Thursday, April 29, 2010


After looking through one of those blogs that is dedicated to bad book covers (and seeing a few that I've read as well as the one I am currently reading), my husband pointed out that we had some books with covers that were quite possibly worse than any of those other covers (personally, I think that is debatable although I think they are right up there among the worst). So he took a photo of them, which should be clicked to enlarge and fully appreciate the awfulness.

I've read these once years ago and actually liked them to my surprise since I did indeed judge them by their covers, but since my husband has read them far more than I have, I asked him to write up some commentary more intelligible than "Why?":
These are, I think, the worst covers of any books in our collection. First is the bizarre-if-intriguing choice of pen name. Then one inevitably notices the skateboarding blonde that appears on all three covers in the series, though it should be pointed out that there is no actual skateboarding blonde in the books...I'm not entirely sure where that came from. Of course, you can't miss the dragons, two of which I suspect are mainly Crayolavores. In the actual story those two are supposed to be gold dragons, so the cover is off base here too. Disturbingly, the one item on any of the three covers that actually bears any resemblance to the story inside is Sherlock Holmes standing on a street corner in modern New York City. The interesting thing about these covers are that the quality of the book is inversely proportional to the ridiculousness of the cover.

It can be difficult not to judge a book by its cover at times, or at the very least avoid reading it in public. I was actually going to start Catherine Asaro's Diamond Star a little while ago and ended up putting it back on the shelf because I had a dentist appointment the following day and needed something to read while waiting... And I just could not bring myself to be seen reading a book with such a horrifying cover in public (it is one of the Baen books, infamous for its cover art).

Once my husband asked me what he should read and I handed him a copy of one of my favorite books ever, Transformation by Carol Berg. Before I even handed it to him, I told him to ignore the cover. He took one look at it and told me there was no way he was reading it and to pick out something else.

What books do you have that have covers too embarrassing to be read in public? Are there any books that have covers so horrible that you refuse to even pick them up?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

This week I got some books ordered off my wish list that didn't arrive on time for my birthday and two review copies (one ARC). One of the review copies is actually a duplicate copy of a book I received the end of last week so I won't be including it again. However, this does mean that around the time I read The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, I will be giving away my second copy.

I haven't made much progress on reviewing lately and suspect that may be the case for a little while. It's been busy lately, and next weekend I'm going to be moving instead of writing. Since I have already read one of these books, though, I did talk about what I thought of it a little.

Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale

I loved Ginn Hale's Wicked Gentlemen so I was very excited about this book. It's the first of two books that will be released only one month apart. Book 1 will be out on August 15 and the second book will be out on September 15, but there is a 15% discount for pre-ordering the first book and a 25% discount for pre-ordering both books by June 15. There is an excerpt available online.

Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.

But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.

However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a Dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram's as well.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

I've heard so much about this series from Angie of Angieville and Ana from The Book Smugglers that I just had to read them. And I've already finished this one since I was unable to stop reading it today until I got to the end. The Thief was good, but this one was something special and now holds the spot of favorite book I've read so far this year. The first thing I did when I finished was look up if it was supposed to be in stock at my local bookstore, and it looks like it is so I just may have to pick it up this week because I really want more. Now.

It was one of those that I really wanted to finish but I also found myself going back and rereading a lot of parts I'd just read because they were just so good. I loved the characters and the dialogue and the way every little thing seemed to have significance. This is one I can definitely see myself rereading. (Leaving out the blurb since there would be huge spoilers for The Thief in any plot description.)

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham

I really enjoyed Black Ships so of course I wanted to read Jo Graham's second novel. This one is set in Egypt and is about Cleopatra's handmaiden.

Following her acclaimed debut, Jo Graham returns to the ancient world with a novel that will captivate lovers of fantasy, history and romance. Set in Ancient Egypt, Hand of Isis is the story of Charmian, a handmaiden, and her two sisters. It is a novel of lovers who transcend death, of gods who meddle in mortal affairs, and of women who guide empires.

