Saturday, July 13, 2019

Review: Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier (NSFW)

I'm one of those people who covers their ears and flees into the night at the first hint of spoilers. Sometimes even the blurb on the back of the book annoys me--tell me the setup, yes, but don't mention events from half-way through the book! So, when I started Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Book 1), I started blind, knowing only that it was historical fiction set in ancient Ireland. When I got to the Celtic fairy tale aspects I had to set the book down to squee.


Juliet Marillier weaves this retelling in such intimate, immersive detail that calling it a fairy tell remix feels ingenuine. You'll fall in love with each character in a way that transcends the original lore while bringing you closer to mystical Ireland with every fae breath of the wind in the trees. Enter a world where the old ways are fading even as the Old Ones put in very real appearances, hooking their fingers into the paths of fate in a way Sorcha, the daughter of the forest, could never predict. Can Sorcha forge her own path through fate to save her loved ones from bitter evil?

Just as Irish fairy tales warn of deep loss (here's looking at you, Cecilia Dart-Thorton's Bitterbynde Trilogy), each installment of Sevenwaters dives deep into darkness - rape, despair, death, torture - you name it. Yet, Marillier also brings out the best in humanity through a light of perseverance and hope perhaps more powerful than the strange magics of Sevenwaters' forest nymphs and selkie caves.

Each sequel introduces compelling new characters as we follow along through the generations of Sorcha's ancestral home. Books 1-3 form their own trilogy with a fairly tied-up ending:

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Book 1)
Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters Book 2)
Child of the Prophecy (Sevenwaters Book 3)

Books 4-6 work as a separate trilogy that follows chronologically after the first trilogy. Mac Dara harasses the characters until the final show-off in book 6 and I felt the new antagonist gives this trilogy somewhat of a different feel from the first three books.  I found these books more predictable due to the formulaic nature of the series, yet I still enjoyed each one:

Heir to Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters Book 4)
Seer of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters Book 5)
Flame of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters Book 6)

Trigger warning: This series contains a rape scene. That is why I have marked it (NSFW).

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Review: Young Miles by Lois Mcmaster Bujold

Being Space Opera, Young Miles had to work extra hard to win my interest. If a friend hadn't recommended it I never would have picked it up.

Now I'm recommending it to you.

Lois McMaster Bujold's fast-paced style beckons the reader through high wit sparked by a well-meaning sardonic character who often bites off more than he can chew. In contrast, dark moments of suicidal ideation give realistic weight to Mile's snowballing lies and the all-or-nothing risks they represent. Bujold's exemplary diction is like the written version of perfect comedic timing, layered like icing on top of expertly-woven comedy of circumstance and clashing personalities. Her deft handling of despair rounds out characters who care for the potential consequences of their actions, real or imagined. It's a rare book that can make me laugh out loud one minute and shudder in sympathy the next.

Many readers will appreciate Mile's physical limitations, his leg braces and brittle bones making him more than the odd man out in a prejudiced future where an advanced medical field lays side-by-side with superstitious mountain folk who still slaughter babies born with extra fingers and toes. Mile's differences pervade each story in both the occasional outright oppression and in the subtle, everyday experiences necessitated by walking, getting dressed, and moving through the physical world--okay, and in hand-to-hand combat.

If Space Opera is your thing there's plenty of space battles, both of the ship-to-ship and the chase scene variety. Homeworld and galactic politics give Miles a run for his money--literally. Or, more accurately, his father's money.

Young Miles is a collection of short novels following Miles from his moment of epic failure in the Barrayan Military Academy, through unexpected adventures involving mercenaries, through barren wastelands ruled by despotic military higher-ups, and most of all, through Mile's search for himself and his place in the galaxy. You can find many other books by Bujold in the Vorkosigan Series, and like many great series, there's debate as to the best reading order--chronological, or publication date? Young Miles makes for an excellent first taste of the Vorkosigan Series.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: by Alethea Kontis

Alethea Kontis story now appears in two great anthologies!

Game On!
Game On! A GameLit Anthology by [Sharp, Anthea, Kontis, Alethea, Cannon, Sarra, Sabine, Avril, Purdy, Alexia, Peake, Marilyn, Landry, Stephen, Creeden, Pauline, Leya, Angel, Annett, Danielle] 

Once Upon A Star: 14 SF-Inspired Faerie Tales (Once Upon Anthologies Book 4) by [Sharp, Anthea, Cannon, Sarra, Kontis, Alethea, Weldon, Phaedra, Pope, Christine, Jefford, Nikki, Mackenzie, Kasey, Madison, Shawntelle, Purdy, Alexia, Johnson, Jenna Elizabeth, Julia Crane, Jamie Ferguson, Evelyn Snow, Kay McSpadden]
Once Upon a Star by Alethea Kontis weaves the wonderment of fantasy into a far-future science fiction where young Brandon spends most of his life in virtual reality while his sister plots an anti-technology revolution. Kontis' expert storytelling brings characters to life in this touching, thoughtful re-imagining of Briar Rose. reads even better the second time around.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Review: The CHRONOS Files by Rysa Walker

I present to you a SF series that consumed my life from page one to the final word: The CHRONOS Files by Rysa Walker. The trilogy also has novellas that fit between each book, as well as other stories. You can read the three books by themselves or go all-out and immerse yourself in the CHRONOS universe:

CHRONOS historians travel to the past to observe history as it happens.

But Saul Rand isn't content with simply observing. His plan: reshape history by creating a new religion and then stop anyone by any means necessary who doesn't fall into line. In The CHRONOS Files, seventeen-year-old Kate travels through time to retrieve CHRONOS keys before they fall into the hands of Saul and his Cyrists, all while trying to tread through the past without erasing the memories of those she loves or her entire existence.

Timebound (The CHRONOS Files Book 1)

Time's Echo (The CHRONOS Files 1.5)

Time's Edge (The CHRONOS Files Book 2)

Time's Mirror (The CHRONOS Files 2.5)

Time's Divide (The CHRONOS Files Book 3)

Simon Says (The CHRONOS Files 3.5)

Timebound begins with Kate learning about her ability to time travel, her evil grandfather, and meeting a mysterious young man whom she seems to have kissed quite passionately in a wheatfield. When the timeline suddenly shifts and erases her parents, Kate finds help from a kind student at the school, Trey, and sort-of-accidentally draws him into the whole time traveling secret and head-over-heels in love with her.

More Cyrists churches pop up with every time shift, bringing their "end times" warning all that much closer to fruition. To complicate matters, Kate's missing aunt Prudence appears in the church's propaganda as a fertility goddess, and Kate's a dead-ringer for her time-traveling aunt.

Rysa Walker weaves together an immersive story where one misstep can mean erasing yourself from existence. The more Kate investigates Saul's end-time plans, the further ahead he and his ubiquitous Cyrus organization get, and the more she and her friends realize there is no perfect timeline where they all live happily ever after.

Rysa's beautiful characterization leaves us questioning the meaning of our true selves. Is it possible to fall in love all over again? How much is our experiences and choices--the ones of our current timeline? Timeline conundrums turn every character into their own doppelganger as older versions of characters pop in whenever they want to contradict their younger selves, and each time shift brings mind-bending double-memories of re-written events.

In The CHRONOS Files, Rysa brings us an addictive SF topped with delightful historical accuracy--Houdini, anyone? The World Fair? If you've ever wished you could hop back and time to experience such things yourself, this is your chance to experience them through the eyes of Kate: Timebound (The CHRONOS Files Book 1)

Find Rysa Walker on Facebook and on her website,