[Book Review] The Cobweb Bride, and the most innacurate blurb ever

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian

“Covered in white cobwebs of a thousand snow spiders she lies in the darkness… Her skin is cold as snow… Her eyes frozen… Her gaze, fiercely alive…

While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war… A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father … Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court…. Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living…”

– excerpt from official book blurb

Well, hmm. I got good news for you, canaries. This blurb is complete nonsense. This isn’t a story about frozen ladies. There are no expeditions to search for a bride. No endless war with dead bodies. No murdered lovers. And, best of all, no ellipses. In fact, the only bit of blurb accuracy is the black knight with daddy issues.

Turns out, The Cobweb Bride is a high-style drama about what happens when Death goes on a strike, refusing to take up souls until his missing bride is found and brought to him. Until then, all dying stops. In a pitched battle, men are slain and rise again. In a sickbed in a small village, an old woman’s death rattle doesn’t end. In a palace, an assassin plunges a knife into his victim’s heart – and nothing happens. Continue reading

[Book Review] Dreams and magic realism, Russian-style

Moscow But Dreaming by Ekaterina Sedia

Moscow But Dreaming

Confession time: If I find a novel set in Russia, it’ll find its way onto my shelf or computer. Sometimes reluctantly, sometime with a healthy dose of skepticism, sometimes with a sign of resignation. So I’m pretty delighted to share this review and say that this collection of fantasy short stories set in Russia are a darn great read that feeds both the slavophile in me, but also the part of me that loves a good yarn.

Moscow-born American author Ekaterina Sedia infuses her collection of 21 pieces, two of which are original to the anthology, with a dark, lyrical style and a resonant Russian je ne sais quoi. Continue reading

[Book Review] Another nifty series starter from Rachel Caine

Devil’s Bargain by Rachel Caine

(The Red Letter Days series, book #1)

devilsbargain

I prefer this cover. The other one (below) gives me the cheekbone shot of a goth teen angsting after, I can only presume, her equally morose and dramatic love interest.  

Oh man. Each book I read by Rachel Caine reminds me just why I love this author so very much. The dialogue flows naturally with just the right amount of wit and freshness, the plot and action doesn’t let up, and the mystery and tension just keeps on coming.

 

For our main lead, we get Jazz-don’t-call-me-Jasmine, who’s hit rock bottom, but is still digging – her world was rocked when Ben, her partner, was convicted of murder. One part denial, two parts wishful thinking, she’s desperate to find proof of his innocence, unable to come to terms with the fact that she might have been so terribly wrong about him. In the meantime, she’s dumped into a whirlwind mystery of red envelopes and strange assignments.

Ex-decorated ex-homicide detective Jazz Callender’s career is over – her partner is in jail for murder, her reputation in tatters, and her one achievement for the week is finding a good bar with cheap drinks.  So when a guy in a leather getup hands her a check for a hundred thousand dollars in a red envelope, she can’t figure out whether she’s being set up or the butt of some twisted joke.

But the offer’s legit – all she has to do is partner with a gorgeous stranger, set up a private detective agency on retainer for a law firm funded by the mysterious Cross Society, and accept any assignments they send her way.

Simple enough, right? Continue reading

[Book Review] Beautiful Creatures and Awkward Audiobooks

Meg’s Review of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Audiobook read by Kevin T. Collins (with special appearance by Eve Bianco)

I haven’t read any teen paranormal romance since I attempted Twilight, which all but killed my faith in the genre and scarred my brain for life. But I’m a sucker for any book being made into a movie, so I picked up Beautiful Creatures during a nifty sale at Audible. I figured that if it sucked, at least it would only be $5 of suck.

Much to my surprise, I really liked this first installment of the four-book series. Partially, I think my enjoyment was at the deft move by writers Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl to make the narrator a teenaged boy rather than a girl. It inherently dropped the angst factor by about 75%. They also split the love story, with the majority of it revolving around the star-crossed lovers of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, but there was also the added love story of a boy mourning the loss of his mother that gave the book considerable, and quite unexpected, depth. Continue reading

[Book Review] Find the exiled commando ninjas, save the universe.

Blackcollar by Timothy Zahn (Blackcollar #1)

After a lackluster first encounter with a backcopy of Timothy Zahn’s writing, I hesitated before picking up Blackcollar. The back blurb (which combines all those keywords I just can’t resist) hooked up with my curiosity and convinced me to give it a go. And man, I take back all the disgruntled things I said about Timothy Zahn’s writing.

