Tag Archives: fantasy

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling #1) – Book Review

Published Date: September 5, 2006

Publishing Co.: Berkley Sensation

Pages: 334

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I read Singh’s first book in her Guild Hunter series years ago and really enjoyed it at the time. Rarely am I in the mood to read romance so when I found this at a used bookshop for $0.50, I thought I’d give the series a try.

There were aspects of this that I really enjoyed. The emotionless race of Psy and the network they linked their conscious to for information was a pretty fascinating premise and I could read about it for hours. I will always remain a sucker for shapeshifters so combining the two races and the hierarchy of the world they live in was another reason I should love this series. I even enjoyed the burgeoning relationship between the two main characters, and many of the side characters as well.

BUT, the gratuitous sex scenes just interrupted the more interesting parts of the story. I wouldn’t have minded that in and of itself but I didn’t particularly like the sex. I think a lot of it had to due with the naivety of the female MC. I guess I like a female that knows what she wants and has no problem demanding it of a man.

Unfortunately, after taking a peak at the summary of the next book, this is one of those series that each book focuses on a new couple and that just isn’t something I dig. Once I get committed to characters, I like to stick with them. If the series continued with the characters we were introduced to in this series, I would at least give the second book a shot, but since it doesn’t, I don’t think I’ll be continuing.

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The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) – Book Review

Published Date: November 14, 2017

Publishing Co.: Harper Voyager

Pages: 533

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Distinct and enchanting.

Ozzy approved.

As with many epic fantasies that I end up binge reading, I wish I had slowed down for a minute and wrote down a quote so that you may sample the lyrical wine. But, I have no djinn to grant my wish.

Turns out that’s a double edged sword anyway. You get all your wishes but you’ll likely be murdered in the end. Djinn slaves are not to be trifled with.

Nahri is a pick pocket from the streets of Cairo during the French occupation. She swindles to survive, using her unusual healing abilities to help birth children and run cons against the wealthy. She speaks a language she’s never heard another human speak before and learns languages as easily as riding a camel. She smiles at everyone she plans to rob. That’s sweet really. If you’re going to take something someone has, at least do it with a smile on your face so the mark feels good for a minute.

While hosting a fake ritual to heal a mentally broken girl, Nahri accidentally summons a djinn warrior and an ifrit, with a host of ghouls they summon to hunt her down. Not exactly the scam ending she had been hoping for. The surprised-to-be-summoned warrior saves her and they run from Cairo.

What follows is a countries crossed trek through the desert via flying carpet and stolen horses, battles with mythical creatures and the arrival to a secret city inhabited by beings Nahri has never heard of before but apparently, shares as least some small amount of blood with. She’s the last blood of a tribe that was massacred and the people are desperate for both what she represents and her healing abilities. It’s a city of wealth unlike anything Nahri has every seen and a life there is almost unimaginable, until the king offers her virtually everything she could ever want.

Nahri recognizes another con man when she sees one. She decides to take the offer and believes she can hold her own against him but she’s not well versed in politics and it’s games. The youngest prince appears to hate her, the princess tries to humiliate her and the king expects her to fail. She tries to learn to navigate this new world with the help of people from her tribe and her personal warrior, but everyone has their own agendas for her life and Nahri is too independent to be lead by the nose.

Everyone is running their own scheme in Daevabad, and every scheme is interrupted or spun into a new scheme is this politically unstable city filled with various tribes of magical people who cannot seem to get along for long.

Will Nahri survive the city or will she become the victim of a long con?

The Brotherhood of the Wheel (#1) – Book Review

Published Date: May 1, 2016

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 384

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

She looked over the menu at her daughter. “How about this Ed Gein Bar-B-Que? That sounds good!”

“That name’s familiar,” Paul said. “I think he was a governor or something.”

A diner called Zodiac Lodge with entrees named after serial killers, may be a business venture that R.S. Belcher should look into. There are larger take-aways from this book but this may, perhaps, be my favorite.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Belcher is the master of genre mash-ups. The Brotherhood of the Wheel comes off as a mix of horror, grimdark and urban fantasy. It’s a blend that worked together and in my humble opinion, an ample dosing of horror that should throw him the leagues of King and Koontz.

