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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 Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear
Reviews / February 14, 2018

The Stone in the Skull kicks off strong with a unique and visual scene of a group of mercenaries featuring two of the main characters. Gage is an automaton and the other one? He is called The Dead Man. OK, it got my attention! Then when the setting changes, I honestly became more invested and quickly preferred the perspectives of Sayeh and Mrithuri, two powerful women who are each ruling their own kingdoms. Gotta love a book that features not just one, but two powerful women that can control the fate of their land. So, my first impressions this book were really strong, however, I am was disappointed that my overall experience was not on that same level. This is one of those books that I leave feeling quite conflicted. It started strong and through out, there were parts and passages of it that I loved, convincing me that I would have an overall positive experience. Unfortnately, something held me back. While I love the premise of this book, and I actually quite like most of her prose there seemed to be a pacing issue as well as inconsistent strength of perspectives. As the book progressed, I realized I found…

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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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8/10
Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Reviews / February 9, 2018

The Hazel Wood is a book that is a combination of quest, redemption and dark fairy tale all rolled into one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The writing was really good but more than that the book actually spoke to me, and I realise that probably sounds a little bit sentimental but this was about change, coming of age, discovering who you are and having the courage to alter those things that seem set in stone.  It also gave me a serious case of the goosebumps that were bad enough to stop me reading late into the dark – I don’t know why, perhaps I’m just a bit of a wimp. As the book begins we learn about Alice.  Alice and her mother have been on the run for as long as she can remember.  A long time ago Alice’s grandmother wrote a book of dark fairy tales that became a cult classic. Very few copies of the book can be found and although it appeared to be adored, and indeed inspired a strong following, very few people now know much about the stories. It seems like the people who read the book become somewhat obsessive and one of Alice’s earliest…

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10/10
Review: Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker
Reviews / February 7, 2018

In 2017 I placed the first volume of this trilogy, Age of Assassins, among the best debuts of the year and also my favorite reads, so I had great expectations for this follow-up novel: let me say up front that those expectations were more than exceeded by Blood of Assassins, that is not only a worthy sequel but also an amazing story on its own. Five years have elapsed since the end of the first book, and they have not been easy years either for the world or for assassin-in-training Girton Clubfoot: the political situation has degenerated into all-out war between the three pretenders to the throne of the Tired Lands – Aydor, the former queen’s son, ousted by young Rufra, Girton’s friend, and finally pretender Tomas.  War is never good news, but in a land still suffering from the sorcerer-enhanced conflicts of the past, that brought great devastations with them, this new war is adding a further layer of misery to an already grim situation.  Girton and his master, Merela Karn, have fared no better: to escape from the bounty hunters set on their tracks, they have been forced to abandon their trade and attach themselves to mercenary bands,…

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8/10
Review: The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman
Reviews / January 31, 2018

Now that the Invisible Library series has become firmly established, the storylines are just getting better and better. Thematically, The Lost Plot is more mysterious and adventurous, drawing heavily from Dragon vs. Fae politics, and there are also strong attempts to involve as many world-building elements as possible. That said though, I do feel this installment takes a step away from series arc that has been developing for the last three books; the plot of this one is a lot more “standalone” than the others, which might make it a good jumping on point for new readers, but of course I would still highly recommend starting from the beginning if you can. The Lost Plot once again follows protagonist Irene Winters, an agent of the secret organization known as the Invisible Library whose members are tasked with traveling to alternate worlds to procure rare books (and yes, sometimes that means stealing them). When the book begins, Irene is offered a business proposal by a mysterious stranger. The would-be client, clearly a dragon, wishes to pay handsomely for her services to obtain a rare copy of Journey to the West, one of Chinese literature’s greatest classics. However, because of the Invisible…

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9/10
Review: The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
Reviews / January 29, 2018

I’ll be honest, I read The Valiant by Lesley Livingston pretty much on a whim last year. It wasn’t a book that was on my radar until after it was released, which is unusual. I read a couple of glowing reviews for it for that essentially made me set my review books to the side because it sounded so good. I was glad I did because it just happened to have everything I love and in just the right amounts. I am very happy to tell you that The Defiant continues with all the strengths and excitement that made me enjoy The Valiant so much. I still love Fallon as a character. She is strong both physcially and mentally, but she is not infallible. She won the admiration and respect of Caesar at the end of the first book, and now we can see how that has impacted her life. Her rise to be favored by Caesar And known as “Victrix” gave her a decent life, but when it comes down to it, she is still a slave and not free to do as she pleases. And winning so much also puts her in the spotlight for potential enemies. Also to add…

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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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10/10
Review: A Time Of Dread by John Gwynne
Reviews , Upcoming Releases / January 17, 2018

A few days ago I finished A Time of Dread by John Gwynne, and I loved it so much that it made my ‘best of’ list for 2017.  This is an author whose previous series, The Faithful and the Fallen, enjoys glowing reviews and yet for some reason I’ve never got round to reading them.  I genuinely don’t know why that is and having now read A Time of Dread my only dilemma is whether I now go back and start with Malice?  Anyway, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition so lets get on with a review and a bit of waxing lyrical about why you need this book in your life. The long and the short of it – this book is epic – it has depth to the characters, it has scope to the story and it has meat on the bones in terms of world building.  I admit I hesitate to use the word epic – I don’t know why but it feels overused somehow and even dated in these days of grimdark so I’ll just say that this is a damn fine book.  The characters are amazing and the tension that Gwynne creates positively grows into a…

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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…