Moon Called by Patricia Briggs : Review

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Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

I remember picking this book up for the first time at the used book store near my house back when I was in the middle of an urban fantasy kick — as I am right now, mainly because it was just sitting near the Dresden Files book shelf. It then proceeded to sit on my book shelf at home for two long years before I finally remembered I had it and decided to give it a try. I have been kicking myself since that day for waiting so long to read this book, Patricia Briggs has turned into one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, second only to Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files.

In a genre full of wizards, werewolves and vampires it’s always nice to see a main character who stands out from the pack, and Mercedes Thompson does just that. Mercy isn’t just the best Volkswagen mechanic in the entire state of Washington, she’s also a Native American being known as a walker — a shape shifter with the ability to turn into a coyote at will. When her werewolf neighbor Adam is attacked and his daughter Jesse is abducted it is up to Mercy to everything at her disposal to help Adam save his daughter before it is too late.

There are just so many things that I love about this book that I have trouble even talking about it sometimes without spewing my fanboy all over people. For a protagonist Mercy is pretty bad-ass, in a world of werewolves, vampires, powerful Fae creatures and a government determined to control them all you wouldn’t think one little coyote would be able to hold her ground, but she does. It’s also always fun to read some urban fantasy where all the preternatural elements aren’t hidden from the world, but out there for everyone to see, it adds a really interesting element to the story.

With the Mercy Thompson books Patricia Briggs has managed to take all of my favorite tropes from the genre and twist them into something completely her own. A feat that is not easy to do considering just how many books that are out there nowadays, it gets more impressive the more I think about it.

I can’t count the number of times I have read and reread Moon Called, it is from one of those series that I always seem to be in the middle of a reread of. I would definetly give this book 6 out of 5 stars and would suggest anyone looking for some great urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine pick up this book.


Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines : Review

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Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines was a really fun book to read, it is another book series that I wish I had discovered much sooner than I did. As I mentioned in my last review is really easy to find urban fantasy to read these days as it seems to be everywhere I look, it’s difficult to find good urban fantasy. So when I find books like Libriomancer I tend to read through them ridiculously fast. This book was so good I ended up reading the entire series in under a week and am already desperately waiting for the next book to release. It probably has the greatest magic system I have ever read about in any book, I can’t say how much I wish Libriomancy really existed in our world.

Founded by Johannes Gutenber over 500 years ago the Libriomancers are a secretive group of men and women with a very unique gift — they are able to reach into almost any book that exists and pull out an item from within to use. Need to sneak through a building undetected? Why not just pull an invisibility cloak from Harry Potter, or a shrink ray from pretty much any sci-fi book in existence. Isaac Vainio is one of these Libriomancer, but unlike the rest of his brothers and sisters in magic, Isaac has been stuck with a desk job in the middle of nowhere Michigan, about as far away from the rest of the world and Libriomancer politics as it is possible to get. However, when a group of Sanguinarius Meyerii — sparkling vampires who have been accidentally released between the pages of a book attack him in an attempt to learn Libriomancer secrets Isaac soon finds himself on the run. It will take his magical fire spider Smudge, a beautiful Dryad and his vast collection of science fiction noels to help Isaac find out just what the hell is going on, and keep himself alive long enough to do something about it.

I really can’t say enough how much I loved the magic system contained within this book, it is just awesome. There is just something about reading a book and have it mention another book or series I enjoy reading. This not only happens all the time in Libriomancer, but when it does it is usually when someone is reaching into the book references and pulling an item out of it to use. These references aren’t just used as gimmicks either, some of the items pulled from the books act as maor plot points for the story. Just trying to catch all the different books referenced and trying to figure out what item the Libriomancer is going to pull from the books is really fun. It makes the book and series really rereadable — at least to me it does.

I think anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy will really enjoy the Magic Ex Libris series as a whole, I think about every book I’ve ever loved is mentioned in some way in the series. Just writing this review makes me realize I have to start rereading it again, which is not a good thing when I have to be up for work in less than 5 hours.


