Review: Imprudence by Gail Carriger
Reviews / July 20, 2016

Last year I picked up Prudence, the first book of a new series starring the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Conall Maccon from Gail Carriger’s celebrated Parasol Protectorate novels. I never did get into Alexia’s series after I dipped my toes into Soulless and realized it was not to my tastes, but the story of Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama AKA “Rue” was entirely a different matter. My first outing with her and the crew of The Spotted Custard was an adventure of courage, comedy, and discovery which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected. And so, craving more of the same from this sequel, I dove into Imprudence with enthusiasm. This book takes place in the aftermath of Rue’s return to London from India. The entire country is still reeling from knowledge she and her friends brought back from deep in the mysterious jungles, and our protagonist has even gotten a severe dressing-down from the Queen herself. Rue, however, is unperturbed, excited to finally reach her majority and to enjoy all the freedoms that will no doubt come with it. What she doesn’t realize though, is how much her life is about to change. Lord Maccon, Rue’s werewolf…

Review: The Transference Engine by Julia Verne St. John
Reviews / July 11, 2016

Julia Verne St. John’s fantasy steampunk alternate history novel The Transference Engine became one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 when The BiblioSanctum hosted the cover reveal for it earlier this year. The first time I glimpsed that beautiful cover was also the first time I’d heard of this book, and both the protagonist and the world sounded fascinating to me. A mystery involving necromancy, set in an alternate 1830s London that’s run on magic and machines? No way I wasn’t going to love this. In spite of my excitement though, by the time I was through the first few chapters, I realized I was probably going to have to adjust my expectations. These first few dozen pages or so introduced us to Madame Magdala, the proprietress of the Book View Café, a magical library where patrons can sit and read while enjoying a cup of coffee and freshly baked pastries. However, the café’s centerpiece is a magical book sorting contraption designed by Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, a literal search engine that can find any book you ask for in the library’s collection. Magdala and Lovelace—the woman who will one day become the world’s first computer programmer—go way…

Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Reviews / March 10, 2016

As much as I wanted to love The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, I have to be honest in that I only thought it was okay. I mean, I can see how these stories established a reputation for Ken Liu, and there’s no doubt that some of them are indeed award worthy, but I didn’t connect with nearly as many as I would have liked. Before you start getting disappointed, however, let me say that I blame the format, not necessarily the content. I’ve always been drawn to doorstopper fantasy novels like The Grace of Kings, where we have six or seven hundred pages to immerse ourselves in the world, so it’s not a surprise that many of these stories fell flat or felt a little shallow. Having said all that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t heap some praise on those stories that did work for me. “State Change” hooked me from the start, with a young woman’s strange obsession with freezers, glaciers, and ice cubes. Rina lives in a world where our souls physically manifest as small items that we must keep close at all times, which is easy enough if your soul is a rock or a…

Review: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
Reviews / December 2, 2015

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman is the second in series that got off to a great start with the Invisible Library.  I think that this book could probably be read as a standalone however I would personally recommend reading the first in series because it’s just so good.  I will forewarn you that whilst I will try to avoid spoilers for The Masked City the review may contain spoilers for the first book so please bear that in mind. By way of context the Invisible Library is a library that exists in a different dimension.  From within there appear to be no boundaries and the library is a vast labyrinth that can take days if not weeks to traverse.  The role of the Librarians is to travel to alternate worlds and recover books that are about to disappear and then preserve those books for all time. Using an unusual form of magic the librarians are able to travel to alternate worlds by stepping through a portal within the library and coming out in a library ‘elsewhere’.  The number of possible alternate worlds is immense and each one is different in terms of magical ability or occupants.  In the first…

Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Reviews / September 28, 2015

The nitty-gritty: A sprawling adventure story filled with airships, magic crystals, military maneuvers and talking cats. Yes, I said talking cats! Despite the fact that it took me two weeks to read The Aeronaut’s Windlass, I had so much fun. This was my first Jim Butcher book, and I can see why he’s so popular. His storytelling is exciting and his characters practically jump off the page. No doubt my rating would be higher had the book been shorter, simply because there was just too much of it. But despite some slow spots and a few personal issues I had with Butcher’s writing (which I’ll get to later), I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Readers who love military proceedings and battles at sea are going to love this book. And although the story doesn’t take place at sea, but in the air, it still had the feeling of a rollicking sea adventure. The story revolves around several groups of main characters. Captain Grimm is the commander of the merchant ship Predator and reports to the Spirearch of Albion. Spire Albion and Spire Aurora are at war, and after Grimm’s airship sustains major damage in an attack, Grimm reluctantly agrees to head up a…