Eternity’s Wheel: A nice introduction to SF for tweens

Eternity’s Wheel by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves

This review will contain spoilers for the previous two INTERWORLD books, InterWorld and The Silver Dream. You need to read those books before starting Eternity’s Wheel or you'll have no idea what's going on.

After discovering in the last book, The Silver Dream, that Hex and Binary are working together to destroy the universes, Joey finds himself back on Earth and not able to get back to InterWorld because it’s being chased by Hex. Though cut off from his fellow Walkers, Joey is determined to fight for his universe’s future, so he focuses on recruiting new agents and building up an InterWorld base in ... Read More

Blood of Elves: I thought I was tired of elves and dwarves

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Based on internal chronology, Blood of Elves (2008) is the third book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s WITCHER series. Its format differs slightly from the previous two books, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, which are actually story collections. (But don’t think that just because they’re not novels they aren’t necessary; to have the requisite background information you really do need to read both of them before reading Blood of Elves.)

As much as I loved The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, I ... Read More

The Knights of Crystallia: Targeted at an MG audience

The Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson

The Knights of Crystallia (formerly published as Alcatraz Versus The Knights of Crystallia) is Brandon Sanderson’s third book in this Middle Grade (MG) / Young Adult (YA) series and I have several confessions to make. One is that I haven’t read the first two Alcatraz books. The second is that I am not Y. Not even close. Usually, I don’t feel that hinders my reviews of YA books. But as I read much of The Knights of Crystallia, I started to wonder if I’d become the old guy in a bathrobe yelling “Get off my lawn ya lousy kids!” while waving a hairy-knuckled fist in the offenders’ general direction. Maybe, gasp, I just didn’t get the “Y” in YA anymore.

What tipped me off? Maybe the occasional reference to farts or “potty breaks,” the character who thinks curses in the ... Read More

The Chestnut King: A satisfying conclusion

The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson

In this final installment in N.D. Wilson’s 100 CUPBOARDS fantasy trilogy for children, Henry is living in the world behind the cupboards with his “real” family, but he is still able to get to Kansas to play baseball with his friend Zeke. Henry has a lot on his mind. He’s been having scary visions that seem prophetic and he is worried about the scar that’s growing on his face. It was caused by a drop of the evil witch’s blood and Henry suspects that it will eventually drive him mad and/or give the witch control over him. Henry’s friend Frank the Fat Faery has been disowned by the faeries because he helped Henry break the curse that bound Mordecai.

Henry is happy to be reunited with all the people he loves, and to meet his older brother James who has arrived to see him, but the familia... Read More

Dust and Light: You call that an ending?

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Really, Carol Berg?

I bought Dust and Light, your latest fantasy novel, because you wrote it, and because I loved the COLLEGIA MAGICA series. I had no idea you were going to do this to me.

I knew I was going to love your rich prose. In the first few pages, though, with great economy, you provided us with the big picture; a dead king, princes warring for a nation, a group of pureblood families who wield magic and go to extreme lengths to protect their bloodlines; rumors of an ancient, possibly mythical race called the Danae; and our narrator Lucien, who has failed his family and lost nearly everyone he loves. I liked his rebellious young sister Juli. I liked the way you showed us a character already in jeopardy, and then piled on more jeopardies, hard and fast. Just when I thought things could not get worse for Lucien, they got worse. Read More

The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Suggests rather than reveals

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

After I read Patrick Rothfuss's novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, I spent some time leisurely cleaning my house, enjoying putting things "just so." Reading it put me in a meditative mood, the mood to organize my life and, in doing so, organize my mind.

This KINGKILLER CHRONICLE story follows Auri, the blonde urchin who befriends Kvothe in The Name of the Wind. Readers get to experience a week of Auri's life in the Underthing, the maze of tunnels and ruins that run under the University. During this time, she forages for food, uncovers hidden objects, and prepares for the arrival, in seven days' time, of a guest — unnamed, but suggested to be Kvothe.

