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Books Received, July 6 — July 12

13 Jul, 2024


Six Scorched Roses by Carissa Broadbent (September 2024)

A standalone fantasy romance set in the stunningly epic world of Carissa Broadbent’s New York Times bestselling Crowns of Nyaxia series. This short novel is perfect for readers of The Serpent & the Wings of Night and The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King and features beautiful case wrap art!

Six roses. Six vials of blood. Six visits to a vampire who could be her salvation… or her damnation.

Lilith has been dying since the day she was born. But while she long ago came to terms with her own imminent death, the deaths of everyone she loves is an entirely different matter. As her town slowly withers in the clutches of a mysterious god-cursed illness, she takes matters into her own hands.

Desperate to find a cure, Lilith strikes a bargain with the only thing the gods hate even more than her village: a vampire, Vale. She offers him six roses in exchange for six vials of vampire blood — the one hope for her town’s salvation. 

But when what begins as a simple transaction gradually becomes something more, Lilith is faced with a terrifying realization: It’s dangerous to wander into the clutches of a vampire…and in a place already suffering a god’s wrath, more dangerous still to fall in love with one. 

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Corrupt Heads of State

13 Jul, 2024


I can now say one of my pieces became unpublishable via one of my usual venues due to a USSC decision. 

Democracy offers a thorough vetting of candidates, first by the party apparatus, then by the opposing party’s hostile opsec, the scrutiny of electoral officials, the diligent press, and finally the keen insight of the voting public. Were this not sufficient, state officials and courts are ever vigilant for official wrongdoing. It should be nigh-impossible for a head of government to be corrupt or if corrupt, to avoid punishment for any significant length of time. Indeed, as a noted philosopher once observed when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal, by definition.”

Just as science fiction authors embrace impossible faster-than-light drives for the sake of plot, so too have a few embraced the clearly nonsensical prospect of a head of government who indulges in corruption or even more serious transgressions. American fiction of the 1970s and 1980s seemed particularly fascinated with the idea of presidents gone horribly wrong, a literary craze as inexplicable to modern minds as the popularity of pet rocks, mood rings, and the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

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Books Received, June 29 — July 5

6 Jul, 2024


Death at the Sign of the Rook by Kate Atkinson (September 2024)

The highly anticipated return of Kate Atkinson’s irresistible” (New York Times) private eye Jackson Brodie, whose newest adventure pays homage to Agatha Christie in the latest installment of a series described by The Washington Post as Raymond Chandler meets Jane Austen.”

Marooned overnight by a snowstorm is a cast of characters and a setting that even Agatha Christie might recognize — a vicar, an Army major, a Dowager, a sleuth and his sidekick — except that the sleuth is Jackson Brodie, and the sidekick” is DC Reggie Chase

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July 2024 Patreon Boost

1 Jul, 2024


James Nicoll Reviews is supported by spontaneous donations, review commissions and Patreon subscribers, to whom I am very grateful. It turns out money can be exchanged for goods and services.

If you would like to commission a review, please see my guidelines here. Note that The Number of the Beast is a special case. I may add The Last Dangerous Visions as another special case, although TLDV may prove to be an irresistible train-wreck. I am as dizzy with anticipation as you are!

You can join my Patreon here.

Spontaneous donations can be done via my Paypal. In answer to a question I got in email, you cannot pay me to not review something. I just feel like that could easily go in bad directions. 

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June 2024 in Review

30 Jun, 2024


I survived another dance season. Impact on this site was mainly constraining how long any given work could be for me to fit it into my schedule. July will see some longer commissions I had to delay. Thank you to my patient patrons.

This June marked the 10th anniversary of Because My Tears Are Delicious to You.

I had an idea for yet another thing to track: incoming works by genre. Maybe that’s a 2025 idea, since I don’t like beginning tracking projects halfway through the calendar year but I also really don’t want to go back to do January through June. 

June 2024

21 works reviewed. 12 by women (57%), 9 by men (35%), 0 by non-binary authors (0%), 0 by authors whose gender is unknown (0%), and 7 by POC

2024 to Date

130 works reviewed. 73 by women (56%), 54 by men (42%), 2 by
non-binary authors (2%), 1 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 53 by POC (41%).

Grand Total to Date

2659 works reviewed. 1485 by women (56%), 1109 by men (42%), 42 by non-binary authors (2%), 23 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 824.75 by POC (31%).

Government Types June 2024

Total 21, Not Applicable 1 (5%), Unclear 2 (10%), Anarchy 2 (10%), Pure democracy 1 (5%), Representative democracy 6 (29%), Oligarchy 8 (48%), Autocracy 1 (10%).

Government Type 2024 TD

Total 130, Not Applicable 15 (12%), Unclear 7 (5%), Anarchy 6 (5%),
Pure democracy 1 (1%), Representative democracy 43 (33%), Oligarchy 53 (41%), Autocracy 5 (4%).

