Tag Archives: #Dragons

Silvers, Shane; Obsidian Son (Nate Temple I); Argento Publishing, 2012

I completely agree with the criticism of some of the reviewers of Obsidian Son. Much in the way of the Paranormal Romances I have read, Obsidian Son has a bizarre view of looks and what attracts people to each other. Instead of big cocks, there are big racks. The main character is shallow, obnoxious and has few redeeming qualities. In addition, there is a lack of research. Finally, there are grammatical problems.

In spite of all that, I had fun. Imagine what Shayne Silvers could have accomplished with a better team. So many of the authors I read, or try to read, claim their stories have had editors and beta-readers. As does Silvers. Hmmm. Who are these editors and beta-readers?

I still had fun. This is an urban fantasy interspersed with mythological and magical creatures. The main character has magic, is wealthy and is extremely attractive to the opposite gender. Some of that attraction is because of out-of-control magic. There are dragons. They are the best part of the story. Really fun dragons.

Not recommended.


Reviews:

Charish, Kristi; Owl and the Japanese Circus (2015)

The world of Owl and the Japanese Circus, by Kristi Charish, is dominated by antique thief extraordinaire, Owl, previously known as Alix Hiboux. Alix’s transformation from archaeology grad student to thief is in part a result of one of the laws we get to know in this urban fantasy. The International Archaeological Association (IAA) operates outside the law of the land in certain cases. Not all archaeological discoveries can be shared with the public. Also, the IAA takes care of their people in the know. Unfortunately for Alix, she fell victim to one such person.

“In exchange for saying, “No, I was wrong, none of the data in that report was falsified, the postdoc and supervisor still remain god apparent, I’m a bad grad student,” I had been verbally promised funding for the next four years and a coveted transfer to the lost city dig site in Ephesus, Turkey. Right after I had signed the paperwork that had legally absolved the university and my supervisor of any wrongdoing, all my funding had been terminated and my transfer had disappeared.”

All of a sudden, Alix was persona non grata in academia. Her reputation was ruined, and she needed to make a living. Turning thief was a matter of getting back at her old university and utilizing her outstanding understanding of the authenticity of antiques and antique languages. She chose her clients carefully (she thought), made sure they never met face-to-face, and paid a courier well to deliver the orders. All went well. Owl made loads of money. And then – poof – vampires. Once the lid is off Pandora’s box, there is no putting the monsters back. When we meet her, Owl is on the run from said vampires.

“I turned around slowly and looked up at the tallest Japanese man I’d ever seen, wearing a pair of designer sunglasses. He wore a tailored suit with diamond cuff links – real diamond cuff links – and matching shoes, but that wasn’t what got the kid. A tattoo of a dragon wound its way around his neck and disappearing underneath his shirt. It was striking, and a stark contrast to the expensive outfit. It was also a signature.”

One does not refuse Mr. Ryuu Kurusawa. Owl has done jobs for him before but never met him or his people.  That is about to change.

“Ryuu Kurosawa, a Vegas mogul known for his Japanese Circus-themed casino, looked up from a white couch and smiled that business smile you come to expect from professional sharks. Not the ones that take your money, the ones that eat you while you’re still screaming.”

In return for retrieving the missing contents of a magical egg, Mr. Kurosawa will hold off the vampires. Or else.

Like most humans I have met, Owl is incredibly inconsistent and willfully blind to her own fears. And, as is the case when we are willfully blind, she does not learn from her mistakes. Even though she now knows that there are supernaturals, she never spots them. For one so focused on the details of archaeology, Owl misses the details of people around her. This leaves her with room for growth.  Quite naturally, she also has huge trust issues. Along with those come a tendency to self-sabotage anything that might lead to friendship. Her tools are language and running away. However, there is some hope.

“You made me nervous the last time I was here. I didn’t know what to make of it, and personal conversations make me uncomfortable, so I did something stupid and decided to avoid you.” I ran my hand through my hair. “I’m a hell of a lot better with inconsequential conversations about vampires and RPGs,” I added, hazarding a look at him. He was still watching me and sizing me up from the doorway. Then he walked back to the outdoor bar and took the seat beside me. “All right,” he said. “We can go back to talking about RPGs and my vampire problems?” I said, maybe a little too hopefully. “No. We can have the conversation you didn’t want to have three months ago, and then I’ll decide whether I still want to be friends with you.”