In addition to reading the manuscript, I listened to Rothfuss’s narration. It was lovely to hear this in his own voice; I have spent so... Read More

Chosen: So many problems

Chosen by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Chosen is the third book in the HOUSE OF NIGHT young adult paranormal romance series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. Don’t start here if you haven’t yet read Marked and Betrayed. But, actually, I don’t recommend that you start anywhere unless your tastes run completely contrary to mine (which is, of course, quite possible and utterly understandable). I got the series on audio from Audible and my library and at this point, frankly, I’m just reading them so I can get them reviewed for FanLit. I’m not enjoying them. So, let me just tell you why and you can perhaps determine whether you’ll feel differently. Obviously, many people do because HOUSE OF NIGHT is popular with the YA demographic.

Okay, so in this installment, Zoey has figured out that her mentor Neferet is actually her nemesis while Aphrodite, who Zoey thought was her nemesis, is... Read More

Monster Hunter Alpha: Earl Harbinger’s story

Monster Hunter Alpha by Larry Correia

Welcome to the exciting world of professional monster hunting. Usually not quite so... messy. Well, it’s always messy, but we’ve reached a whole ‘nother level on this one.

I’ve been heartily enjoying Larry Correia’s MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL series so far. It’s been non-stop freaky monsters, evil villains, rigid government agents, flying fists, biting teeth, scratching claws, falling bodies, fiery explosions, gaping portals to hell, and lots and lots of gun porn. Now we’re back for round three.

The first two books, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta, focused on Owen Zastava Pitt (Bi... Read More

The Sacred Band: A rewarding conclusion

The Sacred Band by David Anthony Durham

The most pleasant surprise about The Other Lands, the previous book in the ACACIA trilogy by David Anthony Durham, was that it broadened the scope of the series tremendously. Ushen Brae, the setting for a large part of the action in that book, proved to be a complex and interesting place, with its non-human Auldek tribes, several strata of human Quota slaves (from a warrior caste to an organized “Free People” resistance movement), the mostly extinct Lothan Aklun race, and a rich and fascinating history. The Sacred Band doesn’t expand the series’ fantasy world to the same extent as The Other Lands did, although it does reveal some inland areas of Ushen Brae that were previously unseen. Rather than expanding the world, The Sacred Band instead bui... Read More

Dark Jenny: Eddie is an awesome hero

Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe

"I remembered the way her hair smelled as she wrenched my fingers back into place."

While drinking a beer with his girlfriend on a snowy day in Angelina’s Tavern, middle-aged sword-jockey Eddie LaCrosse gets a strange delivery: a coffin. This unusual event sparks some interest in Angelina’s lethargic patrons, and soon they’re all gathered around while Eddie regales them with the story of how he came to be the recipient of such an odd gift and, more importantly, who’s in it.

If you haven’t read one of Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse Mysteries yet, go ahead and try this one — you don’t need to have read The Sword-Edged Blonde or Burn Me Deadly to enjoy Dark Jenny (though I should say t... Read More

The White City: It’s all very civilized and decadent

The White City by Elizabeth Bear

The vampire-detective Don Sebastien de Ulloa and his small 'court' visit the White City of Moscow on two occasions, in 1897 and 1903, both before and after his sojourn in an alternative America. On both occasions, someone closely linked to a politically-active young artist, Irina Stephanova, is murdered. As the mysteries in both 1897 and 1903 unfold, Sebastien confronts a much older entity inhabiting Moscow and, ultimately, the mystery of his own forgotten past.

The White City is the third book by Elizabeth Bear featuring Sebastien, after New Amsterdam and Seven for a Secret. However, in the world of the story, the events occur both before and after those chronicled in New Amsterdam, so I strongly recommend reading the latter book first. (Seven for a Secret Read More

Tracato: One of the best new fantasies I’ve read all year

Tracato by Joel Shepherd

Tracato is the third installment in Joel Shepherd’s excellent A Trial of Blood and Steel fantasy quartet, and not only is it the best book in the series so far, it’s also one of the best new fantasy novels I’ve read all year.

The continent of Rhodia, shared by a fractured human civilization and the non-human serrin, finally begins to inch towards full-scale war. The northern Verenthane countries, with their conflicted and somewhat reluctant goeren-yai allies, are marching south to reclaim the Saalshen Bacosh. These provinces, occupied by the serrin during the last major conflict with humanity, have been thriving thanks to the rational guidance of the serrin and the Nasi-Keth, but the zealous Verenthanes have long wanted to reclaim them, and even some humans there long to return to feudal times.... Read More

Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus: Wish I’d had this when I was a kid

Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus by R.L. LaFevers

I wish the THEODOSIA THROCKMORTON series had existed when I was a kid. I went through one heck of an Egyptology phase, and I don’t suppose I’ve ever left my brainy-heroine phase. My parents, though, should probably thank their lucky stars R.L. LaFevers hadn’t written these books yet. I can just imagine the mess I’d have made, trying to whip up ancient Egyptian potions in the backyard.

