Review: Necessity by Jo Walton
Reviews / August 8, 2016

Necessity is the final book in the Thessaly trilogy by Jo Walton. As the story continues generations from the start of the series, we find the citizens doing very well, integrating themselves into the interstellar world. There are alien residents and traders visiting the planet. The individual cities seem to be thriving, and people are free to move wherever they feel best fits their personal ideology. It is utopia, finally (or at least much closer than they had achieved previously). But there are complications caused by a sudden death and then a nearing spaceship that will be their first interactions with space humans which kick our story for this final chapter in the series. I have to say, my reading experience with this one was a little different than the first two. Both The Just City and Philosopher Kings seemed to create a more philosophical undertone to them that I just didn’t find in Necessity. The Just City really showed how rigid structure, even when it is with the best intentions, creates a new set of problems. It also explored what constitutes a thinking being, at what point does artificial intelligence become independent and an individual. Philosopher Kings took a strong look at forgiveness versus vengeance,…

Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
Reviews / August 2, 2016

A departure from his Raven’s Shadow trilogy, Anthony Ryan’s latest novel The Waking Fire is the start of a new series featuring a compelling blend of fantasy, adventure, and intrigue. And if there was one thing I learned from reading Queen of Fire, it’s that Ryan has a talent for writing amazing scenes of battle on the high seas—which are also plentiful in this new book. Then, there are the dragons. Oh, we mustn’t forget the dragons. In this fascinating new world of The Draconis Memoria, no other commodity is prized above what the people call “product”, a deceptively innocuous term for something in fact truly magical and amazing: Dragon’s blood. By itself, product is unremarkable—volatile and dangerous, even—save for the powers it bestows to a very small slice of the population known as the blood-blessed, those rare men and women who are literally one in a thousand. Their abilities that manifest are so advantageous and formidable, that entire industries have been dedicated to the harvesting of dragon blood, either from hunting the creatures or taking it from those kept in captivity. Unfortunately though, over-exploitation has depleted their numbers in the wild, and those in the Ironship Syndicate who have…

Review: Admiral by Sean Danker
Reviews / June 1, 2016

Admiral could be the most entertaining military science fiction novel I read all year. This book pulled me in straight from the start, with a publisher’s description that teases so much intrigue that I would have been hard pressed to put it down again had I picked it up off a shelf at the store. Delivering an enticing combination of mystery and suspense, Sean Danker’s debut is an intensely action-packed and fast-paced survival adventure that’s sure to appeal to both sci-fi veterans and newcomers to the genre alike. The story begins with the main protagonist, our unnamed narrator, waking up on a dead ship with no one else alive on board besides a trio of newly graduated recruits from the Evagardian Imperial Service. The only clue we have to his identity is the insignia on his sleeper pod that marks him as an admiral…but is he? The three trainees—Lieutenant Deilani, Ensign Nils, and Private Salmagard—each respond to his presence in different ways, ranging from ingrained obedience to outright hostile suspicion, but for the time being, their first priority is to figure out where they are and what happened to make their ship’s systems shut down, dumping them all out of…

Review: Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Reviews / May 23, 2016

I was so excited to finally get my hands on Company Town, a book which had been on my to-read list for years going back to the days since it was first announced by Angry Robot. While the original publisher’s sale followed by the novel’s move to Tor resulted in a significant delay for its release, I have to say the wait was absolutely worth it. I was already a fan of the author, having read her seriously imaginative and seriously twisted novel vN set in an age of self-replicating synthetic humans, but with Company Town Madeline Ashby delivers a whole other level of storytelling genius. The book takes place in New Arcadia, a city of floating towers surrounding a dilapidated oil rig in the North Atlantic just off the east coast of Canada. Three years after a major accident shook up its residents, new life has returned to town in the form of Zachariah Lynch, patriarch of a wealthy family of energy barons who buys up the place and begins development of an alternative reactor under the waves. Our protagonist Go Jung-Hwa works as a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada, accompanying her charges to appointments with…

Review: The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood
Reviews / May 2, 2016

The Summer Dragon is a wonderful tale full of dragons and mystery. The author, Todd Lockwood, is an established illustrator, and it shows with all of the wonderful illustrations included through out the book. Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous cover. I was immediately quite taken with the protagonist, Maia. She is a determined young woman, set on getting a dragon of her own. Her family runs a dragonry, so she has been raised with dragons and understands them. The special thing about dragons is they form a unique bond with one human, their rider. This bond is developed when the dragons are still young (called qits). This year, their dragonry has more qits than normal and both Maia and her brother are hoping to get one each, so they can then raise a new breeding pair (the dragons also bond with their mate at a young age). It seems the perfect plan, they are both of a good age to bond with a dragon, and a new breeding pair will help ensure dragon production in the future. Dragon raising is a political business. Most of the qits are reserved for the war, to be handed over to the military. It’s…

