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Seanan McGuire is the missing princess of Urban Fantasy

Seanan McGuire is the missing princess of Urban Fantasy published on No Comments on Seanan McGuire is the missing princess of Urban Fantasy

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

It’s common that a series has an ebb and flow to it. It’s entirely subjective, of course, and one woman’s favorite book may be the least favorite of someone else. The Winter Long (you’ve read it, right?) was insanely good — the revelations therein were intense, and it was obviously created to be a pinnacle in the series itself, surrounded by smaller (though no less lovely) mountains. This was my first impression, and Red Rose Chain (though I loved it, I promise!) did not prove me wrong. Not every book can be like The Winter Long, right?

And then Once Broken Faith came along and blew me away. I read it in one sitting, on my iPhone, courtesy of Berkley Publishing and Netgalley. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Even in that slow, sweet start meant to be a preemptive balm against the shattering things that come after. Seanan McGuire does something amazing with her craft in this. The building tension, the heartbreak, the characterization… all of it.

You don’t want to miss this one. You don’t even want to wait a week or so and mosey on down to the bookstore, because you don’t even know it, but you need this book so much.

Sherrilyn Kenyon dialed this year’s Dark-Hunter novel in

Sherrilyn Kenyon dialed this year’s Dark-Hunter novel in published on No Comments on Sherrilyn Kenyon dialed this year’s Dark-Hunter novel in

I have been a fan of the Dark-Hunters since Night Pleasures came out, have spent countless hours discussing the series, have recommended it high and low to lovers of both romance and fantasy. And I have never, ever been more disappointed both in a book and in an author.

Dragonmark was a $14.99 ebook. Over 75% of the story is sections (not even sections with Illarion!) straight up copy/pasted from Son of No One and Dragonbane. Styxx was a wonderful story that showed a parallel perspective on familiar scenes from the series. Dragonmark is fucking 75% chapters we have already read with almost ZERO additional information interspersed in the words we’ve already read. She didn’t even bother to rewrite the scenes from Illarion’s perspective. This was straight up copy and pasted, slapped on a novelette about how Illarion and Edilyn met the first time. There is only one chapter that takes place after Dragonbane. One.

I can’t fucking believe that this book was NOT ONLY $14.99 as an ebook, but that it wasn’t a novella in the first place. I intend to write to her publisher and to iBooks. I know there is little chance of a refund, but this is ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT.

Anyone like to take a crack at explaining how and why this happened?

The Self-Published Fantast Blog-Off Post 2: Bloodrush & The Thief Who…

The Self-Published Fantast Blog-Off Post 2: Bloodrush & The Thief Who… published on No Comments on The Self-Published Fantast Blog-Off Post 2: Bloodrush & The Thief Who…

About the Contest

The Self-published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO) is sponsored by Mark Lawrence and carried out by 10 hard-working blogs. You’ve probably heard of Mark Lawrence. He’s written a few books.

The contests itself is explained HERE.

And the final results of the contest are given HERE.

Galleywampus is not directly involved in this contest. However, I will read and review the ten finalists. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll be invited to officially take part in the contest next year. I know I want a tower of independently published novels myself.

I’ve decided to write two reviews per post.

The first post can be found HERE, and featured Priest by Matthew Colville and Under a Colder Sun by Greg James.

This second post will feature Bloodrush by Ben Galley and The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung.

The books at the SPFBO are also being rated by the blogs, so I determined to add my own ratings to the mix. I gather that these ratings are on a 1-10 scale. I am comparing these books to my own general preferences, and these preferences tend toward the center. I don’t often assign a 9 or a 10, unless the book truly blows me away. I also don’t assign 1-3 ratings often, unless the book is really, truly something that I can’t find a good thing to say about it. Most of the books I review fall into that 4-8 range.

Reviews

 

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Bloodrush by Ben Galley is sort of like those old books about an old world teen coming to the American frontier. I’ve always wondered if I view these books differently because I am on the frontier end rather than the point of origin. But this isn’t quite By the Great Horn Spoon or “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.” The whole “feel” if this book is nostalgic.

This is a world similar to our own, but the tweaks are intriguing. America is a kingdom, at least in alternative 1867. Faeries are real and they’re not Tinkerbellesque. Spirits of the land, compiling bodies from railroad ties and rails and broken wood, destroy Railroads in America and eat people.

