0
8/10
Review: The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster
Reviews / January 4, 2016

I was immediately drawn to this novella by the cover: a beautiful and fierce-looking woman in the middle of a stormy sea. What was happening to her? It is book covers like this that make me want to read a book, and I dove in, hoping to find adventure, danger and an answer to my question. And I was not disappointed. The Drowning Eyes packs a lot of story into such a small page count, and introduces readers to some very unique characters. Foster takes the idea of a group of women who can control the wind and bring forth storms through magic, and tells the story of a girl who has been given a difficult task to complete before she is considered a full-fledged “Windspeaker.” Tazir is the captain of the Giggling Goat, and along with her small crew, she sails among the Tahiri Islands, transporting travelers from island to island, assuring them safe passage through choppy waves and storm-prone skies. As they wait in a port, looking for their next customer, they are approached by a young girl named Shina, who offers them a huge amount of money to get to a distant island. She says her parents…

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9/10
Review: Skyborn by David Dalglish
Reviews / December 31, 2015

Look at me. This is my stunned face. As in, I could not believe how good this book turned out. Granted, the story was a little slow to take off (sorry, unavoidable pun), but the momentum gradually built up so that everything culminated into one of the most incredible and jaw-droppingly explosive endings I’ve ever read. In fact, if I had to rate this book based on just its second half alone, it would have been an easy 5 stars. But the first half, despite not having the same level of excitement and energy of the second half, was no slouch either. In the first two hundred pages or so, David Dalglish made sure we got plenty of time to familiarize ourselves with the fascinating world of Skyborn. We also got to know our two protagonists, twins Bree and Kael. Readers take to the skies in this opening to a new series set in a richly imaginative world. Hundreds of years have passed since a disaster wiped out much of humanity, and survivors have established a new society on six floating island kingdoms which are constantly warring with each other. Aerial battles are fought by Seraphim, elite winged soldiers who command…

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8/10
Review: Drake by Peter McLean
Reviews / December 30, 2015

Just finished reading Drake, a new urban fantasy written by Peter McLean and set in a gritty London underground where gambling and gangsters, demons and other ancient creatures stalk the shadows.   Don Drake is essentially a hitman, he calls himself a ‘Hieromancer’ but basically, in his own words, he ‘summons and sends’ demons and other nasties to do the dirty work he’s been contracted to do by the local mob. He has a little helper, a rather repugnant and vile mouthed creature called the Burned Man. The Burned Man is in actual fact an archdemon who has been imprisoned many years ago and is now represented on earth by a small effigy of a burnt man chained to an altar. Of course the actual demon really resides in Hell but having been captured and bound in this form he is compelled to serve his owner and his power is really quite vast.   The story gets off to a fairly rapid start and we are introduced to Don just as he hits an all time low, losing at cards to Wormwood, the seedy (not to mention other worldly) owner of a gambling den. Losing at cards of course means…

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8/10
Review: Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen
Reviews / December 28, 2015

We’re just about nearing the end of the year, but apparently 2015 had one last big surprise for me. It came in the form of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen. I confess, I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I started this book because I dove in blind, and that’s actually the way I wanted it. When I first looked upon this novel in my hands, I was struck by this feeling that the less I knew about it, the more I would enjoy the experience. So I swore off reading any previews or early reviews and simply let go. I wanted this story to take me where it would. Well, what an amazing adventure it turned out to be! Barsk was a mysterious and captivating journey from the very first page to the last, featuring a puzzle that begins with the novel’s title itself. According to a well-known myth, an elephants’ graveyard is a place where aged and dying elephants instinctively know to go when they reach the end of their days. There, they stay until they die, alone and far away from the herd. This is how the story begins, in a distant…

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10/10
Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
Reviews / December 25, 2015

R. Scott Bakker. Steven Erikson. Peter Watts. When you think of dark, epic, mind-bending genre fiction from north of the 49th parallel, these gentlemen are the undisputed masters. It may be uncharacteristically bold and presumptuous to demand that a new name be added to that list so soon in his career, but I’ll be damned if Michael R. Fletcher hasn’t earned it. Seriously, Beyond Redemption really is that good. If our world is defined by delusion, there can be no truth. If there is no truth, how can there be lies?   When I first snagged an ARC of this about six months ago, I was definitely intrigued . . . but hesitant. Building an epic fantasy around madness, faith, and delusion sounded very cool. I was optimistic, but I also had my doubts. We’re talking high-concept here, and I was worried that the narrative would suffer from the strain of trying to sustain the threads of madness. In fact, I’d almost talked myself out of taking that chance when, on a whim, I decided to give the first few chapters a cursory read. A few vulgar, violent, vehement exclamations of approval later, I was well-and-truly hooked. Beyond Redemption absolutely blew…