Skinwalker by Faith Hunter : Review

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Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps…

Urban fantasy has quickly become my favorite sub genre of fantasy these days, the only bad thing about it is there is so much available now that at times it is difficult to sift through all the bland or mediocre stories to get to the really good stuff. Sometimes I will try and read two or three books a week only to toss them aside after just a few chapters for one reason or another. However with Skinwalker by Faith Hunter I was hooked from the very first page, it quickly turned into yet another book I was unable to put down until I finished it. I will learn one day not to start a new book at 10pm at night when I know if I like it I will read it until 6am like I did with Skinwalker.

Jane Yellowrock is a shapeshifter, the last living skinwalker in all the world — or so she thinks. When a rogue vampire starts killing people in the heart of New Orleans Jane finds herself hired by Katherine Fontaneau, the proprietor of the brothel Katie’s Ladies and one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans, to hunt down and kill the rogue vampire before it becomes a PR nightmare for the vampire council. Oh, and she has 10 days in which to do if she wants to receive her full pay and a bonus on top of it. To complete her job she will have to accept help from wherever she can get it, all while fighting off the Beast within who wants nothing more to take control of the hunt.

One of the things I loved most about this story was the fact that other than our shapeshifting heroine there were only vampires and witches in the story. It was a nice change to read some urban fantasy where you are not provided with a bunch of different supernatural creatures to learn about and keep track of. While Jane and the rest of the world may only know about the vampires and the witches hints are dropped all throughout the book that there may be other races hiding out in the world still.

It was also nice not to read some urban fantasy where the focus was not on sex or romances, Jane Yellowrock is in town to get her job done and she has no time for anything that may get in her way. I think anyone who enjoys the Dresden Files or Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books will love this book as much I do. I have already bought the next two books in the series and I plan to start the next one soon, never mind the fact that I know it will keep me up till early tomorrow morning.

 


The Gods of Laki: A Thriller by Chris Angus : Review

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A race to unveil the secret of Laki, a volcano on the southern shores of Iceland, pits our heroes—a sixteen-year-old Viking girl from the tenth century, a German geologist from World War II, and a former Secret Service agent protecting a female volcanologist—against evil forces with a plan to cause an eruption using explosives, altering the global climate through the release and forcing the price of oil to skyrocket.

Everyone and everything on Laki is in danger, including the possibility of ever unraveling the mysteries of the place, as it faces burial beneath a carpet of lava flows. Caught underground by the fracturing physical breakup of Laki, everyone finds themselves ensnared by Laki itself—an unseen, implacable foe that seems everything but a benign presence. Every move they make appears to be guided and controlled by an intelligence that permeates the netherworld.

Only gradually, through all the conflict between the various factions, does everyone begin to realize that it is Laki itself that has always been in charge.

 The Gods of Laki: A Thriller by Chris Angus is definitely not the type of book I would normally pick up and read, as I don’t branch outside of science fiction or fantasy all that much these days. Chris Angus has managed to write a book that touches on just about every genre there is and yet still manages to stand out in a genre all its own, I’m still a little surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it.  This was another book that I was unable to put down once I picked it up and started reading, it cut into my precious sleep two nights in a row when I had to work early the next day.

There really isn’t much I can say about the plot that I can say without spoiling anything but I will try my hardest to do so. The Gods of Laki is told mainly from three different view points, each in a different point in time. In 940 AD a group of vikings fleeing from their homeland find refuge in the land of ice and fire, and quickly find out that their new home is not as safe as it seems. In 1940 Fritz Kraus is the only German student at the University of Iceland and he soon finds himself involved in events that may change the world forever.

Lastly, in the present day former Secret Service agent Ryan Baldwin has been asked to protect the volcanologist daughter of a high ranking government official while she studies a volcano in Iceland.

