Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Hanging Tree: By Ben Aaron


THE HANGING TREE

SUMMARY

Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of Police Constable Peter Grant or the Folly—London’s police department for supernatural cases—even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the flats of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But the daughter of Lady Ty, influential goddess of the Tyburn river, was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favor.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the houses, where the law is something bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean.

But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.

He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week…

REVIEW

Unlike the previous Rivers of London novels Aaronovitch really lets the dam of information loose with this one. Not only do readers discover important information about the Faceless Man, but other practitioners are introduced, new forma practiced, and there’s even an explanation as to why Leslie was taken in the first place!

Now if none of that means anything to you then the first thing I would recommend for you to do is read the previous Rivers of London books. If you haven’t read them, you may be wondering what they are like? Well, I think the best explanation is they are a bit like a combination of NCSI/CSI/(pick your choice of systematic police procedurals) and Harry Dresden/Patricia Briggs (insert magic society book). So, what does that mean for you as a reader? Well, it means that there are magical battles, people slinging spells, magical creatures and entities, and lots of paper work. Yes, you heard me right, paperwork. This is one of the most unique things about the Rivers of London series, how real and detailed the police work elements of the story are. Peter, the protagonist, uses the scientific method to discover magical limitations, stories often involve police hierarchy problems (who has jurisdiction and what not, resource allocation, and who’s problem a case is when it goes south), massive amounts of field work (going door to door, research, ect…), more paper work than you can shake a stick at.

As for The Hanging Tree, specifically, it’s full of action, suspense, awesome magic with a gripping mystery tying the story all together. Each book expands the world and characters in this fantastic series, making them increasingly harder to put down. I personally love this series and feel that Aaronovitch has become one of those authors that I’m always anxiously awaiting their next book (which is a great sign for a great series).

INFO

Publisher: DAW

Published: January 31, 2017

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Tree-Rivers-London-ebook/dp/B0125VU4KM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1486504107&sr=1-1

Hungry Ghosts: By Stephen Blackmoore


HUNGRY GHOSTS

SUMMARY

Necromancer Eric Carter's problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he's the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back -- and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone.

To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can't trust either one. Carter's solution? Kill them both.

If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he'll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins.

REVIEW

I’ll be honest I didn’t start reading Stephen Blackmoore’s Eric Carter series when it first came out. I had heard positive praise from authors I like about it, but didn’t actually manage to pick up a copy of Dead things, the first book in the Eric Carter series, until about a year ago.

Let me tell you, I’m glad that I did.

Blackmoore has created a fascinating and engaging series filled with action, mayhem and a fun take on urban fantasy. If you are looking for a comparison of known urban fantasy authors to compare this series to Eric Carter is somewhat like a mix between Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It’s darker than the Dresden Files, but not quite as macabre filled as Sandman Slim, therefore this series may not be for everyone but if you can handle a bit more ghoulish killing in your action (well done, of course) then this could be the series for you.

As for Hungry Ghosts itself, I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series, Dead Things and Broken Souls before reading Hungry Ghosts, but once you do you’ll be very happy with the experience. The entire premise of the Hungry Ghosts is based on the previous two books in the series (hence it being a series), so please do not read these books out of order.

So, if you like urban fantasy and you’re ok with your magic a bit on the darker side of things then here comes the real question, why should you waste your precious free time reading this book. Well, first and foremost, Blackmoore is truly impressive in his action scene writing and he does not scrimp on them. Carter is always in some sort of gun fight, ghost fight, god fight, or just plain getting his butt whooped on (a bit like Harry Dresden if you will). Of course, one thing different from Dresden is the style of magic, since Carter is a necromancer, there’s a lot of death related to his magic, not only that but it really does seem that the magically enhanced folks seem to have a bit of a society that isn’t on the good side of Santa’s present list. Therefore, magic seems to be a lot more pain related, scars, blood, tattoos, things of that nature. If I didn’t lose you there then I have a strong feeling this will be the book for you.

On top of that, Eric is a strong likable protagonist (of course I personally like his old/dead best friend Alex best, his snark is certainly appreciated by me if not by Eric). Hungry Ghost deals a lot in Eric’s growth and acceptance in his part in the deaths in his family. Blackmoore does a good job showing the pain and depression that his parents and sister’s deaths have caused in him and how these events have shaped him into the character we see today. On top of that, these revelations lead to a bit of awareness that will help fill out Eric’s character more in further books.

