Monthly Archives: July 2018

Review of Dhata Mays, by Greg Dragon

I received an Audible credit from the author (Greg Dragon) for a copy of Dhata Mays. At the time posting, the Kindle version was also free.

Description of Goodreads:
In a war between man and machine, he must find a way to protect them all…

After a devastating war forced humans to rely on synths for survival, the two have learned to coexist peacefully.

Until now…

When detective Dhata Mays is called in to investigate a homicide, what he uncovers threatens the serenity of this futuristic society. The gruesome murder means only one thing: someone is ready to incite another war. Now, it’s up to Dhata to ensure that the truth stays hidden–to protect both sides of the battle. But can he be unbiased in a black and white world that forces him to take sides?

Review:
I quite enjoyed this. It was a little bit futuristic noir, a little bit Maze Runner. Hell, there might even have been a little Elijah Baley in Dhata. It was a good mix. Yes, Dhata was just a little too perfect—a little too tough, with too many connections in all the wrong places to somehow be one of the few clean cops left around. But I liked him and the book all the same. The writing was sharp (though occasionally oddly formal), the mystery progressed at a nice pace, and the persecution of Synths could easily be read as an allegory. I look forward to reading more about him. And Tucker McDougall did a marvelous job with the narration.

On a side note, it’s worth knowing that there is a glossary at the end of the Kindle edition that I think may be missing in the Audible version, which is a shame. I needed it for some of the slang.

 

Review of To See the Sun, by Kelly Jensen

I received a copy of Kelly Jensen‘s To See the Sun through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.

Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.

Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.

Review:
I thought this was really lovely. There wasn’t a lot of action, most of the tension being either in someone’s fear something might happen or in the two men tiptoeing around getting to know one another, but it was nice. Jensen’s writing is beautiful and there was a happy ending for all, except the baddies (who predominantly remained faceless).

I did side-eye the gendered representation of the men though. I don’t mean to suggest all men have to be giant paragons of masculinity, but in the face of jokes about Gael being purchased as Bram’s “wife,” the fact that he’s the physically smaller of the two and excelled at cooking, cleaning and sewing (and genre-wise, came with a kid and was the one that needed to be rescued) almost made him feel uncomfortably misgendered.

I suspect that Jensen gave him some of these same qualities in an attempt to show that a man can still be a man even if he’s not ringing each coded ‘male’ bell. Which just goes to show the thin line authors walk, trying to avoid being stereotypical in one direction only to have someone say they’re being stereotypical in another.

At least Jensen was scrupulous about consent, both spoken and unspoken, even when one partner didn’t initially understand that the other was protecting him in this regard (or that he needed it). She broke convention in not only allowing the smaller man to ‘top,’ but even addressing the ridiculous trope that it’s always the bigger man that does.

I also appreciate that both men were a little older, Bram being almost 50 and Gael 29. Plus, Bram was just one of the most lovable leads I’ve read in a while. So were Geal and Aavi, but Bram stole the show for me. All in all, I really loved this. I don’t hand out a lot of 5-stars, but To See the Sun deserves one.

Review of Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, by Jen Neale

I won a copy of Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, by Jen Neale through Goodreads.

Description:
Almost immediately upon Julie Bird’s return to the small port town where she was raised, everyday life is turned upside down. Julie’s Gulf War vet father, Marty, has been on the losing side of a battle with PTSD for too long. A day of boating takes a dramatic turn when a majestic blue whale beaches itself and dies. A blond stranger sets up camp oceanside: she’s an agitator, musician-impersonator, and armchair philosopher named Jennie Lee Lewis — and Julie discovers she’s connected to her father’s mysterious trip to New Mexico 25 years earlier. As the blue whale decays on the beach, more wildlife turns up dead — apparently by suicide — echoing Marty’s deepest desire. But Julie isn’t ready for a world without her father.

Review:
Do you have a book club? Does it like to read those kind of obscure books that put metaphors and symbolism over…say, making sense and calls itself meaningful? Yea, that’s Land Mammals and Sea Creatures. I can see some literary book clubs that appreciate teasing out nuances liking this.

Me? I really just wanted to know what was happening with the animals and why no one seemed to investigate it, why JJL was so all knowing as a child and then as an adult, what was happening at the shows, and why no one ever tried get Marty into therapy if he’d been suicidal for almost 30 years. I actually really like Magical Realism, but I’m not willing to let it explain away everything. I still want answers in of some sort in the end.

I thought the writing was pretty. I love the cover. I liked some of the characters, especially Alan (the probably gay friend of Marty who’d spent Julie’s whole life stepping up to father on the side). But overall this book was a bust for me.