If you read a lot of books, you know that some are just different. Some are just a plot, they’re entertaining enough on an airplane, but the characterIf you read a lot of books, you know that some are just different. Some are just a plot, they’re entertaining enough on an airplane, but the characters don’t change much, or really feel like real people. It’s like you’re watching a summer blockbuster movie. It’s fun and all, but you won’t be buying the DVD.
And some are different. They might be a bit harder to read. They might be longer. They might take a little while to get into. They might challenge the way you think. They might do all of these things or even none of them, but what they’re virtually guaranteed to do is transport you to another time and place, putting you in touch with people you couldn’t possibly meet but couldn’t possibly do without. These are the books you know you’re not going to read just once.
Malus Domestica is one of these.
It has a plot that, while it has traditional elements (good v evil and coming home to face your demons for starters) it’s not just another horror novel.
I would go so far as to suggest that it’s not really a horror novel at all, though it certainly has elements that might scare people or even just creep them right the hell out. I would suggest that it’s more of a cross between epic fantasy and urban fantasy. Epic urban fantasy, if you will.
Your protagonist is a young woman in contemporary America who deals with some seriously supernatural shit while fighting her own inner demons. She throws some snark and kicks some ass while being legitimately vulnerable and not remotely mary-sue-ish. At the same time, though, it’s pretty clear that her tussle with her own personal villains is only a very small front in a very large war. When it ends, you know there is more to come on a million different fronts, both personal and not.
This book has women who aren’t just there to be rescued. It has people of color who aren’t just there to be people of color. It has disabled people who aren’t there just to be disabled people. It has gay people who aren’t there just to be gay people. These are real characters who feel like real people who just happen to be female or African American or disabled or gay. It’s part of who they are without defining who they are, just like real life.
“Just like real life” is pretty much a theme here. If the supernatural elements were real, this is a story that everyone could see happening in the town next door (because bad stuff doesn’t ever happen our town, of course.)
If you care about a great story that is going to creep you right the hell out, this book is for you.
If you care about great characters who are going to feel like old friends by the time you finish the book, this book is for you.
If you care about having books that have different kinds of people who aren’t portrayed as some mystical other, but just as normal people, this book is for you.
If you care about having books that hint that there is so much more to the world than can really fit between two covers, this book is for you....more
Strange Places is a fairy tale to the last inch. It starts with a protagonist, Tayna, who is an orphaned girl in a terrible orphanage run by terribleStrange Places is a fairy tale to the last inch. It starts with a protagonist, Tayna, who is an orphaned girl in a terrible orphanage run by terrible nuns. They call it the Old Shoe and that, really, is your first tipoff that this is a fairly tale. Things get worse before they get better and the next thing you know, Tanya is in a whole new world, advised that there is danger, but also that she may have parents somewhere that she hasn't known before.
Tayna is an enchanting heroine. She's enough a part of our world that she doesn't entirely trust everything that's going on around her, and enough of a little girl that she really really wants all this magic stuff to be magic.
And the magic...it's what I like best about this series so far. We're introduced to the magic in a forest where the ability to do magic is based on the awe one can see in the world around you. This is referred to as life magic, and we later see death magic which is kinda dark, creepy, and gross, but that's how you know it's a fairly tale.
The plot is more of a "Let's put this person in a new world and let them explore it" than it is a "Let's get things done" kind of plot and perhaps that's to be expected from something called Strange Places.
All in all, I would call this an enjoyable read for adults while being safe for children, although, if you're considering reading it to a child, I would warn you that the chapters tend to be rather long....more
Realmgolds has a little bit of a lot of things and as such is a little different than, well, everything. It has a little bit of politics, a little bitRealmgolds has a little bit of a lot of things and as such is a little different than, well, everything. It has a little bit of politics, a little bit of war, a teensy weensy bit of romance, a bit of fantasy, a bit of steampunk, a little bibliphilic geekery.
It's good stuff.
A Realmgold is a chief executive in a federalist system of shared power. In this case, a young man named Determined is a somewhat reluctant (and unsurprisingly, ineffective) Realmgold of a country named Denning.
He sees his country is falling apart and decides he doesn't want his country to go down that way on his watch. The story tracks his growth as a person and a leader, as well as his relationship with the Realmgold of neighboring Koskant.
The end comes a bit quickly and might seem a tad anti climactic, but the focus here isn't really on the action, it's on the processes behind the action. What we see are civil servants, portrayed as anything from competent to heroic in their ability to address problems and make lives better.
It is, as I said, different, but it's entertaining and you should check it out....more
If you have ever read Chuck Wendig’s musings at terribleminds.com and thought them the demented ravings of a dangerously disturbed individual, BlackbiIf you have ever read Chuck Wendig’s musings at terribleminds.com and thought them the demented ravings of a dangerously disturbed individual, Blackbirds will do nothing to assuage those fears.
Saying it is dark and gritty is akin to saying the Beatles didn’t suck. Our heroine, Miriam Black, is a fundamentally broken person. You don’t want to get to know her and you really don’t want to touch her.
And yet, Blackbirds is compelling in more than just a car wreck kind of way. Miriam knows she’s broken, knows how and why she’s broken, and still struggles to be less broken.
“What fate wants, fate gets,” she says, and yet she fights fate and does so, in part because she is fated to.
It’s sick, twisted, and a most excellent story....more
Chuck Wendig takes insightful writing advice, piles on a load of funny and vulgarity and guys like me eat it up. Which is to say, I respect him and whChuck Wendig takes insightful writing advice, piles on a load of funny and vulgarity and guys like me eat it up. Which is to say, I respect him and when I got the chance to get this novella free I jumped all over it like Jerry Sandusky at kindergarten recess.
If that last sentence bothered you then you don’t want to read Shotgun Gravy.
I don’t really like rating things from one star to five because when you get down to it, it’s just too goddamn dumb. Stories aren’t shoes. They’re more complicated. Genre matters but it’s not everything. Plot matters but it’s not everything. Characters matter but blah blah blah you get the idea.
Which is why this particular review is kind of difficult for me to write. I don’t really know what I think about Shotgun Gravy except that if the three volumes to come were out right now, I’d have bought them already. So, yeah, stick five stars on this puppy and let’s get on with it.
I didn’t really have any expectations going in which is probably odd but I think served me well as the story took some turns I really wouldn’t have imagined it taking. I’m not entirely convinced the last--or maybe second to last--turn really worked but I’d buy the next story in a heartbeat so it must have worked on some level.
Atlanta Burns is a great character with a great name. There’s a little ick in her backstory so if you think this is YA and you’re thinking of giving it to a youngish teenager you probably want to give it a read first. Also the word “fuck” shows up occasionally.
She’s tough or she wouldn’t have survived the ick in her past and while she’s superficially cynical she also has a fundamental sense of fairness and decency that most adults can’t muster. At the same time she’s got a whole boatload of emotional frailties that would make you weep if you actually knew her.
I’m not entirely sure why I loved this, but I did....more