Entries in thriller (9)

Tuesday
Apr162019

Novella!

So I haven't updated here in a while because I haven't finished reading anything in large part because I've been writing instead. It's Camp NaNoWriMo and I've been feverishly working on a new project.

I'm stoked to have finished the first draft of my first attempt at a novella. I'm happy with how it's turned out, even if it needs a proper title, some research and a lot more work before I'll start looking for beta readers. But it's sitting just under 30k words and it was a lot of fun to write.

I thought the process for writing a novella would be different from writing a full length novel, but it really wasn't. I studied the structure of All Systems Red as a starting point and built the plot of my novella from there. This novella differs from my novels in that it's got a simpler, straightforward plot, and no B-story or side quests. But unlike a short story, there's more room for the world-building, characters and setting to breathe.

As my reading time diminishes, I find myself opening up doorstoppers less and less and I've been reading novellas more. I might just do the same with my writing.

Anyway, some people have asked what the novella is about, so here's the rough draft of the query letter I've started for it:

What would you do to keep your children safe? Serri was a simple mage working as a government safety inspector until creeping fascism and an unhinged Empress brought war to her doorstep. Now she’s learning just how far she’ll go to prevent her powerful teen daughter S’ryja from being ground up by the war machine. Serri barely hesitates to seek the help of a rebel network, committing treason, and fleeing with her daughter.

But she must leave her wife and youngest child behind, and that soon becomes the least of her worries as the Empress’s forces close in on the rebels. With the royal guard on her heels and a hundred leagues of dangerous wilderness ahead of her, Serri must grapple with whether she’s made the right decision as she and her daughter run for their lives.

(Agents, call me)

Monday
Mar252019

The Light Brigade

This novel is far darker and more brutal than I usually read, but I always make a grimdark exception for Hurley because her books are always so amazing. And like with The Stars Are Legion, this one also ends on a hopeful note that made the viscera-soaked journey worth it.

This is the brutal, hard-hitting, anti-fascist, capitalism-eviscerating, hopeful time-travelling military SF this timeline needs. Inspired by Starship Troopers (film version), the book follows military grunt Dietz through basic training and the long, impossible journey through war.

In this bleak future, soldiers are busted down into particles of light and beamed off to war. But it does not always go right. Some soldiers come back with their body parts in the wrong place. Dietz keeps coming back to the wrong time with the wrong memories.

She has to struggle through memories and events that don't make sense, trying to keep a tenuous grip on sanity while navigating the dictator corporation she belongs to. This is an excellent sci-fi thriller/mystery mash up with some time travel for fun and I'm probably going to have to read it again just to keep everything straight.

If you're already a Hurley fan, this won't disappoint. If you haven't read any of her books yet, this is a fine place to start.

Monday
Jan282019

Vultures

It's the final book in the Miriam Black series and it is a fantastic end to this series. Wendig totally nails the landing. If you're already a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you've been waiting for the series to end before you start reading, now is the time and this series is worth it!

You can find my review of the first book, Blackbirds, and the previous one, The Raptor and the Wren. Chuck wraps up all the threads in a satisfying way that's true to the dark grit of this series. I have a 6-book hangover now.

The book is gritty, gory, hard-hitting and snarky. Everything you expect and love about the series.

Miriam doesn't have much time left to stop the Trespasser and save both Gabby and the baby. She meets a delightful ace/aro trans dude named Steve who is an absolute cinnamon bun and totally made the book. He's like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Ties the room together.

Steve and Gabby are Miriam's sidekicks while she tries to save them all, get rid of her powers, and stop a new serial killer.

And that's all I'm going to say spoiler free, because it's hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers. You don't like spoilers, stop reading now.

Anyway, at the end of the last book, Miriam is pregnant and sees that her baby is going to die. This book starts with her waddling miserably through the shitshow nightmare of pregnancy. It is a morbidly un-sentimental take on pregnancy and motherhood and is so much the way I felt through pregnancy that this book could have been written about me.

There are so many things to love in this book, but I love that pregnancy doesn't really slow Miriam down. That motherhood doesn't fundamentally change who she is. That, much like me, she ends up teaching her kid context (don't swear in school) rather than quit swearing. (haha, yes, there's a spoiler, the kid lives)

Wren's 5-second cameo was SO GOOD, though it did leave me a little baffled. I know there's a side novella about her out there somewhere that I'm probably going to need to read to be less baffled about how she ended up where she did and when she did. It felt a touch deus ex machina, but I also don't have all the info.

But anyway, as dark as this series is, the ending is a hopeful one. True to the series, but still full of hope. Get out there and read it!

Tuesday
Feb202018

The Raptor and the Wren

I've finally cleared enough backlog from my life to get back to a proper reading schedule and I just finished this newest release from Chuck Wendig. This is the 5th (and penultimate) book in the Miriam Black series and it packs a serious punch.

If you like foul-mouthed, hard-hitting anti-heroines, then this series is worth checking out. Start with Blackbirds. The series only gets better from there.

I didn't find anything about this book terribly shocking. Wendig does a good job of laying the groundwork for the plot's many twists. And while I wasn't surprised by what happened, I was caught off guard by how. And when. And by who. It's got a wallop of a final page. I hate that I have to wait a year for the final book's release!

Tuesday
Apr182017

Thunderbird

The latest installment in the Miriam Black series is here! If you're already a fan of the series, this has everything you can expect. If you're not reading the series yet, I highly recommend checking out Blackbirds.

So Miriam's life is unravelling a little and she's desperate to get rid of her curse (seeing how people die) and just live a normal life. Poor thing is in such denial. But she's obsessively (and a little murderously) tracking another psychic, Mary Stitch, who she believes can help her undo her curse.

Things with Louis are on the rocks, so this time Miriam has dragged poor Gabby (last seen in The Cormorant) along on one helluva dangerous road trip. In the search for Mary Stitch, Miriam stumbles upon a bunch of lunatic domestic terrorists, a group that has several others with psychic talents/curses similar to Miriam's.

As you would expect from this series by now, it's hard hitting, gritty, swearrific and fast-paced. Miriam does some on the fly soul-searching, but largely keeps doing the right thing out of sheer defiance. God, I love her. And then there's those last couple of chapters. OH, SNAP! Definitely recommend this to Miriam fans.

And now you get spoilers. LOOK AWAY!

You've been warned.

The major showdown felt a little anti-climactic to me, with Miriam stumbling off into the desert for weeks. Her impressive return, basically from the dead, fell a little flat for me when we discover she's too late to stop the death vision that's been driving her through the whole book. As cool as it was to see her develop her bird-control powers even further, I still felt like using a flock of birds (again, like in The Cormorant) was a touch repetitive.

And okay, she doesn't save the day, but she does stop the bad guys. Cool win, bro. But having Louis ride in to save her sorry ass was... I dunno. Yay, great to see Louis again. But why couldn't Miriam save her own ass? I hate seeing even the slightest suggestion that Miriam is a damsel in distress. And if she has to be, why can't Gabby come in for the rescue?

Anyway, I'm super excited to see how this sets up the remaining books in the series. Because Mary's advice and that final scene? Shit, son. This is gonna be awesome!