Hilda and the Black Hound: A slightly scarier adventure for our Hilda

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson

The fourth book in the HILDA series by Luke Pearson sees our little blue-haired adventurer grappling with two brand new mysteries. Taking place in a Scandinavian-inspired setting filled with all sorts of mythological creatures, Hilda and her mother have recently moved to the city after their log-cabin was destroyed — and Hilda is finding it a bit difficult to adjust.

Her mother suggests she join the Sparrow Scouts, something she was involved with as a little girl, which will give Hilda the opportunity to once again enjoy the outdoors. Immediately struck by the idea of collecting badges, Hilda embraces the club and its motto: to be a friend to all people, animals and spirits.

It’s for this reason she’s confused when her mother refuses to let her h... Read More

Rhythm of War: A worthy continuation of an excellent series

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Sometimes when I’m pondering a review of Brandon Sanderson, I feel like I’m back in one of those classic middle school conversations:

Me: I heard you like Brandon.
Also Me: Maybe I do
Me: Do you like like him?
Also Me: I said I liked him.
Me: Yeah, but like, like like?
Also Me: I don’t know. What’s that like, like like?
Me: It’s like, you stay up all night thinking about how much you like him.
Also Me: Well, I do stay up all night because of him. But I think it’s just because his books are so long.
Me: Would you like die if he stopped writing?
Also Me: I don’t think so.
Me: Do you think about him when you’re reading other writers?
Also Me: No.
Me: Oh. Well, then you like him, you don’t... Read More

The Edge of Worlds: These books are getting repetitive

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells

Note: This review will contain spoilers for the previous RAKSURA books.

The Edge of Worlds (2016) is the fourth novel in Martha WellsBOOKS OF THE RAKSURA. This series has many dedicated fans. Its strengths are an exotic fantasy world filled with unusual species and gorgeous scenery, and a strong and loveable protagonist with a tragic past. The cover art is awesome, too.

In The Edge of Worlds, Moon is finally starting to settle in with his new clan. He feels secure with his consort, Jade, and he now understands why he was abandoned as a child. He has met his formidable mother and others from his birth court. He finally feels at home — he’s been accepted and he has a place where he clearly belongs.
... Read More

The House of Hades: Percy and Annabeth traverse the Underworld

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

It's been nearly two years since I read the last book in Rick Riordan's five-part THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS series — not because I wasn't enjoying it; I simply got swamped by my never-ending To Be Read pile. But I'm back, and eager to finish what I started!

The House of Hades is the fourth book in the series, following on with the overarching story of seven young heroes working together to combat the rising power of Gaia, the ancient and bloodthirsty Earth Goddess intent on releasing her giant offspring into the human world. They have a prophecy to guide them but deadline to meet — and at the conclusion of the last book, The Mark of Athena, two ... Read More

Feedback: The cure for the common zombie nonsense

Feedback by Mira Grant

I am not, historically, a fan of zombie narratives — neither in books nor in movies. The allegories are too obvious: consumerism, racism, opposing political party members, generalized xenophobia, etc. There’s hardly ever a satisfying answer as to why any of this is happening. Characters rarely do anything more interesting than board up windows, shriek at each other, get chewed on, and then do a little chewing of their own before dying gruesomely. Imagine my grateful surprise, then, when I opened up a copy of Mira Grant’s Feedback (2016), and discovered a wickedly smart novel drenched in bleach and blood.

Functioning as a companion/stand-alone novel to Grant’s existing NEWSFLESH series, Feedback provides an alternative viewpoint to the events of Read More

Unquiet Land: A redemptive story of parental love

Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn

In Unquiet Land, Sharon Shinn’s fourth book in her ELEMENTAL BLESSINGS fantasy series, the story returns to the country of Welce, the setting for the first two books in this series. Leah, who was introduced to readers in the third book, Jeweled Fire, lived in the country of Malinqua for five years, helping Darien Serlast, the ruler of Welce, by acting as a spy and, for the last few months of her stay, keeping an protective eye on the princess Corene, who was on an extended visit with the ruling family of Malinqua. More to the point, at the time Leah was running away from personal issues in her life: a lover who deserted her when she told him she was pregnant, and her now five year old daughter Mally, whom Leah h... Read More

Home for the Haunting: Delivers what fans expect

Home for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell

Home for the Haunting is the fourth book in Juliet Blackwell’s HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION series. Each of these book is a short cozy paranormal mystery. Each story is self-contained, so the books can stand alone, but there’s an overarching plot involving Mel Turner’s personal relationships and each installment adds new characters, so most readers would probably prefer to start at the beginning and read the novels in order. The first three are If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt, and Murder on the House. After the fourth book, Home of the Haunting, comes Keeper of the Castle and the sixth book, Give Up the Ghost, will appear on shelves ea... Read More

The Geomancer: Fans of the VAMPIRE EMPIRE series will enjoy this

The Geomancer by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith

The Geomancer is the first book in a new series by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. This series is called GARETH AND ADELE, and The Geomancer follows Empress Adele and Garth, her lover, the turncoat vampire prince who uses an alias to fight his people.

