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8/10
Review: The Holver Alley Crew by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Reviews / March 7, 2017

Holver Alley Crew is the first book in a new series by Marshall Ryan Maresca. I have to say, I find this publishing schedule a bit fascinating. Keep in mind, all of his series are executed in a way that (at least so far), they can be read in any order and can be read independently of each other. This is the third series Maresca is publishing, and the other two trilogies are not yet complete. But, that’s not because he writes slow, on the contrary! These books are being released at a pretty good pace.  I love the idea that this third one will keep the story going after the other two finish. It’s just interesting, and I’m not sure I’ve seen concurrent series quite like this before. Now, for those unfamiliar with Maresca’s other two series, Maradaine and Maradaine Constabulary, despite being concurrent and in the same city, they can easily be read independently of one another. The first starts with The Thorn of Dentonhill which is set in a magic school, but also gives a view of the city’s crime through the eyes of a vigilante (who happens to also be a student at the magic school). I find this…

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8/10
Review: In Calabria by Peter S Beagle
Reviews / March 2, 2017

In Calabria is my second book by the author Peter S Beagle, my first being Summerlong.  This book has a different feel in that it’s got an earthy realism to it that was unexpected, especially when picking up a book that is clearly going to feature a unicorn.  It’s quite beautifully written and the fantasy elements are very ‘quiet’ almost like an aside. Anyway, at the start of the story we are introduced to Claudio Bianchi.  Claudio is a forty something year old man living on a remote farm in Southern Italy.  He values his privacy and rarely sees anyone else, other than his animals (which are almost as grumpy as he is) and the postman who regularly visits.  Claudio is definitely becoming fixed in his ways and a little cantankerous.  That is until a unicorn literally arrives on his property one day.  I think if I was living such a solitary life and a unicorn turned up on my property I would probably think I’d gone insane and I think at first there is an element of that in Claudio’s reaction.  That is until he realises that his visitor keeps returning on a regular basis and it seems has…

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8/10
Review: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Reviews / March 1, 2017

I had so much fun last year with The Immortals, the first of the Olympus Bound series, and I was hoping for more of the same. I wasn’t disappointed. Brodsky gives us a very strong sequel that builds on the world-building of the first book and introduces a new threat to our present-day Greek gods and goddesses. Even better, she moves along the romance between Selene and Theo and makes it feel realistic, even though we’re dealing with a millennia-old goddess and a present-day history professor/geek/authority on all things Greek. I think I enjoyed the first book slightly more, since this seemed to take ages to get through. (Not that I was bored, but it felt longer than the first book and it literally took me two weeks to read.) Still, if you love puzzles and enjoy finding hidden meanings in historical places and objects, you’ll love this series. I will even go so far as to say Winter of the Gods can be read without having read The Immortals first. It has a self-contained plot, and although the first book introduces you to the characters and their relationships, Brodsky does a great job of jogging our memories and subtly…

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8/10
Review: With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Reviews / February 21, 2017

The Shattered Sands trilogy was by far one of my favorite finds of last year. With Blood Upon the Sand continues to deepen the intrigue and entanglements, and displays the harsh desert environment is not the only thing to fear in Sharakhai. It will also take your emotions and bend them to its will, ripping them through fear to excitement, from horror to triumph (or maybe triumph to horror), from sorrow to jealousy, hope, betrayal. Where it lands, I can’t tell you, but be prepared for the roller coaster of events that will evoke a huge range of  emotional turmoil and excitement. I continue to love Çeda as a protagonist. She is fierce not just in battle but also in personality. It’s quite interesting to see her handle life as a Blade Maiden, becoming part of what should be a close knit team, while also still working in secret to take down the Kings. Her every day life and training stands in conflict with what has pretty much been her life’s mission. Çeda is also much more alone in the beginning of this book. Emre, who has always been there for her in the past, is part of the Moonless Host. That alone is hard…

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8/10
Review: Death’s Mistress by Terry Goodkind
Reviews / February 20, 2017

To put it bluntly, I never thought I would read anything else by Terry Goodkind again. After my disastrous first attempt to get into The Sword of Truth series, I almost turned down the opportunity to read Death’s Mistress, but now I’m very glad I didn’t. It’s been years since I last read Wizard’s First Rule, and it seemed a shame to potentially miss out on a good start to a new series especially when the author’s style or my reading tastes could have changed so much since. And as things turned out, I did have a surprisingly good time with this. I also had initial concerns about jumping in without having read the entirety of the previous series, but that was not a problem. The book follows Nicci, a “Death’s Mistress” and a former lieutenant of Emperor Jagang who has since switched her alliance after being converted to the right side by Richard. Now that the latter has solidified his rule, Nicci travels the world helping spread the word of his benevolence and letting everyone know that the world is free, while accompanied by the ex-prophet and wizard Nathan. At the beginning of this story Nathan decides to seek…