A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer

This is a new-to-me author I've been wanting to read. After looking through her books to pick one to start with, I thought this one sounded the most interesting, probably because I'm a sucker for a plot involving gender reversal.

In a world where males are rarely born, they've become a commodity-traded and sold like property. Jerin Whistler has come of age for marriage and his handsome features have come to the attention of the royal princesses. But such attentions can be dangerous-especially as Jerin uncovers the dark mysteries the royal family is hiding.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review of Tsunami Blue

Tsunami Blue is a debut paranormal romance by Gayle Ann Williams. There will be a second book set in the same post-apocalyptic world that takes place six years after the end of this one with a different pair of main characters.

In the year 2023, the world has been completely changed due to tsunamis that have transformed the larger land masses into islands. Kathryn O'Malley, better known as Tsunami Blue for her ability to predict these giant waves, lives alone on one of these islands in the Pacific Northwest with her dog Max. From here, she broadcasts on her radio and warns people about any approaching tsunamis whenever the sea notifies her about them. She is also hiding from the Runners, pirates who would find it very advantageous to possess the woman who knows when the tsunamis are coming.

One night when walking along the shore, Max finds a man's body. At first, Blue believes him to be dead–to her great chagrin, since he is the most beautiful man she's ever seen. Soon she realizes he just appears deceased due to hypothermia so she has her big dog pull him back to her house where she must of course strip off all his clothes and lay naked next to him to warm him (although she does take the precaution of handcuffing him to her stove first). In the morning, Blue finds a knife he has dropped that has the mark of the Runners on it and sees several Runner ships approaching in the distance - and determines to kill the man she just saved.

Instead, she gets back to her home to find he has recovered so well that he was able to lift the cast-iron stove and slip the other end of the handcuff off it so he was no longer restricted. When Blue tells him his friends are coming, he tells her they're leaving and drags her along against her will. They encounter some Runners, who seem to think he has captured Tsunami Blue for someone named Indigo, but he helps Blue fight them off and takes her to his boat. He seems different from the other Runners and Blue is certainly attracted to him - but can she really trust anyone in this lawless world in which survival often depends on looking out for oneself first?

Tsunami Blue is an entertaining, fast-paced book, but in spite of that, I had a few problems with it. One is that it could be quite cheesy and too convenient. When Blue first encounters the man on the shore she initially believes to be dead, she thinks of him as a dark, beautiful angel. Later she discovers his name fits this description perfectly - Gabriel Black. (I do find it a bit amusing that they are Black and Blue, though, when there is so much violence and bruising that goes on when these two are around.) And there are so many excuses for two people who are not actually together to get naked, such as saving someone from hypothermia.

Suspension of disbelief was also necessary. The tsunami premise was a bit difficult to believe. Also, I found it rather incredulous that a man who was unconscious from hypothermia just a few hours before was able to lift a cast-iron stove, drag Blue out of the house to the shore and then fight off a bunch of men. Even Blue made the observation that she wouldn't have expected him to suddenly turn into Hercules after his ordeal, but having the main character barely able to believe what happened only made it more apparent just how preposterous it all was.

Although it was great to see a heroine who was not at all passive and saved the hero at least as often as he saved her, Blue's abrasive personality did get on my nerves repeatedly. It's understandable that she wouldn't be trusting and would be exceptionally argumentative with the rough world she's grown up in and the harsh life she's had - her parents and twin brother were all killed by a tsunami and she was raised by her uncle, a Runner who was not always pleasant to be around and taught her not to be soft. Considering the novel was told from her first person point of view, it did get very annoying as she sniped and made smartass comments, though. Also, she was far too arrogant about how tough she was, particularly with it came to her abilities with a knife:
I twirled the knife into a blur, which was a habit. I realized it probably looked hokey, but what the hell; I didn't get many chances to show off my knife skills, and he was a captive audience. Literally. "Depending on what I hear," I continued, "if I like your answers, I'll decide if you live" -- twirl -- "or die." Twirl. Man, I'd just impressed myself with this knife act, set a new speed record, even. I was such a badass. [pp. 27]

And the old knife-between-my-teeth-trick? A guy named Rambo, who the older Runners idolize, may have been famous for it, but I did it better. [pp. 213]
It was hard to see what Gabriel saw in her, but then, he was too perfect, understanding and thoughtful to be true. He was pretty sympathetic toward her no matter how much she bitched at him.