Speaking of further books, while I would very much like to read more about Eric Carter and his world I’m genuinely curious about whether there will be more books in the series and if so where the story will go from here. Blackmoore has tied off a number of the storylines that have been driving Eric over the last three books, however, he does keep enough mystery alive that if there were more books Blackmoore could expand on this mystery treating the new books as a new chapter in Eric’s saga.

All in all, I very much recommend this to anyone who enjoys Mike Carey, Richard Kadrey and Jim Butcher, and I do hope there are more books in the Eric Carter series. It was an action packed, entertaining quick read.

INFO

Shadowed Souls: Edited By Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes

SHADOWED SOULS

SUMMARY

In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad...

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner...

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals wih some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters.

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES BY

Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *


REVIEW

I love anthologies. They give readers a chance to catch up with some of their favorite characters between books, they introduce readers to new authors, and they even allow authors to stretch their creative side which sometimes allows for new characters or stories to come to light.

In Shadowed Souls Kerrie L. Hughes has brought together the A team of fantasy authors. My two personal favorite stories from the anthology are Jim Butcher’s Cold Case and Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover.

Cold Case by Jim Butcher - 5 stars

Starting off with Jim Butcher, Dresden Files fans will positively climb over each other to get a new snippet into Harry’s world. And boy is this a doozy… Readers are given a glimpse into the changes that are affecting/plaguing Molly in her transformation into the Winter Lady. On top of that more secrets between the war between Winer and the Outsiders are revealed. And if that isn’t enough we get Ramirez helping Molly out, and the ramifications from that are enormous! The only two negatives to this story are that it will not make much sense if you haven’t read the Dresden Files, and that Molly’s actions seem a little out of place for her character as we’ve been accustomed to it from Harry’s POV. That said, the first issue can be remedied by reading the Dresden Files (something you should do if you’re interested in urban fantasy, which I would assume/hope you are if you’re picking up Shadowed Souls). And the second issue can be explained away with Molly’s changes to her mind and character from becoming the Winter Lady. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Cold Case and can’t wait for the next installment in the Dresden Files.

Sleepover by Seanan McGuire - 5 stars

Seanan McGuire’s story takes place in her InCryptid series, this time with from the POV of half-succubus Elsie (the cousin of the Price siblings). Elsie is constantly having to hide what she is and be careful, since if it ever got out that she was a succubus not only would she be in danger but so would her family. So, when she gets kidnapped by a bunch of kids and they know what she is, she knows she’s screwed. This story has tense moments, monsters, and a killer POV shift to that of one of the “monsters”, but what is most impressive about this story is the way in which McGuire captures the sadness, shock, and gut-retching feelings of betrayal when someone you once loved betrays you. While this is not a necessary read for the InCryptid series, it goes a long way in helping readers get a sense of the judgement, fear, and loneliness that many of the “monsters” in the larger series feel on a daily basis. Besides the fictional viewpoint, this story will resonate with anyone who has had their confidence betrayed. All in all, Sleepover is a gripping story on the emotional level that readers and beginners of the InCryptid series alike will thoroughly enjoy.


INFO

Publisher: Roc

Published: November 1, 2016

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Souls-Jim-Butcher-ebook/dp/B01BK0SQF4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486501219&sr=1-1&keywords=shadowed+souls

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Burned: By Benedict Jacka

BURNED

SUMMARY

Diviner Alex Verus finally made one too many enemies on the Council of Mages, and now one of them is angry enough to have him executed. Fighting for his life is nothing new, but this kill order also calls for the death of Alex’s dependents—and there’s no way that he’ll let Luna, Anne, and Vari take the heat.

With only a week before he’s history, Alex will have to figure out how to disassociate himself from his friends, scrounge up allies on the Council, and hopefully keep his head attached to his body.

But saving himself is going to bring him into direct opposition with his former master and the Dark mages surrounding him. And, this time, escaping with his life might mean losing his soul...
REVIEW

What impressed me most about Burned was the way in which the ramifications and events from the last few books all came rushing back into a single convergence that had to be reckoned with in Burned, thereby leading the series to a new plateau and breaking away from the rut that many writers find themselves stuck in.

In fact, since third the book in the series, Mr. Jacka has advanced his writing and story development by leaps and bounds. In Burned, as I mentioned before,  Alex is left dealing with the numerous enemies he has accumulated over the course of the series. The light mages have placed a death verdict on not just him but also all of his allies and it's up to Alex to use all of his tricks and everything remaining up his sleeves to do everything in his power to keep his loved ones safe. If that does grip you as a reader than I don't know what will. Jacka spends a good deal of the book setting up a a series of twists and turns that will leave readers shocked and enthralled. While I don't want to give anything away, I can say that through these twists and surprises leave Alex's allies in hot water often putting them to the test of the extent of their allegiance to Alex.