Theodosia is an 11-year-old girl growing up in the Edwardian era. Her parents run a museum, and since they’re rather absentminded about anything that doesn’t pertain to their work, Theodosia has more freedom than is usual for girls of that time. It’s a good thing, too, seeing as how she’s always having to save the world. You see, Theodosia has an unusual talent. She can detect curses on ancient Egyptian artifacts. And since she’s studied a lot, she kn... Read More

Cybermage: Is it over?

Cybermage by Alma Alexander

Cybermage is Alma Alexander’s third book in the Worldweavers series and one that can satisfyingly close this particular series though I hesitate to ever use the word “concluding” with any fantasy trilogy as authors (or nervous publishers/agents) are wont to reopen allegedly “done” series.

Cybermage picks up just a little while after book two ended and while this book can stand on its own, with an independent storyline, it will make much more sense and be all the richer for having read the previous two (Gift of the Unmage and Spellspam), especially as there’s a larger story arc that runs through the entire trilogy — one that’s layered over each book’s own unique plot.

The first two books, as mentioned in m... Read More

Vampire Sunrise: Unique urban fantasy setting

Vampire Sunrise By Carole Nelson Douglas

Vampire Sunriseis the third book in the tales of Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator in the world of post-Millennium Revelation Las Vegas by Carole Nelson Douglas. First, let me say that while I personally struggled through parts of Vampire Sunrise and the series as a whole, it offers several things that are worthy of high praise. For instance, this is one of the more unique urban fantasy settings I’ve read in a while.

Post 2000 Las Vegas is inhabited not only by the standard cast of werewolves and vampires but also by Cin-Sims, a sort of Cinematic Simulacrum created from zombies overlaid with old movie characters. The concept is original, fun and intriguing, and the cast of characters generally strong. Moreover, the thematic hotels of Vegas form a fun backdrop for place, time, ... Read More

King of Sword and Sky: Can’t wait for the sequel!

King of Sword and Sky by C.L. Wilson

King of Sword and Sky is longer than either of the previous two Tairen Soul books, but for me, it breezed by so quickly, I could hardly believe it. King of Sword and Sky continues several plotlines from the earlier books, resolves a really huge one, and ends with a heck of a bang.

We follow Rain and Ellie as they travel to the Fading Lands, where they set out to prepare the Fey for war with the Eld and attempt to save the tairen from the mysterious decline they’ve been suffering. They meet with resistance from many influential Fey. C.L. Wilson does a great job of depicting this opposition without demonizing it. These Fey, after all, don’t know that Ellie and Rain are the protagonists. All they know is that their king has suddenly decided he wants to take a m... Read More

Sphinx’s Princess: Ancient Egypt comes to life

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner

Nefertiti has had a wonderful childhood, living with her adoring father, stepmother, and half sister. She is the beauty of her small country town on the Nile River, and has the gift of dance as well as a desire to learn to do something almost no women can do — write and read.

But Nefertiti’s life takes a sharp curve when her aunt, the great Pharaoh’s wife, decides that she is beautiful enough to wed to her son Thutmose, the crown prince of Egypt. Before she knows it, Nefertiti is torn from her home and family and living in the royal palace as a princess. Thutmose is not as nice as he has been made out to be by her aunt, however, and Nefertiti soon finds herself in the middle of a plot that involves Thutmose gaining power, and that could endanger her own life and the lives of the ones she loves.

I was pretty much glued to Sphinx’s Princess right f... Read More

The Dark Planet: Reviewed by a teen

The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman
He was so proud of him and all that he’d done, proud enough to never call him his maker again.
The Dark Planet is the conclusion to Patrick Carman's Atherton trilogy about a young boy, Edgar, and his adventures while finding out who his father really was. Along the way he makes numerous friends on Atherton, and the Dark Planet itself. He knows he was made for a purpose, he knows he doesn’t have real parents like everyone else, he knows his maker went to a great deal of trouble to save a handful of people on a made world. What he doesn’t know is that his adventures aren’t over yet.