That's not to say Blue was all bad as she did have motivations for her actions, fondness for children and a desire to save people the best she could. The lengths she took to give up swearing so much in hopes that there were children listening to her on the radio was sweet. Blue was definitely brave, but her courage sometimes seemed like overconfidence and folly even if it was often for a good cause.

The ending was very rushed, and I was rather surprised how much was still left to be wrapped up by the time I was getting close to the end. It was all resolved by the time the last page was turned, but it was all over in very few pages.

Even if I did find the reasons for the changing structure of the world a bit far-fetched, the resulting culture was very interesting to read about. The lack of most of the modern technology we've come to depend on, the chaos and lawlessness and the development of a rather immoral band of pirates did make for some entertaining reading.

Tsunami Blue was somewhat enjoyable even if I did roll my eyes a few times while reading, but I found it less and less diverting as I got closer to the end. After finishing it, it became apparent there were a lot of problems that an intriguing premise and fast pace did not make up for - an irritating heroine, a nearly perfect hero, lots of cheesy parts and dialogue, a hurried conclusion and too many circumstances that were just too difficult to believe in.

My Rating: 3/10

Where I got my reading copy: It was a review copy from the publisher.

Other reviews:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

This week I got a couple of book orders (one made because I had a gift card and found something cheap; the other because I saw a book in a series I like was no longer available new on Amazon and wanted to get it in case it completely disappeared) and 3 review copies. So it was a pretty good week.

But first, a little about what will be coming up... Yesterday I wrote up a review of Tsunami Blue so that will probably be up Tuesday or Wednesday. I haven't started the review of The Praxis yet, but that's up next and I'm still reading the book that will be after that (The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan).

Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier

Lord of the Changing Winds is the first book in the Griffin Mage trilogy. It is coming out on May 1 (or April 27 if ordering through Amazon) and the second book is coming out a month later. The entire trilogy is supposed to be released this year so no long wait! It sounds pretty interesting (it has griffins, yay!), and it is always great to start a series knowing the rest are not far behind it.

Griffins lounged all around them, inscrutable as cats, brazen as summer. They turned their heads to look at Kes out of fierce, inhuman eyes.

Little ever happens in the quiet villages of peaceful Feierabiand. The course of Kes’ life seems set: she’ll grow up to be an herb-woman and healer for the village of Minas Ford, never quite fitting in but always more or less accepted. And she’s content with that path — or she thinks she is. Until the day the griffins come down from the mountains, bringing with them the fiery wind of their desert and a desperate need for a healer. But what the griffins need is a healer who is not quite human . . . or a healer who can be made into something not quite human.

Feed by Mira Grant

Some of you may remember I already mentioned getting this one - that was an ARC and this is the actual finished copy (and thus the one I'll actually read). Feed is the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy and it is has zombies, which means I normally wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. However, I have been planning to read it sometime soon for a few reasons. Mira Grant is also known as Seanan McGuire and I've really enjoyed both her novels in the October Daye series. Plus I read the first paragraph and found it was actually quite humorous, and I found what Seanan McGuire had to say about it in the comments when I first mentioned it made me even more curious about it, particularly when she said it was more political scifi than horror (which is far more my genre). It's officially out on May 1, although Amazon has it starting April 27.

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

This is the second book in the Strangely Beautiful series, following The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. I enjoyed the first book (which was recently optioned to be made into a stage musical) and will definitely be reading this one sometime soon.

