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9/10
Review: Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel
Reviews / February 21, 2018

Admittedly, I’m not so big a fan of Jane Austen or Austen-inspired fiction that I would normally pick up any book with a title that begins with “Pride and…”, but there was just something irresistible about John Kessel’s novel that called to me. Of course, the added element of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein didn’t hurt. Still, although it may draw inspiration from one of two of the most beloved novels of classic literature, it would be a disservice to simply label Pride and Prometheus as just your average literary mashup. Not only has the author succeeded in capturing the tone, spirit, and style of these two works, he’s managed to create a perfect fusion of its deeper themes as well. Expanding upon Kessel’s 2008 Nebula Award winning novelette of the same name, the story begins with the chance meeting between an English high society woman and a young scientist from Switzerland. Mary Bennet, one of the sisters of Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, is persuaded to attend a ball by her mother, who is desperate to find marriage prospects for her two remaining unwed daughters. It is there that Mary first encounters the quiet and pensive Victor Frankenstein, who is…

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6/10
Review: The Midnight Front by David Mack
Reviews / February 12, 2018

The year is 1939, and aboard a ship bound for North America on the eve of World War Two, a young Oxford student named Cade Martin watches in horror as a sea monster drags his parents to their watery grave right before his eyes. Alone and stranded at sea, Cade is eventually rescued by a mysterious cabal of sorcerers led by a charming old Scotsman named Adair MacRae. With the Soviets on the Eastern Front and England on the Western Front, Adair claims that he and his associates represent a lesser known third theater of war clandestinely referred to as the Midnight Front. He further explains that the Nazis have their own dark magicians working on behalf of Hitler, and that they were the ones behind the monster attack that killed Cade’s family. As the Allies’ secret weapon, the Midnight Front is dedicated to waging the magical war from behind the scenes, and now they are looking to recruit Cade to their ranks. Swearing vengeance upon those responsible for his parents’ deaths, Cade readily accepts the offer and immediately begins his training with Adair and his three adepts Stefan, Anja, and Niko. Thanks to his magical heritage, Cade masters years…

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7/10
Review: The Sky Is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith
Reviews / January 22, 2018

It’s rare that I find myself at a loss for words about a book, and while I’m sure I can come up with any number of adjectives to describe Chandler Klang Smith’s The Sky Is Yours, I doubt even that would be sufficient to give the full picture of the novel. This is just one of those once-in-a-lifetime books with a story that is much bigger than the sum of its parts, and can’t be easily summarized or placed neatly into any one category. Here’s to giving it my best shot, though! Imagine a city, at once high-tech and futuristic, but also burned-out and falling apart. This is Empire Island, where our story takes place. High above in the skies, a pair of dragons continually rain down fire upon the buildings and citizens, creating mass havoc. This has been going on for so many years that they have become a become a fixture on the landscape; those who could not bear the constant threat of destruction have long since fled the city, while those who chose to remain have learned to live with the new reality. As such, Empire Island has become a place of dichotomies. Within its crumbling underbelly…

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9/10
Review: The Infernal Battalion by Django Wexler
Reviews / January 15, 2018

Often it is said that the final book that can either make or break a series, but I’m thrilled to report that The Infernal Battalion is a finale that exceeded my expectations, bringing about a stunning conclusion to The Shadow Campaigns. As this is a review for the fifth and final installment of the series, the usual caveats apply: beware of possible spoilers for the previous books, if you are not already caught up. A great deal has happened to bring us to this point, including the escape of the Beast—the demon of all demons, and a force of unspeakable evil—from its ancient prison beneath Elysium. Its influence spreads the way it feeds, absorbing the minds and controlling the bodies of all those it infects. Now it has amassed an unstoppable army of these drone-like soldiers, and at the head of this infernal host is none other than General Janus bet Vhalnich, whose faculties the Beast had stolen at the end of The Guns of Empire. But to those who are unaware of Janus’s possession, his actions seemed like the worst kind of betrayal. Vordan has only just emerged from a bloody war, and Queen Raesinia had been looking forward…

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8/10
Review: Marskwoman by Rati Mehrotra
Reviews / January 9, 2018

This debut was such an enjoyable read for me. It had a great balance of world building and character drama and the pace kept things moving. The world in this is definitely interesting. It starts out feeling like a standard fantasy world with magic and swords, etc. But then as you keep reading and details are revealed, you come to realize it also is post-apocalyptic. I’ve seen this in a number of other books, but that certainly did not prevent me from enjoying the reveals in this one at all. There are orders of women called Markswomen, who serve essentially as assassins. They are meant to uphold the law and enforce order, so they are feared as their skills are almost legendary. Plus, as I mentioned before, they are assassins, so its probably natural that the commoners don’t want to buddy up with them and instead keep a respectul (and slightly fearful) distance. One secret to their power is that they are telepathically bonded with a special type of blade, so it becomes a sort of extenstion of themselves. These blades are magical, and provide their owners strength and the ability to do more than just cut or slice. Even at…

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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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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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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: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
Reviews / November 6, 2017

Some of my favorite horror stories involve haunted houses, because after all, a home is supposed to be a place of warmth and shelter. The idea of what was once a safe haven being invaded by malevolent spirits creates such a sense of wrongness that the terror is elevated to a whole other level. In Kill Creek, a character even ventures to explain why such stories fill us with dread, positing it’s because we never expect such awfulness to lurk so close beneath the surface of what is considered normal. This novel is a good example of such horror, the kind that sends chills down your spine, making you wonder if anything is even safe anymore as you steal nervous glances over your shoulder to make sure you really are alone. At the center of this story is the house at Kill Creek, an old abandoned three-story that was built in the mid-1800s on a lonely road in the middle of the Kansas prairie. Lovingly constructed by its first owner, the house saw a few good years before tragedy struck, and people say it has been haunted ever since. Nobody could stand to live in it for more than a…

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6/10
Review: Paradox Bound by Peter Clines
Reviews / October 30, 2017

Despite my love for time travel stories, sometimes they can be hard to wrap my head around. I think that might be why I struggled a little with this one, even though I’m a huge fan of Peter Clines and look forward to every new novel of his that comes along. They’re always so unique and original, and yes, a lot of the time, they can be quite strange as well. Paradox Bound turned out to be one of these books, and while I enjoyed it overall, there were admittedly parts of it that grew out of control and tested my patience. Our protagonist Eli Teague was just a young boy when he first met Harry. Dressed in a Revolutionary War outfit while stranded on the side of the road with her broken-down hundred-year-old car, she had stuck out like a sore thumb in a small town like Sanders, Maine—where nothing ever changes and nothing interesting ever happens. But soon after Eli stopped to help, he noticed a second strange vehicle speeding towards them, and what he saw behind the wheel was so disturbing, and so impossible, that the sight made him lose control of his bladder. Upon noticing the…