Review by Cass: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

Review by Cass: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene FrostThe Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, #1) by Jeaniene Frost
Format: ebook
Source: borrowed from library
Formats available: paperback, library binding, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal romance
Series: Broken Destiny #1
Pages: 384
Published by Harlequin on August 26th 2014
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.
Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.
Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

When I first began doing book reviews, I quickly learned the importance of screening titles before agreeing to read them:

  • Did this book have an editor? (I don’t care if you self-publish, but you better run a goddamn spelling and grammar check.)
  • If part of a series, have I read all previous entries? (Ever tried to jump into an epic fantasy series on book 4? Not recommended.)
  • Is this book a bullshit “rewrite” of a previously published book with minor tweaks in an attempt to make it trendy? (Looking at you Michelle Maddox.)
  • Are there substantive differences between this book and the edition published in Australia or the UK? (I order the Obernewtyn books from AUS because the publishers were worried we stupid Americans couldn’t handle long books.)

Thanks to The Beautiful Ashes I now have a new question to add to my checklist:

  • Did you read the Acknowledgements prior to starting the book?

I’ve read the first couple books in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, and one of the Night Prince spinoffs. They were fun! Quick reads, engaging, well-written, and I loved the expansive world-building. So when I discovered she’d actually started a new series, I thought I’d hit the jackpot.

Couldn’t have been more wrong.

Which leads me back to my new screening process.

Before anyone else, I have to thank God….

Translation: READER BEWARE!!! You are about to be subjected to a religious morality tale – wearing a PNR suit – that has all the subtlety of that Old Testament coloring book your homophobic grandmother got you for your 8th birthday.

If the blurb enticed you because you wanted to read an engrossing story about a woman who was cruelly forced to believe she was insane for years discovering that all the things she saw/experienced were real then MOVE THE FUCK ON. You aren’t getting that here. Pick up a copy of  Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway.

What was that? You wanted to read about a pair of devoted siblings who will stop at nothing to protect one another in a deadly world? Don’t worry! You’ll get three amazing sibling-powered adventures in the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. Here? Not so much.

If you are only here because you missed Cat & Bones & Vlad & Co. ….well I hate to disappoint, but as the man said, these are not the droids you’re looking for… Just re-read Halfway to the Grave

The Beautiful Ashes opens with a TSTL protagonist that, by all rights, should be dead a dozen times before you even hit Chapter Three. She has the emotional range of a lizard and all the intelligence of a hamster. Oh, my entire family died/disappeared at this exact location. I’ll just to wander around aimlessly to see if I can stumble on a clue. Oh, a bunch of people just tried to kill me, I’ll head back to my hotel now and chat up this hot dude that broke in. Oh, I’m being kidnapped. I should cooperate. What could go wrong? This couldn’t have anything to do with my parents’ recent deaths. Or my sister’s disappearance. Or those people who just tried to kill me. 

Apparently Stockholm Sydrome is still the perfect way to get some, as Dumber Than Rocks (aka The Virgin) instantly starts falling for her kidnapper/guy-that-warned-her-not-to-trust-him.

Do you know why she shouldn’t trust him? Because he is a BETRAYER. He BETRAYS. It is in his DNA. Ever since Jesus walked the earth his family has BETRAYED. (Hmmm, I wonder who he might be descended from?)

After being kidnapped by The Betrayer, Dumber Than Rocks (aka The Virgin) meets some angels and demons and learns she’s The Last Scion a descendant of King David and is now on a quest to find his Holy Slingshot so the Power of Faith can bring down Giant Evil.

Are you bored already? You should be. It’s a predictable plod through your standard bible story, with a brief stop to praise Dumber Than Rock’s virginity.

I’m guessing she’ll finally give it up to The Betrayer in the last book in this truly horrific series, at which point it will be SO MUCH WORSE when he gives the appearance of Betraying her, before coming back at this last minute to save the day and prove that her holy virgin vagina excised all that Betrayal in his DNA.

Escape Rating: F for FLEE! Save yourselves! I can never get those hours of my life back, but there is still hope for all of you!

Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane AndersAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: dystopian, fantasy, science fiction
Pages: 320
Published by Tor Books on January 26th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

From the editor-in-chief of io9.com, a stunning novel about the end of the world--and the beginning of our future
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.
But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

My Review:

This doesn’t often happen, but this is a book that I finished because I was stubborn, and for no other reason. Also, it wasn’t THAT long and by the time I decided I should probably bail, I didn’t have enough time left to read something else for today, unless I picked something really short. So I finished this instead.