With radiant, snow white skin and hair, Percy Parker was a beacon for Fate. True love had found her, in the tempestuous form of Professor Alexi Rychman. But her mythic destiny was not complete. Accompanying the ghosts with which she alone could converse, new and terrifying omens loomed. A war was coming, a desperate ploy of a spectral host. Victorian London would be overrun. Yet, Percy kept faith. Within the mighty bastion of Athens Academy, alongside The Guard whose magic shielded mortals from the agents of the Underworld, she counted herself among friends. Wreathed in hallowed fire, they would stand together, no matter what dreams or nightmares—may come.

The Ruby Dice by Catherine Asaro

As I've loved several books in the Skolian series, I've been slowly collecting them all. Once in a while, I find one of these books is no longer easy to find and panic and try to find a copy. This is one of the most recent books in the series so I was shocked to see it was no longer available on Amazon - and not just temporarily out of stock, either. So my husband found me a copy on Alibris and now I can breathe a sigh of relief. Now there's only one book I'm missing, although maybe I should try to snag it sooner instead of later just in case (this is the third book in the series that's happened with now). I do need to get reading so I can get to this one, which is one of the two in this series I'm looking forward to the most.

Warning: Depending on which of the books you've read, there are spoilers in the following blurb. I'm not sure which of the ones I haven't read yet explain some of this, but if you've not read Ascendant Sun yet there are spoilers for that one.

Two men, two empires. Jaibriol ruled the Eubian Concord: over two trillion people across more than a thousand worlds and habitats. Kelric ruled the Skolian Imperialate. War had come before-and it might come again, devastating vast swathes of the galaxy. Neither Jaibriol nor Kelric wanted war, but neither was complete master of his realm. And each hid a secret that, if revealed, might be his downfall. Jaibriol was a secret psion, with telepathic abilities, and to be a psion in the Eubian Concord was to be a contemptible slave, eventually to be tortured for the pleasure of the slave's owner. Kelric, years ago, had disappeared for nearly two decades.He had been a prisoner and slave on the planet Coban, part of neither empire, until he had managed to escape. And if the Skolian Imperialate knew of his captivity, there would be demands for vengeance, ravaging Coban-and killing the wife and children Kelric had left behind when he escaped. Neither man knew how much longer he could keep his secret-nor how much longer they could hold back the threat of a war that could incinerate hundreds of inhabited worlds.

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Ever since the Mercy Thompson series has started coming out in hardcover, I've had a dilemma. See, I really like to have matching books and I already had the first three in paperback. When Bone Crossed came out, I decided to wait for paperback so my books would match. I love this series, so waiting was HARD. I'd just about convinced myself to wait for this one, too, but then I decided maybe I'd get the e-book to read on the iPad and then just get the physical book when it came to paperback. It turned out the e-book was $9.99 and Amazon had the hardcover version for $11.69. So I decided if it was that close in price, I may as well just get the hardcover, caved and bought it.

Warning: There are spoilers for previous books in this blurb as well.

Coyote-shifting garage mechanic Mercedes Thompson, now mated to Adam, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, embarks on her exciting fifth dark fantasy adventure (after 2009's bestselling Bone Crossed). Three subplots—Mercy's attempt to return a magical book to a fae friend-of-a-friend, her difficulties integrating into Adam's pack, and her roommate Samuel's misery over being a lone Alpha—come together seamlessly, and excitement builds as Mercy and her loved ones go through ever more intense experiences, including a house fire, a suicide attempt, a death sentence, and a reunion between long-ago loves. Briggs creates both well-rounded characters and a complex mythology, resulting in a rich read that's far more than a series of action adventures strung together. Fans of the series will be thrilled; new readers should start at the beginning or risk drowning in the immersive world-building.

Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper

Is it possible to order from Amazon without adding on a couple of books for free shipping? I don't think so. Beauty is a book I've had my eye on for a while ever since it first caught my eye in a bookstore. It's supposed to be a science fiction/fantasy hybrid and a fairy tale retelling which sounds like my type of bibliocrack.

It's close to 20 years old so I couldn't find an official blurb - can't even find the book on the publisher's website.

