Currently Reading: 9/24/18

Cover- Charmcaster

Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell

I was going to hold off on reading this for another week, but it’ll make the perfect palate cleanser between two fairy tale stories. I’ve been getting through this series very quickly and expect this to be as fun as the previous two installments.

 

Cover- The Sisters of the Winter Wood

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

I just can’t wait to start this one!! Early reviews are showing up and it looks like a love it or hate it book, but hopefully I’ll be in the love it crowd.

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The X-Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris – Review

Cover- X Files

Published: July 18, 2017

Publisher: Audible Studios

Series: The X-Files #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: 4 hr 4 min

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

The series that had a generation looking to the sky gets a breathtaking audio reprise in an original full-cast dramatization featuring actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning to voice FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
Based upon the graphic novels by Joe Harris – with creative direction from series creator Chris Carter – and adapted specifically for the audio format by aural auteur Dirk Maggs (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Alien: Out of the Shadows), Cold Cases marks yet another thrilling addition to the pantheon of X-Files stories. Featuring a mind-blowing and otherworldly soundscape of liquefying aliens, hissing creatures, and humming spacecraft, listeners get to experience the duo’s investigations like never before.
Set after the events of The X-Files: I Want to Believe and providing additional backstory to the incidents that pulled Mulder and Scully out of reclusion prior to 2016’s miniseries revival, a database breach at FBI headquarters allows an unknown group to access and capitalize on those investigations left unsolved – dubbed cold cases – by the secret department once known as The X-Files. As friends and foes of the agency long thought gone begin to inexplicably reappear, former agents Mulder and Scully come out of anonymity to face a growing conspiracy that involves not only their former department but the US government and forces not of this world.
Here, fans are treated once again to Mulder and Scully’s irreplicable chemistry as only the series’ leads could deliver, Duchovny’s deadpan and cynical aloofness finding its natural counterpoint in Anderson’s unwavering intelligence and rigidity. Appearances from series regulars and the actors who made them fan favorites round out this must-listen arc: the gruff, no-BS righteousness of Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi); the distinctive click-puff of the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis); and the stooge-like hijinks of three beloved conspiracy theorists called the Lone Gunmen (Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood).
Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, find your “I Want to Believe” poster. Break out that makeshift alien stiletto. Grab a pack of Morley cigarettes.


At the beginning of September Audible announced their Audible Originals program, where if you’re a subscriber like me, you can download two of their selection of Audible originals each month for free. I saw that this X-Files audiobook was one of the choices and decided to check it out, despite having only watched a handful of episodes in my life. Best of all, this is a full cast performance, with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny narrating as Dana Scully and Fox Mulder.

As I mentioned, I’m not all that familiar with the story line of the original X-Files tv series other than the very basics – government agents and aliens. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this performance AT ALL. Sure, there were some things I didn’t get but it was a great set of short stories nonetheless. There were aliens, fluke-men, and people who used to be dead and boy was it a wild ride. After listening to this I wanted to start watching the tv series and see what I had missed out on in my childhood. It doesn’t seem to be on Netflix or Prime, so my quest has been delayed for the moment.

This was a super fun audio performance and I would definitely recommend picking this up before the end of September if you have credits to burn because the Originals selection will change on October 1.

Stacking the Shelves: 9/22/18

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

20180921_221548

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

This is absolutely the loveliest cover and the story sounds like a great fairytale. 10/10 anticipation – will be reading soon. Thanks to Redhook for the finished copy.

Timeless by R.A. Salvatore

Well, I’ve never read any R.A. Salvatore, so I guess this will be a first. Fortunately this is the beginning of a new Drizzt series. Many thanks to Harper Voyager for the surprise mail.

Port of Shadows by Glen Cook

What fantasy fan would pass up the opportunity to read new Glen Cook??? I never thought I’d read a new Black Company book after finishing the original series so I’m very excited for this. Thanks to Tor for the finished copy.

Arabella the Traitor of Mars by David D. Levine

I’ve had this book for weeks now and sadly haven’t gotten to it yet! This is such a cool steampunk space-faring series and I can’t wait to catch up. Thanks to Tor for the finished copy.

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

I’ve been looking forward to reading this for awhile now and I binge read it as soon as it showed up in the mail. Can’t wait to share a review in a week or so. Thanks to Ace for the finished copy.

Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell

I LOVE these books and I’m glad Orbit has been releasing them in quick succession. Thank you to Orbit for the finished copy.

War Cry by Brian McClellan

Novella by Brian McClellan? Sign me up. A review of this can be found HERE. Thanks to Tor.com and Netgalley for the eARC.

