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review 2017-07-12 02:53
The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - My Thoughts
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) - Anthony Ryan

The Draconis Memoria - Book 1

I loved this book!  Yes, it seemed to take a while for me to read, I have no idea why, but I absolutely loved it.  :)

The Waking Fire is a wonderful mix of dragon fantasy, steampunk, military and adventure and some magic thrown in for good measure.  Sounds like quite the jumble, but it works spectacularly well, IMO. 

The three main characters, whose POVs we follow throughout the book, are very different - a small-time street criminal, a lady spy and and upright, honourable Navy man - but they all have one thing in common that I'm not sure I can describe well enough.  But it's got to do with conscience, honour, selflessness (this is a maybe)... I don't know bit they all have this 'it' factor.  And they're all likable while having recognisable flaws, which I find very, very important. 

The world that Ryan has created is familiar yet different.  There is some incredible world-building here and it's fascinating - even though there were a few parts when I found the descriptive passages a tad tedious.  That's probably what kept this from a 5 star read for me. 

A word about the dragons.  They're different from most of the dragons we read about in fantasy and I feel like we've only scratched the surface in this book one of the series.  I don't know how many books it's projected to be, but let me tell you, I can't wait to get my hands on the second book when it gets down to a reasonable price!  Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year.  :)

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review 2016-08-22 16:48
The Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack: From Victorian Legend to Steampunk Hero - John Matthews
Disclaimer: ARC courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spring –Heeled Jack is enjoying something of resurgence, in part thanks to the rise of Steampunk. And if anyone was made for Steampunk, it is Spring-Heeled Jack. If you don’t know, Jack was one of those mysteries that were never solved, but does get over-shadowed by Jack the Ripper. Jack made his first appearance in 1837; he had fire and could jump very high. He was busy in London, but eventually branched out.

John Matthews traces the history of Spring-Heeled Jack in this book. He doesn’t attempt really to solve the mystery, more to enlighten the reader about the origins of the story as well as its use in current fiction.

In discussing the origins of Jack, Matthews quotes at great length from firsthand accounts and newspaper reports. He also makes links to other famous stalkers, such as the London Monster and Jack the Ripper. The use of the firsthand accounts allows the reader to form an opinion or an idea before Matthews presents more information.

Matthews links the folk character to Robin Hood and the Green Man. While I am not sure I entirely agree, it does give one food for thought and a compelling argument is presented. There is also a connection to the Punch and Judy shows which is even stronger.

The weakest part of the book was the part dealing with the modern Steampunk era. Too much of this section is devoted to a very an overly detailed summery of a radio program that sounds interesting, but why should I listen to it know when I know what is going to happen. I also found it strange that Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia was not mentioned.

Still, a very in depth look at a legend, and a much needed look at that.


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review 2016-07-10 14:26
stupid Norway Nobel Prize people
Nation - Terry Pratchett

2016 Re-read for Sci Fi/Fantasy book club.

Seriously, does anyone else want to kick the Nobel Prize committee for not giving Pratchett the award? I wish this novel had been around when I was a kid.

older review

Philip Pullman is known, perhaps infamously, for His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been attacked because of Pullman's atheist beliefs as well as the endorsement of atheism that book represents. Pullman isn't the only writer to have been attacked due to his view on religion, and I doubt that he will be the last one. Of course, he will undoubtedly be attacked this year because of his new book about Jesus and his buddy Christ.

I find it strange that there was barely a peep about the books until the movie came out.

The problem, as I see it, with such "fame" as Pullman receives is that people get hot and bothered either condemning the work or, justly, defending the work. So hot and bothered that books like Nation get overlooked. In many ways, this is good, for no one is trying to ban the book. In other ways, it is bad, for the book doesn't get the fame it deserves.