Chris Angus manages to take all three of these story lines and weave them into one amazing story that I think any reader will find themselves unable to put down. I can honestly say I was glad to lose the sleep I did to read this story, and I’m already keeping an eye out for more great stories by Angus. I don’t know many authors who can take Vikings, Nazis, an almost sentient volcano and tie them all together so well.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


GUEST POST: Game of Thrones: “Mother’s Mercy” Review and Recap of Season 5

[Warning! Here be spoilers]

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As predicted, the season finale of the fifth Game of Thrones cycle hit viewers between the eyes with numerous plot twists and cliffhangers, while the death knell tolled ceaselessly for characters both beloved and abhorred. An inclusion of controversial content and subversion of popular fantasy storytelling tropes has come to define this series, broadening its fan base to include all those who appreciate a bloody good story.

Season five saw fan favorite Tyrion Lannister journeying to Meereen to meet Daenerys Targaryen after his escape from King’s Landing. As it turns out, Daenerys was in desperate need of reliable counseling. Unable to control her dragons, she chained two of them up under a pyramid, announced an engagement to nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq, and reopened the fighting pits in an attempt to win her people’s favor.

The Sons of the Harpy, a rebel organization, were fighting her regime after her decree outlawing slavery which destabilized their way of life. Their campaign began with assaults on Daenerys’ Unsullied troops in the city streets and culminated in a tense battle at the pits, that ended with her dragon Drogon arriving just in time to fly her away to safety.

Meanwhile, at Castle Black, Jon Snow was voted Lord Commander. Many of his men came to regret this decision, when they learned of his plan to let thousands of wildlings through The Wall. Upon arriving at Hardhome to bring the wildlings back with him, Jon, his small escort, and the wildlings fought a brutal battle with four White Walkers in which vast numbers of men, women, and children were killed and resurrected by the Walkers to be added to the army of the dead.

Arya Stark traveled to Braavos and ended up training to be an assassin at the House of Black and White. Her training was derailed when she realized Ser Meryn Trant, the top name on her kill list, was also in Braavos. Arya’s sister Sansa was brought to Winterfell by Littlefinger to take part in an arranged marriage to Ramsay Bolton, the sadistic torturer whose mutilation and psychological manipulation of Theon Greyjoy transformed him into the pathetically servile Reek. Ramsay’s rape of Sansa before the eyes of Reek was a huge controversy as viewers questioned whether the act actually served the characters or was simply exploitative.

In King’s Landing, Cersei’s arming of the Faith Militant gave their leader, the High Sparrow, the power to imprison her rivals Margery and Loras Tyrell. The plan blew up in Cersei’s face when her cousin Lancel, now one of the devout, informed on her for cheating on King Robert several years back, and Cersei too now sits in a cell. Cersei’s brother Jaime went with Bronn to Dorne to bring their daughter Myrcella back home, but their mission failed when Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes, intervened.

Game of Thrones is populated with at least twice as many characters as any other show on TV. This requires a large portion of table setting in the early parts of each season, as the show-runners maneuver each chess piece into play. However, as the seasons draw to a close, patient viewers are always well rewarded in final episodes.

This brings us to last night’s season finale. Subscribers can catch the episode on HBOGo, whereas the rest of us can look to television providers such as DTV and Xfinity to get caught up. Sunday night saw some of the bloodiest action yet: Theon and Sansa leapt from the walls of Winterfell following a massive battle between Bolton and Baratheon troops, Ellaria Sands murdered young Princess Myrcella by poison, Meryn Trant was killed by Arya Stark, Daenerys nearly succumbed to a gigantic Dothraki khalasar, and Jon Snow suffered a devastating death at the hands of his own men (several subplots being neglected here for the sake of brevity). In television today, there’s nothing else quite like it. The irresistible blend of fantasy, fiction and good old fashioned storytelling present in the GoT series will surely draw fans back once more to Season 6. There’s nothing else like it, and it’s the reason Game of Thrones viewers will continue to return, despite having their hearts broken, year after murderous year.

Guest post by Maria Ramos.

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A (Slight Noisy) Audio Interview with Scott Lynch

After a weekend of stalking Scott Lynch, author of the Gentleman Bastards series back in April, he finally allowed me to corner him and ask him some questions in a noisy hallway. We spoke of The Thorn of Emberlain, and his plans for the future of his series, Super Secret Lynch #1, and zombies.

