Skip to content

Between the Sheets, or…

Between the Sheets, or… published on No Comments on Between the Sheets, or…

When I Say the Devil’s in the Details, I Really Mean He’s in the Bar Being Scandalous

silver

Oh dearest reader. I have a long and torrid history with this weeks book (I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have a torrid history, are you?), going clear back to 2011. You see, Laura Anne was a guest reader at one of the SFWA Reader Series, and she read a chapter from a work in progress, the bones and broad outline of which are still very much a part of the first chapter of Silver on the Road. I was immediately taken in by the voice, and the idea of The Devil’s West (which I had erroniously thought was going to be like the Lucifer graphic novels where Lucifer runs a piano bar) instead of the much much cooler world she had actually created. Though I was a little saddened that (spoiler) there wasn’t a single scene of the Devil playing piano. Alas.

Since then, I have been waiting (and dear Reader, you wouldn’t recognize me for how patient I’ve been!) for the book to be finished and out in the world. When the envelope with my advance copy arrived, I didn’t tear it open, and put a ‘DO NOT DISTURB ON PAIN OF A MOST HORRIBLE DEATH’ sign on my front door, and call in sick to work until I was done, for which I have not received nearly enough appreciation from my coworkers for not abandoning them.

So, now that I’ve explained all of that, let me tell you about the book. First, just go buy it. Seriously, this book is great. It’s like, part western, part new weird, but without China Mieville’s over-the-top new weird. The Devil’s West constantly finds new ways to take the familiar and make it strange, but all in ways that make sense for the world Laura Anne is building for you. So yeah, my elevator pitch is ‘it’s China Mieville meets Zane Grey’s old west, with story prompts from Charles de Lint.’ So yeah, there’s something here for everyone. And yet, it’s so organically put together. I’ve read other book’s by Gilman, but I really felt like Silver on the Road was a leveling up of her writing and world-building.

I like that the characters never have to act stupid for the sake of keeping things from the reader, and the resolution flows seamlessly from the world she has built. There’s no instance deus ex machina (or Lucifer ex machina either) in here either, which is a great thing to see and no one who has all the answers. Things are complicated, good can be done in the name of evil, and evil in the name of good, and the right thing is rarely the easy thing.

Forgotten Gems

Ghosts in the Snow cover

Dearest Reader, I know what you think of me. You think I only like fun and happy stories with some adventure, and to be fair, I do love those things. But I also like dark, dark stories full of horror pain and death. And to prove that, since this is the month for horror and things that go bump in the night, I’m going to talk about my favorite dark fantasy.

Several years ago I saw a particularly interesting cover in Powell’s, and the back of the book intrigued me, because I loved the CSI meets high fantasy idea, and the first few pages were intriguing. So I took Ghost in the Snow home with me (AFTER paying for it, who are you mistaking me for?) and fell into the dark dark imagination of Tamara Siler Jones. If you like grimdark or horror, there’s plenty for you in this book, and you should pick it up. I won’t be giving away spoilers to tell you the second book is even darker. Enjoy! I’m going to leave you some new releases to check out for October below, while I dive back into the delicious new Brandon Sanderson. See you in a week lovely Readers!

October Releases

It’s a new month, so here’s a list of some forthcoming books you should go preorder RIGHT NOW!

10/06
Martin, George R. R. • Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Gilman, Laura Anne • Silver on the Road
Leckie, Ann • Ancillary Mercy
Hurley, Kameron • The Empire Ascendant
Sanderson, Brandon • Shadows of Self
Riordan, Rick • The Sword of Summer
Bear, Greg • Killing Titan
Huff, Tanya • An Ancient Peace
10/13
Gwynne, John • Ruin
Donaldson, Stephen R. • The King’s Justice
Nix, Garth • Newt’s Emerald
10/20
Wolfe, Gene • A Borrowed Man
10/27
Mitchell, David • Slade House

Between the Covers, or…

Between the Covers, or… published on 2 Comments on Between the Covers, or…

I like how even French authors think that fallen angels would want to hang out in Paris, cause that makes sense to me after I visited there

House-of-Shattered-Wings-2

 

Review

Dear Reader, first, some full disclosure. While I was at Worldcon this year, I went to the r/Fantasy ‘Drinks with Authors’ event (which is awesome, and if you ever go to a Worldcon, I can’t recommend it enough) where I ended up sitting at a table with Kate Elliott, Gail Carriger, Wesley Chu (before he announced his candidacy for President after winning the Campbell Award) and the author of my book this week, Alliette de Bodard.

I would like to say that I was dazzlingly witty and charming beyond words, but dear Reader, I was tired, so I’m sure that my conversation was rather similar to the conversation skills of a drunken army private. However, I have met the author in question, which you should know. I didn’t tell you I had met Kate Elliott which is a shocking lack of journalistic integrity or something. In fact, from now on, let’s just assume I’ve met all of these authors at a swanky party where I dazzled them with my charm, good looks, and slyly subversive conversation. Yes, that’s how I want to be remembered.

In fact, from now on, let’s just assume I’ve met all of these authors at a swanky party where I dazzled them with my charm, good looks, and slyly subversive conversation.

Anyway, that was a very long aside. Let’s get back to the book.

