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B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 3): Russia: If there is horror to be found, the B.P.R.D. will find it!

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (Vol. 3): Russia by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Tyler Crook (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer).

As in all my reviews of long series, I do give spoilers for previous books in the series, so I can now mention the major event of volume 2: Abe is shot by the runaway teenager Fenix, and at the close of the volume, Abe seems to be brain dead and barely alive physically. I can also mention what happened when he was shot: Devon observed the shooting, but he not only did not arrest the girl, he let her go. And he reported officially that he had no idea who shot Abe. We find out at the beginning of this book that Devon has been sent to find Fenix (and who shot Abe, if possible). Devon travels the railroads in boxcars, seeking for word of Fenix.

Meanwhile, Johann and Kate fly to Moscow to investigate a supernatural event. They meet with the director there, who seems more fort... Read More

Magician’s End: Ties up the loose ends

Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist

When I was in my late teens I went through a spell when I hardly read any books at all. Literature classes at the time seemed to be aimed at forcing the most boring reading material on you, or else books that were way over the head of your average teenager, making reading seriously unappealing. I've always wondered how many people never got back to reading again after going through those classes. I returned to reading in 1996 when I entered college, mostly to take my mind off the more technical stuff I had to read as part of my education. Raymond E. Feist's novels had first started appearing in Dutch translation back then, and he is in part responsible for my reading habits these days.

Feist was quickly followed by other big names in fantasy and science fiction. It didn't take me that long to figure out h... Read More

Abaddon’s Gate: A great ride!

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey

After reading the first two books in James S. A. Corey’s EXPANSE series, Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War, I came to book three, Abaddon’s Gate, with some pretty solid expectations. How did Corey (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) do, based on strengths I highlighted in reviews of the first two books?

fluid prose: check
likable characters: check
mostly strong characterization: check
humor that runs throughout: check
a nice balance of shoot-em-up action, political fighting, and personal conflicts: check, check, and check
a quick pace that had me knock of a 500+ page book in a single setting: check
a feel (in a good way) of old-time sci-fi along the likes of Hein... Read More

The Burning World: On the road in the zombiepocalypse

 

The Burning World by Isaac Marion

When we left R, the recovering zombie, and his human love Julie at the end of Warm Bodies, things were looking hopeful. But not so fast: becoming fully human again after years of zombie-hood isn't as quick or easy as R hoped. His body is still stiff and clumsy, and his memory of his prior life is still a blank to him (in fact, he's not at all sure he wants to remember his prior life). The recovery of the other zombies that have taken over America is equally tentative, one small step at a time, with many zombies not recovering at all, and others backsliding. R has no idea what to do next. It’s a spectrum: Living, Nearly Living, Mostly Dead, All Dead, with unsettlingly fluidity between them.

If this weren't difficult enough, a new group, Axiom ... Read More

Whispers Underground: Urban fantasy at its best

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

For a policeman, Peter Grant is a terrible policeman. This might have something to do with the fact that he practices a method of policing known fondly amongst his co-workers as weird bollocks. Or that he recently hijacked an ambulance and crashed it into the River Thames. Or that the latest recruit to The Folly (the magical branch of the London Metropolitan Police) is already way better at magic than him.

Whispers Underground (2012) is the latest instalment of Ben Aaronovitch’s RIVERS OF LONDON series. Peter Grant is back (after crashing said ambulance at the end of Moon Over Soho) and on the trail of a killer. Art student James Gallagher has be... Read More

Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle: The best GIRL GENIUS novel so far

Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle by Phil & Kaja Foglio

“Agatha stood in his path, her deathray purring ominously.”

I have been reluctantly won over by Phil & Kaja Foglio’s novelizations of their Hugo Award winning (2009, 2010, 2011) GIRL GENIUS comic which I’ve been reading for years. As I’ve explained in my reviews of the previous novels, I thought GIRL GENIUS was perfect as it was and, since the art is such a huge factor in its greatness, I didn’t see a need for a non-graphic form. But Brilliance Audio, the publisher of the audiobook version of the novels, sent me review copies, so I gave them a try and I have to admit that at this point I am completely hooked. So much so that I’m upset that I can find no mention... Read More

Long Black Curl: Music is magic

Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe

Long Black Curl is the third novel in Alex Bledsoe’s TUFA series. You don’t need to read the previous books, The Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing; Long Black Curl can stand alone because its three main characters are new to the series. However, most of the other characters are from the previous books, so you’ll be missing some background on them if you haven’t read them. For maximum enjoyment, read them first.

