Review of Company Town by Madeline Ashby

20447745Company Town by Madeline Ashby. ★★★1/2

Company Town‘s plot didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I nevertheless enjoyed reading it. Hwa’s a bodyguard for a sex workers’ union on a future city built around an oil rig. The city’s being bought out by a single family owned business, and Hwa is offered a new job: guard Joel, the family’s youngest son, who has been receiving death threats from another timeline.

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Review of The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey

28807548The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey. ★★1/2

My problem with The Empty Hourglass is that I kept waiting for things to start happening. Around 80% of the way through I realized, this was it. This was what I was getting. And it just wasn’t enough.

The Empty Hourglass is a steampunk leaning story about a toymaker named Thomas Escott who lost his hand during a fire in his workshop. A mysterious note recommends that he visit Jethro Hastings, a reclusive inventor that is known for making unusual prosthetics. Thomas soon finds that Jethro’s prosthetics are frankly impossible – mechanical limbs that attach directly to the body and work without an obvious power source. And the villagers whisper that Jethro has made a deal with the devil…

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Review of Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Dantelle Ackley-McPail and Day Al-Mohamed

21531932Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale by Dantelle Ackley-McPail and Day Al-Mohamed. ★★★

As you should be able to tell from the title, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn is a steampunk retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, with some magic thrown in. From the synopsis: “In England, far from his desert home, Ali bin-Massoud serves as apprentice to the famed Charles Babbage. One night a mysterious box is delivered by a clockwork falcon and Ali’s world is never the same again. Heartache, danger, and thieves mark his journey as Ali is summoned home at the death of his father.”

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Review of The Deathsniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre

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I like the design of this cover, particularly the limited color scheme.

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre. ★★★1/2

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is a very promising start to a series by a debut author. It’s a fantasy mystery story set in a semi-Victorian world with a fairly unique magical system. I’m docking it half a star for a spoiler near the end, but other wise it easily would have gotten four.

Chris Buckley’s a nineteen year old orphan trying to raise his sister among the decaying remnants of the family estate. With the country’s ongoing economic problems, he has difficulty finding a job until he goes to work for Olivia Faraday, a deathsniffer. Deathsniffer’s are the in universe equivalent of homicide detectives, and the pair quickly have their first case, investigating the death of the Duchess val Daren’s husband. Meanwhile, Chris is trying to protect his magically gifted sister from those in the country who’d use her talents to support their own political agenda without any regard for her health or safety.

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Review of Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

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I love the black and white typography here. The interplay of the different textures and animals with the city-scapes is fascinating and ties in well with the book.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. ★★★1/2

Zoo City is one of the most inventive urban fantasies I’ve read. It was an engrossing book with plenty to keep me interested, although I found the ending to be weak.

Zinzi is an animalled – a person for whom the shadows rise up out of the earth to give an animal after they commit a crime. If the animal dies, the shadows will rise out of the earth again and take the animalled with it. In Zinzi’s case, she’s got a dead brother and a sloth.

The set up of the “animalled” is very interesting and what makes the story so unique. The animal is like a physical representation of their past sins, but it’s up in the air whether the animal is meant to punish or rehabilitate.

The one bonus of being an “animalled” is that each one comes with a gift. For Zinzi, it’s a knack to find lost things, which is one of the ways in which she makes her living. The plot thus revolves around her tracking down a missing pop star with ensuing complications.

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Review of Huntress by Malinda Lo

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I really love the design of the cover, but the lighting is bugging me. How come it’s coming from both sides of her? Why are both sides of her face lit up?

Huntress by Malinda Lo. ★★★

Huntress is a low stress, fairly simple young adult book about two girls who go on a quest to save their kingdom and happen to fall in love with each other along the way.

The book starts with Taisin, a seventeen year old training to be a sage, having a vision. She sees herself watching a girl she loves deeply row away to what’s probably her death. Taisin’s vision is proven to be crucial to a journey to visit the Fairy Queen, a visit that’s hoped to save the kingdom from starvation and the strange and dangerous creatures that have started to appear along the border. Taisin, Kaede, the king’s son, and three guards are thus packed off on this dangerous quest.

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