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Michelle has a B.A. in English and Philosophy, and is currently working on her M.A. in Philosophy, because she's attracted to degrees that have a high likelihood of leaving her unemployed. She's been lost in Fantasy books ever since reading Mary Stanton's Unicorns of Balinor at age 12, and rarely remembers other genres exist. Her Fantasy author idols are Terry Goodkind, RA Salvatore, Anne Bishop, and Lilith Saintcrow. When not writing, reading, or attending class, she's secretly hoping to be sucked into an alternate dimension containing dragons and sorcerers, where she conveniently happens to be a sword-wielding warrior princess of some sort.
Jane Lindskold never does anything halfway, and Artemis Awakening is no exception. Hundreds of years after an inter-galactic war has caused technology on Artemis to cease functioning, archaeologist Griffin Dane crash-lands there to find the bio-engineered descendants of this man-made planet have continued to develop peculiar adaptations that make them particularly suited to life on Artemis. One of the most interesting things I've seen done with science fiction in a long, long time, and one that will have you wondering just what will happen when Artemis herself awakens?
I picked up this book because I love all things Egypt, but at the same time I wondered, how do you write an entire book on papyrus plants? The answer: easily. Gaudet traces the papyrus plant through history, showing how papyrus swamps have been an integral part of Africa's environment and economy, and how the destruction of papyrus swamps is having many adverse effects. Without being preachy, Gaudet shows how bringing back more Papyrus swamps could help filter badly polluted waters in Africa, and preserve a fragile environment. Papyrus has my favorite two qualities in a non-fiction book: highly informative and not boring at all.
If I had to sum up this book in one statement, I'd call it a hybrid child of Anne McCaffrey and Jane Austen--a mix I didn't know anyone could pull off. Leonard's debut novel, while marked in places by the hesitance of a new author, is nonetheless richly imagined and highly entertaining. Definitely worth the read.
Welcome to your new favorite mystery/adventure/haunted house/all-around weird novel. Told through letters, camera footage, and journal entries, The Supernatural Enhancements has something fantastic to offer in every chapter. The main character, A., though perhaps a bit overly verbose in his opening letters, is a delight to keep up with in his attempts to discover the secrets of Axton House. His sidekick, Niamh, a mute girl who communicates through her journal, is perhaps even more interesting a character than A. Despite being told through so many different mediums, I never found the story-line jarring or difficult to follow. If you're looking for something just a little bit different, pick up The Supernatural Enhancements. You won't be disappointed.
Welcome to post-shift Atlanta–when technology works, magic doesn’t, and vice-versa. The unpredictability of when these “shifts” occur creates a world that’s already fascinating. Add some shapeshifters, some mythical monsters including vampires controlled by necromancers, and one pissed-off mercenary named Kate Daniels, and you have one of the most refreshingly unique urban fantasy settings I’ve ever had the pleasure to step into. Kate is a mercenary and her current problem–finding out who murdered her guardian–requires the help of the Pack, Atlanta’s clan of shapeshifters who are notorious for their dislike of outsiders. Fortunately, she’s got just enough brawn and bravado to pull that alliance off. I can’t even come close to describing how much I love Kate: she has strength that’s more than muscle-deep, enough sarcasm and self-deprecating humor to make even me happy, and she’s got the audacity to greet the most powerful shapeshifter in all of Atlanta with the words, “Here, kitty kitty.” What’s not to love?
If you can’t tell by the title, this isn’t your average, yawn-inducing account of the history of money. Martin argues persuasively for a new concept of money that derails many of the common beliefs about it, asserting that money is actually a social construct, namely society’s system of credits and debits. While this may seem counterintuitive, if you consider how little physical currency we actually use today–just think about the dominance of the credit/debit card over cash–the concept makes a great deal of sense. Martin shows that a better understanding of what money actually is will in turn lead to better financial policy decisions–think fewer financial crises. Martin’s writing is entertaining and refreshingly free of unnecessary and often convoluted academic jargon. Even if you don’t agree with everything Martin says, reading this book will give you a clearer concept of what money is, how money works, and how and why financial systems fail.
Meet Shame Flynn. He’s a sarcastic death-magic user haunted by the ghost of a woman he killed when he lost control of his powers. That hasn’t happened in a long time, but lately Shame’s been feeling a bit…hungry. Not to mention homicidal. Add a red-headed assassin and a governmental interest in magic-users to the mix and things get interesting…and bloody. Shame is one of the funniest (in a dark, sarcastic way) characters I’ve ever read in urban fantasy, and he adds a humorous element to a book in which a lot of unpleasant things happen to him. Hell Bent is addictive—I read it in under twenty-four hours—and it has real characters I connected with who face equally real challenges and develop accordingly. (Also, as a shameless aside, though you in no way have to read Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series to understand and appreciate Hell Bent—they’re set in the same world—if you’re dying for more after reading this book, go read the first Allie Beckstrom novel, Magic to the Bone.)
