24 Aug
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New Acquisitions: 8/24/15

A few weeks ago, I took my first solo vacation with Mike.  Considering that we’ve been together more than six years now it was long overdue!  On our first night away, we went to a pub, sipped some rather nice scotch (God bless suburbia… it was ridiculously inexpensive), and then went to the bookstore, where I acquired these treasures. “Shadows” by E.C. Blake Sequel to Masks, which was filled with sinister magic, an insecure and overcompensating ruler, and the beginning of an awkward love triangle. In Masks, Mara Holdfast’s life changed forever. As the daughter of the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker, she had a clearly defined future: a quiet, ordered life in the capital, making Masks with her father and doing work important to the ruling Autarch. But when her Mask, specially made by her own father, cracked and fell to pieces during her Masking ceremony, Mara was exiled from everything she […]

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17 Aug
“Slave of the Sky Captain” by J.M. Guillen

“Slave of the Sky Captain” by J.M. Guillen

Slave of the Sky Captain is undoubtedly my favorite thus far in J.M. Guillen’s Lovecraftian saga The Paean of Sundered Dreams.  For any of you who haven’t been following my reviews, The Paean of Sundered Dreams is a series of novellas that are set in the same world and linked together by thematic content.  In each story so far, a world is on the brink of struggle with dark forces who threaten the very existence of life as we know it.  What’s particularly fascinating is that each story in the series has a completely different genre and feel to it.  Very little about the overarching universe is revealed in each novella, so readers are left to piece together the larger story through the various fragments. In Slave of the Sky Captain, we finally start to get some answers. Ysabel Dartange is having a very bad day.  She’s going about her business when she and […]

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13 Aug
“Masks” by E.C. Blake

“Masks” by E.C. Blake

Disclaimer:  I read Masks by E.C. Blake while laying on a beach drinking tonic water that may or may not have also contained a significant amount of gin.  This means that I am likely to be substantially less critical than I might otherwise be.  My friends also inform me that the title must be pronounced with a dramatic accent, because that makes it more fun. The land of Aygrima is ruled by an Autarch who seems ageless and is desperate to maintain complete control of his people.  Therefore, when people come of age at 15, they become full adults by donning magical masks that reveal to the authorities whether those people are having seditious thoughts.  Mara is the daughter of the Autarch’s head maskmaker, and she is eager to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the family business.  She begins the book with blind patriotism toward the Autarch, because that’s what she’s […]

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11 Aug
“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows was one of the most eagerly sought ARCs at Book Expo America this year, and it definitely lives up to the hype.  It is the first book in a new series set in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.  I must confess that I haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy yet, so I won’t be comparing the two, but even without having read it, I was immediately sucked in to Bardugo’s world. The story is set in an alternate version of Eastern Europe, where there are magic-users known as Grisha.  Now, I love a good rule-based magic system, and the Grisha are no exception.  There are several types of Grisha who can each do specific types of magic, but their powers are limited–up until a new drug called parem jurda is discovered.  Parem jurda makes a Grisha nearly invincible for a brief amount of time, but then […]

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09 Aug
“The Talon of the Hawk” by Jeffe Kennedy

“The Talon of the Hawk” by Jeffe Kennedy

The Talon of the Hawk is the third volume in Jeffe Kennedy’s series The Twelve Kingdoms, a collection of fantasy romance novels about three sisters and their struggles to find their place in the world.  Even though this is book three, The Talon and the Hawk can serve as a standalone, although it will spoil some events from previous books. Princess Ursula was always her father’s favorite.  The problem?  Her father, High King Uorsin, is a megalomaniac. Uorsin wanted Ursula to be a boy, and never really forgave her for not being one.  She’s still his heir, and she can match him in terms of strategy, but he doesn’t realize it or value her at all.  Ursula only sees the best in her father, and has wanted to follow in his footsteps since she was a child.  But she’s following an ideal that doesn’t exist, and a central theme throughout the book is her […]

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28 Jul
“Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari

“Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari

In Modern Romance, comedian Aziz Ansari teams up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg for a humorous exploration of what it means to date and find love in the modern world.  In our grandparents’ era, finding “the one” wasn’t so complex.  You’d meet someone cute in your neighborhood, and before you knew it, you’d be married.  As Ansari explains, this is because at the time it wasn’t socially acceptable for women to be independent.  If you wanted out of your parents’ house, you got married, and that was that.  People were looking for a partner they could get along with well enough, and companionable love evolved afterward. Today, the expectations of a relationship have shifted.  We want a soulmate, the kind of person who puts butterflies in your stomach, shares your interests, and is someone you want to be around.  When people find that kind of relationship, it’s extremely satisfying, but how do you […]

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20 Jul
“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a story within a story.  It opens in the present (not our present, nor our world, of course), as a mechanical spider monster attacks someone outside of a local bar.  The bartender, a man named Kote, listens carefully, and we sense that there is more to him than he lets on.  Then a man called the Chronicler arrives and recognizes Kote for who he is–the legendary Kvothe, who has had a significant impact upon the world as we know it.  Chronicler convinces Kvothe to tell his story, which makes up the vast majority of the book, with only brief interludes into the present. Kvothe’s childhood is harrowing.  After his parents are murdered, he lives on the streets for several years, each day a struggle to survive.  But Kvothe has always been somewhat of a genius, and he eventually manages to make his […]

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17 Jul
“The Wormwood Event” by J.M. Guillen

“The Wormwood Event” by J.M. Guillen

I discovered J.M. Guillen’s works when I stumbled upon his short stories while killing time on the internet.  I ended up killing a lot more time that day than I had planned, because the stories were quite good, and then moved on to his series of short fiction entitled The Paean of Sundered Dreams.  As I read more and more of the series, they begin to feel interconnected by common threads, despite vast differences in subject matter and genre, spanning from erotica to the zombie apocalypse.  However, each story is united by the sense that is incomplete, and by the sense that the world could still be either saved or doomed, depending on what a protagonist does next. This leads us to The Wormwood Event, one of the newest installments in the series.  The story begins with a computer programmer named Grace (I am also named Grace, which made me smile) who receives […]

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15 Jul
“Rogue’s Paradise” by Jeffe Kennedy

“Rogue’s Paradise” by Jeffe Kennedy

Rogue’s Paradise is the final installment of Jeffe Kennedy’s Covenant of Thorns trilogy, which tells the story of a woman who is pulled into the land of the fae, where she finds both danger and romance.  In Rogue’s Paradise, Gwynn finally comes to terms with the fact that she’s madly in love with Rogue, and decides to give into temptation and let herself trust him.  Gwynn is pregnant, wounded, and exhausted, but together she and Rogue will soon fight their powerful nemesis, the fae queen Titania.  Titania’s evil knows no bounds, and in Rogue’s Paradise, we get to see the full extent of her depravity.  There’s no question that she must be stopped.  Because Rogue and Gwynn are the most powerful sorcerers in the land of the fae, their alliance means that they might just stand a chance. One of the things that I love about Jeffe Kennedy’s romances is that the drama […]

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13 Jul
“Oathkeeper” by J.F. Lewis

“Oathkeeper” by J.F. Lewis

Oathkeeper is the second installment in J.F. Lewis’ Grudgebearer Trilogy.  Kholster was once the leader of the Aern, a slave race created by the mad sorcerer Uled in order to fight against the reptilian Zaur.  The Aern are bound by the oaths that they take, and if they break an oath, they lose the ability to communicate telepathically with other members of their race.  Because Kholster technically died as he ascended to godhood, the Aern are now released from his oath to kill all of the Elderannai, who had once enslaved the Aern.  Instead, his daughter Rae’en has taken Kholster’s place as leader, and must decide how the Aern will deal with their former oppressors.  As Rae’en contemplates her choice, the Zaur are closing in as part of a master plan that could doom both the Elderannai and the Aern if they can’t resolve their differences. I love the way that Oathkeeper plays […]

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