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[Review] The Love of Danger by Jeremy Zimmerman

[Review] The Love of Danger by Jeremy Zimmerman published on No Comments on [Review] The Love of Danger by Jeremy Zimmerman

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Review

Jeremy Zimmerman’s Kensei is a tightly-plotted, dramatic-comedic YA superhero tale about a kick-ass bi-racial, teen, lesbian crime fighter named Jamie Hattori, who targets baddies in Cobalt City through her ability to communicate with the spirits of places and inanimate objects in the city. As if dealing with her own family, school, and relationship drama wasn’t enough, she has a massive deity problem to handle. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot. It’s a fun YA title with a nice crossover appeal.

The Kickstarted sequel, The Love of Danger, continues the adventures of Jamie Hattori. And now we’ve got undead, fascist villains and their robots, plenty of relationship (family, professional, and romance) drama, and Jamie’s new set of skills.

I love the backdrop, with Jamie working in a world already populated by well-known Cobalt City superheroes. Her experience is a bit like being a minor superhero in The Incredibles, but with less family togetherness and more getting smacked around by her racist grandfather. The shared world Zimmerman accesses gives him some interesting characters and events pre-fabricated, a history of conflicts and resolutions, of biases and trust issues that already populate the landscape. We also learn a great deal more about the conflicts and motivations of some of the awesome characters from the first go-round.

The first book gripped me more than the second, but The Love of Danger is an excellent follow-up and I am looking forward to where the series goes next.

 

Links:

Goodreads
Amazon

About the Author

Jeremy Zimmerman is a teller of tales who dislikes cute euphemisms for writing like “teller of tales.” His fiction has most recently appeared in 10Flash Quarterly, Arcane and anthologies from Timid Pirate Publishing. He is also the editor for Mad Scientist Journal. He lives in Seattle with five cats and his lovely wife (and fellow author) Dawn Vogel.

Mythological Mantles, Aspects, and Masks in Fantasy Literature

Mythological Mantles, Aspects, and Masks in Fantasy Literature published on 1 Comment on Mythological Mantles, Aspects, and Masks in Fantasy Literature

Forgive me for getting all academic here, but I’m going to put on my graduate school hat for a moment. As a fan, I just read stories and revel in their flow and fun. But occasionally, I like to admit that I do indeed have a Master’s degree in Communication Studies and dust off the passive voice, complex sentences and gobbledygook that makes it sound like I am a Deep Thinker. So here we go…

Mantles of power, varying aspects or incarnations of gods, and the masks they can wear are a mainstay of fantasy literature and represent the need and ability of characters, and humanity, to change.

As an example, take Odin. The All-Father. Far seeing, wise, powerful, the leader of the Norse Pantheon. He is also frequently mentioned in modern fantasy. Jim Butcher references him in The Dresden Files. Kevin Hearne has him as fairly central figure in The Iron Druid Chronicles. Rick Riordan features Norse gods in his new series featuring Magnus Chase. And of course, Odin is also an important figure in Marvel’s Thor movies.

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Physically, Odin is represented in all of these worlds as a male older figure with one eye. The one eye is a notable trait – indeed a symbol — derived from the original Norse myths, representing Odin’s sacrifice for wisdom.
In Butcher’s Dresden Files, Odin is only one aspect of a multi-faced character. Vadderung is the contemporary Odin, who lives in a modern day version of Midgard with a company front company front called Monoc Securities. Monoc is yet another ode to the one eye of Odin, as monocle in Latin literally means one eye. Sometimes Odin appears in another aspect, as in Cold Days, when he appears as Kringle, or as we may know him, Santa Claus.

The concept of a god wearing multiple mantles or aspects is not singular to Butcher. Lucienne Diver, who has not yet used Norse mythology in her Latter-Day Olympian series, uses the concept of varying aspects and incarnations as well. In her latest book, Blood Hunt, coming out at the end of October, she plays on this theme heavily. Apollo, for example, literally morphs physically into a member of the Egyptian pantheon. By using this technique both authors present the idea that gods represent concepts and that belief systems have universal needs, met and realized by similar aspects of what is essentially the same god.

