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Reviews in Project: Miscellaneous Reviews (320)

Murder in the White House!

State Machine  (Rachel Peng, volume 3)

By K B Spangler  

16 Jun, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2015’s State Machine is the third book in the Rachel Peng series [1]. The protagonist, Peng, is among the survivors of an ill-conceived experiment in neural prosthesis. Having struggled back to sanity, the surviving cyborgs have banded together under the banner of the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Enhancement Technologies for mutual support and protection. They offer their services to the government in an attempt to convince society in general [2] that the cyborgs are more useful than dangerous. 

Rachel Peng’s personal contribution to the cause is serving as OACET’s liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police. She uses her unique array of senses to crack baffling cases. Her latest case, a murder, is notable because it took place in a heavily secured section of the White House and because the only apparent motive for the murder is theft. But theft of what? 


(light spoilers)


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Some days I wake up wanting to read a Zen Cho work

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

By Zen Cho  

9 Jun, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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This review came about because Romantic Times editor Regina Small very considerately assigned me Zen Cho’s upcoming novel Sorcerer to the Crown (of which more later, over at Romantic Times, which if you are not reading you should be). The wheels of reviewing grind slow but sure. Today I woke up thinking I am really in the mood to read an unfamiliar to me Zen Cho work!” but … alas, the book is still on its way to me. 

Then I remembered: the author has a website and on that website she has links to works of hers one can buy in ebook form. While I have read and reviewed Spirits Abroad], I had not yet read her 2012 novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo! Which, to be honest, is an epistolary historical romance, a genre in which I am not well read and with whose conventions I am unfamiliar. There are many pitfalls for reviewers dabbling in new genres, but, in the same bold spirit that led Napoleon to Moscow and Vercingetorix to Rome, I forge onwards! 


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Buy this book

Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel  

4 Jun, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Among my many charming quirks is a general dislike of back-swing” novels. That’s Andrew Wheelers term for novels where the author kills off billions of humans to make room for the protagonist’s sword’s back-swing: your Dies the Fireses, your Directive 51s, and so on. I am also not keen on most modern dystopias; I find most of them shallow and trite, with hilari-bad world-building. Station Eleven looked exactly like the sort of book I would hate.

Sometimes my expectations are totally wrong.


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After the Great War

Cuckoo Song

By Frances Hardinge  

26 May, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Sometimes commissions arrive as N possible choices, chose one.” Even when a suggested title doesn’t make the first cut, I often leave it on my reading list as a possibility for an unsponsored review. I’m particularly likely to do this if it is a title I’ve not read but that looks interesting or is critically acclaimed. Novels like Frances Hardinge’s (Carnegie Medal short-listed) Cuckoo Song are the rewards I get for expanding my reading list.

~oOo~

The Great War came and went, taking Triss Crescent’s brother Sebastian with it. The post-war era brought material prosperity to the Crescent family, but nothing that could compensate for their long-mourned loss. Money could not bring Sebastian back; nothing could bring Sebastian back. No method known to mortal man, at least.

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The boys who survived by teleporting, or I don’t know what Cox’s issue is but the Far Being Retzglaran is definitely a dick

Jumper Caverns  (Jumper, volume 1 The Journeys of McGill Feighan, volume 1)

By Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.  

12 May, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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[I am aware the title and credit for the two books is somewhat munged at present]

Publishers like Tor send reviewers like me free books because they hope a review will result. Mission accomplished! Tor sent me a copy of Steven Gould’s latest book Exo and as a direct result of that I am writing a review featuring not one but two books. OK, one of them is of a different Gould book, 1993’s Jumper, and the other is of 1981’s The Journeys of McGill Feighan: Book 1: Caverns, a book by an author whom Tor has never to my knowledge published, a book that predates Tor’s very existence but still … book goes in, review goes out. The system works.

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Return to the Asteroid Belt

Freedom at Feronia  (Asteroid Police, volume 2)

By Richard Penn  

12 Mar, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2014’s Freedom at Feronia is a follow-up to Penn’s Dark Colony. Having exposed and broken up an illegal secret colony, young cop Lisa Johansen is now faced with new opportunities, not the least of which is legitimate and legal possession of the core materials needed for a nuclear-powered spacecraft. The new opportunities also come with new challenges, one of which is considerably more complex than the one featured in the first book (the illegal colony set up by a criminal cabal). What this challenge is, and how Lisa handles it, reminded me a lot of the Canadian TV show Flashpoint, except, of course, IN SPACE! 

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From the world of Mesoamerican myth

The Bone Flower Throne  (Bone Flower Trilogy, volume 1)

By T L Morganfield  

12 Feb, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2013’s The Bone Flower Throne, the first book in the Bone Flower Trilogy, is set in the world of Mesoamerican myth, specifically, the story of the great Priest-King Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl. (In an afterword, the author compares him to King Arthur, which I think is off the mark for reasons I will explain later). I enjoy works set in or drawing on the Pre-Columbian cultures of the New World, but have been unable to find more than a few such works. Fortunately, the author of this book, T. L. Morgenfield, is on my Livejournal friends list, which made finding her book just that wee bit easier.

Of course, just because a work falls into a genre I find interesting and just because I know the author doesn’t mean I have to like the book. I could be the sort of monumental dick who asks for a review copy and finding it not to his taste, rewards the courtesy with a scathing review [1]. Or I might not be. Let’s find out!

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Back to the Raksura

Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud  (Raksura, volume 4)

By Martha Wells  

10 Feb, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Well’s 2014 collection Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud shares a setting, the Three Worlds, with some of Wells’ previous works: The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths.

I should admit, up front, that this review isn’t really a Tuesday Rediscovery so much as it is a review of a book I had intended to review long before now. I am using my Rediscovery slot to highlight a book that, IMHO, deserves highlighting. 

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