I've been wanting to read a Tim Powers novel since I was fourteen, but somehow the timing just never seemed right. When I saw he'd taken on Christina Rosetti, whose poetry I love, I knew the time had come to give him a try. Powers reinvents the lives of Christina and her brothers in a well-researched and riveting read that both entertains and makes a fictional, yet believable, case for explaining the idiosyncrasies of both her life and the often haunting yet beautiful lines of her poetry. While sure to please those who love Rossetti, I promise that even if you've never heard of her it will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next, and just maybe the snippets of poetry scattered throughout will inspire you to read her own work.
As a general rule, I don't like to read books surrounded by a lot of hype, so when I saw this one slated as the “Next Big Thing,” I was reluctant to even pick it up. Fortunately I did, because it's one of the best books I've read all year. The protagonist, Paige Mahoney, is in the dangerous position of being a clairvoyant in a world where clairvoyance is considered a dangerous abomination. After being caught and enslaved by the non-human Rephaim, she's determined to do the impossible--escape. But even if she can, she may not have anywhere left to go. Bone Season vividly brings to life a future world of clairvoyants, spirits and zombie-like creatures from the spiritual ether. I was drawn in by the narrator's voice, by her story, by her feelings. I kept reading to see her through, and I'm glad I did.
The Silence of Animals is a fantastic exploration into the extent to which myth still permeates our lives. Before reading this book, I wager few would consider to be myths the beliefs that the future will be better than the past, or that through reason we can improve our lives and gain control over fate–yet Gray argues exactly this. While this may seem like a bleak approach to human life, Gray does much more than just point out the numerous myths present in our daily lives–he looks at how they affect us, why we rely on them and also what happens to us when our myths break down in extreme situations (such as the horrors people faced during and after WWII). A thoroughly interesting and well-argued book, Gray offers a unique take on where humans fit in the world that is definitely worth the read.
In Gameboard of the Gods, sci-fi meets fantasy in a futuristic world where dazzling new technology permeates everyday life, and the ancient gods are out to reclaim their places in a world where the government has legally declared them fictitious entities. This book has everything I love: great characters, well-written action scenes, devious gods, and a substantial plot that keeps me entertained and guessing. The titular character, Mae Koskinen, has officially been added to my list of Favorite Bad-Ass Fantasy Heroines Ever, and I'm betting she'll make it on to yours too.
It has always struck me as a curious part of human nature that we should wonder, to the point of obsession, about the pasts of those we care most deeply about. Underneath this is the question of how much we really can know about another person, but perhaps more importantly how much we really have a right to know. The protagonist in our novel, Alex, finds himself faced with questions such as these after the murder of his wife, and learns from her death much more of her past than she would ever have told him in her life. Every Contact Leaves a Trace is the moving, honest, occasionally heartwrenching story of Alex’s journey to discover what really happened to his wife, and to reconcile what he learns with the love they held for each other.
Let me begin by saying this isn’t a novel to speed-read through. This is a novel to settle in with a cup of tea or some coffee, and take your time. The characters – from our teenage Gavin who talks to ghosts, to the legendary magician Johannes Faust and Cassandra of Troy – are people you’ll want to spend time with; you’ll wish some of them had made different choices, you’ll wish life wasn’t so difficult for others, but you’ll want to stay with all of them right to the end. Treadwell’s writing is beautiful and descriptive, creating a setting that is full of both mystery and charm, yet still utterly believable. Advent is a fantastic beginning to this new trilogy.
I've always been a fan of fairy tales, and when I saw my favorite author was taking on the Snow White legend it took more patience than I knew I had to wait for release day. Camille is Snow White as you’ve never seen her, complete with scars, a stutter, an immortal family hell-bent on protecting her, and a past so dark she can only remember it in her nightmares. But Cami can't escape her past forever, and when it — and the White Queen — catch up with her, it'll take her friends and her immortal fiancé, a stranger she doesn’t know if she can trust, to get her out alive. Oh, and those friends bear strong resemblances to Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, whose stories (if I've followed our author's blog correctly) you can expect to be coming along soon.
I started this book on my day off, intending to read a couple of chapters and then go run some errands. Eight hours and several cups of coffee later, I'd read it straight through without stopping. Meg Corbyn is a blood prophet who sees visions when her skin is cut, visions her owner sells for exorbitant sums. After escaping with the most valuable thing she has — her own body — Meg takes asylum in the only place she can: a Courtyard of the Others, where human law does not apply. Meg knows she may have traded one danger for another, but when the Others grow attached to her and her owner comes looking to claim her, Meg may be just the thing to break the uneasy truce between humans and the Others. And when the Others go to war, entire species go extinct.
