Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: mini-reviews of The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies and The Shadow of the Wolf.

"It's the Peloponnesian War and playwright Aristophanes is trying to put on a comedy to convince Athenian citizens to vote against more war with Sparta, but everything is going wrong.  When enemies of peace unleash a spirit of foolishness and bad decisions within Athens, the goddess Athena sends an Amazon warrior and a nymph to save the peace process." 

This was a good, short little historical fantasy comedy.  The plot is interesting, though those more familiar with the Peloponnesian War and the historical characters may or may not get much out of it.  This was my first book by Millar and while his sense of humor was fine, I didn't exactly laugh out loud at anything.  Still, I'll probably try something else by him in the future.

Rating: 7/10.

"This a very different Robin Hood.  Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without a trace.  Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him.  This leads him onto a very dark path deep into the heart of Sherwood Forest." 

This was marketed as Young Adult, but like Abercrombie's Shattered Seas books there's very little of the genre in the writing aside from the protagonists ages and a simpler, more straight-forward story.  There is a werewolf, but it's a more elemental, supernatural thing.  This angle makes for a very different take on the Robin Hood legend and the characters are all very different as well.  That's actually where the book partially fails.  The story of Robin Hood is very well known so there is no need to provide a lot of background, but the supernatural parts are hardly explained at all, even after 470 pages.  It doesn't quite mesh and the last section of the book, where it finally begins to resemble the story we all know, feels rushed compared to the rest of the book.  The first of a trilogy and I may or may not pick up the next book.

Rating: 7.5/10. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Eye on New Releases for January 26, 2015

"Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.
But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages."

"A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.  Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings. So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.   At least, it makes the perfect cover story.  The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world—or destroy it.  The trouble is that this old soldier isn't sure she's still got what it takes to be the hero."

"Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Eye on New Releases for January 19, 2015

"In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and beautiful, bitter Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they all once shared. While Scott desperately wants to go back to their south-of-Sunset lives, he cannot pry his sister away from this haunted “House of Usher in the Hollywood Hills” that is a conduit for the supernatural.
Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film era. A collection of hypnotic eight-limbed abstract images inked on paper allows the Maddens to briefly fragment and flatten time—to transport themselves into the past and future in visions that are puzzling, terrifying, and mesmerizing. Though their cousins know little about these ancient “spiders” that provoke unpredictable temporal dislocations, Ariel and Claimayne have been using them for years—an addiction that has brought Claimayne to the brink of solipsistic destruction.

As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott discovers that to protect her, he must use the dangerous spiders himself. But will he unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s history and finally free them from the past . . . or be pulled deeper, perhaps permanently, into the deadly web?"

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Eye on New Releases for January 12, 2016

"In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries—and fails—to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.

When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.

But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?"

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Anna and Elena Balbusso

Anna and Elena Balbusso are an artist team, twins who live and work in Milan, Italy.  They've been working for a while, but recently they've been doing some very impressive work in the genre, notably for Leigh Bardugo's Ravkan fairy tale short stores, as well as other work.  Their website is here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Most Anticipated Books of 2016

Date Unknown
Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
This is the sequel to last year's Six of Crows, which I thought was a great read.  No date yet, but perhaps toward the end of the year, maybe October.

The Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley
I've been following Kameron Hurley since her debut so I'll be wanting this.  It's the first of two space operas being published by new imprint Saga Press, either in the summer or fall I'm guessing since it wasn't listed in the spring catalog. 

The Iron Season, Helene Wecker
Not much information about this one yet other than it was announced in the November issue of Locus magazine as the sequel to The Golem and the Jinni.  I really loved that book so I will be snatching it up at the first opportunity. 


The Tiger and the Wolf, Adrian Tchaikovsky (UK)
I've been meaning to read more Tchaikovsky and I may finally get around to it with this one.

"Maniye's father is the Wolf clan's chieftain, but she's an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan's animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She refuses to disown half her soul, so escapes, rescuing a prisoner of the Wolf clan in the process. The killer Broken Axe is set on their trail, to drag them back for retribution.

Maniye's father plots to rule the north and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. Strangers from the far south appear too, seeking allies in their own conflict. It's a season for omens as priests foresee danger, and a darkness falling across the land. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. A time of testing and broken laws is near, but what spark will set the world ablaze?"


The Spider's War, Daniel Abraham
The final book in Abraham's Dagger and Coin series.  I can't wait!

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu
This was the collection of Ken Liu's short fiction I posted about at the beginning of 2015, but it was pushed back to this year, probably because of the author's debut novel release.  I've read about half the stories in this so I'm eagerly looking forward to the other half!

The Devil You Know, K.J. Parker
This will be the second Parker novella being published by  The blurb has me practically drooling already.

"The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.

But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus–the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust."

The Winged Histories, Sofia Samatar
I was a big fan of Samatar's debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria.  This is a stand-alone sequel set in the same world with different characters and sounds fantastic.

"Four women, soldier, scholar, poet, and socialite, are caught up on different sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their families are torn apart, they fear they may disappear into the unwritten pages of history. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history"


Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie
This is a collection of Abercrombie's short fiction set in his First Law world.  I'm uncertain if I'll buy the US hardcover with its god-awful cover (left) or the UK paperback (UK hardcovers often being terrible in quality). Decisions, decisions.


Children of Earth and Sky, Guy Gavriel Kay
I've read almost everything by GGK so of course I will be picking this up.  After the last two books set in faux-China this one shifts back to Europe and the Mediterranean during the Renaissance.

The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney
This book was originally set to be releasesed last year, but the publishers pushed it back a little to give the book more attention and time.  As a Kearney fan, I must have this.

"1920s Oxford: home to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien... and Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee looking to escape the grim reality of her new life. The night they cross paths, none suspect the fantastic world at work around them.

Anna Francis lives in a tall old house with her father and her doll Penelope. She is a refugee, a piece of flotsam washed up in England by the tides of the Great War and the chaos that trailed in its wake. Once upon a time, she had a mother and a brother, and they all lived together in the most beautiful city in the world, by the shores of Homer's wine-dark sea.

But that is all gone now, and only to her doll does she ever speak of it, because her father cannot bear to hear. She sits in the shadows of the tall house and watches the rain on the windows, creating worlds for herself to fill out the loneliness. The house becomes her own little kingdom, an island full of dreams and half-forgotten memories. And then one winter day, she finds an interloper in the topmost, dustiest attic of the house. A boy named Luca with yellow eyes, who is as alone in the world as she is."


The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
The sixth entry in one of my favorite series.  Gimme already!

Babylon's Ashes, James S.A. Corey
Also the sixth entry in another of my favorite series.  If you aren't reading this or even watching the TV show, I will take your geek/nerd card.

Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
Like Ken Liu, I'm a big fan of Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction and I'm looking forward to this debut novel.  The author has a knack for using mathematics and physics for some truly intriguing stories.  If you're curious, check out the author's collection, Conversation of Shadows.

Necessity, Jo Walton
This the third book in Walton's loosely connected trilogy about the goddess Athena's experiment to create Plato's The Just City.  In the final book, the story moves far to the future on another planet.


Everfair, Nisi Shawl
The second debut novel on the list.  No official blurb yet, but it's been described as steampunk in the Belgian Congo before European colonization.

The Call, Peadar O' Guilin
Not much about this fantasy title yet and only a tentative release date, but I personally know the author and I've read everything of his so I will definitely be picking this up.