Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

November 19, 2017 0

My agent mate Rati Mehrotra has written the first book of her new series Markswoman. The book is exactly what I’ve been looking for–a gripping fantasy about a strong group of woman, focusing on strength and revenge.

Markswoman takes place in a post-apocalyptic future Asia, where groups of assassins bonded to special daggers keep the peace among clans and their own orders. The story centers on Kyra, last of her clan, focused on becoming a markswoman to avenge her family’s death. When the head of the order of Kali is killed mysteriously, Kyra finds herself on the wrong side and flees. She spends time among the male assassins of the order of Khur, held in disdain by the predominantly female assassins. There, she learns to fight to face her ultimate battle with Tamsyn the usurper.

Markswoman centers on a strong female lead. Kyra has fears and flaws, but also has a strong moral core, and she knows what she must do when the leader of her order is killed. Against all odds of success, she decides she will challenge Tamsyn to a duel. There is a romantic element to the book, but it is a side plot rather than the point of the endeavor. Kyra coming into her own, learning her true potential, focuses the reader and pulls us through the book.

Mehrotra descriptions are transporting. I found her landscapes immersive and her technological descriptions mysterious.  The world of Markswoman, all aspects of it, are deftly weaved into a rich, textured whole. It is hard to find your way out of this book in certain sections, as it seems to envelope.

One of the added bonuses for me, an older reader, was finding so many interesting “elder” characters to read about. Even though this is a YA book, I found myself enjoying the portrayals of many of the wise and experienced people in the orders of Kali and Khur, which transcended the stereotypes of older people generally found in books about younger people. I felt validated.

There are dangling plot points. What is Nineth’s ultimate fate? Shurik’s? What happens after the ending of the book, which seems so abrupt? And that big reveal about parents and children I can’t tell you about? What are the implications of that? I hope we will get the next book in the Asiana series to answer these questions.

Should you read Markswoman? Yes, you should. You can buy it on January 23rd, 2018. You can pre-order it now.

SPECIAL BONUS EPISODE of The Unreliable Narrators Watch!

November 6, 2017 0

Friday the 13th

Tonight we watch…Friday the 13th. That’s right, the grandaddy of slasher flicks! Camp Crystal Lake is open for business again, and you’re all invited. The question is…will you survive the experience?

WARNING: the following contains spoilers!

Dramatis Personae: Chia, Chris, George…and special guest-star Morris the Cat!

george_galuschak [8:00 PM] Friday the 13th!

chialynn [8:00 PM] Friday the 13th!

chris [8:00 PM] Friday the 13th!

(more…)

The Unreliable Narrators watch…Halloween!!!

October 29, 2017 0

Halloween

Welcome to the third and final episode of this year’s Halloween edition of “The Unreliable Narrators Watch…,” starring The Unreliable Narrators. This week we’re watching John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” the quintessential movie of this wonderful holiday!

WARNING: the following contains spoilers!!!

Dramatis Personae: Chris, Chia, George…and special guest-star Taz the Dog!

chialynn [9:44 PM] Three… two… one…

george_galuschak [9:44 PM] Halloween!

chialynn [9:44 PM] Halloween!

chris [9:45 PM] Halloween!

chris [9:45] piano!

chialynn [9:45 PM] For our readers at home, I’m the only one here who hasn’t seen this before.

(more…)

The Unreliable Narrators watch…Pulgasari!

October 27, 2017 0

PULGASARI

Welcome to the second episode of the Halloween edition of “The Unreliable Narrators Watch…” with your hosts, the Unreliable Narrators. This week, we’re watching PULGASARI, a giant monster movie made in North Korea. A rice/gluten golem animated by a blacksmith, Pulgasari eats iron and grows to about 800 feet and – well, this is a movie you have to see to believe.

Warning: the following contains SPOILERS!

Dramatis Personae

Chia, Chris, George

chialynn [8:07 PM] PULGASARI!

chris [8:07 PM] PULGASARI!

george_galuschak [8:07 PM] PULGASARI!

chris [8:08 PM] SPROCKET

chialynn [8:08 PM] Flicks!

george_galuschak [8:09 PM] horse

chialynn [8:09 PM] That’s promising.

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The Unreliable Narrators watch…Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead!

October 23, 2017 0

city living dead

Welcome to a very special Halloween edition of “The Unreliable Narrators Watch…” with your hosts, the Unreliable Narrators. This week, we’re settling in with a Lucio Fulci splatterfest. City of the Living Dead is the first movie in the acclaimed (?!?) director’s Gates of Hell trilogy.

After watching this movie we were all pretty shell-shocked and didn’t have much in the way of final thoughts. A word of caution: do not watch this while you are eating.

