Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Saturday, February 27, 2016



I have just updated my ongoing post for Michael  R. Underwood's GENRENAUTS SERIES with a review of "The Absconded Ambassador," the second episode.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Compilation of My "Best of the Year" Lists

     Recently, I noticed that one of my very old "top ten" lists has been getting a lot of hits—my very first one from back in 2010. In response, I decided to compile a post with links to all of my "best of" lists that have appeared since then, right up to the present. You can click on any of the pink-link list titles below to go directly to each one. Within each list, you can click on the pink-link titles to go to my review posts for each book. Happy reading!

     For future reference, I will also post this list at the top of my "Authors" page, which, I'm sorry to say, remains incomplete due to a lack of time and effort on my part—mea culpa. Until I get that list up to date, it's best to use the "Search" box (top left corner) to locate titles, authors, and series. Also, all of the posts are available in chronological order by scrolling way down and clicking on a given year on the "Blog Archive" list (on the right-hand side).







Tuesday, February 23, 2016



I have just updated my ongoing post for Kelley Armstrong's OTHERWORLD SERIES with a review of the anthology, Otherworld Secrets.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016



I have just updated my ongoing post for Terry Spear's HEART OF THE WOLF SERIES with a review of the 18th novel, SEAL Wolf in Too Deep (which is also the second novel in the MONTANA WOLVES sub-series.)

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for Sylvain Reynard's FLORENTINE SERIES with a review of the second novel: The Shadow. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

UPDATE! Final Novel in Victoria Laurie's GHOST HUNTER MYSTERY SERIES


I have just updated an ongoing post for Victoria Laurie's GHOST HUNTER MYSTERY SERIES with a review of the final novel: A Ghoul's Guide to Love and Murder. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

NEW NOVEL! Charlie Jane Anders: "All the Birds in the Sky"

Author:  Charlie Jane Anders 
Title:  All the Birds in the Sky 
Plot Type:  Absurdist SciFi/Fantasy 
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality—3; Humor—3 
Publisher:  Tor (2016)

                    PUBLISHER'S BLURB:                     
     Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle 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. 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. This is a deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse. 

                    MY REVIEW:                     
    An review blurb aptly describes this novel as "an alchemical collusion—and sometimes collision—between the forces of magic and science." I lean more toward "collision" than "collusion." 

     The novel is divided into four untitled "books," or sections, which can be summarized as follows:
Book 1: Two very different children have weird experiences that will determine their futures and change them foreverPatricia's experience involves a tree full of talking birds who inform her that she is a witch who must serve nature. Laurence's experiences focus on his his invention of a two-second time machine and his initial meeting with a group of rocket scientists determined to save the world. (This is the shortest of the three "books".)
Book 2: As middle school outcasts, Patricia and Laurence deal with extremely bad parenting, unrelenting bullying, and an evil (but hilarious) school counselor. Laurence and Patricia become friends and deal with their horrendous school and home situations, which get worse and worse, especially after Patricia is outed as a witch and Laurence continues to stand by her. Laurence is attempting to create artificial intelligence on a supercomputer called CH@NG3M3 that he hides in his bedroom closet "behind a protective layer of action figures," so he enlists Patricia's help in communicating with CH@NG3M3 in order to widen its worldview. Meanwhile, Patricia accidentally learns to fly.
Book 3: As 20-something millennials, Laurence and Patricia lead separate, very different, lives in hipster San Francisco where they eventually reignite their odd friendship: a well-trained witch dedicated to serving nature and a well-educated physicist devoted to science that tries to control (or even defy) nature. Each is surrounded by a group of singular characters who believe fanatically that they are the only ones who can save the world, which is getting more and more unstable due to climate change, disease, and wars. This section explores the vastly different approaches that the scientists and the witches are taking to deal with the approaching apocalypse, culminating in a violent magic vs. science confrontation. (This is the longest of the three "books.")
Book 4: The resolution and the epilogue—the aftermath of a major showdown scene that changes everything for the couple and for the world.
     As I read the first two sections (more than 1/3 of the book), I began to believe that I had stumbled into a YA novel because this part of the story deals with Laurence and Patricia's coming-of-age years. Because both are "different" in the eyes of their peers (as well as their teachers and parents), they bear the brunt of bullying from nearly everyone with whom they come in contact—except for each other. Some of these scenes are brutal in their graphic descriptions of schoolyard brutality, both physical and emotional. As we watch the two sets of parents and all of the educators contribute cruelly to Patricia and Laurence's daily horror-show experiences, the mood becomes hopelessly dark. Fortunately, Anders adds some humorous sparks to the narrative in the dialogues between Patricia and Laurence and in both characters' descriptions of their interactions with their families. For example, here is Laurence's reaction to a conversation with his mother: "At last he understood what all those old horror stories meant when they talked about an eldritch dread, creeping into your very soul. That was how Laurence felt, listening to his mother attempt to talk to him about girls." And here's how Patricia's parents punish her: "They locked Patricia in her room for a week, sliding food under her door. The bottom of the door tended to scrape off the top layer of whatever type of food it was. Like if it was a sandwich, the topmost piece of bread was taken away by the door. You don't really want to eat a sandwich after your door has had the first bite, but if you get hungry enough, you will." 