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Books Received, June 22 — June 28

29 Jun, 2024

1 comment

Goblins & Greatcoats by Travis Baldree (June 2024)

A goblin with too many pockets and a disturbing affinity for cutlery, a rain-soaked night, four adventurers, a pair of corpses, a junk-drawer knife, some unfortunate taxidermy, and a beleaguered Gatewarden…

These are the primary ingredients in a locked-room mystery that can only be solved by the Territory’s most unlikely detective.

Her name is Zyll.

Her eyes are keen, her teeth are sharp, and the chaos of her passing leaves no murder unsolved. 

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Books Received, June 15 — June 21

22 Jun, 2024


This World Is Not Yours by Kemi Ashing-Giwa (September 2024)

This World is Not Yours by USA Today bestseller Kemi Ashing-Giwa is the perfect blend of S.A. Barnes’ space horror and Cassandra Khaw’s beautiful but macabre worlds. An action-packed, inventive novella about a toxic polycule consumed by jealousy and their attempts to survive on a hostile planet. 

After fleeing her controlling and murderous family with her fiancée Vinh, Amara embarks on a colonization project, New Belaforme, along with her childhood friend, Jesse. 

The planet, beautiful and lethal, produces the Gray, a self-cleaning” mechanism that New Belaforme’s scientists are certain only attacks invasive organisms, consuming them. Humans have been careful to do nothing to call attention to themselves until a rival colony wakes the Gray. 

As Amara, Vinh, and Jesse work to carve out a new life together, each is haunted by past betrayals that surface, expounded by the need to survive the rival colony and the planet itself. 

There’s more than one way to be eaten alive. 

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Books Received, June 8 — June 14

15 Jun, 2024


The Mercy of Gods by James S. A. Corey (August 2024)

How humanity came to the planet called Anjiin is lost in the fog of history, but that history is about to end.

The Carryx – part empire, part hive – have waged wars of conquest for centuries, destroying or enslaving species across the galaxy. Now, they are facing a great and deathless enemy. The key to their survival may rest with the humans of Anjiin. 

Caught up in academic intrigue and affairs of the heart, Dafyd Alkhor is pleased just to be an assistant to a brilliant scientist and his celebrated research team. Then the Carryx ships descend, decimating the human population and taking the best and brightest of Anjiin society away to serve on the Carryx homeworld, and Dafyd is swept along with them.

They are dropped in the middle of a struggle they barely understand, set in a competition against the other captive species with extinction as the price of failure. Only Dafyd and a handful of his companions see past the Darwinian contest to the deeper game that they must play to survive: learning to understand – and manipulate – the Carryx themselves.

With a noble but suicidal human rebellion on one hand and strange and murderous enemies on the other, the team pays a terrible price to become the trusted servants of their new rulers.

Dafyd Alkhor is a simple man swept up in events that are beyond his control and more vast than his imagination. He will become the champion of humanity and its betrayer, the most hated man in history and the guardian of his people. 

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Books Received, June 1 to June 7

8 Jun, 2024


Sleeping Worlds Have No Memory by Yaroslav Barsukov (November 2024)

Sleeping Worlds Have No Memory is a mesmerizing journey through a world where the extraordinary becomes the ordinary. The novel unfolds in a realm where the past and the present intertwine, crafting a narrative that is as enchanting as it is thought-provoking. At the heart of the story is a compelling exploration of memory and its profound impact on our identities and relationships. The characters are richly developed, each grappling with their own intricate histories and secrets that gradually unravel as the plot progresses.

Barsukov’s mastery in world-building is evident throughout the novel. He creates a vivid and detailed universe that feels both familiar and entirely new, drawing the reader into a world where the boundaries between reality and imagination blur. The storytelling is immersive, combining elements of fantasy, science fiction, and drama in a seamless and captivating way. The prose is lyrical and evocative, making every scene resonate with emotion and depth.

Sleeping Worlds Have No Memory is a remarkable achievement, a book that offers both an exhilarating adventure and a profound meditation on the human condition. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves stories that not only entertain but also challenge and inspire. Barsukov’s unique voice and imaginative storytelling make this novel a standout in the genre, a work that will linger in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned. 

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Books Received, May 25 — May 31

1 Jun, 2024


Motheater by Linda H. Codega (January 2025

After her best friend dies in a coal mine, Benethea Bennie” Mattox sacrifices her job, her relationship, and her reputation to uncover what’s killing miners on Kire Mountain. When she finds a half-drowned white woman in a dirty mine slough, Bennie takes her in because it’s right — but also because she hopes this odd, magnetic stranger can lead her to the proof she needs.

Instead, she brings more questions. The woman called Motheater can’t remember her true name, or how she ended up inside the mountain. She knows only that she’s a witch of Appalachia, bound to tor and holler, possum and snake, with power in her hands and Scripture on her tongue. But the mystery of her fate, her doomed quest to keep industry off Kire Mountain, and the promises she bent and broke have followed her a century and half into the future. And now, the choices Motheater and Bennie make together could change the face of the town itself. 

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