Monday
Oct162017

From a Certain Point of View

So this is a Star Wars anthology, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever loved EVERY SINGLE STORY in an anthology with multiple contributors. There are no duds. It's so nice to see an anthology get the star-power and funding it deserves. If you love Star Wars, you will love this book. There is something for everyone.

So there are 40 short stories (one for every year since A New Hope came out) all telling the story of Episode IV from the POV of side characters. Some of them are obvious, like stories featuring Yoda and Obi-Wan. Some of them less so, like the one told by the trash compactor monster (which is fantastic, btw).

Some of my favourite authors are in this one (Delilah Dawson, Daniel Jose Older, Nnedi Okorafor, Chuck Wendig) which was why I bought it, but I'm glad I did. It's made me want to watch the movie again (when I get some time). And I will definitely be looking at it differently.

These stories are powerful and well told and intriguing and give you the plight of the Rebels vs the Death Star from regular folks, Rebels and Imperials in the background, and a few scoundrels too. There are stories to make you laugh, like Older's told by one of the "not the droids you're looking for" Stormtroopers. Stories to make you cry, like one told from Aunt Beru's POV, or doomed Rebels, or yes, even the trash compactor monster.

If you're a Star Wars fan, definitely pick up this book. You won't be sorry.

Friday
Oct062017

Taste of Marrow

This book is a quick and excellent read. It's everything I wanted from the first book. The pacing is fantastic, the characters are brilliant and I love them all. The plot is a little soft, but I don't even care because the rest of it is so good.

So this series is less fantasy and more alternate history examining what would happen if hippos had been imported as an alternative meat source in the 1800s. Cowboys on hippos, essentially. And that part is a lot of fun!

This book jumps in where the last one left off, with the gang all split up and searching for each other, no one certain who survived the first book and who didn't. They're all hurting one way or another. This book is far more emotionally driven than the first book was. Overall, it holds together better too.

And it touches on that whole "found family" thing I love so much. The scenes with Hero and Adelia learning to sass each other was excellent. I love me clever banter. There wasn't much of it here, but when there was, it was spot on.

And can we talk about that amazing cover with Adelia clutching both her NEWBORN and A BIG-ASS KNIFE and threatening to cut up a lot of terrible people. Hot damn! (seriously, though, there wouldn't have been a plot at all if Adelia had been wearing the baby)

So while I was pretty meh about the first book, the second book more than makes up for it. I'm sad it's over and hope that someday the author will pull out these characters and their world and find more adventures for them.

Wednesday
Oct042017

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

This is definitely my least favourite book in the series so far. It's labelled as Pratchett's first YA, which is puzzling. I guess because the human main characters are fairly young? (Although so were Mort and Ysabell and that book was not labelled YA).

Anyway, the rats themselves were fairly interesting, but I didn't actually like any of the characters. I didn't care at all what happened in this book, and aside from the names the rats chose for themselves, there wasn't much I found especially funny about this either.

It's about a group of scammers turned would-be heroes. It has some interesting notions on what it means to be "people", but I don't think there's anything groundbreaking here. It's not a terrible book, but it's pretty meh compared to some of Pratchett's other books.

Thursday
Sep282017

Shadowhouse Fall

This is the second book in Older's Shadowshaper series, and I highly recommend checking out the first book if you haven't already. This is a YA series about friendship, family, heritage and race, following a group of magical teenagers on an epic urban adventure to save everything they love.

The fight continues in the second book, with the stakes raised and fascinating new characters introduced. Some of the last book's side characters have been given deeper roles in this book. There's a lot more romance in this book too, even a dreaded love triangle. Sort of. It slows the pace down a little, but it's still interesting and well done. Exceptionally high praise from someone who hates love triangles as much as I do.

For me, the most horrifying thing about this book isn't the ghosts and monsters, but the things people do to each other and all that the teens in this book go through on a daily basis. From being searched and abused at school to the high risk of being gunned down by police, Older doesn't pull any punches. It's a worthwhile look inside the lives of kids of colour growing up in America right now.

It's a fun story too, full of lots of what one reviewer dubbed "zippy teenage banter" and great, complex and complicated relationships between the many characters. I love some good banter, and it doesn't get much better than this.

While the voice isn't as strong in this series and in his adult novels, the Bone Street Rumba series, it still stands out. Especially once MC Sierra's friend Izzy gets going. There is some really interesting crossover, just little intersections here and there, between this series and Bone Street Rumba. I'm really curious to see if there's more, if there's a full out crossover in the future. That would please me beyond words.

Anyway, check out the first book if you haven't. If you've read Shadowshaper and enjoyed it, this book will not disappoint you.

Friday
Sep152017

Phasma

Finished another Star Wars book and this one is excellent! Again (I'm seeing a trend here) it wasn't what I expected based on all the hype. I was looking for Phasma slashing her way through the ranks of the First Order. But this is all about how she ends up in the First Order in the first place.

And you would think that a book about Phasma would be told from Phasma's point of view. But it wasn't. Only a tiny slice at the end is from her POV, and it's not a very deep look or even a very long piece. The rest of the book is seeing Phasma through the eyes of those around her: primarily one of her comrades as a teen and one of her rivals in the First Order.

So, it wasn't what I was expecting at all, but it was still excellent. SW fans will get to see exactly what kind of monster Phasma is. How badass she can be. And then speculate just how much of a problem she could be for the Resistance (or hell, even the First Order) in the upcoming movies.

This book is a great look at who Phasma is as seen by other people. While it wasn't what I was expecting, it still shone light on a character who was previously unknown. I hope to see plenty of Phasma in the next movie but fear for the Resistance, especially Finn, at the same time. Phasma is a superb villain and I sincerely hope her potential isn't further squandered in the movies.