The Dark Planet is written nicely. The characters are deep, the settings detailed, and the plot very well thought out. The main problem I found was that the first... Read More

The Trouble with Demons: Need a break from vampires?

The Trouble with Demons by Lisa Shearin

I can't imagine anyone who enjoyed Magic Lost, Trouble Found and Armed and Magical being disappointed by The Trouble with Demons. For this novel, Ms. Shearin turned up the darkness, turned up the romantic tension, and turned down the snark. All without sacrificing action or fun. Plus, it's longer!

Raine's chaotic world gets even more so in The Trouble With Demons when someone opens a Hellgate, releasing a legion of demons on the Isle of Mid. They want something, and naturally, Raine is at the thick of it. The sentient rock known as the Saghred is also up to some unexpected tricks and is snaring all of Raine's friends in its clutches. Talk about piling on the problems!

I was glad to see the reduction in snarkiness. Armed and Magical bordered on being... Read More

Jinx: A delightful morsel of a novel

Jinx by Jennifer Estep

Jinx focuses on Bella Bulluci, who was Fiona Fine's fashion designer rival in Hot Mama. Bella comes from a family of superheroes — both superpowered and otherwise — and she's quite frankly tired of the whole gig. She's had superheroes out the wazoo, especially since her family became closely affiliated to the Fearless Five in the previous novel. She has a power that is more of a curse, and it causes her endless embarrassment when the strangest things happen around her.

Bella isn't thrilled with a lot of aspects about her life. If she even looks at chocolate she gains about ten pounds, which she is forever trying to work off with brutal exercise routines. She hardly dares to eat in public for fear of her power rearing its weird head. And she's not really satisfied with the whole fashion designer gig, either. She has a secret ambition to be a museum quali... Read More

Iron Angel: Hell is especially vivid and original

Iron Angel by Alan Campbell

I thought Scar Night, the first book in Alan Campbell’s Deepgate Codex, never really reached its potential in terms of story, character, or richness of imagination and detail. It had enough to keep my interest piqued in the series, but I can’t say I was holding my breath for book two.

Iron Angel picks up slightly after the events of Scar Night and continues the major story arc. A long-ago war in Heaven ended up with Heaven sealed, the god Iril shattered into pieces (which retain power) in the Maze of Hell, and his sons scattered and imprisoned, though most managed to free themselves and plot a return to heaven. Meanwhile, they must deal with King Menoa of Hell, who is attempting to lead his Mesmerists out of Hell into this world. Read More

Magic Strikes: Ilona Andrews does it again!

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

I didn't know how much I'd missed Ilona Andrews' writing until I started reading Magic Strikes (2009). Part of it is the prose. It's vivid, it has a great streak of humor running through it, and best of all, it's smooth. The reader is never jolted out of the story by a grammar snafu or an awkward phrase.

Part of it is Andrews' continued use of a wide variety of myths. Andrews is one of the few urban fantasy authors who seem to realize folklore is a huge sandbox. The human imagination has dreamed up all sorts of things that go bump in the night; why stick to just vampires and werewolves? I won't reveal what creatures lurk within Magic Strikes, as that's part of the central mystery, but it's different from anything Andrews has done before.

Then there's the chance to... Read More

Stardeep: A setting little explored

Stardeep by Bruce E. Cordell

Kiril Duskmorn, who first appeared in Darkvision, has returned. Compelled by a love lost, and a self-righteous sentient sword, Kiril must return to the Dungeon of the Traitor to fulfill her role as a Keeper of the Cerulean Sign. Once a star elf, the Traitor gave himself to an evil, primeval influence and has since been confined and magically bound in a pocket dimension, guarded by magical and mundane guards. But when the traitor influences one of his guardians, it is up to Kiril and Raidon, a half-Shou-half- star elf with a desire to know his mother’s past, to stop him.

Bruce Cordell has always been able to reach into the lesser know areas of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and give us a story about characters and powers rarely seen. Drawing on his own expertise as a campaign setting writer, he weaves a tale that adds depth and b... Read More