Tag Archives: #Urbanfantasy

Wolfe, Anna: Liar’s Game (The One Rises V) (2015)

Liar's Game; 2016
Illustration by Kip Ayers

After reviewing books for four years (April), I have come to realize that great stories (regardless of category) come about through bloody hard work and zing. Any one of us can get to a point of writing good books. Only some of us manage zing. Anna Wolfe is one of them. I have had the privilege following Wolfe’s journey through The One Rises and have watched her mastery and self-confidence grow. By now you must realize that I am going to say that Liar’s Game is the best of the lot.

In her preface Wolfe makes certain no technical difficulties will arise in reading her story. She then gives a brief intro of the previous books. It is, as she states, possible to read Liar’s Game without having read the earlier four stories, but your enjoyment will be much higher if you have gotten to know the main characters Carrie, Silas, Mark, Edie and the Hatter ahead of time. In Liar’s Game we get to know more about Jiye, Mimi, Hyacinth and the Seer.

Up til now, the Seer has been shown as hated and implacable. Liar’s Game demonstrates that life is too complicated for such simplistic interpretations of the Seer:

“We care only about guiding our little globe down the right path. We care about the many, more than the one. And the two of you are necessary to preserve the best futures. But you must find the truth for yourselves or important possibilities become nothing more than frozen darkness.” They do not understand. How can they? They are both so young.

Finally, Dokuz asked a question he should have asked a hundred years ago. “How far can you See?”

At last. “Millenia.” And we won’t be able to help you surf the challenges that are coming. Not if you won’t let us help you.

Imagine what it must be like to see into the future for millennia and to know that quite a few of those paths lead to the annihilation of your species, humans. I know I would go crazy, and my guess is that the Seer most likely was insane during her early incarnations. At least until she became we. Wolfe does not explain the Seer’s we, but she has let us see how Carrie communicates with her memory sets. Once again, I am guessing and believe that the Seer chose at some time in the past to magically retain the memories of every incarnation. That would take courage, resilience and a whole lot of stubborn. Mark, Callie and Silas learn this side of her, and that changes them. How could it not?

Mark is frustrated. His demon-infection demands anger to sate its hunger, and Mark is a master at making people angry. Somehow, his ability recognizes what will hurt the most and tries to force words to bring hurt and anger out in all he meets. Being able to sense lies also aids his ability a great deal. Liar’s Game shows us how painful controlling his ability is.

The sensation in his mouth morphed into a ball of needles that was trying to escape his skull in every direction.

For some reason Callie can feed him without anger, but Callie is an extremely dangerous person to feed from. She has almost killed him once, and neither of them wishes to repeat that experience. So Mark starves rather than inflect unnecessary anger on people.

Silas winced and then a sick ball of dread opened up in his stomach. And now she dies. I’ll have to pass it off as a suicide, but after the events in San Fran, Edie and Mark will be at risk. They will both have to leave. And soon. Only Callie didn’t die. One moment turned into ten and still Callie stood there glaring at him. Shock rippled through him, and for a moment, he couldn’t hear anything. The room wavered under his feet, and he stumbled forward until he could sit on the end of the bed.

Why does Callie not die? Wolfe has hinted at the truth in the previous books. This should knock the final nail into your chest of understanding. No worries, though. All is revealed in Liar’s Game. Fair is fair, so Callie finds out about Silas. Gaining knowledge about each other tears down preconceptions and barriers and matures Silas and Callie for the Seer.

Anna Wolfe states that The One Rises series is intended for adults. Most likely that is because of the sex. It is certainly explicit but no more than the violence in many Young Adult stories. There is plenty of ACTION and some violence.

Highly recommended.

Liar’s Game was given to me by the author.


Liar’s Game is available at Smashwords from Feb 1, 2016


My review of: 1) Bitten, 2) Addicted, 3) Ensnared by magic, 4) Poisoned by deceit

Ford, Jeffrey: The Shadow Year, 2008

The Shadow Year begins and ends with Mr. Softee, the ice-cream man. At the beginning of the story our narrator, and main character, is “listening carefully for that mournful knell, each measured ding both a promise of ice cream and a pinprick of remorse.”

