Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review: Limited Wish

Limited Wish Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review posted at Grimdark Magazine: https://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/revi...

I read One Word Kill a few weeks ago and was thrilled to get hold of an eARC of the sequel, Limited Wish.

If you liked book one, prepare to be just as entertained an engrossed with book two. The good news is that this book doesn’t suffer at all from “middle book syndrome” where the bridge from beginning to end of a trilogy often becomes the weakest link. Indeed, this is just as good if not better than the first book.

Limited Wish picks up a few months after the events of One Word Kill, as our party of adventurers settles back into their daily lives. Our narrator, Nick, has turned 16 and worked his way into admission at Trinity College in Cambridge, working as a protégé to a Professor in Mathematics. They’re working together on ideas with bending time, as Nick is convinced by his experiences in book one that he eventually invents a method of time travel.

As in book one, Nick and his friends get together each week to play their Dungeons and Dragonscampaign. The book’s title reflects that, with the Limited Wish spell being one that has wondrous benefit but obvious limitations on it. It’s all in the wording of the wish. The campaign story runs parallel to our main story, where Nick is once again dealing with visitors from the future and having to avoid time paradoxes.

This time around, Lawrence ups the stakes from the first book. Nick still has the shadow of leukemia to haunt him and threaten to end his future before he can move to set it back to what it was, or is, supposed to be. We see that there are many alternate realities and possibilities, and Nick is determined to make sure that his reality is one where he isn’t killed by such things as his leukemia or the simple fact of the universe seeming to be out to kill him with random accidents. If that’s not enough, Nick and his friends are dealing with the aftermath of the events in book one, where they know certain parts of their futures and are dealing with the questions of how set in stone they are or if their current actions will change things up and create a Butterfly Effect.

This isn’t a rehash of the first book, but a deeper study into time bending and alteration, and the paradoxes that are formed when it’s attempted. At the centre of these ideas is the “time hammer”, which Nick will need to employ at a precise moment of convergence in order to set things “right”. It’s a bit of a mind twister for both Nick and the reader, but Lawrence pulls it off in ways that make sense scientifically and make sense to the layman reader.

I’m recommending the Impossible Times trilogy as one of the top reads of 2019, and very much looking forward to the conclusion in November. I can see this series down the road as an essential re-read, as there will be lots of little things to snap into place the second time around. Perhaps the time hammer will make elements click that might have been overlooked with the first reading.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Review: Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music

Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music by John Corbett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Sometimes I like to just throw a music memoir into the mix as they give great perspective of the journey of life with great music as a backdrop.

I did get that here, though to be honest I had to skip some sections. I was reading it all for the first quarter but found myself mired when the author was covering artists I wasn't familiar with. Ideally, the writing would make me want to go out and find the material and give it a listen. But that didn't always work here. Sometimes I think the author just got too heavy handed with the descriptive words and cultural references that I didn't often get.

That said, there were some great moments here, especially in the areas where an artist I listen to was covered. These would take me back to a time when it was all new to me, much like it was for the author.

So yeah, great sections and some areas where my eyes glazed over. But all in all a fun experience...

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Review: One Word Kill

One Word Kill One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review posted at Grimdark Magazine: https://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/revi...

Though I often read more than one book at a time, I generally keep to a rule that I have for myself which prevents me from reading multiple books by the same author. With One Word Kill, I made an exception. My current audiobook is Holy Sister, also by Mark Lawrence, but since it is such a different genre and setting, I didn’t think it would be a problem. I was correct, as the only thing that carried over into this book was Lawrence’s great storytelling.

Nick is a teenager that just wants to get through school and get to the weekends when he can enjoy the D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) sessions he has with a small group of friends. He might even be interested in kissing a girl, but that comes later. At the beginning of our story, Nick has learned that he has leukemia, and the prognosis isn’t that great. Talk about a chilling way to end the first paragraph of the novel:

“As unwilling to speculate as he was, I think even Dr. Parsons would have assured me that the cancer would give me the next four weeks. But as it turned out, I would die even before February got into its stride.”

Wow! Right there Lawrence hooks and scares his readers from the first. But of course, we want to know what happened next, and how Nick is narrating this story.

Before long, we’re getting right into the meat of the game, which has a storyline with parallels to what happens to the group in the real world. We soon learn the significance of the book’s title and see how it relates to both the game and the struggles that our characters face through the course of learning of Nick’s cancer and dealing with other social issues that plague the group. Nick’s perspective is changed through the book as he starts to look at the world differently, knowing that his time may very well be limited.

From reading reviews, I’ve seen that this book is sometimes described as Stranger Things meets Ready Player One. As far as tone, I would agree, but for content not as much. I do see the definite Stranger Things parallel, as we have a small group of teenagers getting together to play their D&D game each week, and weird stuff happens that run in sequence alongside the D&D campaign. But other than the first-person quasi science fiction story going on, I didn’t really see it as all that similar to Ready Player One. But that’s still not a bad way to set expectations with approach to this book.

Regardless of comparisons, the only thing that’s important with One Word Kill is that it be read immediately. Mark Lawrence has become one of my favorite authors, and he shows here that whatever the genre, he’s a master of bringing good characters to life with fantastic prose and plot. It’s exciting to know that the other two books in this trilogy will be out later this year.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Review: Holy Sister

Holy Sister Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It seems that unsatisfying endings are common in series these days (if they end at all), so this was a breath of fresh air. Not only did this trilogy end well, but it did so while bringing the heartache and devastation right along with the smiles and "fuck yeah!"fist raising moments.

These characters will break and/or melt your heart.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Review: Beyond The Shadows: Volume One: A Grimdark Anthology

Beyond The Shadows: Volume One: A Grimdark Anthology Beyond The Shadows: Volume One: A Grimdark Anthology by Stefan M. Nardi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Full review now posted at Grimdark Magazine

It’s always an exciting thing to see a new anthology of grimdark stories when it’s released. Great artwork typically pulls me in along with a list of stories promising lots of grit, swords, and dismemberment.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: Gia

Gia Gia by Kristi Belcamino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice intro story to get acquainted with Gia Santella. Self contained but serves as a great teaser to the main series.

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