I attempted to clean the audio up a little bit, which may have caused some distortions. My apologies for that, but I hope you enjoy! Also.. I am so sorry for the 7-ish minute mark. I made a joke about doing what I did, and SJardine forced me to follow through with it.


 

For those of you unable to listen to the audio, /u/justamathnerd on reddit has provided a bit of a recap:

  • There are no major flashbacks in Thorn of Emberlain. He mentions that “since this is an even numbered book,” there won’t be flashbacks, even though he included some in Red Seas Under Red Skies. I assume that means that the next odd numbered book (the one after Thorn) will have flashbacks.
  • We’re gonna get some new “main” characters that will stick for the rest of the series, seemingly they’ll be the Spoilers So Far[1] since he describes them as Jean and Locke’s “opponents.” He talks about how there will be two concurrent stories, Jean and Locke’s as well as these new characters.
  • He can’t talk about his new project, but hopes to be able to by the end of 2015. He includes a cryptic hint: Hint[2] Who knows what that means? I’m sure people will come up with some interesting theories.
  • In response to whether there is going to be more magic or Eldren or clarification on any of that stuff, he said there will be more magic and clarification, but that “not every mystery will be revealed, and not every question will have an answer.” He says he’s a “big believer in leaving some things to the reader’s imagination and leaving some things unsolved.”
  • He hopes that Untitled Lynch #1 will be the first of a series of side-projects or standalones, but he would like the “central spine of [his] work to be the ongoing Gentleman Bastard sequence and related works, and maybe some other long fantasy series.” He likes long series, but he wants to dabble in off-shoots or projects that are unrelated as well.
  • The main Gentleman Bastard series is 7 books with some non-essential tie-ins (he has some novellas planned, so my guess is that’s what he means). The follow-up to that will be another 7 books set 20 years after the first. It will feature many of the same characters and many of the same type of situations, and will resolve the “grand story.” It will take us to the natural end of several characters’ lives, show off what happens and tie everything up.
  • He’s optimistic about speeding his pace up. He says he’s gotten it down to two years between books and wants to get it to one. He says if that was the pace, he could conceivably be done in 10 years, and jokes about how he’s “said this kind of thing before.” It sounds like he’s pretty happy with his output and pace which is all that matters, really.

 


Review: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, and Other Stories, by Tim Burton

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From breathtaking stop-action animation to bittersweet modern fairy tales, filmmaker Tim Burton has become known for his unique visual brilliance — witty and macabre at once. Now he gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children — misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and the tragedy of these dark yet simple beings — hopeful, hapless heroes who appeal to the ugly outsider in all of us, and let us laugh at a world we have long left behind (mostly anyway). 

Firstly, let me say that I love Tim Burton’s animated movies – The Corpse Bride is a masterpiece. When I saw The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, and Other Stories in the local book store, then, I was excited for it. It’s short – not even 130 pages – so I read it in there, and was done in twenty minutes. My opinion on it is mixed.

The book is similar in style to Alice in tumblr-Land, being a collection of short poems that range from a few pages long to only two lines. Some of the entries are continued in later poems, but for the most part they’re self-contained. Illustrations on the adjacent page help bring the stories to life. The illustrations are like something out of one of Burton’s movies: creepy, but almost cute, in a way. Be warned, though: there aren’t any happy endings in these stories. They range from the merely melancholy to the truly macabre, with very little of the lightheartedness or uplifting themes that his movies often have. It’s easy to empathise with the put-upon main characters of the poems, who are without exception outcasts and unloved. Many of them meet sad ends. The stories are bittersweet at best, and many are outright depressing. Unfortunately, they’re not very memorable – I finished it two hours ago and have to rack my memory for details. While not as bad as the afore-mentioned Alice in tumblr-Land, where I found myself forgetting the beginning of a story even as I read the end of it, these stories didn’t do much to stick in the mind.

Ultimately, the book is an okay read once, but lacks the charming atmosphere of Burton’s movies. As it’s such a quick read, I don’t recommend actually buying it – reading it in the bookstore is more than enough.