Our narrator describes a family learning to cope with a new financial reality. Their father lost his old job and was now working three jobs, while their mother worked one job, to pay the bills that still kept on coming in. Even though their father is not present in much of the book, Jeffrey Ford still manages to show a man who loves his family passionately and whose family loves him back. But because of his need to work so much, we also see children who view their father as a distant figure.

Their mother is clearly depressed and self-medicates with alcohol and The Complete Sherlock Holmes. She seems to be manic depressive, and we get to watch her come down from one of her manic episodes.

In those few seconds, I saw the recent burst of energy leaking out of her. As usual, it had lasted for little more than a week or so, and she’d used it all up. Like a punctured blow-up pool toy, she seemed to slowly deflate while shadows blossomed in her gaze.

Childhood is such a passionate time. If you have ever seen a three-year old express anger, joy, sadness or love, you know what a I mean. Everything is new and everything is normal. An adult might see a child’s circumstances as horrible, but that child knows of nothing else. As they grow and learn to compare, some of their passion is sloughed off.

There are three children in our main character’s family: Jim (seventh grade), narrator (sixth grade) and Mary (fourth grade/Room X). All three seem to be pretty smart with Mary as the probable winner. Her placement in a special class is due to the inability of her teachers to get an answer from her. All three are authority adverse. There is an hilarious episode regarding Jim’s personality/IQ test. All three get this self-confidence from their mother, who allows them quite a bit of leeway when it comes to school.

I found myself loving this family. Perhaps Mary in particular (although I probably identified most with the narrator). Mary is a child who follows her own paths. Her friends, Sally O’Malley and Sandy Graham, lived in a closet in her room and sometimes they go to school with Mary in the family basement where they are taught by their teacher, Mrs. Harkmar (all three make-believe). Mary also sports an alter-ego, Mickey. Her math abilities are pretty astounding and all learned while listening to Pop working out his horse races. Those abilities are used to identify the mystery behind the disappearance of Charlie Edison.

Poor little Charlie Edison. Lost in the battleground of Elementary (Primary) school. He is first on the list of who Bobby Harweed (bully and coward) beats up. Charlie is, sadly, also on the bully-list of some of the teachers. He does his best to stay invisible. Then one day he truly becomes invisible by disappearing for good. Our three siblings begin looking and use Botch Town as their aid.

Botch Town is Jim’s creation. It is a model of their neighborhood made from little bits and pieces Jim has picked up and glued together. Mary seems to have super-natural powers in predicting where people will be and what might happen. One of those predictions is regarding their neighborhood’s recent prowler.

Then we have the ghosts.

I loved Jeffrey Ford’s writing. Definitely recommended.


Dick van Dyke (hated by Pop, loved by the narrator): Shanty Town, I’ll Be Seeing You (comedy)

Herman’s Hermits, There’s a Kind of Hush (1967) (marks a transition)


Reviews:


Translations:


Awards:


The Shadow Year available at Amazon US

Estep, Jennifer: Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin I) (2010)

Jennifer Estep‘s Ashland, Tennessee, is like many corrupt cities/towns/countries. “Ashland might have a working police force and government, but the city was really run by one woman. Mab Monroe.” Monroe is your typical mobster. She has a respectable front powered by charity, fund-raising and activities appearing to give back to the community. Behind that façade, bribes and intimidation are favorite tools but she does not hesitate to stoop to kidnappings and murder if necessary. If you happen to be a law-abiding police officer, district attorney or judge, you are doomed one way or another.

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Prince Hamlet says to his mother Queen Gertrude:

“Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty—”

Into such a bed of corruption, Estep places Spider (Gin Snow), assassin, main character and story-teller. Gin is known as Gin Blanco, part-time cook and waitress at the Pork Pit. She regularly takes classes at Ashland Community College – the eternal student. Pork Pit is owned by Fletcher (foster-father, ex-assassin and handler/go-between). Gin loves and trusts both Fletcher and Finnegan/Finn (foster-brother and bankier). As Spider’s Bite unfolds, we discover how Gin came to be in Fletcher’s household.