Bledsoe’s TUFA books are about a tribe of swarthy backwoods folks who live in the Smokey Mountains. If you wer... Read More

Warbound: Up for a Hugo and an Audie

Warbound by Larry Correia

Warbound is the third volume of Larry Correia’s GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES, an alternate history which takes place during the early 19th century. This review will contain spoilers for previous volumes. You’ll definitely want to read those before picking up Warbound.

The stakes are higher than ever in Warbound. When Jake Sullivan was let out of jail to help his country, he never dreamed he’d be fighting an evil being from another dimension that plans to suck the power out of magic-wielding humans so it can use their power for its own. Roosevelt’s administration is unwittingly (perhaps) helping this “Pathfinder” by demanding that all Actives get registered and wear a special badge. They’re even building special towns for Actives to live in and are starting to round them all up. Jake realizes that this will only help Pathfinder when he’s ready to harvest all the ... Read More

Dreams of Gods and Monsters: A spectacular ending

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

What do you get if you cross Paradise Lost with Romeo and Juliet? Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, a story that centres on an epic war between angels and demons with a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in the middle. Only the angels and demons aren’t exactly what you’d expect. In the world of Eretz, “angels” are winged humanoids known as seraphim and the “demons” are half-human, half-animal hybrids known as chimaera. Their conflict has been going on for centuries — and has finally spilled over into our world.

When this third and final instalment begins, the world’s population is riveted on live footage of thousands of angels sweeping through the skies and descending upon Vatican City. Riots, vigils, baptisms, suicides and mass panic commence. In the midst of all this chaos, a young university student named Eliza Jones can... Read More

Daughters of the Nile: Poignant and beautiful

Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Daughters of the Nile concludes Stephanie Dray’s trilogy about Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra, who survived the fall of her mother’s kingdom and went on to become a queen herself. I’ve never been quite sure how to categorize this series — is it fantasy? is it historical fiction with magic realism? — but I’ve certainly been enjoying it.

In Lily of the Nile, we saw Selene as a young girl coming of age; in Song of the Nile we saw her dealing with the issues of young womanhood in addition to the precarious political situation in which she lived. In this third volume, we follow Selene as a mature married ruler with children. She and her husband, King Juba, have taken tentative steps toward making their marriage a true partnership as well as a political alliance, but the relationship has been poisoned with old hurts and mistrust for a long time, and each of them thin... Read More

Crossed Blades: Some really wonderful story telling

Crossed Blades by Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough’s FALLEN BLADE saga is a fun and fast moving fantasy series. I love a series that can incorporate humor along with the requisite action, magic and evil bad guys who need to be defeated. McCullough keeps things mockingly amusing by never letting the hero’s head get too big.

Crossed Blades tells the story of Aral, one time Blade of Namara before her fall. Since the death of his goddess, Aral’s life has been sad and dark, but the arrival of certain people and events are forcing him to drag himself out of the low life he has sunk to. With his new quasi-apprentice Faran keeping him on his toes, Aral is not yet ready to run into Jax, another former Blade of Namara, and his ex-fiancé. But Jax needs help. She has been through hard times and people who she is responsible for are in danger. Despite the risks and their unpleasant history, she has come to Tien looking for Ara... Read More

Emperor of Thorns: The ideal ending to an excellent trilogy

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

King Jorg, at the ripe ol’ age of 20, rules over seven nations, but that’s not enough — it’s never enough. He’s now ready to make his bid for emperor of the Broken Empire which has been vacant for many generations. This is a position that is technically won by vote, but how one goes about getting those votes is the trick. Also Jorg hasn’t yet accomplished his life-goal; bloody vengeance against his father. All Jorg’s surviving enemies continue to dog his trail but now Jorg has a chink in his armor; his queen and unborn child.

What can I say about the THE BROKEN EMPIRE trilogy — note the word” trilogy”— to describe its total and complete awesomeness? Everything about it is perfect. Each book is a contained story while at the same time each is still a part of a bigger story. The titles themselves, Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Th... Read More

Cold Copper: This steampunk series continues to thrill

Cold Copper by Devon Monk

Right now it’s about eighty-five degrees at my house, and there is a mockingbird singing somewhere outside, but the trek through the blizzard that opens Cold Copper, the third book in Devon Monk’s Age of Steam series, is so compelling that I feel like I’m walking through the snow with Cedar Hunt.

This series continues to thrill with the third installment.