After finishing this book, I immediately knew I wanted to write a review, but there were so many fascinating aspects of the novel I wasn't quite sure which to focus on. More than just an entertaining sci-fi, Lord's novel explores many divergent facets of culture and human personality. When Dllenakh's home-world is destroyed, devastating the Sadiri population, he's sent to Cygnus-Beta and tasked with finding the remaining Sadiri suitable partners to repopulate the race. Delarua is assigned as liaison to help Dllenakh with his task. She's impulsive and strong-willed, the opposite of the fiercely controlled and mentally advanced Sadiri, yet she and Dllenakh get along oddly well. Their journeys raise interesting questions about intercultural interactions, along with the question of how much a culture can — or perhaps should — reasonably hold on to their past when they've lost nearly everything.
Alright, I admit it, I picked the book up more because it had Sherlock Holmes in the title than out of any real desire to improve my thinking; still, I found the book both entertaining and useful. Konnikova points out how frequently we tend to operate on auto-pilot, largely unobservant (like Watson), and shows us how we can train ourselves to be better thinkers and observers (like Holmes). Through several examples from Holmes’ cases, Konnikova reveals the psychology and methodology behind Holmes’ thought process, allowing us to understand how he arrives effortlessly at conclusions we often think impossible. While I can’t promise you’ll be a master detective after reading this book, I can say that if you apply the proper methodology you’ll begin to notice more, and you might find everyday life a little less boring.
I was first attracted to Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon because of the unusual setting. As someone who likes to think I've read a good deal of fantasy, I'd yet to come across one set in a world bearing similarities to the Arabic/Egyptian region of our own world. I was intrigued and a little nervous. I shouldn't have been the latter. Ahmed creates a refreshingly new world, while keeping all of the best of a traditional fantasy epic. The old, would-be-retired Adoulla and his apprentice Raseed make a humorous pair, contrasting the world-weariness of the old master with the fervent fire of the young, new ghul hunter. I highly recommend this book to fantasy lovers looking for an interesting new take on the genre.
Think this is another one of those cutesy, humorous, but in the end essentially useless books about the apocalypse? Think again. This book is for those of you out there serious about being prepared in the event you find yourself stranded after some natural (or not-so-natural) world-altering event. Have the following concerns ever occurred to you: How to construct a temporary shelter out of the materials at hand? How to make river water safe to drink? What are the best plants/materials for emergency first aid and illness? Or perhaps you're wondering how to steer clear of hostile groups out to rob you of your supplies in the newly-lawless world? This book answers all of these concerns and more. Have it handy at all times — when the world ends, you're on the survival list.
Remember that intense feeling of wonder you used to get reading books in your youth, when it felt like the world of the story opened up around you and pulled you right into it? Until I picked up this book I hadn't read a novel, as an adult, that made a setting come to life so intensely that I actually felt myself a part of it. The White Forest has a Gothic and, at times, almost phantasmagorical feel to it as the story progresses, inviting you to discover the secret behind Nathan Ashe’s disappearance, and the truth behind Jane Silverlake’s ability to perceive the souls of man-made objects. You won’t want to put this book down until you discover just what the white forest really is, and once you do, you might not be quite the same.
The Iron Wyrm Affair is a fast-paced blend of mystery, magic, and steampunk. Set in an alternate-world Victorian London, prime sorceress Emma Bannon is tasked with protecting Archibald Clare, a mentath whose powers of deductive logic are legendary, and she’ll need his help if she’s to discover who’s been killing off mentaths in Londinium. Unfortunately they can barely stand each other, and a recent bout of boredom has left Clare’s sanity a little on the questionable side. Saintcrow proves her adeptness at world-building in this novel, creating a dazzling alternative London as the story progresses, so you aren’t bogged down with pages of descriptive text at a time. Clare pays a strong homage to Sherlock Holmes, and what detective couldn’t use a strong-willed sorceress on his side? I loved this book and can’t wait to see what Bannon and Clare are up to in their next adventure.
Alex Verus has issues. All he wants is to live a quiet life running an occult shop in London, and to be largely forgotten by the magical community. Unfortunately he's also the only diviner without the sense to go underground when the Council and the Dark Mages begin a war over a powerful precursor relic, and that makes him...useful. In the mage Alex Verus, Jacka introduces a character who's not just quirky, a bit sarcastic, and infinitely fun to spend time with, but who also has some startling insights into the human condition. Verus observes several things I've thought for a long time, but still many more that made me pause and think. Somewhere in between outwitting opposing factions and protecting his cursed (literally) would-be apprentice, he taught me a thing or two about dealing with the past as well. I couldn't ask for a more usefully-entertaining urban fantasy.
Working for the Devil is one of the more interesting takes I’ve seen on the working relationship between Earth and Hell. In this urban fantasy, Dante Valentine is your average necromancer trying to pay a mortgage, until she’s forced into taking a job from Lucifer that ends up planting her square in the middle of the first serious uprising Hell has ever seen. Saintcrow’s characters tend to be flawed or damaged in ways that make them more easy to relate to, and Dante Valentine is no exception. She has a dark sense of humor and a bit of a suicidal streak, but she takes you on an incredible journey.