Criminal (Vol. 6): The Last of the Innocent: Don’t miss this

Criminal (Vol. 6): The Last of the Innocent Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

The Last of the Innocent is volume six in the Criminal series by Ed Brubaker, and it tells the sordid tale of Riley Richards, another perfect noir character from this series of comics. What makes this an unusual noir tale is that the story, which takes place in 1982, is blended with flashbacks from the late 1960s that are told as if the characters are from the Archie comics. Even the style of the art changes to an Archie-style imitation, but it’s odd because the innocent Archie comics are replaced with a group of teenagers doing what teenagers from the 1960s often did: Have sex, smoke pot, and generally get into trouble.

The Archie gang is all there. Riley is Archie, and his druggy friend Freakout, or Freak, is Jughead. Betty, literally the girl next door, is Lizzie Gordon, and Veronica is the rich brun... Read More

Proposal: A MEDIATOR novella that can be skipped

Proposal by Meg Cabot

Fans of Meg Cabot’s MEDIATOR series thought it was over back in 2005 with Twilight, but in 2016, Cabot published this novella as book “6.5” before publishing another full novel (Remembrance) that year. This review will have some spoilers for the series, so please don’t read further if you intend to read MEDIATOR.

Suze is now in college and Jesse is in med school. Theirs is a long-distance relationship, so Suze is not expecting to see Jesse on Valentine’s Day. Instead, she’s dealing with some young ghosts who want revenge on their killer. So, when Jesse shows up to surprise her, she’s kind of busy.

The earlier stories in this series are better than t... Read More

Dragonwatch: Revolt of the Fablehaven dragons

Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

Fans of Brandon Mull’s FABLEHAVEN middle grade fantasy series now have a chance to revisit that world with Dragonwatch (2017), the first book in his new FABLEHAVEN ADVENTURE series. In the world of FABLEHAVEN, mythical beings like fairies, centaurs, dragons and demons actually exist, living in hidden, protected sanctuaries where most humans are unaware of their existence. Even if you enter a preserve, unless you drink the milk of a magical milch cow, fairies look like dragonflies or butterflies, nipsies seem to be mice, satyrs appear as goats, and so on.

In the original FABLEHAVEN series, Kendra and her younger brother Seth helped protect their grandparents’ estate, Fablehaven, and the other sanctuaries against the evil... Read More

The Bands of Mourning: Keeps the MISTBORN fun rolling

The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning is the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s second MISTBORN series, following closely (well under a year) on the heels of the last installment, Shadows of Self. Set several centuries after the original trilogy, this second one shows us a world still dealing with the ramifications of those events, but one that also, unlike a lot of fantasy worlds, has continued to progress technologically as guns, trains, electricity, and a host of other inventions/discoveries continue to shape the culture. While The Bands of Mourning has a few issues, fans of the series (I’m one) will find themselves mostly nicely rewarded as they reenter the world of Lawman and Lord Waxillium Ladrian.

There’s a... Read More

Tongues of Serpents: Wandering aimlessly in Australia

Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik

Tongues of Serpents is the sixth book in Naomi Novik's successful TEMERAIRE series. I understand Novik means to write three more, ending the nine-book series with the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Novik's mix of dragons and history proved addictive for many readers but I must admit that I felt the series was running out of steam after reading the fifth book, Victory of Eagles. Given my reaction to the last book in the series, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read the next novel as well. I did so anyway last week; my to-read stack currently consists of a lot of pretty heavy reading, and once in a while I am in the mood for something lighter. Unfortunately, Tongues of Serpents turned out to be the weakest in the series so far.

After... Read More

The God Tattoo: For the fans, not the newcomer

The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign by Tom Lloyd

Tom Lloyd shares stories from before his TWILIGHT REIGN series in this collection, The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign. I read it because I thought you didn’t have to have read any of the TWILIGHT REIGN books in order to understand what was going on. I would say that’s not strictly true. My ignorance of the series definitely hampered my enjoyment of these pieces.

These eleven stories follow various characters in the city and nation of Narkang in a land called The Land. Several seem to take place at or near the site of an epic battle in the past, which the last elf king Aryn Bwr (“Aaron Burr?”) lost badly, and which seems to be cursed now. Lloyd’s writing is reminiscent at times of a number of dark fantasy writers from the 1980s, most notably Karl Edward Wagner. Once in a while he nearly channels Read More

Victorious: The fleet is finally found!

