2013.05


Troubled Blood: The best addition to the series yet

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

There are two ways this review could go: either the controversy surrounding Troubled Blood (2020) and the internet backlash against J.K. Rowling for casting one of the main suspects as a cross-dresser could be ignored, or the entire review could be hinged upon it. It would be disingenuous to do the former and reductive to do the latter, so let's leave it at this: if readers want the down-low on the dispute, Google it (and there's plenty of content out there). The rest of this review will centre solely on the merits of the story, of which there are ample.

Detective Cormoran Strike and his partner Robin Ellacot are back, and not without a little personal baggage. Strike's aunt is dying, and he finds himself increasingly needed in Cornwall where she lives, putting pressure ... Read More

Sweep with Me: Battling space chickens and other troublesome guests at the inn

Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews

Sweep with Me (2020), the fifth book in Ilona Andrews’s INNKEEPER CHRONICLES series, finds Dina DeMille fretting with her boyfriend Sean about an upcoming official review of Dina and the Gertrude Hunt, her magical inn for interstellar travelers. The innkeepers’ Assembly is concerned about some of the goings-on at the Gertrude Hunt and whether Dina and Sean have been keeping their rules, including not letting anyone on Earth know that their inn isn’t an ordinary one.

In the meantime, though, it’s the annual Treaty Stay holiday for earth’s galactic inns, and the tradition is that no innkeeper may turn away a guest during Treaty Stay. So, naturally, Dina and her inn are asked to host a set of particularly troublesome guests: the Drífan liege lord of Green Mounta... Read More

The Valley of Shadows: Doesn’t hold up to the rest of the series

The Valley of Shadows by John Ringo & Mike Massa

My experience with authors who write in another author’s world has been mixed. On the good side you have the work that Janny Wurts did with Raymond Feist in the EMPIRE CYCLE. On the less impressive side you have The Valley of Shadows (2018). This is the fifth installment in the BLACK TIDE RISING series and takes a tangential track describing what happens with Tom Smith, the corporate security guru, Australian Special Forces stud and brother to Steve Smith, the main protagonist in the entire series.

I think that Mike Massa must have done a lot of the writing because there is a different feeling to the prose that long-time fans of Read More

Legend Has It: The best part is John’s snarky voice

Legend Has It by Elliott James

Legend Has It (2017) is the fifth book in Elliott JamesPAX ARCANA series. You really need to read the previous books, Charming, Daring, Fearless, and In Shining Armor first.

I love the way Elliott James recaps the story from the previous novels. Legend Has It begins with John Charming imagining being interviewed by Barbara Walters. She asks him about all the things that have happened to ... Read More

Within the Sanctuary of Wings: A fitting, if too-soon, conclusion

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan

Bill Capossere: Plotting and pace have always been the sticking points for me in the MEMOIRS OF LADY TRENT series by Marie Brennan, the reasons why the individual books have never climbed above a four-star rating for me and have at times dipped to three and a half. But what has never flagged for me has been my appreciation of that wonderful narrative voice, that of Lady Trent herself. Voice is the reason I kept reading these novels, and voice is what has finally led me here to the fifth and supposedly final one, Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017). And once again, I find that while issues of plot and pace raise their heads once more, I’m willing to (mostly) overlook them just to bask for perhaps the last time in that archly clever, witty, and wry voice.
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Lost Souls: A novella for CAINSVILLE completists

Lost Souls by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong’s Lost Souls is that quintessential three-star book. There’s nothing wrong with it, but at the same time, it didn’t blow me away.

It’s a CAINSVILLE novella that falls between book three, Deceptions, and book four, Betrayals. If you haven’t gotten that far, you’re in for a slew of spoilers, so I would recommend waiting and reading it in sequence. At the end of Deceptions, Gabriel said something cruel to Liv, and now their friendship is on shaky ground.

That’s when Gabriel encounters a new, weird case. In an echo of an old urban legend, a spectral woman in white hitches a ride with a businessman. He imagines seducing her, she leads him astray in t... Read More

Four Roads Cross: CRAFT gets deeper but doesn’t skimp on the fun

Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

I can’t describe how much fun it was to be back with Tara Abernathy in Alt Coulumb in Four Roads Cross (2016), Max Gladstone’s fifth book in the CRAFT SEQUENCE. In Tara’s world, a year has passed since Three Parts Dead, and Tara has been working hard in the city of the god Kos the Ever-burning. Now, a new threat, aimed at the nascent goddess Seril, the Lady of the Skies, emerges, forcing Tara to take even greater risks, and making her friends question nearly everything about their lives in the city.

Seril was believed to have been killed during the God Wars. Among the citizens of Alt Coulumb she is a fearsome myth, a mad god used to scare children, and her own children, the gargoyles, are viewed as monsters. Much of Seril’s essence... Read More

The Shadow of Elysium: A dynamic, eye-opening update

The Shadow of Elysium by Django Wexler

The Shadow of Elysium is the second novella in Django Wexler’s THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series. In The Penitent Damned, the preceding novella, we witnessed Alex’s untimely capture by the Priests of the Black. This installment is a continuation of Alex’s story, albeit I didn’t realize it at first because the story is told through the viewpoint of Abraham, a newly introduced character who also has demonic abilities. When the story begins, Abraham is being transported through the wilderness in Murnsk; his arresters later join in with Alex’s, and both prisoners continue on towards Elysium, where they will be imprisoned for life for containing demons. Roughly every other chapter is a flashback of Abraham’s, through which Wexler introduces us to the ... Read More

Wizards: From Merlin to Faust

Wizards: From Merlin to Faust by David and Lesley McIntee

I’ve been a huge fan of just about all the MYTHS AND LEGENDS series from Osprey Publishing, having given four stars to Troy, Robin Hood, and Thor; and 4.5 to King Arthur, with only Jason and the Argonauts standing out as a weak entry in the roll. Until now. The most recent text in the series (for me at least) is called Wizards: From Merlin to Faust, and I have to admit,... Read More