My feelings about The House of Shattered Wings are complex. Partially because I adore a good Gothic novel (I’m sure you’re not surprised) and in some ways, this book is fabulously Gothic. It’s like a post-apocalyptic Gothic murder mystery, and how can you not LOVE that? But there’s more to the book than that.

It’s like a post-apocalyptic Gothic murder mystery, and how can you not LOVE that?

This is a case of a book that almost always works, and I think that most of the blame for where it doesn’t actually lay with the editor, as there are places where I had to go back a paragraph because it wasn’t clear, or the narrative jumped and wasn’t clear, which can be rather frustrating. But when it’s working, especially the ENTIRE middle half of the book, oh my, it’s riveting; de Bodards style is fantastic, and her ear for dialogue and human motivation is fabulous.

The last part of the book was, for me, the best and worst parts of it. I adore that she gave me an ending I could never have anticipated, but that flowed PERFECTLY from what had come before. However, there are several things that are never explained, and a few motivations that are never clear. I didn’t see anything saying this will be a series, but if so, this makes sense. If not, I am just left feeling like the book is unfinished.

Do I recommend it? Dear Reader, did you read the part where I said ‘post-apocalyptic Gothic murder mystery’? How can you not read this? I mean really, priorities! In more seriousness, while it’s not a perfect book, it’s absolutely delightful, and has a delightful cast of wonderfully complex characters.

The House of Shattered Wings can be purchased at Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

Also Read


I took a little rereading time this week and read both Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey. Which are the type of comfort reading I just adore.

I also reread about half of Lies of Locke Lamora, but stopped before, you know, that part.

Forgotten Gem

longrun

I’m going to branch out here, and recommend a scifi book. I know, I don’t ever talk about it, but I do love a good scifi book every now and then. And there are few scifi books I love more than Daniel Keys Moran’s The Long Run. It’s one of those books that has everything. Tight plotting, great characters, and a heist. Cause seriously, who doesn’t love a heist? I love this book so much that my email address for many many years has included the name of the main character.

It’s been out of print for over a decade, but it’s now available as an eBook, and honestly, it’s well worth buying a Kindle just to read it. It’s technically the second book in his Continuing Time series, reading the first one ‘Emerald Eyes’ isn’t needed to enjoy this one thoroughly.

And now dear Reader, I am off to start Laura Anne Gilmans Silver on the Road which I have been waiting for YEARS to read (actual years, she read a snippet at a SFWA Readers event a couple of years ago and I’ve been dying to read the book. The book comes out on October 6th, but I’ll have my (spoiler free of course) review up for you all next Friday.

Between the Covers

Between the Covers published on No Comments on Between the Covers

or, How I Almost Lost My Soul to the Evil Wiles of the Jinn of Abandoned Books

two years eight months

Dear reader, it turns out I am a failure. Please don’t tell my mother. I have been struggling to read Salman Rushdie’s new book, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights (Also known as how long it might have taken me to read this book) and finally I have given up and moved onto Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings which has been eyeing me in a seductive fashion for several weeks now.

I want to clarify, I’m not saying that it’s a bad book, I’m saying that it wasn’t for me. There’s a style to it that just turned me off. But the writing itself was good, and the story-line interesting. But this has me thinking about other books that I have bounced off of while trying to read, and what it is that caused it. Some of them I can pinpoint, and some of them are a complete mystery to me.

For example (I know this is the part you’ve been waiting for, where I name names. Shame on you scandalmongers!) I adore Brandon Sanderson. I have been a fan since I first read Elantris. However, It took me two tries to read Mistborn, because I loathe Kelsior, and am only slightly more fond of Vin. Seriously, for very different reasons they both make me cranky. But this is not a failing of Sanderson’s writing. It may in fact be a sign of success. After all, he wrote characters real enough that I had a deep reaction to them, even if it was just the urge to smack Kelsior until his smugness wore off.

Another book I bounced off of more recently was Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, but for a very different reason. The prose was stunning, and the main character was wonderfully imagined. But the use of very modern language really caught me off guard. I will say that I don’t think this is the last time I will attempt it, and knowing what to expect will, I think, offset my previous problem with diving in.

Forgotten Gem:

1321604

For everyone there are books that you can look at and say ‘this is what made me love fantasy’. Among those books for me is Dave Duncan’s superb ‘A Man of His Word’ series, which starts with Magic Casement. There’s a wealth of fantasy cliches here, such as a willful princess, and a heroic stable-boy, as well as kings, and witches, as well as a rather motley group of sorcerers all trying to hide a powerful secret about the nature of their power.

But ‘A Man of His Word’ rises above the cliches. There are consequences to willful and impetuous actions, and a very human evil to be fought, and not always where you expect it.

With that, I am off, dear reader, to dive back into The House of Shattered Wings. Don’t disturb me please, because I can only write about not reading a book once, and now I’ve used that up. However I’d like to point out that so far in this whole post, I haven’t used the all-caps A SINGLE TIME. Oh thank goodness, I feel better having gotten that out there. Ta ta for now!

Between the Covers, or…

Between the Covers, or… published on No Comments on Between the Covers, or…

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

18068907
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

seanrussell

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 No Comments on Between the Covers, or, How I Spent the Last Days of My Summer Vacation: volume 1.1

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!

24611565

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

changeling_sea

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.

Primary Sidebar