City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender

Tor has been rolling out awesome looking books this season! The synopsis for this one is awesome and I hope to get to this one sooner rather than later. Thanks for the eARC Tor!

My Purchases:

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon and All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders were both freebies I picked up during the monthly Tor book promos they’ve been doing. I love the chance to read book I might not have otherwise purchased for myself.

I also picked up several audiobooks since my last Stacking the Shelves, most of which I’ve finished at this point so keep an eye out for reviews. I picked up Interview with a Vampire just to see why it’s considered a cult classic – yuck. I also picked up Smoke and Iron, The City of Brass, and Escaping from Houdini.

In addition, I used my Audible Originals credits (a new feature!) to get The X-Files: Cold Cases by Joe Harris and Emma by Jane Austen.

The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark – Review

Published: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Orbit 

Series: Empires of Dust #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 480 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Marith has been a sellsword, a prince, a murderer, a demon, and dead. But something keeps bringing him back to life, and now there is nothing stopping him from taking back the throne that is rightfully his.

Thalia, the former high priestess, remains Marith’s only tenuous grasp to whatever goodness he has left. His left hand and his last source of light, Thalia still believes that the power that lies within him can be used for better ends. But as more forces gather beneath Marith’s banner, she can feel her influence slipping.

Read the second book in this “gritty and glorious!” (Miles Cameron) epic fantasy series reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence where the exiled son of a king fights to reclaim his throne no matter the cost. 


The Court of Broken Knives was quite the groundbreaking book last year and received a wide range of reviews. Some people loved everything about it, finding it to be the quintessential grimdark book while others found the writing style to be jarring and the story to be far too dark for their tastes. I personally found it to be fresh, enjoyed the style because it felt like a first person play-by-play of the action, and generally found it to be an engaging (and yes, dark) read. That being said, I was optimistic about the sequel especially with such a cool and mysterious title.

The Tower of Living and Dying is quite a lengthy book, all the better to contain pages and pages of grisly battle scenes followed by pages of Marith being in a hatha induced stupor, followed by bouts of craziness and eye-itching. I can’t quite decide if he’s evil or just terribly weak-minded and trying to live up to some fore ordained destiny that requires these deeds. I’m leaning towards the latter with a side of poor choice in advisors and drug addiction. I find myself wishing more fervently than ever that Thalia would drive a sword through his heart or burn him to ashes with her power and take over the kingdom, rising to become the Queen of Living and Dying or some such. It would be GLORIOUS TO BEHOLD.

The overall plot is pretty awesome – Marith has taken his crown and intends to begin subjugating the neighboring islands and kingdoms as well as grow his army. It’s not often enough that fantasy books feature an unforgiving conqueror as the main character and I enjoy reading about the bad guy from time to time. Marith’s isn’t the only POV we get during this campaign and it’s a relief to switch to Thalia, Tobias, and Orhan after so much misery. Though it’s really only switched to someone else’s misery. What I’m saying is that it’s dark and actually gets a little tedious. I honestly wish this book was about a hundred pages shorter because I think my overall opinion might have been a little more positive.

Overall this wasn’t a bad book, though as I mentioned it felt like more of the same after several hundred pages. The plot keeps advancing and there are some parts that are SUPER cool – I mean there are dragons – but it wasn’t quite as engaging as the first book. My favorite arc in this series so far has been that of Orhan and his endeavours in Sorlost The political machinations there are ridiculous and I loved every tense moment of it!! Will they be assassinated? Will the people drag them from their homes and tear them apart in the streets? It really kept me guessing. If you read and enjoyed the first book, then I would suggest reading this as well – I seem to be in the minority of those who find it just okay.

Waiting on Wednesday: An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


An Affair of Poisons is a stunning book with a premise that completely hooked me! Set during the reign of Louis XIV of France, this is the story of a young alchemist and a bastard prince and their fight against the Shadow Society. Stories about poisoners are awesome when done well (and with thorough research) and I do hope this book fits that. An Affair of Poisons will be released February 2019.

Currently Reading: 9/17/18

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

For awhile I was undecided as to whether or not I would continue on with this series since I was so underwhelmed with the previous book. I decided to carry on, if only to see if the characters tank further and I admit to being intrigued by the possibility of Harry Houdini murdering people on a luxury passenger ship. While early reviews are positive, I still have my reservations since these were very… fan-girly in nature and there was mention that Audrey Rose continues to be an idiot.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice – Review

Published: April 12, 1976

Publisher: Knopf

Series: The Vampire Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 343 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.