Spies! Elite, genetically-enhanced guerrilla commandos! An alien occupation and one special agent sent out on a suicide mission to contact a resistance cell on another planet –

It was love at first premise.

The human worlds have been under occupation for nearly thirty years now. Allen Caine has spent his entire life preparing for an infiltration mission: impersonate a government official, get off Earth, travel to a former colony planet, and rally the resistance movement there…assuming there even is one there, anymore. Because in his head, Caine has information that, for the first time in decades, could mean a fighting chance against the alien occupation.

A wrench is thrown in Allen’s plans within the first six pages, and the story is off. Even when Allen makes contact with Earth’s once-elite guerilla commandos, in a world where anyone could be a collaborator and anyone could be a spy, betrayal is just one trap away. Continue reading

[Book Review] The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

(Book four of the Lost Heroes Series)

This review will contain spoilers from Son of Neptune.

Remember how much I raged at the cliffhanger for The Son of Neptune? Well, that ending now looks like rainbows and cuddly butterflies compared to what Riordan left us with in The Mark of Athena. I’m officially back to being pissed at him for being so good at leaving readers hanging.

Athena picks up right where Neptune left off, with the giant flying Greek battle ship hovering over the Roman demigod camp. The Romans are none too pleased with situation, but they allow the Greeks to come down to the city unarmed. Not that demigods need to be armed to do damage.

Less than two chapters in, and we have Annabeth MMA-launching Percy to the ground in order to threaten his life should he ever leave her side again. It was a lovely reunion between the two star-crossed lovers, and an even better treat to finally be inside Annabeth’s head and seeing the plot through her eyes at least some of the time. Continue reading

[Book Review] The Magicians isn’t just about the magic

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

If I read one more review of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians that proclaims it  “Harry Potter for adults,” I just might break something. Yes, The Magicians is a bildungsroman about a teenager who discovers he’s a magician and subsequently enrolls at an exclusive magician’s college, but just because the two works share certain elements does not mean that the former is simply a matured version of the latter. (Plus, as an adult, I find the implication that Harry Potter isn’t for adults quite insulting. But I digress.) In actuality, comparing Grossman’s novel to J.K. Rowling’s series does a disservice to The Magicians. It is an inventive story that stands quite well on its own. Continue reading

[Book Review] Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian

I still believe that this series should have ended on book six, that the disaster that was book seven should have never seen the light of day. But the eighth and final book of the Artemis Fowl saga was an almost equally fitting finale, one that brings full closure to  the story of a boy who captured readers’ hearts by being the best plotter of dastardly acts this side of Professor Moriarty.

In The Last Guardian, Opal Koboi is determined to take over the world once and for all. When her escape plan results in nearly all human and fairy electronics going offline, the fairy world is laid bare for all humans to see. Oh, it also wakes up the spirits of millennia-old warriors that have been laying dormant under the Fowl estate, three of whom happen to possess Artemis’ twin brothers and Juliet Butler. It’s up to Holly and Artemis to save not only his family, but the whole world of humans as well. Continue reading

Book Review: Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

Book Review: Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

As a long time fan of Barbara Hambly’s world-building and character-building skills, I was very excited to put Bride of the Rat God on my to reading list. When, in 1923, movie star Chrysanda Flamande (real name Christine Blackstone) sweeps into her sister-in-law’s life, Norah finds herself moving from a small village in England into the glittering circles of Hollywood’s most famous directors and stars. And after her husband’s death in WWI, Norah needs someone to take care of and to learn to live again.

But as the latest movie goes forward, things keep going wrong. A mysterious old Chinese man, brutal murders, a rigged explosion (instead of the fake one), and restless dreams plague the two women. Someone has chosen Christine to be the rat god’s bride sacrifice, and it’s up to Norah, a broken wizard, and three Pekingeses dogs to keep Chris safe. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] No Good Deed–and a few demons

Indie Series:

Book review of No Good Deed by Bill Blais

(a Kelly and Umber novel, book 1)

An urban fantasy with soul.

In a genre dominated by author names like Patricia, Charlaine, Jeanine, and Laurell, and stories following smart-talking mortal (and immortal) demon-fighting twenty-somethings, Bill Blais and his character stand out like a white heron at a black swan convention.

Kelly McGinnis is happily married to a man she adores and a devoted mother of two active eight-year-olds. But her family’s future is uncertain–not only has she just lost her job, but Kelly is also struggling to deal with the reality of her husband’s declining health, and, of course, the inevitable medical bills. Continue reading