Tag Archives: book reviews

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.

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 The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars Mystery) by G.L. Carriger

I ordered a signed paperback copy of The 5th Gender, by G. L. Carriger from Borderland Books.

Description from Goodreads:

A species that has no word for murder, has a murderer aboard their spaceship. 

ALIEN 

Tristol lives in exile. But he’s built a life for himself aboard a human space station. He’s even begun to understand the complex nuances of human courting rituals. 

Detective Hastion is finally flirting back! 

MURDER 

Except that Tristol’s beloved space station is unexpectedly contacted by the galoi – a xenophobic species with five genders, purple skin, and serious attitude. They need the help of a human detective because there’s a murderer aboard their spaceship. Murder is so rare, the galoi don’t even have a word for it. 

Tristol knows this because he is galoi. 

ROMANCE 

Which means that he and Detective Hastion are on the case… together. 

Review:

I was super excited for this book. Carriger is one of my favorite authors and I thought this sounded like a very sweet MM sci-fi romance (one of my favorite genres). And it is. The problem is that it seems to depend far too heavily on being cute and feel-good and no where near enough on world building, character development and plot (not something I ever expected to say about a Carriger book). 

The love is basically instant, in that the characters are supposed to have been attracted to each other for a while. But all it took was one single conversation for them to go from distant but attracted to ‘lets move in together.’ So, I see no reason for this conversation not to have happened at any point in their past. The mystery is very easy to solve and, in todays (American) political climate, notably pointed. And I was disappointed to find that Carriger created a race with 5 distinct genders, but Tris was so recognizably feminized and then contrasted against Drey’s manly-madness. I feel like the premise promised to challenge gender stereotypes, but instead presented them un-interrogated. 

As always however, the writing is sharp and easy to read. Carriger’s trademark wit and humor are in abundance and the heroes are very likable. Maybe if my hopes hadn’t been so high to begin with I wouldn’t have been so disappointed at the end. It’s not a bad book by any means, just not as great as I had hoped.