Books I’d Read Lately (Part 6)

A Little Bit of Everything

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post about books I’d read lately and recommend. Actually, it’s been six months. But not for lack of reading.

Here are four you may want to read. There is a little bit of everything here for everyone. Check them out!

The Hercules Text by Jack McDevitt

I love Jack McDevitt‘s books. Even if the Alex Benedict‘s novels have turned formulaic lately, they are still enjoyable to read.

I believe this was his very first novel, published in 1986. The one I read is the re-release 2015 updated version. The most notable change is a War on Terror rather than a Cold War setting.

How would we react if we received a signal from outer space? Yes, it is not a novel concept and yet, still a fascinating question.

This is a first contact novel first and foremost. It explores the scientific, political, religious, social, and economic impact of the knowledge that we humans are not alone (despite the fact that the aliens were gone centuries before we get their message in the present).

There are some interesting concepts and likable characters but, honestly, the novel feels dated despite the updating and the narrative feels disjunctive.

Again, McDevitt is one of my favorite authors but this one fell flat for me. I will still recommend it. I rated a 6/10.

Read it to see the published beginning one of the most fun writers out there.

Writers of the Future Vol. 33, edited by David Farland

Ever since I discovered a signed copy at my local bookstore, I’d been a fan of this yearly anthology and its contest. I usually send them my short stories to them first.

What a cool anthology!

This year’s edition features, like most anthologies, a little bit of everything for everyone. Even if there is a story that is not your speed, you will find one to your taste. And you could say you read them here first before they became famous.

This year’s cover is a winner. The interior artwork is out of this world. You should definitely read volume 33.

No, I haven’t look out as finding another signed copy or winning the contest (I did get my first honorable mention last quarter). I still remain a fan.

My personal highlights were Moonlight One, Useless Magic, The Drake Equation, and Tears for Shulna. The Armor Embrace was touching (pun not intended) and Adramelech was fun.

I will rate it a 9.3/10. Do what I do and read a story a day to appreciate them better.

Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre

This book has two things I love, steampunk and Ann Aguirre. She is one of my favorite writers. Here she co-writes with her husband Andres as A.A. Aguirre.

This is first in the Apparatus Infernum series. Right out of the bat they get so much right.

First, the two leads, Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko are likable characters and complement each other well. However, I can’t stop unfairly comparing them to my two favorites, Books and Braun. I prefer the latter.

They work for the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) searching for a serial killer who has a thing for women from important families and ritualized murder.

Yes, there is a serial killer on the loose and magic. Moreover, this is steampunk with paranormal elements. Furthermore, in a non-Victorian setting (but with Victorian elements).

The setting and premise are refreshing. It feels new and different enough. I wish it had more steampunk elements to it.

I greatly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one (Silver Mirrors).  I will rate it a 9/10.

A World Without Color by Bernard Jan

Finally, I would like to recommend this novella with two different endings. Yes, two.

Granted, this is primordially a speculative fiction blog, but it is good to read outside your genre once in a while.

This memoir is highly recommended if you are a pet owner and even if you aren’t. Full of emotion and grief, it chronicles the author’s final days with his cat Marcel.

I could have done without the overtly pro-vegan message (which took me off the story been told a few times). Hard to believe the author is Croatian and English is not his first language.

As a matter of fact, he proves love is universal as well as feelings towards our pets.

I rated it an 8/10. Bring a handkerchief when you read it.


Finally, it is the weekend! I will be at Philcon. I would most likely review it. Have a great weekend and happy reading.

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March 2023