Occasionally I like to check out books that seem to be central or a game changer to a particular part of the SFF genres. In this case I picked up Interview with a Vampire, which was iconic enough to spawn a movie featuring none other than Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in the leading roles. This may have been a game changer, taking vampires and turning them into a creature you could perhaps sympathize with rather than merely fear but I can’t say I loved it.

As a matter of fact I kind of hated it.

Anne Rice is definitely a talented writer with elegant turns of phrase, but I found this book to be pedantic in content. It’s definitely character driven and when your main character likes to spend great deals of his eternal life staring at the night sky or contemplating death it gets a little dull. Louis thought very highly of himself and tried so hard to be moral (or at least more so than Lestat) but good grief I would have preferred anything other than his moral grandstanding! Louis was absolutely the most boring choice for main character here.

I liked that this was done in such a way that Louis is telling his life story to a reporter, so we get these brief asides where this fellow is just looking astounded. It added a nice layer, sort of a mini story within the story, especially at the end. The story has interesting settings – time periods, locations, etc. and they’re typically described vividly. I think Louis’ was just terribly boring overall and that kind of killed my enjoyment of the story. It started out well enough and I thought I would like it, but I just couldn’t wait to get it over with and once again I ended up skipping thought the later chapters.

Overall, I’m glad I read this and I can definitely see how it impacted vampire fiction. Prior to this (as far as I can tell) vampires were these evil bloodsucking monsters that tended to lack true personality. Interview with a Vampire gave readers a front row seat of what was going on in the mind of the night-dwelling predators. They gained depth and further traction as popular fiction elements and then we got things like Twilight. The vampires stopped being totally evil and became crushes for awkwardly pretty teenage girls who like pale bad boys that may or may not have supernatural affiliations. If audiobooks are your jam, then you’d probably like that format for this book as Simon Vance does the narration. He’s quite talented and I’ve enjoyed many other books he’s done.


Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames – Review

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Band #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 515 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.


After Kings of the Wyld swept away fantasy readers last year (myself included) I was both hopeful and skeptical of a sequel being on the same level. I adored Kings and on so many occasions found myself absolutely rolling with laughter at the situations the band found themselves in. Early reviews of Bloody Rose were spot on as well and it seemed that it would be just as good if not better than its predecessor.

For me at least this wasn’t the case. I did like it and thought the characters were interesting and the story line was solid, perhaps even more so that of Kings but it just didn’t have that same tidal wave effect. I wasn’t swept away and perhaps it was because I wasn’t expecting a book that just felt more serious.

Bloody Rose is the daughter of Golden Gabe both of who you should remember from the first book. Rose is fronting her own band these days (Fable) and is still struggling to get out of her father’s shadow, making her understandably somewhat bitter. They’re looking for a new bard and that’s where our real main character comes into play. Tam has always admired the bands that rolled through town and longed to be a part of one, though her father was unlikely to allow such a thing after her mother, a famous bard in her own right, was killed. Long story short, she joins up with Fable as their new bard and goes on all sorts of harrowing adventures and learns a great deal about herself in the process. The plot was quite exciting, what with there being a new horde amassing, a gig for Fable that outweighs the importance of said horde, and the meddlesome rabbit-eared folk causing more trouble. The story is emotional (I cried a couple times) and full of action (pitched battles!) both of which are a big plus to me!

I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly made this book a 4 star read versus the 5 stars that Kings garnered. The character growth was well done, the story was cool (I’ve only mentioned that like 12 times now, you get the point), etc. But it just wasn’t funny. I loved the first book because it made me full on laugh out loud. Sure, this one evinced a few giggles but it was not even on the same level. The characters didn’t feel as vibrant either – like shadows of their forefathers!!! Inkwitch was my favorite with weird Roderick coming close behind simply because I’m imaging this fantastically rude goat man with big hats and vibrantly colored outfits with ruffles and sequins. The rest were kind of bland to be honest and I didn’t really care about them.

Overall, this was a good read – not great, not bad, just middle of the road good. The majority of readers seemed to love it just as much if not more that Kings of the Wyld, so I’d recommend you check it out as well because I seem to be in the minority of opinions. I’ll absolutely be reading more of Nicholas Eames’s books in the future because I think he’s a great writer that can tell a unique story.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


I just finished up The City of Brass and absolutely LOVED it so I thought it fitting to feature the sequel. The Kingdom of Copper picks up right where we left off and we get to see how Nahri and Ali handle the major changes from the previous book. I’m not a huge fan of this cover (I prefer the UK version) but I love the story and can’t wait to dive back in once it’s released in January 2019.