standalone

"Light from Uncommon Stars" review

From video game and anime music to holographic displays to Asian food, Light From Uncommon Stars takes the reader on a journey that encompasses all of the senses, with picturesque descriptions that fully immerse you in Southern California. And both the characters and the story that accompany the setting do it complete justice. Katrina’s experiences in particular are intense, and I definitely cried for her at a couple points, both sad tears and happy tears.

"A Hunter Among Wolves" review

From its frenetic pacing to its video-game-NPC dialogue to its uncomfortably erotic torture scene, A Hunter Among Wolves has a lot of issues. This probably should have been a DNF, but the one thing it does have going for it is that it’s short enough to not be too big a time investment so I figured I may as well finish it so I could write a full review and see if it got any better (it did not).

"Meet Me in Another Life" review

To be honest, the more I think about Meet Me in Another Life, the more holes I see in it and less I’m satisfied with it. The ending does not make very much sense and I’ve become more and more bothered by it. However, much of it is very sweet, and I did enjoy most of it quite a bit while I was reading it.

"The Darkness Outside Us" review

The Darkness Outside Us from its cover looks like a young adult romance set in space. And indeed it is set in space, its protagonists are young adults, and it does have a fairly significant romance subplot. But do not think for a minute that this incredible novel is anything other than a science fiction thriller/mystery written for adults with all of the what-if? philosophical questioning requisite of any classic you can think of.

"The Actual Star" review

The book is a mixed bag; its format and bold worldbuilding choices make quite a statement, but at the same time, it falls short in a lot of areas. As is often the case with mixed-timeline, mixed-point-of-view plots, when you take a step back, you realize that almost nothing actually happened in the story; it’s relying on the whole being significantly greater than the sum of its parts. But in this case, the individual stories are so simplistic, and particularly the Maya past one, that I’m not sure the novel quite managed to achieve that greater whole.

"Red Dust" review

Red Dust has a great premise that it ultimately fails to live up to. Set roughly fifty years after first contact, the novel follows positronic robot police officer (pozzie) Raymond Chandler (yes, named after that Raymond Chandler) in his attempt to hunt down escaped criminal Makrow 34. Chandler teams up with another convict, Vasily Fern√°ndez, chosen because he shares the same psychic (Psy) abilities as Makrow 34: the Gaussical ability to manipulate the probability of nearby events to occur.

"Fine Structure" review

Fine Structure is one of those books that you read once, then you either read again two or three more times, this time taking notes, or you immediately google “Fine Structure explanation” and read the results of other people doing the same. I’ll save you that googling part for the second option and link the FAQ (yes, the author has an FAQ page). It does, at least, make a lot more sense than Primer.

"Empire Under a Dying Sun" review

Empire Under a Dying Sun is set in a Greek-inspired fantasy world experiencing a calamity straight out of science fiction (literally, if you’ve read for example Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary) - the sun is dying. With this backdrop, we have four POV characters: A young Empress struggling to find her confidence; her husband, who needs to learn to see the common people as real human beings; an old army general struggling with alcoholism; and his second-in-command, who needs to overcome her childhood trauma at the hands of the empire, and find something worth fighting for other than money. The novel explores these individual stories as well as the ethical dilemmas that arise from limited resources and the dying sun.

"Legends & Lattes" review

When the world is a bad place, sometimes what you want is a quiet, comforting, feel-good, slice-of-life novel that’s the literary equivalent of a kitten and a warm blanket and a fireplace and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, depending which one you prefer. And that is precisely what Legends & Lattes is: a low-stakes novel about an orc barbarian-turned-barista where the magic is the friendships we make along the way.

"Ink" review

Ink follows four lives: a journalist, his source, his brother-in-law, and the daughter of a government worker, through a dystopian America in which immigrants have their status tattooed on their wrists and are treated as less than human by the majority of the population. At the start of the novel, the government is opening “inkatoriums,” centralized holding facilities for immigrants (“inks”), and the plot glides between following this development and following our characters as they go about their individual lives, through joy and heartbreak.