The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling

This is another one I've had my eye on for awhile, both because it's dark fantasy and because I've heard good things about the author. So when perusing my wishlist for books to use to get free shipping, I ended up adding this one. It's the first book in the Tamir trilogy.

Sometimes the price of destiny is higher than anyone imagined....

Dark Magic, Hidden Destiny

For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne.

Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius the greatest threat comes from his own line — and from Illior’s faithful, who spread the Oracle’s words to a doubting populace.

As noblewomen young and old perish mysteriously, the king’s nephew — his sister’s only child — grows toward manhood. But unbeknownst to the king or the boy, strange, haunted Tobin is the princess’s daughter, given male form by a dark magic to protect her until she can claim her rightful destiny.

Only Tobin’s noble father, two wizards of Illior, and an outlawed forest witch know the truth. Only they can protect young Tobin from a king’s wrath, a mother’s madness, and the terrifying rage of her brother’s demon spirit, determined to avenge his brutal murder...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review of World's End

World's End is an indirect sequel to The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge. It explains what happened to the police officer BZ Gundhalinu after the end of The Snow Queen and ties into the events of its direct sequel The Summer Queen. There is also a fourth book set in this world, Tangled Up in Blue, which is a prequel about BZ Gundhalinu. The latter two published books are both still in print, but both The Snow Queen and World's End are currently out of print, although I thought they were well worth tracking down.

This review will contain spoilers for The Snow Queen since it does take place after the end of that novel. Only the plot description has spoilers so if you are still curious about the book, just skip to the text right after the horizontal line.

World's End picks up after BZ has left Tiamat and is on a planet called Four. As a failed suicide who still bears the scars for all to see, he is an outcast. He is also depressed about leaving Moon on Tiamat, but he is even more full of despair after his two brothers pay him a visit. At first they just tell him they are going to World's End to make their fortune, but when BZ is incredulous that they left the family estate behind to make the "Big Mistake" of venturing into the dangerous World's End, they reveal that they made a few big mistakes already and lost everything. World's End presents the possibility of great wealth, but many who go there never return - and one year later, BZ's brothers are still out there somewhere. In spite of the fact that they foolishly got themselves into this mess, BZ feels that it is his duty to go find them and makes his own journey to the perilous World's End.

Even just getting to World's End is not easy; first BZ must deal with piles of paperwork, then a thug accompanying the man who gives him a way in. Along the way, he meets a sibyl named Hahn who is unable to go herself but would like someone to find her daughter, another sibyl who ran away to World's End. As someone looking for missing family, BZ is sympathetic and he agrees to look for the young woman while he is there. However, he discovers more than he could have imagined when he makes a major discovery that will change the universe.

While The Snow Queen was an epic story with a wide cast of characters, World's End is much shorter and focuses on just BZ. Although there is a very important occurrence that takes place in this book, it is largely character-centric as BZ undergoes not only a literal journey but a personal one. Not a lot seemed to happen for the first half, but I barely noticed since the writing and the main protagonist were both riveting.

Parts of the book are told from the third person perspective of BZ, but it is mainly told from the first person through his journals. He was one of my favorite characters from The Snow Queen as he had a great many traits that made him real and easy to relate to - he was loyal and strongly believed in duty but he was also rather arrogant and set in the way of thinking ingrained into him by his own culture. I really enjoyed learning more about his past and motivations. There were some humorous parts, such as when BZ did not make a great first impression with the man in charge at the Office of Permits by misinterpreting his name as "Moron." A lot of it was also angsty and introspective, but there's just something about the way Joan D. Vinge writes BZ that is so poignant. She tells us so much about BZ, his family and his society just when he is reminiscing about his departure from his brothers and whey he had to search for them:
SB caught HK's arm and pulled him toward the open door, glancing back once, to spit at me, "Gedda." And after that I didn't hear from them again. I told myself good riddance.

