Review of The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark

I borrowed a copy of P. Djèlí Clark‘s The Haunting of Tram Car 015 from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed. 

Review:

This was only a novella. So, here’s a short review for a short book. I basically loved this. I adored Hamed and his new partner Onsi. I loved the setting and the world. I thought the dialogue was sharp and the story satisfying. My only complaint is that on occasion I felt like the tone of the dialogue was inconsistent. But for the most part I just loved this.

There is also a free short story called A Dead Djinn in Cairo, on the Tor website, that is set in the same world, with a minor crossover of characters. I loved it and recommend reading it.

Review In a Badger Way, by Shelly Laurenston

I borrowed a copy of Shelly Laurenston‘s In a Badger Way from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Petite, kind, brilliant, and young, Stevie is nothing like the usual women bodyguard Shen Li is interested in. Even more surprising, the youngest of the lethal, ball-busting, and beautiful MacKilligan sisters is terrified of bears. But she’s not terrified of pandas. She loves pandas. 

Which means that whether Shen wants her to or not, she simply won’t stop cuddling him. He isn’t some stuffed Giant Panda, ya know! He is a Giant Panda shifter. He deserves respect and personal space. Something that little hybrid is completely ignoring.

But Stevie has a way of finding trouble. Like going undercover to take down a scientist experimenting on other shifters. For what, Shen doesn’t want to know, but they’d better find out. And fast. Stevie might be the least violent of the honey badger sisters, but she’s the most dangerous to Shen’s peace of mind. Because she has absolutely no idea how much trouble they’re in . . . or just how damn adorable she is.

Review:

This was really just horrible: juvenile, stupid and basically plotless. I could give it credit for being grammatically sound and edited, but I had to force myself to finish it. So, I’m not going to encourage this puerile idiocy. There were far too many jokes about farting on people, dog shits and releasing anal glands. I want to ask if the author thinks her audience is 12; but the book has lots of good reviews. So, someone somewhere likes it. Just not me. 

I admit I got the occasional chuckle, and I suspect a lot of what made me grit my teeth at the ludicrously over the top antics of this group was probably also meant to be funny. But I just wanted to ask if no one in Laurenston’s professional life is able to reign her in just a little bit. The petite woman doesn’t just shift into a large tiger/honey badger. No, she shifts into a TWO TON animal. No one is just smart or talented, everyone is a GENIUS or a PRODIGY. Stevie doesn’t just have anxiety, she has a crippling phobia of a certain sort of shifter (that doesn’t even make sense in context). There is no spark between the H & h. She just decides they are together and he spends the whole book saying they’re not, until they have sex and then he stops and they’re together. 

I love a bit of humor in my PNR. I abhor a slapstick collection of too-dramatic-to-believe schticks. AND THAT’S ALL THIS BOOK IS.

Review of Out of the Ice, by Ann Turner

I won a paperback copy of Ann Turner‘s Out of the Ice through Goodreads.

Description:

When environmental scientist Laura Alvarado is sent to a remote Antarctic island to report on an abandoned whaling station, she begins to uncover more than she could ever imagine.

Despite new life thriving in the icy wilderness, the whaling station is brimming with awful reminders of its bloody, violent past, and Laura is disturbed by evidence of recent human interference. Rules have been broken, and the protected wildlife is behaving strangely.

On a diving expedition, Laura is separated from her colleague. She emerges into an ice cave where, through the blue shadows, she is shocked to see an anguished figure, crying for help.

But in this freezing, lonely landscape there are ghosts everywhere, and Laura begins to sense that her own eyes cannot be trusted. Is her mind playing tricks? Has she been in the ice too long?

Back at base, Laura’s questions about the whaling station go unanswered, blocked by unhelpful scientists, unused to questions from an outsider. And Laura just can’t shake what happened in the ice cave.

Piecing together a past and present of cruelty and vulnerability that can be traced all around the globe, from Norway, to Nantucket, Europe and Antarctica, Laura will stop at nothing to unearth the truth. As she sees the dark side of endeavour and human nature, she also discovers a legacy of love, hope and the meaning of family. If only Laura can find her way…

Out of the ice.

Review:

I don’t use star ratings on this blog. But I do cross-post to Goodreads, and there I rated this book 2 stars. Let me say early on that my low rating is a reflection of the fact that I did not like the book, not necessarily that it’s a poorly written book. I suppose you could say that it’s a subjective, rather than objecting rating.

The issue was largely that, despite the stunning descriptions of nature, the book didn’t hold my attention. I was bored a lot of the time and I found Laura’s thoughts repetitive. Then, with about 100 pages to go, I set the book aside and read three other ones before forcing myself back to finish it. The problem was that in addition to the things I listed above, it became obvious that the hinted mystery was going to be a pedophilia ring and I both didn’t want to face reading it and felt horribly disappointed that Turner chose such an over-used, tritely salacious climax. All in all, I’m just glad to be finished with it.