Review: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy

Title: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (July 12, 2022)
Author: Becky Chambers
Pages: 160
Series: Monk & Robot #2 (Series Tracker)


A heartwarming continuation of the adventures of our beloved robot and human companions, Mosscap and Dex. Much like the first novella, I so enjoyed the time spent in this world and with its inhabitants. The shared bond between this unlikely pair is wonderful, as is the throughline exploring the nature of humanity. I hope this is not the end of their travels, because Becky Chambers has created a winning formula here – further cementing herself as a beacon for hopepunk storytelling.

★★★★¼

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Siren Queen

Title: Siren Queen (May 10, 2022)
Author: Nghi Vo
Pages: 288


Luli Wei was overlooked by the masses until she made it impossible to look away. After striking a brutal bargain to achieve her dreams, Wei finds her home on the silver screen. What follows is a mesmerizing (and hair-raising) coming of age tale about Luli’s rise into the spotlight.

Nghi Vo’s Old Hollywood is painted with a dreamlike brush. There’s a phantasmagoric haze over every event and every interaction. It’s mesmerizing and disturbing in equal measure. And, as impressed as I was with the tone and prose – I struggled to stay invested in Luli’s story as I found it a bit overstuffed and all over the place. Others will surely love this, but it was not quite my cup of tea when all was said and done.

★★★

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Elder Race

Title: Elder Race (November 16, 2021)
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pages: 176


Lynesse must seek out a reclusive wizard living in a forbidden tower. That concept alone (and the gorgeous cover) drew me to this novella, but the plot gets turned on its head almost immediately with a delicious bait and switch. The storyline that follows the twist was not quite compelling enough to sustain my interest, but the ending was strong and satisfying.

This novella is a good reminder of what an interesting writer Adrian Tchaikovsky has become and I’ve never been disappointed by one of his stories. As an aside, reading this in conjunction with AppleTV+’s Foundation series made for a nice genre pairing, I must say.

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Title: A Psalm for the Wild-Built (2021)
Author: Becky Chambers
Pages: 160
Series: Monk & Robot #1 (Series Tracker)


While there’s nothing groundbreaking here, I breezed through this novella and it made for a very pleasant reading experience. 

Chambers storytelling style is straightforward and without frills, but the overall result is quite affecting. I’m eager for future adventures with Dex and Mosscap and learning more about the world of Panga.

★★★★

Review: Fugitive Telemetry

Title: Fugitive Telemetry (April 27, 2021)
Author: Martha Wells
Pages: 176
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #6 (Series Tracker)


Fugitive Telemetry has all the trappings of a classic Murderbot story – trademark snark, funny situations, a compelling murder mystery, and a seemingly unfeeling security robot that feels feelings. Murderbot is back and just as good as ever.

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Haunting of Tram Car 015

Title: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (2019)
Author: P. Djèlí Clark
Pages: 130
Series: Fatma el-Sha’arawi #2 (Series Tracker)


Clark has imagined an incredible world here. Everything is so richly detailed and vivid. Although the mystery at the heart of this novella was not as compelling as the one in the original short story, A Dead Djinn in Cairo, the sharp writing and unexpected twists and turns will keep me coming back for as long as Clark keeps writing stories in this setting.

★★★¼

Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo

a-dead-djinn-in-cairoTitle: A Dead Djinn in Cairo (2016)
Author: 
P. Djèlí Clark
Pages: 
45
Series: Fatma el-Sha’arawi #1 (Series Tracker)


P. Djèlí Clark’s short story tells a tale of an alternate Cairo filled with steampunk flourishes, supernatural oddities, and a deadly plot that could destroy the world. Clark packs a complete story into this vivid setting and it works splendidly. A considerable amount of time is spent on exposition, but it’s all fascinating and I imagine it makes this story a great primer for both his 2019 novella and his 2021 novel, which are set in the same world. I’ll surely be checking those out after this excellent start.

★★★★ out of 5

Review: Network Effect

Network EffectTitle: Network Effect (2020)
Author: Martha Wells
Pages: 350
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #5 (Series Tracker)


In its first full-length novel adventure, Murderbot is thrust right back into the fire on a rescue mission that immediately goes awry. Expanding from the usual novella length of previous installments, this was a bit all over the place for me and I can’t say that it benefits from the extra room. The story is similar to previous, tighter Murderbot tales, but the proceedings get so bogged down by technical mumbo jumbo that I had a difficult time following the action. 

Murderbot is at its best when the characters and their complicated relationships are at the forefront. In that respect, I really enjoyed the return of my favorite character, ART, Murderbot’s snarky sparring partner from a previous novella. This relationship, coupled with Murderbot’s dealings with some new (but familiar) allies makes for a compelling new wrinkle. Qualms aside, I’ll happily join up on Murderbot’s next mission, setting sail next year with a new novella.

★★★ out of 5

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Prosper’s Demon

Prosper's DemonTitle: Prosper’s Demon (2020)
Author: K.J. Parker
Pages: 112


The protagonist makes it very clear right off the bat – he’s unlikable…and that’s by design. Of course, his self-deprecation, supposed misdeeds, and biting wit make him lovable, nonetheless. This is a short and sharp story that turns in several unexpected directions. For instance, I was not expecting the casting of a giant bronze horse statue to become such a central plot point! Ultimately, I enjoyed this novella for its brevity and its distinct voice.

★★★¼  out of 5

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.