Posts from 2019

Review

Crown of Coral and Pearl

Posted: November 5, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Mara Rutherford, Fantasy, Young Adult
Crown of Coral and Pearl

Mara Rutherford’s debut novel, CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL (Amazon), follows twin sisters Nor and Zadie who have spent their entire lives being (literally) groomed to be the next queen of Ilara. Nor and Zadie’s mother is obsessed with ensuring one her daughters becomes queen, and after Nor scars her face on a blood coral, their mother turns all her efforts on Zadie.

When Zadie is indeed chosen to be the next queen, she defies everyone’s expectations and secretly injures herself, making it impossible for her to travel from the small island nation of Varenia to Ilara. The last time the Varenians sent ‘the wrong girl’, Ilara cut off supplies to Varenia for weeks. Desperate to avoid another reprisal, the village sends Nor masquerading as Zadie.
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Review

Trace the Stars

Trace the Stars

It’s been too long since I read me some short stories. Only one other anthology in the last year, in fact. Yeesh. You’d think I’d been avoiding them purposefully, but that would definitely be incorrect. Anyone out there have a suggestion for some good short fiction I can get my hands on? Something in anthology form and not a collection, if possible (unless it’s really good). Anthologies just give you so much variety that I can’t help but be glad I read them — despite what overall rating I give them — because there’s usually at least a few good ones that will rise to the top. And then I have some good suggestions on new authors to go chase down.

I found out about this one because of an email submission from our contact form. Like, from here on the website. Yeah. See. It does happen. Not very often I’ll grant you. AND, as it happens, I have somewhat of a geographical connection to the anthology. Oh, AND I met Joe at another convention, and he was a cool guy. So there’s that stuff too. Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up. Anyhow. Time for some shortness. You ready?
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Review

Aftershocks

Aftershocks

I’ve had something on my mind the last couple of months. It’s easy, as a reviewer, to dole out ratings for books. Saying this one is good, and this one is bad, and this one was just kinda meh. It’s also frequently easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every book that is published should be the “best book that it can be”. I’m also an engineer though, and so the old saying that, “If you want to finish the project, you’re going to have to kill the engineer” (meaning that the engineer will keep working on a project for forever until it’s perfect) floats around in my mess of a brain too. I think this has produced somewhat of a scarcity mentality in my head though. Because, honestly, there is a huge market out there for stories that I’m going to think are perfectly mediocre. That don’t ring any of my bells or wave any flags — even lots that don’t ring bells or wave flags for anybody — because some people just like to read something that makes them forget for a time. They don’t even want to think about it very hard. Just read. Now, I’m not exactly one of those kind of people. I expect goodness when I sit down to read. This likely stems from the fact that I read as much as I do, I’m always wanting to read more, and I never feel like I have enough time for it. Which means I don’t like finding anything mediocre about what I’m ingesting. Still, there’s obviously a market for stories like that, and I think this is one of those.
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Review

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Posted: October 18, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Alexis Hall, Fantasy
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

There are heaps of stories about Sherlock Holmes. Mountains of them. Oceans of them. Even if you dive down and start looking only at queer Sherlock Holmes re-imaginings, or alternate-reality-Sherlock-Holmes re-tellings, or gender-swapped Sherlock reworkings… well, you’re going to be here for a while.
THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER rolls a little bit of all of these variations together and while the result is absolutely bonkers, it’s also delightful.
Author Alexis Hall goes straight for the wild and weird. He does not set his version of Sherlock in a slightly-different-but-still-recognizable London. Or even a deliberately-not-London-but-clearly-still-familiar locale. Nope. THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER is set in the city of Kelathra-Ven, a cosmopolitan gathering place in a world full of witch kings, Eternal Lords, re-animated corpses, vampires, and inter dimensional portals.
It’s a big swing, but what keeps the reader grounded, rather than afloat in the rush […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Posted: October 15, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Urban Fantasy
Gods of Jade and Shadow

From the cover: “The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she find a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.”
I spent some time thinking about this book since I finished it, not really sure how to write this review. The book was simultaneously straightforward storytelling but also unexpected. The characters were recognizable but foreign. And the ending was surprising yet also what it should have been. GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW is the kind […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

A Little Hatred

Posted: October 10, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
A Little Hatred

So, it’s been a while since we’ve had a book like this from Abercrombie. Real quick US publication timeline for those of you that aren’t immediately aware: 3 years since Sharp Ends (last short stories), 4 years since Half a War (last YA), 7 years since Red Country (last stand-alone), and 11 years since The Last Argument of Kings (last series book). Thus, I’d be painting the canvas pretty thin indeed if I were to say, for instance, that I was stupid-excited to finally read this thing. I won a contest over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist back in the day and inherited all three books of the original First Law trilogy, published by Pyr. Was the beginning of my first love affair with the works of Abercrombie. Guy just knows how to do story right, and I was hoping that he’d continue that trend. His response was a little bit “Yes”… and a little bit “No”.
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Review

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

A few months ago I hit up a small fantasy and science fiction convention just north of me. The guests of honor were Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton. Was loads of fun to see both of them. Jim was hilarious and engaging, with a head of long blue hair, and was so much more of a nerd (to my delight) than I figured he’d be. Laurell was calm and collected, had load of insightful comments, and was way shorter than I thought she’d be. Course, I’m no slouch in that department. So, it’s all relative. In the main, I was very impressed by both of them. I came away from that con feeling energized and happy that I’d gone. Near the end, Laurell made a plea in one of her panels for all of us to write reviews of every book we read. They did more good for authors than we realized, she said. Now, granted. The Anita Blake series probably didn’t need another book review done for it. There are plenty enough as it is. But this whole EBR gig is a pretty big part of who I am, and so I went away from that con with the determination to give her a book review. So here it is.
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Review

The Princess Beard

Posted: September 24, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Delilah S. Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Fantasy, Humor
The Princess Beard

If you read the first two books — KILL THE FARM BOY and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD GNOMES — you will discover that THE PRINCESS BEARD has much the same tone, a silly storyline, and genre twisting galore. Yep, it’s as fun as the first two. Let’s dig in, shall we?
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Review

The Stars are Legion

Posted: September 20, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Kameron Hurley, Science Fiction
The Stars are Legion

After the high of reading THE LIGHT BRIGADE (EBR Review), I was really looking forward to diving into some more story from this author. Everywhere I looked, people seemed to be talking about her and how “out there” her stuff is. It’s weird and new and her’s is a voice that needs to be heard. I love imagination and wonder. It’s one of the reasons why I love Science Fiction so much. In fact, it’s probably why I like good Science Fiction even more than good Fantasy. But before any of that, the story has to be well told through some solid characters. Because without those two things, imagination and wonder just don’t matter.
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Review

Dark Age

Posted: September 17, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Pierce Brown, Dystopian SF, Science Fiction
Dark Age

I have been spoiled. Eight hundred pages of sheer story-telling genius have just filtered through the interstices of my gray matter, and now I get to tell you all about the multi-hued and variegated experience of ingesting it all. If you haven’t delved into this particular series yet, it stands to reason that you probably shouldn’t read any further. Spoilers are kind of a given at this stage of the game. You should also go hit Amazon and make up for this lack in judgement. Trust me. You really don’t want to miss out on any more of this guy’s stuff. For you readers/lovers of the series, this is another great one. Let’s go.
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