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9/10
Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Reviews / March 28, 2017

  I’m embarrassed to tell you that it took me nearly a month to read this book. But wait, before you laugh at me, a book review blogger, for not being able to read a mere 544 pages in a timely fashion, the truth is, I got myself into a scheduling bind and had to abandon Kings of the Wyld and read several books for some scheduled reviews, before I could finally get back to it. And it is perhaps because of the talent of the author that I had no trouble whatsoever picking up right where I left off. Reading Eame’s debut was one of the most fun times I’ve had in a long while, and I honestly cannot wait to see what he’s going to write next. Eames uses the tried-and-true plot of the reluctant traveler—think The Hobbit with an aging mercenary and you’ll have an idea of what to expect—well, sort of. Clay Cooper is a guard and lives in the small town of Coverdale with his wife Ginny and his young daughter Tally. He used to be part of a group of mercenaries called Saga, back in the days when merc bands swept through the Heartwyld,…

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8/10
Review: The Return by Joseph Helmreich
Reviews / March 22, 2017

Based on its topics, The Return is what I would describe as hard science fiction—lots of heavy emphasis on technical details, especially surrounding the fields of astronomy and quantum physics. The result is a lot of complex and advanced scientific theory going over my head and plenty more technobabble I’m sure I didn’t quite grasp. So why did I enjoy this book much? Well, for one thing it was thoroughly addicting. Combining an altogether engaging sci-fi premise with the fast-paced intensity of a breathless thriller, Joseph Helmreich’s clever debut is a wild and unexpected journey worth taking. The day humanity found out that it was not alone in the universe began just like any other, with the exception of a few pockets in the scientific community all abuzz with the anticipation for that night’s lunar eclipse coinciding with the winter solstice. It is an occasion rare enough that a news television station has arranged a live broadcast on site in the Bernasconi Hills of Southern California with expert physicist-turned-celebrity scientist Dr. Andrew Leland to cover the event. This is why, when a mysterious spacecraft suddenly swoops down upon the TV crew after the eclipse, Dr. Leland’s subsequent abduction by aliens…

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8/10
Review: Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker
Reviews / March 21, 2017

Phantom Pains continue’s Baker’s wonderfully fresh style of keeping Urban Fantasy a bit more “real” and grounded without compromising on the fantastical. Millie’s life might be full of the extra ordinary, she might be a person that a reader can admire, may be able to deal with fae and break their magic with a touch, but there’s no denying her life is trying. I don’t envy her harsh reality of being a double amputee, but at the same time, her story and challenges are just part of her life, they don’t prevent her from being able to liver her life and do what needs doing. The author does not gloss over her disability, nor does she dwell on it, but rather incorporates all of the extra challenges Millie faces as just a part of how she lives and copes. And while Millie is not always upbeat, she does an amazing job handling both her disability from losing both legs as well as her borderline personality. I find it interesting how the author can explain some of the Borderline personality traits and behaviors that Millie struggles with in a way that helps us understand her, gives us better insight when she…

Book cover: The Book of Etta - Meg Elison (a road bends away to a distant arch)
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8/10
Review: The Book of Etta by Meg Elison
Reviews / March 16, 2017

Nowhere is a small community founded on the teachings of the Unnamed Midwife, flourishing nearly 100 years after a plague drove women to the brink of extinction. But outside Nowhere’s walls, violent men still seize what they desire. Can there be any hope for a better future? Meg Elison caused a stir with her debut, picking up the Philip K Dick award for her twist on the apocalyptic in The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. Set a century later, The Book of Etta is less a direct sequel than a chance to explore how the world has changed in the longer term. As such, I think The Book of Etta can be approached as a stand-alone novel (although your mileage may vary). A hundred years down the line, the Unnamed Midwife is a semi-mythical icon in the small matriarchal community of Nowhere. We can pick up the salient facts as we go along: that women remain a tiny minority because female infant mortality is unusually high and many mothers are killed by a birthing fever (however, those prefer clear context from the start may be put off). Outside Nowhere’s walls, women are frequently sexually enslaved by unscrupulous men – the world hasn’t recovered its balance or empathy down the years. The eponymous Etta is an anomaly: a woman who has rejected Nowhere’s traditional…