We first meet Spider in Ashland Asylum. She is there to kill one of the therapists. As an introduction, this assignment serves to introduce us to Gin, her profession, the types of inhabitants in Ashland and what kinds of magic exist. Ashland is a place of magic, vampires, giants, dwarves and humans. Gin is human and a stone- and ice-elemental. The other two main forms of magic are fire- and air-magic. Most elementals have the use of one magic. If they have two, one of them is normally a minor one. Ashland’s magic is not without its dangers, addiction being one of them. Insanity another. Fletcher and Finn are humans and without magic. Early on in the story, Gin takes on an assignment that has devastating effects on her relationship with Fletcher and Finn and has the potential of bringing her within reach of Mab.

Her assignment certainly brings her within reach of Detective Donovan Caine. Caine is one of the few honest public service-people in Ashland. Of course, he and Gin are bound to clash and end in the inevitable should/should not have sex situation. Fortunately, Estep chooses to portray Gin as the instigator and Caine as the doubting, shameful one. It would be strange if they had the usual roles in paranormal literature due to Caine being the upright police officer that he is. Happily, this romance bit did not take up too much of the story. Most of their interaction was through their investigation.

Finn, Gin’s foster-brother, is something worse than an assassin (as Gin puts it). He is a bankier and Gin’s go-to person in Spider’s Bite. It would be a safe bet to say that Finn and Gin are best friends. Their friendship is vital to the success of the investigation. When Caine becomes involved he and Finn go through the usual (is it like this all over the world?) who’s-the-manlier-man procedure. Thankfully, again, Estep does not force us to endure yet another threesome (god, I hate those). No mushy stuff and no threesome. What is the world coming to?

I had fun reading Spider’s Bite. There was plenty of action. Some violence and sex. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Translations:


Spider’s Bite is available at Amazon

Rowland, Diana: Vengeance of the Demon (Kara Gillian 5) (2015)

“How long have you been able to move potency?”

Pellini exhaled. “Since my senior year in high school.”

“What happened then? Did someone start teaching you?”

He cleared his throat. “Never talked to anyone about this stuff before,” he confessed, then added, “I mean, no people.”

Idris and I both tensed. “What non-people have you talked to about this?” I asked, doing my best to remain outwardly composed.

Pellini licked his lips before speaking. “Shit. I had an imaginary friend when I was little.” A flush darkened his face. “I called him …” He hesitated then took a deep breath and plunged on. “I called him Mr. Sparkly because that’s what he looked like. For as long as I can remember, until I was in second grade, he’d find me when I was in the sandpit in my backyard and take med away.”

“Wait. Away?” I asked. “Where to?” Maybe Mr. Sparkly was just an ordinary creeper?

He chewed his lower lip. “The place I saw him wasn’t like Earth,” he said. “It was like that.” To my shock he gestured toward the nexus. “Energy and colors and light.”


Website Diana Rowland

Cover art Daniel DosSantos

Lackey, Mercedes & Edghill, Rosemary: Legacies (Shadow Grail I) (2010)

“She’s gone, what’s the harm?” Muirin said. She flipped through the manila folder. “Transcripts, notes from the teachers – huh, she was getting better grades in Art than I am – evaluations from her magic coach – Kissyface Bowman always was too easy on anybody with a flashy Water Gift – Demerits …” She stopped suddenly, as she got to the last page, and stared down at the folder in silence.

“What?” Loch said. Muirin simply held the folder out to him mutely.

He took it, and looked down at the last page. Spirit looked over his shoulder. There was just a single page there at the end, something it would be easy to take out and dispose of if for some reason you were going to hand it over to someone. At the top of the page there were several lines of illegible handwriting. The rest of the page was blank.

Except for a large red stamp that said: “Tithed.”

And the date.

Halloween. (Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill)

Teasdale, Niall: Thaumatology 101 (2011)

thaumatology-101-Niall Teasdale

Thaumatology 101 is a mystery. Ceridwyn (Ceri) Brent has been hired as a research assistant to Dr. Tennant at the Metropolitan University in London at the High-energy Thaumatology Building. Thaumatology is the magic of Teasdale’s world. Dr. Tennant has been working for a couple of years on finding a solution for the containment of T-Null. It turns out her other assistant, Shane Walters, has hampered her work. After an accident occurs that almost kills Ceri, Ceri and Lily begin searching for an answer to why Shane is out to stop Ceri.

