Review: An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
Reviews / November 26, 2018

I found An Easy Death to be very easy to get in to. I immediately enjoyed getting to know Lizbeth. She is fiercely independent , speaks her mind and is quite the shot. Really, there’s not much not to like. Lizbeth, also known as Gunnie Rose, is part of a crew of “gunnies”, which are are pretty much hired protection, people skilled with handling bandits that might try to prey on their customers as they travel. Because this world they live in is a bit of a wild west, there is a good amount of lawlessness, Gunnies, while not really approved of by the law (what law there is), are a necessity if travelers want to get to their destination safely. But even for gunnies, the roads can be terribly dangerous as bandits set traps and ambushes where their victims will be lucky if their worst fate is merely being robbed of all their wealth and possessions as the bandits are likely to murder and rape as well. Like I said, it is a tough world with harsh realities. Lizbeth suffers a terrible, unthinkable loss during one of these trips with her crew, but almost immediately she is offered a…

Review: The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
5 Stars , Reviews / August 20, 2018

The Poppy War is a fantastic read that I am sure will make Best Of 2018 lists come time later this year. It pulled me in REALLY fast! It starts with the main character, Rin, going in to take an exam. We don’t know anything about her or what the exam is for, but its immediately clear that the exam is serious business, and I think the lack of back story before this just made it incredibly intriguing. I wanted to know more about Rin and also more about how her life would change if she passed the exam. We learn Rin is a war orphan, and of foreign heritage. Because the war left so many orphans in her land, families are paid to take them in. Rin’s guardians treat her more like a servant than a child, and as she matures, her worth turns into what they might be able to get in exchange for arranging a marriage for her. Of course, Rin is not the least bit excited by marriage, and especially not by the much, much older man they have selected for her. Passing the exam offers Rin a new and much different life. She is eager…

Review: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
4 Stars , Reviews / August 13, 2018

The Calculating Stars is an alternate history with a very strong female protagonist that is pushing the gender boundaries of her time. The premise is that a meteorite struck there earth with catastrophic consequences.The initial destruction was obvious, as it wiped out much of the east coast, either from the initial impact or the flooding that occurred after. However, our protagonist does some impressive calculations and determines that what they’ve seen so far is nothing compared to what is to come. And with the most dire consequences set years down the road, convincing people to take the threat seriously can be a challenge (and likely even more so when you are a woman trying to do the convincing). There is a very real threat that the earth may not be inhabitable in the future, so Elma and others (including her engineer husband), work on a plan to start colonization outside of earth. The thought of going into space is terribly exciting for Elma. She was a pilot in the war, part of the group of women trained to help shuttle aircraft around. It’s an elite group, but no where near equal standing to their male counterparts. The book deals with both…

Review: Starless by Jacqueline Carey
Reviews / July 2, 2018

I have to say, Starless is one of those books that pulled me in very quick. The story is about a world where the children of the main god were all cast down to live among the mortals, and with them, all the stars in the sky were gone as well, changing the night sky. The role of gods in this interesting. They all have unique qualities and rule over specific domains. The people in those domains become well acquainted with their “local god”, for lack of a better term. The first section of the book is a coming of age tale. I love Khai as a character, he is fierce and talented and just over all, a good character. He is very much a “chosen one”, who excels well beyond his talented peers to take on awe inspiring skills. This should not be too surprising since Khai was selected by his one of the Sacred Twin gods to be the shadow or the Sun-blessed chosen. His soul and fate is linked to another, a person he has never met but is committing his entire life to train to become their protector.  I particularly enjoyed a brother that became a…

Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller
4.5 Stars , Reviews / March 19, 2018

Torn by Rowenna Miller was just a joy to read. I loved the concept of integrating magic with sewing and quickly found myself swept away into the world and character of Sophie. She is innovative, independent and loyal, though her loyalties wind up rather divided, putting her in a hard position. This is set very much in a have/have-nots world with the elite upper class, and the lower working class. The rich have an extreme amount of control. To even attempt to start a business, one must apply for a permit and most applications are quickly denied. And if there is an existing business that you would be competition for? Don’t even think about it. It adds enormous barriers for residents to raise themselves to a better quality of life. Sophie is a minority in addition to being from the lower class part of town, but has worked hard and risen to a respectible position that serves the upper class. She even runs her own shop and even has a couple of employees, which can seem like an unattainable dream for someone with her background and position. Charms were not historically desirable in the culture she is now a part…