     It's a relief when the ice cream-loving, mean-but-incompetent villain, Theodolphus (a graduate of the Nameless Assassin School), turns up in chapter four to lighten things up with his darkly humorous narrative: "He went into the men's room at the Cheesecake Factory and meditated, but someone kept pounding on the door asking if he was about done in there." When one of his associates poisons his ice cream, he "wound up banned from the Cheesecake Factory for life. That tends to happen when you thrash around and foam at the month in a public place while groping in the crotch of your cargo pants for something [the antidote], which you then swallow in a single gulp." Theodolphus is probably the most entertaining character in the book, even though his appearances are relatively few and far between.

     Then comes Book 3, where the plot picks up speed and complexity and the science-magic battlefield is laid out in detail. This section includes some hilarious spoofs of hipsterism, for example organic slow food hors d'oeuvres, "Secret breakfast…ice-cream [made with] cornflakes and whiskey," dubthrash/mashup DJ wars, trendy coffee shops, an art show "featuring finger paintings done by a twenty-eight-year-old woman, with subversively naive word balloons," and over-the-top consumer technology: "the living room that converted to a planetarium where the constellations changed shape to reflect the mood of the crowd." 

     Whereas the first two sections proceed along a straightforward, chronological path, the third suddenly begins to jump around in time, flashing back and forth between the past and the present to fill in the gaps in the lead characters' back-stories. Although this major structural change doesn't muddy the plot, it does slow down the pace. It's quite a shock when the story abruptly moves from a tense, personal scene between grown-up Laurence and Patricia to a new chapter that suddenly jumps back ten years or so to Patricia's witch-training days at Eltisley Maze—a chapter that describes a tragic incident that engendered deep feelings of guilt and shame that continue to overshadow Patricia's life. 

     I won't attempt to summarize the intricacies of the huge clash between the witches and the scientists and the effects of those battles on Laurence and Patricia's lives. Suffice it to say that the final chapters become much more woo-woo than the first three quarters of the bookand that's not a criticism, just a fact. What Anders does in this novel is to set a quirky pair of societal misfits into a world of reinvented sci-fi/fantasy tropes. Then, she adds some eccentric characters, connects them with a witty, darkly humorous narrative story line that exaggerates (or, perhaps, predicts) some horrific world problems, and comes up with two diametrically opposed solutions. It's a wild and crazy ride that pays off with an (oddly) sentimental ending. The primary weakness I found in the plot is that I was able to figure out the big technology mystery way back in the early chapters. Otherwise, this is a great read with well-developed characters and an inventive take on the coming apocalypse. If you are looking for a fresh fantasy with sympathetic characters and an offbeat premise, this one is definitely for you. 

     Click HERE to read the author's "About the Book" summary. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from All the Birds in the Sky on the book's page, where you can click either on the cover art or the "Listen" icon. Click HERE to go to the publisher's web site for full-text links to chapters 1-4.

                    ABOUT THE AUTHOR                    
     Charlie Jane Anders is the editor in chief of and the organizer of the Writers With Drinks reading series. Her debut novel, Choir Boy, won the 2006 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the Edmund White Award. Her story "Six Months, Three Days" won the 2012 Hugo Award and was subsequently picked up for development into an NBC television series. Her fiction has been published by McSweeney's, Lightspeed, and ZYZZYVA. Her journalism has appeared in Salon, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, and many other outlets. Click HERE to read a more detailed version of her biography.

