[Book Review] In which I re-evaluate my bias against magic libraries

 

Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Canaries, this is the book I was looking for when I had my ill-fated encounter with The Eyre Affair in 2017 and swore off all book-themed fantasy novels. Little did I know that The Invisible Library was out there.

Two years later, here I am, eating my words. Fantasy books about books can be excellent.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (and the rest of the series) combines the high stakes of a spy thriller with the shenannigans of fantasy novel, populated with colorful characters, an intriguing and competent main lead, and several series level mysteries that kept me hooked. Continue reading

[Book Review] That’s one way to make it in New York

Omega

Book Review: Omega Rising by Jessica Meats

What’s this? A quick 90-page novella of a story about a down-on-her-luck Jenny who moves to New York City in hopes of getting a minimum wage job to cover her rent, only to find herself hired by a security firm and leading a secret battle against aliens.

I know, right? Continue reading

[Book Review] Florida on fire, plus ghosts

Book Review: Brimstone by Cherie Priest

Brimstone

This author has been on my canary radar ever since I first came across the happy chatter surrounding her debut novel Boneshaker – and let’s not forget that gorgeous steampunk cover. So when I saw her latest, Brimstone, I had to have it. That the blurb promised a character with a tortured past was just icing on the cake.

The blurb:

“In the trenches of Europe during the Great War, Tomas Cordero operated a weapon more devastating than any gun: a flame projector that doused the enemy in liquid fire. Having left the battlefield a shattered man, he comes home to find yet more tragedy–for in his absence, his wife has died of the flu. Haunted by memories of the woman he loved and the atrocities he perpetrated, Tomas dreams of fire and finds himself setting match to flame when awake. Alice Dartle is a talented clairvoyant living among others who share her gifts in the community of Cassadaga, Florida. She too dreams of fire, knowing her nightmares are connected to the shell-shocked war veteran and widower.” Continue reading

[Book Review] Girl meets cyborg, starts a war

Book Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

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A mercenary running from a past she can’t remember, a renegade scientist running from a past he can’t forget. What more can you ask for? Throw in a double-cross, explosions, hacking, cyberpunk shenanigans, plenty of heat, and you got something.

It’s a fun read, light on the plot, good with the pacing, with a kind of space opera romance vibe without the space part (well, mostly). It’s a partners-to-lovers story with sizzling romance that builds on the characters’ long history of working and relying on each other. Continue reading

[Book Review] Politics the cyberpunk way

infomocracyBook Review: Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older

I got this for the cover, I stayed for the story.

It’s been a while since the science fiction genre surprised me with something new. Enter Infomocracy, a thought experiment in the concept of democracy, corporate power, and human nature. And, so you don’t think this is a political treatise, there are other things too, like explosions, anarchists, a paranoid operative, and campaign spies. Continue reading

[Book Review] Evening conversations with a long-dead Mayan priestess

thefallingwomanThe Falling Woman by Pat Murphy

“I was mad because I said words they did not wish to hear, because they could not control me, they could not drag me along like a tethered dog. And so they said I was mad.”

When Elizabeth, an archaeologist with a track record of making incredible discoveries, looks at a historic site, she sees not just the ruins, but the ghosts of the people and civilizations that once existed there.  It’s a gift she’s learned to live with, and keeps secret lest it gets her labeled crazy and thrown out of academia and into a hospital. But her simple archaeological routine is shattered when, during an investigation of ancient Mayan ruins, the shadow of a long-dead priestess sees Liz and speaks to her…and Liz’ daughter arrives out of the blue, mourning her father’s death and hoping to reconnect with her mother. Continue reading

[Book Review] Where magic is murder

Book Review: Trickster by Jeff Somers

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I can’t get enough of urban fantasy worlds.

There’s something about that intersection of our everyday mundane existence and that extra, fantastic reality just on the edge of perception that just gets me. In each new book in this genre, the edges of reality are peeled away just a bit to uncover that something extra amid plot and mystery and compelling characters.

In this, Trickster doesn’t disappoint.

In Trickster’s world, shedding blood powers magic, and the only rule is anything goes as long if you have the power to pull it off.

This is the first world I’ve read in which there is no lip service to policing the magic community, no on-the-hill governing body that tracks down magical criminals, no good wizards tasked with tracking down the bad apples. In fact, it’s a grimy, desperate, and harsh underworld of magic that rewards serial killers with status and mass murderers with the power to move mountains. Continue reading

[Book Review] Can I have some more magic to go with my desert planet rebellion?

Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

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If you’ve ever thought, “You know what Dune needed more of? More magic and a biker gang!” then this book was written for you. If you are looking for your next stick-it-to-the-corporation space opera rebellion, this book is also for you.

During a routine run through the desert, the gun-toting and chain-smoking biker Hob discovers the bullet-ridden body of her leader’s brother. The dead man’s daughter is still missing, and all the signs point to TransRifts Inc., the company that has the entire planet in a stranglehold. So begins a story of biker gang meets post-apocalyptic desert planet with a dash of Dune and a pinch of X-men. Continue reading

[Book Review] Possessed priest seeks renegade shaman

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold 

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Penric, a demon-possessed sorcerer and a divine of the Bastard’s Order, is content doing scholarly things in the court of the Princess-Archdivine. But when an investigator needs the services of a sorcerer to track a runaway shaman accused of murder, the Princess-Archdivine assigns Penric to accompany Senior Locator Oswyl on his mission into the snowblown winter mountains to capture the shaman and bring him to justice.

Bujold has yet to disappoint. With a few deft strokes, she paints a cast of intriguing characters with rich internal lives and motivations. Brilliant pacing, an engaging plot, and all delivered with that deft  touch I’ve long come to associate with this series. This is also one of the few – if not the only – series (and I count all the Five Gods books in this) that I can think of that handles religion and fantasy beautifully, with a mixture of grace, humanity and irreverent humor. (Lackey’s Valdemar world is the only other one that comes to mind, but there, the spiritualism takes more of a ba Continue reading

[Book Review] Clocks, souls, and a bunch of pissed off werewolves

Shade Chaser by Clara Coulson

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In the last book, we had rookie detective Calvin Kinsey take on an ancient, angry god-entity as it tried to murder its way through Aurora, Michigan. In Shade Chaser, murder and mayhem are afoot once again. When the former mayor, prominent city witch, and a local ware wolf are found brutally murdered in the basement of a popular city bar, it’s up to Cal and his gang of elite investigators to unravel an interspecies conspiracy.

Things (and buildings) continue to explode all over the place. Bodies are discovered in unexpected places. Cal continues to make questionable life choices. Continue reading