[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] 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] 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

[Book Review] Possessed priest seeks renegade shaman

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold 

PenricAndTheShaman.png

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] Creepy cover horse says you should read this

Book Review: Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey

tempest

I’m falling behind, guys. Of the 34-or-so Valdemar(ish) books out there, I’ve read only 20 to date. So when I saw an anthology set in the world of Mercedes Lackey, it was a no brainer. Of course I had to read it.

Creepy cover notwithstanding, this was a 387-page anthology full of 22 feel-good story resolutions via 23 different authors (the last story being Lackey and Dixon’s work). The tempest theme appeared throughout, both as physical and emotional storms, as each author made that light nod to the world of Velgarth. The stories included heralds, healers, bards, companions, and even a couple non-human characters.
Continue reading

Why Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them actually represents something new

fantastic-beasts-where-find-them-movie-poster.jpegWill you be seeing the latest Harry Potter world movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters next week? The story follow Newt Scamander, a wizard with a luggage full of magical beasties, in 1920’s New York City. It is also the first in an expected five-movie series.

As far as I can tell, if that’s true, this will be the first non-adaptation movie that’s been announced to be developed as a series before it premieres and proves itself. It represents yet another shift in how studios and movie-goers see and experience movie sequels.

It’s as if tomorrow, Marvel were to announce that it was going to introduce a brand new superhero, never before seen in comics, for a five-movie series. Or if David Cameroon pronounced Avatar as the launching point of a four movie visual extravaganza before its first ticket sale. Continue reading

[Book Review] Persephone, stuck in boarding school

Book Review: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling

exfromhellI don’t always read YA books, but when I do, they usually have something to do with Greek mythology. So when I saw this book’s premise, I had to give it a read:

When, in the middle of a revenge prank, Sophie ends up kissing a handsome stranger, sparks fly and she gets flashes of a past life as a Greek goddess. Oh, and the guy she’s kissing may or may not be her ex from her time being a prisoner in Hades, the Greek underworld. Oh, and the Olympus Powers That Be may want her dead.

Just another day in boarding school. Continue reading