The Banished Craft by E. D. E. Bell

When I first began reading this book I was somewhat confused, as I couldn’t tell the characters’ “worlds” apart when each chapter or section changed perspective. In a universe this expansive and unique it takes some time to sketch out the bones of the world. But as I got about halfway through I finally understood and was able to really enjoy the work put into creating it.

There is solid and reasonable world crafting here. I really admire the thought Bell has put into writing this fantasy about a world that was once one, that a cataclysm has torn in two. One world has dragons and the other humans. They both have stories about the existence of the other, but they dismiss the absent species as fiction. In each, there are indifferent and destructive rulers whose oppressive policies and taxes cause their citizens grief.

In the human world, women are not respected or allowed to study or even live independently. The dragons are all forced to work for their ruler and her terrible enforcer who is violent and out of control.

These two worlds are becoming more and more unstable and something needs to happen soon or they both will crumble out of existence. This volume explains all the forces that are tearing the worlds apart and the characters whose actions will determine the outcome. I assume the next will be easier to navigate as we now have the basic premise explained and we can move on to fixing the problem. I’m looking forward to reading the second story, The Unfettered Flame.

I received this ebook in return for my unbiased review.

The Fettered Flame by E. D. E. Bell

The second volume of the Shkode Books was definitely easier to follow than the first. Probably because the central ideas were already established and we know all the characters now. They are fleshed out in this book, and we aren’t struggling to follow along.

In this volume, our main characters are dealing with conflict and the destruction of life as they know it. The worlds of humans and dragons have been split in two, as explained in the analogy of splitting a sheet of paper, not cut in half, but literally splitting the sheet in two, leaving two thin, but same sized worlds. They are fragile and are beginning to tear. Places even disappear as the structure of the universe and time rip apart.

Our heroes, mainly the non-violent, vegan Cor, who has discovered her legacy of magic, handed down by her deceased parents, and has joined up with Atesh, a scientist dragon who has crossed the barrier of worlds to join with Cor, are trying to find a way to heal the worlds. They both see the benefits of the plant, ha, which allows them to communicate with a mysterious “voice” that is trying to get them to understand how to heal and possibly put the worlds back together.

There is violence happening in both societies, on the dragon side mostly because the Emperess Zee has a murderous second in command called Dronna. In human society, the disparity between the haves and have nots, and the government that enforces a strict society’s rules and the different groups who have formed to oppose them, have resulted in the destruction of the University where Cor used to learn (without permission) and the Capitol. President Greg King is being defied by his General Stone, who prefers a more aggressive response to the OLS group that caused all the destruction in the resistance to the Unified Government. The human society doesn’t allow women to live unencumbered lives and gay individuals are deep undercover. Dragons settle differences violently and live in fear of their ruler.

Only a few people realize that while society is being ripped apart, the world is not going to be there for them to put it back together. I am looking forward to the last volume to see what will happen.

I was given a free ebook in return for my unbiased review.

Alice in Wonderland as a horror story.

Alice

by Christina Henry

We begin in a mental hospital, where Alice is alone, save for her next door neighbor, who she only sees through a small hole in the wall. Hatcher, so named because he killed using an ax, has been the only voice she hears for years. There is a fire and they escape.

Thus begins an adventure where Alice seeks to find the perpetrator of her downfall, Rabbit. Rabbit left her with a scar across half her face, but he did not escape the encounter with Alice unscathed. Along the way she meets the traditional but enhanced characters Cheshire, Caterpillar, Walrus, and Jabberwock. In this extended version of the Alice in Wonderland story, the bad guys are like gang bosses, controlling parts of The New City. The action starts after Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole are over. The traditional elements of the Alice tale, including roses, food stuffs that change your size, talking animals and such, are twisted into a unique story that sails along after a slow start. There is quite a lot of violence and blood, what with a character who favors an ax, but it is not too much to handle.

There is enough story left at the end that I am expecting a sequel. I am looking forward to hearing Hatcher’s story in the next volume.

I received an advance copy for review.

I read this in August, 2015

 

Distance: Streetlights Like Fireworks book 3 By David Pandolfe

 

This time it’s not all about them!!! Lauren and Jack are young adults just beginning college. They were brought together for a journey of discovery to find Jack’s birth parents and Lauren’s brother. Beginning with the first two books in the series they are guided by their unique psychic powers. They get flashes of insight when holding objects that belonged to someone, and dreams that compel them to act.

