Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace – Review

Cover- Envy of Angels

Published: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Tor.com

Series: Sin du Jour #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 225 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

 

Synopsis:

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour – where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.


What if you unwittingly became a caterer for demonic dinner parties, supernatural soirees, or ghostly galas? This book basically answers those questions and it’s as horrifying as it could possibly be. And also bizarrely hilarious.

Lena and Darren are looking for a new job following a falling out at the restaurant the previously worked at. Rent’s expensive in NYC, so when they receive a call from a celebrity chef they thought was dead they absolutely take him up on his offer. He runs Sin du Jour, a catering business with a specialized clientele and a hardened team of chefs, serving staff, and an acquisitions team that’s seen more action than military veterans. They quickly realize this job is like none other, from the clientele to the ingredients they use to make the food. It’s exotic for sure.

The first gig is catering for a treaty agreement between two demon clans and angel is to be served as the main course. The catering staff isn’t okay with this and they set out to find the perfect mimic – any less than perfect will see their insides devoured. Turns out, the mimic is a particular restaurant’s chicken nuggets and the recipe must be acquired by any means necessary… To say more than this would be spoil the fun, so it’s up to you to check it out.

All in all, this was a very fun, quick read and I definitely want to check out the companion novellas as well. I didn’t feel strongly about any of the characters, but the story was engaging and unique, which is enough to make up for that.

Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman – Review

Cover- Weaver's Lament

Published: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Tor.com

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Industrial Magic #2

Pages: 192 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Charlotte is learning to control her emerging magical prowess under the secret tutelage of Magus Hopkins. Her first covert mission takes her to a textile mill where the disgruntled workers are apparently in revolt.

But it isn’t the workers causing the trouble. The real culprits are far more extranormal in nature.

And they have a grudge to settle.


Emma Newman’s Industrial Magic series are excellent novellas that I would absolutely recommend if you’re looking for a quick fantasy read. They’re pretty detailed to be such short little books and it’s easy to zip right through them, though both Weaver’s Lament and Brother’s Ruin have left me wanting more.

The plot of Weaver’s Lament was very interesting – Charlotte has gone to visit her brother, now a successful mage’s apprentice and textile mill supervisor. He’s got a bit of a problem, as the mills are being sabotaged and he’s got to solve the problem before his competitor does. He has this bright idea that Charlotte can go undercover and work in the mill and discover who’s responsible for the sabotage. That in and of itself is a terrible idea – she’s obviously out of place among the other workers, but they take her in anyway and tell her all sorts of things with minimal suspicion. Hmm. She’s subjected to unforgiving labor, poor treatment, and dangerous machinery that may or may not be haunted.

Overall, this was an entertaining, quick read that progressed the plot arc in subtle ways. I was somewhat disappointed that Charlotte’s magical education was somewhat minimal in this book, but I think it would have felt rushed if it were included. This book felt like a bridge between book 1 and whatever book 3 will be about. I’ll definitely keep up with these novellas as they are some of the best I’ve read.

Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman – Review

Cover- Brother's Ruin

Published: March 14, 2017

Publisher: Tor.com

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 160 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.


I sat down intending to read a few pages of Brother’s Ruin and an hour and a half later I was finished. I haven’t read many novellas, but I can say that this is definitely one of the best I’ve read. I dearly wish this had been a full length novel, only so I could have enjoyed it for several more intense hours of reading. Fortunately, this is the first book in Emma Newman’s Industrial Magic series, so I have more to look forward to!

Brother’s Ruin is set in a version of 1800’s era London where magic exists and plays an important role in society. The downside to being talented is that the mage’s family must submit them for an official test with the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts, otherwise the family members can face prison time or a fine. Charlotte Gunn is a talented illustrator, caring sister, and un-tested mage. Her parents and fiancé are unaware of both her income as an illustrator and her less mundane talents… her brother on the other hand is aware of both of her secrets. Until Ben came down with an illness, Charlotte had been secretly supporting him through his schooling and topping up her parents’ coffers on occasion. An unusual set of circumstances has brought the entire Gunn household in contact with members of the Royal Society and it’s becoming more difficult to keep her gifts hidden.

Charlotte is surprisingly detailed, especially considering she’s only given 160 pages to shine, and that while a world is being unfolded simultaneously. This alternate, magical London is fantastically interesting- Emma Newman manages to squeeze in political dissent, sinister plots, and even a bit of amateur spying. I’ve found that most of the novellas leave me wanting more, but in a negative way. That is not the case with Brother’s Ruin at all- this leaves me wanting more in the very best of ways.

Overall, if you’re going to pick up a novella this year, you would do well to pick Brother’s Ruin. I can only hope that the sequels will be soon in coming because I’m dying to know what happens next!

Stacking the Shelves: 3/9/17

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!


It seems a little early to be posting this, but in actuality it’s a bit late. I intended to post this on Saturday, but my weekend was super busy!

Received for Review:

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A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

Ever since seeing Scott’s posts about his upcoming book on Facebook I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. Thanks to Thomas Dunne Books, I did!!

Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer

This was surprise book mail from the folks at Tor. I hope to check this one out in the next few months (busy schedule). I think the covers for Palmer’s books are beautiful and she writes hardcore, dense science fiction.

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Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman

I honestly know very little about this book and can only say that the synopsis intrigued me enough to request it on NetGalley.

 

Purchases:

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I picked up a great trio of books from Amazon, including With Blood Upon the Sand, The Valiant, and Kings of the Wyld. I’ve seen fantastic reviews for each of these and can’t wait to check them out!!

