[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

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[Book Review] Magic tattoos, cat familiars, shadowy phantoms

Book Review: Stolen Ink by Holly Evansstolenink

You know that shortlist of back-of-the-book keywords that are krypton to your wallet? One moment you’re browsing the shelf, the next you’re in the checkout isle, and all because the book mentioned a psychic cat familiar or told you you’re about to embark on a urban fantasy romance filled with tattoo magic. Or both.

Definitely both.

Enter Stolen Ink by Holly Evans.

The concept kicks ass. In this story’s alternative modern day, everyone has an animal spirit that’s bursting to come out. This spirit takes its physical shape through a magical tattoo, which, once inked, becomes a psychic familiar (think Pullman’s The Golden Compass). Drawing these critters is Dacian’s job. He’s a tattoo magician who runs a parlor with his elven partner and pretends to be a middling, third-tier tattooist. Except he’s not.

In a world where everyone is magical to some degree, Dacian’s an ink magician, with a direct line to the heart of magic, who spends most of his time in denial, not doing anything about it. Which is fine and dandy, right up till the Big Bad shows up in his city and starts stealing people’s tattoos and killing them. Continue reading

[Book Review] Girl meets cyborg, starts a war

Book Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

wantedandwired

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] Where no man has gone meta before

redshirtsBook Review: Redshirts by by John Scalzi

This book was talked up so much that almost nothing less than a comic masterpiece could have met my expectations. I was also just coming off reading three Bujold books in a row, so my humor bar was set high.

And so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this book didn’t quite meet them.

In case you haven’t heard about this book, here’s the setup:

In a Star Trekian style universe, Ensign Andrew Dahl joins the Intrepid, a spaceship that explores the universe and fixes problems. He soon realizes something screwy is going on. The crew is acting weird and every Away Mission seems to involve some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces. And while the senior officers always survive, at least one low-ranked (red shirt uniformed) crew member is, sadly, always killed, often in the craziest of ways. As he starts digging into this mystery, the craziest theory begins to make the most sense: Are they characters on a campy science fiction show?  Continue reading

[Book Review] Assassin plus ghost plus girl equals destiny

shadowsunBook Review: Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk

You can just about taste the atmospheric Assassin’s Creed trailer on the pages.

SLASH, STAB
GRACEFUL DIVE OFF A ROOF
LOST AMID THE CROWD

That’s Caim for you. Assassin by trade, loner by choice, haunted by the memories of his murdered father and the quite lively and talkative ghost named Kit whom only he can see. Caim goes around murdering folks for money right up until he gets a shady job that sets him up.

Betrayal, mystery, shadow magic, action!

It was all very assassin adventure story…right up until page 25, when the novel’s second character was introduced:

“Wait. What is a sixteen-year-old debutante doing in my assassin action caper?” 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] In which the wild hunt meets cop mechanic

urbanshamanBook Review: Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Oh man, canaries. Hang on to your perches, this is gonna be one of those books. The premise: Half-Irish, half-Cherokee Joanne Walker has just discovered she’s a shaman and that the Wild Hunt has gone rogue and is about to destroy the world. New and old world myths mix. Chaos is unleashed. I was ready and eager to fall in love.

And yet. And yet.

What a mixed bag.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the stuff in between:

The good: An exciting beginning! It’s not every book that starts off on a plane, followed with a race across town in a cab, only to face off against a knife wielding unknown.

The bad:  We need to retire the let’s-sit-in-a-diner-and-TALK trope for good. This is the third urban fantasy book in a row to do so, and every single time I am brain-crushingly bored. Continue reading