February Wrap-Up

For such a short month, February sure seems to have dragged on. Somehow. I blame the 2 large storms in a single week, followed by a week of mild weather that resulted in all that snow melting and leaking into my basement.

Fun times.

Plus convenient things to blame for time wonkiness.

Anyway, down to what you actually came here to see.

Other Stuff

Super Sekrit Project is a bit delayed, but I figure eh, I may as well stop making it so Super Sekrit. I’m starting up a series of video game review videos.

Yes, yes, I know that by this point, everyone and their dog has a YouTube channel talking about video games. This is hardly the most original idea I’ve ever had. I’m aware that whatever I do isn’t going to get big and be game-changing. But that’s not why I want to do it. Much like with books, I play a fair number of video games, and I have opinions about them, and I figure there’s no reason why I shouldn’t talk about those opinions.

And with video, I can show footage of the game to better illustrate points, rather than relying solely on text.

Plus sometimes I come across games that are just really bad, and there’s something fun about highlighting that every now and then.

I’m not 100% sure when it’ll go live. I’m thinking maybe the middle or March, or maybe a bit more toward the end of the month. Recording games and editing videos is surprisingly time-consuming, even while I enjoy it. So while I can’t say for certain that yes, everything will go live on a certain date, it shouldn’t be too much longer. I’ll make a post here when it does, in case anyone’s curious and fancies taking a look.

The Books

The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
Buy from Amazon.com or B&N

Summary: Moon has spent his life hiding what he is – a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself… someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn’t tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power… that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony’s survival… and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself… and his newfound kin.

Review: Reread; full review here.

The Serpent Sea, by Martha Wells
Buy from Amazon.com or B&N

Summary: Moon, once a solitary wanderer, has become consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Together, they travel with their people on a pair of flying ships in hopes of finding a new home for their colony. Moon finally feels like he’s found a tribe where he belongs. But when the travelers reach the ancestral home of Indigo Cloud, shrouded within the trunk of a mountain-sized tree, they discover a blight infecting its core. Nearby they find the remains of the invaders who may be responsible, as well as evidence of a devastating theft. This discovery sends Moon and the hunters of Indigo Cloud on a quest for the heartstone of the tree — a quest that will lead them far away, across the Serpent Sea.

Review: Reread; full review here.

The Siren Depths, by Martha Wells
Buy from Amazon.com or B&N

Summary: All his life, Moon roamed the Three Worlds, a solitary wanderer forced to hide his true nature — until he was reunited with his own kind, the Raksura, and found a new life as consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. But now a rival court has laid claim to him, and Jade may or may not be willing to fight for him. Beset by doubts, Moon must travel in the company of strangers to a distant realm where he will finally face the forgotten secrets of his past, even as an old enemy returns with a vengeance. The Fell, a vicious race of shape-shifting predators, menaces groundlings and Raksura alike. Determined to crossbreed with the Raksura for arcane purposes, they are driven by an ancient voice that cries out from . . . .The siren depths.

Review: Review forthcoming.

The Alchemy of Chaos, by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Buy from Amazon.com or B&N

Summary: Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante-turned-legend—and a danger to Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of Dentonhill. Veranix is determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang in his neighborhood. But Veranix is also a magic student at the University of Maradaine, and it’s exam week. With his academic career riding on his performance, there’s no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits. But when a series of pranks on campus grow deadly, it’s clear that someone has a vendetta against the university, and Veranix may be the only one who can stop them…

Review: Having read and enjoyed the other two Maradaine novels that Maresca has written, it was no surprise to me that I similarly enjoyed this one. The story returns to Veranix, still attempting to get through his classes at the university while maintaining his secret life as a vigilante bent on bringing down a druglord. The pressure rises as attacks on the University and its residents disrupt life and make it more difficult for Veranix to sneak out and live his alternate life, and at the same time a group of assassins have been hired to take down the Thorn once and for all.

Maresca has a gift for writing action and intrigue, both of which shine in The Alchemy of Chaos. There’s a mystery afoot, and while some hints are dropped along the way, there’s also enough misdirection to keep the reader turning pages, looking for more information about who’s attacking the University and who’s prodding the Red Rabbits along. First you think you know, then you don’t. It’s a great tense mystery, and it was a lot of fun to read through. That’s really what these novels come down to, in a nutshell. They’re fun. They’re fast and witty and like any good action story, they keep you hanging on and wanting more because you don’t want the adventure to end. That’s why I enjoy this series so much. It doesn’t pretend to be deep and dark and serious and some epic world-changing piece of fantasy. It excels at being what it is, and that is pure enjoyment.

I do have a minor nitpick, and your mileage may vary on this one, but the the ending of the novel seem too… neat for my taste. Specifically, a chance accident early on in the book leads to things being set up in what is stated as literally the only way for the culprit’s plan to be foiled and everyone to be saved. I admit that in a novel that is basically about a secondary-world superhero, you have to allow for some suspension of disbelief, but this too-convenient setup stretched that to its limits. It didn’t ruin anything, but it did have me raising an eyebrow.

Still, The Alchemy of Chaos was a good trip back into a fun fantasy world, and I’m keeping my eyes open for future installments. This is the kind of series that you keep coming back to for low-commitment low-stress light reading, and I like this ideas that Maresca plays with here, from retribution to the effects of the past to just plain knowing the difference between friends and enemies. Worth taking a chance on, and if you already liked the other 2 books he wrote, then chances are you’ll like this one too.

The Paper Menagerie, and Other Stories, by Ken Liu
Buy from Amazon.com or B&N

Summary: With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie. This mesmerizing collection features all of Ken’s award-winning and award-finalist stories, including: “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” (Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards), “Mono No Aware” (Hugo Award winner), “The Waves” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” (Nebula and Sturgeon award finalists), “All the Flavors” (Nebula award finalist), “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” (Nebula Award finalist), and the most awarded story in the genre’s history, “The Paper Menagerie” (The only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards).

A must-have for every science fiction and fantasy fan, this beautiful book is an anthology to savor.

Review: Review forthcoming.

One comment on “February Wrap-Up

  1. Pingback: DAW Books and Sheila Gilbert | MARSHALL RYAN MARESCA

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