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9/10
Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Reviews / March 15, 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is an absolutely gorgeous retelling of Beauty and the Beast that borrows from the Russian folklore of Ivan and the Firebird and in doing so manages to bring something unique to the tale whilst still remaining faithful enough to be the beautiful tale that I love.  I have to confess upfront that I’m a bit of a pushover for fairytale retellings but that doesn’t mean they always win me over and for a book that has received quite as much hype as this particular one I couldn’t help feeling a little bit wary.  In this case there was no need to fear.  This is literally the retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve been waiting for, the writing is evocative, the setting moves from cold and austere to gothic and dilapidated.  The characters are fascinating and the key to the puzzle of the Beast keeps you compelled to the end. At the start of the story Yeva, her sisters and father, live a prosperous life on the edge of town.  Yeva is a lady in waiting, all day she sits listening to idle gossip and trying to conjure up ways to escape the confines of polite society.  Basically,…

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8/10
Review: Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Reviews / March 14, 2017

Star’s End was not the Cassandra Rose Clarke book I was expecting. But then again, I didn’t really have any expectations when I started, other than I knew that Clarke would deliver something truly unique with lots of emotion and detailed characterization. And I was not disappointed. Star’s End may not be the fast-paced or action-packed space opera that you think you need, but you will emerge from the reading experience a more thoughtful person, I guarantee. Clarke has taken an interesting idea about the dangers of having too much power and turned it into a gripping story about love, trust and ultimately doing the right thing. I was surprised how well this story resonates with present-day culture and politics, and while the author didn’t go out of her way to make a statement, there are one or two truths wrapped up in the story, for those readers who choose to look for them. Esme Coromina is the eldest daughter of Phillip Coromina, the family matriarch whose mega corporation terraformed a group of four moons that surround a sun-like planet called Coromina I. Always concerned about turning a profit, the Coromina Group is responsible for creating the super, bio-engineered soldiers…

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8/10
Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
Reviews / March 13, 2017

YES. Now that’s what I’m talking about! While I’ve made it no secret that I love the Mercy Thompson series, if you recall my reviews for the last few books, you’ll know how I feel things in the overall story arc have been stuck in a holding pattern for some time now and the lack of progress was starting to take its toll. For this milestone tenth installment though, I’m glad to report that Briggs has brought the energy back to these books in a huge way. It all began like any other night. A pirate-themed video gaming session ends with Mercy heading out to the store to pick up some cookie baking supplies, but she never makes it home. Her car getting wrecked is the last thing she remembers of that day. Next thing she knows, she’s waking up alone, imprisoned in some strange room. Her mysterious captors are soon revealed as two vampires playing good cop/bad cop come out to question her, cluing Mercy in to the identity of the one behind her rude abduction. If she’s right about her guess though, things are only about to get worse. By shapeshifting into coyote form, Mercy manages to escape…

Book cover: Wintersong - S Jae-Jones (a white rose in a glass ball, with snow falling)
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8/10
Review: Wintersong by S Jae-Jones
Reviews / March 9, 2017

Plain, dutiful Liesl has given up her dreams of music to help her mother tend their inn, but when she was a child she played in the woods with the Goblin King. Her beautiful younger sister Käthe is tone deaf, engaged to the man Liesl once hoped to marry, but she dreams of bigger places than their small village in the Bavarian forest. But the Goblin King does not forget and if he does not take a bride the world will fall into eternal winter. Which sister will he take? Which sister will he keep? I have a soft spot for books that take well-established sources and weave old tropes into something magical and new. In Wintersong, S Jae-Jones takes an inch of Labyrinth, a pinch of Rossetti’s Goblin Market, and a hint of the Rape of Persephone to create a Germanic fairytale romance: dark, Gothic, and sultry. The disadvantage of retreading a well-worn path is that it can rob a story of surprises. Thankfully, Jae-Jones can write – her prose is as lush as her narrative – so even when things feel a little too familiar (peaches, masked balls, heterochromia), they’re still a delight to read. The better news is that Wintersong lays out its stall, entices you to buy something familiar, then sweeps you off to a dimly-lit…

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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…