Author: Beth Johnson Sonderby (guest)


Bloodlines: Remarkably enjoyable spinoff

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

When I first picked Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy off the shelf back in March, I kind of figured it wasn’t going to go well. I’m not exactly the biggest vampire fan in the world. Imagine my surprise when five months later I find myself reading the start of the spinoff series, Bloodlines. VAMPIRE ACADEMY was full of action and romance and was a blast to read, which meant Bloodlines had a lot to live up to.

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Enchanted Ivy: Delivers on all accounts

Enchanted Ivy by Sara Beth Durst

One problem I often have with contemporary fantasy is its tendency to ignore the magic of the world around us in its longing for something Other. Enchanted Ivy avoids this problem by striking a nice balance. There’s certainly a great deal of otherworldly magic, as evidenced by the dragons and faeries and talking gargoyles and cute were-tiger boys. Yet I got a real sense that all this magic was inspired by the feelings the campus of Princeton genuinely evoked in Durst.

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The Witches’ Kitchen: Will appeal to the target audience

The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams

I wanted to like The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams. And I think, had I been in its target age group, I probably would have. There’s no denying that Williams has a vivid imagination. The world of the Kitchen is populated with strange and delightfully odd creatures like Natterjack, a one-eyed Rastafarian imp (at least, if his description and illustration are anything to go by). These myriad mad beasties remind me strongly of dark Jim Henson films like Labyrinth.

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Mark of the Demon: Everything urban fantasy CAN be

Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland

I’ve been having some difficulty reviewing Diana Rowland’s Mark of the Demon. Not because I didn’t like it; on the contrary, I thought it was fantastic. The problem is, every time I start to think about it, my brain goes on a tirade. Mark of the Demon leaves me frustrated with the urban fantasy genre as a whole, because it is everything UF can be. And inevitably, when I try to think about what I love about Mark of the Demon,

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The DragonCrown War Cycle: Fanboy fantasy at its very worst


I enjoyed The Dark Glory War, the prequel to The Dragoncrown War Cycle trilogy, a fair amount. That being said, the story took a steady downhill slide from there.

It is pure fanboy fantasy, and at its very worst. These heroes have all the personality of mud. The men are all “humble” and act completely shocked to find themselves in the roles of heroes. And the women are downright offensive. These strong, proud, independent women, who turn into docile,

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The White Road: The plot is extremely thin

The White Road by Lynn Flewelling

After a long departure from the much loved Nightrunner series, Lynn Flewelling returned to Seregil and Alec’s adventures in 2008 with the release of Shadows Return. Now the adventure begun in Shadows Return continues in The White Road:

“Having escaped death and slavery in Plenimar, Alec and Seregil want nothing more than to go back to their nightrunning life in Rhíminee. Instead they find themselves saddled with Sebrahn,

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Shalador’s Lady: Did Not Finish

Shalador’s Lady by Anne Bishop

Remember how, during my review (above) of The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop I said that if you haven’t read any of the series before now, you should just skip the review? Well, allow me to reiterate that sentiment for Shalador’s Lady. Because trust me, you will have no clue what’s going on here. THE BLACK JEWELS SERIES can usually be summed up much like anime: it’s complicated.

In The Shadow Queen we met Cassidy,

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Shadow Mirror: YA ghost story with realistic relationships

Shadow Mirror by Richie Tankersley Cusick

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love a good ghost story. I don’t love it when a book isn’t clearly marked as a sequel. However, that is the fault of neither Shadow Mirror nor Richie Tankersley Cusick, so I’ll let it slide. Just know you’ll want to read Walk of the Spirits first, if you’re interested in Shadow Mirror.

Miranda Barnes has the ability to hear and see the dead.

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Jim Butcher chats about Pokemon, responsibility, and Changes

We’re pleased to welcome today one of the defining authors of epic and urban fantasy. Jim Butcher has thrilled fans for a decade and Beth and her husband Gert were happy to chat with him about his work. Mr. Butcher recently published the final volume of his high-fantasy series CODEX ALERA. The twelfth volume of THE DRESDEN FILES, entitled Changes, comes out today! So, two lucky commenters on this post will win a copy of Changes!

Beth & Gert: Now that you’ve finished CODEX ALERA (and what a finish,

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The Pillars of the World: Not appealing

The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop

I loved Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy so much. But it took me a long time to pick up The Pillars of the World, because it just didn’t sound terribly appealing.

And it wasn’t appealing in the least. The one character I did like was portrayed as a cold, possessive jerk by the end of the book. The mysterious Lucien is shunted aside for the “sweet” Neall who has about as much depth as a puddle.

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Recent Discussion:

  1. I'm coming off a week of less than satisfying reads, including Kate Elliott's Furious Heaven (exciting but eventually wearying tale…

May 2023