The United States transportation systems are the perfect hunting ground for all manners of killers. They provide access to victims, hiding places to commit their crimes and dumping grounds galore. Both evil humans and paranormal predators stalk these interstate super highways, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

Where there are horrors, there must also be heroes who lead the fight against evil. That is the purpose of the Brotherhood, a secret organization tasked with protecting the innocent. They are police, taxi drivers, truckers, bikers, etc. They come together from all walks of life to take down serial killers, rapists, and human traffickers.

Something ancient and hungry is working it’s way free into the world, turning children into mindless monsters and using human sacrifices to increase it’s power. It hides away in a hidden town, not on any map. The residents there are captive, they cannot leave to find help and the monster’s minions lurk about, prepared to make their lives a living hell for trying.

A renegade cop, biker, trucker, and a book worm are the only ones on this thing’s tail after looking into multiple missing teenager cases and it may just save all of humanity if they can take him down.

Top 5 Weird Westerns

Ever since I was little, I’ve enjoyed westerns. A large part of that is probably because I adore horses and the other part was watching movies with adults that liked westerns. I’ve seen a decent amount of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies, and so many others I couldn’t possibly name. Take that western love and add it to my love of fantasy and weird westerns are clearly going to be winners in my book. Here I showcase my love for five:

  1. The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher. (To be fair, this book makes it on a LOT of my lists.)

“Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation. “

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

2. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift. “

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

3. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

“Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood and he turns to black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding—at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead her to find her true kin . . . if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.”

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

4. American Hippo by Sarah Gailey

“Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.”

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (Not a weird western but a good western.)

“Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.”

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As you can see, all of these are rated 5 out of 5 stars so I may be a little more in love with this genre than necessary.

Any weird westerns not on this list that you think I should check out? Leave a comment, I’m always in the market for more weird westerns!

Magic for Liars – Book Review

Published Date: June 4, 2019

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 336

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Gamble is a small time private investigator who deals with mostly, disability fraud and spouse cheating cases. Today, however, the local school of magic has approached her to investigate the death of a teacher, first ruled an accident. The principle of the school suspects that it was actually murder, and she can’t sleep until she gets a second opinion.

Ivy need the money, and the notoriety. The problem is, she’ll have to confront her estranged sister. The sister she’s been jealous of for a lifetime, for getting to be magic while Ivy was just ordinary. It’s not just her sister she’ll have to contend with though, it’s a whole league of people she doesn’t know how to interact with. People born to magic, who use it for such trivial reasons. She’ll have to manage her anger, on top of solving her first murder case.

Sarah Gailey’s strength is definitely in characters and their development. Ivy’s internal struggles are deeply relateable. Her interactions with people she’s uncomfortable with, and her attempts to hide her own magic inability, make for a fascinating look into the human psyche. The plot was fairly straightforward for a murder mystery. Gailey dabbles with a couple of red herrings but in all honestly, I had the mystery figured out far before our awkward PI did.

I’m left wondering, does Rahul give her a chance to explain? We’ll never know though as this is a stand alone novel. Some mysteries never get solved.

Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) – Book Review

Published Date: June 2, 2015

Publishing Co.: Jo Fletcher Books

Pages: 592

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My review of Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoat’s #2).

There is a reason that this is referred to as swash-buckling fun, it is that, but it’s also so much more.

Knight’s Shadow begins to take a darker turn. We return to the crew with Falcio paralyzed from neatha poisoning. Each morning, the paralysis takes longer and longer to go away, all the while they’re surrounded by enemies. All the while, Falcio is slowly dying. That is the end he sees coming every morning he wakes and cannot move, cannot speak, can hardly breath. If it weren’t for his friends standing guard over his body at night, his enemies could slip in and easily finish the legendary Greatcoat.

The mission begins the same, to put Aline on the throne, but they’ve underestimated the game. There is a secret third player playing havoc with their plans. One moment they’re gaining ground, the next they’re knocked down two pegs and are fighting for their lives once again. The hits keep coming, but how much can one group of people take?

This novel ended up being so much more than I had expected, and to get too detailed would be to ruin the many excellent turns of plot. There were several moments where I was left simply with goosebumps and I was nothing but a fiend that had to continue to find out what happened next.

This easily climbs to the top of my favorite fantasy series list.

Rat Queens, Special: Orc Dave #1 – Comic Review

Published Date: September 27, 2017

Publishing Co.: Image – Shadowline

Pages: 29

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic peek into the origin of Orc Dave and the first time he meets the girls.

There is a lot explained about Dave in one short edition, but I feel like I know him much better now. Plus, you can never go wrong reading about orc shamans.

