Thursday, July 27, 2017

Upon This Rock: Book 1 - First ContactUpon This Rock: Book 1 - First Contact by David Marusek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came upon this as a total surprise on NetGalley, but a completely welcome one! I've read two of his other highly acclaimed hard SF novels and I didn't care in the slightest what this one might be about.

Why? Because he's just that good and I trust him completely to tell a great tale.

Now that I've finished this book, I'm not revising my statement. At all.

What should you expect here? Alaska. Deep country. We focus mainly on two sides of an issue with very little in the way of alien first contact until much deeper into the tale. That's fine, really, because we're thrown in deep into a family of ultra-conservative and perhaps quite fringe Christians who are so elite that they feel like they're more fundamental than Quakers. With a few notable exceptions as with a satellite cell phone for their online business, they would be, too.

The other side is with the Rangers who naturally have beef with this complex and disturbing family because they're squatting illegally on Public Park land.

Prepare to get fully invested in this family and the area and the Rangers, because this novel is completely fascinating and complex all on this level. And then add an alien who knows how to manipulate humanity. :) Angels! Or demons. :)

Murder, rape, right-wing nuttery, and an almost Waco situation ensue, while all the while, we're learning and emotionally preparing for a huge fallout to come.

This is only the first book in a series and the setup is delicious. The point isn't even that it is a first contact novel. The real strength is in the way it's written... the fullness of its details, and the complexity of its characters, the way they live, react, and survive as they see the world and the devil bear down on them.

I can honestly say that this is an epic setup and I trust the author to knock it right out of the park with subsequent novels! :)

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Killing Is My Business (Ray Electromatic Mysteries, #2)Killing Is My Business by Adam Christopher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ripped through the first book wildly enthused and I began this with nearly as many talons at the ready, but even though I'm giving this a solid four stars because it's a nearly perfect "undercover PI infiltrating a mob boss's organization" Noir Mystery.

I only knocked off a star because some of the middle-action was a bit repetitious and there was obviously a lot less cool fifties-robot-revolution stuff except near the end, but I suppose that couldn't have been helped because of the nature of the story.

Even so, I had a good time and the slow reveals burned nicely and kept me thinking about where and who and what was going to happen next... still questioning what might have already been happening because of Ray's little memory problem. :) Seriously. 24 hours is too short a time for all that short-term memory stuff. :) But it still makes for a great page turner!

He is, after all, the real man of steel. :)

This stuff really does hit the spot. I love Mystery/SF blends like this. Popcorn SF at its best.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Made to Kill (Ray Electromatic Mysteries, #1)Made to Kill by Adam Christopher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely, a fun read, but I can't quite tell if this is going to be more fun for you straight mystery lovers or for those of you who just like a great rampaging robot private eye/assassin running about the streets of Hollywood.

Me, I like both. It's very Chandler. And as I read it, I was reminded VERY pleasantly of A Lee Martinez's Automatic Detective which has a lot of the same elements.

Still, let's be honest here. The Noir mystery field has a million imitators and what really makes each stand out from the others is just the quality of the writing and the best quirkiness of the main characters.

I think this town is big enough for both books. :)

Especially since its relatively sparse with the SF element unlike the UF element with all that Fantasy Mystery mixes. I believe we need a lot more of this mashup.

Quirky robots are FUN! :)

And this Noir was just as fun as any other mystery I've enjoyed, so double fun! :)

Now on to read the sequel that just came out! :)

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The Wizard Killer: Season 2The Wizard Killer: Season 2 by Adam Dreece
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Season 2 of this serialized magic dystopian adventure actually appealed to me more than the first.

Maybe that's just because I am truly getting into the main character now instead of just relying on action and a few measly reveals about his past.

Indeed, in this season, we get a ton of his past, his returning memory after coming back from the dead three times, the reasons for his revenge, and some really cool baddies.

The world-building is explored in greater detail, too... and I cannot complain! :)

Like the first one, this feels extremely fast-paced and there's still a ton of cool action. What reveals we do have hardly slowed the tale down. Even the memories are full of action and cool events.

