The Dark Side of the Road by Simon R. Green
The Nightside series by the same author is a favorite. So, when I found this on Netgalley, I quickly requested a copy. We’re introduced to a character who works for the most obscure agencies. They’re major players, so naturally, the public doesn’t know they exist. His handler is in danger and wants our protagonist to immediately head to his ancestral home. And it’s Christmas time.
The writes create a thrilling and hair-raising atmosphere. People get murdered left and right. They seem to know the killer, which is why they let them in. And so on. All the elements of a good mystery.
The killer’s identity isn’t that hard to guess. Even then, the book kept my interest. I should hope it does the same for you.
And then there’s the ending. It made no sense and felt lazy in its execution — done so the hero would get the girl. A good read wrecked by an ending not well thought out.
Swashbuckling Cats: Nine Lives on the Seven Seas Edited by Rhonda Parrish
As its name indicates, this book features feline pirates. Like most anthologies, this one was a mixed bag. Some stories stood out because of their world-building, plot, or characters and made me wish they could be turned into a novel. Others felt incomplete to me. Still others failed to make a mark.
For instance, the story, The Comeback Kitty, seemed muddled. Even by the time it ended, I was still confused about the object the cat wanted her human to steal. The Cat and the Cook, on the other hand, seemed like a finished product. The feline starring in it had mysteriousness and doing stuff just because it pleased him in just the right amounts — y’know the way all cats are!
All Cats Go to Valhalla was original and a fun read. The Pride presented an intriguing world that I’d like to see more of. I’ll say the same for A Royal Saber’s Work is Never Done.
I liked how clever The Perfect Kibble. And the puns in Buccaneer’s Revenge were good too, even if the story was okayish.
The Growing of the Green was fun, if forgettable. The same was true for Pirates Only Love Treasure and The Furgeldt Collector. Cat Out of Hell needed some more context. Whiti te Ra (Let the sun shine) didn’t do for me at all and neither did The Motley Crew or Cat at the Helm.
Like I said, a mixed bag!
Reviews of other books featuring felines can be found here.
The Empress by Laura Martínez-Belli, Simon Bruni (Translator)
I had a feeling I’d enjoy this book and I was so right! The only minor quibble I had with it was that it could have been shorter. But other than that, I’d say I enjoyed this book as much as the Borgia Chronicles novels by Kate Quinn — which is to say, quite a lot.
The timeline jumps back and forth for successive alternating chapters but once you realize that, you won’t have much trouble following the events. One of the protagonists is the Empress Carlota of Mexico. She’s a strong female character who is capable to govern a nation. Even so, the usual suspects, such as an ongoing civil war, an inept husband, her gender, and the fact that she isn’t Mexican thwart her plans throughout her very brief reign. As I read about the things she did like visiting sex workers and instituting laws for their protection and well being, I kept thinking what she might have done in the right circumstances.
There are other important characters too and it was interesting to read about them too. But what stood out the most was how the author entwined facts with fiction, resulting in a spectacular read!
Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead by Ross Payton
A smart, creative book that serves as your field guide to the world of the undead. It contains details about different types of zombies, their diet, habits, and origins. Most importantly, though, it tells you how to save your skin when facing these shamblers!
It was interesting and the accompanying illustrations only added to the book’s charm. My only problem with it was that it had a lot of text on each page. It made reading it in a graphic novel format quite a chore for my eyes. Other than that, I’m ready to sample other stuff by the author!
More zombie reads here.
So, this is what I read in June from Netgalley. Which books did you request?
See you in July!