This is the story of a shipwrecked sailor on a deserted island.
Except, that’s hardly fair. Anikka is not a sailor, but an engineer, and the island is This is the story of a shipwrecked sailor on a deserted island.
Except, that’s hardly fair. Anikka is not a sailor, but an engineer, and the island is a planet suitable for human life and colonization. Also, the planet isn’t deserted. At least, it’s not supposed to be deserted. There should be colonists there already.
The shipwreck is real, though.
Anikka wakes up after ten years of cryo-sleep, gets told she has five minutes to get into an escape pod, or she’ll die as the ship crashes. Not a good way to start your week, and there’s no coffee.
Also, there are no colonists. They’re missing. Gone.
That’s how the book begins.
Together with her trusty AI, named Bleep-Bloop, or BB for short, Anikka needs to find out what happened to the colonists, why the ship crashed, if there are other survivors, how to get food, and how to avoid all the creatures that want to kill and eat her.
Just like the sailor on the deserted island, Surviving Daybreak a good old-fashioned adventure story. Complete with a blue wolf sidekick.
What I’ll whine about Anikka goes through a lot to establish a base and a home in the jungle/forest of her new planet, and while it’s a struggle, it all seems to come together quite easily. I realized after finishing the book that it’s written for a YA reader, and perhaps that has something to do with it (I’m a grumpy old fart about YA sometime).
What I’ll gush about BB. Anikka’s anxious AI companion is a great addition to the story. She adds both fun and perspective to the situation, especially as she tries to tune her humor filters just right.
Representation. Anikka is ace – not attracted to others, male or female – and while it’s not a big part of the story (there’s no one else around to be attracted to), it’s a nice addition.
Finally, there’s Anikka’s prosthetic arm. Keeping it in functioning order is imperative, as there are no replacement parts, and it’s good to see how a thing like that brings a little extra complexity into someone’s life.
Final words A modern-day Robinson Crusoe, in space....more
This is a light-hearted humorous urban fantasy novel, or maybe a novella – it’s quite short. It’s also well written and keeps a good pace, so it’s a vThis is a light-hearted humorous urban fantasy novel, or maybe a novella – it’s quite short. It’s also well written and keeps a good pace, so it’s a very quick read.
When Joan was six years old, her school teacher lost her patience, cursed the entire class, and disappeared. Now, it’s almost thirty years later, and Joan may just have stumbled on the clue she needs to break the curse.
The story is about how Joan and a few of her old class mates (not exactly friends all of them) try to decipher the clue to see whether it’s relevant or just a random coincidence. There’s witty banter, romantic complications, and magic. Not entirely wholesome, but good fun.
What I’ll whine about As the son of two teachers, I feel like I could kind of relate to the poor school teacher who originally cast the curse. Sure, cursing a bunch of six year olds isn’t a nice thing to do, but it felt more like a convenient plot device than an actual villainous act of evil. Then again, this is a book you read for a laugh and some escapism, not to explore the dark corners of the human psyche.
What I’ll gush about The cast. Sure, most of the people in the book are over-the-top caricatures, but they’re varied, and they’re fun.
Science. It was interesting to see the characters applying scientific methods to investigating the witchcraft. There were also some fun discussions about what’s real or not real, given that witches and curses exist.
Final words A quick fun read for when you need to clear your mind after something heavy and serious....more
The Eve Williams series is not your ordinary Urban Fantasy series. It’s a little bit darker, its characters a little more broken and twisted, and the The Eve Williams series is not your ordinary Urban Fantasy series. It’s a little bit darker, its characters a little more broken and twisted, and the romance aspect moves at a near-glacial pace.
It’s also written in third person.
This is the fifth installment in the series, and while I didn’t remember much of what happened last, there were enough clues in the story to catch me up without trouble. What I do remember from the previous books is the vibe of the story. It’s a bit heavier than much other urban fantasy I’ve read. There’s less snark and witty banter, and there’s more cruelty and trauma.
In this book, Eve and Silas are tasked with capturing a serial killer who’s been preying on a yearly festival in a small town out in the sticks. The murder mystery itself isn’t all that interesting, but Eve’s recovery from what she’s recently been through as well as her relationship to Silas more than make up for it.
It should be mentioned that Silas is not the love interest of the series, so it’s not that kind of relationship. Rather, the two of them are learning to tolerate each other and suffer each other’s presence. It doesn’t always work out very well.