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10/10
Comic Review: Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
Reviews / December 23, 2015

Monstress is absolutely stunning comic with a dark story and artwork that is simply gorgeous. I really can’t stress enough how much I loved all the imagery. I will readily admit to being a complete novice when it comes to comics, having read pretty much just Saga and Locke and Key, but even as a novice I feel secure in saying that this is one comic that you just can’t miss. Even if you are not into comics, it is worth picking up, maybe discover a love for a different style of story telling.  And, as an added bonus (because quite frankly I would want to read this just for the art), the story is definitely quite intriguing as well. Maika may look human, but there is more to her than originally meets the eye. We are introduced to her as she is being auctioned off as a monster, the auctioneer touting her unique human appearance. The only flaw they mention her missing half an arm. So, we have a beautiful protagonist with a disability, labeled as a monster and a mysterious background! Definitely peaked my interest. In this first issue, we are introduced to a fantastic world that is portrayed…

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10/10
Review: Nightwise by R.S. Belcher
Reviews / December 22, 2015

I loved the first two books in Rod Belcher’s Golgotha series, and I was curious to see what else he could do. And boy am I glad I picked up this book! I was blown away by his fascinating magic system, not to mention the characters. Best of all, Belcher has some mad writing skills, in case you appreciate that sort of thing, which I do. While his Golgotha books contain multiple points of view, this story is told in first person from the perspective of Laytham Ballard, a powerful wizard with an attitude problem, who blazes through his friends and enemies—often killing them in the process—in order to get what he wants. Belcher definitely takes a risk with Laytham, because he is not a likeable guy at all. But the fact that he freely admits to everyone around him that he knows he’s an a-hole made him compelling, and yes, I grew to like and even sympathize with him by the end of the book. But there is so much to love about Nightwise besides the characters—and I’ll get to them later, because there wasn’t one in the bunch that I didn’t enjoy. Belcher starts with a simple but strong…

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9/10
Review: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Reviews / December 21, 2015

The Grace of Kings really is a work of epic proportions.  A story of rebellion and war, victory and defeat, friend and foe and ultimately an incredibly poignant and sometimes sad look at friendships.  The story is dripping with issues of trust, deceit and betrayal whilst also telling some incredibly moving stories of love and loyalty. I’ve only read one of Liu’s short stories before The Grace of Kings and on the strength of that was keen to read this and, yes, it is a book that takes time to read but its also a book that is definitely worth the time. The main thrust of the story revolves around an uprising of the common people, driven to despair by despot rulers and seeking fairer rule.  At least on the face of it that’s what I would say this is about.  Of course, war very often has little to do with the common people and that is certainly the case here – even though very many of them will lose their lives fighting most of them could just as easily be on one side as the other, and, as the book itself acknowledges, perhaps the people with the differences should get together…

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5/10
Review: Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden
Reviews / December 17, 2015

The concept behind Dead Ringers is definitely a bit creepy and as you get further into the book, there are some seriously haunting scenes. The thought of suddenly coming across another person that is so identical to yourself, to the point that even close family can not tell the difference is strange. I will admit at times something about this tested my willing suspension of disbelief, I think because it happened to a number of characters. But really I think the reason I was not as easily swayed had more to do with the number of central characters. Horror books really rely on the readers emotions for them to be fully effective. The best way to get a very emotional reaction from the reader is to get them to really, really care about the characters. There were more perspectives in this than there tend to be with horror (pretty sure there were 4), and while I understand the need, I do feel like it put a little bit of a barrier for the reader to really get attached to any of them just because the pages were split amongst several people which gives the author less time to form that…

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10/10
Review: Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
Reviews / December 16, 2015

At one time, the second (or middle) book of a trilogy was a thing to be dreaded – a book to be endured as a necessary sort of narrative bridge, with the built-in expectation that any lack of enjoyment is to be tempered by anticipation for the concluding book to follow. While there have been a few ‘new’ authors (such as Jeff Salyards and Sebastien de Castell) who have bucked that trend, I really didn’t expect the same from an established author like Robin Hobb. After all, her style and her writing are already polished, and she had her growth/development moments almost 20 years and 20 books ago. Whether or not Fool’s Assassin was a stumble depends on who you ask, but I had serious issues with the pacing, the characters, and a few of the core plot elements. It was one of my most disappointing reads of last year, and almost soured me on the whole Realms of the Elderlings saga. Hobb had a serious uphill battle for my appreciation going into the second/middle book of this series, and I tempered my expectations accordingly. So, you can imagine my surprise when Fool’s Quest not only proved to be a…