Kevin Hearne uses Odin as an individual figure, but plays with the concept of multiple aspects with other characters. For example, he asks a devout Christian woman to imagine the Mother Mary, and when Mary appears, she looks as the woman imagined. Even Jesus changes looks/aspects/mantles depending on the belief system of His believers (read the sharply written Hammered).

One subtle but important difference does exist between the aspects of a god and the mantles. Previously, I have discussed them as if they were exactly the same thing, and they are not. A mantle can have a far deeper meaning as not just one face of a godlike incarnation, but a cloak of power that one can sluff off and hand to someone else. Or, more accurately, a cloak that transfers to another person once you die. Butcher does this beautifully in the ending scenes of Cold Days, as the Ladies’ mantles transfer to other vessels. They actually take a type of physical form and fly into the new vessels’ chests.

Confusing matters more, only a few pages later, in the same exact book, Butcher alludes to mantles as masks. “Masks, mantles,” Kringle said, “What’s the difference?” (Cold Days)

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For readers, the difference is subtle yet instructive. While many of us wear masks, displaying different aspects of who we are or hiding part of ourselves, the masks can be removed and our true selves revealed. Humans can wear masks and it simply hides parts of who we are. Mantles, on the other hand, are components of godhood or at least fantastic power. Harry Dresden is handed the Winter Knight’s mantle, not the Winter Knight’s mask.

Another key difference is that Mantles typically bring responsibilities and burdens, and the very real possibility that the bearer will lose who he or she is and become what the Mantle wants them to be. This is Harry’s continued battle as he feels the power of the Winter Knight try to change who he personality and values. Even Molly, who now carries the Mantle of the Winter Lady, is changing in front Harry’s eyes, becoming less wizard and more Fae. She is absorbing and changing due to power given through the Mantle.

But, it should be noted that Molly wears a mask as well, displaying different aspects to different people, playing a challenging game that will inevitably fail. Winter Lady to the Fae, dutiful daughter to her mother and father, wizard and friend to Harry. The problem with masks, unlike mantles, is that they can slip. Mantles overpower. Masks hide. And tiny differences can signal the slipping of a mask and the revelation of the mantle’s changes, such as when Molly successfully uses a cell phone.

Whether an aspect, mantle or mask, the writer’s ultimate goal is give his or her character a reason to change. The changes can represent different incarnations of the same things such as when Diver’s gods morph from one pantheon to another, or challenging and terrible powers such as Dresden’s Winter Mantle, or even the power of individual belief, as in Hearne’s Jesus.

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Follow Joelle Reizes:
Blog at www.slipperywords.com
Twitter @JReizes
Facebook at both Joelle Reizes and Joelle M. Reizes

The September Report

The September Report published on 2 Comments on The September Report

I’m no stranger to reading a ton of books a month. I can get pretty obsessive, so I’ll get a craving for a certain author, and the next thing I know, I’m mainlining their backlist. This can lead to reading several different books a day, foot twitching all the while. It was even worse during the dark days of my fan fiction addiction – I could read 100,000 words a day of stories derived not from the massive pool of accumulated culture, but from a single author’s vision.

This September was very much like that time in my life. I inhaled books. Truly, stronger and headier a high than fanfiction.

THE DEAFENING SILENCE IN HEAVEN

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Sniegoski has done something powerful with this latest installment of his angel’s adventures. Within the first twenty pages, Remy is so close to death that he’s seeing visions of his dead wife, and a certain someone finds out his secret. The first twenty pages! The pace does not let up from there, merely shifts into an alternate world in which something truly terrible has happened, Marlowe shows little of his love for Remy, and Heaven has been sullied. I can’t help but think that Sniegoski has been layering in these alternate world possibilities for a while; despite the jarring dimension-shift, the narrative is entirely coherent. As with all installments in the series, Remy is the heart and soul of it. He is at once vulnerable and strong, sweet and sad, and he carries those traits far from home.

This novel deserves a full review. The reason it is not getting one is not because of time (I would make time), but because I need to reread the entire series. There is so much I’ve forgotten (I’d forgotten all about Francis’s new job, for example) that I simply can’t have a discussion that compares two different timelines when I can’t even remember the main story arc. I can say this: the alternate reality is masterfully done. This, the final novel in the Remy Chandler series (for the present, at least), is a glorious finale to a series I really, really need to reread.