That’s all to tell you right there that this isn’t going to be a favorable review.

I went into All the Birds in the Sky with a lot of hope. The author is one of my favorite columnists over at io9, and I expected way more from her writing than I got in this book. I’m going back to the columns.

For starters, the book reads like either Young Adult or New Adult. The story starts with our protagonists in middle school, and ends with them in their mid-20s at most, still completely confused about “the meaning of it all”. But they have sex, so probably New Adult. (There is absolutely nothing wrong with either YA or NA, but I prefer to know what I’m getting into in this regard up front. And I’d probably have avoided the whole thing if I’d known.)

This should have been a coming-of-age story, but I’m not sure that the protagonists ever do get there. They feel like more experienced apprentices than finally knowledgeable adults, or even on the road to there, at the end.

There’s a certain amount of wish-fulfillment in this story. Two kids, just a bit too weird and always outcasts at their school, bond together over their outcast status. Then the girl discovers that her weirdness is because she is a witch, and the boy discovers that he is an elite technical genius, and their paths diverge until they meet again at the end of the world.

But it felt like every plot twist had to hit every single cliche EVAR before the story moved on. Patricia and Laurence aren’t just slightly weird – their school is experimental and strange and designed to torture its occupants beyond all reason. Not that the students aren’t more than happy to torment anyone even slightly outside the norm, but their school is insane.

Their parents are all equally strange, and punish both children to the point of abuse, when they are not being criminally neglectful.

From this reader’s perspective, much too much of this part of the story felt like bullying on top of bullying, well past making the point that these kids were different. Either this was intended to feel surreal, or society had already gone so far to hell in the handbasket that this crap was normal. In which case, we needed a bit more explanation for how things got this screwed up.

The part of the story that might have been really interesting – the actual growing up years when Patricia goes to witch school and Laurence escapes his parents and ends up at MIT, are almost completely glossed over. When we meet them again, they are both in their 20s and the world is in even more serious crisis than it was.

The story then becomes the fight between science as either a redemptive or destructive force, as embodied by Laurence and his friends and colleagues, and magic as a healing force, embodied by Patricia and her fellow witches. Neither of whom, frankly, seem particularly clueful about the messes they are creating.

The two groups are racing to see which of them will bring about the end of the world as they know it first, while justifying their efforts by demonizing the other. It’s fast and furious and the end of the book doesn’t make much sense.

Escape Rating D: I did finish, which gets a D. Although that finish was sheer stubbornness on my part.

I do not like bullying stories or humiliation humor, and the first third of this book is both of those. Patricia and Laurence are bullied at every single turn, by the school, by their teachers, by their fellow students, by their parents, and Patricia by her sociopathic sister. It was relentless and depressing and went on way too long for this reader.

I hate humiliation humor. That’s where someone deliberately sets someone up for an accident or a pratfall and then laughs with their buddies because the victim’s humiliation is just so funny to them. Not funny at all. And there are better ways to make the point, if there is one, and advance the plot than repeating this behavior over and over.

In YA books, parents are often clueless, but in this one, the behavior of all the adults, especially the parents, was downright criminal.

And I figured out the big reveal long, long before the protagonists even got to the point where they figured out there should be one. The suspense was so dead by that point in the story.

In the end, there were no heroes in this book. Only victims and survivors. Including the readers.

Review: Holding Strong by Lori Foster

Review: Holding Strong by Lori FosterHolding Strong (Ultimate, #2) by Lori Foster
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, sports romance
Series: Ultimate #2
Pages: 475
Published by HQN Books on March 31st 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn't share. That's why he's been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry's about to need more than she knows…
Denver's combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she's been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can't hide behind a carefree facade. Because the man by her side is one who'll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she'll trust him enough to let him…

My Review:

I really enjoyed the very rambunctious “family” atmosphere of the rec center, and I love the personalities of all the guys who train there, but the romantic relationships that develop in this series, at least so far, feel just a bit off.