This time, Lauren sees a little girl trailing fire from her hands and Jack sees a teenager in a hoodie with a haunted face. They don’t recognize either one or their connection to them. This time there is a sense of danger, and their police contacts tell them that a girl, Tamara Watts, is missing after her mother died, running away from her unhinged step-father.
Will they find her in time to save her from the dread they sense for her? Sometimes being psychic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’m glad David Pandolfe has continued his stories about Jack and Lauren. I wondered if their journey would continue when their personal story resolved and I’m happy to say Pandolfe has just the right tone for their continued story. Their dialogs are always natural and unforced; the setting is present day, with musical references and technology mentions that place you firmly in the here and now.

I received an advance copy of the e-book for my unbiased review.

 

i read this book in October 2015

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

imageThe Invisible Library is a dense tale, a world building so immense it holds a veritable Library itself in it. Our heroine, Irene Winter, is a creature whose whole existence serves an entity called the Library. Her life has been given over to this service and her superiors expect her to do whatever it takes to complete the tasks they set for her.

 

This time it’s to retrieve a copy of Grimm’s Fairy tales from an alternative London. She is not told why this particular book is important, it isn’t for her to know. She has certain abilities that allow her to manipulate objects and people. She speaks the language of the Library, and though to others it sounds like their native language, to the Librarians, it allows them to open locks, freeze people’s actions; pretty much anything can happen if the Universe hears her voice speaking the command.

 

 

She is to fetch this book, a simple task, with her new assistant, Kai. What she finds, even before she walks into the alternative space, is a colleague who warns her off of the job, a cat burglar named Belphegor, dragons, a mythic Rogue Librarian, zeppelins, Magic, Fae, blackmail, mechanical alligators and centipedes, and all manner of obstacles. This is not turning out to be Irene’s week.

 
I liked this book but it is an intense experience. The troubles Irene faces don’t give her space to take a deep breath. It’s told entirely from her viewpoint. Irene doubts herself, but she really shouldn’t. She quite competent but in this world it is better that she appear to be Kai’s assistant and Kai be seen as the head of the investigation. The famous detective Vale joins their search for the book and a vampire named Silver is the main bad guy who sends wave after wave of henchmen and creatures after the three good guys. But Irene can’t be sure of anyone’s real motive, even Kai and Vale, as they have secrets.

 
I’m looking forward to the sequel.

 

I received this e-book for free in return for my unbiased review.

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

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Something is wrong in Midnight, Texas. Not the usual things, the pale man who only comes out at night, the famous psychic, the Rev, who only dresses in black and has an animal cemetery at his church. Something bad is happening and no one can seem to stop it. People are showing up at the crossroads and committing suicide. If the group of people who have become a family to each other don’t stop them, the world will have something to worry about too.

Charlaine Harris’s latest book about the town of Midnight is about danger, mystery, and family. Fiji, the resident witch, is not very happy to find her sister on her doorstep. Kiki (short for Waikiki, their parents having a thing for tropical paradise) has left her husband and rather than go home to stay with their mother, has decided to inflict her annoying self on Fiji. Fiji’s great-aunt Mildred had left her the house her shop was in and Kiki had always been jealous. In fact, Kiki always wanted what Fiji had, and since arriving in town was sniffing around all the eligible males in sight.

In the meantime, Olivia was worried her father had finally found her. She suspected Teacher, the local handyman, and would be taking steps to confirm her suspicions. It’s just that they needed to pull together as a town and figure out why everyone was literally dying to be there at the crossroads in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. In my last review for this series, I suspected there would be a greater role for Teacher and Madonna Reed. I wasn’t wrong.

I loved this latest novel by Charlaine Harris, who isn’t having a problem moving on from the Sookie Stackhouse books. Some authors never rise above their first great triumphs, but Ms. Harris is doing just fine, thank you very much. There is talk of a TV movie for this series also.

I received an ebook from Ace/Roc for my unbiased review.

Inherit The Stars By Tony Peak

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An old fashioned space drama with mystic elements. Kivita Narbas had always wanted to salvage like her father. He left her his ship, the Terredyn Narbas, against the Inheritor laws forbidding the passing down of technology. She grew up on Haldon Prime waiting for her father between his trips salvaging space junk. She never knew her mother. Now that he was gone, it was her turn to make her way in the cold dark vacuum that was Space. She spent most of her time in a cryo chamber, aging slowly while those left behind on the planets she visited aged and forgot her.
Her one lost love was Sar Redryll. A fellow salvager, she had separated from him to her regret. A salvager couldn’t have emotional attachments and survive. Now the head of the Inheritor religion, Rector Dunaar, has contracted Kivita to retrieve the Juxj Star, a gem that held a vast amount of data and was coveted by pirates and governments alike. Only Kivita could remove the gem from its hiding place. And was Sar hired to keep her from her mission?
This is a rip roaring novel of intrigue and weaponry that soars across light years to a satisfying conclusion. Our heroine doubts herself many times. Will she prevail? Read it and see!

I received an advanced copy in return for a review.