One relationship Owl would never dream of sabotaging is her relationship with her Egyptian Mau cat, Captain. He goes with her everywhere. At first, I thought that would be a problem because of all of her traveling and her line of work. After a look at the various cat carriers out there, traveling was no longer an issue. When it comes to her line of work, Captain is a potential liability. Traveling with a cat in a carrier makes it easier to be spotted once that detail leaks. However, he is also a vampire alarm. Plus she loves him and he gives her balance.

Owl’s best, and oldest, friend is Nadya. The two met while at grad school. About six months before trouble hit Alix, Nadya suspected something nasty was going on and left for Tokyo. She advised Alix to do the same, but as we know, Alix ended up as Owl. Nadya is extremely smart and business savvy. She lives in the Shiyuba (sp?) district of Tokyo, owns a night club called the Space Station Deluxe and is Alix’s go-to-person when there is need of hacking.

Owl and the Japanese Circus was a fun YA urban fantasy with long-term potential. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Trivia:


Available at Amazon

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Fury (Chronicles of Elantra IV) (2011)

In our case, my reading to my dyslexic child makes the world of words more accessible to her while also giving us the opportunity to cuddle. But needing to be read to is NOT a prerequisite for reading together. Stories like Cast in Fury are wonderful reading out loud stories because there is so much dialogue. That means that I can shout, whisper, and bring humour to my voice. Fortunately, my daughter still enjoys my voice. We had fun and precious together time, something I am not usually very good at.

I adore Merrin. She is what I would have liked to have been. But I would go insane in the chaos of an orphanage. Having two children of my own has been difficult enough. The other thing she does, that I would also like to be able to do, is to accept any person (no matter breed) as long as they are kind to her children.

I fear I am more like Kaylin. My daughter and I laugh at her attention span. Do we ever recognize ourselves in that. Kaylin’s attention span and her bluntness. Autists aren’t famed for being great liars (although some of us are able to lie). Nor is Kaylin. If anything, she if known for the opposite. These traits bring her into trouble with her teachers and friends, but they are also the traits that keep her going as she searches for a truth she can live with. Truth is strange that way. Depending on who I speak with or what I read, ideas of what truth is and must be varies. Kaylin’s greatest truth is that all children have the potential for “good” or “bad” deeds. Only time will prove what they prefer.

Cast in Fury is in part about the child that Kaylin claims as her own. She was there at his birth and licked some of his birthing fluids off his eyelids (not my kind of thing). That makes her part-mother according the laws of the Pridlea, and Kaylin uses any tool at her disposal to save a child she has met. The little dude is one lucky boy to have Kaylin on his side. Without her, he would be a dead little Leontine cub according to Caste laws. That a child might need killing in order to protect a group from something is not a new phenomenon. Nor do I expect it to become an extinct practice. Killing this Leontine baby is the only wise thing to do according to Leontine tradition and lore. Not only Kaylin is in trouble for trying to save the Leontine cub. Her sergeant, Marcus Kassan, is awaiting his trial for murder because of that same cub.

We had fun reading together. Recommended (both reading together and the story).


Reviews:


Cast in Fury available at Scribd

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Secret (Chronicles of Elantra III)

Once again, my son and I have finished reading a book together. He enjoyed the first two books of the Chronicles of Elantra, which is why we just finished the third one, Cast in Secret. My son’s conclusion about Cast in Secret was to get me to begin reading the next in line. He laughed a couple of times, giggled some and seemed touched by certain parts of the story. I had similar feelings in about the same places of the story as he did.

Kaylin’s attention deficit disorder is a good thing for us, the readers. This way Sagara has an excuse to introduce us to concepts Kaylin missed in class. Even though Kaylin knows she needs to learn certain principles about magic and ought to know more about racial relationships in Elantra, she seems to struggle with the same inability to pay attention to subjects she considers irrelevant to her job as I do. In social settings this proves a problem for her, and Lord Sanabalis is clear on her being a long way from ready to meet the Emperor (unless she wishes to be eaten). Some people need to learn from experience rather than theory (well, actually, I think that most of us only get true learning through experience). Kaylin needs this more than most people. This inability to learn any other way tends to get her into trouble.