I like the way Teasdale introduces us to the world (and the house) both Ceri and Lily are part of. Thaumatology 101 is very much about the friendship between Lily and Ceri. Ceri experiences major changes in her life during the story and Lily is there to both support and hamper her. Thaumatology 101 celebrates sexuality without being preachy or crude. I found that refreshing. Not being a romance was also great. Violence in the story was toned down. Because of the toned down violence and joyful sexuality, I would call this an older Young Adult urban fantasy tale.  The story is somewhere between a novella and a novel in length (137 pgs).

Recommended.


Reviews:


Thaumatology 101 available at Smashwords, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk

Gaiman, Neil: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)

Thank you, to my sister-in-law for giving me a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

In December, right before I turned seven my family moved from Australia to Norway. One of my memories tied to that move is stepping outside the plane into the middle of Norwegian winter. Moving was not something I wanted, and winter did not help.

Soon I was driving slowly, bumpily, down a narrow lane with brambles and briar roses on each side, wherever the edge was not a stand of hazels or a wild hedgerow. It felt like I had driven back in time. That lane was how I remembered it, when nothing else was.

Memory can be triggered by scent, sound and sight. All of a sudden you find yourself re-visiting a time you had forgotten. Neurons spark neurons and whatever filing system you have going for you opens a memory file.

If you’d asked me an hour before, I would have said no, I did not remember the way. I do not even think I would have remembered Lettie Hempstock’s name. But standing in the hallway, it was all coming back to me. Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me. Had you told me that I was seven again, I might have half believed you, for a moment.

As others have mentioned, we never discover what the name of the main character is. For the most part he is called “the boy”, and that is how I think of him. Neil Gaiman’s statement that the story is meant for adults fits my feeling while reading the book. There is enough terror (not violent) for a younger audience to enjoy it as well.

At seven years of age, children have little say in their lives. Moving to Norway was not my choice. Nor does the boy have much influence on his own life. There are a few episodes that illustrate this. To me, the episode with the cat stands out the most. Utter disregard of the possibility that the boy might be devastated shocked me. Yet, looking back at my own life, children were presumably fine with whatever the adults chose. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, adults are judged more believable than the boy. So it is when I look around at the parts of the world I have encountered. My Asperger brain is completely baffled by this phenomenon. When the boy’s enemy states

“And what can you say to her that will make any difference? She backs up your father in everything, doesn’t she.”

I am reminded of many family situations that have crossed my life-path. No matter what one parent does or says, they have the backing of the other. Utterly incomprehensible.

Being without power to decide anything about their lives is something children come to semi-accept. At the same time there is a continuous battle between adults and children to have the ability to decide. We see some of that in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The boy does not give in to the powers that be, although it might, at first, seem that way to the adults.

The Hempstock women became a safe haven for the boy. For me that is hilarious because some of the most dangerous episodes happen while together with one of them. But they sought to protect him and make his life safer by fighting for him with the means at their disposal. These means aren’t exactly regular ones.

I loved the Hempstock women. I want to be like the Hempstock women.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Ocean at the End of the Lane can be found at biblio.com


Adaptations:


Trivia:


Translations:

Turner, Tej: The Janus Cycle (2015)

The Janus Cycle by Tej Turner
Cover art: Alison Buck

A common theme in all of these short stories seems to be bullying of one sort or another. Needing to dominate others is part of our human history. Countries bully other countries into subservience and oblivion. Two countries are well-known for their tendencies to bully militarily weaker countries while decrying other nations when these do the same. Tej Turner shows us the one-on-one form of bullying and the mob-on-one kind of bullying in his semi-short stories.

All of these short stories are more or less stand alone stories. They are all tied together by Frelia. Frelia has an interesting power that could cause her death if the ones who “rule” it find out about her having that power. But bullies have been part of Frelia’s past and she will not be forced into obedience just because some mysterious stranger tells her she has to. That decision is an essential one to the stories of Pikel, Kev, Tristan, Neal, Namda, Halan, Sam, Pag, Faye and Tilly. Frelia’s intervention changes lives, hopefully for the better.

Mobs with a charismatic leader are a frightening thing. Poor Tilly has the great misfortune of having one of those in her school and she has the kind of aura that many victims end up with. Sadly, this aura attracts predators like Jarvis and his gang.