Review and GIVEAWAY: Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Reviews / March 5, 2018

Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe is the latest in Maresca’s on going series in the Maradaine universe. It’s the sequel to Holver Alley Crew, which I have to admit is my favorite book 1 in any of his series so far. I’m happy to report that this follow up is just as exciting and fun as the last one. I’m also really excited to share that we have a GIVEAWAY for The Holver Alley Crew, so be sure to enter below! Verci and Asti are still working with their crew, with the ultimate goal of finding whoever was responsible for the fire that destroyed Holver Alley. They have all had to make some adjustments as they have been displaced by the fire, they also are keeping their huge payday from the last heist underwraps, and living the modest lives that might be expected, trying to not draw attention to the themselves. There is tension as Verci’s wife wants him to live a clean and straight life, and blames his brother Asti for always dragging him into the less than legal activities the Rynax brothers always seem to find themselves a part of. And really, who can blame her? He is her husband…

Review: Marskwoman by Rati Mehrotra
4 Stars , Reviews / January 16, 2018

This debut was such an enjoyable read for me. It had a great balance of world building and character drama and the pace kept things moving. The world in this is definitely interesting. It starts out feeling like a standard fantasy world with magic and swords, etc. But then as you keep reading and details are revealed, you come to realize it also is post-apocalyptic. I’ve seen this in a number of other books, but that certainly did not prevent me from enjoying the reveals in this one at all. There are orders of women called Markswomen, who serve essentially as assassins. They are meant to uphold the law and enforce order, so they are feared as their skills are almost legendary. Plus, as I mentioned before, they are assassins, so its probably natural that the commoners don’t want to buddy up with them and instead keep a respectul (and slightly fearful) distance. One secret to their power is that they are telepathically bonded with a special type of blade, so it becomes a sort of extenstion of themselves. These blades are magical, and provide their owners strength and the ability to do more than just cut or slice. Even at…

Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci
Reviews / January 1, 2018

This is a book that was written as a love letter to Star Wars, and it shows.  You enjoy it for the adventure and the crew’s personalities and excitement as they work to defeat a large and ominous force in the galaxy. It embraces all of the tropes and deus ex machina found in Star Wars and if you can’t embrace them as well, then this might not be a great choice of book for you. And that’s fine, no book will please everyone and knowing that is what this book is about is important for setting reader expectations. Cade Sura is both an underdog and a chosen one. He falls into the position of being the one person who is needed to save the universe from the evil empire of Praxis. Whether he actually feels qualified or up to it is another thing. The point is, the weight of saving everyone has fallen on his shoulders, and even if he doesn’t feel like the right man for the job, he’s also not really the type to quit with at least trying whatever he is capable of. Along the way, he picks up an interesting crew that has fun dynamics….

Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill
4 Stars , Reviews / October 24, 2017

Strange Weather is a collection of 4 short novels, each telling a unique story. They are all independent of one another, and could be read in any order. I may not rate this one quite as high as most of the works I’ve read by Hill, but I suspect most of that comes from my preference for longer works. The stories are quick and varied covering funny to horrifying to creepy and the main character in each are varied. One aspect of these that some readers will love, but some may not is the endings can ;eave the reader just on the edge of “what happens next”. You can probably guess, for good or for bad, how the cards will fall, but Hill will leave you right on the precipice, giving the reader something to think about and let their own imagination fill in the details. This is something I have always enjoyed, I feel like endings like this make a book last a bit longer for me because I find myself thinking about the ending more than if every last detail had been provided. That said, I know not all readers love this type of ending as much as…

Review: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso
4.5 Stars , Reviews / October 19, 2017

The Tethered Mage was a very enjoyable read with an interesting magic system. Individuals in this world develop a tell tale mage-mark (a ring on their iris) as they develop their magical ability. There are different types of abilities that may manifest and some display at a younger age than others. But regardless of ability, if a child displays the mage-mark, they must be enlisted as a Falcon. A “jess” is put on their arm to control their magic. The person who places the jess on the Falcon becomes their Falconer with the ability to turn on or suppress their magical abilities with a word. While the intent is to help the Falcons maintain control (because once they lose control, there is no turning back, they become consumed in their magic), it can also be seen as a way to control those with magical abilities and use them for the empire’s purposes. They become tools for the military. Naturally, this will create some dissent. The story focuses on a pair of women joined together in an unlikely Falconer/Falcon relationship, something neither of them wanted or expected in their life. Zaira is a fire warlock, one of the most dangerous and…