logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: sff-urban-fantasy
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
review 2019-01-20 15:21
Audio Book Review: Spirited Christmas
Spirited Christmas: A Jonathan Shade Holiday Story - Gary Jonas

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Jonathan arrives at the office one cold December morning to find a little girl has been balled up waiting for him for an hour. Madison wants to hire him to take care of the ghost that haunts her house at Christmas and grabs at her.

I've listened to previous Jonathan Shade books and Joe does a great job, as he always does, with Jonathan. Joe knows Jonathan inside and out as he voices Jonathan when joking and being serious. You know what Jonathan is up to by Joe's voice. I'm so glad Joe has continued to carry through as the voice of this series. As always, the audio is clean and clear listening. I'm not distracted from the story in any way.

I love how Jonathan is with Madison. She's young, ten, and he treats her so well. When Esther tells him he wasn't going to not help this little girl, he is great at his payment as Madison only has change to pay with - all her money in the world. This is a small Christmas gift to the young girl so she can enjoy Christmas. Madison made me smile with her humor and personality. She could give Jonathan a run for his money on humors remarks. lol. She is a cute little girl. I enjoyed her interaction with Jonathan.

Jonathan finds that there's more to the ghost haunting than expected. In true Gary Jonas fashion, there is much more to the story than one would expect. Jonathan has a soft heart and it shows in this book. He's determined to do what's right but also what is wanted. The two do go hand in hand from time to time.

The ending brings the feeling of the heart of the Christmas spirit story, like many endings of Christmas stories. It made me smile as it warmed my heart. Also we have Jonathan in his fun remarks with Kelly as friends at the holiday.

The novella is marked at 9.5 in the series, but it's placed before the first book. There are things still in place for the first book or two. If you listen or read this novella, you can do so at any time. Read it before you get to the series or any time during the series. It gives nothing away for the events in the novels but gives a feel for Jonathan and Kelly, the major characters in the series. So, pick it up for the holiday this month!

Like Reblog Comment
review 2019-01-20 10:15
Black Tom and Racism in Lovecraft's Mythos
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

I think Victor Lavalle sums up perfectly the intent of this novella in its dedication - “For H.P. Lovecraft, with all my conflicted feelings.”

 

This story is set in New York in the 1920s. Charles Thomas Tester is a man from Harlem who earns money to support himself and his prematurely aging father by grifting. He has the reputation of being a go-to guy to fetch esoteric objects, and it is when he is hired to fetch a book for a white woman in Queens that the story begins.

 

It’s a tale of magic and power and the appropriation by whites of power paid for in black flesh. The streets of New York are toxic with hate, and a final tragedy, relating to the book, leads to Tester having nothing left to lose. A freedom that allows him to dare where others falter in fear.

 

It’s a beautiful narrative, taking the best and the worst from Lovecraft and showing it from the perspective of a person of colour. It’s full of gorgeous prose and leaves the reader feeling richer for the experience. Tester/Black Tom is constantly overlooked and underappreciated, but it is he who will triumph, albeit in a pyrrhic victory.

 

The opening of the book sets the stage perfectly -

 

“People who move to New York always make the same mistake. They can’t see the place… They come looking for magic; whether good or evil, and nothing will convince them it isn’t here.”

 

Other quotes I love -

 

“Nobody ever thinks of himself as a villain, does he? Even monsters hold high opinions of themselves.”

 

“The more I read, the more I listened, the more sure I became that a great and secret show had been playing throughout my life, throughout all our lives, but the mass of us were too ignorant, or too frightened, to raise our eyes and watch. Because to watch would be to understand the play isn’t being staged for us.”

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2019-01-18 19:31
Friday Featured Spotlight

Friday Featured Spotlight ~ Norse Mythology | Fantasy | Mystery

 

 

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2019/01/friday-featured-spotlight-norse.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-01-18 16:03
Bayou Moon / Ilona Andrews
Bayou Moon - Ilona Andrews

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

 

One of the main things that I love about the Andrews’ female main characters is that they are very self-sufficient & competent to run their lives. They are acknowledged to be high functioning people by their families & circles of friends. Not only can they handle the vicissitudes of life, they can defend themselves and their dependents.

Another reason that I love their books? The humour. In this book, when Cerise and William first meet, they are both “undercover.” She thinks he’s an ass and secretly calls him Lord Leatherpants. She is smelling rather pungent, and William not-so-secretly calls her the Hobo Queen.

William leaned forward and pointed at the river. “I don’t know why you rolled in spaghetti sauce,” he said in a confidential voice. “I don’t really care. But that water over there won’t hurt you. Try washing it off.”
She stuck her tongue out.
“Maybe after you’re clean,” he said.
Her eyes widened. She stared at him for a long moment. A little crazy spark lit up in her dark irises.
She raised her finger, licked it, and rubbed some dirt off her forehead.
Now what?
The girl showed him her stained finger and reached toward him slowly, aiming for his face.
“No,” William said. “Bad hobo.”