The magic (sorry, magick!) has been deeply considered, and I enjoyed that aspect. Bloodrushing is interesting, and it reminded me favorably of the magic system developed by Brandon Sanderson for Mistborn. Both involve ingesting a substance to obtain specific powers, and both are limited by what the person is capable of turning into a usable result.

Merion isn’t perfect. He’s a kid, thirteen, who has lost a great deal, and then shipped to another country to live with an aunt he didn’t know existed. I understand his perspective. Going from posh England to Middle-of-Nowhere Wyoming is tough to handle. He does whine a fair amount. But I’ve read a lot of YA and children’s fiction, and I don’t think it is more than I see in many of those works.

His aunt, Lilain, is fairly likable, in an eager frontier-woman sort of way. Rhin and Lurker are also somewhat stock, but I feel they overcome their humble origins and add something interesting to the tale. We see a few surprises through Rhin, and surprises always make me happy.

This is a coming of age story. We see a boy become a man here, and the sequel will likely follow the young man into adulthood.

I’m left with a wary feeling for this book in one area, and this is in regard to the native inhabitants to the Americas–the ones settlers forced into smaller and smaller areas while their land was taken away. You know, the Shohari. No, not the indigenous Americans, or “Indians” as some call them, or as they were often called in the 1800s. As far as I can tell, the Native American humans don’t exist here. Rather, there are humanoid inhuman, somewhat more animal than person, beings who take the place of the “majestic savage” here. Considering the amount of dehumanizing that happened to the Native Americans in the real world, it makes me awfully uncomfortable to see them erased and re-imagined for the sake of magical beings. I don’t think this was the intention of the author, but it kept popping into the back of my mind as I read the book.

Overall, I liked it. I liked it a lot. I enjoyed it enough that I picked up Bloodmoon already and will have a full review of that book up, er. Eventually.

Rating: 8.0

 

thief who pulled

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by  Michael McClung.

This was an enjoyable tale. It felt sort of like a western, though it is obviously a fantasy work. The primary character, Amra Thetys, is a no-nonsense, frontier-woman feeling character who happens to be a hell of a thief. She tends to stay out of trouble, but she has a hard time keeping this philosophy when a good friend is murdered. She digs into the motivations and events that led to his death, and from there things get really weird. And dangerous. And fun–for the reader, anyway.

This was easily one of my favorite works from the blog-off. There is enough history and weird powers and secrets to keep things grounded, with enough action and humor to keep the book moving along at a brisk pace. It’s short, but I think it was the right length for the book. And knowing there are more books in the series, I’ve already downloaded the second book from Amazon. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into The Thief Who… stories.

Rating: 8.0

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off Post 1: Priest & Under a Colder Sun

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off Post 1: Priest & Under a Colder Sun published on No Comments on The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off Post 1: Priest & Under a Colder Sun

About the Contest

The Self-published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO) is sponsored by Mark Lawrence and carried out by 10 hard-working blogs. You’ve probably heard of Mark Lawrence. He’s written a few books.

The contests itself is explained HERE.

The ten finalists are listed HERE.

And these are the ratings given to the books so far HERE.

Galleywampus is not directly involved in this contest. However, I will read and review the ten finalists. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll be invited to officially take part in the contest next year. I know I want a tower of independently published novels myself.

I’ve decided to write two reviews per post. This first post will feature Priest by Matthew Colville and Under a Colder Sun by Greg James.

The books at the SPFBO are also being rated by the blogs, so I determined to add my own ratings to the mix. I gather that these ratings are on a 1-10 scale. I am comparing these books to my own general preferences, and these preferences tend toward the center. I don’t often assign a 9 or a 10, unless the book truly blows me away. I also don’t assign 1-3 ratings often, unless the book is really, truly something that I can’t find a good thing to say about it. Most of the books I review fall into that 4-8 range.

Reviews

priest

Priest by Matthew Colville is an interesting work of fiction. I was often left uncertain about what would happen next. It is a bit like a work of noir, but that isn’t quite right. “A fantasy hard-boiled” is on the cover, and that’s partially what I experienced. It reminds me a bit of an episode of an old crime program, or a locked-room mystery. We know that something happened, and we know the end result. This is sort of a “whodoneit.” We don’t know who did it, or why, or even specifically how it was done. The protagonist isn’t given much to work with.

