Audiobook Review: Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
4 Stars , Reviews / August 7, 2017

In the third book of the Glamourist Histories, Kowal keeps the story and plot fresh and continues to give us more of that fantastical regency romance that works incredibly well. What can I say? Turns out that even with all the grimdark books that I love, I have a very soft spot for a well written regency period story with a splash of magic (or glamour) to spice it up just a tad. After a visit with her family, Jane and Vincent head to London for a commission. Seeing her sister, Melody, with poor marriage prospects at home, they bring her along both for company and the hopes that with the more active social scene, Melody will be able to meet an agreeable match. Because, you know, it wouldn’t be regency romance if there wasn’t some young woman who was threatened with spinsterhood when she reaches her ripe ol’ early 20s without yet landing herself a husband. (I say that in jest, I really have zero complaints about this, its just so different from what we are used to today that it really amuses me). The season has been unusually cool, and rumors start amassing about glamourists who are impacting…

Backlist Burndown Review: Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
Reviews / June 5, 2017

Glamour in Glass was every bit of an enjoyable escape for me as Shades of Milk and Honey. I absolutely love this time period setting and the magic of glamours just enhances that. In this one, Jane and Vincent work as a husband and wife team working as glamourists for noble families. Jane is adjusting to married life, as they are working on their “honeymoon”. I have to say, one of the things I am really enjoying about this series is light and fresh and it is also so easy to read. I know, that may not sound like much, but Kowal makes this story flow seemingly effortlessly, taking you noble world of Europe in the 1800s. I continue to enjoy Jane as a character. She is a strong female character that is edging a place for herself in the very misogynistic atmosphere that existed at the time. Women have their place, and it has typically been behind her husband and the men. Vincent treats her with respect, and sees her as an equal partner, but he’s also a bit clueless and awkward at times and is not always aware of how not everyone is the same as him. And…

Backlist Burndown Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
4 Stars , Reviews / April 28, 2017

Shades of Milk and Honey is a wonderful regency romance with just enough magic (or glamour) to add an extra layer of enchantment for the reader. For anyone who enjoys Jane Austen, I highly recommend this one. While the story is enjoyable, I also feel like this is a style of book where you just enjoy how it is told, and immersing yourself in the world and time period. The main protagonist, Jane, is not a stunning beauty, but she does have an extraordinary ability to weave glamours (illusions).  While she is past the normal marrying age and resigned to be spinster (her word, not mine), you also know that she will not lead a boring life. She has a passion for what she does, and a personality that can thrive with independence. The book is full of potential romances. Jane’s sister, Melody, is as beautiful as Jane is not and several potential romances seem to be blooming. Melody may be beautiful, but her ability with glamour is not very strong. Being able to work glamours is a skill that is well regarded, and some may even consider essential, for ladies of the time. They use it to adorn their…

Backlist Burndown Review: The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aarron
Reviews / March 31, 2017

I chose this book for both a Backlist Burndown feature (it’s been on my TBR for a while) as well as my Swords and Sorcery square for Reddit Fantasy’s Bingo. Quite frankly, I was quite excited to finally have an excuse to bump this up my priority list and finally read it. I’ve heard the series highly recommended and, really, who doesn’t love a story about a thief? Especially one who gets to use magic and has some pretty interesting friends. Not to mention the gall of trying to increase the bounty on his head. It just sounds like an incredibly fun book and set of characters. The story, overall, is fun, starting out with Eli, the greatest thief of all time, stealing not the typical salable items, but rather a King. I mean, sure, you hear stories of princesses being stolen in the night and held for ransom or whatever other nefarious reasons someone might have to steal them. But stealing a king is a bit more unexpected, not to mention ambitious. I think I had two issues with this book, which unfortunately, turn out are not trivial when it came to my enjoyment. First, while one the surface,…

Backlist Burndown Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
3.5 Stars , Reviews / February 24, 2017

Murder of Crows is the second installment in The Others series by Anne Bishop. I am listening to these books in audiobook format, and find they are very well suited to that medium. The world is interesting, but not overly complex. With the second book, more details of the world are revealed as the story is told.  I would say pretty much everything from the first book is expanded a bit deeper in this second book. It is all done in a manageable, easy to remember and follow way. In this book, violence is rising and straining the already tense (at best) relations between humans and the Others, particularly in the neighboring town. There are dangerous new drugs that seem to be fueling the conflicts and Meg has had one of her visions and it is full of blood and feathers. But, blood prophets are in a tough position of everytime they cut to learn more, they get one cut closer to death. As Meg and Simon work together, their relationship also deepens. One thing I find a bit strange, borderline irksome, is the romantic interest in a character that is between the two different species (which does not have to be…

