, and enjoyed, other works by this author.  Additionally, H. G. Wells' THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU creeped me out in a way that didn't make me want to revisit its subject matter, with half human/half animal abominations and their horrific conceptions.  I found it perplexing that Garcia-Moreno would want to write this book...

DUNE MESSIAH by Frank Herbert

Monday June 12, 2023

What happens when you reach the very pinnacle of what a leader/ruler/figurehead can be?  Unmatched power, wealth and adoration; religious, governmental, internal and external potential achieved at the furthest extent of any measurable spectrum?  Quite simply, it’s a paradox.  In achieving that level of power you’ve already lost it due to its overwhelming monstrosity.  You’d watch as it builds and spreads in an uncontrollable conflagration across the universe.  Suffering and death beyond comprehension, propagated by the never-ending jihad in your name.

DUNE MESSIAH explores Paul Attreides’ painful grapplings with such matters.  This is no fairy tale character, nor the righteous hero of DUNE.  This is Job watching...