Jude Crow is the Native American gamer girl version of the Iron Druid from the first Hearne book. The differences are mostly window dressing but for tJude Crow is the Native American gamer girl version of the Iron Druid from the first Hearne book. The differences are mostly window dressing but for the power type and source. Jude is a sorceress hiding her powers from her evil ex in a comics and game shop rather than a bookstore. She has a group of gamer friends, a leprechaun pawn shop owner next door, and a crowd of shapeshifters who believe in her. With all the were-animals about, there is no need for a talking dog. The comic relief is shared among the sidekick friends and the Russian weretiger she starts dating.
This was a fun set of stories. The plots aren't hard and the characters are easy to like or not. The scenes and stories were almost at minstrel theater levels of shallow, but that was what I enjoyed about them. Plots. Yes, there are four in this omnibus. Bad evil thing shows up and kills someone who was important to someone else. Bad evil thing must be stopped and likely destroyed. Neighbors start hating on Jude for her powers. Friends start believing she can do miracles. She and Russian boyfriend don't communicate. Magic slags her cell phone, or she drops it, or it gets shot. Then she gets shot or stabbed or burned or exploded on. She has to kill someone. Someone important makes a cutting personal commentary that causes her to hate herself. Her friends badger her into moving again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sprinkle in some D&D references or movie lines. Happily for me, Phenomenal cosmic power, itty bitty living space was one of them. And yes, In Soviet Russia, references get you!
I picked Level Grind up because it was a part of a Barns and Noble blog post about "12 Highly Binge-able Urban Fantasy Series." This was the only book/series that I hadn't already read that looked interesting. There are blood, guts, and gore, but this still felt like a summer beach book for me....more
Once upon a time, in a desert or a science lab or a mouse hole or a space station, there lived a character...
This is a fun and interesting collectionOnce upon a time, in a desert or a science lab or a mouse hole or a space station, there lived a character...
This is a fun and interesting collection of retold fairy tales. Most of them end well, though there are some horrors and equivocations included as well. I enjoyed the idea of reading retellings where little girls have agency and might be called villains for some slice of the story. And then I (mostly) enjoyed the fact of the reading. There are lesbian lovers, AIs, teachers, lab partners, impossible animals, and twisting truths.
I thoroughly enjoyed the stories by Seanan McGuire, Amal El-Mohtar, Marjorie Liu, Kat Howard, and Naomi Novak. Some of the others were enjoyable enough. And a few were horrifying. Two were written in ways that did not catch or keep my attention.
I just saw the musical Into the Woods. I think that experience might have left me particularly receptive to the stories and retellings in The Starlit Wood. Regardless, I recommend this book for its blatant invitation to revisit and rethink what we know and what we believe fairy tales are teaching us. ...more
McGuire knows about ghosts and witches. She introduced us to many different kinds of people - routewitches, crossroads ghosts, etc. - in Sparrow HillMcGuire knows about ghosts and witches. She introduced us to many different kinds of people - routewitches, crossroads ghosts, etc. - in Sparrow Hill Road. Here in the Dusk, it is a different world of fables and tales, but there are ghosts and witches just the same. There are ghosts in mirrors and witches in cornfields, only sometimes the ghosts are just getting coffee and pie, and the corn witch is playing guitar in the corner of the diner.
Ghosts have threads of life, too, we learn, and when they are cut short, someone has to weave in the days and years that span the difference between their time of death and their time of dying day. Jenna died too early, running away from grief. So she went to New York City to try to earn herself onward to her actual dying day, one precious lifesaving minute at a time. Then she found out that someone was stealing ghosts out of existence. And she stopped running away, and started running *toward*.
There's a plot in this book, but like McGuire's recent book Every Heart a Doorway, this book is not particularly focused on presenting the plot. It is about knowing yourself and being kind to others. It is about human connections regardless of origin or current situation. It is about hearts coming together to weave the fabric of society stronger against the pull of greed and the entropy of indifference. The story is also about knowing where you are going - and why - and eventually, finally, going home.
