The first time I ever requested an egalley from Angry Robot I did so because I figured, hey. That sounds like Bad Robot, right? And Bad Robot is awesome. So why not give it a shot? Little did I know that they would have so many awesome books in their line up. And technically, since they aren’t really indie publishers . Angry Robot is an international publishing company that specializes in “SF, F and WTF?!?” (their words, not mine). So instead of lumping them into the Indie eBook Roundup anyway because we’ve been needing to do a publisher specific one for a while now I’m switching this over to an eBook ARC Roundup so I can recognize awesome publishers who I’ve gotten some pretty freakin’ awesome egalleys from.
Because these guys publish some awesome stuff. They deserve the recognition.
You actually can’t go wrong with any of the books below. Any one of them would be pretty great.
Blue Blazes was the first sign I saw that Angry Robot knows how to pick awesome books. And apparently Chuck Wendig is a really good author. I’ve never read anything else he’s written but apparently a lot of people had good things to say about him. After reading this book, I agree.
I’m a little hesitant to read through urban fantasy stories these days. They are like a dime a dozen most of the time, with overly sexualized, generally and poorly written. Meanwhile, Blue Blazes is an in your face crime, noir triller that doesn’t hesitate to throw some pretty bad ass punches. I mean, just look at the main character, Mookie. He’s not your goody-toe-shoes Harry Dresden or something. He’s a bad guy. He’s an enforcer. He deals drugs and works for the criminal element in the underground which, it turns out, is one of the few things standing between the real world at the ‘Underworld.’ I mean, he’s not a good guy. But in a lot of ways that makes him a much more approachable and likable character. Mookie makes decisions – good and bad – to maintain the status quo as best as he can and to deal with all the shit that pops up in his life. Like, you know, his estranged daughter walking back into his life, the head of his organization’s quest for a successor, and, of course, all the crazy shenanigans going down with the supernatural.
This is another one of those books that is pretty much awesome but if it hadn’t been so well written I probably wouldn’t have finished it. I like a good, Harry Dresden-esque hero. Mookie Pearl was a bit more gruff and the book a bit more violent and criminal that I usually like. But, man. The world that was crafted in this series was just perfect. A noir NYC, an underground Underworld where creepy crawlies live, and a criminal element standing between us and them? I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate all the stuff the author managed to pull together for this book. I can’t even.
If you want a gritty, noir, urban fantasy novel that throws other urban fantasy conventions to the wind, this is the book for you.
This was a really sort of cute book. I really enjoyed it. Which isn’t surprisingly. I’m an old school science fiction fan at heart and the Lives of Tao is a solid testament to sci-fi story telling.
In the Lives of Tao, we follow two particular characters. The first is the titular Tao who is an alien whose people have been living on Earth for like hundreds of thousands of years. Unfortunately, they can’t survive on their own so they had to bond to other living creatures. Sort of like Yeerks or the Goa’uld they bounce around from host to host. The thing is that over the many, many years they’ve evolved into two very different sects. One group – the much more violent and aggressive Genjix – are willing to sacrifice everything (including the entirety of humanity) to get back home. The other, the Prophus, are a lot more level minded and people friendly about the whole thing.
The other main character is Roen. I like Roen. As annoying as he could be at times, I mean, the guy was me. He was you. He was anyone. An overweight and out of shape computer program, Roen never asked to become the newest host for Tao but he finds himself suddenly wrapped up in this on-going, never-ending, battle of basically good and evil. And he is totally out of his league. I loved watching Roen going through all the motions even if he’s a bit, well, dumb sometimes.
One of the cooler parts of the story was how they explained just how Tao’s people have been manipulating human development. The problem was that sometimes they developed that part of the world at the detriment to other aspects of world building that just didn’t get the same amount of attention and probably should have. And while I would have liked to have learned more about Tao’s other lives the amount of time spent with Ghenghis Kahn, for example, wasn’t actually all that interesting to me so. I don’t know.
Over all, great story and great book. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a fantastic, pretty quick read.
Okay, so, this one appealed a lot to middle school me. The idea of being a super awesome futuristic alien veterinarian? Yeah. That’s got ten year old Sam written all over it. And, to be fair, that part of the book is actually kind of cool.
Zenn Scarlett is a seventeen year old living with her uncle on a Martian colony. She’s training to be an ‘exovet’ and a large part of the story is her wandering around the colony taking care of the alien creatures and what not. It was kind of cool to see the types of creatures that she and her uncle and friends cared for – even if they weren’t always the most imaginative. I guess that happens, though. You’ve got to take the inspiration for things from what you’ve got to work with and reasonably that means Earth-like creatures that could survive on a terraformed Mars. There were a few awesome exceptions in there and those are pretty cool.
Unfortunately, while the general idea behind the story is a lot of fun and has potential the rest falls a bit short. There are some underlying issues – the mystery behind what happened to Zenn’s mother being one, the obvious sabotage to the financially troubled school where she lives and works – that just don’t get the sort of attention they deserve. A lot of the issues that are happening a kind of foreseeable and stereotypical, the resolutions simple, the conflict not fully realized. I think I just went in to the book with a lot of expectations and they were only partially met. I wasn’t disappointed, really. But I had a lot higher hopes for the book.
So, ultimately, this was a fun read and it’s well established for a sequel – though I’m not sure if/when one is due. It’s a great science fiction book for teenage girls and I think that it knows how to draw in it’s particular audience.
In a lot of ways I think the Woken Gods tackles the idea of a resurrected mythological pantheon better than most other books that try to do the same. They always just seem to try and hide the gods and creatures and everything in those other books. The Woken Gods does not. In this world the old gods have returned in force and everyone is very much aware of it. They have no interest in hiding from humanity; they are quite involved and the balance between the human world and these returned gods is constantly at risk.
This is the world that seventeen year old Kyra lives in. But even though the gods returned five years ago she lives a fairly normal life. She has normal enough friends, a normal enough relationship with her father, and a normal enough suburban teenage rebel lifestyle. That is until her father takes off mysteriously and the Society of the Sun comes to her asking after an artifact he may or may not have stolen. This all sets her off on her little quest to save her father, save the day, and maybe save the world.
So, let’s talk about this book. Because I liked this book. I liked Kyra a lot and I thought she was a fully realized character with her own potential and personality well established. I liked the secondary characters a lot, actually, and thought that they were pretty engaging if not always as developed as I liked. What I liked the most, though, was the expansive knowledge of mythology that the author brought to the table and worked into the story. You got a lot of different gods and mythological characters worked into the plot which was nice. It wasn’t just the Greek or Roman gods we all know. She worked in the Egyptian and actually very heavily the Sumerian mythology, too. That was particularly nice. (Plus who doesn’t love seeing Coyote pop up?)
One thing I didn’t like? The POV switches. C’mon. What was the point of going from first to third person willynilly like that? Pick a narrator or a style and just go with it. Another thing I would have liked would have been to see the world building realized a bit more. The author did a fantastic job with what we saw but there was a lot more going on in the world that would have been nice to at least get some understanding of as we went along.
That all said, this is a great book – especially for fans of mythology looking for something better developed than the Percy Jackson series but on more of a YA level than the Gameboard of the Gods. I highly recommend it for fans of the genre.