Warning: the following contains SPOILERS. And howler monkeys!

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Chris
Chia
George

george_galuschak [6:31 PM] City of the Living Dead!

chialynn [6:31 PM] City of the Living Dead!

chris [6:31 PM] City of the Living Dead!

chris [6:31 PM] Now that’s how you start a horror movie!

george_galuschak [6:32 PM] lots of fog

chris [6:32 PM] screaming

(more…)

Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis

October 12, 2017 0

I am a fan of Stephanie Burgis’ work. Her middle grade novels starring the incorrigible Kat Stephenson are some of my favorites. I love the skillful way Burgis writes the whimsical Kat in a great historical setting. Burgis weaves history and fantasy together in all her works. I just read Burgis’ novella Snowspelled, and I am transported.

Snowspelled is the story of Cassandra Hargrove, an exceptional sorceress who has pushed herself too far, and must now face the consequences of her actions. The book is about Cassandra finding her new self, and her struggles in the face of that. True to perfectionist form, she isolates, breaking her relationship with the her fiance. The two are thrown together at a house party, and well, I can’t begin to describe the chemistry and witty banter between them. You can guess, however, that I came for the setting and I stayed for the relationship. Into this mix Cassandra and Wrexham encounter an elf-lord with an agenda against Angland, and Cassandra has to find the culprit causing an unnatural winter.

All of the characters are wonderfully realized. Cassandra is an easy character to identify with, flaws and all. Brother Jonathan and sister Amy show Cassandra an affection that help the readers extrapolate her less prickly dimensions. I won’t begin to praise Wrexham. We could be here a long time. Just…read the novella.  I read it in a day. That is testimony to its quality, not my speed.

What is best of all about this is that there will be more. I’ll be waiting, not so patiently, right over here.

Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

September 16, 2017 0

The author was kind enough to send me an early review ARC, which I appreciate a great deal. I have read all of Hines’s books, and the reason this book gets five stars from me is it is the author’s most ambitious project to date.

Don’t get me wrong. Hines is one of the most versatile authors working in speculative fiction today, and I love that he ranges far and wide in his take on the speculative. Terminal Alliance has so many moving parts. It makes the philosophical statements he makes in his Goblin series (you missed this? Go look again!), has the strong moral characteristics of his princesses, and is full of the kind of self-examination we get in the Libriomancer series.

AND in and of its own self, this is easily the most interesting group of extraterrestrials I’ve seen in SF in a long time. In a publishing world of Roddenberry style humanoid aliens with facial appendages, Hines gives us aliens that are patterned on other life forms of earth–octopi, bugs, muppets–but he gives them excellent personalities and distinctive traits for each alien and alien culture. No Mr. Spock Vulcan monoliths here. Different planets have different factions that don’t get along. Hmmm…that’s kind of refreshing.

Additionally, Hines’s humor wends into satire in this book. To get these jokes, you have to understand our current culture and see how the future warps and distorts it. We get the jokes the characters in the book can’t get. There’s plenty in there that’s funny for its own sake, but man, the social commentary on current times. It’s pretty good.

I liked Jim Hines as an author before. I am more impressed now than I have ever been, and I’m the academic that called Goblin Quest the current equivalent to Pilgrim’s Progress. Step back and just let Hines write. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

Review: Continuum by Wendy Nikel

September 3, 2017 0

Like Wendy Nikel herself, I am a sucker for almost any time travel story, so Continuum was a good fit for me as a reader. Time travel as vacation meets the problem solving of Quantum Leap in a satisifying package.

The story begins in the past when Elise Morley retrieves a client who has forgotten herself and almost takes a voyage on the Titanic with her fiancee. Elise saves the client, but the rather inelegant Extraction causes fallout which ripples through the book. Meanwhile, it turns out that the travel agency where Elise works is not the only entity to have access to this technology, and a government agency has been sending people to the future. Elise is sent to retrieve a rogue agent.

While I wish we could have spent more time in the heads of a couple of the characters who were relevant to the past, I found the story that focused on the future well-paced and interesting I wanted just a bit more to explain what Allen was doing and why, although his ultimate motivation was a solid payoff. Chandler charmed me a great deal. And while Elise strikes me as world weary at first, she has a noble turn of character and a surprise plot twist which work pretty well.

Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech. Check out that purse snatcher in 1912. Her characters manifest their time stream’s habits and inflections brilliantly, which is a real value add for this reader.

Nikel creates a rich world in which she could easily weave a tapestry of other time travel adventures.  While Elise seems like she ends up in a place from which she cannot return, well, it is time travel after all, and whose to say continuity has to be linear?

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