Saturday, July 8, 2017

49:120 Urban Allies edited by Joseph Nassise

An interesting concept where 20 urban fantasy writers were paired up and wrote stories with their partner utilizing a main character from their own series.  Rather than going into detail about each story, I'm going to focus more on how well I think the concept worked for that pair.

Jaye Welles & Caitlyn Kittridge - I've only read the Prospero Wars books by Jaye Wells and nothing by Caitlyn Kittridge so I had no idea about the characters in this story but it didn't matter.  One set was sent on a wild goose chase to hopefully take out the other set but the fur flies and it gets figured out so they team up to find the person who betrayed them both. The story swings back and forth between Sabina and Ava and it mostly works. Even without knowing anything about any of the characters, enough was given so I had a clue (and I'm now very interested in the Sabina books and might check out the Ava books as well) and didn't feel lost but I don't think it was so much that it would annoy someone who was already familiar with those worlds.

Seanan McGuire & Kelley Armstrong - This story right here was the thing that pushed me over the edge into buying this book.  I LOVE both of these authors and their worlds and the thought of them being combined might have made me squeee. Unfortunately, the story did anything but.  They "paired" up Verity from Seanan's Incryptid series with Elena from Kelley's Otherworld series but only sort of.  They were both in the same NY forest and stumbled upon the same poacher but their entire interaction was a brief moment when Elena was kicking the guy's ass and Verity says 'Hi'.  Really?!  I know both characters are cagey by nature but this story could easily have not had the other character and it would not have changed anything so in terms of being a collaborative effort and putting the characters really together it fell enormously flat and was very disappointing.

Steven Savile & Craig Schaefer - This is the first story that has more of what I was expecting in terms of a collaborative effort.  It does swing from what I'm assuming is one author's characters to the others but in a way that was naturally flowing and then flowed back to a cooperative narrative. It blended all the characters well and if I did not know this was a joint effort with characters from two different universes, I would not have guessed it to be the case.

Joseph Nassie & Sam Witt - I knew nothing of either of these writers or their universes before this story.  There was enough backstory in there that I didn't feel totally lost although there were definitely pieces of backstory that were hinted at but not explained which for a short story I think is actually good as it works as a hook to get people to go check out their other books which I totally get.  The story and characters worked well together on the whole.

Diana Rowland & Carrie Vaughn - Ok, I have to admit that the White Trash Zombie and Kitty Norville books are both ones that I really enjoy so I was pretty happy to see these characters mashed up together.  Unfortunately, this one didn't have a whole lot of backstory so I can easily see people not familiar with the worlds not really getting the characters.  They felt a bit flat and the story was predictable with little detail in any sense.  Why do the ones I'm so looking forward to in this book end up being the more disappointing ones?!

Weston Ochse & David Wellington - I really enjoyed this tale and had I not known it was a collaboration, I never would have guessed it to be one.  It flowed very well between the two characters who both seemed at home in the universe.  There was enough background for me to not feel completely disorientated but definitely left me knowing there was a lot more and what was it?! I might be looking into these authors a bit more.

Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden - I didn't know either of these characters although I did recognize the name Niall from the Sookie books so that's the only way I was able to tell whose character was whose.  They did a nice job of melding the characters together in a world that neither was wholly familiar with which put them on more even footing and allowed a bit more exposition to sound natural as they are figuring everything out.  Well done mashup in my opinion.

C.E. Murphy & Kat Richardson - I've heard of C.E. Murphy but hadn't even added anything to my wishlist. I think it was more a "If you like xxx" kind of thing.  I've read most of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series so I knew one of the characters in this.  I have to say this was the most interesting way of combining two characters from different universes.  Instead of just throwing them in together and calling it the same universe, they end up in a pocket dimension that is bridging the two and Jo Walker and Harper Blaine end up there from their respective sides. The mystery is resolved only when each person takes a spirit into themselves that harnesses the power of the other so Jo and Harper both get to experience the magic of the other.  Quite interesting and well done.

Jeff Somers & Stephen Blackmoor - I'd never heard of either of these authors going into. It was pretty easy to differentiate between them (although I couldn't tell you who went with which character) but I felt like Lem's story gave a bit more back story to that world and fleshed things out more which definitely made it more interesting to someone with no idea about the characters or worlds.

Larry Correia & Jonathan Mayberry - I've heard of Jonathan Mayberry (one of my kids reads his zombie books) but otherwise, I came into this cold.  There was precious little exposition so I really only figured out that we were dealing with two military people who deal with different types of supernatural. I didn't get a good feel for either of the characters, the story was pretty simple and typical of the other types of stories in the book but it wasn't anything that made me want to go pick up anything else by these authors.