And here, have a gloriously creepy quote: My gran used to tell us stories about goblin markets and dangerous fairy men back when Patty and I were small, and sometimes the city reminds me of those old fables. This is where you go to get lost. This is where you go to lose yourself. Maybe that's why we have the second highest population of the dead in the United States. The highest is in Las Vegas, where everything is twilight and neon and no one notices if your eyes bleed screams and your skin feels like slow murder....more
If I recall correctly from one of the few interviews I read a while ago, this book is one that Bujold has thought about for many years, but was waitinIf I recall correctly from one of the few interviews I read a while ago, this book is one that Bujold has thought about for many years, but was waiting for society and her readers to catch up to her. It goes back to Cordelia, but moves forward from her vicereine job (Emperor-appointed ruler of the planet) on Sergyar. A great deal of the history that she shared with Aral, and knew about even when she didn't share it, has come forward in time to be woven into the fabric of her life choices now. In this story, three years after Aral's death, Cordelia is now revisiting hopes and dreams and desires that she put aside for fourty years of work at Aral's side.
With the "Red Queen" title and the DNA cover, I was expecting a lot more evolutionary biology in this story. What I got instead was another little slice of Cordelia's... bestowing of redemption, most particularly on herself and Aral's former aide. There were more hearts broken by Aral's death, but also more freedoms created, than we had been privy to knowing during the end of Cryoburn. And I appreciate how Miles and his family contributed to the satisfying conclusion all 'round this time, even though the main focus was Cordelia.
This book also unexpectedly answered a question that I've had since Diplomatic Immunity regarding the Cetagandans. So that was a nice bonus. Not that I like the answer, but at least it was reasonable enough in context.
For the love of all that is good and right in fiction reading, DO NOT pick this book up unless you have at least read Cordelia's Honor, and preferably also Warrior's Apprentice and Brothers in Arms. Really, you should have a full grasp of Cordelia and a reasonably good one of Miles before reading this. Mom has read Cordelia's honor, Cetaganda, and Komarr, so I think she has enough background to move with this one. However, I think she needs another year away from Dad's death before embracing this change. ...more
When we left our heroine two books back in Cast in Flame, Hawk Private and human healer Kaylin Neya was a part of a huge battle in which we saw DragonWhen we left our heroine two books back in Cast in Flame, Hawk Private and human healer Kaylin Neya was a part of a huge battle in which we saw Dragons and Aerians in the sky and Barrani on the ground in a bloody clash with the shadow dragon of Ravellon. Kaylin found a new place to live (with an avatar now named Helen) with her translucent familiar and various guests-come-roommates. She also ended up giving relationship advice to the Emperor. Cast in Honor, the most recent book, called Kaylin to investigate a homicide and a growing rift in reality that threatened to tear the city out of the space-time continuum of Elantra. However, Cast in Honor was a weird after school special that is almost irrelevant to the series plot-arc at the moment.
The current book, Cast in Flight, builds directly off of the battle-ending from Cast in Flame, with only a few referential callbacks to the shadows exposed in Cast in Honor. Kaylin offers Hawk Sergeant (and Aerian healer) Moran lodging at/with Helen while Moran’s wings heal from battle wounds. Unfortunately, Moran is not claiming all that she is, and shadow-laden assassins show up to prove the point. Kaylin is repeatedly told to stay out of what is declared to be an Aerian-exclusive matter. Insatiable curiosity does not mix well with obeying orders, so Kaylin keeps digging. Her vocational quest for fairness and justice – and answers – brings the ensemble cast together to keep Moran alive, stop the attempted murder, and expose the dark plots. Bellusdeo and Teela provide unstoppable muscle. Severn is the quiet voice of reason. Mandoran provides surprising assistance as well.
I love this series as a whole. The world building is fascinating. The main characters are complex and layered even when their decisions are stark. I find it fun how Kaylin has slowly collected – through plot and action over many books - a group of very powerful friends and allies, now possibly including the Emperor. And I appreciate that Sagara allows for knowledgeable and powerful people of all types to have their foibles without becoming caricatures of themselves.
However, I’ve had ups and downs with specific Elantra books. About four books back, we got to the point of too many cast members for everyone to be active in any one book. Formerly critical people, such as Marcus and Maggaron, were given two seconds of stage time. While there is plenty of action sprinkled through Cast in Flight, be prepared for what is basically a running, multi-speaker, 400-page conversation over identities and responsibilities. Nightshade’s argument with Annarion got old before we finished the introduction, and provided only a tinge of flavor to the main discussion. Also, apparently Sagara’s editor took leave of absence during both the plot-tuning and the proofing. (For example, the Emperor’s name was changed from Dariandaros to Darranatos.)