Overall rating: 3/5


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir : Review

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Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a good read. It’s engaging enough to be engrossing, and has enough character development and action to keep readers hooked. This review isn’t going to be pretty, but one thing for sure is that Sabaa Tahir can definitely write. I personally may have found some things lacking, but her prose was unfaltering. With some refinement that we’ll hopefully see in future novels, I think she could even be excellent.

That being said, I was disappointing in An Ember in the Ashes. I had high hopes for this title, and all the other reviews that I had read seemed overwhelmingly positive. I agree, in large part, with them. However, for me, An Ember in the Ashes wasn’t enough. For those of you whom have been reading fantasy (or really, any genre fiction) for any length of time, the love triangles, and almost all plot twists/major developments will be painfully predictable. I can see this as being a good read for someone who needs something “light” after reading a heavy series, or for readers just getting into the genre.

It’s odd to call this book light, when it’s set in a world with merciless killings, brutality, and the fact rape is used as a plot device to move the story along (I’m not opening that can of worms in this review though.) It still managed to feel like a lighter read though, due to the fact that we’re only told about the brutality of the world, never really shown besides for at the very beginning of the book. This — the telling and not showing, did lead to a disappointing lack in world building. I’m hoping it’s something that gets expanded upon in the sequel, and that we do get to see more of the world and get some actual descriptions; as it stands, it kind of felt flat, as though the backdrop of a play was changed and barely alluded to.

I don’t mean for this to sound all bad. I got through this book in a couple of sittings, and I will probably read the sequel when it comes out. I didn’t love this book, I didn’t think it was a sensational masterpiece, or even really innovative, but I did enjoy it. Based on other reviews, and the fact that Paramount optioned it in a 7-figure deal does clearly show that it’s a loved book, just not by me.


If you’re interested, we’ve included a brief sample of the audiobook:


The Hidden Masters of Marandur (The Pillars of Reality #2) by Jack Campbell

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Someone wants to kill Mari, a young Steam Mechanic in the Guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization, and that Mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young Mage who has learned that Mechanics are not frauds as his Guild teaches, and that Mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur (Pillars of Reality Book 2) by Jack Campbell is probably one of the two best steampunk and fantasy mash-ups that I have read so far, which is fitting considering it is the sequel to the other best.

I was a bit worried when I picked this up to read that I wasn’t going to enjoy this book as much as I did the first, or that Campbell wasn’t going to be as good an author as I remember him being, but I’m glad I can say I was worried for no reason at all. Jack Campbell took everything I loved about the Dragons of Dorcastle and just piled on top of it with more awesomeness to create its sequel. I was yet again surprised by the originality of Campbells work with both of these books, it’s rare to find so many new ideas in a book these days.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur takes place directly after the events of the Dragons of Dorcastle— Master Mechanic Mari and the Mage Alain have managed to stop the dragon that was terrorizing the people of Dorcastle, but in doing so have revealed their rebellious nature to each of their respective guilds. Challenging the status Quo is something neither the Mechanics or the Mages guilds are prepared to accept however, and Alain and Mari soon find themselves sent out on dangerous missions by their respective guilds in attempt to silence their rebellious questioning. The Mechanics and Mages guilds don’t know everything however, Alain and Mari are in love and will not let anyone or anything come between them.
This book was another good reminder for me that there is good steampunk out there to read, you just have to look in unexpected places. I did not expect to pick up a book series originally created as an Audible exclusive and to have it turn out to be something I was unable to put down. After I finished both the Dragons of Dorcastle and the Hidden Masters of Marandur I found myself suggesting the series to everyone I knew or met who reads, the lady I met in the fantasy section of my local book store probably thinks I’m absolutely crazy at this point. The only bad thing about enjoying a book this much is how fast you finish it, now I don’t know how long it will be until the next book in the series releases, or what I will do to hold myself over until then.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Our review of The Dragons of Dorcastle


Listen below for a free preview of The Hidden Masters of Marandur narrated by Macleod Andrews; courtesy of Audible.