I like Michelle Sagara writing about a person like this. With one dyslexic son, one autistic son and one autistic mother in this family, we are all stuck in that mode. My reading ability, age and gender have probably all contributed to the theoretical understanding I have of people. Face to face encounters can go really well, but like Kaylin I tend to break social rules. Admittedly, some of that disobedience comes from not seeing the importance of the rules, but there again Kaylin, I and both of my sons find common ground. Other rules are broken because we do not understand them.

Words. Such a powerful tool. And what a difficult tool it is to wield. Sagara does a great job portraying the difficulties that arise from not understanding what is being taught. Kaylin has a theoretical understanding of what the Tha’laani are, but she is petrified of them. Her terror is a common one in humanity – fear of the unknown. In this sense, all humans are autistic. But just because a race is physically able to read your secrets, does not mean that they want to. Unfortunately, we humans seem wired to think that if a person is born a certain way, then that means that they wish to wield that “power” over you. We seldom stop to think that the other person might be just as afraid of us, disgusted with us or simply does not care about who and what we are. I suppose that comes from our ego-centrism.

Thankfully, Kaylin is also the kind of person who tries her hardest to face her fears. Facing our fears is so stinking hard. But sometimes a situation arises that forces us to do so. And what do we usually discover? Well … The answer is given considering the story and the obviousness of the question. In Kaylin’s case, the Tha’laani children helped her face and overcome her fears . Children are great fear-breakers that way – if we let them be.

Definitely recommended.

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Reviews:

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Cast in Secret available at Scribd.com

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My review of:

  1. Cast in Shadow
  2. Cast in Courtlight

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Translations:

Le secret d’Elantra: T1 – Le Cycle d’Elantra

Watt-Evans, L & Friesner, E: Split Heirs page 353

“Princess,” Bernice corrected. “Nope. Not gonna do it. Once a princess has been rescued from the place of sacrifice by a sword-carrying hero willing to fight the dragon, she’s off-limits.” She turned to Antirrhinum. “Did I get that right?”

“Perfect.” He nodded approvingly.

“But-but aren’t you allowed to eat the hero who freed her?” Ubri demanded.

“Yeah. So?”

“So there’s your sword-carrying hero.” The Gorgorian jabbed a finger at Arbol. “Eat her!”

Bernice considered this option. “Mmmmnope. Can’t do it.”

“Why not?” Ubri’s face was crimsom.

“Because she’s the princess who was rescued from the place of sacrifice and you don’t eat a properly rescued princess.”

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra I) (2005)

 

My son and I just finished reading Michelle Sagara‘s Cast in Shadow. Reading Michelle Sagara’s writing out loud is a completely different experience to the one we have had reading together lately. She has a lot more dialogue and Cast in Shadow reads more like a play than a novel. Realizing this has made me even more aware of the importance of reading my own posts before I put them on my blog.

… she added softly, remembering. The way they had huddled together in a room that was warm because it was small and it held so many of them. The way Jade had come to her side, had put a skeletal arm around her, …

Poverty stinks. There is the physical stink that comes from not being able to afford all of the things a lot of people (myself included) take for granted. Even stinkier is the unfairness of it all.

When Kaylin at the age of 13 moves out of the fiefs and becomes a hawk, one of the first things she notices is how different the two sides of the river are. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there is crime (hence the Hawks, Swords and Wolves). Yes, there is inequality. But in the fiefs life was worse to such a degree that we might compare the fiefs with the slums anywhere in the world. The other side of the Ablyn would be more like Norway.

Moving from the fiefs (in her case Nightshade’s) to the Emperor’s side of the Ablyn is no simple matter. In Kaylin’s case she was helped/hindered by the magical marks that appeared on her arms at a younger age. The decision was to either kill her or to let her be under control of the Hawks. The Hawklord felt she deserved a chance to prove herself, now that the danger seemed to be over. Kaylin’s marks represent a danger to both Elantra and the fiefs if the process that was once begun is completed. (Hah, hah not going to tell you more about that).

Because I am practically 50 and perhaps because I happen to be autistical I understand the choice Severn made seven years ago. Kaylin’s rage/sorrow/hatred against him is also something I understand. Now that she is 20 rather than 13 she slowly begins to see Severn’s role in another light.