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7/10
Review: The Black Wolves of Boston by Wen Spencer
Reviews / February 15, 2017

The Black Wolves of Boston is the first book in what I hope will be a series.  I enjoyed this, it was different than I expected, in fact much more deep in terms of the set up.  Basically, this is urban fantasy, there are werewolves, vampires, Virtues and Wickers but none of them are quite as I’ve read about them before.  Definitely a thinking piece with plenty to ponder over.  In fact, to be honest, if I had a clearer reading schedule I might be tempted to read this again just because there is such a lot of material to think about. At the start of the story we meet Joshua. Not more than 24 hours earlier Joshua’s life was torn apart, literally torn apart.  Out at a prom committee event the entire group that Joshua was with were massacred in some sort of frenzied attack and Joshua was left wounded.  He’s not wounded for long though, attacked by not any old animal but a werewolf, Joshua seems to be recovering at a positively indecent rate and pretty soon has to make a dash out of town before any one figures out what he is – or more to the…

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9/10
Review: Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
Reviews / February 14, 2017

Retellings are always tricky, because you’re dealing with the memories and emotions associated with reading the original source material, and they don’t always live up to readers’ expectations. But Jacqueline Carey did a bang-up job on this retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and I can’t wait for people to read this story. Even if you aren’t an expert on Shakespeare (I’m certainly not!), you’ll appreciate what the author has done: rather than rehash the story you may be familiar with, she’s set hers in the years leading up to the events of The Tempest. Carey’s writing closely mimics the style of Shakespeare, which some readers are going to love and others aren’t, but it was pure magic to me. What a lovely prose writer she is! Although the formal writing caught me off guard in the beginning, once I got into the rhythm of it, I couldn’t imagine this story being told any other way. Miranda is only six years old when the story begins. She and her father live alone in a crumbling castle on a deserted island, with only animals and elemental spirits to keep them company. Prospero is a magician and has called forth these spirits and…

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7/10
Review: Everything Belongs to the Future by Laurie Penny
Reviews / February 8, 2017

Everything Belongs to the Future is the debut fiction novella by renowned author and journalist, Laurie Penny. As well as her non-fiction books exploring gender, sexism and capitalism, she writes The Guardian, The Independent, Salon, The New Inquiry and many more. Penny crams a decent amount of plot into not so many pages. We’re almost 100 years hence and the rich can almost literally buy time. Or rather an extension of life from the moment they take the medicine; a kind of ‘Fountain of Youth’ wrapped up in a blue pill. We’re in a divided England. The gaps between the haves and have-nots is wider than ever. Specifically, we’re in Oxford. A group of activists are living in a co-op house and are plotting against those who’ve been ‘fixed’. You see, the scientist inventor of this remarkable technology has fallen in with our perfectly representative house-mates. Nina and Alex, Margo and Fidget are the kind of activists that you’d imagine Penny might know in real life. Scruffy, punky, gender fluid and sexually diverse. Which is a good thing in theory but a little obvious from Penny. I’d have liked a little more stereo-type mould-braking. Inventor Daisy, who is all but…

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8/10
Review: Firebrand by Kristen Britain
Reviews / February 7, 2017

Just a quick reminder that while my review is spoiler free for Firebrand, there are likely spoilers for the previous books. There is something about returning to read a new book the Green Rider series that just makes me happy. Maybe it is because I this is one of the first series I read in the fantasy genre, but I just find them to be very addictive, comfort reads that make me want to curl up with it until I finish. This one was no exception. With Firebrand, Karigan returns to her own time, so it includes many of our favorite characters from books past. I know not everyone was thrilled with the change in setting/characters/time period with the last book, though I personally really enjoyed it. For those that were less than thrilled, fear not, this book is much in line with the first 4 books in the series. Karigan is distraught and heartbroken over leaving Cade behind. She misses him deeply and feels guilt over leaving him, not knowing if he is still alive or not. In some ways, it was overwhelming, and impacted her personality a bit. But not so much that I felt it overdone or a…

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7/10
Review: The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land
Reviews / February 6, 2017

Heather Graham is such a prominent and prolific writer that these days it’s nearly impossible to walk into a bookstore or even the books section of your local grocery or department store without seeing her name on something. That said, even though Graham has been on my radar for a while, I must confess I’d been woefully unfamiliar with her work. Up until recently, I honestly thought she only wrote exclusively romances and contemporary mysteries, when in fact her novels actually run the full gamut of genres. So I was a little surprised when I got a pitch about The Rising, co-authored by her and Jon Land. As you can imagine, the tagline “Stranger Things meets X-Files and Independence Day” piqued my interest right away, for up until that moment I’d only been vaguely aware of this book, with absolutely no clue what it was about, let alone that it had any sci-fi or paranormal elements. Now that I’ve read it though, I want to add one more comparison to the list. Back in 2002 there was a miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel called Taken, and without spoiling the plot too much, I have to say reading The Rising also…