Review: The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston
Reviews / November 16, 2015

The Shards of Heaven is a captivating story, that presents some alternative theories for how and why some events in history may have unfolded as they did. Following Julius Caesar’s death, there is a struggle for power between Cleopatra, Marc Antony and his young son and his adoptive sons. Cleopatra is seen as outsider by many and so there is civil war. This story and time period has so much going for it in terms of story! Who doesn’t love delving into the political machinations of war and succession challenges? I loved how the speculative aspect was woven into the story in such a way, that it just felt natural. It takes real events and adds just a dash of something fantastical that helps explain well known stories revolving around gods and religion. Things like how Moses parts the red sea. I feel like I have to fess up, history was never my subject. I am really, embarrassingly, under informed on so many things. But, that also means that when I read a book like this, I have no idea what will happen, which can be fun. Honestly, I think even if I did, I would not have cared. The…

Review: Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed
Reviews / November 12, 2015

From Star Wars: X-Wing to Star Wars: The Old Republic, high-profile Star Wars video games have been inspiring their own novel tie-ins for many years. In the spring of 2015, gamers and readers everywhere were delighted to learn that the highly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront will be getting the same treatment. This book, titled Battlefront: Twilight Company, tells the story of the eponymous Rebel Alliance army unit also known as the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry. Recruited from all over the galaxy, the men and women of this ragtag outfit have very little in common, save for one thing – a fervent desire to fight the Empire. In the wake of the Alliance’s first major victory at the Battle of Yavin, the rebels are pressing their advantage, making the push into Imperial territory. However, the enemy has increased its presence on the Mid Rim worlds, ready to stamp out even the tiniest spark of resistance before it can spread, and Twilight Company has little choice but to fall back. The central character of this novel is Sergeant Hazram Namir. While other units have perished, Twilight Company has always survived by rallying around their charismatic commander Captain Micha “Howl” Evon, whom Namir dislikes…

Review: This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda
Reviews / November 11, 2015

The Clan Chronicles is a series of books (This Gulf of Time and Stars is the first book of the third trilogy) set in a distant future of interstellar travel, alien races, and telepathic abilities. The Trade Pact, the first trilogy, introduced us to the alien Clan, a humanoid race that has doomed itself to extinction through selective breeding. The fact that Clan females kill their prospective mates, though, isn’t the scariest thing about them – it’s the way they exist in secret, disguised as Humans, using their telepathic powers to erase memories and control people without them knowing. Stratification, the second trilogy, is actually a prequel, introducing us to an earlier version of the Clan, long before they joined the Trade Pact, and before they bred themselves to the brink of extinction. Reunification, the third trilogy, is a direct sequel to both stories. This Gulf of Time and Stars advances both the story and the Clan’s situation, introducing us to an era where they have been secretly invited into the Trade Pact, and then just as secretly exposed, adding the threat of extermination to that of extinction. While it could be read on its own, readers will get a lot more out of the story with knowledge of what’s come first. Julie E. Czerneda…

Review: The King’s Justice by Stephen R. Donaldson
Reviews / November 5, 2015

Stephen R. Donaldson is an author who (for better or worse, depending on how you feel about its deliberately unlikable protagonist) is largely identified by his three Thomas Covenant trilogies. It’s such a massive epic, and such a defining force in the fantasy genre, that it’s easy to forget he’s also written a pair of lighter portal fantasies (Mordant’s Need), an even darker science fiction saga (The Gap Cycle), a contemporary mystery series (The Man Who), and multiple short stories and novellas. The King’s Justice is his latest collection, pairing two wildly different novellas in a surprisingly slender volume. Together, they make for an interesting read, showcasing two sides of his narrative talent. First up we have the title story, The King’s Justice, which actually has something of an Old West feel to its flavor of traditional fantasy. Here we encounter a mysterious figure in black, known only as Black, who arrives in the village of Settle’s Crossways on the trail of murder. This was a dark, violent sort of tale, complete with magical compulsions and abhorrent sacrifices, that walks the sword’s edge between justice and vengeance. For such a short novella, there’s actually a lot of history and mythology hinted at in its pages, making it feel…

Review: Reign of Iron by Angus Watson
Reviews / November 4, 2015

As usual, this review will be spoiler free for Reign of Iron, however, (also as usual), there may be spoilers for the previous books in the series. In this case I wanted to give an extra reminder/warning, because I discuss how a *huge spoiler* for the series from book two impacted this book.   IF YOU HAVE NOT READ CLASH OF IRON — DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW       Angus Watson has shown he has some serious guts when it comes to his writing. We were left with a complete game changer at the end of the previous book and I am impressed with how Watson handled everything after. Honestly, it was something that could have gone horribly wrong in terms of story telling. But this final book proved that Watson knew what he was doing. The death of a major character, actually, I would argue THE major character from books 1 and 2 was a huge risk. I mean, for all the talk of authors like Martin showing their characters no mercy and killing them at will, I have to say there has never been a death in ASoIaF as shocking as what we read at the end of Clash…