I know authors dislike hearing this, but readers need to: Don’t start the Chronicles of Elantra series here if you have the time and interest to run the table. Yes, the plot is self-contained. Yes, you can understand the conclusion without any backstory. But you would be missing so much useful and interesting knowledge! Start at the beginning so that you can understand why almost every person/place/thing/event is referenced or occurs. And you can meet characters with strong histories, amazing talents, and heartbreaking insights.
I maintain my stance that the even-numbered Elantra books are better than the odd-numbered ones. This was a good one. So if the last one made you wonder if you should go on, I say dooooo it!...more
Night Shift is the third in the stories about the fictional town of Midnight, Texas. Apparently the town sits at a historical crossroads that might beNight Shift is the third in the stories about the fictional town of Midnight, Texas. Apparently the town sits at a historical crossroads that might be supernaturally influencing people to commit suicide at that intersection. The residents of Midnight are various witnesses to the blood that spills under the traffic light. The questions are, of course, "who?" and "why?" The answer might be in a werewolf-skin tome written by a vampire... in Etruscan, of all languages.
I'm following this series because I find Harris's characters fascinating. There's a psychic who does the majority of his work online. There's a vampire running a pawn shop. Two former angels opened a salon and manicure place. The town's only resident preacher is a weretiger. And there's a snarky talking cat. I enjoy them all from the safety of the page.
For me, a Harris book is a combination of comfort-reading and character study. Fundamentally, Harris writes murder mysteries. While her main characters have ranged from a housecleaner (Lily Bard) to a telepath (Sookie Stackhouse), the structure of the story is pretty much the same across her various series. So while there may be twists and turns, there are not all that many surprises. This is an intellectually light-lift, post-beach summer reading story. ...more
The High King and Queen of, well, basically North America, called a conclave in Queen Arden's kingdom to discuss the major alchemical breakthrough thaThe High King and Queen of, well, basically North America, called a conclave in Queen Arden's kingdom to discuss the major alchemical breakthrough that Toby has brought forward from her friends at the end of book nine. (I'm trying to avoid spoilers.) Before we got to the actual conclave, we learned a lot more about the over-monarchs and some more about Quentin. And then the high and mighty arrived and started arguing about the vast implications of the change in magic, and then things got messy and bloody.
Oddly, Toby's role in this story ended up feeling smaller than it was on paper. She was the melody line through the whole plot, but there were a lot of strong secondary characters to understand and include in the conversations. The Luidaeg played a strong part as magician, aide, and general intimidation/muscle on behalf of the FirstBorn. Tybalt was an off-note for the first half of the story, though that awkwardness was deliberate and a part of the story line. Quentin was back to being a sidekick, and Raj was basically wallpaper for a handful of pages.
This was a fast murder mystery, given that the action really didn't start until the conclave started on page 65. The bad guy's magic trick of the book was intriguing, given that it sounded like tearing aluminum foil and didn't smell of anything. And of course Toby was a bloody mess before the story ended.
There is obviously more story still to go in this series. There were at least five specific notable references and any number of inferences to some combination of The Luidaeg's history with the Roane, The Luidaeg's decision coming on the selkies, and Toby's favor owed to The Luidaeg which was going to be something to do with the selkies.
Literary footnote inserted here: Now is the time to go back and spend time and money on the short stories that fill in the gaps within the Toby Daye book series. "In Sea Salt Tears" will explain the line about "Broken any young girl's hearts recently?" from Elizabeth to The Luidaeg. "Full of Briars" will keep the oblique references to Quentin's parents and his current romance far less annoying. Once the conclave starts and the bodies start hitting the floor, both One Salt Sea and "Heaps of Pearl" are useful background for Patrick and Dianda.
I spent a lot of this book breaking out into spontaneous barks of laughter in all kinds of inappropriate times. For example:
The Luideag waited until they were gone before she turned to me, "What happened?" she asked. "The same thing that always happens," I said. "We were having a perfectly nice evening until it got ruined by a corpse." Her smile was full of teeth. "Oh good," she said. "I was worried that it was something serious." ...more