Dunc reads: Oh-so-very belated mini-reviews for June

June reads

The Pretender’s Crown by C.E. MurphyThe Pretender’s Crown by C.E. Murphy
      For all my issues with the ‘revelation’ of the first book (which, no, I won’t spoil,) I found it integrated fairly quickly here, and ceased to really bother me as a plot point. But on the other hand, as a finale the book felt a bit lacking. The premise, once I got used to it, is rather intriguing…
      I certainly wouldn’t avoid further sequels, but I won’t cry if they never come. [Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell's]

The Courts of the Sun by Brian D’amatoThe Courts of the Sun by Brian D’amato
      For all this book is pegged as time-travel, the first half is really a mainstream thriller – or at least that’s how it read to me, mainstream thrillers not really being my bag. This is book that has a lot of… Not technobabble, exactly, but a close cousin. (Not being particularly familiar with games of chance, it took me a while to grasp some aspects of ‘the game.’) I was almost relieved when we finally got to Mayan times, except that then our hero ” blunders into dead end after dead end, though he does finally meet his goal. Well, a goal. Sort of.
      The book isn’t bad, it’s just not what I expected… For all the whatever-babble, It seemed less sci-fi than a Dan Brown-style ‘historical’ thriller with a bit of time travel thrown in.
      And make no mistake, this is very clearly the first book in a trilogy or series, and you will be left at a hanging end. Still, once this comes out in paperback you could do worse for airplane reading… Though probably not if you’re heading out for vacation. [Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell's]

Santa Olivia and Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey
Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey      Carey is one of those authors that people either seem to like or absolutely despise: Her two Kushiel trilogies, which form the background for Naamah’s Kiss here, are the kind of books that get a lot of Mary Sue finger-pointing among people who do that sort of thing, and I can’t totally dispute their point. They do get rather ridiculous at points, and the purple prose is pretty hard to miss. Still, some of us happen to have a weakness for that sort of thing.
Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey      Santa Olivia is none of these things. (Well, maybe a little purple.) It’s set in a town that is currently in a buffer zone between the U.S. and Mexico, and cut off entirely from either country, save for a single military base. It actually has quite a bit in common with Red – a genetically engineered hero, a post-apocalyptic setting, romance – except Santa Olivia is good. It’s a departure for Carey, and unlike her previous attempt at getting away from the Kushiel formula, I found it pretty fascinating… Even with boxing, of all things, as a major plot point. If you want to try Carey but find her main series a bit much, check this out. Recommended. [Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell's]
      Naamah’s Kiss is more ‘standard’ Carey – set in the world of the Kushiel books but several generations on, it could be read as a standalone, but probably shouldn’t. Still, I found it a fun read, though I’m not sure if it would really appeal to anyone not already familar with the series. [Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell's]

Fate of the Jedi: Omen by Christie GoldenFate of the Jedi: Omen by Christie Golden
      And here we have the book whose fault it is I didn’t post this batch days ago. Which is not to say that Omen is a bad Star Wars book – it’s not, and if it was this would be a far easier review for me to write. It is, quite frankly, a perfectly servicable middle-of-the-road Star Wars novel.
      There were a few ticks in the prose that I found mildly annoying – too many characters referred to by their full names once too often, some awkward turns of prose – but that’s all nitpicking, and that couldn’t be fixed with some minor editing.
      It has a lot of nice moments – I’m even mildly intrigued by Vestara and the new flavor of Sith introed here, and I’m very rarely interested in OCs. Luke and Ben seem to work pretty well – though I have a hard time seeing any teenager getting along quite that well with their parent, even a Jedi teenager – and even the Han/Leia/Allana parts took us some new places.
      I still find myself feeling a tad uninvolved in this series, though… This one felt very formulaic (yes, I know what I was reading: Moreso than usual) and I’ve about had my fill of seeing D-list Jedi go bonkers. Maybe Denning can kick this up to the next level in Abyss – or maybe I’ll be back here in a month saying that very same about Allston and Backlash. [Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell's]

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