The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay #2) – Book Review

Published Date: July 29, 2010

Publishing Co.: Gollancz

Pages: 442

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I wish I could say that it took so long for me to read this book because life got in the way. Once, I did leave it at work over the weekend but honestly, I felt pretty unimpressed most of the way through.

The biggest problem? Captain Darian Frey. It took me almost ALL of the first book before I even began to like Frey, and then in this one, he just blew it all to shit. He is by far my least favorite character, which was unfortunate for me because he had the most point of view chapters. Why do I not like the down on his luck, rag tag captain? Well, long story short, he’s a misogynistic asshole.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking; “Cupcakes, this is supposed to be light-hearted fun! I think you’re reading WAY too into this.” And you know, you are probably right. But here’s the thing, I am SO fucking over male protagonists that are womanizers and use women to get off, characterizing them as basically useless otherwise. It’s especially offensive with a loser captain such as Frey. Sure he’s good looking but he’s pretty bottom of the food chain when it comes to males. Yet he has deep thoughts such as;

There weren’t many women Frey respected, but Jez was one of them.”

Of course, he must go on to explain that this is largely because he barely thinks of Jez as a woman. He’s not sexually attracted to her therefore, she’s worthy of his respect.

Do not even get me started on his fucked relationship with Trinica. You know, the woman he knocked up and left at the alter, which led to her killing their unborn child and ultimately ending up as a concubine until she became the pirate queen. Yet, he thinks she should go back to being the way she was before he and the world broke her, so HE can be happy.

Other than all THAT shit, I enjoyed it. The world building is always cool and the rest of the crew are much better characters that I would love to read about until the cows come home. However, if I had to read another book mostly from Frey’s point of view and he doesn’t grow as a character, I might just chuck the book at the wall and quit the series.

Chasing Graves (Chasing Graves #1) – Book Review

Published Date: December 7, 2018

Publishing Co.: Bengalley.com (self-published)

Pages: 301

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

You call me Krass as an insult and yet you forget what that means to me. Our mothers don’t push when we’re ready to meet the world. We have to claw our way out, so we’re born fighting.”

There is supposed to be peace in death. Not in the city of Araxes. Your death is only beginning when you die here. Souls are bound and forced into indenturement, the pretty word for slavery. Living in such a city is cut throat, you either rise to power or die and make someone else more powerful, because in this city, the more shades you own, the more powerful you become. Thus, murder is a rampant way of life. There is money to be made in the selling of ghosts and there are rules about such things, but the whole city pretty much just flips a big middle finger to that.

Caltro Basalt arrives to the city in hopes of a lucrative lock picking job and is promptly murdered just minutes after stepping off the boat. However, Caltro won’t go quietly into servitude. He’ll bide his time and plot his freedom and revenge.

Nilith travels the desert, dragging her husband’s corpse to the city in order to bind him. Not out of love. His ghosts dogs her footsteps, bitching every step of the way.

Sisine is the Emperor’s daughter. The emperor has sealed himself away in the room he calls The Sanctuary as he doesn’t trust anyone not to kill him. Which is a valid worry as Sisine is desperately seeking more power and the seat he sits on.

I choose this book randomly while in a funk. I strayed from my TBR list and browsed ebooks, finally settling on this. I hadn’t heard much about it, there are pretty of glowing reviews, and I just wanted something I wasn’t expecting much from. I loved the concept and enjoyed my reading while never really falling in love with it. The ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger so there are plenty of unanswered questions and much more to the story. Maybe one day I’ll pick up the next book and find out but currently, I’m not rushing to get it. I still think it’s a promising series.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Book Review

Published Date: July 31, 2016

Publishing Co.: Little Brown

Pages: 343

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A Friday night well spent. (Yeah, I party hard. Who’s asking?)

Nineteen years after the ending of the original Harry Potter series, we’re thrust back in with our favorite characters, all still friends, all struggling at being parents. A new, or perhaps not so new, darkness is rising and this time, the new kids on the block are the ones fighting it. (Dating myself with that reference.)

I’ve never read a play before that wasn’t Shakespeare. (I’m cultured now.) For most of the story, I forgot that I was reading a play and not one of my favored books. Despite lacking the usual detail of a novel, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I liked seeing Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny as parents and seeing how their children turned out. I have to say that I’m more than a bit disappointed in Rose Granger-Weasley, bit of a twat that one.

A quick and easy dose of the Potter-verse.