When Audible has a sale what do you do? Well, stock up of course! I picked up Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman for $4.95 each last week. I’ve already finished Ink and Bone and it exceeded my expectations. Such a cool book!

Currently Reading: 10/31/16

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Reign of Madness by Kel Kade

I am unashamedly addicted to this series and I’ve been squeezing in reading time at all possible opportunities. Kel Kade knows how to hook an audience and and write characters that you want to be BFF’s with in real life because they’re that frikkin’ awesome. As I write this post, I’m really thinking about how much I’d rather be reading this. It’s on Kindle Unlimited and Audible, but I highly recommend the audio version because Nick Podehl does a fantastic job with all of the voices and conveying tons of emotion!

 

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The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

I just started this Friday during my lunch break and haven’t gotten very far into it. I think it’s alright so far, but I can’t make a definitive judgement yet. It’s set in 1920’s New York, and I think the book is supposed to be vaguely Lovecraftian, which isn’t really my thing.

 

 

I’ll be starting at least one other book this week, but I haven’t decided which one yet!!

Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal – Review

cover-forest-of-memory

Published: March 8, 2016

Publisher: Tor.com

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 88 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

 

 

Synopsis:

Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest.

There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her…


Have you ever bought a book that you thought was a full length novel, but ended up being a novella? Well, this girl officially has! I didn’t think about checking the page count, I just knew that I liked the cover and wanted to read it, so when I actually got it I was a bit surprised. It was so wee and cute and when it arrived, I could have practically used it as a slightly too large bookmark for the other books I got in the same box.

Anyways, it took a grand total of about two hours (probably less) to read it. It was weird, but I liked the story and I wished it were longer so more details could have been squished in. I haven’t read much in the way of novellas, so am not really sure how to judge this numerically. Forest of Memory was unusual from the very beginning, and then it was unusual until the very end. While I liked it, I kept wanting context or to know why or what something was. Yes, I know that novellas are short and often give us the barest glimpse into a fictional world, but seriously, YOU CAN’T JUST TEASE ME LIKE THAT! I will say that I definitely want to read more of Mary Robinette Kowal’s books now, so I guess it was a success in that respect.

Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson – Review

Cover- Nightshades

Published: July 19, 2016

Publisher: Tor.com

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pages: 176 (Kindle)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations—the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

Nightshades is a new gritty urban fantasy from Melissa F. Olson.


I was unsure what to expect when I requested a book about vampires and FBI agents from NetGalley, but I’ve always been fond of vampire books so I figured I’d give Nightshades a shot. I was pleasantly surprised at how much excitement was packed into this little novella and found myself wishing it were a little longer.

Nightshades is set in a world where vampires exist and everyone knows it, though the common knowledge is a recent development. In light of this new threat to humanity, the FBI has created a division specially tasked with handling the vampire threat and learning more about them in an effort to defend their fellow man. This division, called the Bureau of Preternatural Investigations, has several branches in the United States, but the primary focus of this story is on the Chicago branch where a string of civilian kidnappings and vampiric attacks on agency members have occurred. The division is in the spotlight, but not in a good way and FBI golden child Special Agent Alex McKenna has volunteered to be the new lead agent of the Chicago division. He’s got his hands full, recruiting a decent team, getting information, and even working with vampires to achieve his goals.

This story is well developed and engaging despite its short length. In fact, it’s very nearly the perfect length and it left me wanting to read and learn more about this alternate world filled with vampires. I love the slight air of mystery that I was left with – clearly there is a long history with two characters in particular that I would LOVE to learn more about. Lindy, a vampire masquerading as human, is great – she appears very normal at first glance, but upon further inspection she’s more than she seems. Lindy is actually more than just your average vampire, which makes me want a sequel desperately. The epilogue of this novella left a very clear opening for continuing the storyline – YAY!

I found Nightshades to be intense and appealing- special agents and vampires are a great combination and I look forward to reading more! The closest I can come to a comparison to this book is The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, which was surprisingly awesome for a YA vampire novel. I realized after finishing Nightshades that I actually have another of Melissa F. Olson’s books on my Kindle and I had totally forgotten that I had it! At some point I’m going to have to make time to read Boundary Crossed, which was featured as a Kindle First book some time ago.

Currently Reading: 6/21/16

Wow, so I’m on vacation this week and I’ve got so many books to read!! I’m currently reading 3 and plan to start a fourth in a few days, which is ambitious but not impossible for me. I’ve got days and days to read and relax!

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Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

I got this one from NetGalley because I kinda wanted to read an urban fantasy with vampires. I’m not disappointed at all- its kind of awesome! Nightshades is also a very short story and I think it might technically be a novella.

 

 

 

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Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan

I am LOVING this book so far. The synopsis sounded so great, but I thought it would be tough to pull off a convincing Roman Empire in space story. Thus far its great, though I have a few things that I’m somewhat skeptical about – like would the Roman culture really remain virtually unchanged for 8000 years? No, probably not. I’ll go into more detail when I write up my review.

 

 

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Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Wellllll… I’ve always wanted to read this series and I finally picked up the audiobook because I just don’t have the time to read as many physical books as I want to! I like it well enough, but I’m not super invested in the story line. Its interesting and the pace is picking up now that the characters are starting to converge. Anyone have thoughts on the series as a whole? I’d love to hear them.

 

 

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Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

I will be starting Stiletto once I finish up Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator and I’M SO EXCITED! I’ve been anxiously awaiting this one since I finished The Rook last summer. Will it be as hilariously, bizarrely excellent as the first? We’ll see!