Let me explain…

The guys in this series are all very alpha. They are MMA fighters and are very protective of anyone in their orbits who is weaker than they are, which, let’s face it, is just about everyone. That the guys all keep a special look out for Cannon’s sister Merissa and her roommate Cherry is kind of a endearing in a way. The Ohio town they live in is not just small, but definitely kind of rough around the edges.

no limits by lori fosterBut, just as happened in No Limits (reviewed here) when Denver finally admits that he’s fallen for Cherry, some aspects of both the alpha male protectiveness and Cherry’s capitulation to it go a bit too far. Far enough to make this reader more than a bit uncomfortable.

Denver and Cherry have been circling around each other since the day they met. But their baggage gets in the way. Cherry is very friendly to all the guys, and Denver sees her friendliness as flirtatiousness. Which he doesn’t see her take to the point of taking anyone home with her. But Cherry’s party-girl vibe reminds Denver of a woman in his own past, and he keeps away from Cherry because he’s so possessive he has problems seeing her talk with another man.

Cherry is just being friendly, because she was isolated as a teen. And I feel myself cringe as I justify her behavior, because it doesn’t require justification. She is an unattached adult, and who she flirts with, is friends with, or sleeps with is no one’s business but her own.

But she wants Denver, so when circumstances finally conspire to give them a chance to work out why Denver is avoiding Cherry, she propositions him, and he gives in.

And that feels like the last time that Cherry has any agency in this story.

Because Cherry gets sick after their blistering hot night together. There’s a flu bug going around, and it catches her. She and Denver, and the rest of the gang, were out of town watching one of the guys fight, so she’s away from her support network. Denver steps in to take care of her, and never steps back.

But he takes care of her over her wishes. Because she is sick and feverish, she is admittedly not quite in the best position to make good decisions, but it sets the pattern for the story. When even worse stuff happens with her evil, manipulative and absolutely stalkerish foster brothers, Charity also makes bad decisions – and again, Denver ignores her wishes and gets involved anyway, pushing her to the point where she gives over all decision-making to him.

And the problem set up by the story is that her foster brothers are way nastier than she can handle, and she ends up looking stupid for not giving over to Denver from the beginning. These men terrorized her as a teen, and are physically much stronger than she is. As well as the simple fact that the three of them are working together to further their evil ends, where Cherry has always been alone. They are too much for her to handle by herself, but instead of being part of the planning and decision-making in regards to what to do about them, she just turns it all over to Denver.

Escape Rating C: I have to downgrade this rating because Cherry’s continual loss of agency throughout the story makes me so angry. She’s set up to look stupid because she wants to handle the situation herself, and then gives up any control over her life.

And every time she even talks with another man, Denver gets possessively jealous and starts going through her purse and looking through the calls log on her phone. It would be all too easy to flip this story and have Cherry need to be rescued from an obsessive would-be boyfriend, and make that work.

tough love by lori fosterI’m also uncomfortable because, looking back at the story in No Limits, it seems as if Yvette’s story parallels Cherry. She’s being stalked by someone evil and more powerful than she is, and she gives complete control to Cannon instead of being a part of her own rescue. And again, she needs Cannon’s help and it looks stupid that she doesn’t grab for it at the beginning. This is not a pattern I enjoy and one that I hope does not continue in the next book in the series, Tough Love.

Review: My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella

Review: My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah MantellaMy Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook
Genres: literary fiction, Southern fiction
Pages: 272
Published by Turner Publishing on October 6th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

On July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal's pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances, the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother's side.
For as long as she is needed―through troubled pregnancies, through poverty, through spousal abuse and agonizing betrayals―Cieli Mae, the determined spirit child, narrates their journey. Serving as a safe place and sounding board for Vidalia's innermost thoughts and confusions, lending a strength to her momma's emerging voice, Cieli Mae provides her own special brand of comfort and encouragement, all the while honoring the restrictions imposed by her otherworldly status.
Vidalia finds further support in such unlikely townsfolk and relations as Doc Feldman, Gamma Gert and her Wild Women of God, and, most particularly, in Ruby Pearl Banks, the kind, courageous church lady, who has suffered her own share of heartache in their small Southern town of yesteryear's prejudices and presumptions.
My Sweet Vidalia is wise and witty, outstanding for its use of vibrant, poetic language and understated Southern dialect, as well as Mantella's clear-eyed observations of race relations as human relations, a cast of unforgettable characters, an in-depth exploration of the ties that bind, and its creative perspective. My Sweet Vidalia is a rare, wonderful, and complex look at hope, strength, the unparalleled power of unconditional love, and a young mother's refusal to give up.

