radon?

Sensation

Nick Mamatas

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).

Rating: B+

chandler?

The End of All Things

John Scalzi

This book directly follows on from the stories told in The Human Division and thankfully starts to reveal the consipiracy behind events right from the start.
Again this is a series of connected novellas and short stories that make up a complete story.
Many characters return from The Human Division but a few new players have impactful appearances.
It’s a satisfying ending without leaving everything too neatly resolved.
Again, good solid Science Fiction written in an enjoyable fashion.
I really needed to know what happened after The Human Division and read this one as an ebook. It was nice to be that involved in a book/world.

Rating: B+

abumwe?

The Human Division

John Scalzi

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.

Rating: B+

pete?

The Unkindest Tide

Seanan McGuire

This is the very latest book in the October Daye series and another where the price of the audiobook just wasn’t justifiable (at least for now).
This the book where the long teased story of the Luidaeg calling in the debts of the Selkies is told.
It’s a cracking read but another one where things happen in the plot more to extend the length of the book than serve the story.
The accompanying novella is interesting but slight and only tangentially related the the main book.

Rating: B+

kale?

Night And Silence

Seanan McGuire

As my re-read of the October Daye series progressed I finally came to the first one I hadn’t read before. So I read this one while I had it’s audiobook on the go.
October is recovering from the trauma of events in The Brightest Fell when she’s called in to investigate a missing college student – her own daughter Gillian.
This was another very enjoyable installment in the series and contained quite a few cracking twists that impact on the long arc of the series.
The only issue really was that it felt less like a novel and more like a couple of novellas mashed together.
The accompanying novella is intimately tied in with the events of the book and are very illuminating in ways that I found tantalising about the direction of the series.
Lots of fun but not any kind of entry point.

Rating: B+

babelfish?

Don’t Panic

Neil Gaiman

In this highly entertaining biography (a young) Neil Gaiman profiles the life of Douglas Adams with a particular emphasis on the many versions of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
Features interviews with Adams himself and many of his collaborators over the years. Also includes unused snippets of TV and radio scripts, the original pitches for Hitch-Hiker’s and more.
Gently aping Adam’s style Gaiman manages to make all of this into a very enjoyable package.
I wouldn’t recommend buying it at anything more than cover price but it’s worth the read.

Rating: B+

trolleys?

Reaper Man

Terry Pratchett

The second book in the Death sequence.
This is a solid Pratchett – funny, clever and very enjoyable – but not quite as impactful or as perfect as his later masterpieces but quickly building from the more parodical early works.
The biggest surprise on this re-read is how many of the little details tie into overall Discworld canon in later books.
As always I encourage anyone to start reading the man’s books. Not only are they bloody great reads – they’ll also give you an insight into the human condition that we all sorely need.
On a personal note: I’m slightly stunned to realize that I’ve never reviewed this book for the blog in all 17 years of the blog’s existence. Like all the Pratchett books I’ve read it multiple times before but I guess since it came out in 1991 these were all pre-blog.
It’s also the case that I’ve been revisiting the Pratchett oeuvre via audiobook rather than from my battered old books these last couple of years thanks to Edinburgh City Libraries & Audible.
Also a note on my rating system and the wonky idiosyncratic beast it has become over the years…

Rating: B+

twisted?

Traveller in Black

John Brunner

This collection of novellas is a fantasy work by an author better known for his science fiction.
In each story a powerful and anomalous being (the eponymous traveller in black) makes a journey around the cities in his domain and attempts to tip the universe ever further away from chaos and towards order.
These are densely written tales that seem incredibly apt given out current insane political climate.
Not the easiest read but it is short and repays the bit of effort required handsomely. I loved that it’ll give you a different take on the phrase “As you wish”.

Rating: B+

surgery?

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Aminah Mae Safi

Superior teen romance.
As the author admits this tale is heavily inspired by fanfic in which Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller end up together.
It’s a hugely enjoyable and incredibly fluffy tale about two people protecting themselves from the world by pretending to be not quite who they really are.
I finished it and immediately and went back into it to re-read the best bits. I suspect this is a future comfort read.

Rating: A-