Cedar Hunt is a bounty hunter. He was cursed by a Pawnee god; during the full moon he becomes a wolf. His brother Wil shares a similar curse, as a wolf who regains human form rarely. The god commanded them to hunt and eradicate the Strange, beings that travel here from another realm. We might call the Strange fairies.

Together with Mae Rowen, a witch; Rose Small, an orphan with strange abilities of her own; Sophie Dupius, a Strange-hunter; and the three enigmatic Madder brothers, Cedar searches for the ... Read More

The Tyrant’s Law: Best. Quest. Ending. Ever.

The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham

Best. Quest. Ending. Ever.
Seriously.
Ever.

If that isn’t enough, then keep reading to see all the other reasons to continue with Daniel Abraham’s THE DAGGER AND THE COIN series, via book three — The Tyrant’s Law. But really — Best. Ever.

As in the prior two books (The Dragon’s Path and The King’s Blood), Abraham tells his story through several focused POVs, the four main characters getting pretty much the same 10-12 POV chapters (the novel is bookended by two other characters’ POVs). In the Antea capital city of Camnipol, Lord Regent Geder Palliako continues, under the influence of the Spider Goddess’ high priest, to turn Antea into both an internal police state and an aggressive, genocidal Empire eager to gobble up its neighbors. Meanwhile, Clara, the disgraced wife of the former Baron Dawson Kalliam (e... Read More

Chasing the Prophecy: Mull doesn’t take the easy way out

Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull

Chasing the Prophecy is the final book in Brandon Mull’s BEYONDERS series aimed at a middle grade audience. Jason and Rachel have joined a group of rebels who hope to take down the evil emperor Maldor. An oracle has told them that they have very little chance for success, but she’s also told them exactly what they need to do to have that small chance. Therefore the group has split up into separate teams which hope to fulfill different parts of the oracle’s instructions. Rachel is trying to muster up an army while working on her magic and Jason’s team visits a library (I loved the library!) to try to find the location of an ancient seer who has information they need. Both kids face hard work, difficult decisions, and life-threatening circumstances. Each must be willing to bend a lot to accomplish their goals.

Readers who’ve enjoyed the first two BEYONDERS books, A... Read More

The Exiled Blade: A satisfying finish to an imaginative series

The Exiled Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

But the real battle was with himself. All the battles that really mattered were with yourself.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood ends The Exiled Blade, book three in his Acts of the Assassini series, with a spectacular three-act battle, and a wedding. This is a pleasing, sad, and haunting ending to his alternate history fifteenth century Venetian tale, where political intrigue and martial prowess function side by side with shape-shifters, demons and magic.

At the end of the second book, The Outcast Blade, Duchess Alexa, Regent of Venice, had prevailed over Duke Alonzo and was preparing to have him exiled. Giulietta and Tycho, the demon-orphan hero of the trilogy, were together, and were happy. It didn’t seem like there was anywhere left for the third book to go, but by page 36 Grimwood has pulverized Giulietta’s and Tycho’s chances for happin... Read More

Bedeviled: This series needs some fine-tuning

Bedeviled by Sable Grace

At the end of the first DARK BREED novel, Ascension, Kyana turned her witch friend Haven into a vampire/lycanthrope hybrid in order to save her from certain death. But Haven is taken over by the evil god Cronos, who wants to use her to bring himself back to life and usher in his new reign. Most of the Order wants to see Haven killed to end the threat. Kyana is the only one who still believes in her friend, so it’s important that Kyana find Haven first — no one else will ask questions first and shoot later, so to speak. But Kyana is changing too. Artemis has passed her powers on to Kyana, and as Kyana absorbs them, she begins to lose her original psychic link with Haven, and her own familiar abilities are replaced by new ones that she’s not used to yet.

Bedeviled picks up where Ascension left off, and follow... Read More

Hammered: Atticus in Asgard

Hammered by Kevin Hearne

First things first: This one’s more serious.

Oh, there’s still humor here — and to butcher the nursery rhyme, when Kevin Hearne is funny, he’s very, very funny. I cackled madly as Atticus geeked out over his favorite author and demonstrated his knowledge of Internet memes. On the whole, though, Hammered is a much more serious story than either Hounded or Hexed. While giving us two books’ worth of side-splitting entertainment, Hearne has been sneakily laying the groundwork for Hammered, building up characters and friendships and subplots so that we care deeply about what happens here.

We begin in medias res. Atticus is climbing the World Tree to Asgard so that he can keep his promise to the witch Laksha by bringing her back one of Idunn’s apples. The trip become... Read More