Anyone looking for a fast and furious magic adventure that feels like an old western serial only with mana guns, lightning shotguns, and short swords that can bring you back to life really out to check this out. :)

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Monday, July 24, 2017

The Wizard Killer - Season OneThe Wizard Killer - Season One by Adam Dreece
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author mentioned in his preface that he was influenced heavily from the serialized format of his enormous comics collection and decided to have fun here.

It's obvious that he had a lot of fun, too, because each tiny chapter propels all the action forward in what might look like one long book of nothing but action with tiny sequences of dialogue that was just another pretext for more action.

And far from complaining, this was a light action read with magic that keeps flipping itself on and off in really cool ways that make the battles fun and dangerous and chaotic. Post-apocalyptic in nature and setting, with western-type elements of the Hero's Journey, our MC is without memory or home, in mortal danger.

This is a real crowd-pleaser, a popcorn adventure, and a fast-paced romp through death and discovery with only gentle inclusions of world-building.

The point is to have fun, and this is accomplished in spades. :)

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The Gospel of Lie: A Grieving Christian Searches the Bible for a New JesusThe Gospel of Lie: A Grieving Christian Searches the Bible for a New Jesus by Joshua Lie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll be honest. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into when I agreed to read this.

BUT, I'll freely admit to being pleasantly surprised because I've already been a fan of this kind of religious exploration. I might be considered a huge fan of PKD and Umberto Eco and anything that goes deep into Christian Heresies. It's fun!

Think Manichean, the Cathars, all the Gnostic writings... this is what we get. It's a great rabbit hole. :)

What this book does right: It doesn't take itself too seriously, but it certainly isn't light or superficial. Indeed, the superficial tale of Joshua Lie becoming disgruntled after a full long life of being an educated Christian, only to stop believing and then start picking up all the Gnostics, trying to reconcile everything with the basic scripture, is only telling a fraction of the story.

The real story is quite fascinating and it's entirely in the realm of the mind and the heart, of personal revelations, of Alchemy, of redeeming Sophia and Christ, of the Archons and the Demiurge, and even how Judas could very well have been the one spoken of in the prophecies. Judas's oft-maligned person is a tragic one with very different expectations.

Of course, all of these ideas have been explored in many other places, and much, much commentary has been had for and against it all, but the fact remains that it still speaks to us.

PKD's exegesis does this, as does Da Vinci Code, or Holy Blood, Holy Grail, just to mention a few, but This work provides us with a very short and very concise overview of the hottest topics and is written in a very accessible way. It's addictive. And there's easily a lot here for extended food for thought.

After all, Christ wasn't redeeming our sins, he was freeing Sophia, Wisdom, from the mad creator, the Demiurge, to bring us back to the true state of grace and wholeness. Or, to quote PKD, the Black Iron Prison, where the Empire Never Ended, the great illusion of the world where we know something is damn wrong, and that something was the fact that the creation and the creator were both flawed. Like I said, Heresy! :)

It's a fascinating ride! I totally recommend this for a very smart read down this path! It's very accessible.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Fairy Boy of Calton Hill (The Fairy Boy Chronicles, #1)The Fairy Boy of Calton Hill by Sean-Paul Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Missing a bit of magic in your life?

Whether or not you're Scottish doesn't really matter, but if you like a taste of the highlands, with its rich fairyland hiding right below a hill on the edge of your suburbia, then this is surely going to delight.

We spend a lot of time in both the real world and our Fae otherland, with dragons, the little people, and a very nice setup that explains the reason why the doors to the Fae have mostly been closed, the history that used to belong to both our peoples, and a real reason to be scared. In short, we've got ourselves a fascinating world-building romp that keeps on travelling on both sides of the borders and it slides very nicely from a teenage romance story to an adventure to a shared adventure... just before it all goes to hell.

There's some really cool stakes going on here and the imagination's the limit. I especially like the Peter Pan feel. :)

I'll be honest... I generally mistrust YA tales and teenage romance and anything that might say "Fairy Boy" in the title. That's a shame, really, because if it had had just about any other title, I wouldn't have felt so much trepidation. :)

I am here to say that the tale is solid anyway!

(And it helps that I also enjoyed the author's other, adult tale, The Old Man and the Princess.)

Thank you, Sean-Paul, for the pleasure of reading these!

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