Review: Eleanor by Jason Gurley
Reviews / April 12, 2016

Eleanor is an emotional journey of a book, a journey that takes you to some dark and uncomfortable places. But don’t let that scare you away, because the author did an amazing job balancing the darker parts. It was actually a touching and magical story that happened to have some sad, tragic and painful elements.  Eleanor and Esmerelda were inseparable twins until a tragic accident kills Esmerelda, leaving Eleanor’s life forever altered and inevitably darker than the one she remembers from before, back when her sister was alive and at her side. It is a story about hindsight, dreams, letting go and moving forward. It is a story of loss and recovery. It is a story that really packs a lot in its pages. It may not have taken me very long to read (maybe 2 days), but it is a story that will stick with me. While this book is undeniably emotional, it was not as depressing of a read as I had anticipated, there felt to be more to it than just heartache. But definitely be prepared for some serious feels. The structure of Eleanor does contain time jumps, but they are easy to navigate and help piece together…

Review: The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R.S. Belcher
Reviews / March 29, 2016

Urban Fantasy is such an exciting genre right now because of books like The Brotherhood of the Wheel. While mythological creatures and vigilantes have long been a mainstay, R.S. Belcher has shaken up these conventions and breathed new life into UF by looking at a slice of American culture that arguably hasn’t gotten a lot of attention: Truckers. Motorcycle clubs. The U.S. Interstate Highway System. Meet Jimmie Aussapile, an independent truck driver who lives a double life as a knight of an ancient order, protecting the country’s roads and its travelers from monsters—both the supernatural and the human kind. He and others like him are part of a brethren who call themselves the Brotherhood of the Wheel. One night, Jimmie picks up a ghostly hitchhiker and follows her message to a number of unsolved missing person cases. Along with his new squire Heck Sinclair, the two men uncover a terrifying situation involving a supernatural serial killer known as the Pagan who has been using the highway system to prey on children since the mid-1900s. Meanwhile, Louisiana cop Lovina Marcou has been conducting her own investigations into a group of missing teenagers, leading her to creepy internet stories about abductions by…

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
Reviews / March 23, 2016

Even before I started this one, I had a feeling something big was coming. For three books now, Anne Bishop has been ramping up the tensions between the Others and the Humans First and Last (HFL) movement, a radical anti-terra indigene group that has been playing with fire since the beginning of this series. All that pent-up rage and energy had to be going somewhere, and that somewhere turned out to be in the pages of Marked in Flesh. For centuries, a delicate balance has existed between humans and the creatures that inhabited the land before we got here. The Others, who see humans as prey, have only allowed this truce to continue because they benefit from the relationship as well, enjoying the useful trade goods that humans produce from the natural resources that are under terra indigene control. However, the HFL has made it clear that they are tired of this compromise, issuing a warning to all that a reckoning is at hand. Caught in the middle of this conflict is Lakeside Courtyard and its leader Simon Wolfgard, the wolf shifter. The arrival of a cassandra sangue named Meg Corbyn has done much to alleviate the bad blood between…

Review: The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon
Reviews / March 14, 2016

The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon is packed full of all my fantasy favorites. Assassins, thieves, undesirable arranged marriages, scandalous secrets, switched identities, bandits, magic. Oh, and dragons. It checks lots of boxes, and honestly, it does it all quite well. I quickly became engrossed with the characters. The story is told through numerous POVs, but all are done well and all provide clearer insight to the overall picture. Quickly you can identify a pair of sisters as being central to the story. Rakaia is a princess of Fardohnya, which on the surface sounds like a pretty good life. Until you learn the real details. She is one of scores of daughters of the King who has a harem, so lots of wives, lots of children. In addition to his wives, the harem also includes court’esa. These are men and women who are experts in the art of sexual pleasure. Somehow of out of all the children born to the King from his legitimate wives, only one of them is a son. The rest? Daughters that he can use for political or economic advantage as they are traded off as wives to secure some advantage for the king. Pretty much, they are just a commodity he…

Review: Arkwright by Allen Steele
Reviews / March 8, 2016

Rarely can a book captivate me so strongly so quickly, but Arkwright hooked me from the very first page. I literally could not put the book aside until I got through the first section. It is a story of vision, aspiration, determination, progress, changing the world and it’s expectations and it is also the story of family, friendships and loyalties. It is a story of genre and evolution that includes the loss of the previous masters of genre as time goes by as readers move on and start to neglect reading the household names of generations past. This story takes generations to tell, but after a gripping opening, it starts with a character named Kate reading incomplete memoirs left by her recently deceased Grandfather. Kate was not close to him, I’m not sure she new much about him beyond the fact that he was a very successful Science Fiction author whose series launched TV spinoffs, catapulting him to genre’s most recognized authors. The same facts anyone of her generation would know about him. The memoirs illustrate the life and aspirations of a young aspiring author named Nathan Arkwright. It outlines his life, his friends, his successes and then most importantly, his dreams and goals….