SUNSET MANTLE

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This is a novella that is part of Tor.com Publishing’s elite line-up, and it deserves to be there. Sunset Mantle is a story of honor and war (there are two large battles in 107 pages), and the main character Cete embraces a sort of stoicism that you’d expect from a warrior-priest: he loves the law, he loves his God, and he is willing to sacrifice all not just for his honor, but for his employer’s. The story moves marches from an uncertain beginning to a shocking end, and never slows down for more than a paragraph or two. Alter S. Reiss has a talent for creating and maintaining tension, writing characters who are more than what they seem, and for writing a complete story that makes people beg for more. The world-building he’s done requires a sequel.

FANGS FOR THE MEMORIES

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Molly Harper is one of the cleverest and funniest writers of paranormal romance. Her stories are always just a little bit off the beaten track; she is unafraid to put her characters into unusual situations and extrapolate a fun plot from there. “Fangs for the Memories” is no different. She’s gone back in time within her series to when two of her most endearing side characters, Andrea and Dick Cheney, fall in love.

The best part about the novella is seeing the world through Andrea’s eyes. Harper has real talent for painstakingly creating characters that are so real it’s hard to believe they don’t breathe. But there is so much of Andrea that we didn’t know, and it was revealed slowly and thoughtfully as she fell in love with Dick Cheney, who is not a traditionally romantic hero (but so funny, so very funny).

The series this story belongs to is representative of the best writing coming out of paranormal romance these days: emotional, funny, affecting, and heavy on plot. Even if this is not a genre in which you traditionally read, I think you should give it a try.

ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE

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A couple of weeks ago, Tamora Pierce took part in one of Reddit’s infamous AMAs. A lot of good information was shared: Alanna and George had a fourth child later in their lives, Numair’s book has become so gigantic that it is now a trilogy (the first volume will come out Spring 2017), and after that is over she will be going back in four hundred years in time to the shattering of the Empire of which Tortall, Galla, Tusaine, Scanra, and others were a part.

I’ve been a fan of the Alanna books since before I even hit double digits. Before Robin Hobb, before JK Rowling, before Jim Butcher, I was hooked on any and every Tortallan adventure. The AMA inspired me to pick up Alanna and read the series all over again. My finding is this: Alanna: The First Adventure holds up after all these years. It’s engaging, intense, thoughtfully crafted, and every other compliment I could give it. I know a lot of people for whom these books were the gateway to a lifelong love of fantasy. If you haven’t read them, buy them immediately. Buy them for your children, your nieces and nephews, and your friends’s kids.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Havoc Rising by Brian S Leon

Review: Havoc Rising by Brian S Leon published on 4 Comments on Review: Havoc Rising by Brian S Leon

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About the Book

From Goodreads.

Eternal life. Eternal battle.

Steve—Diomedes Tydides to his Trojan War buddies—just had a bad day on his charter fishing boat in San Diego, but when the goddess Athena calls on her faithful warrior for another secret mission, he’s ready. The bomb that exploded inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t the crime American authorities think it is. Someone also stole the Cup of Jamshid, and Diomedes knows its fortune-telling abilities won’t be used for anything benign.

Though Diomedes recovers the Cup from a determined shaman holed up beneath Central Park, when he finds his allies slain and the Cup taken once more, he knows he’s up against a truly powerful enemy. Over a millennium has passed since Diomedes last contended with Medea of Colchis, deranged wife of Jason the Argonaut, but neither her madness nor her devotion to Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, has waned, and she intends to use the Cup of Jamshid to release across the world a dark brand of chaos unseen in human history.

Immortal since the Trojan War, Diomedes must once again fight for mortals he understands less and less, against a divine evil he may never truly defeat.

Review

Diomedes_with_the_Palladion_(Glyptothek)

Havoc Rising is in the top three first books in a series I have read in the last year. It’s hard for me to get into a new series when only the first is out. I usually like to have several books to read while I wait. The other two are Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher, and Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire. I hope you can tell by the company that this book is really something special. Not only is it a good book in its own right, it’s an excellent first book in a series. I’m eager to read the second!

