[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

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[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

Love, ghosts, and traitors in WWI London

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Ghost Talkers

Yep. It’s historic fantasy, a genre I don’t often read, but after a couple weeks of agony and watching the publication date of this new release creep up on me (and past), I broke down and went for it.

Man, am I glad I did.

The Plot:

London. World War I. Ginger Stuyvesant is an American heiress and a powerful medium serving in the British Spirit Corps, a secret, spiritualist force in the military tasked with hearing the field reports of dead soldiers and passing along military intelligence. Continue reading

[Book Review] Magic, mayhem, and other stuff they didn’t cover in the police academy.

Soul Breaker by Clara Coulson

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YES. The book gods have heard my whining and sent me this book. Shout it from the rooftops, it’s urban fantasy with plot.

Detective Calvin Kinsey is  a rookie in a paranormal investigative branch of the police force –a pseudo hush-hush operation in charge of catching supernatural criminals of the werewolf, vampire, and nonhuman sort. Calvin’s first murder case, though,  puts him in a face-off against an ancient and angry entity slashing and burning its way through the city, one victim at a time.

Oh, where to start with this one. I love books I can’t predict, and Soul Breaker delivered. The mystery in Soul Breaker is mysterious, melodrama is kept low-key, the investigation isn’t solved with some nonsense handwaving, and the fight scenes are gritty, fast, and unexpected. There a dash of romance, plenty of desperation in the face of overwhelming odds, and some inter-species politicking.

From chapter one, the book launches you into a well-paced, quick-moving, non-stop suspense. A thoughtful main character who’s not above the frequent blunder, Calvin joins Harry Dresden in my short list of favorite Urban Fantasy heroes who just can’t catch a break.

Beyond my relief and delight at finding this lovely bit of urban fantasy though, one canary did get knocked off the reading perch for the stiff dialogue. Let’s face it, when the narration sounds more natural than anything spoken out loud, that’s a problem. Another canary flew the coop over some odd characterization choices. But then it came back, because the non-stop suspense was just that good and it couldn’t resist.

 

Canary verdict:

I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

Book provided for review by the author.

[Book Review] One soulmate, too many space princes

Shrouded by Frances Pauli

“When Vashia arrives on Shroud as an indentured bride, Dolfan recognizes immediately that they are meant to be together. Broken, lost, and on the run, she trusts no one, but Dolfan has enough faith for the both of them… Until his people’s sacred ritual gives Vashia to someone else.”

“This one looks right up your alley,” my friend told me. “It’s science fiction full of planet royalty and court machinations and forbidden romance.”

“Nnnngghh,” I said. At that point, I may have been lying on the floor, holding a pillow over my face.

“Four words: Arranged Marriage Space Opera.”

Oh. Well, why didn’t you just say so? Continue reading