The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks : Review

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After taking up his enchanted sword against the dark sorcerer Arcannen, Paxon Leah has become the sworn protector of the Druid order. Now a critical hour is at hand, as a beloved High Druid nears the end of her reign and prepares to pass from the mortal world to the one beyond. There is little time for Paxon to mourn his friend and benefactor before duty summons him. For in a distant corner of the Four Lands, the magic of the wishsong has been detected. Paxon must accompany a Druid emissary to find its source—and ensure the formidable power is not wielded by the wrong hands.

But danger is already afoot in the village of Portlow. Gentle traveling minstrel Reyn Frosch possesses the uncanny gift, and curse, of the wishsong. And now his coveted abilities have captured the malevolent interest of none other than Arcannen—whose quest for power is exceeded only by his thirst for vengeance. The lone survivor of a brutal assault on a notorious pirate city, the sorcerer is determined to retaliate against the Federation’s elite military guard—and use the devastating power of the wishsong as his ultimate weapon.

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks is the second book in his Defenders of Shannara series– a trilogy of stand alone novels loosely tied together by a small cast of recurring characters. While I actually enjoyed this book more than I have the last few Shannara books that have been published, I struggled at times to get through it. I think the fact that we only have one more Shannara book after the conclusion of the Defenders series weighed heavily upon me as I read. That being said, I started on my reread of the book not even a full 24 hours after I finished reading it the first time.

It has been 5 years since the events of the High Druid’s Blade and Paxon Leah’s run in with the dark sorcerer Arcannen, and all has been relatively quiet for the Druids in the Four Lands. But now duty sends Paxon and the Druid Avelene out into the world once more, the scrye waters that the Druids use to watch for magic have shown a disturbance, one that bears a striking resemblance to the magic of the Wishsong. Paxon will soon find himself running into old friends and enemies as he attempts find its source and ensure its safe transportation back to Paranor.

While the Darkling Child is loosely connected to the High Druid’s Blade by Paxon Leah and a few other characters, each book is clearly meant to stand on its own and I don’t think new readers will have a problem starting with either of the two books. For me this book proved to be a great reminder of why I fell in love with this series in the first place, it was nice to rediscover the magic of Shannara once again and I can only hope that Terry continues to surprise me with the last few books he releases in the series.

I think all fans of the series, new or old, will absolutely love this book, I know I did. Already I am counting down the days until the release of the last book in the trilogy, and already I am finding that wait unbearable.

The Darkling Child is set to be release on June 9th by Del Rey.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.


Listen to a brief preview of The Darkling Child!


Uprooted by Naomi Novik : Review

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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

There is no denying that Naomi Novik is an amazing author and anyone who has read her Temeraire series would probably agree with me. With Uprooted Naomi Novik shows she can move books about dragons and feuding governments and still manage to write a great story. I wasn’t really sure what to make of Uprooted in the first couple chapters but I knew right away I was reading something special. Like every other book by Naomi Novik I found myself sucked into the book as the story progressed and by the last chapter I didn’t want to see it end.

Every ten years the Dragon comes down from his tower to pick a young girl from one of the local villages to take back up to his tower with him. No one can say what happens to a girl chosen by the Dragon once the doors of his tower close behind her. The only thing people know for sure is she will emerge in 10 years a changed person who quickly leaves her village far behind her, never to return. It has now been 10 years and the Agnieszka, along with all the other girls of the nearby villages are lined up and waiting for the Dragon to emerge and make his choice.

This book was simply amazing, it was bar far one of the better books I have read this year, and while I probably say that after every book I read, there is just something enchanting about Uprooted. I don’t know if its the almost fairy tale like plot and setting or the the enjoyable cast of characters, but i was unable to put this book down from start to finish. I would warn anyone who has read anything else by Naomi Novik not to go into this story expecting anything remotely similar to her Temeraire series, because if they do they will find themselves greatly disappointed. Uprooted was really like nothing else I have ever read, and considering how much I read that’s really saying something.