Thursday, February 11, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for Jim C. Hines's MAGIC EX LIBRIS SERIES with a review of Unbound, the third novel.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Monday, February 8, 2016



I have just updated my ongoing post for Lilith Saintcrow's GALLOW AND RAGGED TRILOGY with a review of the second novel, Roadside Magic. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the updated review.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016



I have just updated my ongoing post for Sara Humphreys' DEAD IN THE CITY SERIES with a review of the fourth novel: The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the updated review.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for Kevin Hearne's IRON DRUID SERIES with a review of Staked, the ninth novel. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.  

Monday, February 1, 2016


Author:  Keri Arthur  
Series:  OUTCAST 
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4; Humor—2   
Publisher and Titles:  Signet Select
          City of Light  (1/2016)
          Winter Halo (12/2016)

     The series is set about 100 years after a five-year global war among humans, shifters, and vampires, with the shifters as the winners. After the war, the shifters rebuilt their cities to be vampire proof, setting them on land that was not undermined by vampire tunnels and protecting citizens with massive silver curtain walls and towers of ultraviolet (UV) lights to keep the shadows away. The city in which this series takes place is Central City, which is the home of the middle and upper-class shifters and humans, who have made peace with one another and have united against the vampires and the other supernatural monsters.

     Below Central City is Chaos—"an interconnected mess of metal storage units, old wood, and plastic that was ten stories high and barely five wide." The inhabitants of Chaos have little or no UV protection and must lock themselves away at night to keep from being attacked by the vampires who live in nests in the sewers beneath the city. "The shifters might have claimed victory in the war, but in truth, the only real winners had been the vampires…Their numbers had…grown on the back of the war's high death toll…Though they preferred to dine on the living, they were not averse to digging up the dead." Shifters and humans cannot communicate with vampires because the vamps speak a language no one else understands.

     In addition to vampires, other supernaturals—known as the Others—roam the night and the shadows. The horrific bombing attacks that ended the war had "torn apart the very fabric of the world, creating drifting doorways between this world and the next. These rifts were filled with a magic that not only twisted the essence of the landscape, but also killed anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in their path." The rifts allow various hellish creatures (e.g., demons, monsters, death spirits) to enter this "new and easy hunting ground in the shadows of our world."

     The series heroine can be defined in a few words and numbers: Tiger C5, déchet, lure rank. "Tiger" refers to the fact that a large portion of her DNA comes from a tiger shifter. "Déchet" means that she looks like a human being but was created by human scientists in the Humanoid Development Project in a chemical-filled test tube containing  shifter and vampire DNA. ("Déchet" is a French word mea+ning waste product—something that is thrown away, or outcast.) "Lure" means that she was created and trained to be a sexual lure—a spy who learned secrets during sexual assignations with the enemy. Other types of déchet were created to be assassins and front-line soldiers. The déchet soldiers had no human DNA, just shifter and vampire. The DNA mix allows Tiger to be a body shifter—to change her appearance completely (size, shape, complexion, hair color, eye color, etc.) She can use either sun or shadows to make herself invisible to most (but not all) people or creatures. In addition to having enhanced speed and strength, immunity to poisons, and speedy healing skills, Tiger seems to be immortal—or, at the least, very long-lived. She can also communicate with ghosts.

     Every since the war ended, Tiger has lived alone in the ruins of a military bunker on the outskirts of Central City—alone, that is, except for the ghosts of hundreds of déchet children and adults who died in that bunker in the final hours of the war. As the sole survivor of the bombs and the final deadly gas attack, Tiger is the last déchet in existence. The victors brutally hacked apart all of the other déchet in the final days of the war, even though the shifters (falsely) promised the few surviving déchet clemency if they surrendered. The shifters despised the déchet because the déchet soldeirs were ordered by their human commanders to murder shifters—both soldiers and civilians—in horrifying ways. The human scientists created déchet soldiers and assassins with no souls—no emotional centers—so they did exactly what they were told to do, even if it meant murdering infants and children. In the years since the war ended, history has been rewritten to hide the atrocities perpetrated by the shifters and to highlight and to exaggerate the atrocities committed by the déchet. The current population knows few real facts about the déchet. They think of them all as soulless, mindless killers who must be destroyed at any cost.

                              NOVEL 1:  City of Light                               
     They ended the war.
But they started something worse. When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between this world and the next, they allowed entry to the Others—demons, wraiths, and death spirits who turned the shadows into their hunting grounds. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay. 