Terry Pratchett is a humanist writer of fantasy fiction. He wouldn't call his work literature, but many of his later novels either is literature or rests on literature's mutable border. I've been a huge fan of Pratchett since Wyrd Sisters made me laugh during a very tough time in my life (Thanks Mom, for giving the book to me).

Nation is the best thing that Pratchett has ever written.
Nation is Literature.

I'm not sure if Nation was inspired by the Tsunami in Asia and/or Pratchett receiving his medical news. In truth, I don't really care. I do know, for Pratchett himself has said it, that Nation demanded to be told, and he stopped other projects to write it.

Supposedly a children's book, Nation tells the story of Mau who loses his whole Nation, his whole tribe, when a tsunami hits his island home. Eventually, Mau discovers Daphne, a "ghost" girl who was washed up by the same wave. What then follows is part Robinson Crusoe, told from Friday's point of view; part Swiss Family Robinson; part Island of the Blue Dolphins, and part religious and philosophical debate.

Pratchett's novels work because each of his characters is like the reader or like someone the reader knows. His characters are human and contain one or more aspects of everyone. Even Pratchett's most heroic or inhuman characters such as Carrot, Rincewind, or Death, have human traits that effect how they act (remember, Death really likes cats). Here, in this book, Pratchett presents multiple answers to the questions, "Why do bad things happen to good people if there is a just god?" and "How do you feel afterwards?"

Both Mau and Daphne have tragically lost family. Both of their reactions are human, yet different from each other. Both question the idea of god (or in the case of Mau, gods) and faith. Both arrive at different answers. More importantly, Pratchett doesn't preach, he doesn't persuade. He just wants the reader to think, the conclusion is left up to the reader. This makes the book totally honest, for there is no clear cut answer to the first question.

Besides engaging the idea of the god debate, Pratchett touches on another part of creation - where do stories come from? Are stories more than just religion? Is religion more than story? This comes as no surprise to the reader who has read the last two Science of Discworld books.

Despite the tragic and bittersweet events of the story, Pratchett's trademark humor, including footnotes, is present in full force. Like his characters, Pratchett's humor works because it contains an element of human truth. As the following exchange shows:

"Don't look back!"
"Why not?"
"Because I just did! Run faster!"

The tale of Mau and Daphne is an adventure tale of two teens surviving the aftermath of a natural disaster. They most rebuild. They must outwit cold blooded killers and hungry cannibal as well as the odd Grandfather Bird and tree climbing octopus. It is a thrillingly story that closely, honestly, and fairly examines faith, science and all in between.

Older Review
When Nation came out, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a Discworld novel.

Then I read it.

It's the best thing that Pratchett has ever written.

The one thing about Terry Pratchett, as Lawrence Watt-Evans pointed out, is that the only real difference between his adult books and his children books are the age of his protagonists. There is no reason why an adult shouldn't treat this as a book.

It's a book everyone should read.

I suppose if Pratchett had the reputation or high profile of Philip Pullman or J. K. Rowling, then there would be a huge cry of how this book should be snatched from the hands of impressable children before they learn how to think for themselves. Maybe there is already such an outcry, but I haven't heard anything.

Nation reminds me a bit of Island of the Blue Dolphins, with much more thrown in. Pratchett addresses the big questions of whether or not there is a god, and if there is a god, why do bad things happen? Bad things happen in this book, right from the start. Pratchett deserves credit for not sugarcoating what happens, but for also dealing with the deathes in a way that does not alienate or upset readers (okay, upset them too much).

What Pratchett presents for the reader is a book about what extactly faith and life are. When one reads Pullman, it is quite easy to figure out where Pullman stands in regards to religion. It is not easy to figure out where Pratchett stands. One character has lost his faith, but may or may not be talking to the gods. Other characters have faith. Neither character is seen as stupid or evil because of a belief or lack of belief. In many ways, Nation is a more mature novel about faith than Pratchett's earlier tolerance novelSmall Gods.

This a powerful book, and I hope it continues to fly under the radar of those people who think children shouldn't read books that make you think.

