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Between the Covers, or…

Between the Covers, or… published on

How Kate Elliott Saved my Saturday Night from reruns of Sixteen and Pregnant (which is a fate worse than death)

It’s rare that I have a hard time writing a review. Sometimes it happens because the book fails to catch me, or because I liked the plot but the characters never quite came to life for me.

That’s not the case for ‘Court of Fives’. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. I am so in love all I want to talk about is the thing. You know, the part I CAN’T TALK ABOUT. It’s rather maddening actually.

But that aside, let’s talk about the parts of the book I can talk about. Shall we start with the characters? Which are so alive they might swim up off the page at any moment and ask you why you can’t just read a little faster, because this next part is so good.

Or maybe it’s the plot? By turns both straightforward, and unexpected. You know WHERE the story is going, but like the five’s court of the title, it’s never a straightforward route, where unseen perils and wonders lie on even the most straightforward seeming path.

If you’re getting the idea that I loved this book, you’d be right. Kate is one of the most consistently excellent writers in the genre. She writes amazing characters (both men and women) that you can sympathize with, sometimes even when they do terrible things, because you understand WHY they’re like that. She never paints in black and white, when there are so many shades of gray available to her. Her plots are well thought out, and her world-building is complex and complete.

This is a great book if you like well written fantasy that isn’t set in a faux-European fantasy realm of dragons and knights (though she’s written both knights and dragons in the past, and blown my socks off!), go read it, and savor every aspect of the banquet of words she has provided.

Also read


Magic Below Stairs (Cecila and Kate #4) by Caroline Stevermer
A fun romp set in the world of ‘Sorcery and Cecelia’ which she cowrote with Patricia Wrede, it’s definitely a younger readers story, but still tons of fun for adults.

Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer
A sort of gothic romance meets murder mystery set in post Great Earthquake San Fransisco. It suffers slightly from the author wanting to overemphasize the character of her characters at the beginning, but that settles down quickly and becomes really fun to read.

Forgotten Gem


Sometimes, dear readers, I know exactly what book I’m going to put here, because it’s come up in conversation, or I’ve just pulled it off my shelf to reread it. And sometimes I glance at a shelf as I’m writing and pick a book that is CRIMINALLY UNDER-READ. Today is one of the latter instances.

Sean Russell wrote several unforgettable books in the genre before he moved onto writing nautical adventure novels, but my favorite book by him is the fabulous World Without End which is really only the first half of the story, as ‘Sea Without Shore’ is the second half of a novel too big to print in one volume.

It’s a smart book, in the sense that many of the books biggest questions are left open to the reader to decide. Was the Last Mage right to end all evidence of his Art? Thinking about that will stick with you long after you know Tristam’s fate.
And on that note, I’m off to try and finish ‘Two Years Eight Months and 28 Nights’ which is how long I think it may take to finish it.

Between the Covers, or, How I Spent the Last Days of My Summer Vacation: volume 1.1

Between the Covers, or, How I Spent the Last Days of My Summer Vacation: volume 1.1 published on

This is the first post, in what will likely be a weekly post for Galleywampus on Fridays, and I want to take a minute to thank Chris and Janelle for inviting me on board. Thanks for having me guys!


Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Out new this week)

So I have a confession.

There are some books I love and I just want to burble about as I spill all the spoilers. It’s a terrible secret I know. But there are also the other books I love. The ones where I want to sit back and watch someone read them. To watch THAT SCENE happen and have them look up in horror-love that the author just did that to them. It’s the sort of sadistic joy that makes me both a little ashamed and yet, curiously happy.

I never said I was a nice man, did I?

Fortunately, “Twelve Kings” falls more into the first category. I want to tell you everything about Ceda, and her world. I want to whisper ‘I love when **SPOILER REDACTED** happens!’ to you and I want to see you go ‘OH! That sounds amazing!’ And I want my enthusiasm to make you love this book too. This book doesn’t rely on doing something shocking, it relies on excellent storytelling and believable characters in a world that is both like, and very unlike our own. This is the book where Beaulieu has finally passed out of his journeyman status and shows his control over the story (and those mouth-filling and tongue-twisting nominatives he loves).

I think this is a great book for fans of high fantasy that steps outside the traditional milieu. If you’re looking for the next Terry Brooks or Raymond Feist, this isn’t it. But if you liked the rich complex worlds of ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ or Joe Abercrombie, then there’s a lot here for you.

And when-

Oh but that would be telling. Go read it for yourself, fall in love, and come back and talk to me about it. I’ll be here, reading the new Salman Rushdie for next week’s column.

Also read:

I also read the charming ‘Sorcerer of the Crown’ by Zen Cho this week, and it was delightful. I didn’t really feel connected to the characters all that much, but they were charming and, when appropriate, very witty. It kept me up long past my bedtime so I could finish it. An excellent choice for fans of Gail Carriger and Patricia Wrede’s Sorcery and Cecelia.

Books of Tuesday Next

These are the books I’m excited about coming out this next Tuesday:

Forgotten Gem


This week’s forgotten gem is Patricia McKillip’s delightful ‘The Changeling Sea’. YA, before YA was really even a thing. It’s got all the things that make me love McKillip so very much:

•Unforgettable characters
•A well-contained plot
•And the prose! Oh the prose!

Somehow she strings words together so beautifully. My pal Moses commented on Facebook yesterday that he was reading it, and just the memory was enough to make me grab my copy and reread it myself.

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