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Brian S. Leon did not shirk his research responsibilities when writing a book about Greek gods. I’ve found there is a strong tendency among writers to shoehorn the classical gods into their books without doing a proper amount of research, thus diluting the culture from which they came. They often become superpowered beings that are closer to fanfiction with little basis in history. I’m not making the claim that the gods were real, but they were real enough to the Greeks, who worshiped them, and they have a huge amount of writing devoted to them. Brian S. Leon does not make the mistake of just grabbing the Cliff’s Notes version of the Theogony and watching Brad Pitt’s Troy. He put a lot of time and effort into being as faithful to the primary sources as he could.

In fact, his main character is found in The Iliad. Basically, the main character’s story begins at this moment:

Now Pallas Athene gave Diomedes, Tydeus’ son, strength and courage to prove himself the finest of the Argives and win glory and renown. She made his helm and shield burn with unwavering flame, like that of Sirius the star of harvest, who when he has bathed in the Ocean depths rises to shine brightest of all. Such was the fire that streamed from his head and shoulders, as she thrust him into the heart of the fight where the enemy were strongest.

Because Leon spent so much time and effort doing the research, it does not feel like he stole the names of renowned characters. He is merely breathing new life into them and carrying on a literary tradition.

Havoc Rising was released by Red Adept Publishing on 6/16/2015.

It is available on Amazon as a paperback or a Kindle edition.

About the Author

briansleonBrian S. Leon is truly a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. He began writing in order to do something with all the useless degrees, knowledge, and skills–most of which have no practical application in civilized society–he accumulated over the years. His varied interests include, most notably, mythology of all kinds and fishing, and he has spent time in jungles and museums all over the world, studying and oceans and seas across the globe chasing fish, sometimes even catching them. He has also spent time in various locations around the world doing other things that may or may not have ever happened. Inspired by stories of classical masters like Homer and Jules Verne, as well as modern writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, David Morrell, and Jim Butcher, combined with an inordinate amount of free time, Mr. Leon finally decided to come up with tales of his own.

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Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach

Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach published on No Comments on Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach

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About the Book

From Goodreads:

The Spider in the Laurel combines elements of Indiana Jones adventures and Jason Bourne thrillers with a V for Vendetta dystopia, and an American Gods fantasy.

The Spider in the Laurel is the story of history teacher, Rafael Ward, in a world that has outlawed the basis of most of our history: religion. When Ward is forced to take a job destroying the relics he cherishes, it will take the uncompromising faith of an outlaw as an ally, and the acceptance of his guilt for his mother’s death, to help him break free of the government’s yoke. If he’s lucky, he might just prevent the coming apocalypse, for which this secular future is completely unprepared.

The Spider in the Laurel straddles the line between simple adventure fun, and the kind of novel which can force a reader to question his or her own beliefs.

The Spider in the Laurel was released by Ragnarok Publications on 9/19/2015.

It can be purchased at Amazon HERE.

Review

Reading the synopsis gives a fairly honest perspective of what this book is about. My own “it’s like” description for this book is “It’s like The Da Vinci Code set in the world of 1984.” It isn’t that precisely, though. It definitely has shades of “Indiana Jones” (even to the point that a character says, un-ironically, “It belongs in a museum,”) and the Bourne books (the lead character, though a new-ish agent, has training and executes well in some amazing hand-to-hand and fight and a few shootouts). I don’t personally see much American Gods, but there could be shades I missed. I’m a big Gaiman fan, so my rose-colored glasses might be limiting my critical perspective. They are both books about a man who lacks faith and who goes through some spiritual/psychological torment in the process of potentially acquiring it.

Faith is an important aspect of this book. I did not in any way find the book to be “Christian fiction” even though Christianity is a key factor in the events of the story; this isn’t a book like the Left Behind series, the sort of story that can only be seen through a single lens. The protagonist’s past has been deeply affected by Christianity, he spent his early adult life studying it (and other “mythologies”), he has recently taken up (for the government, not that he has a choice, really) collecting and destroying its relics, and he spends a lot of this book thinking about whether or not he believes in it. There are a lot of Christian allusions, with little things (such as a door opening three times, feeling much like the many instances of occurrences in triplicate in the Bible). Christianity and history are strong parts of this book’s backbone. It wouldn’t exist without religion. And it asks some interesting questions about what a society might be like if religion was no longer allowed to exist.