But instead of forgetting about them, I've followed them into World's End. I can't believe I've done this...the thought of just spending a night in this squalid town is enough to make any reasonable person take the next shuttle back to civilization. And it's not as if they went off for a holiday week and forgot the time. They disappeared, into an uncharted wilderness! They were totally unprepared for what they did - neither one of them ever attempted anything more dangerous before this than spending all day in the baths. If the wasteland didn't kill them, the human animals who inhabit it probably did, and picked their bones for good measure. Am I really going out there to let the same thing happen to me--?

When I was a boy, my nurse told me stories of the Child Stealer, who stole highborn babies and replaced them with cretinous Unclassifieds. For years I was sure that's what must have happened to HK and SB... They chose their fate and if World's End swallowed them without a trace, they got what they deserved. They left no one and nothing behind, except me...left me with nothing but memories.

But since they're gone, I'm head of the family now...a title as hollow as it is unexpected. And they are still my brothers. That makes it my duty to search for them; my responsibility to all our ancestors -- who will be my ancestors forever, whatever strangers violate my family's honor and claim my blood as their own. But still, if it weren't for Father, for what I owe to him...

If it weren't for me, none of this would have happened. (pp. 11 - 12)
In spite of the fact that his brothers despise him and have no one to blame for their problems but themselves, BZ has to try to help them. It's his duty as a Gundhalinu, his father's son but ultimately as someone who can't help but feel he could have prevented it all.

The outcome of BZ's voyage to World's End, his discovery and the possibilities resulting from this are also very interesting, but I'll say no more to avoid spoiling the end.

I would highly recommend this for fans of The Snow Queen who are interested in reading more about BZ. Joan D. Vinge is becoming a must-read author, and I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens next in The Summer Queen.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: I bought it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review of The Gaslight Dogs

The Gaslight Dogs is the newest novel by Karin Lowachee, author of a science fiction trilogy comprised of Warchild, Burndive and Cagebird. According to the author's forum and a Twitter comment she made, there are two sequels to The Gaslight Dogs planned, although it sounds as if they are not yet under contract. This novel definitely feels incomplete on its own since there are still a lot of unanswered questions upon reaching the end - it seems like a first novel in a series that is setting up future installments.

Sjennonirk, a spiritwalker of the Aniw people, is uneasy by the arrival of traders when they come armed. Her fears come true when she is awakened in the middle of the night by a man standing over her with a gun. Before she realizes what is happening, Sjenn kills the man at the urging of the inner spirit she refers to as her Dog. Although Sjenn flees, she is captured and held in a prison ship where she is visited by Father Bari, a priest she had considered a friend until she began to blame him for the presence of the foreigners. Once again, Sjenn's Dog takes over, but this time it emerges as a wolf and tears Father Bari to shreds, leaving Sjenn's human body unconscious upon the floor. This canine cannot be killed, and the men on the ship do not know how to get rid of it.

However, General Fawle believes he may know of a way to banish the wolf. He's been reading Father Bari's journal and has come to the conclusion that the girl and the animal are the same being. For some reason, he is convinced his son Captain Jarrett Fawle will be able to return the girl to her body if he studies the priest's writings. Although Jarrett is skeptical, he is successful and his father strikes a bargain with the girl - he'll keep her out of the prison if she will teach his son about her Dog.

After hearing how excellent Karin Lowachee's other books were, I was excited to read this one but I ended up somewhat disappointed. The Gaslight Dogs was by no means a bad book as it did have some great writing and an intriguing world mythology. However, it was difficult to get into, partially because there were a lot of names that were difficult to pronounce and also because so many terms were dropped without explanation close to the beginning. This may have been just me, though, because this was one of the books I read when I was sick so my brain was probably not quite all there (the confusing part, that is - names like 'Sjennonirk' certainly don't roll off the tongue for a lot of us). Even later, it did move very slowly at times - it would start to pick up, then it would slow down again for awhile before getting interesting again.