Bullying (for whatever reason) drags your sense of self-worth down until it seems impossible to gain any of it back. The bullied person becomes so used to people being mean that trust is difficult to come by. At one point things became so desperate for her that Tilly was ready to kill herself. Being treated like a verbal and/or physical punching bag almost every day makes her need to be true to herself something I both admire and understand. Poor little Tilly. Tej Turner made me want to hug her.

“They carried on kicking her. In the face, the head, the stomach. They stamped on her legs, and one of them even spared a moment to spit at her. I desperately tried to intervene, but there were too many and I couldn’t reach them. They were killing her, but they carried on regardless. So long as the rest of them were doing it they seemed to feel it was okay, and none of them wanted to be the first to hesitate.”

In one way or another we all seem to become part of various kinds of mobs.

Definitely recommended.


The story behind the Janus Cycle


Janus Cycle available at Amazon US



I was given an ARC copy by the author

Ward, Matthew: Queen of Eventide (Eventide I) (2015)

Queen of Eventide by Matthew Ward

Queen of Eventide kept me up until I had finished it. It was weird, fun and tense (sometimes all at once). Now that playtime is over, it is time for my review.

Maddie twisted around, wiping blood out of her eyes. She saw only mist, glowing and swirling in the moonlight, but this did nothing to stem her rising panic.

Maddie has reason to panic. She is being chased by several parties and does not know who is for her or who is against her. Keeping knowledge from me, the reader, is a great tool for an author. Mr. Ward wields it well although I do catch on to some things before he reveals them to me.

Nottingham supposedly flourishes with ghosts. Certain signs and portents must be present for some of them to show. In Queen of Eventide, some of these ghosts come from a place called Eventide, and they are of a particularly creepy/frightening nature. All of a sudden a person might find themselves being chased by a huntsman and his wolves. Maddie finds herself being chased several times and for reasons she does not understand. Each time William seems to appear to save her. Or is he really there to save her? Allegiances are an iffy matter in Queen of Eventide.

My favorite character was Charles King. Partly, that has to do with the sense of humor he brings to the story. When Maddie first meets him, he introduces himself as a fortune teller. Maddie tells him she thought fortune tellers were old women and Charles answers:

“Ah, there you have me,” Charles replied. “I am not, in fact, and old woman.” Maddie shot him a long-suffering look, and he pressed hurriedly on. “I do, however, possess a knack for peeking into the future.” He leaned forward, conspiratorially. “I inherited it from my grandmother – who was, you’ll be pleased to know, an old woman.”

Hollows are the strangest and possibly most disturbing creatures of the story. They aren’t creepy because of what they do, but due to what they are. We are talking bizarre. And that is all I can say about them without serious spoilers gotting in the way.

As an Asperger, metaphors can be a challenge. Mr. Ward excels in his use of them. Thankfully most of them are familiar ones. Some of them I use myself. The ones who aren’t add to the humor and fantastical aspect of the story.

Queen of Eventide was well worth the read – as my staying up well into the night is evidence of.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Queen of Eventide is available at Smashwords.com


A copy of the story was given to me by the author


Eventide: [Middle English, from Old English ǣfentīd : ǣfen, evening + tīd, time; see dā- in Indo-European roots.] = aftentid/kveldstid in Norwegian

Turner, Chris: Magical Entities Are Not For Sale (Fantastic Realms) (2011)

Magical Entities Are Not for Sale - Chris Turner

Magical Entities is a cute story that seems to intend to teach children the importance of keeping their promises even when keeping them is difficult.

Radpa, has chosen Klarys to take over his store. But she must prove herself worthy of this task. Klarys is only nine when she begins this life-long journey. Sometimes she falls short of her potential. But that is OK because Radpa just expects her to keep on trying. And she does.

There is no violence, no swearing and no sexual content. I have set it as children’s literature.

Recommended.


Reviews:


Magical Entities Are Not For Sale available on Booktracks (audio)

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent – quote from page 199

Before Inari could protest, he slid his arms around her waist and lifted her up towards the ceiling. She grasped the edge of the opening and hoisted herself through, feeling uncomfortably exposed in the rags of her dressing gown.