This book is about a man’s crisis of faith, a life in flux. It is also a high-action, fast-paced, gun-heavy, sometimes-gory, world-traveling adventure that kept up the punches through the final pages.

The book ends without definitive statements. We can believe what we want about the ending, and that is perfect, considering the nature of the questions asked by the author throughout. I don’t think this book is for everybody, but I think many readers can find something to like here. I was not sure what to expect; I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of (literal) spiders.

Excerpt

He spun. The other man–the taller one–was there at the opposite curb. With a military glide the man approached, his hand over his heart for quick access to the weapon in his jacket.

Ward slowed his breathing. I should be in a library, he thought. Books. Everything was so much easier in books. But that single lament was all he had time for. Clenching his fists, Ward rushed forward.

About the Author

5785591Michael Pogach is an English Professor and the author of the dark fantasy/sci-fi thriller The Spider in the Laurel. His short stories have appeared in various journals such as New Plains Review, Third Wednesday, and Workers Write. Michael lives with his wife in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

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Giveaway: Banned Books Week Edition–His Dark Materials

Giveaway: Banned Books Week Edition–His Dark Materials published on 11 Comments on Giveaway: Banned Books Week Edition–His Dark Materials

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QUICK NOTE

The Giveaway is toward the bottom of the page.
(USA only, I’m afraid. I apologize to everybody else; We can’t afford the international shipping rates yet)

Remember that each of the blogs listed in the Linky table is also offering a free book or other item! Keep hopping from blog to blog for chances to win other items: banned books, gift cards and more!

About banned books

Books get banned for any number of reasons, often because somebody somewhere doesn’t like what is being said or how it is said or why it is said. It’s a mess, really.

The ALA has this to say about the reasons people choose to censor:

 

Censors might sincerely believe that certain materials are so offensive, or present ideas that are so hateful and destructive to society, that they simply must not see the light of day. Others are worried that younger or weaker people will be badly influenced by bad ideas, and will do bad things as a result. Still others believe that there is a very clear distinction between ideas that are right and morally uplifting, and ideas that are wrong and morally corrupting, and wish to ensure that society has the benefit of their perception. They believe that certain individuals, certain institutions, even society itself, will be endangered if particular ideas are disseminated without restriction. What censors often don’t consider is that, if they succeed in suppressing the ideas they don’t like today, others may use that precedent to suppress the ideas they do like tomorrow.

 

A Few Words

hisdarkmaterialsI can only speak for myself.

I’m somebody who went through an MLIS degree program, so you can probably guess where I fall on censorship. I believe that people must choose for themselves which information they wish to access. There is a slippery slope any time a person chooses to anoint him- or herself the adjudicator of taste, morals or freedom.

I joined this Blog Hop in honor of intellectual freedom. Each blog that has joined in this celebration is offering a $10+ prize: either a banned book, or the means to purchase one (generally in the form of giftcards).

I chose to offer up the His Dark Materials Omnibus. The series (comprised of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) has been challenged, so far as I can tell, primarily by those who think the author, an Atheist, perhaps started, or sought to start, some sort of war on religion. Within these books, there are a few shocking sentiments expressed about the nature of religion, God, and sin. A character says, in the first book, that he is going to kill God. This is not intended metaphorically.

One can view all of this through myriad different lenses. For some, this book is certainly in bad taste. For others, it might speak to them in a way in which they need to be spoken.

I’m not here to make the call on whether or not you should read these books. I do know that I really enjoyed these books. The idea of dæmons, these manifestations of souls that live outside of the body in animal form, really resonated with me. The concept of Dust provided a mythology that sprinted along next to Catholic doctrine without aligning with Catholicism. The resolution to the series left me in tears.

If you only know the series from the movie, you’re missing something by not reading the books. If you enjoyed the movie recognize that this is something different. Something, I think, better.

Check out our other current Giveaways by clicking HERE or on the Promotions button at the top of the page.

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