Page count: 410p/10,378p ytd/284,397p lifetime

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

48:120 The 'Z' Word by Faye Larson

Ben's day started out pretty normal, on his way to the bookstore to check things out, when a group of people started falling in on him and Great Coat Guy just outside the store.  They were able to fend the group off and get inside but the group is continuing to beat at the windows and moan. Ben can't help but think that a few massive pots of coffee might help them but he's not willing to risk a confrontation with the...protesters? That doesn't seem like quite the right word for them but the one word that does fit, and begins with z, is completely irrational and not to be thought.  Now if only he and stranger of the great coat, can figure out how to get out of this alive...

Short but fairly humorous tale of what you could most likely expect to happen to a person with moder sensibilities confronted by a moaning, shambling group of people.  Fun, quick read. For the record, I know the author and was given a copy with no expectation of review or payment.

Page count: 34p/9,9368p ytd/283,987p lifetime

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

47:120 The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere by John Chu

Matt lives in a world where when you lie, rain comes out of nowhere. It can be a simple shower for a half-truth to torrential downpour for something huge that you are denying even to yourself. On the flip side, telling big truths produces warmth that tingles and can dry everything out.  So when Gus tells Matt how much he loves him and there is warmth and not the slightest hint of humidity, Matt lies about his feelings and the rains come tumbling down. It's not so much about his feelings for Gus that cause Matt to deny it, but rather how it will affect his traditional Chinese parents who have been telling him his whole life how he must get married and have kids to pass down the family name. What will they say?! But at the same time, how much longer can he keep ducking this question before the rains tell them everything he wants to keep hidden?

A beautifully told tale of love and family and obligation in an interesting world building exercise.

Page count: 22p/9,934p ytd/283,953p lifetime

Friday, June 30, 2017

46:120 The Recitation of the Most Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork by Seanan McGuire

The events in this story take place immediately after Magic for Nothing.  Sam has promised Annie that he would get Mork and Mindy, the Aeslin mice, safely to the airport so they can make their way back to her family and let them know what she has learned on her travels since she feels she must disappear to keep the Covenant from finding them.  Sam has done so but he continues to worry about Annie but now her ghost aunt, Mary, has taken to haunting him occasionally and filling him in and he is trying to make peace with that.  We get to watch that journey as well as follow Mork and Mindy on their travels through the airport and trying to get on a plane to get them back to Portland safely.

In all, this was a nice way to wrap up some of the loose ends that were left after Magic for Nothing but I could see not fitting well into the next book.  I'm so very thankful that Ms. McGuire does these short stories and puts them out there for her fans.  It helps with the withdrawal symptoms between books.

Page count: 68p/9,912p ytd/283,931p lifetime

Thursday, June 29, 2017

45:120 Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

A cute series of single page comics showing Darth Vader being an actual parent to Luke and all that entails from taking him to the zoo to teaching him how to use the force to get his cereal to making sure he knows that Darth Maul and evil are who to cheer on.  You know, typical parenting things and definitely the sort that geek parents everywhere can relate to. :)

Page count: 64p/9,844p ytd/283,863p lifetime

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

44:120 Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

We are in a possible (probable future) where we can manufacture things so simply and easily that there should be no need for people to go without the basic necessities but the uber rich (zottas) have continued to try and keep things as the status quo (default).  Now there are parties where people find abandoned warehouses with manufacturing capability, play the music, drink, and make the stuff that people need for them to come take for free.  It is at one of these parties that Seth has dragged Etc. and they meet with a zotta girl, Natalie.  The party is broken up by drones and death which leaves them back at Natalie's house feeling very despondent when the idea gets floated about to go Walkaway, to join with those who have eschewed the Default society to try and create a more egalitarian society without want of basics and without money and zottas.  The three new friends go and find more than they ever thought they would but life is not easy as even among the Walkaways, there are those who want to impose their will upon others and there are those doing research that the zottas from default will stop at nothing to try and get their hands on.  Besides, Walkaway shows others from Default that the zottas are not needed to run things and challenges their whole way of life and sense of self, something they just cannot allow to continue.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book immensely and the end was good but the middle was much more of a slog and there were several jumps of many years that was quiet disorientating.  The book itself was definitely dystopian and scary in how easily I could see our world heading that direction.

Page count: 384p/9,780p ytd/283,799p lifetime

Monday, June 19, 2017

43:120 The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer

Carrie Fischer recently found her old journals written during the filming of Star Wars: A New Hope and that wash of memory led her to write this, an intimate look at her thoughts during that time and what was happening behind the scenes.  It includes many excerpts from her diaries during that time which offers an incredible look at her thoughts in an uncensored way.  She writes with wit and humor about her naivete but with candor about her relationship with her co-star, Harrison Ford (ok, a lot of naivete there as well) and all of that when writing about how being Leia changed her life and what those changes meant.  Having grown up with Star Wars (I was 2 when it came out in theaters) and looking up to Princess Leia as my role model through my childhood, I loved hearing from her directly about her thoughts on the experience.

Page count: 267p/9,396p ytd/283,799p lifetime