My Review:

I finished this book in a rush, because the ending just wouldn’t let me go, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. And I’m still thinking. And feeling.

This story should be depressing, and it sort of is. But it isn’t written that way. It’s written in the tone of a surprising kind of joy. Possibly because of that ending.

It’s also more than a bit out of the ordinary, mostly because of the narrator.

My Sweet Vidalia is told in the first-person singular, about the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal. The narrator telling the story is the spirit of her first, miscarried child. And Cieli Mae’s otherworldly perspective makes for a surprising and fascinating point of view.

Vidalia Lee, or Vida Lee, leads a life that would make any woman in the 21st century shudder. When the story begins in 1955 in rural Georgia, we are witnesses to Vida Lee’s shotgun marriage to Jamerson Booth (JB) Jackson. And it is obvious even at the wedding that one of Vida Lee’s parents should have fired the shotgun at JB instead of forcing him to marry Vida Lee.

Vida Lee is marrying JB because he seduced her and got her pregnant. And even though it takes two to tango, 17-year-old Vida Lee really didn’t know any better. And 25-year-old JB Jackson not only knew much better, but deliberately set out to befriend and seduce young Vida Lee to keep her out of school and possibly keep her from making a better life for herself.

His sin is the deliberate act of grooming her to be abused, and then beating and abusing her for the next ten years. JB has absolutely no redeeming qualities except his absence. And Cieli Mae is all too aware of it. She is merely the first of several children that JB beat Vida Lee into miscarrying.

But it’s 1955 in the rural South, and no one can stand up for Vida Lee if she isn’t willing to stand up for herself. (And possibly not even then) She’s too beaten down and too scared to stand up for herself after her parents cut her off the day of her wedding. She’s all alone except for Cieli Mae.

The support that gathers around her is always somewhat covert. The local doctor treats her injuries and gives her leftovers from his practice, his office and his house. It’s clear that he is making up for some sin or another, but we don’t find out what it was until the very end.

People in town provide enough charity for Vida Lee to keep the two sets of twins she manages to carry to term mostly fed and mostly clothed, while setting up situations so that she doesn’t quite have to feel guilty about taking charity. Her mother-in-law helps out as best she can, all the while making excuses for her son’s abominable behavior.

But when Vidalia Lee and Ruby Pearl Banks adopt each other, even over the strict color line in rural Georgia, Vidalia finally finds the strength within herself to fix her situation.

And her solution is every bit as unorthodox as her spirit narrator could have dreamed up.

Escape Rating B: The first three-quarters of the book detail Vida Lee’s life, and the portrait is sad and chilling. We all know that this sort of tragedy actually happened, and all too often. She’s trapped in an abusive marriage and no one could help her out. Her virtual abandonment by her own parents leaves her with nothing but the necessity of dealing with her abuser as best she can.

And she does. Vida Lee’s story is a portrait of strength and hope in extreme adversity, and it surprisingly works.

Cieli Mae is a fascinating narrator. While no one can see her except Vida Lee, she does affect the world around her in surprising ways. She is also not a child, but a person with a much broader perspective on life and the world that her background would normally give her. She knows that Vida Lee’s situation is all wrong, and that it’s possible that something could be done if she just stood up for herself, but Cieli Mae can’t make her mother listen. She can’t really offer that much advice. But she can suggest, and her suggestions sometimes carry a lot of weight.

There were times when I wondered if Cieli Mae wasn’t merely a projection of Vida Lee’s own mind, just her own inner voice made separate so that she could deal with her world. I don’t think it matters. If this is Vida Lee’s coping mechanism, she had so much to cope with that it isn’t an unreasonable response.

After all of the horrible things that happen to Vida Lee, the ending is incredibly satisfying. The reader understands completely why things work out the way that they do, and there’s definitely a sense of relief that Vida Lee has the possibility of a great life to look forwards to.

And if you’ve ever been in the situation where someone you have had less than happy experiences with has died, and you go to the funeral not to grieve but to make sure the person is really dead, you’ll love the ending.