There are, of course, the obligatory rocks in the romance road. As Shakespeare told us, the course of true love never did run smooth. But that line is from Midsummer Night’s Dream and the plot line of this story is more Taming of the Shrew.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-01-17 19:57
Fawkes
Fawkes - Nadine Brandes

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Gorgeous cover (I admit the cover + the title are what drew me to the book in the first place), and also an interesting take on historical events by showing them under the colours (see what I did there) of magic rather than religion. In this alternate early 17th-century world, people are able to bond with a specific colour, and exert control over items of this colour through the wearing of a mask. The conflict arises from how people view the use of colours: Keepers (the ‘Protestants’) believe that a person should only master one colour and not give in to the ‘White Light’ that governs them all, lest greed devours them and twists their powers to nefarious ends; while Igniters (the ‘Catholics’) believe that listening to the White Light, and controlling more than one colour, is the way to go. Both factions are in conflict not only because of these views, but because of a plague that turns people to stone, with each camp blaming the other for the advent of this mysterious illness.

Enters our protagonist and point of view character, Thomas Fawkes, son of the (now) infamous Guy Fawkes, who’s been struck by this very Stone Plague and can’t wait until he gets a mask of his own, learns to master a colour, and hopefully manages to heal himself, or at least make sure the plague will stay dormant in him and never spread further than his eye. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and as he finds himself reunited with his father, the latter offers him a place in a plot meant to blow up the King and Parliament (as in, literally blow up, re: Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night, and all that).

So. Very, very interesting premise, and I really loved reading about the London that is the backdrop in this novel—not least because I actually go very often in the areas depicted here, and I enjoy retracing in my mind the characters’ steps in streets that I know well enough. Little winks are found here and there, too, such as Emma’s favourite bakery on Pudding Lane, or a stroll to the Globe. It may not seem much, but it always makes me smile.

The story was a slow development, more focused on the characters than on a quick unfolding of the plot. I don’t know if the latter is a strong or a weak point, because I feel it hinges on the reader’s knowledge of the actual Gunpowder Plot: if you know about it, then I think what matters more is not its outcome, but the journey to it, so to speak. If you don’t know it, though, the novel may in turn feel weak in that regard, by not covering it enough. I didn’t mind this slow development, since it allowed for room for the side plot with Emma and the Baron’s household, and I liked Emma well enough. I still can’t decide whether her secret felt genuine or somewhat contrived, but in the end, it didn’t matter so much, because she was a kickass person, with goals of her own, and actually more interesting than Thomas.

As a side note: yes, there is romance here. Fortunately, no gratuitous kiss and sex scenes that don’t bring anything to the story and only waste pages. In spite of the blurb that mentions how Thomas will have to choose between the plot and his love (= usually, a sure recipe for catastrophe in YA, with characters basically forgetting the meaning of things like “priorities” or “sense of responsibility”), it is more subtle than that. Thomas at least also starts considering other people being involved, such as, well, the three hundred Members of Parliament meant to go up in flames along with the King. Casualties, and all that…

Bonus points for White Light, who we don’t see much of, but was overall engaging and somewhat funny in a quirky way. I just liked its interventions, period.

Where I had more trouble with the story was Thomas himself, who was mostly whiny and obsessed with getting his mask. All the time. You’d get to wonder why his father trusted him and invited him to be part of the plot in the first place. Often enough, he came as self-centered and constantly wavering in his beliefs. While I can totally understand that the prospect of his plague suddenly spreading left him in a state of constant, nagging fear, and therefore prone to focus on this more than on other people’s interests, the way he hesitated between which way to pursue (stay faithful to the plot, or listen to the White Light, or shouldn’t he listen to his father, but then are his father’s beliefs really his own as well, etc.) was a bit tedious to go through. Good thing Emma was here to set his sight straights, and by this, I don’t mean showing him the light (OK, OK, I should stop with the puns now), but making him aware that her circumstances are more complicated than he thinks, in his own ‘privileged’ way, even though his being plagued does contribute to a common understanding of being immediately rejected because of what one looks like.

Also, let’s be honest, Guy wasn’t exactly Father of the Year either, and the story didn’t focus much on developing his ties with Thomas. They were united through the plot, but that was pretty much all, when this could’ve been a wonderful opportunity to reunite them differently, in deeper ways, too. There just wasn’t enough about him, about his personality, and in turn, this lessened the impact of Thomas’ decisions when it came to him.

Another issue for me was the magic system. I got the broad lines, and the reason for the Keepers/Igniters divide, but apart from that, we weren’t shown how exactly this magic works. It is, I’m sure, more subtle than simply voicing an order to a specific colour, and there seems to be a whole undercurrent of rules to it, that aren’t really explained. For instance, why can the masks only be carved by the biological father or mother of a person, and not by an adoptive parent (or even by anyone else)?

Mention in passing as well to language: sometimes, it veered into too modern territory (I mean 20/21st-century modern English specifically, not ‘but Shakespeare’s English was technically Modern English, too’ ;)). I think it was especially prevalent in Thomas’ discussions with White Light, and I found this jarring.

Conclusion: 3 stars, as I still liked the story overall, as well as the world depicted in it, despite the questions I still have about it. I was hoping for a stronger story, though.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?