“Please don’t look at me,” she said, embarrassed.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” the demon replied gallantly. She was sure he was lying,”…

Harrison, Kim: The Witch with No Name (Hollows XIII) (2014)

For the insider, The Witch With No Name brings Hollows to an end with loads of action, death, betrayal, idiocy and heroism.

Master vampires have no sense of other people’s boundaries. They take psychopathy to its extreme. Seriously scary people. Anyone in their right mind would be afraid of them. Perhaps even seasoned demons. Young ones, like Rachel (the only young demon around), need to keep master vampires away from themselves altogether. Often fictional lives do not work out that way.

When a master vampire, like Cormel, wants something, he does not care at all about anything but what he wants. He utilizes anything he thinks will work to get Rachel to do his bidding. Hell, he’ll even use the tools at his disposal even if he doesn’t think they will be effective.

By now Rachel has come to love such an amount of people that Cormel can pick and choose who he wishes to hurt Rachel with. He wants the souls of the undead re-united with their bodies. Whether that is a good thing or not for the vampires, himself even, he cares not. My will be done! So be it! Lord and emperor in one is how he sees himself.

Psychopaths are seriously frightening people and noone wants them in their lives. But at least they are consistent in not caring, in abusing and in being bad for you. The rest of us though. All of us who deal in shades of grey. Man, we are the ones to be worried about. Some of us try to be half-way decent, while others of us tend to lean more towards deviousness and anarchy, but we are all unpredictable. These are the people who will do the most harm to Rachel and her loved ones.

Perhaps people can help it, but I haven’t seen signs of it yet. We do what we think will benefit ourselves and those we care for. It may be detrimental to all the involved parties, but somehow we find ways to justify godawful choices. Some of Trent and Rachel’s enemies are like that. They want what they think is best for themselves and those they wish on their side, even if part of them has to know (it just has to) that they are doing something stupid. Boy is their choice dumb, idiotic, beyond comprehension, yet oh, such a normal thing.

How does a person fight such people? Sometimes you can’t and sometimes you just have to do your best. In Rachel’s case her best can be pretty impressive. While Kim Harrison manages to convince me that Rachel is afraid and all of that, Rachel is way beyond my abilities – not thinking about the magic stuff now. She is simply brave. Brave and loving and dangerous and stupid. But she tries her best to make life better for her loved ones. Since this story is about her and her coterie, she is the one that matters to me. Forget the rest. LET THEM BURN. Or not. Fortunately it just so happens that what is good for Rachel and her people is also good for the rest of the magical population.

And so it ends. Definitely recommended.


The Witch With No Name available at

                      


My review of:

Gilman, Laura Anne: Staying Dead (The Retrievers I) (2006)

Before starting in on a review of the PSI books, I felt the need to revisit the Retriever‘s series’ Staying Dead. Too many books have come between the last time I read it and now. That, and Bonnie, the main character of PSI, has a walk-on in one of the Retriever books.

Staying Dead is a mystery with a dash of current (magic) added in. Well, a lot of current, but it remains mainly a mystery that just happens to be placed in an urban fantasy environment. Theft method is by current and the retriever of that object is also gifted by the ability to use current (electricity both wild and tamed). Lightning is an example of wild current. Tamed is hopefully self-explanatory.

Our main character is Genvieve Taylor. Next in importance is her partner, Sergei Didier. Sergei and Wren “retrieve” lost items. Retrieve is used in its loosest sense in their business. I kind of like it when the a thief is set to catch a thief who has hired a thief to steal from a thief. Maybe this is one crime where there is only one victim – the original one. Or maybe not.

Staying Dead is also very much about racism. Village Pest Removal services ask people to “Let us remove infestations and unwanted visitations”. Wren soon understands that they are talking about removing the fatae from New York. Fantasy and science fiction seem to have become the venue where serious discussions about the impact of racism and all the various forms of bigotry occur. Perhaps that has to do with the opportunity the authors have to create a landscape of humans vs. non-humans.