What I’ll Whine About This felt a bit like a filler in the series, and I very much hope there will be more to come. A previous subplot got (sort of) resolved, but the overall plot of the series didn’t move forward that much. Sure, the character development was good, but there’s still a whole lot that’s up in the air and that’s still waiting to be tied up.
What I’ll Gush About Characters. Eve is one of the most broken, stubborn characters I’ve come across. As I recall, the series started out fairly standard, but it slowly turned darker and darker (not grimdark). There’s a heavy focus on Eve’s internal struggles, both in this book and earlier in the series, and I feel it’s well done.
World Building. The setting is slightly different to much other UF. The supernatural is out in the open, and it’s governed by the Druid Brotherhood that keeps everything in its iron grip, for better or for worse. The story doesn’t show much of the interaction between the supernatural and the mundane, but it comes into play now and then.
Necromancy. Eve is a necromancer, which is something to be feared and despised in the world of the story. Rather than someone who raises skeletons to fight her enemies, she’s someone who’s able to see the last few moments of a person’s life – an ability that’s in demand by people wanting to catch supernatural murderers.
Final Words This is a great series, and while this book might not be the best yet, the whole series is definitely worth checking out....more
Paternus is the accounting of the third and last great war of the gods. It’s also the story of the Last Daughter of the Father, the fight against evilPaternus is the accounting of the third and last great war of the gods. It’s also the story of the Last Daughter of the Father, the fight against evil, the end of days, and the destruction of not just our world, but of all known worlds.
It’s easily the most epic contemporary fantasy story I’ve ever read.
To clarify, by contemporary I mean that it takes place in the real world and in modern-day times. In fact, it begins just at the end of September, in Ohio.
For Tanuki, it begins with buying a nice rug for his brother. For Kabir, it begins with being attacked by Maskim Xul. For Baphomet, it begins with an encounter with a witch no one has heard from in thousands of years. For Fiona, it begins with walking home alone after a rather disappointing date.
It continues with death, magic, and violence – lots and lots of violence, and death, and magic. After all, this is the beginning of the third great war of the gods, and not just any gods, but all of them.
It’s not uncommon for urban fantasy stories to include mythological figures, but Paternus takes it to a whole new level.
There are characters from Greek, Indian, Egyptian, and Norse mythology, to name but a few. Gods, heroes, demons, and villains. Monster and abominations. The knights of the round table, plus Merlin. They’re all baked into the story, and they all come with their own explanations and information about what other names they may be known under.
I read the audio version of the book (all three in one), and I’m glad I did. There are a lot of details, and there is a lot of information, and I fear I might not have had the patience to keep up with it had I been reading the text version. Fans of mythology, intricate world building, and brutal action will probably love either version, though.
What I’ll whine about Hidden Information. During the second half of the third book, when things are starting to go seriously wrong, there are several flashbacks to things happening a few days previously. These show important preparations that I wasn’t made aware of the first time I read about what happened during that time. In fairness, there were hints, but even then, it still annoyed me.
Information Overload. Throughout the entire series, there is so much information about the origins of the characters featured in the story. It’s interesting for sure, and the story wouldn’t be the same without it, but even so, it felt a bit much.
What I’ll gush about The scope. This really is a story of epic proportions. The fate of our world and life as we know it hangs in the balance, and many will pay the ultimate price for a chance at victory – willingly and unwillingly. Even great heroes and gods are not spared.
The cast. It’s fantastic to see all these mythological characters appear and play off of each other. Despite many of them being millions or billions of years old, they’re still people (after a fashion), and they’ve got their own quirks and personalities. The story’s not above going a bit silly from time to time.
I mentioned the amount of information as something I’d whine about, but I’ll bring it up here as well. It really does add a lot to the story and it’s for the most part quite interesting. It says a lot for the author that for the most part, the infodumps don’t feel like infodumps.
Final words If you’re looking for an epic fantasy tale, set in the present day real world and brimming with mythological heroes and villains, give this one a go....more
There’s probably an entire sub-genre and fandom dedicated to books like this, but if there is, I don’t know about it, and I’ve only ever read two otheThere’s probably an entire sub-genre and fandom dedicated to books like this, but if there is, I don’t know about it, and I’ve only ever read two other books like it. One is the first book in this series (The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan), and the other is The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson – and I read the latter well over twenty-five years ago.