TLC
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Review: Revisionary by Jim C. Hines

Review: Revisionary by Jim C. HinesRevisionary (Magic Ex Libris, #4) by Jim C. Hines
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook
Genres: urban fantasy
Series: Magic Ex Libris #4
Pages: 352
Published by DAW on February 2nd 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

The fourth installment in the popular Magic Ex Libris series.
When Isaac Vainio helped to reveal magic to the world, he dreamed of a new millennium of magical prosperity. One year later, things aren’t going quite as he’d hoped. A newly-formed magical organization wants open war with the mundane world. Isaac’s own government is incarcerating “potential supernatural enemies” in prisons and internment camps.
Surrounded by betrayal and political intrigue, Isaac and a ragtag group of allies must evade pursuit both magical and mundane, expose a conspiracy by some of the most powerful people in the world, and find a path to a better future. But the key to victory may lie with Isaac himself, as he struggles to incorporate everything he’s learned into a new, more powerful form of libriomancy.

My Review:

unbound by jim c hinesI dove into Revisionary the second I finished Unbound. I’ve been wondering why I waited so long to read Unbound (reviewed here) and now I know. It was so I wouldn’t have to suffer through a seemingly interminable wait to find out how the story continued. Unbound was marvelous, but the ending fairly clearly indicates that the story as a whole isn’t over.

Now it might be. It’s not that the author couldn’t continue to tell more stories in this world, but that the arc begun in Libriomancer (reviewed here) feels like it comes to a logical conclusion in Revisionary. So if you are thinking of diving into the series (recommended enthusiastically if you love urban fantasy), Libriomancer is definitely the place to start.

The story in Revisionary deals with the impacts of Isaac Vainio’s act at the end of Unbound – he reveals the presence of magic to the world. The world, as one might expect, has reactions varying from thrilled to appalled, with most of the politicians and power-brokers weighing in on the “appalled”, or possibly “fake appalled” side of the equation.

If the fear-mongering and brinksmanship remind readers of present-day politics and the extreme Islamophobia being presented and encouraged by political leaders on one side of the spectrum, I suspect it is intentional.

The reaction of the mundanes to the knowledge that there are magic users among us also has its antecedents in modern fantasy. Sonya Clark’s recent (and awesome) Magic Born series (start with Trancehack, lousy cover but great book) deals squarely with both the result of discovering that some people have magic and the social and economic fallout when the U.S. goes full-oppression and religious fanaticism against a small but growing population.

Katherine Kurtz’ classic epic fantasy of the Deryni, who were also magic-users in a mundane society that found themselves on the receiving end of religious oppression, said it best in her book High Deryni, “Beware, Deryni! Here lies danger!…The humans kill what they do not understand.”

In Revisionary, the humans, the non-magic users, are indeed killing what they do not understand. Even worse, they are pitting groups of magic users and magic beings against each other in vicious experiments to learn the best ways to either suborn or murder each group. Even more insidious, they have orchestrated events to blame all the attacks on the magic users, thereby reaping the political benefits of increased anti-magic laws and regulations.

Magic users and magical beings are being successfully “othered”, in the exact same way that Japanese-Americans were “othered” in WW2 before sending them to detention camps for crimes that not merely they did not commit, but for crimes that were not committed. The magic users are “othered” in the exact same way that too many politicians are currently “othering” members of the Islamic faith, and refugees from war-torn countries, and immigrants. And anyone else they do not approve of, or who is not a member of their race and class.

The political parallels, while difficult to miss, do not detract from the story. In fact, they add depth to it. We’ve seen all of this happen before. It’s happening now. That makes it all too easy to believe that it would happen in this just-barely-different-from-now future.

Revisionary is also the story of an accidental hero, and that is a big part of its charm. Isaac Vainio was content to be a magical researcher and occasional field agent, in that seemingly long ago future where Johann Gutenberg was still ruling the Porters with an iron hand, and knowledge of magic among the mundanes was suppressed by any means necessary, which generally meant a LOT of memory wipes.

In Revisionary, the magical genie is out of the bottle, and Gutenberg is dead. Isaac finds himself at the center of the oncoming storm, as politicians use and abuse magic users for their own nefarious ends, and the remnants of the Society of Porters turn against each other.

Power corrupts, the attempt to grab absolute power corrupts absolutely, and one man who never intended to lead anyone at all finds himself racing to save his life, his friends, and the future.

Escape Rating A+: Revisionary feels like the end of the Magic Ex Libris series. It might not be, but the end of this story does not leave our heroes hanging over a cliff in quite the same way as the previous books. It is possible, based on the ending of Revisionary, to believe that Isaac, Lena, Nidhi and Smudge the fire-spider might be heading into an adventurous and eventful happy ever after. They’ve certainly earned it.