Backlist Burndown Review: Rat Queens
4 Stars , Reviews / January 27, 2017

I’ve not read all that many graphic novels, and Rat Queens is quite a departure from the ones I have read. The title of this volume is “Sass and Sorcery” and quite frankly, that’s very fitting, particularly the sass. Rat Queens is a group of mercenaries, made up of irreverent, sarcastic women who enjoy indulging in their share of drink, drugs, sex, fighting and whatever else makes them happy. These girls kick ass, take no shit and have fun however they damn well please. How could you not love them? At least a little? In their latest job, the Rat Queens find they’ve been sent into a trap. Turns out there is a killer that is specifically targeting mercenaries. Not cool, but that’s OK, the Rat Queens will come to save the day. I found this to be a fun read, but for me it falls short of the amazing status I’ve seen others give it. I suspect much of this has to do with the humor. I mean, it is funny, I will give it that (assuming you love inappropriate humor, and really, who doesn’t?) But, sometimes the amount of jokes was just a bit much for me. Also,…

Backlist Burndown Review: Nine Princes of Amber by Robert Zelazny

So I am participating in the Reddit Fantasy 2016 Book Bingo, and they forced me to read a book from the 1970s to fill the Decade You Were Born Square (yeah, I’m old, anyway…). Considering I rarely read anything more than a couple years old, this was definitely out of my typical set of books. Based on recommendations, I chose Nine Princes in Amber by Robert Zelazny and was incredibly impressed by how well it aged. It is a portal fantasy, so parts of it are set in the “modern” day we know, but with the exception of the absence of current technology and a few references to hippies, I could not have told you when it was written. It still feels very modern even though its 40+ years old. The story begins with Corwin, who has woken in a hospital and seems to be suffering from amnesia. Now, I have read a number of books that start with amnesia, that have decidedly not worked well for me. I am happy to say this one actually did. As Corwin learns and remembers more, we discover alternate worlds and in particular, we learn about Amber, the ultimate world. The world that seems hardest…

Backlist Burndown Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
4.5 Stars , Reviews / September 30, 2016

At the end of every year, I think no matter how many books you read, there are a few that people rave about that you for some reason skipped over. Walk on Earth a Stranger was one of those books for me. Admittedly, I do not read a ton of books labeled as YA, so that could be part of the reason why this one fell under my radar. But, its also books like these that make me stick to my Backlist Burndown initiative. What I found most striking about this book is the character’s voice. It just came across as authentic, making everything in the story that much more interesting. The protagonist’s personality really shines on every page. It pulled me in from the first paragraph, and quite frankly left me wanting to hear more even after the story was done. It’s hardly a secret, I love the girl dressing as a boy trope, so I was even more excited about this book once I found out it also incorporated that! I know, I’m silly and predictable that way, but we all have to have our favorite tropes, and that is one that I really enjoy. Maybe partially because the…

Backlist Burndown Review: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu

This book released last year, and somehow I missed it. What I didn’t miss was how many Best Of lists it made at the end of the year. A clear sign I overlooked something good, and so I had to find a way to fit it in (and this is not a short a book). A perfect Backlist Burndown choice! Turns out I am very glad I chose it this month. Epic fantasy is what drew me into the Fantasy genre, and its always so wonderful to read the first in a new series. This book is no exception. I was immediately hooked thanks to Çeda, the main protagonist. She is everything I love in a strong female lead character. She is not just strong willed and determined, but also a fighter that can kick some serious ass. I know women characters can be strong in many other ways, and I always appreciate that, but I have to confess, I do love it when they can also stand their ground strong in battle, or in this case, the fighting pits. So right away, I felt like I was going to really enjoy this one just based on how quickly I connected with Çeda. Then…

Backlist Burndown Review: Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
4 Stars , Reviews / July 29, 2016

So, the first book I read by Lauren Beukes was her newest book, Broken Monsters. I really can’t stop gushing about how much I love that book. Since then I have been working backwards through her books, reading The Shining Girls and then Zoo City. With Mulholland’s upcoming release of  new paperback editions for both Zoo City and Moxyland, I figured it was a great time to finally read Beukes’ first novel, the only one I have not read yet, Moxyland. Moxyland follows four storylines in this near future dystopia. Each perspective spotlights a different aspects of this world and culture. I really enjoyed each of the four characters, even if I didn’t feel quite as connected to any of them as I would have preferred. But then, I think this is the nature of the story. With the focus being divided, there is less material to really attach you to each perspective. Plus I think the overall goal of the story was maybe not so much about the characters, but about the world they were living in. In that, the book definitely succeeded. In some respects, the world sounds great. There is technology that can be injected, make a person more…