Skip to content

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

adeafening

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

sunsetmantle

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

fangs for the memories

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

alanna

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: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach

Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach published on

26791599

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

Website
Follow on Twitter

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

banned-books-giveaway-hop1

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.

The Giveaway (US only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Giveaways at EVERY Link. Seriously.

Review: Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas

Review: Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas published on 6 Comments on Review: Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas

MatchboxGirlsBanner (1)

 

 

For a thousand years, the half-breed nephilim have kept the angels and Fallen from meddling in the world. And the angels would do anything to change that. Destroy cities. Turn oceans to blood. Raise the dead. Sacrificing two powerful little girls should be easy.

Except… the two little girls are protected by one mortal woman.

Haunted by visions of catastrophe and crippling anxiety attacks, Marley Claviger has never heard of any celestial cold war. But when the twin daughters of a friend come to her for help, she will do whatever it takes to save them. Even if it means working with Fallen, discovering the nephilim, and facing the source of her power.

The first paragraph of Matchbox Girls is revelatory in a subtle way – a black dream has Marley Claviger reaching for her phone seconds before it rings. She dismisses it, but we, the readers, know this is something important, something to be explored later. Her dream was obviously prescient, and Marley had no idea – why? I read books for a lot of different reasons: love for reading, learning binge, bored on the toilet, need to write a review, etc. But no matter what reason drove me to pick up a book and flip to the first chapter, my very favorite feeling is that moment when my mind engages and asks why.

senyazaMatchbox Girls is crowded with answers. It might, perhaps, be overly crowded with answers. In the space of a couple of days, Marley’s life cracks open and in the light of truth, a lot of truths come scurrying out: angels are real! so are fairies! lawyers are evil! you’re surrounding by things you don’t understand. It happens fast. One moment, Marley is receiving a phone call from a set of twins she met at the park – and for whom she assumes guardianship after their uncle disappears – and the next her life is utterly and irrevocably changed in many (almost too many) ways.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is Marley herself. She is about as far as one can get from a standard Urban Fantasy heroine. She is no ass-kicker, but she is anxiety-ridden, terribly sad, and these traits are so apparent that even a couple of four year olds know she needs medication. Marley is crippled by her own anxiety, and throughout the book it is not entirely defeated. It’s refreshing to see such a heroine in a fantasy novel.

I’m pleased I read this, and I recommend that you do as well. It’s smarter than a lot of urban fantasy, it’s engaging, and it will make you want to read more about Marley.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As an Air Force kid, Chrysoula went to twelve schools in twelve years and spent a lot of time wondering what made people tick. Books, it turned out, helped with that question.These days she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, which includes many small and demanding creatures who fight over her attention. Her first book, urban fantasy MATCHBOX GIRLS, was originally published in 2012 by the small press Candlemark & Gleam, followed annually by two more books in the same SENYAZA Series, all of which explore the impact of the supernatural on different lives. Her current release is a collection of short stories in the same setting, followed by another novel this autumn.

AUTHOR ONLINE: Website Twitter @chrysoula | Facebook

Purchase at Amazon or at your favorite book retailer!

Matchbox Girls is on sale for only .99 cents for the Kindle from September 14-27th .

GIVEAWAY

$25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Ends Sept. 29

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Link (in case you can’t see the above widget): http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d3474665415/?

cbbbutton

Primary Sidebar