In the alternate world these stories inhabit, it is the late 2020s. Two hundred years earlier, vampires, which are a separate species, banded together in clans and over-ran human settlements, particularly in cooler climates. While they do not use weapons, these vampires can go airborne by changing their density and they are inhumanly strong and fast, with claws and fangs. They do not like heat, so were unable to conquer equatorial areas. Adele is the Em... Read More

Tangled Threads: Big changes in Gin’s personal life

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep

In Tangled Threads, the fourth volume of Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series, the plot advances satisfactorily. Since you’re reading this review, I’ll assume you’ve read the first three books, Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom. I’ll also assume you still like the series if you’re interested in a review of book four.

So, as I said, the plot advances, mostly with Gin’s relationships with both her new boyfriend, Owen Grayson, and her sister Bria Coolidge, the new top cop in town who doesn’t realize that Gin is her sister or that she’s Ashland’s vigilante assassin with stone and ice magic. Of course, fans of the series can’t wait to find out how Bria will react when she eventually discovers the truth. To avoid spoilers, I won’t tell you ... Read More

The Secret of the Key: Premise is fabulous, execution falls short

The Secret of the Key by Marianne Malone

The Secret of the Key appears to be the final book in Marianne Malone’s SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS adventures. This children’s series has been a bit of a disappointment for me and the only reason I have continued with it is that I requested a review copy of the audiobook edition of this final book and so I felt obligated to read it. As three of us have previously mentioned, the premise is fabulous, but the execution falls short.

The stories follow Ruthie and Jack, two sixth graders who find a way to shrink and explore the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago. The two likable kids discover that the rooms open up to the worlds of the time periods they represent. In each installment they go into those worlds and interact with the children they find there, always learning a ... Read More

Valour and Vanity: Pirates, Puppets and Lord Byron!

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Valour and Vanity is the fourth book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s series THE GLAMOURISTS. This time our husband-and-wife team of heroes, David Vincent and Lady Jane Vincent, are stranded, penniless, in Murano, victims of a predatory swindler who hopes to sell their secret glamour process to the highest bidder. To stop this from happening, Vincent and Jane must out-swindle the swindler. Yes, that’s right; set during the British Regency, this book is a caper book.

So, hmmm… Do I write a conventional review, or just give you a list of some of the things you will encounter in the book? Well, here’s the list, in no particular order.

Glamourized lions from ancient Rome
Murano glass-blowing studios
Lord Byron
Lord Byron naked in a canal
... Read More

The Doctor and the Dinosaurs: The plot never quite gets airborne

The Doctor and the Dinosaurs by Mike Resnick

The Doctor and the Dinosaurs, by Mike Resnick, is part of his WEIRD WEST series, featuring Theodore Roosevelt in an American frontier where colonial westward expansion was delayed for many decades by native magic. I read this book because I remember Resnick as being a writer with interesting ideas; “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge,” was good, and Kirinyaga was thought-provoking. With The Doctor and the Dinosaurs, I was disappointed. I felt like I was in an overloaded, underpowered cargo plane that was lumbering down the runway, gathering speed but never getting airborne.

The “doctor” of the title is Doc Holliday, famous gunfighter and gambler, who is coughing away the last days of his life in a tuberculosis sanitarium. He is visited by the Apache shaman Geronimo (Geronimo is not a war chief in this reality). Geronimo needs his help, and he rest... Read More

The Runestaff: Old-school sword and sorcery

Hawkmoon: The Runestaff by Michael Moorcock

This reissue reveals how much epic fantasy has changed since the 1960s. It’s hard to believe that there is an epic fantasy stretched over just four 200-page entries. Certainly, Hawkmoon: The Runestaff is an old-school sword and sorcery tale. Originally published in 1969, Michael Moorcock’s The Runestaff is the fourth entry in The History of the Runestaff. Tor has now released the story as Hawkmoon: The Runestaff. How have things changed?

The premise is archetypal. Duke Dorian Hawkmoon, an Eternal Champion in the conflict between universal forces of Law and Chaos, must find the Runestaff in order to defeat the Dark Empire of Granbretan. With the Runestaff, his companion D’Averc, and his Sword of the Dawn (which magically summons a Legion of the Dawn), Hawkmoon may be able to defend Castle ... Read More