The Collapsing Empire

John Scalzi

This is easily Scalzi's best book since Zoe's Tale.
The story is set in the Interdependency which is a collective of planets controlled by aristocrats and guilds and connected by a FTL network called the Flow. We arrive to find this fictional world in the midst of political upheaval and finding itself on the brink of disaster. Unusually for a book with many point-of-view characters I enjoyed spending time with all of them. It has to be said, though, that Kiva Lagos is my favourite. I definitely want more of her in the rest of the series.
Indeed the only real flaw of the book is that it feels very much like the set up for a series. I can't wait for the next one to come out so Scalzi's got me hooked already.

I should note that I read an advance copy of this book provided by NetGalley

Rating: B+




Rainbow Rowell

I've not made the quickest start to my reading this year. A health issue has meant that I really couldn't concentrate on story for any length of time for the past few weeks.
To get me started I decided to pick out an easy read, something that I've read before.
Attachments is a novel about people working for a newspaper in 1999 and early 2000. It's a sweet tale of female friendship between a film critic and a subeditor told epistolary style through emails which are read by the poor IT guy who has to check for abuse of the Internet by employees. There's a believable but always fundamentally creepy romantic relationship that develops between the IT guy and the film columnist. After all he's read all sorts of things about her life without her knowledge or consent.
It's not as good as later books by the author but it is enjoyable and as I say it's an easy read.

Rating: B+



Heroine Complex

Sarah Kuhn

heroine complexEvie Tanaka is the sidekick of San Francisco's beloved superhero Aveda Jupiter (formerly Annie Chang and Evie's best friend from school).
When Aveda is injured and has to rest up for a couple of weeks Evie is persuaded to take Aveda Jupiter's place in public.
Of course Evie has superpowers of her own that she's suppressed for years and when danger strikes during at an event she's forced to use them to save lives.
A very enjoyable story of self-discovery, healing sibling and friend bonds featuring several very kick-ass Asian-American ladies.
What's not to like?
I'm definitely looking forward to whatever Kuhn releases next.

Rating: B+



Country Of The Blind

Christopher Brookmyre

Country of the BlindThis re-read of the second Parlabane book reveals that it is as funny, twisty and enjoyable as any book in the series. Of course being written before the coronation of New Labour and a devolved Scottish Parliament a lot of the political humour and commentary is rather dated but it's still utterly on target with regards to the machinations of media moguls and the power crazed.
I started with this one as an audiobook (and a fine listen it is too) but I switched to the physical book when I got too hooked on the story and the pace of reading felt too slow.
Given it's age maybe not the best place to start with Brookmyre or Parlabane but still highly recommended.

Rating: B+




Daniel O'Malley

stilettoStiletto is the long-awaited follow up to The Rook. As you can see in the linked review I was a bit worried about how sequels could add anything worthwhile to the world of the Chechquy.
I'm happy to report that this is a fun book in it's own right. It earns much of it's appeal from the way that it dives into the history and motivations of the Grafters (Centuries old enemies of the Chechquy) as the two groups enter formal negotiations.
Unlike the first book very little of this tale is told from the perspective of Myfanwy Thomas. Instead the lead characters are a junior member of the Grafters and the agent assigned as her bodyguard.
It certainly isn't without flaws - there's an unnecessary subplot and one of the action set pieces is rather confusing - but it is still very enjoyable.
I'd happily recommend it to fans of the first book, though I'd read The Rook first if you haven't come to the series yet.

Rating: B+



Chaos Choreography

Seanan McGuire

chaos choreographyThe latest InCryptid book finds returning to Verity Price as our narrator and lead character.
Verity is offered a final chance to chase her dance dreams with a spot on an all-star season of the reality show she was runner-up on a few years back.
Her grandmother - the apparently ageless dimension hopping bounty hunter - Alice arrives as her backup just in time to help investigate a snake cult.
As fun as any of the InCryptid books. I particularly enjoyed going back to Verity as narrator.

Rating: B+



Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Alan Dean Foster

force awakensThe novelization of the latest Star Wars tale is a very enjoyable translation of a very enjoyable film.
As with all books of this type there's a few things that make it into the book from the script that didn't end up in the finished film. They're pretty minor in this case for the most part but still worth checking out if you're hungering for more after seeing the film
Recommended for fans of the film.

Rating: B+



Lock In

John Scalzi

Lock InScalzi steps away from his Old Man's War series and SF comedies to deliver a near future procedural.
In a world where a disease traps victims minds in their immobile bodies but government funded research allows the victims to communicate and work using telepresence robots or by piggy backing in the bodies of specially trained individuals a bizarre suicide is investigated by a rookie FBI agent.
I really enjoyed the world building in this one and as always Scalzi writes in a fast paced and entertaining fashion. Unfortunately when it gets to the meat of the investigation the mystery is way too predictable.
It's still worth reading but don't be surprised if you know what's going to happen at the end by the halfway point of the book.

Rating: B+



Nice Dragons Finish Last

Rachel Aaron

nice dragons finish lastThis is a fun piece of urban fantasy with an enjoyable setting and characters with loads of potential.
Julius is lacking the dragon instincts of his species. He's trapped in human form and sent out into the world to prove he can be a credit to his clan or be eaten by his Mother.
In the course of events he meets up with a human Mage called Marci and the two help each other survive of draconic malice and the interventions of rival seers.
While this is a very solid book it's the potential of the world Aaron's built that has me most excited. In fact I've already bought the sequel.

Rating: B+



The Brothers Sinister Series

Courtney Milan

the duchess warThe Brothers Sinister series consists of four novels and three novellas. These are all expertly written historical romances featuring fascinating and compelling female lead characters.
I had read the first novella The Governess Affair a couple of years back as a free download and didn't think much of it. At the time I didn't really read romance of any stripe but I was interested in Courtney because of her involvement in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries fandom.
After a couple of years of reading romance I saw the first full length book of the series pop up as a free download too. This time round I thoroughly enjoyed the book and immediately shelled out for the complete series collection after completing it.
If you you're looking for well-written, funny and insightful historical romance with really great female lead characters then read these. I would read them in order to get best sense of the time lines involved but I'm certain you could read them out of sequence and enjoy them just as much.

Rating: B+