Darkest Hour: This series is getting a bit more complex

Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

“You really have the most alarming way, Susannah, of getting yourself into scrapes.”

Darkest Hour is the fourth book in Meg Cabot’s MEDIATOR series. It’d be best to read the previous books, Shadowland, Ninth Key, and Reunion before picking up Darkest Hour. While each short book has a stand-alone story, the key characters are the same and there are some overarching plotlines including Suze’s crush on the ghost who lives in her room.

Suze is on summer break a... Read More

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days: Two novellas by Alastair Reynolds

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds

For years I’ve been planning to read Alastair Reynolds’ REVELATION SPACE series; I even own all the books in audio format. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But when I got an audio copy of Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, a collection of two stand-alone novellas set in Reynolds’ world, it seemed like the right time and place to jump in.

Diamond Dogs is an exciting horror adventure that was, honestly, just a touch too gruesome for me, even though I loved the plot and scenery. The story starts in Chasm City, a place I can’t wait to explore in Reynolds’ novel called Chasm City. A wealthy eccentric man has assembled a team of adventurers that he takes to the mysterious Blood Spire on the planet Golgotha. (Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) This black metallic tower contains a serie... Read More

Wolfblade: An epic political drama

Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon

Wolfblade is the first book in Jennifer Fallon’s WOLFBLADE trilogy which is a prequel to her DEMON CHILD trilogy which I read several years ago. These are fat epic fantasies with lots of characters that are focused mostly on political drama but also contain plenty of magic and romance.

This story takes place in Hythria, one of the kingdoms in Fallon’s world. Lernen, the current High Prince (a Wolfblade) cares nothing for his country and is not respected by his people because he spends his time in the pursuit of unusually decadent pleasures. All of the nobility agree that Lernen should not be running the country, but they disagree about how they should take care of the problem. Some are content to wait him out, some want to kill him, and some want to take his place. Since Lernen doesn’t seem to be interested in begetting a son, his heir will likely be any future son of his sister M... Read More

Summer Knight: One of the better books in this strong series

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

As Summer Knight (2002) opens, Harry Dresden’s true love, Susan, has left town, the Red Court Vampires have declared war on him and someone’s shooting at him. Oh, and it’s raining toads.

To top it off, Mab, the Faerie Queen of Winter, wants to hire him to investigate the murder of a mortal. The Faerie Queens are beautiful, powerful, alien and frightening, even to Harry:
My voice came out unsteady and more quiet than I would have liked. ‘Sort of like Tokyo, when Godzilla comes up on the beach.’

Mab tilted her head, watching me with that same smile. Maybe she didn’t get the reference. Or maybe she didn’t like being compared to a thirty-foot lizard. Or maybe she did like it. I mean, how should I know? I have enough trouble figuring out human women.
The realm of Faerie is closest to the mortal realm, and consists of two k... Read More

Shatterglass: As always, Tamora Pierce delivers a great story

Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

This, the fourth and final installment in the THE CIRCLE OPENS quartet is itself a sequel to Tris’s Book in the original CIRCLE OF MAGIC series. There, the reader was introduced to four immensely powerful but untrained young mages: aristocratic Sandry, stoic Daja, street-rat Briar and outcast Trisana, called "Tris" for short. In a departure from her usual action-adventure stories, Tamora Pierce concentrated on character for this particular series, describing how this disparate group of youngsters was brought to the safety of the Winding Circle temple in order to learn how to control their abilities. Over the course of the four books, the children formed an unbreakable bond with each other and with the teachers that are still guiding them toward mastery of their craft and the responsibilities of adulthood.

With this new seri... Read More

Gatty’s Tale: Spunky little protagonist on a fascinating journey

Gatty's Tale by Kevin Crossley-Holland

I picked up this book from the library on an impulse: my current topic of interest is the Crusades, and Gatty's Tale, looked as though it would satisfy this itch. Chronicling the journey of a young girl who undertakes a pilgrimage, Kevin Crossley-Holland takes his spunky little protagonist on a fascinating journey from Wales to Jerusalem, as well as from girlhood to womanhood.

The year is 1203, and Gatty is a fifteen year old field-girl employed by Lady Gwyneth de Ewloe as a chamber-servant to accompany her on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Lady Gwyneth wants to travel to Jerusalem to obtain forgiveness from some as-yet unknown sin, and has gathered together nine pilgrims to make the journey with her across Europe to the heart of the world.

The pilgrims are an assorted lot: a husband and wife, a music teacher, a lady-in-waiting, a prie... Read More

The City of Splendors: Not WOTC’s usual fare

The City of Splendors by Ed Greenwood & Elaine Cunningham

The City of Splendors is very different from Wizards of the Coast's usual fare. In fact, it's even unusual for The Forgotten Realms, and that's saying something.

The story almost seems to have no main character, no central conflict, and no central motivation. It revolves around many characters who live their lives in Waterdeep, also known as the City of Splendors due to its astonishing beauty and variety. The interconnectedness of the central characters and the way that they interact with each other and the city that surrounds them (both the actual city and its citizens) is so cleverly written that the reader is never sure just what might happen next.

As with any sword and sorcery novel, there is the usual blood-letting, magic-hurling, rescuing damsels in distress ... Read More