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8/10
Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Reviews / December 11, 2017

Meet Nahri, a young hustler who makes a living scamming the superstitious and gullible on the streets of 18th century Cairo. Even though she has the uncanny ability to sense illness in a person simply by touching them, she’s never truly believed that what she does is magic. But then one day during a zar ceremony, in which Nahri was just supposed to go through the motions, she accidentally calls forth a daeva warrior. But said daeva isn’t just any spirit to be summoned, for he is Dara, the greatest warrior to have ever lived. Right away, he recognizes Nahri for what she really is—something not all entirely human—and soon the two of them are on the run, trying to say one step ahead of the dark forces pursuing them. Their only safe haven would be Daevabad, the city of gilded brass walls and enchantments, where Dara claims there will be protection to be found. Many authors have endeavored to tell a similar story, most of which always seem to feature a girl and a guy attempting to reach a magical city while evading the evil creatures hunting them. However, S.A. Chakraborty has achieved something quite unique and remarkable with…

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6/10
Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Reviews / December 4, 2017

Here’s the thing: I like Seanan McGuire, but for some strange reason or another her books always seem to rub me the wrong way when she writes as Mira Grant. Because of this, I almost didn’t pick up Into the Drowning Deep, but in the end, I’m glad I did—the premise of a horror novel about mermaids was just too amazing for me to pass up, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have at least bit of fun with it. Still, I wish I’d enjoyed the book more, though like I said, there’s probably a precedent for some of my more conflicted sentiments, namely that some of the same issues I’ve had in the past with her characters and world-building just kept cropping up. While Into the Drowning Deep is the start of a new story, it is also technically the follow-up to Rolling in the Deep, a novella chronicling the tragic fate of the cruise liner Atargatis which set sail for the Mariana Trench seven years ago on a mission to film a mockumentary about the existence of mermaids. Only, no one made it back alive. Every member of the Imagine Entertainment studio film crew was…

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7/10
Review: The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis
Reviews / November 30, 2017

Overall, The Guns Above was an enjoyable steampunk adventure, with a strong female protagonist and airships and battles. Josette Dupre is an enjoyable protagonist who becomes the first female captain of an airship. Whether this assignment is out of earned respect or a setup to see her fail depends on perspective. Either way, its an amazing opportunity that came her way after becoming a hero when her previous airship crashed. And it turns out her new airship is not just any airship, but a brand new, cutting edge model. Again, since its cutting edge, the likelihood of demise is higher, so whether it was an honor or not is a bit debatable. But Josette is up for the challenge and handles everything with skill and humor. She really is a great character to follow as she lightens things with a great sense of humor and she kicks ass at what she does. One of the things that didn’t work well for me was the sexism. I know the author has done this on purpose, but the misogynistic characters in this just felt over the top. We get the view point from a an overly sexist character who’s only real defining…

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9/10
Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Reviews / November 27, 2017

Mark my words, Katherine Arden is definitely going places. Early this year, she enchanted me with her lovely debut The Bear and the Nightingale, and now she has done it again with its follow-up The Girl in the Tower, which I thought was just as good—if not better—than its predecessor. The story continues the journey of brave Vasya, a young woman with a gift that grants her a special connection with the wilderness and the spirits that dwell within. But in the small Russian village where she lives, her abilities and strange behaviors eventually give rise to rumors that she is a witch, made worse by the town’s zealous priest who holds a grudge against her. Now she has been driven out of her community, her options reduced to either letting her older sister arrange a marriage for her, or spending the rest of her life in a convent. Neither are acceptable to Vasya, so in the end she decides to take her fate in her own hands and attempts to forge a third path. Disguising herself as a boy, Vasya takes to the road with Solovey, her trusty horse. Her adventures are cut short, however, when she encounters a…

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8/10
Review: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Reviews / November 24, 2017

After reading and loving Certain Dark Things, I had no doubt I would read whatever Moreno-Garcia published next. That turned out to be The Beautiful Ones. Just from the synopsis I could tell it would be incredibly different from the vampire underground world created in Certain Dark Things, but I have to confess, I was hoping to still find a bit of that darkness in The Beautiful Ones. Well, I can’t say I found this to be dark like that, and will advise you that you can not read this book looking for world or tone similarities to Certain Dark Things. Moreno-Garcia did create great characters in both, that is the main similarities end. As opposed to most of the books I read, the romance aspect was the strongest plot point in this book. You can also find character growth, and a lesson to embrace who you are, etc. But ultimately, this book was about relationships and romance. I am not stating that as a negative, honestly, sometimes its nice to read a book like that. But I like to know ahead of time so I can save it for when the mood strikes, so keep that in mind if…

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8/10
Review: Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
Reviews / November 22, 2017

