The Innkeeper Chronicles: Volume One by Ilona Andrews. ★★★1/2
I’ve long been a fan of Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniel books, but The Innkeeper Chronicles was the first time I’ve checked out some of their other work. This edition is the first three books in the series bound into one volume. For plot specific commentary, I will divide this review into separate parts, so you can read without fear of spoilers.
Dina seemingly runs a humble B&B in an ordinary Texas suburb. However, Dina’s B&B has an unusual set of clientele: aliens. Her permanent guest is a former galactic tyrant with a huge bounty on her head, and Dina regularly plays host to such species as genetically modified were-wolves and space vampires. The Innkeeper Chronicles is an eclectic mix of urban fantasy and science fiction. As ever, Ilona Andrews blew me away with sheer inventiveness of the world they created.
This Other World by A.C. Buchanan. ★★★★
What a lovely science fiction novella! It’s a quiet story, and a short read (I read it in under an hour). Because of that, this review will be a bit shorter than normal.
Vonika’s an autistic engineer who chose to immigrate to an alien planet. She has built a career and life for herself there, complete with a marriage to an alien woman. In Temia, older citizens go through a process where they transition away from individuality and towards a group consciousness. Vonika is still deciding whether or not she’s willing to go through the process when she begins to get flashes of memories that don’t belong to her… At the same time, Temia is on the brink of war with a neighboring country, so Vonika’s life may be changing in more ways than one.
This Other World is intimately focused on Vonika’s life. While she is effected by larger events and affects them in turn, This Other World is no the sort of story that has a large scope or a heavy focus on action. It’s the sort of book I’d imagine would be perfect for curling up with a cup of tea on a cold day.
Vonika never felt like she fit in on Earth, and she still doesn’t really fit in in Temia. But as one of the only humans in the nation, her differences are presumed to be a feature common to her species and she finds herself more readily accepted. I can’t speak as to how her autism is portrayed, but I’ll note that this is own voices – the author is autistic as well.
I suggest This Other World for anyone looking for charming sci-fi novella with a bit of a mystery element.
Rosewater by Tade Thompson. ★★★★
Rosewater is one of the most inventive science fiction novels I’ve read in a long time, and I dearly hope it gets more attention.
Nigeria, 2066. Kaaro lives in the city of Rosewater, a settlement that grew up around an alien biodome. He spends his days providing psychic protection for a bank, but secretly, he’s the most powerful psychic of Section 35, a secret agency within the Nigerian government. As other psychics begin dying one by one, Kaaro will defy the agency to find an answer. Continue reading
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach. ★★★1/2
I was in the mood for something fast paced with a lot of action and preferably explosions. Fortune’s Pawn was a perfect fit. It’s sort of like Guardians of the Galaxy crossed with Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series. Basically, a lot of fun.
Devi Morris wants nothing more than to join the elite unit of the king’s guard, the Devastators. She even quits her job at the best mercenary company in her corner of the universe when she realizes that she can’t move up any higher. Instead her ambition takes her to The Glorious Fool, a cargo ship so known for getting into trouble that one year on it is worth five years anywhere else. But even Devi underestimates just how much trouble the Fool can be.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. ★★★
Trigger warning: Rape
Tan-Tan is a young girl living on the Caribbean planet of Toussaint. But the world she lives in is only one dimension of the planet. What happens when she and her father fall into the wilderness of New-Half Way Tree, the alternate dimension where Toussaint sends criminals and exiles?
And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst. ★★★1/2
And All the Stars is one of the better YA apocalyptic novels I’ve read. Towers have sprouted from cities around the world, spreading a strange dust. Those who encounter the dust either die or transform… Madeleine Cost is a fifteen year old artist who’s skipping school to go paint a portrait of her cousin. She winds up right next to Sydney’s tower and gets absolutely coated in the dust. She teams up with some other teenage survivors to face the new world and what they’ve become.
The Color of Distance by Amy Thomson. ★★★★
The Color of Distance was one of the most compelling first contact stories I’ve come across. At first I was a bit skeptical, sure I would be getting a story that I’d seen a million times before. However, The Color of Distance won me over with it’s focus on characterization and underlying sense of optimism.
Juna is the only survivor of a crash landing of human surveyors on an uninhabitable world. Luckily for her she is found by three aliens who are able to keep her alive. However, she is now adrift and alone in a completely alien place and culture. Ani, one of the aliens who finds her, initially sees Juna as a burden and blames her for her mentor’s death.