Isaac spends a lot of this book dodging one bullet after another, and tracing the ever darker threads of one nefarious scheme after another. The action is non-stop, the pace is relentless, and the parallels to our contemporary world heighten the tension of the story. While I would love to discover that there is magic in the world, I fear that the world-wide reaction would be much too much like what happens here. The humans all too frequently do kill what they don’t understand, and usually after lying about it first. As happens in Revisionary.

It’s also kind of a delayed coming-of-age story. Isaac has been an adult throughout the series, but in Revisionary he finally becomes the person he was meant to be. Where Gutenberg was the leader of the Porters in the world he effectively created, Isaac is the leader needed now, someone who makes friends and builds alliances instead of creating sycophants and enemies.

The subthread through this story is about the burden of leadership. Isaac is communing with either the ghost of or the book of Gutenberg, and together they ruminate on just how difficult it is to be the person that everyone is looking towards. All the decisions are hard ones, and it never ends. Unless you fail. And in Gutenberg’s case, apparently not even then. The counseling of the old man to the younger one is often wistful, and certainly makes the reader think.

That a story about the magic in books makes its readers think about the consequences of the characters’ actions, and their own, is a fitting end to this terrific series.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 1-31-16

Sunday Post

SFRGalaxyAwards_icon2015As you read this, the SFR Galaxy Awards for 2015 are being announced over at the Awards site. The rounds are being posted every two hours, and mine should be up at 6 pm tonight. Although I have four awards listed, there was originally a fifth, but the author of my fifth awards book was also a judge at the beginning of the year, so she wasn’t eligible. So I’d like to give a special shout-out to Laurie A. Green and her book Inherit the Stars for an unofficial but still heartfelt, “Best Plucky Rebels vs. the Evil Empire” Award.

Last week’s schedule changed from my original plans. These things happen. I bounced off of one book, just not in the mood. And one book, late in the week, I looked at 300 pages and staying up until 3 am again to finish and just switched to a shorter book. In other words, I got behind. I’ll try both of them again at different points.

Current Giveaways:

Night Stalkers by M.L. Buchman Book Bundle from Sourcebooks

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Gift Card or Book in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop is Carol L.

shaw by anna hackettBlog Recap:

A- Review: Shaw by Anna Hackett
A- Review: Love in the Morning by Meg Benjamin
B Review: The Winemaker Detective Mysteries: An Omnibus by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Neol Balen
B- Review: Hell on Heels by Victoria Vane
B+ Review: By Break of Day by M.L. Buchman + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (169)

 

 

 

Coming Next Week:

Revisionary by Jim C. Hines (review)
My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella (blog tour review)
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (review)
Holding Strong by Lori Foster (review)
Mardi Gras Mayhem Giveaway & Book Carnival

Stacking the Shelves (169)

Stacking the Shelves

This looks like a normal winter week. Alternatively, OMG, this is a normal winter week of book stacking! My friends over at The Book Pushers all said that the Captive Prince trilogy was marvelous and that I should jump on the offer of review copies. So I jumped.

Adding to the stack, my surprise and delight when I was approved for the Nora Roberts eARC. I love the JD Robb books, and usually, but not always like what she writes as Roberts. But I also usually have to wait in line at the library for them, or break down and spend my own money. Not this time.

And the upcoming Hugo nomination round inspired me to pick up a bit of SF. It’s already time to start thinking about noms for next year – my list for this year is nearly set.

For Review:
Admiral (Evagardian Empire #1) by Sean Danker
Beauty and the Bull Rider (Hotel Rodeo #3) by Victoria Vane
Captive Prince (Captive Prince Trilogy #1) by C.S. Pacat
Caught Up in Raine (Caught Up In Love #1) by L.G. O’Connor
June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Kings Rising (Captive Prince Trilogy #3) by C.S. Pacat
The Obsession by Nora Roberts
Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky
Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince Trilogy #2) by C.S. Pacat
Trident’s Forge (Children of a Dead Earth #2) by Patrick S. Tomlinson
The True Tails of Baker and Taylor by Jan Louch with Lisa Rogak
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Purchased from Amazon:
The Ark (Children of a Dead Earth #1) by Patrick S. Tomlinson