As for the nonstop action that fans of the series have come to expect, Burned is no exception to this. Burned is full of pulse pounding and exhilarating action and storylines and yet still has time to make significant advancements in the storyline.

All in all, if you can't tell from my gushing review of this book, I like he's Burned. My only regret is that I have to wait for months for the next book. But please be advised that Benedict Jacka is no longer an up and coming talent, he has now clearly arrived and it is everything fans of his series could have hoped for and more.


INFO

Published: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Ace

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Burned-An-Alex-Verus-Novel-ebook/dp/B011IVP3UG/ref=pd_sim_351_19?ie=UTF8&dpID=51oUnOtbx%2BL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_OU01_AC_UL160_SR99%2C160_&refRID=1R2QDZSBVQQ112D5PH4Z

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chaos Choreography: By Seanan McGuire

CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY

SUMMARY


Verity Price is back on the West Coast and getting back into the swing of the family business: cryptozoology. She's rescuing cryptids from bad situations, protecting them from monster-hunters, and generally risking life and limb for the greater good, with her ex-Covenant partner/husband, Dominic, by her side. Her ballroom dance career is behind her...or so she thinks.

When Verity gets the call from the producers of Dance or Die, the reality show she almost won several years before, she finds the lure of a comeback impossible to resist, and she and Dominic are off to L.A. for one last shot at the big time.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When two of her fellow contestants turn up dead, Verity will need every ally she can find—and a couple she wasn't looking for—in order to navigate the complicated steps of both the tango and a murder investigation without blowing her cover. It doesn't help that her official family backup is her grandmother, Alice Price-Healy, who thinks "subtle" is something that happens to other people.

Winning this competition may have just become a matter of life and death.



REVIEW

As I have mentioned before I was a bit slow in joining the Seanan McGuire bandwagon. When I first started reading Seanan McGuire, I had purchased some of the books but the had mostly sat on my to read pile looking forlorn that they hadn't been read.

Then while studying for the bar I wanted something fun and different to read, so I picked up Discount Armageddon. Boy was that a mistake...

After The first book in the Incrypid series I was hooked. I finished all the books in the Incryptid Series and then moved on to McGuire's October Daye series, her Velveteen collections and then finally to her Indexing series.

What I learned from this was two fold, first the only good thing about being stupid and putting off these amazing books was that when I jumped in I had a large number of them to read, so I was able to binge read. And second, Seanan McGuire is an amazing author who I now look forward to the release of each of her new books.

That said, I have a special place in my heart for Verity Price, since Discount Armageddon was the first McGuire book I read, so when I heard Chaos Choreography was going back to Verity's POV, I was thrilled.

Once again Ms. McGuire did not disappoint.

Not only is Chaos Choreography filled with fantastic action and hilarious quips, but it truly moves the plot into the next stage of the larger story arc (don't want to give it away but It's fabulous!), and I personally can't wait to see what happens next. Chaos Choreography seemed to focus less on the individual cryptids in LA and more on the change in Verity personality and acceptance of her life as Price vs being a dancer. Readers are treated to descriptions of Verity's personality before the events of Discount Armageddon as well as the change that maturity and Dominic have caused in her.

Of course, if you've read the other books in the Incryptid series, which I recommend you do, before reading Chaos Choreography, then you will know about Alice Price-Healy, and how awesome she is. Well it was my great pleasure to finally get to meet her in a full book. She is everything her stories built her up to be and more, and I personally wouldn't mind having a few Alice POVs to boot. Alice is a tough as nails, straightforward character, who through her violence first approach on the world brings even more humor and action to an already action and humor filled book.

All in all, Chaos Choreography like all the other books in McGuire's Incryptid series (as well as all her other series and books) is a great book that I found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning as I couldn't put it down.

Please give this series a chance, as it is fun, exciting and full of great characters, and I personally would love to read as many books in this world as Ms. McGuire is willing to give to readers and fans.


INFO

Published: March 1, 2016

Publisher: DAW

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Choreography-InCryptid-Seanan-McGuire-ebook/dp/B00Z8VTNWC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1457578992&sr=1-1&keywords=seanan+mcguire

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Gathering of Shadows: By V.E. Schwab

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS


SUMMARY

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall.




REVIEW

The first thing I have to say about A Gathering of Shadows is that it is truly remarkable.

