Monthly Archives: July 2016

Retro Review: Wizard Squared (2010)

K.E. Mills

Harper Voyager (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 7322 8606 4

Rogue Agent #3

Gerald Dunwoody is in trouble again. Well, one version of Gerald is, although it’s not really the Gerald we know and love. That doesn’t mean he won’t have an impact on the “real” Gerald and his friends though, because if there’s one thing Gerald does well, it’s cause trouble on a grand scale – this time, in parallel worlds! When a “what if” scenario in a world similar yet slightly different to the one we’ve come to know in The Accidental Sorcerer and Witches Incorporated means the two worlds diverge, Gerald’s best friend, magical genius Monk Markham, finds himself in a struggle for the future of his world with the Gerald of another dimension. Continue reading

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Retro Review: Tangled Webs (2008)

Anne Bishop

Harper Voyager (2008)

ISBN: 9780732286460

Black Jewels #6

Reading this book was an interesting experience. On one hand, my prior knowledge and pleasure of reading Anne Bishop’s work gave me a certain expectation of character and story. On the other, the style of Tangled Webs altered my expectations and left me feeling the novel was somewhat, well, under-done in some way. Not necessarily a bad way, but not entirely what I was expecting.

Tangled Webs takes us once again on a journey into Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels world. Bishop has ventured many times into the Realms of the Blood, a fascinating and intricate world that takes our deepest fears, clothes them in nightmares and cobwebs and dreams, and turns the dark unknown into a rich tapestry of intrigue and magic. Bishop’s world is powerfully and realistically drawn, her characters multi-faceted and challenging, and her writing is gorgeously reminiscent of fantasy masters such as Robin McKinley and is as sexy as today’s best romance authors. Which is why I have high expectations of her work. Continue reading

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New Review: Heroine Complex (2016)

Sarah Kuhn

Daw, 2016

ISBN: 9780756410841

This is the second book I’ve read by Sarah Kuhn, and she certainly has a handle on the geek aesthetic in her work. In One Con Glory, Kuhn basically unpacks the life of a die hard fangirl. In Heroine Complex, she explores superheroes (heroines) and throws in a bit of demon slaying on the side. What’s not to love?

Evie Tanaka isn’t a sidekick, merely the personal assistant for San Francisco’s only proper superhero, Aveda Jupiter. Evie and Aveda had been friends since preschool, but when a demon portal opened up eight years previously, Aveda gained a (smallish) superpower and transformed herself through strength of will and damn hard work into a kick butt superhero. Evie, on the other hand, was more than happy to ignore the unwanted gift she received that day, and after college subsumed herself in supporting Aveda’s lifestyle. Until the day when she has to take Aveda’s place and a threat means her own, unwanted, power is unleashed.

This book reminded me a little of Tansy Rayner Roberts’ “Cookie Cutter Superhero” and “Kid Dark Against the Machine” stories, in that it goes some way to interrogating the genre of superheroes – in this case, Kuhn makes a clear case for representation of non-white characters. Both her female leads are Asian-American (of different backgrounds, gasp!) and the point is made about them being inspired by a movie they loved in their youth, which had three Asian female leads kicking butt. I don’t think the importance of this can be underestimated – I love the quote from Whoopi Goldberg about seeing Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek and deciding that she could be whatever she wanted to be (and oh my, what goes around comes around – Ghostbusters‘ Leslie Jones gushes about Whoopie Goldberg being the reason she knew she could do comedy). In Heroine Complex, I think Kuhn both makes the same point (representation is essential) but also progresses the cause by offering protagonists who are not the generic white urban fantasy heroines we so often see.

If I have one complaint about the book, it’s that the worldbuilding was a little fuzzy for me, but to be honest, it didn’t really matter – the pacing was great, the story rollicked along at a good pace, and the characters were well-drawn and distinct from one another. Quite a big cast of characters but I never got lost in who they all were, although I would have liked more “screen time” for some (Rose the cop was fab!). And the sex scenes, while not prolific, were nicely steamy! I understand this is the start of a series and while it stands alone beautifully, (so don’t be put off!), I will definitely pick up the next instalment and would love to see more like it!

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Cover Reveal! FLARE by Rabia Gale

Today we welcome Rabia Gale, a wonderful writer whose work I adore (and indeed, have published!), as she shares her newest book cover!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my upcoming release, Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World, an epic fantasy series with a steampunk flavor.

Flare COVER REVEAL

Rafe and Isabella are back

The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light.

After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction.

Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop himóand undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.

Flare will be out in September 2016!

The Sunless World series

The Sunless World BLOG

Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews

This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – Amazon.com review

The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).

About the Author

Rabia Gale Headshot I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my workóyou have been warned!

A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.

Find me online at:
Website: http://www.rabiagale.com
Newsletter: http://www.rabiagale.com/thank-you/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rabiagalewriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rabiagale

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New Review: Penric and the Shaman (2016)

Lois McMaster Bujold

A World of the Five Gods novella

Spectrum Literary Agency, Inc. (2016)

ASIN: B01HIQP38M

Lois Bujold is one of my very favourite authors. I adore the Vorkosigan Saga, and feel like I should re-read all her fantasy novels, because I enjoyed them the first time, but need a refresher. Reading another novella set in one of her worlds makes this feeling increase.

Sequel to last year’s Penric’s Demon, Penric and the Shaman picks up a few years later, with Penric now a fully fledged divine, scholar and sorcerer, in partnership with his demon, Desdemona. Penric’s present, relatively peaceful existence is interrupted by the arrival of Senior Locator Oswyl, on the trail of a murderer and requiring sorcerous assistance. The two begin the hunt for the apparent perpetrator, Inglis, who has some uncanny issues of his own to deal with, and when the three finally come together, they realise that perhaps things aren’t quite what they might appear.

I really enjoyed this new Penric instalment, with a few reservations. I was disappointed with the lack of women in the story – yes, a few appear, but they are peripheral to the story and no matter how awesome, just not terribly important. Even Desdemona and her many personalities didn’t really get much of an outing. And while the multiple point of view narration worked quite well, I thought that maybe three were too many for novella length (and to be honest, I felt them a bit unnecessary – more Penric would have satisfied).

Having said that, it was still a very engaging read. I liked the growth of Penric’s character, and his changing maturity was well presented. Another interesting aspect (in both this novella and the other books set in the world) is the exploration of religion that Bujold offers, which is quite different to many I’ve come across. The five different deities and the way they interact with the world are quite fascinating. Terrifying, for some (because a visitation from a god isn’t necessarily reassuring), but fascinating for the reader!

In all, thoroughly worth your while as a reader. I think this novella could be read as a standalone (Bujold does an excellent job in most of her books to ensure that) but it certainly rewards the reader invested in the series. I’m on board for the ongoing Penric journey, and really hope Bujold has more to come!

 

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