When you have twenty-nine books to review, you cry uncle and resort to short reviews. Plus, after all this time, I’m not certain I remember enough about any of them to write a full-length review. We will be breaking these into five parts. This is part five. There may be some spoilers within these short reviews; readers, consider this your warning.
I was not expecting Kerstin Hall’s Star Eater to be as dark as it is, but I did nothing more than glance at the cover image. Had I actually looked at it, I might have been better prepared for the more disturbing parts of the story. This is yet another story in which the heroine is as much a pawn as she is the great big hope for society, but I didn’t mind that. I also found the idea of a floating city, one torn from a greater landmass and raised through magic, to be particularly intriguing. Plus, there is something about the moral ambiguity of the Sisters that draws you into the heart of the novel. While they do have society’s best interest at heart, it comes at such a cost – and there will be some readers who will not be able to move past that cost. Star Eater is one story that should come with all sorts of trigger warnings given its contents, but I enjoyed it all the same, taboos and all.
A Season of Sinister Dreams by Tracy Banghart is a decent fantasy but the story is a bit unwieldy and lacking in a clear path. Emotions rule the plot, to the detriment of said plot. Anneliese is clearly the villain but perhaps shouldn’t be, while Evra is the wide-eyed innocent who just happens to know better than everyone else in the country. Cue eye roll. With its tired and over-used storyline, the one good thing is that it is a standalone novel.
I love Greek mythology, but I did not love Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood. Presented as a reimaging or rather a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the story of Clytemnestra and Helen of Troy, it loses all the feel of the original myth. Clytemnestra is fangless, lacking the anger her story normally holds. She’s too concerned with being a good girl/wife/daughter/queen/woman, which is not her if you are familiar with her story. As for Helen, she is a complete bore. There is no complexity to her character, nor does she have any common sense. She is as shallow as the myths hint. By Part III, I had no interest in continuing this tedious story, so I didn’t.
We are into double digits now with the number of Half Moon Hollow books Molly Harper has under her belt. Some of them are truly great. The latest, Nice Werewolves Don’t Bite Vampires, is one of her weaker stories. Tylene is too full of self-doubt and too submissive towards her biological parents for how she acts and thinks when away from them. Plus, a meek and submissive heroine is not normal for Ms. Harper. It was disturbing to see. To make matters worse, Tylene spends way too long lamenting her family, and the story’s baddie is not very threatening at all. The only highlights of the story are when Tylene enters Jane’s family’s presence. Plus, Amanda Ronconi, as much as I adore her, struggles with a French accent, something I am not used to hearing from her. Thankfully, it is a quick listen.
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is exactly what I would expect from the sequel to Ready Player One. Filled with all sorts of 1980s nostalgia, another epic puzzle to solve, and a surprise nefarious villain threatening Wade and everyone he loves. While much of the novel feels exactly like the first novel, I still found myself loving every second of it. I suspect a lot of that has to do with the fact that the worlds Wade visits this time around, meaning all of the geeky, historic references, were about subjects I actually know. What kid who grew up in the 80s and 90s wouldn’t love a world made up of John Hughes’ characters? Or an entire world dedicated to Prince? I was in geeky love at every turn. Outside of the nostalgia factor, the story does hold a few surprises I didn’t see coming. Mr. Cline’s view of humanity and the future of the human race is not very positive, but he manages to create hope where none should rightly exist given everything Wade and his friends experience. As always, Wil Wheaton’s narration is perfection, lending Wade the right amount of geekiness to his voice that perfectly fits the character. Any fan of the first novel should not miss this fantastic sequel.