     As a déchet—a breed of humanoid super-soldiers almost eradicated by the war—Tiger has spent her life in hiding. But when she risks her life to save a little girl on the outskirts of Central City, she discovers that the child is one of many abducted in broad daylight by a wraith-like being—an impossibility with dangerous implications for everyone on earth. Because if the light is no longer enough to protect them, nowhere is safe. 

     As the story begins, Tiger (aka Tig) hears the sound of a child crying in the woods outside her bunker. Her instinctive need to rescue an innocent drives her to go to the rescue, even though the sun is setting and the vampires will soon be out in force. When Tiger finds the child, she also finds Jonas, a badly injured shifter male. After rescuing them both, she is forced to take them into Chaos to the home of a healer named Nuri, an earth witch who wields powerful magic and who insists that Tiger help them rescue other missing children. Tiger is reluctant to cooperate with these people because when Penny, the rescued child, tells them that Tig is a déchet, they immediately attack her, drug her, and lock her up. Even though she eventually lies convincingly enough to convince them that she is not a déchet, they do not trust her—and vice versa.

     The plot, then, revolves around Tiger's efforts to determine who—or what—is kidnapping these children from Central City in broad daylight without ever being seen, and why these specific children have been targeted. Her search frequently forces her to be accompanied by the surly (but sexy) Jonas, who hates all déchet with a passion and is still not convinced that she is not one of his most dreaded enemies (even after she saves his life—twice). During the course of the investigation, Tiger learns that she is not the only déchet to have survived the war. She also engages in some scenesboth the sexy kind and the fight-to-kill kind—that put me in mind of Riley Jenson at her very best.

     In this series, Keri Arthur has once again found a heroine and a story line that meets or exceeds the standard she set with her excellent RILEY JENSON, GUARDIAN urban fantasy series. If you haven't read that series, you might want to give that a try. Riley is a dhampire enforcer, or Guardian—half werewolf and half vampire—who lives in Melbourne, Australia (where Arthur also lives). The nine books in this series were published between 2006 and 2010. If you read Arthur's DARK ANGELS series, you met Riley as a tangential characterthe best friend of the heroine's mother. Unfortunately, DARK ANGELS never really measured up to the original RILEY JENSON series. 

     I always approach the first book in a series with mixed feelings: anticipation of finding a fresh and inventive mythology and interesting characters, but also dread at having to plow through pages and pages of world-building exposition. In this book, Arthur does a fine job of integrating the world-building into Tiger's first-person narration. She basically treats the reader as someone to whom Tiger is telling her life story, so the world-building flows into the narrative in a natural manner, hardly ever slowing down the pace. Although Arthur doesn't delve very deeply into anyone's life but Tiger's in this first book, we do get a strong first impression of the main supporting characters: Jonas, Nuri, and Sal (an old friend/lover of Tiger's). I like the dystopian, post-apocalyptic aspects of the setting as well as the limited number of supernatural typesjust shifters, vampires, wraiths, and an unnamed evil power. Lately, some of the series I have been reading have had so many types of magical monsters that they overwhelm the plot, but that is not the case here. 

     Tiger is a terrific heroine: a self-sufficient, courageous, intelligent woman who has a deep empathy for children because she feels such deep guilt over having failed to save the lives of the déchet children who died in the bunker alongside her during the final bombing of the war. So far, Jonas has been mostly grim, angry, or inscrutable, but he is definitely going to be Tiger's love interest—once he gets past his rage at her true identity. Despite the fact that Sal has a heart-breaking, ill-omened back-story, he is the star of some very sexy bedroom scenes. Although Nuri is one of the "good guys," she makes a deadly, heartless threat against the ghost children in Tiger's bunker, and she seems all too willing to carry out that threat if Tiger doesn't do exactly as she demands. That means that Tiger is definitely going to have to be very cautious around her. 

     Although some of the conflicts are resolved by the end of the book (in the requisite showdown scene), this is, after all, a series, so a few unresolved story lines extend into the next book. Click HERE to read a GoogleBooks excerpt from City of Light

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of City of Light is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.

                    NOVEL 2: Winter Halo (due 12/2016)                    
UK cover (US cover
not available at the

time of this posting)
     When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between worlds, they allowed entry to the Others. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay. 

     The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way. 

     The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as Tiger learns more about the facility, her mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force. 

     Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself.

My review will be posted as close as possible to the publishing date of this novel.