In other words, I have no frames of reference for things like this. I barely even know how to describe it, and I’m not quite sure I know what I’m talking about. Is this even fantasy? It’s certainly not like any other fantasy I’ve read. It does have elves though, and vampires, and a telepathic octopus, and that’s gotta count for something, right?
That said, I enjoyed it, a lot.
Over the summer, I read a whole lot of fantasy, and while it was fun, I needed a break.
So what’s this book like, what’s it about, and what’s so different about it?
Most obvious is the writing style. It’s confident, self-assured, and doesn’t give a damn what anyone has to say about how writers should or shouldn’t write, because it knows it’ll get the job done in style. This is not your local writers group’s stuffy old serious-writer-voice, carefully ensuring there aren’t too many adverbs or that it shows more than it tells. This voice’s got attitude.
The story begins on the moon, where our heroines steal a teleportation machine from a shadowy organization and takes it to their secret underground lair in Sahara where they leave it for the giant elves to study. Then they take a few days off to chill in Atlantis, where someone tries to burn down their house by the sea. Meanwhile, it turns out that the teleportation machine has not just a soul, but also that it’s up to something.
Additionally, the person who put their soul into the machine is starting to think they’d like to have their soul back and they set out to retrieve it.
While all this goes on, numerous other shadowy organizations are blaming each other for the theft of the machine and the chaos it caused, and they’re gearing up to go to war with each other.
On the surface, it’s a whimsical, crazy book about awesome hot babes doing cool shit. At the same time, underneath it all, it’s about how human greed and jealousy is making an absolute mess of life on this planet.
Yes, it’s political.
If you prefer to read books like the ones back in the day where heroes were heroic, damsels were in distress, and the bad guys were evil because they were evil, then this may not be the book for you.
What I’ll Whine About This is no quick, easy read. It’s not the kind of book you binge read in an afternoon – at least not me. I took it chunks at a time, even tried diving into other books now and then. Even so, nothing else quite measured up to the style of this one, and I just had to finish it. In fairness, it’s not a difficult read, it just gets a bit much at times.
Also, some of the references make it pretty clear I’m not the target audience for this book. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it did mean there were things that went above my head that I probably would have enjoyed if I were familiar with them.
What I’ll Gush About The attitude. This is a cool, funky book, and it knows it. It flaunts what it’s got, and it bows to no one.
It’s a hoot, and it’s worth reading just for that.
Final Words If you want a story that sits on the border between fantasy and something else all its own, this book’s got your back....more
This is technically a collection of stories, but it probably wouldn’t have taken much in the way of editing to turn it into one continuous novel. AdmiThis is technically a collection of stories, but it probably wouldn’t have taken much in the way of editing to turn it into one continuous novel. Admittedly, it might have felt a bit episodic, so if it were me, I’d leave it as it is.
What I wanted to say with this is that the different stories in this collection (two shorts and two novellas) are connected, with the same main characters and some recurring themes and issues.
It all begins with Mia and her father moving into a cottage down the road from the dark, foreboding castle of a horrible, evil, ordinary-people-menacing warlock. Mia herself is skilled in metal-magic, and she’s none too concerned with what minions a paltry warlock might throw at her. She really just wants to be left alone with her workshop and her tools, keep her head down, and make sure nothing threatens her or her father again, ever.
Turns out that Fabian, the necromancer, also really just wants to be left alone, and he’s quite grateful when Mia comes to help him with bit of a torches-and-pitchforks issue that shows up at his front door one afternoon.
Also turns out Fabian is all kinds of handsome.
One thing leads to another, and soon enough a budding romance struggles to bring two reluctant introverts together in good ol’ idiots to lovers fashion. Unfortunately, the two idiots in question are too busy setting things right for everyone else to really have a clear view of their own need for help, and much of the two novellas in the collection revolve around that.
Overall, it’s a heartwarming tale of friendship, trust, found family, acceptance, and of breaking out of your shell. It’s also quite short, and if you need a refreshing break from heavier stuff, this might just be the thing.
What I’ll whine about There’s so much more to this world and setting that we don’t get to see and that I would have liked to learn more about. Interesting characters I want to get to know. Places and locations and organizations. The story is so focused on Mia and Fabian that everything else around them feels a little bit thin.
What I’ll gush about Warmth. There are some dark undertones to the story (past trauma, persecution, othering), but they neither take over the narrative, nor are they brushed away. It’s acknowledged, and it’s dealt with, but there’s room for hope, positivity, and understanding as well. Despite those serious bits, it’s still a feel good romantic comedy, with a lot of heart and warmth.
