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Review

The Sword of Kaigen

The Sword of Kaigen

Golly-gee willikers, I really miss being part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. 🙂 🙁 Every time I see the now annual contest come round, I think to myself, “Maybe this year…”, but then I decide to stop lying to myself. The fact of the matter is that, these days, we just don’t have the staff to participate and still keep up any kind of regular reviews for traditionally published books. So, as much as I’d love to dive back into the trenches with our book-review bretheren and sisteren, I’ve come to some kind of peace (Perhaps even, a troubled one? Sorry. Bad time for a pun…) with the way the chips have landed here. Still, this doesn’t preclude my ability to, at the very least, pick up the winner for each year, and see what rose to the top of the pile. Which leaves us with a single glaring omission…
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Review

We Ride the Storm

Posted: March 9, 2021 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Devin Madson, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy
We Ride the Storm

Book titles are crafted to sell the book. They try to strike the right note of alerting readers to the genre while pulling new readers in. There are book title fads (remember when every book title was one word long?) and trends and they are not (as I used to assume) whatever the author thought was the best title for the book.
Devin Madson’s epic fantasy, WE RIDE THE STORM , is an exception. The first installment in the The Reborn Empire series, this book was originally self-published, and Madson kept her original title. It’s a great title for the novel, where the three POV characters are thrust into the metaphorical storm of war, each of them desperately trying to use newly slippery, shifting allegiances to their advantage.
A fragile peace exists between the kingdoms of Kisia and Chiltae. Miko is a princess of the Kisian empire. The current emperor delays naming either her or her twin brother as his heir, because they are not his true children. Determined not be […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

Posted: January 28, 2021 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Eugene Yelchin, M.T. Anderson, Fantasy
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

It’s nothing too new to say that fantasy worlds often fall into the trap of assigning entire races bad motivations and ill intent. Orcs? No good. Goblins? Sneaky little guys. From Tolkien to Gygax, we get a lot of one-dimensional portrayals of whole societies. THE ASSASSINATION OF BRANGWAIN SPURGE takes one of the oldest fantasy rivalries–elves versus goblins–and shows the trouble that comes from a colonizing spirit and rampant cultural misunderstanding.
Written by M.T. Anderson and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, the creators of THE ASSASSINATION OF BRANGWAIN SPURGE were inspired by the long history of travelogues. Unlike existing travelogues where the only perspective is that of the ‘brave explorer’, in this novel, the culture under scrutiny is given a voice: a gentle, hopeful, unfailingly polite voice in the form of the goblin archivist Werfel.
Werfel has been chosen to show Brangwain Spurge, elfin emissary, all of the wonders of the goblin kingdom Tennebrion. He […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Bone Shard Daughter

Posted: December 20, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Andrea Stewart, Fantasy
The Bone Shard Daughter

Lin doesn’t remember much before the day she woke in the room with the chrysanthemum ceiling. Her father–the emperor–said her amnesia is the result of an illness that stole her memories. She doesn’t remember her mother (long since dead), her childhood, or the bond shard magic lessons she’s supposedly been learning from her father the years previous. Instead, her current life is full of competition with Bayan, a young man who is also learning the bone shard magic and may take her place as emperor if he learns it better than her. But Lin will do whatever it takes to get ahead, even if it means sneaking around the palace to get the information she needs.
You see, bone shard magic is what the emperor uses to protect his people from the ancient race that used to enslave the population. Bone shards power the golem-like constructs that act as guards, spies, and warriors. But, of course, there is a price. Bone shards come from each child as they come of age. […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Kitty’s Mix Tape

Posted: October 6, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Carrie Vaughn, Urban Fantasy, Short Fiction
Kitty’s Mix Tape

First thing you should know is that KITTY’S MIX TAPE can be read without having read any of the books in the series (we’ve reviewed a few of them HERE). BUT, if you read this book before reading any of the books there will be a few spoilers. However, if you want a taste of the world of Kitty Norville and the werewolves, vampires, and witches that inhabit it without diving wholesale into the 14-book series, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
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Review

War Girls

Posted: September 8, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Tochi Onyebuchi, Post Apocalyptic, Young Adult
War Girls

Citing a long history of erasure and silence surrounding the Nigerian civil war, author Tochi Onyebuchi wrote WAR GIRLS (Amazon) to illustrate the way that the tensions that incited the conflict–economic, religious, tribal–exist today and how they might play out in a post-apocalyptic future. I didn’t know any of this history when I started the book and the story stands admirably on its own (interested readers can find additional reading in Onyebuchi’s afterword).
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Review

A Plague of Giants

Posted: September 1, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Kevin Hearne, Fantasy
A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.
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Review

The Orphans of Raspay

Posted: August 25, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Lois McMaster Bujold, Fantasy, Short Fiction
The Orphans of Raspay

Lois McMaster Bujold’s delightful series of novellas featuring Penric and his demon Desdemona continues with “The Orphans of Raspay” where Penric becomes hopelessly caught up in the sad situation of two orphan girls. If you haven’t read the previous novellas, go check them out, starting with “Penric’s Demon” (EBR review), where you’ll get my opinion on the Audible reader as well as the low-down on what it means to be a sorcerer with one’s own demon.
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Review

Six of Crows

Posted: August 21, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Leigh Bardugo, Fantasy
Six of Crows

Kaz is a lieutenant for one of the crime lords of Ketterdam. He’s made a name for himself, mostly because he’s willing to do anything for money. And when he’s offered an insane amount of money for a job that may get him killed, he takes it. If anyone can out-think an impossible situation, it’s Kaz Brekker.

But he needs the right crew if he plans to pull it off.
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Review

Driftwood

Posted: August 7, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Marie Brennan, Fantasy
Driftwood

“Last” is the name of a man you can hire to lead you through the confusing realm of Driftwood. But that’s not the name he was born with. If he can remember back that far.

First you need to understand Driftwood, a realm where dying civilizations get caught up into its black hole (not really any way to explain it, even though that’s not what it is). At first their neighbors disappear. Then their boundaries. Then they find themselves with new neighbors of different worlds, races, and languages. And all of them are moving toward the inexorable deterioration of their society until it disappears completely. It may take a few generations (depending on the life-expectancy of the natives), but their apocalypse is inevitable.
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