Our world is filled with racism. Norway is no exception to that. I doubt any country is devoid of it. Here pink in various hues is the majority color. Practically any tone of brown stands out. I admit to be racist. I am also a bigot. Neither fact makes me proud and I do try to keep my mouth shut about some the thoughts that appear in my head. But I have been raised in a faith and several societies that have shared racism as part of their underlying principles (only an explanation – not an excuse). Sergei is that kind of racist. He really tries to control what he says, but he does not trust the otherness of the fatae. Like humans some of the fatae are mean and some of them are kind. Sergei did not understand that until Wren knocked some sense into his head. I needed to understand group processes and exactly what was meant by the term racism and find a way to relate it to myself. Sergei gets to do that as one after the other of the fatae is beaten to a bloody pulp for no other reason than being fatae. Life is like that. Every once in a while something or some person comes along that lets us see people in a new light.

Many books have come between reading Staying Dead for the first time and this time. I am still definitely recommending it.


Reviews:


Staying Dead available on Scribd.com


Race ya.

Pettersson, Vicky: The Scent of Shadows (The Sign of the Zodiac I) (2007)

Superheroes and comic books in novel format are challenging for me to read. Needing to suspend logic altogether places me well outside my comfort zone. Every once in a while I choose to expose myself to the genre. The Scent of Shadows is one such novel.

Joanna Archer is born in the sign of the Archer. The Archer ends up being her secret identity, one that her enemies cannot pierce. Her metamorphosis into The Archer also brings about another metamorphosis, caused by the death of her sister and Joanne’s surprising survival.

She now discovers a world where healing happens at extraordinary tempos, and where death is difficult to achieve, the latter being a bonus for yourself but a minus when your enemies are just as difficult to kill.

I found the characters in Master Comics fascinating. Strangely enough, Master Comics is where Joanna finds her answers as to who and what she is. Not from her so-called allies, the Agents of Light. But then it might be difficult to trust someone who represents both our sides with information that could make them stronger. In fact, I think I liked the people frequenting Master Comics more than the rest of the characters of Scent of Shadows.

Ms. Pettersson’s writing is what drew me in. That and some really fun action scenes. One of those is gory, but does represent a need for vengeance that some (if not most) of us probably feel at one time or another.


Reviews:


The Scent of Shadows available on Scribd

Cane, Laken: New Regime (Rune Alexander V) (2014)

New Regime - Laken CaneThe Rune Alexander serial is dark. Probably too dark for a lot of you out there.

Life hasn’t gotten any easier for Rune. Others against humans, others against others and humans against others does not make for a quiet life for the Shiv Crew. Racism is a strange thing. Inside my head my logical part tells me that the oppressed should be above being racist themselves. But that just isn’t so. The Others have been killed for sport by many humans. Turns out the Others aren’t any better themselves really, because there is always another person whose looks/qualities places them lower on the value-ladder. In New Regime the ones who seem to be the lowest of the low are the Pikes. And the Pikes know it.

Rune asks Owen if he thinks she is evil. Owen’s answer is that she is who she is. And really, how do you define evil? Is it even possible? I doubt it. Rune fights for the people she cares for. In her case those people are the Shiv Crew and their unofficial mascot, Gunnar. For them she would do anything. To her enemies, Rune and Shiv Crew are evil. But the world is like that. We are divided into us and them and the evil ones happen to be all of THEM. The Others, the Humans, the Magic, the Strangers, the Fanatics and on and on the list goes. All of these groups have branches that consider the Shiv Crew disposable, usable or tortureable. And the feelings are often mutual.

Rune is her monster and her monster is Rune. Finally, Rune is coming to terms with that. Both want to be in control and finding the balance between the two is a struggle. While few of us will have to wade through the blood and gore that the Shiv Crew do, some people have to live lives fraught with life and death situations daily. How do people balance their monsters and kinder sides in such situations? Probably the way Rune has had to, by accepting that she is becoming the person she is and needs to find a way to live with.

There is plenty of blood and gore. Some humor. Some romance, although not of the “sigh” variety. Plenty of friendship. Plenty of action. Some really sad situations. Definitely recommended.

Majorly cool ending! Just saying.

I received a reviewer’s copy.


Reviews:


New Regime available on Amazon US, Amazon UK


My reviews of:

  1. Shiv Crew
  2. Blood and Bite
  3. Strange Trouble
  4. Obsidian Wings