Weave a Circle round was a lot of fun, a slightly crazy coming of age style story involving a dysfunctional family, a couple of very unusual characters, an house where anything is possible and time travel.  Picture, if you will, the Royal Tenenbaums meets The Book of Lost Things and then throw in portals, time travel and a bunch of oddness. Freddy is definitely an anxious teenager.  She spends the majority of her time trying to keep a low profile which isn’t always easy given she has a younger sister who thinks she’s a master detective and a deaf step brother who she doesn’t get along with  who seems to hang out with a bunch of geeky kids – doubtless just to make her life even more difficult.  For Freddy, attending school is like walking over the abyss, on a tightrope whilst carrying a wriggling elephant on your shoulders.  Every day feels like the day she will finally come unstuck and plummet into the abyss with all the ensuing harsh spotlight, attention and bullying that are a natural result of losing your place in the stream of anonymity.  Basically, Freddy wants nothing more than to remain unnoticed. Enter the scene Cuerva…

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10/10
Review: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Reviews / November 21, 2017

A full five stars to Oathbringer and nothing less. If you’ve read the two previous volumes in the Stormlight Archive, you’d probably already understand; this series is a masterful, meticulous continuation into the journey to explore the mysterious world of Roshar, and once again this third installment is revealing so much more about our characters and their roles in this epic tableau. I find myself speechless, as I often am after reading a Brandon Sanderson novel, because there’s so much to talk about and yet also so much I can’t spoil. I’m also not too articulate when my mind is blown, so trying to put into words my roiling feelings upon finishing Oathbringer will be difficult, but I’ll try my best to convey my thoughts on this work of art. That said, you should still only read this review after you’ve read the first two books (and if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for, anyway!?) just in case. For readers who have made it to this point though, you’ll already know that the world is on the verge of another Desolation, a cataclysmic event that has occurred on a cyclical basis throughout the history of Roshar. The heralds…

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8/10
Review: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Reviews / November 15, 2017

Dogs of War is one of those books that turned into a very happy surprise for me.  I requested a copy of this because I’ve read this author before and liked his style of writing and so whilst the theme worried me a little, because I imagined it was going to maybe be a bit more military style than I would normally attempt, I had faith that Tchaikovsky would win me over.  I wasn’t wrong.  Dogs of War is so much more than I expected, in fact after the first few chapters of action and warfare it turns into a different style of drama completely.  This is a thought provoking story that really packs a punch. Rex is a bioform. I’m not going to try and describe all the mechanics of this but basically he’s a genetically modified dog, part human and with heavy duty warfare installed for good measure.  He’s the controlling unit for a Multi-form Assault Pack, an incredible fighting team that includes the characters Dragon, Honey and Bees.  Each of these have their own unique abilities that I won’t dwell on here but take it from me, this is a deadly team of bioforms that you don’t…

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8/10
Review: Artemis by Andy Weir
Reviews / November 13, 2017

The Martian was a spectacular hit, and I’m sure the first question on everyone’s minds is “how does this compare”? Well, it had a very different feel. The type of humor was similar, but not quite the same. In The Martian, the humor all stemmed from surviving on Mars, and was self deprecating and a bit dark in the ways he might die, or how others might see ultimate demise. Jazz definitely has a bit darker sense of humor as well, but its not as life and death, and maybe doesn’t come across quite as nice. I don’t mean that as a negative, just that is how I compared the two styles. In this book, the moon has been colonized with a single city called Artemis. The city is a connected series of multi-level domes, where people under or above ground. The city has both permanent residents as well as many wealthy tourists, because really, who wouldn’t want to go visit the moon if they have the means. Because of the controlled atmosphere that allows humans to survive on the inhospitable moon, there are many restrictions on substances and items allowed in Artemis.  Anything that could pose a fire hazard…

Book cover: Tarnished City - Vic James (a chained hand points down, a Scottish castle in the background)
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8/10
Review: Tarnished City by Vic James
Reviews / November 8, 2017

Tarnished City picks up from the point Gilded Cage left off with barely a backward glance – this isn’t a sequel that makes for a good entry point to Vic James dystopian alternative Britain (or one that can be discussed without raging spoilers for the first book). Luke is in the hands of the sadistic Lord Crovan – and finds that the games the Equal plays with his prisoners are subtler than mere torture in the dungeons of Eilean Dòchais. Greeted by Coira, the untouchable mistress of below-stairs, he finds himself assigned rooms that would do an Equal proud and a smart if ill-fitting suit for dinner. It soon becomes apparent that house guests and servants alike are fellow Condemned, with Crovan running a sort of Stanford prison experiment: the golden collars around each prisoner’s throat prevent servants harming house guests and anyone harming Crovan himself, but the servants are fair game. Luke’s illusions about his fellow humans are quickly dashed, although he persists in a youthful naïveté about just what crimes they previously committed. As with any prison drama, the inmates have alternative facts about how they ended up there, which Luke largely accepts – in spite of the evidence…