My biggest complaints, honestly, are that 1) Heden, the protagonist, was often needlessly cruel to the knights, in ways that felt slightly out of character based on some of his previous actions, and 2) he’s terribly obtuse. These areas work as both strengths and weaknesses of the work. I think the book would have been significantly shorter and we would have observed much less of interest if Heden had used this old adage by Epictetus: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” He wants to swing in, get his answers, and go back to his self-inflicted hermitage. That’s not the job he was asked to do, it isn’t the job that would have simplified his and others’ lives, and it wasn’t what was in the best interest of the story.

The book is not a typical fantasy. It isn’t really a quest narrative, and it certainly isn’t a “coming of age” story. The protagonist isn’t a teen or twenty-something. In these areas, the book is a breath of fresh air. Fantasy isn’t a genre for endless Tolkien revisions.

I enjoyed the work. There are some interesting characters throughout, the mysteries within the forest are intriguing, and I’d really like to step down into that basement. There were parts that remained unwritten, which is fine; there are more books.

Rating: 6.5

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Under a Colder Sun by Greg James is a bit of grimdark (or dark fantasy, maybe sword and sorcery) fiction with a Conan-like protagonist in Khale the Wanderer. Not young Conan. Old Man Conan, if he also had sorcery at his disposal and immortality at hand. Khale is a badass. He is more complicated than first laid out for the reader, and I appreciated that complexity. Sure, he’s a “bad guy” but he has layers.

The protagonists are not particularly likable. These aren’t good guys trying to kill bad guys. These are mostly just bad guys. The motivations are realistic (to the story) and their actions fit their worldviews. I didn’t really have anyone to cheer for, with Khale being the most interesting.

There are some over-simplified characters that feel like they are the archetypes of, rather than depictions of, full-on characters.

The story is written well. While there are some areas that I feel like I’ve read before, there was some new as well. Ultimately, this book wasn’t really my taste. But it is worth a go if the basic concept catches your attention.

Rating: 5.5

[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.

[Review and Giveaway] The Cave by Michela Montgomery

[Review and Giveaway] The Cave by Michela Montgomery published on 4 Comments on [Review and Giveaway] The Cave by Michela Montgomery

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About the Book

The Cave by Michela Montgomery
(The Wind Cave #1)
Published by: Post Hill Press
Publication date: April 7th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic

When a nuclear war devastates the U.S., a four-day excursion quickly turns into a fight for survival in The Cave. Six Stanford students journey into one of the deepest and longest caves in North America. A day into their journey, a nuclear war begins from within the U.S. Unable to return to the surface, and unsure what they will find when they do, the Cave will test the strength and survival of each person differently – transforming six individuals into a team, and ultimately…a family.

Review

The Cave is a stellar representative of a fairly new genre.

A peculiar phenomenon happens every once in a while in the publishing world. An innovative idea becomes a trend, which becomes something agents and editors actively hunt down, which is given a (usually cute) nickname by critics and reviewers, and finally becomes a titled and recognizable subgenre (or genre) with a healthy and growing list of works nestled safe beneath its umbrella.

The Cave is part of the New Adult genre, and the name should be self-explanatory. The characters tend to be four or five years older than characters in Young Adult series, and they have adult situations: characters have sex in pitch-black caves, get injured, swear, and face situations that aren’t necessarily as glossy as those that occur in YA. But the characters are still young. They are allowed to make mistakes, are allowed to be sexually inexperienced, to make awkward comments, to accidentally lead their friends astray. There’s a reality to the dialogue and awkwardness that reminded me of who I was in my early twenties.

The Cave is genuinely frightening.

The author does not waste words. The book is immediately claustrophobic. As the main characters travel through the titular cave, they (and we) continue to make assumptions about what is going on in the outside world. Very brief scenes that were not written from the POV of the college-age spelunkers offer little flickers of what is going on, and it is not pretty. I can’t wait to see where it goes in the following installments.

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Links:

Amazon
B&N
Goodreads

Giveaway

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