A City Dreaming
M is a magician or as he would put in it “in with the management”.
This book is a series of rolling vignettes as we see what M gets up to after washing back up in New York after drifting all over the planet.
The main character is a charming rogue and the writing enjoyable.
The problem for me was that the story never coheres. Some vignettes are utterly trivial tales of life as a debauched New York who just happens to have magical abilities and others have a genuine sense of danger and high stakes.
The stories just feel random – there’s no sense of tension and release. It’s never building to something and certainly the war between magical queens promised in the blurb never materializes.
I don’t regret reading it – there was much to enjoy – but I just felt it could have been great if was a more conventional fantasy story.
When Julia Hernandez is infected with parasitic wasps she walks out on her husband and her old life.
She accidentally initiates a new movement and becomes an infamous wanted felon only to vanish.
When Julia’s ex spots her in a grocery store we learn about the battle between parasitic wasps and the spiders that are their normal prey and about the Simulacrum – another world made up of the places that fall between the cracks of our world.
This is a weird and unsettling piece of present day science fiction.
I found it interesting enough to keep me reading but never quite satisfying enough to feel drawn in to the story.
Recommended if you want to read something a bit off the wall and you’re really interested in the way distributed movements act.
I would never have read this if I hadn’t come across it in the library. Just another reason why libraries are great – you can browse and randomly come across something interesting (the selection online is too vast to effectively do this) and take it home with you at no cost (definitely no way you can do this in a book shop).
The Human Division
The Human Division is an entry in Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” universe. Following from the events of The Last Colony / Zoe’s Tale a new political reality faces Humanity and the other species of the universe.
The book itself is made up of a series of novellas and short stories. These are mainly from the perspective of the previously redundant diplomatic service of the Colonial Union as they try to mend fences with Earth and create alliances with alien races. The central character is a familiar face from earlier “Old Man’s War” books – Harry Wilson.
As events proceed it becomes clear that events are being manipulated through sabotage, cultural manipulation and political shenanigans.
Then the book ends and you’re still in the dark!
Thankfully all is dealt with the next book – The End of All Things.
This is good solid Science Fiction from Scalzi. I enjoy his prose style – it’s not flashy but it draws you in to the story without sacrificing character.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Winner of Best Novel at the inaugural World Fantasy Awards. It tells the story of Sybel, a daughter of wizards, who keeps a menagerie of magical creatures in her high mountain home.
She is removed from the world and knows little of other people and then one day a baby is left with her to keep safe from the King of Eldwold.
How she is changed by that event and the consequences that flow out from that point form a unique kind of fantasy tale.
The distinguishing thing about this book is the quality of the writing. It’s really unlike anything else I’ve ever read in the Fantasy genre. The words flow like a sing-song fairy tale. Somehow retaining the structure of prose but feel of the poetical.
I found it fairly difficult to get into but the last half of the book is incredible.
I really don’t know if it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I suspect I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.
In At The Deep End
This a novel about a woman whose life has become aimless after giving up her dancing career.
Her lovelife is non-existent and work is insecure and uninspiring.
Getting drunk at an arty party she makes out with a woman and the experience brings the realization that she’s attracted to women.
She throws herself into this new world with abandon. Quickly she finds herself with new hobbies, new friends and in a relationship with a woman who encourages her to explore her boundaries.
I life my romances fluffy. This is NOT a fluffy story even if you do get a sweet resolution after the drama plays out.
If you want a coming out story combined with complicated emotional dynamics then you’ve found it.
It’s well enough written – it’s really just not my cup of tea.
This is the sequel to Lock In which set up a near future world where an illness called Haden’s Syndrome has left a significant percentage of the population locked into their physical bodies and only able to experience the world remotely via robot proxies.
The lead character is once again Haden FBI agent Chris Shane.
This one is set in the world of the fast-growing and ulraviolent Haden sport of Hilketa.
When a player dies in a pre-season match Shane and their partner uncover a web of lies that goes all the way to the heart of the sport.
As always Scalzi’s prose is easy to read and designed to draw you in. It’s a fast-paced ride of a read rather than something designed for depth.
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts
When her friend, mentor and boss dies Posy unexpectedly inherits the bookshop she’s worked in all her life.
Not a natural business person she still realizes that something has to change for the shop to remain open.
She decides to re-open the shop as a specialist in the genre she loves – romantic fiction. Unfortunately she has to deal with her boss’ rude grandson who is determined that the shop should be a specialist crime bookshop.
Inevitably after many stumbling blocks romance ensues.
I quite enjoyed this one and on balance more than the second book in the series even though the quality was roughly the same. Mainly because the characters in this novel aren’t as pointlessly dumb as in the follow up.
Miracle on 5th Avenue
The third member of the Urban Genie crew (see Sleepless in Manhattan) finds love.
Asked to decorate an author’s apartment over Christmas while he’s on retreat in Vermont sweet-natured Eva discovers that he’s not in Vermont at all.
Stuck in the flat with the attractive but brooding Lucas Blade sparks start to fly.
Of course it wouldn’t be a romance if there weren’t obstacles in their way.
Far more fun than the first book in the series I burned through this one over the course of New Years Eve. If you like a sweet predictable romance then this is one for you.
Stressed San Francisco based programmer Lois Clary finds comfort in takeaway sourdough and soup. When the proprietors have to leave the US they leave their sourdough starter with her and it leads to a transformation in her life.
A slight but enjoyable tale with a very likeable protagonist.
By the numbers novelization of the enjoyable Star Wars film. I was hoping for some more fleshing out of the story but there’s just next to nothing new in there at all.