Victorious by Jack Campbell

Victorious is the sixth and last book in Jack Campbell’s original LOST FLEET series. (If you haven’t read the previous books, you’ll want to read them before reading this review.)

Captain Black Jack Geary and the Alliance fleet have finally arrived, battered and bruised, to their home in the Alliance system and Geary’s feet touch ground for the first time in 100 years. Not surprisingly, the Alliance senate is leery of Geary (ugh, that rhyme!) and suspect that he may be planning a coup. But all he wants to do is deliver the ominous news from space about the aliens who’ve been driving the Syndic-Alliance war all this time. Surely they have bad intentions toward the human races they’ve been manipulating.

So, after only a brief respite, Captain Geary, Tanya Desjani, Victoria Rione, and many of the other officers of the Alliance fleet, head back out in space to end the war... Read More

Iced: Icky

Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Iced is the first novel in Karen Marie Moning’s new DANI O’MALLEY series, which is a spin-off from her excellent FEVER series. Readers of FEVER know who Dani is — she’s the 14-year-old sidhe-seer that Mac befriends. Besides being able to see the fae, Dani has other superpowers — she moves “super-fast” and has super senses, too. Dani also has the Sword of Light — one of only two magical objects that can kill the fae.

Dani lives in Dublin during the year 1 AWC (After the Wall Crash). The wall separating our world from the fae has fallen down and the dark fae are preying on humanity. Dani, with her superpowers and magical sword, can handle this new world, but most people can’t and half the world’s population is dead. Dani does what she can, publishing a newspaper, helping people find food and shelter, and killing as many fae as she can every day.

Dan... Read More

Red Country: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with swords

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

As a fan of Joe Abercrombie’s other books, such as The Heroes, Red Country was a must-read for me. Even though I had no idea what Red Country was about, or how it might be related to his previous stories, it didn’t really matter because I was certain that Joe Abercrombie would entertain me.

Red Country feels almost like a Western in the way that the towns are laid out — there’s a quasi general store and a the local saloon, for example — and I was starting to wonder if Abercrombie was breaking away from his usual setting. But the conditions, as in all of Abercrombie’s other stories, are pretty rough, and so very realistic. Red Country has a good setting for the type of hard story that Abercrombie writes.

Shy South is a girl with a hard past. ... Read More

Hour of Need: Satisfying end to a charmingly old-fashioned series

Hour of Need by Michael Pryor

Hour of Need is the concluding book in Michael Pryor’s LAWS OF MAGIC series and it brings a good series to a fitting and satisfying close. I won’t bother recapping the general premise as you’ll want to have read the prior (or should that be Pryor?) books first; you can check out the setting, etc., in my earlier reviews. Suffice to say the series is set in an alternate Edwardian time period that has been moving toward and then finally arriving at their version of World War I involving both technology and magic.

All the major characters return for Hour of Need: Aubrey, whom I’ve described as a mix of Sherlock Holmes, Tom Swift, and Hermione Granger; his best friend George, reliably strong and warm-hearted; Caroline, his crack shot, martial ar... Read More

Downpour: A competent addition

Downpour by Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson’s GREYWALKER novels reached a crescendo with Labyrinth, the 2010 entry in the series. It is not surprising, then, that Downpour, Richardson’s newest novel, feels anticlimactic. How does an author top killing and resurrecting her main character? It’s especially difficult when the character comes back a bit less than she was in the last book; Harper Blaine’s connection to the Grey in this book is considerably weaker than it was. But Richardson has surprises in store for her readers, as usual.

Harper is on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, doing some bread-and-butter investigation of a potential witness for a lawyer client. It’s apparent to her that something is wrong with a local lake — something to do with the Grey — but she can’t quite tell what it is, except that there seems to ... Read More

River Marked: Is Mercy finally going to get a break?

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson has been through a lot. Patricia Briggs has not spared her heroine anything and, in River Marked, if feels like Mercy is finally going to get a break... This feeling, however, is not to last...

The first quarter of River Marked focuses on Mercy's plans to marry alpha werewolf Adam Hauptmann. She's also still dealing with some of the lingering problems from previous books, like the recovery of her vampire friend Stefan and her continued adjustment to being a coyote in a wolf pack.

After the wedding, Mercy and Adam head out on a honeymoon that is fated for disaster. With the usual lead-up, Mercy must eventually confront and defeat a truly Lovecraftian monster. I have to give Briggs credit for dreaming up such a nasty creature!


The best par... Read More