Why is it so remarkable you might ask?


Why it is because A Gathering of Shadows author V.E. Schwab is an amazing author who has improved in her craft and her novels worlds with every book she has written.

In A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab introduced readers to the four different worlds of London, Black, White, Red and Grey London, all of which have varying relationships to magic. Schwab did a wonderful job introducing readers to these worlds, and if that alone was the magic system in her series readers this would still be a great series. 

But Schwab in her infinite wisdom and love for her readers has blown the door off of its hinges when it comes to her novel's worlds and their magic systems. What I mean by this, is that readers learn in A Gathering of Shadows that London is an only a single entry spot for the different Londons and their respective worlds. This means that different locations all over the world also have different spots of power which might also have different connections to magic that have yet to be explored. 
If that wasn't enough Schwab also introduces readers to her book's version of the World Cup for Magic (or Tri-Wizard Tournament for Harry Potter fans), inviting magic casters from all different nations to compete for the honor of being best in the world. At this point in the review, you as the reader of this review must be thinking ok that's pretty awesome, but it can't possibly get any cooler, well you sir or madam are wrong! For on top of the tournament and different sources of magic different people from different countries have different beliefs regarding the source of magic, some believe magic comes from the ground itself and therefore must be walked upon to gather strength, others that you must embody the element you want to control, and so on and so forth, so that there are countless iterations of magic and all of them fascinating and full of possibilities. In fact, while I love Delilah, Rhy and Kell you could easily see Schwab after completing this story arc, leave London all together and instead visit another country's magic system, while having the characters from this series still exist in the background.

Speaking of Schwab's current cast of characters, Schwab has done a superb job of showing the ramifications of A Darker Shade of Magic, and how each of her main characters are affected in different ways. Rhy is depressed, Kell is trying to restrain himself in order to protect Rhy yet at the same time is pushed to the limits of what he will endure in terms of being subservient to the crown for Rhy's protection, and Delilah  is given a chance to grow and practice her growing powers. Other interesting characters are introduced and other older characters are brought back, but all in all Schwab's character development and voice she creates in each character are the reason to read her books.

While I have yet to describe the action or the pacing in this book, just know that it is incredibly well done. A Gathering of Shadows is filled to the brim with action to the point that I found myself awake reading A Gathering of Shadows deep into the night. Also I cite the Essen Tasch (the Tri-Wizard Tournament type of contest) in terms of awesomeness in action.

All in all, A Gathering of Shadows is a great book. It is engaging, exhilarating and full of wonderful characters and beautiful prose. I can't praise this book enough, and I implore you as a reader to give this book a chance, as I highly expect you to love it, but also so that Schwab is given the chance to write as many books in this wonderful world as she is willing to give us.


INFO

Publisher: Tor

Published: February 23, 2016

Price: $25.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Gathering-Shadows-V-E-Schwab-ebook/dp/B00WDVL07Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1457578974&sr=1-1&keywords=ve+schwab

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Immortals: By Jordanna Max Brodsky

THE IMMORTALS

SUMMARY

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone -- just the way she likes it. She doesn't believe in friends, and she doesn't speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.

In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago -- when her name was Artemis.
REVIEW

The Immortals takes the stories of the Olympian Gods puts them in a situation where their powers have faded to almost nothing, adds a murder mystery centered around an ancient cult's ritual, and add a splash of romance to top it off.

Jordanna Max Brodsky has done a suburb job of bringing life to the ancient myths. Retelling the myths of old through the eyes of Artemis, thus shading each of these great and known stories in a different light. On top of these re-telling though, Brodsky has done a fantastic job recreating the Gods, showing the gods base cores as they would have changed over the millennia. Some fading, some going mad, while others retained small bursts of energy (Hermes and Dionysus), because of the reverence and worship of alcohol, drinking, communication and thievery (because being dishonest or getting drunk has never gone out of style).

Through all of this, Brodsky weaves a compelling story of treachery, loss and love, that is absolutely packed with nail biting adventure. As the plot thickens so too do the stakes, until readers are stuck feverishly reading until the wee hours of the morning trying to find out what happens next. Of course, to top off the action and ever building suspense, The Immortals is packed to the gills with shocking surprises that even experienced readers wont see coming.

All in all, I throughly enjoyed The Immortals. I thought it was well written, had a fantastic balance of action, mystery and budding romance, and was a real page turner. Overall The Immortals is a real treat.

INFO

Publisher: Orbit Books

Published: February 16, 2016

Price: $25.00