Review: The Girl With Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
Reviews / November 3, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to receive many unsolicited books from Skyhorse Publishing in the last six months or so, but this book from Skyhorse imprint Talos is, ironically, the only one of their books I’ve requested. And boy, what a book! I nearly passed it by when it popped up on Edelweiss, simply because I have way too many review books as it is. But I thank all the Chinese gods and monsters mentioned in this story that I didn’t pass it up. The Girl With Ghost Eyes will surely be one of my favorite books of the year, and I’m already bemoaning the fact that it’s over, and I don’t know if there will be any more books set in this world! (Note to self: must check with author!) What makes this book so unexpectedly wonderful are two main ingredients: the vibrant magical world, and the characters. The story is set in Chinatown, San Francisco in the late 1800s, a community of immigrant Chinese workers, some of who can perform powerful magic. The story is told by Xian Li-lin, a young woman who is cursed with yin eyes, or “ghost eyes,” which means she is able to peer into…

Review: Made to Kill by Adam Christopher
Reviews / November 2, 2015

I loved Made to Kill – it’s so completely different than anything I’ve read recently – I didn’t know what to expect and almost went into it negatively so it was a great surprise to enjoy it so much.   Witty, well written and just downright good reading that made me laugh out loud.  I’ve not read Adam Christopher before but I’ll certainly be taking a look back at his other work after this.   Set in an alternative 60s universe Made to Kill revolves around one central character, who just so happens to be a robot.  In this version of 60s Los Angeles the technology was slightly more advanced than our own of that period and the Government created a programme to roll out robots across the country to take up dangerous or menial tasks.  Unfortunately it was not a success and people railed against their jobs being taken over by robots.  As a result the programme was scrapped and all the robots destroyed.  All but one.  Raymond.  Part of a slightly different programme, Raymond and his super computer Ada survived the destruction and as part of an alternative exercise set up their own PI agency.  The Electromatic Detective Agency.  Well,…

Review: Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
Reviews / October 30, 2015

I read a whopping number of books last year. Like, the final tally was probably somewhere close to 200. And out of the dozens upon dozens of books, do you know which one stood out to me the most? Juliet Marillier’s Dreamer’s Pool. It should come as no surprise then, that its sequel Tower of Thorns is hands down my most anticipated novel this fall. Heck, most anticipated novel this year. We’re talking, if there’s one book I need to read in 2015, THIS. IS. IT. So, please understand now when I say I need a moment to pull myself together. I’m still trying desperately to come up with the words to describe how I felt about this novel, without coming off as a gushing, fangirly lunatic. After all, it’s not every day that I get to read a book that I’ve been dying for, only to have that book exceed all my expectations. What can I say? Tower of Thorns, you were utter perfection. Juliet Marillier, you are truly amazing. Yeah, that whole trying-not-to-be-a-gushy-fangirl thing. Not really working out, is it? Let me start again, all proper-like this time. Tower of Thorns is the direct sequel to Dreamer’s Pool….

The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffith
Reviews / October 29, 2015

The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffith is a further instalment that brings to us the strange and very readable world of The Greyfriar (Gareth) and the Empress of Equatoria.  This is the fourth story set in this unusual alternate world and whilst I will try to avoid spoilers for this particular novel this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.  To be honest – I wouldn’t advise reading this as a standalone.  I think in order to fully appreciate the strength of feeling between the two main characters you have to begin at the beginning. I’m not going to give a long description here about the past history – like I said above I think you need to read this series from the start and with that assumption in mind I’m thinking no backstory is necessary. At the conclusion of the Kingmaker’s Adele was manipulated into using a massive surge of geomancy which wiped out the British clans, freeing the land from vampire rule and creating a protective barrier to prevent their return.  Unfortunately, it also left huge scars on the natural rifts and badly drained Adele, ageing her somewhat in the process. Adele and Gareth now spend…

Review: The Builders by Daniel Polansky
Reviews / October 28, 2015

Funny how I’m generally not big on anthropomorphism but at the same time I do seem to love a lot of books featuring fluffy, furry adorable sentient animals (Redwall, Watership Down, Mouse Guard, etc.) Thus the draw of Daniel Polansky’s The Builders won out, and it was also perfect because I’ve been meaning to check out his work for a long time. The animals in this book are far from soft and cuddly, though. A mouse, a stoat, an opossum, a badger, a salamander, a mole, and an owl all walk into a bar. This however is not the beginning of a joke but a start of a Kill Bill-style tale of vengeance and bloody destruction. One upon a time, all of them stood united against a common enemy, until treachery destroyed the group from within. The last job they were all on together didn’t end so well, so now the battle-hardened mouse known as the Captain is rounding up his old pals again for one last hurrah. But alas, you know what they say about the best laid schemes of mice and men. Before long, both bullets and fur will fly in abundance, as the Captain and his ragtag…