Metal-magic. Mia’s magical abilities are never really explained that well, but what we do see of the contraptions she create is rather spectacular – especially the dress in the second story.
Final words Unpretentious, funny, and full of life. Romantic fantasy comedy....more
Upon request, the author kindly provided an Advance Review Copy of her book (without a final cover image, as such an image is not yet available, whichUpon request, the author kindly provided an Advance Review Copy of her book (without a final cover image, as such an image is not yet available, which is why no cover is shared with this review), with the understanding that a review would be appreciated, but in no way required, and that the content of said review would be left to the full discretion of the reviewer (that’s me). It should be noted, in the unlikely event doubt exists, that the author referred to in the previous sentence is not in fact Miss Mildred Percy herself, but the esteemed Mrs. Olson.
Now that that’s been adequately mentioned and any questions pertaining to this reviewer’s (me again) impartiality certainly laid to rest, let’s proceed to addressing this reviewer’s (still me) thoughts on the book in question.
To begin with, I shall state that readers who enjoyed the previous installment in this series (Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide (to the care and feeding of British dragons)), are highly likely, bordering on guaranteed, to enjoy this book too. Consequently, readers who did not enjoy the first book (here is where I, in a rare moment of restraint, refrain from describing such readers’ many and significant shortcomings with respect to their understanding of quality entertainment and art (or in fact anything that brings joy to life) in great and scathing detail) will not enjoy it, should they somehow suffer under the misconceptions that more of the same thing they didn’t enjoy would somehow be enjoyable.
The book starts with Miss Percy, Mr. Wiggan, Mrs. Babbinton, and Fitz making their way through a rain soaked Wales to find the place where they believe dragons might originate from. Then, as there is won’t to be, there are complications. Chickens catch fire (or are at least somewhat singed), someone has a piece of firewood delivered at high speed to the back of their head, and dastardly villains (Mrs. Belinda Hawthorne (formerly Miss Muncy) is a most despicable individual, whom it would not pose a challenge to describe in ways ill suited for civilized company) pursue our unknowing heroes.
Much tea is sipped.
It should be noted that despite being very similar in tone and style to the previous book, Miss Percy’s Travel Guide (to Welsh moors and feral dragons) tells a new story that builds on the previous one. New challenges arise and are (mostly) overcome, new characters attach themselves to the chain of events (as well as to the reader), and existing characters find themselves growing into their future selves, for better or for worse.
WHAT I'LL WHINE ABOUT Just like with the previous book, the fourth wall gets broken with alarming regularity (someone may need enquire about the contact information for a reputable carpenter so as to ensure the entire building doesn’t come down), and while it’s mostly quite enjoyable, it does occasionally disrupt the flow of the narrative to the extent that this reviewer (yep, still me) found himself backtracking in order to regain a sense of how or where a sentence had initially originated.
WHAT I'LL GUSH ABOUT It’s the sequel to Miss Percy! It’s the sequel to Miss Percy! It’s the sequel to Miss Percy! It’s the sequel to Miss Percy! It’s the sequel to Miss Percy!
More of the same: This book takes all that was good, fun, and delightful in the previous installment and turns it up a notch (or in the case of Mrs. Hawthorn (who was none of that – rather the opposite), down). It’s cozy, charming, and full of warm, living characters one wouldn’t mind traveling through Wales (or through most anything, assuredly) with.
Our main character: We’re getting closer to an aging spinster who’s broken free from the figurative shackles of her sister, and we’re allowed to join her on the adventure she never expected to have, but secretly dreamed of (except in the dreams it wasn’t quite as much rain, mud, or walking – not to mention rattling around in uncomfortable carts).
The writing: The attentive reader may recall that this reviewer (why, hello, it’s me again), in his review of the previous book attempted (with questionable success) to emulate the style of said book. Any reader who’s penetrated the above text to reach this point (thank you kindly) will have concluded that a similar attempt is being made with this review (no, not me, the text you’re reading), and will no doubt realize that this reviewer (yes, this time it’s me) is just as enamored with the prose as last time.
FINAL WORDS If you enjoyed Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide (to the care and feeding of British dragons), you will enjoy this book too.
Miss Percy’s Travel Guide (to Welsh moors and feral dragons) will be available for purchase from Amazon on October 25, 2022....more