I would easily give Uprooted 6 out of 5 stars, and put it on my list of books I will probably be reading over and over again for the rest of my life. I really hope this turns out to be a long and drawn out series of books.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik is set to be published on May 19th, 2015 by Del Rey


[GUEST POST] Three Urban Fantasy Books to Read

Most of us have watched urban fantasy series at some point in our lives, from the 1997 hit American show Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the more recent Supernatural series starring the amazing Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (Winchester Brothers). However, how many of us have actually read epics that provide as much action and suspense as the aforementioned series? If you enjoy reading books as much as you take pleasure in watching urban fantasy stories, you might want to consider giving these novels a try.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere explores the story of a businessman named Richard whose life changed forever when he stopped to help a desperate young girl helpless on a nearby road. When the girl, named Door, recovered the next morning, she begged Richard to find Marquis de Carabas — a man who will be able to help her escape from two inhuman assassins that are trying to kill her. Why are assassins after the seemingly harmless young girl and how can the Marquis save her from the dark recesses of the city? Richard sets out on a quest to find the answers to many unanswered questions, when both Door and the Marquis mysteriously disappear after meeting in his apartment.

 

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Atticus O’Sullivan is one of the last surviving druids – soothsayers of the ancient Celtic religion — in the world. The 21-century-old druid lives in Arizona and earns a living by running a bookshop.

Atticus was living a peaceful life until his immortal enemy, a Celtic god, found him. Apparently, Atticus has something that the god wants, which is a very powerful sword called “The Fragarach.” In order to take the sword away from him, the Celtic god sends in Atticus’ way powerful werewolves disguised as lawyers, seductive goddesses of death, and many other temptations that can make even the strongest of men drop their guard.


Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

According to Mayfair Casinos, London is one of the most exclusive areas in the world where for hundreds of years, the rich and elites met in private clubs. However, who would’ve thought that apart from the upper class, angry ghosts and mischievous gods also convene in the most populous city of England?

That’s what Probationary Constable Peter Grant found out when he gained top secret information from an eyewitness who is actually a wraith. Peter’s ability to talk with the dead brings him closer to Detective Thomas Nightingale, who works on cases with supernatural elements. Grant and Nightingale must work together in order to solve the creepy ghosts possessions plaguing the city and the brewing war between two old gods of the River Thames.

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The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell : Review

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For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at  nothing to defeat her.

I have been disappointed in every steampunk novel I have read for years now and I was prepared to wait for Jim Butcher’s new series to find one, but I am more than glad that I didn’t have to wait quite that long. The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell is the first book in his Pillars of Reality series and is the perfect mix of steampunk and fantasy. I once again found myself unable to put what I was reading down to sleep and I found myself reading into the early hours of the morning when I had to work the next day. I am excited to have found a new series to read and enjoy, but I am already a little worried that it has set the bar to high for any steampunk that I decide to follow it up with!

The world of Dematr has been controlled by the Mages and Mechanics guilds for as long as history has been recorded, and for that entire time the two guilds have been at odds. The Mages believe that the Mechanics are nothing but frauds and that all of reality is an illusion– and the people who live in the illusion are nothing but shadows and therefor do not matter. The Mechanics believe that the Mages are nothing but charlatans and the commons– anyone who is not a Mage are below their notice. That all starts to change when Alain and Mari find themselves in circumstances that force them to work together, something that is forbidden by both of their guilds, and they start to realize that maybe their respective guilds have not been very truthful with them.

I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed this book, like I said about I’ve been looking for some good steampunk to read for a long time now, and I didn’t expect to find it between the covers of this book. The story is well plotted and the world building is just phenomenal, Campbell does a great job of dropping hints about the world into the story here and there, instead of using the massive info dumps that are all too common in fantasy these days. I really enjoyed the characters as well, Alain and Mari were surprisingly complex for the first book in a series and their budding friendship was almost too cute to handle.

I would recommend this book to just about anyone I know, especially people who are fans of steampunk and fantasy as it really was the perfect mix of the two. I have already pre-ordered the ebook release of the next book in the series and can’t wait until it releases.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Listen to a free excerpt of the audiobook courtesy of Audible:


Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson : Review

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God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world.

Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date.

One of the things I have come to love about Brandon Sanderson is that he proves with every new release that he is not done growing as a writer and that he isn’t afraid to let his stories get a little weird.  And there is no denying how weird I found Perfect State to be, it is an odd combination of science fiction and fantasy. Throughout all the years that I have been a reader I have only ever found one author who can combine elements of science fiction and fantasy and not have it turn out horrible–Anne Mccaffrey. I probably shouldn’t be as surprised as I am that Brandon Sanderson nailed that combination so well with Perfect State.

In the last 300 years God-Emperor Kairominas has managed to conquer and unify all of his known world, and has managed to master all aspects of his Lancing ability except weather control, and one day he knows he will learn that as well. There is only one thing left in the world he has yet to do, and it has been determined it is time for Kai to find an appropriate mate and procreate. When you have the power of a god you would think that there would be nothing left that could scare you, but Kai is terrified.

Despite the fact that this is a non Cosmere novella– I haven’t been a big fan of the non Cosmere stories Brandon has released so far, Perfect State has turned out to be one of my favorites. Despite being another of his shorter novella’s, I found the world building of Perfect State to be surprisingly solid and detailed without feeling rushed or crammed. Plus, Brandon Sanderson almost wrote a sex scene…I almost dropped my book while I was reading it thinking he was going to take the scene to its conclusion, it’s a very risque book by Brandon’s normal standards!

I really hope Brandon continues the story of this novella in the same way that he has continued the story of Legion and that we really get to see exactly where Kairomina’s story ends up going.


Ghosts In The Yew by Blake Hausladen : Review

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A novel of violent magic, intrigue, and statecraft, Ghosts in the Yew is the story of four who are banished beyond the edge of the map to a land of gnarled forests, ancient magic, and the site of a terrible murder. Their struggles to survive will put them at odds with their families, their nation, and the very powers that shaped the world.

I have decided that when everyone you meet at a convention is telling you to meet this author and to read his book that you should definitely listen to them. I was worried that they had set the bar just a little too high with everything they had said about it, but I’m glad I was not disappointed in the least. I think Blake Hausladen is going to be an author to keep an eye on, his first book Ghosts in the Yew was everything people told me it would be and more. It has been weeks since I finished it and I still catch myself drifting off into daydreams about it as I walk to or from work.  Ghosts in the Yew is what I wish every self-published book I’ve read could be.

I don’t know if it’s what the author intended, but at its heart I found this book to be the coming-of-age story of Barok, one of the many selfish and self-centered princes of Zoviya. When one of Barok’s political schemes to ruin his brother Yarik goes awry Barok finds himself exiled to the the long abandoned and ill kept  boundaries of the kingdom. He’s joined by his new drunken Alsman Leger and the beautiful but naive Dia as they struggle to survive without the support of the rest of the kingdom and they soon find themselves preparing to fight a secret war at the same time.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book for me was the fact that is told in the first person, but from the perspective of four separate point of view characters, something I don’t think I’ve seen done outside of a few YA books. I was a bit worried that the view points would just blend together and I would find myself struggling to keep track of who’s view point I was reading at the time, but Blake does a great job of giving each of the characters their own unique voice that stands out from each of the others.

I found it just a little too easy to get lost in the story that Ghosts in the Yew was telling, which to me, is one of the greatest signs of a good story and author. I remember sitting down to read a little bit of the story and get an early feel for what I would think of it and got hooked. Fast forward five or six hours and you would see the panic set in when I realized I had to be to work in just a couple more hours. It was not the panic for the lack of sleep though, it was the panic that sets in when I realize I would have to stop reading a good book and go join the real world once again. I really did not want to be left wondering just how the story ended all day at work.

.I ended up taking the book with me to read on my lunch break– something I haven’t done with a physical book in a very long time. I would strongly suggest this book to just about anyone who enjoys fantasy, it is both money and time well spent in my opinion. I’ve been eying the sequel sitting on my book shelf since I finished it, but I feel the need to ration out the story over the weeks to come, or I may regret reading it so fast.


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