I also get why Kaylin was so pampered by the Hawks. She was 13 when she was allowed life and given the position of maskot and private. With the immortal Barrani she will always be a child age-wise although her knowledge and understanding has increased. Marcus, the Leontine, loves her dearly because of what she did for one of his wives. The same goes for the Aerians. You see, Kaylin has decided that she needs to use her magic for certain things.

Even though reading out loud was more difficult this time, Kaylin, Severn and Nightshade all captured my heart. My son must have felt the same way for he has stated that he wants to hear book number two of the series: Caught in Courtlight.


Reviews:


Cast in Shadow on Amazon •  ChaptersBorders •  Indiebound
Books A Million •  B & N •  Powell’s • Book Depository • Vroman’s

Ebook on Amazon • B&N  • Kobo • iTunes US/CA/UK / AUSony • OmniLit • GoogleDiesel

Audiobook on Audible US • iTunes US / CA

McLeod, Suzanne: The Shifting Price of Prey (spellcrackers.com IV) (2012)

The Shifting Price of Prey is the fourth book in the story of Genvieve Nataliya Zakharinova Taylor, her past, her present and her potential future. You definitely need to have read the previous three novels to get the most out of The Shifting Price of Prey.

As you might have noticed in my previous reviews of the spellcrackers.com serial, I have used art from various sources to represent the creatures/people in Suzanne McLeod’s stories. I have tried to stay true to the characters she describes, but the only one I am certain of is Ricou. Ricou loves putting on the glamour of Jonny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Good choice Ricou. There is just something about Jack Sparrow as presented by Jonny Depp that leaves a lot of women (including myself) wanting to stare. I love the choice McLeod made there.

Ricou and Sylvia are incredibly cute together. The Bitter Seed of Magic showed us the extent of their love across the boundaries of race. Their mothers aren’t pleased with Sylvia and Ricou choosing each other. In The Shifting Price of Prey these same two mothers are still conniving to get their way with Genvieve. One of the many things I love about fantasy and science fiction is the way real life issues are brought to light in a manner that makes me think. Perhaps taking issues into the land of imagination make them clearer and easier to understand for me. Because I find it terribly confusing to try to understand why something like color should make us hate each other and not want our children to love each other. It’s just really weird and illogical in my mind.

Another thing I really enjoy about reading Suzanne McLeod’s story of Genny and her friends is the way she shows us the silly excuses we use in our lives to justify what we do. Take Finn. He drops in from taking care of his daughter. In The Bitter Seed of Magic it is highly likely that Nicky had been raped into pregnancy. Finn and she went off into Between with the other girls who had become pregnant so the babies and the women would be safe. That is completely understandable and Genny agrees wholly with what he does. But Finn is incredibly stupid when it comes to one thing in his life and this time (again) he uses the dumbest excuse to rationalize his actions. I love the way McLeod reveals the issue to us and also my own reaction when I hear his excuse. I cannot help feeling sorry for Finn with his blind side. I also cannot help but wonder what my own blind sides are.

I have met people like Mr. Lampy. Shudder. Genny’s reaction is something I identify with. Mr. Lampy’s creep factor is way out there and as we read through The Shifting Price of Prey it keeps on rocketing. Which is why I absolutely loved Cat-Girl’s question and Genny’s answer at one point. Way to go both of them!

Tarot cards are something I know nothing about, except for what I have seen in movies or read about in fictional works. After reading about the ones in The Shifting Price of Prey I am no closer to becoming a fan of them. If there is one thing that is certain in Genvieve’s life it has to be that nothing comes to her the simple and easy way. Oh, no! Suzanne McLeod has to make her fight for every little answer. As a reader I love, it but I tend to feel sorry for the poor characters who have to suffer the author’s pen.

Anyways! I had fun with The Shifting Price of Prey. Suzanne McLeod met my expectations completely and I certainly look forward to reading the next installment of this serial.


Reviews:


The Shifting Price of Prey on Amazon.co.uk, Kindle, Book Depository, Waterstones


My review of:

  1. The Sweet Scent of Blood
  2. The Cold Kiss of Death
  3. The Bitter Seed of Magic

Carnival Fantastique is based on the Carnival in Trinidad