All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

A well written book, with super engaging characters. Patricia and Laurence begin the story young; a big chunk of the book is written with Patricia and Laurence in 8th grade.

They’re both outcasts, each with their own niche–and each with overbearing parents who want to fix them. They become their own people with a lot of struggle.

When they reconnect, it’s exciting to see them confident and come into their own. Of course, the universe keeps it tough on them…

Tanith Lee’s Claidi Journals

Wolf Tower has three sequels: Wolf Star; Wolf Queen, and Wolf Wing.

Long story short, if you liked the first one, the next three should be right up your alley. Wolf Star has Claidi acted on again as the prime mover, but she takes over protagonist duties and drives the book to its conclusion. Wolf Queen really plays up a new opponent; poor Claidi’s pretty desperate for most of the book, but the ending’s a huge relief and feels like closure.

The 4th book, Wolf Wing, stretches a bit more. The world’s hybridization of science and magic “goes big” with its focus on Ustareth. The world is filled with more tests and weird new races… which is great for a book focused on the genius inventor/mad scientist Ustareth.

The four books hang together well and offer a compelling conclusion to Claidi’s tale. In the end, they’re approaching a newly stable situation that wraps around well to the first book.

Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee

The first of a 4 book series. Claidi is a handmaiden servant to a self-involved and sadistic mistress. Eventually, the routine of the quiet and isolated Garden she was raised in is disturbed… forcing her out into the forbidding wastes.

It’s a novel filled with exploration–and true exploration, not conquest. Claidi is young and sheltered in a world that doesn’t make allowances for it.

She’s a good companion and interesting to explore the world with. It’s a blazing fast read; I’ll pick up the next three books and expect to gobble them down quickly.

Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson

Three parallel stories of downtrodden women in three eras. Our first (and to me, primary) story is set on Haiti in the era of slavery. The second story is an actress struggling to survive in pre-revolution France, while the third is of a slave in Roman occupied Egypt.

All three are well told; there’s a great deal of immediacy. Childbirth matters a lot to all three… and the odd spirit framing device between them.

It’s a heavy book, but very well told. Your empathy gets quite a workout.

Ash by Malinda Lo

A great fairytale retelling, grounding the story and explaining (or justifying) the faerie interference. It’s long on setup–with Ash being acted on, as a child–but eventually she starts to stretch within the confines of her family.

There’s a cool element with the huntress, but that part seems underdeveloped–or, I suppose–mostly hinted at until the very end. The second debt seemed much thinner than the first–I could feel the rails of “must match” more strongly, but it’s imaginative and well told altogether.

While the above is a bit of faint praise, I did really enjoy the book and will look for other things that the author wrote.

Moon Flights by Elizabeth Moon

A neat collection of short stories; all well crafted and relatively uniform in length. They’re mostly books from her universes.

My reaction to stories mostly corresponded to the exposure to the source books. The one short story about the composer who hastily signs a contract was good and memorable — and unfamiliar to me. The stories in universes that I already liked (Paksenarrion), were cool additions to the universe — not required, but new slantwise reads on the way things are. The Vatta series came out well–I really liked “Say Cheese”, and may have to track down the novels that go with it. (The short story about the musician in Sparta was also interesting, but relied on familiarity with the culture (and maybe the hero) a bit too much for me to love it. The Ladies Arms short stories were humorous, but didn’t really grab me.

In the end, it was a fun read–and no clunkers.

Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez

So far, it’s an okay but not great book. I’m glad that I checked it out from the library; while it’s not great, it’s fun. I suspect that I hopped in at book 2 or 3… but I’m not really inspired to go dig up book one.

It’s a quirky book with a world like ours, but subject to visitations by beings from other dimensions–who sometimes get stuck. It’s lightly humorous not a pun-a-minute, but there’s a lot of slice of life elements… and an answer to what you do when you’re granted great cosmic power. By the end, it was enjoyable–but still not so much that I’m going to seek out more of the series.

Shadowed Souls by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes

A collection of short stories, mostly Urban Fantasy. A few stories were written to stand alone and a few were from series I already appreciate. (Like Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, about Molly.) In general, I enjoyed them, though most weren’t a huge impact–they almost all seem to have been written as easy to skip side adventures that don’t affect the main book series.

The vignettes of established characters from series that I don’t read had a much taller climb. Impossible Monsters was a good stand alone. Hunter Healer was new to me and intriguing. Impossible Monsters was much darker than the rest–it stood out, positively–though I doubt that I’d enjoy whole novels about the character. (The character also has an obnoxious feel of having leveled up that I dislike in non-game world fiction… and even there, usually.) Peacock in Hell also stuck with me.

Hitchers by Will McIntosh

The world goes weird. There’s terrorism, possession, widespread death, family, and memories. The end of the world is all about relationships, and guilt that can’t be put aside.

I enjoyed it and don’t want to spoil it too much.

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

The beginning of a cool series, I hope. It follows Vaelin Al Sorna; most of the book focuses on his teens, where he is apprenticed to the Sixth Order. It’s a tough life of dedication–something of a cross between a military boarding school and a monastic order.

There are politics going on in the background–among the Aspects, the nobility, and more. They’re intriguing and complex, particularly from a young “don’t know the players” POV–but it’s not just politicking for the sake of screwing people over, or hat trick deaths.

I like the main character and his brothers… and look forward to seeing how the story progresses.