Everyone should read this book.

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review 2016-07-04 17:13
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man - Mark Hodder

I liked the first one better. I am not sure why. There is some lovely imaginative work here though.

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review 2016-05-03 08:09
Review: Tangle of Thornes by Lorel Clayton
Tangle of Thornes: An Eva Thorne Novel (Volume 1) - Lorel Clayton

“People speak sometimes about the "bestial" cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky


“She had to learn that the day granted hope and happiness, but I stole it. She had to face that the night hid evil and darkness, but my soul was blacker.” ― Pepper Winters, Debt Inheritance


Eva Thorne was born to be a monster, in a country of monsters. The Solhans are a “whole different category of human. One that most other races tended to hate.” Well, you can’t really blame them. Solhans glory in cruelty, dark magic, and buckets and buckets of blood – as long as it isn’t their own. Then, well, the Solhans opened a bit of dark magic that brought back their Dead God. And as a group that worships cruelty and death, their Dead God shouldn’t have been a surprise when he started slaughtering the very Solhans who worshiped him – along with half the rest of the world.


So, they became refugees, fleeing to other countries to escape the very God they were so gleeful to have brought back. Eva’s own family, the rich and massively powerful Thornes, found themselves in the Avian/Elf/Gnome controlled city of Highcrowne, the most ‘civilized’ place in the known world. Well, except for the fact that humans, like Eva, are pushed into the Outskirts, the dark garbage heap at the foot of the fabled city on the hill. Oh, and don’t forget that humans are also the slave labor that keeps Highcrowne’s very SteamPunk society running. Magic and machines, machines and magic. I loved it.


Eva’s family brought its power and dark magic with them when they came. They now rule over the Outskirts, wallowing in power, their hands in every evil, and yes, profitable, industry ripe for the picking. But Eva is determined, from a very young age, not to become what her family is – what her identical twin so easily became. So, she walks away, working in a café and living in a tiny apartment. She may not be rich, she may not be powerful, but above all? Eva is determined to keep her soul as her own.


Then her brother, the one ‘good’ person in her life, is murdered, his heart ripped out and taken away. Soul magic. And unless Eva can find his killer, and hopefully find his heart, Viktor’s soul will forever be captured and used for unknown, but certainly purely evil, purposes. Surrounded by family, who want to turn her to their Solhan ways (well, except for her twin, who just wants her to suffer greatly before slaughtering her), and a variety of human, gnomish, and ‘other’ people hanging around her and offering to ‘help’ for reasons of their own, Eva’s story is harsh, brutal, and obsessively readable. Finding her brother's killer is going to be hard enough. But keeping her soul intact? That may be impossible.


I picked Tangle of Thornes up for free on May first and sat down this afternoon after wearing myself out with gardening (it was warm today, Yea!!). It is midnight now and I just finished the book. I hadn’t read the description (see what a good cover can do? It caught my eye and I opened it on my eReader) but I also wanted something by an author I hadn’t read before that had a female lead, and I picked it up. The first paragraph caught my attention, then I was all in.


“I’ve read a few of those hard-boiled detective novels. You know, The Maltese Griffin, Murder on the Troll Road … the classics. But none of them ever mentioned the smell. Mr. Hylar, my last hope, smelled like old sweat mixed with fermented stomach contents, some of which stained his shirt collar. City elves were like their country cousins: filthy.”

OK, THIS I can get behind! No tall, willowy Elves with long, shiny locks blowing in a magical breeze? Something Different! Whoot!


The second book in the series is A Thorne for a Crown. I won’t read the description of this one either, I will just wade right in. I don’t watch the “what’s happening next” at the end of a show I am watching either – I would rather watch it than have it described to me, so I will do the same here. I had to slap my own hand to keep myself from punching the “Read For Free” button when it popped up at the end, but I will wait or I will be up the rest of the night and into the morning!

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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