Book Review: Alita: Battle Angel - Iron City, by Pat Cadigan

A prequel that didn't need to be written.

Alita: Battle Angel - Iron City

Titan Books, 2018, 312 pages

The official prequel novel to the highly anticipated film

A long time ago, there was the Great War. The reasons for the war have been lost to time. On the shattered surface of the earth, there is a metropolis that lives amid the garbage thrown down from the inhabitants of a sky city floating above it. Welcome to Iron City.

A lonely doctor specializing in cyborg repair, Ido, is doing his best to help the citizens of Iron City. But Ido has a double life, another persona born from the pieces of his broken heart.

Hugo, a young man surviving on a life of crime, spots the ultimate steal: an object that will unearth secrets from his own past.

And Vector, the most powerful businessman in the city, has his sights set on a new technology that will change the future of Iron City forever....

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Also by Pat Cadigan: My review of Alita: Battle Angel.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: From Cold Ashes Risen, by Rob J. Hayes

The third book of the War Eternal: Eskara becomes the Corpse Queen.

From Cold Ashes Risen

Self-published, 2020, 446 pages

The Corpse Queen comes.

Eskara has lost everything. The War Eternal has cost her everything she loves, and the Iron Legion has taken the rest. Yet there is something that is still hers, something that kept her warm during her time in the Pit: anger and a lust for vengeance. First on the list of those who must pay: the Emperor of Terrelan.

Her friends counsel peace, but her inner demons push for war, and Eska finds herself caught in the middle. Will she find a way to reap her vengeance? Or will the enemies of her past catch up to her first? One thing is certain. The world will soon know fear when the Corpse Queen ascends her throne.

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Also by Rob J. Hayes: My reviews of Along the Razor's Edge and The Lessons Never Learned.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: The Lessons Never Learned, by Rob J. Hayes

The second book of a dark fantasy series with a bitchy protagonist redeemed by her enemies being even worse.

The Lessons Never Learned

Self-published, 2020, 512 pages

I am the weapon.

Eskara is free of the Pit, but far from safe. She is beset by the ghosts of those she has killed, and plagued by the ancient horror that possesses her. Enemies dog her heels, determined to see the last Orran Sourcerer dead. Worse still, there is new player in the game, one far more dangerous than anything she has faced before. 

But there is one place that might offer her both the safety she needs to survive, and the power she needs to strike back; Ro’shan, the flying home of a God. Eska will soon learn that all power comes with a cost, and some prices are too high.

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Also by Rob J. Hayes: My review of Along the Razor's Edge.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, by Catherynne Valente

September's adventures in Fairyland come to an end... or do they?

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home

Feiwel and Friends, 2016, 308 pages

This final book in the New York Times-bestselling Fairyland series finds September accidentally crowned the Queen of Fairyland. But there are others who believe they have a fair and good claim on the throne, so there is a Royal Race--whoever wins will seize the crown.

Along the way, beloved characters including the Wyverary, A-Through-L, the boy Saturday, the changelings Hawthorn and Tamburlaine, the wombat Blunderbuss, and the gramophone Scratch are caught up in the madness. And September's parents have crossed the universe to find their daughter.

Who will win? What will become of September, Saturday, and A-Through-L? The answers will surprise you, and are as bewitching and bedazzling as fans of this series by Catherynne M. Valente have come to expect.oo

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Also by Catherynne Valente: My reviews of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, The Habitation of the Blessed, Silently and Very Fast, Deathless, Six-Gun Snow White, and Space Opera.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: How High We Go in the Dark, by Sequoia Nagamatsu

A global pandemic crashes the economy, devastates society, and leads to interstellar colonization. If only.

How High We Go in the Dark

William Morrow, 2022, 304 pages

For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague—a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet. 

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

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My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Shutter, by Ramona Emerson

A Navajo crime photographer sees dead people.


Soho Crime, 2022, 296 pages

This blood-chilling debut set in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation is equal parts gripping crime thriller, supernatural horror, and poignant portrayal of coming of age on the reservation 

Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. Her excellent photography skills have cracked many cases—she is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: she sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook. 

As a lone portal back to the living for traumatized spirits, Rita is terrorized by nagging ghosts who won’t let her sleep and who sabotage her personal life. Her taboo and psychologically harrowing ability was what drove her away from the Navajo reservation, where she was raised by her grandmother. It has isolated her from friends and gotten her in trouble with the law. 

And now it might be what gets her killed. 

When Rita is sent to photograph the scene of a supposed suicide on a highway overpass, the furious, discombobulated ghost of the victim—who insists she was murdered—latches onto Rita, forcing her on a quest for revenge against her killers, and Rita finds herself in the crosshairs of one of Albuquerque’s most dangerous cartels. Written in sparkling, gruesome prose, Shutter is an explosive debut from one of crime fiction's most powerful new voices.

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My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Haley's Cozy System Armageddon, by M.C.A. Hogarth

A feel-good slice-of-life apocalypse.

Haley's Cozy System Armageddon

Self-published, 2022, 76 pages

A Girl, a Grandma, and a Lot of Cookies

When the apocalypse hit, Haley was ready to embark on her life-long dream of becoming a wizard! But the system has other plans for her...

Enjoy a feel-good slice-of-life short... come away smiling!

This story is good for all ages and comes with a recipe so that when you get to the end of it, you can make the cookies and re-read it while eating the cookies the characters are eating. Because that's the kind of story it is.

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My complete list of book reviews.

Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing, by Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem

A dialog between a writing couple about their writing processes and careers.

Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing

Apex Book Company, 2017, 228 pages

Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem are no strangers to the writing business. Between the two of them, they have published more than 600 short stories, 20 novels, and 10 short story collections. Not to mention numerous articles, essays, poems, and plays. They’ve won the World Fantasy Award, British Fantasy Award, and Bram Stoker Award.

In this book they go over everything from the mechanics of writing, to how to find the time to write, to dealing with all the paper writers tend to collect. They discuss plot, point of view, setting, characterization, and more, all in an informal tone that invites you to become part of their conversation. Learn how to find your stories because they are Yours to Tell.

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My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Made Things, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A mage-thief's heist leads to a revolt against the archmages.

Made Things, 2019, 192 pages

Making friends has never been so important.

Welcome to Fountains Parish - a cesspit of trade and crime, where ambition curls up to die and desperation grows on its cobbled streets like mold on week-old bread. 

Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don't...tiny puppet-like companions: some made of wood, some of metal. They don't entirely trust her, and she doesn't entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.

After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must re-examine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.

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Also by Adrian Tchaikovsky: My reviews of Children of Time, Children of Ruin, Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling, and The Expert System's Brother.

My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Along the Razor's Edge, by Rob J. Hayes

An angsty teen protagonist in a self-published fantasy novel that actually works.

Along the Razor's Edge

self-published, 2020, 380 pages

An empire in flames. A prisoner of war. An unbreakable will to escape.

At just 15, Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known - and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her: the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now, she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to make new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out.

Her enemies will soon find out that Eskara is not so easily broken.

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My complete list of book reviews.