There are two main characters, a soldier named Jarrett and an Aniw spiritwalker named Sjennonirk. As a young woman from a culture based on the Inuit, Sjennonirk is the more fascinating of the two but she is also not as sympathetic as Jarrett. Her perspective is more distant, and although she wants to go home and has a strong drive to protect her people, she's not as easy to relate to as Jarrett. He can be cynical and has a rocky relationship with his father, who is his superior in the armed forces and is not particularly pleasant toward his son. Although it turns out Jarrett has some unusual issues as well, more of his problems are everyday occurrences for ordinary people than Sjenn's, as her main problems are more extreme - being imprisoned and having an ancestral spirit that takes over for her and murders people, for instance. In general, I found Jarrett's point of view sections more absorbing than Sjenn's and thought his character was easier to connect with, although I can't say I was extremely attached to either main protagonist.

In spite of the fact that the two main protagonists are a man and a woman, there is no romance. As much as I enjoy a good romantic subplot, it is refreshing to see a male/female relationship in a book that doesn't head in the direction one might expect it to.

The setting is not a medieval fantasy world and the mythology was inspired by the Inuit of Canada. The Aniw seem to be similar to the Inuit and have a similar culture. If not for the priesthood of the Seven Deities and the existence of little spirits, it could almost seem like the far north of the world at an earlier time. These are some intriguing concepts, and I hope more will be revealed about both in future installments.

The writing was solid with some decent dialogue and character development through conversations:
"Rough patrol?" the father prompted.

It made him laugh. Not the most logical reaction in a holy house after the week he had endured. His voice sounded hollow as it rose to the pointed ceiling. The rafters tittered back, some hill mouse scampering in the dusk. Jarrett glanced up toward the unseen rodent with his gun -- that wasn't logical in a holy house either, but he didn't care. Fatigue ran respectful concern into the ground, even as the priest's eyes tracked the weapon warily.

"The abos are like those furry things," Jarrett declared. He was drunk on sleeplessness.

"How so?"

"Well," he said, "Do you ever understand the intentions of a mouse? Occasionally they slip into your bed and bite your toes."

"Surely the warbands do more than bite your toes."

"No. No they don't." He leaned forward, arms on the back of the father's pew, gun pointed down between them. "Have you ever seen a man try to walk without toes? Don't underestimate the intelligence of a mouse. The little furry bastard can bring down an army just by nibbling away at its toes." [pp. 16 - 17]
The series has a lot of potential, but on its own it's difficult to judge The Gaslight Dogs since it feels like so much of the story is still left to be told. It's well written and there were some good moments with the characters, but it feels as though it's setting up its sequels with a lot of slow pacing until closer to the end.

My Rating: 6/10

Where I got my reading copy: It is a review copy from the publisher.

Read an Excerpt

Other Reviews:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Leaning Pile of Books

Hopefully there will be two new reviews over the next week. Last night I finished a draft of a review of The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee, and I've started a review of World's End by Joan D. Vinge (which will probably be short anyway since the book was not very long). I'd like to get both of those written by the time I'm done reading The Praxis so there is only one left to get caught up on. I've started getting to the really good part of the book now, though, so I may finish it pretty quickly (not that it was bad before or anything; it's just started to pick up the pace a lot). After that, I'm not sure what will be next although I'm leaning toward either The Poison Throne or The Last Stormlord at the moment.

This week I added two review copies to the huge mass that is slowly taking over my living room.

Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

Shadow Bound will be released on June 29 and the sequel, Shadow Fall, has a publication date of July 29. This debut novel is supposed to be dark fantasy, science fiction, horror and romantic suspense inspired by Christian, Greek and Celtic mythology. Both books in the series will come with a money-back guarantee if readers are not satisfied with their purchase. The combination of dark fantasy and science fiction with some mythological foundation intrigues me, so I'll probably be reviewing this one at some point a little closer to the release date.


Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.


Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.


Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.


This is the place between life and what comes after - a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

This is a debut novel by one of the authors involved in the new Wild Cards trilogy. It's an alternate history of World War II with a supernatural twist. It's coming out in hardcover on April 13.

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between

Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.