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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

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

Black Lotus Kiss

Posted: September 3, 2019 by Allan Bishop in Books We Like Meta: Jason Ridler, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Occult Fantasy
Black Lotus Kiss

BLACK LOTUS KISS (Amazon) is an unabashed pulp mystery with a side of Marlboro Man smoke-crowned charm, and a kiss on the neck of the Black Dahlia homage to cheesy occult detective novels of the 1970s.

As far as mystery novels go, BLACK LOTUS KISS hits all the marks: character, location, and plot. It doesn’t try to be more than necessary: an over-the-top Hell’s Angels is in league with an eldritch deity-controlled Girl Scouts cookie drive style of mayhem. It is inane, irreverent, and utterly unapologetic in its absurdity.
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Review

Jade War

Posted: July 22, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Fonda Lee, Fantasy
Jade War

The clan is my blood, and the Pillar is its master.

That’s right folks. We’re back in the land of jade and honor and… business meetings!
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Review

Into the Drowning Deep

Posted: June 25, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Mira Grant, Horror
Into the Drowning Deep

INTO THE DROWNING DEEP (Amazon) is the kind of book I would normally recommend as a beach read. First, I guess I should clarify that by beach read, I don’t mean trash. A good beach read is straightforward enough that you can pick it up and put it down whenever you need to take a dip in the water or reapply that sunscreen. Ideally, beach reads also have enough forward motion that I can while away the hours with ease. INTO THE DROWNING DEEP meets those criteria–it’s engaging and fun with a good dose of horror and an embrace of the absurd.

It’s also about killer mermaids.
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Review

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

If you’re reading this review, the odds are good it’s because at some point you read a book with a dragon in it–and realized that most subjects could benefit from dragons, such as: endless political machinations, the Napoleonic Wars, and yes even tacos.

Everything’s better with dragons.

And now that list includes Russian history.

“The dragons were harrowing the provinces again. They did that whenever the Tsar was upset with the Jews.” Jane Yolen wasn’t planning on writing more dragon stories but when these lines popped into her head, the image of leathery wings in dark northern skies wouldn’t leave her. We should be grateful for the whims of creative fate because THE LAST TSAR’S DRAGONS (Amazon) is a well-written, clever novella that’s worth your time.
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Review

The Red-Stained Wings

Posted: May 21, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Elizabeth Bear, Epic Fantasy
The Red-Stained Wings

Once upon a time, the Alchemical Emperor created an empire among the ruins of former kingdoms. With his own magic he created a palace like no other. Now his posterity fight over the fractured lands inherited by his children. Two ranji queens rule the sister Sarathi palaces, but their two male cousins (each cursed with the inability to procreate their own heirs), attempt to take power for themselves via subterfuge or outright war.
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Review

Amnesty

Posted: May 9, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Lara Elena Donnelly, Fantasy
Amnesty

AMNESTY (Amazon) is the final book in the AMBERLOUGH DOSSIER and if you’ve read my earlier reviews for AMBERLOUGH (EBR Review) and ARMISTICE (EBR Review) you know that I love a good character driven, unrelentingly grim novel. If that isn’t your scene, I recommend browsing through some of our other reviews because AMNESTY follows closely in the same vein as the first two novels in the series both in attention to characters and level of grimness.
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Review

Scythe

Posted: April 16, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Neal Shusterman, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Scythe

In a world where immortality means death is no longer natural, scythes are employed to keep the population under control. Rowan is a typical middle child in a big family whose life flies under the radar. Until the Honorable Scythe Faraday notices him and asks him to become his apprentice. Citra excels at school and when a scythe comes to their house just to have a meal with them, she can’t help but question his behavior. They both — reluctantly — end up as apprentices to the same scythe and are dropped into a world of death, pain, grief. They must learn how to kill, but also be compassionate. Scythe Faraday believes that a scythe shouldn’t enjoy killing.

But Scythe Faraday is old school, and there are newer scythes who think that there are too many restrictions, that there are better interpretations of the scythe 10 Commandments. When conclave arrives and Citra and Rowan must take their first tests of their apprenticeship, events go poorly and they learn the hard way that death has become a political battlefield.
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