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.

112 – Reading Challenges

October 3, 2017 0

We check in for exciting news from former guest Debbie Goelz and her new audiobook, then find out about the upcoming project, The Post-Apocalyptic Tourist’s Guide. And on to our topic of the week!

Chia, George, Chris and Cath need your help! We kick off two reading challenges in the interest of expanding our literary boundaries. First, a Secret Santa challenge in which we each select a book for someone else to read. Second, we each pick a genre we’re unfamiliar with and ask you, fair readers, for recommendations. What is the book that will make Chris a fan of cozy mysteries? Which military hard sci-fi novel will make a convert of Chia? Who has a great historical or contemporary romance for George? (No Outlander or Jane Austen, please!) Finally, Cath needs a recommendation for a men’s action title. Send us your suggestions! You never know what a successful recommendation will yield…

111- Author Spotlight: Jaye Wells

September 25, 2017 0

un_wellsThe inimitable Jaye Wells joins us as she releases the fourth book in her Prospero’s War series, Volatile Bonds. We chat with her about going indie, writing and teaching (check out Jaye’s Office Hours!), her grad school experience, Sabina Kane, and what’s in store for the future.

110 – Recent Picks

September 18, 2017 0

un_picksWe won’t call it Pick of the Week, since it’s been months and months since the last round. Nevertheless, we offer a few recommendations from our current pile of distractions, including Mjolnir, Black Sails, Your Name, Lakeview Cabin, Pantheon, Finding Florida, Popplet, Stardew Valley and more. So much more.

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.

Get Your Own eBook of The Vessel of Ra!

September 12, 2017 1

un_ra

It’s September 12th, and I’m celebrating the release of my first novel, The Vessel of Ra! With exclamation marks!

Perhaps YOU would like an eBook of The Vessel of Ra? I can do that for you. I’m giving away THREE copies. If you want one, just comment here by the end of September, and I will draw three winners at random. Don’t forget to give me an email address to reach you at, so I can ask you what format you would like.

And now, I’m off to grin like an idiot for the rest of the day. Again, I want to thank my fellow Unreliables for the interview here, as well as all the wonderful friends and writers who have made this day possible.

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