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A Different Type of Urban Fantasy Series

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InCryptid Series Review

InCryptid Series Review

Lately I’ve been filling my book shelves with urban fantasy books and I especially like reading books in a series. The benefit to a series is that if I like the characters and the books, there are more. I don’t have to wait. I hate waiting. 🙂 I first read the “October Daye” series by Seanan McGuire and when I ran out of books, I discovered her “Incryptid” series.

Annoying Your Readers

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The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Review

I’ve been reading the fast and fun series by Annie Bellet called The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. I have read the first five books of this seven-book series. They are:

This is, as I said, a fast and fun series about a sorceress who is also a gamer. She plays Dungeons and Dragons, video games, and likes pop culture, especially nerdy pop culture. This means there are a lot of quips and quotes from a multitude of fantasy and scifi works. Fans, like myself, will enjoy the references and the apparent in jokes that she regularly works into the stories.

Banished of Muirwood Book Review

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When I first started reading this book I was pleased to see that it wasn’t just another cookie cutter high fantasy novel. The characters are interesting and the world is different enough from our world or other fantasy worlds to be engaging, but not so much that I was confused. It starts out like a coming of age story, with the main character, Maia, traveling with a hired killer called a kishion. She is either on the run or in hiding—it’s not clear which and has to make her way across some inhospitable lands to save herself and her kingdom.

But then confusingly, the timing would change and suddenly we’d be back seeing what her life was like as a young child and then growing up. After two or three abrupt shifts like that it becomes clear that she is reliving her past when she falls asleep. Those transitions are very rough, and I almost didn’t make it through the book because I didn’t understand what was going on. That type of writing device can be interesting, but it tends to jerk the reader out of the story. And I didn’t really like that.

The Book Needs Work, But Hopefully the Author will Consider Resurrecting It

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Resurrection by Zed Amadeo

I received a free copy of this book and it looked interesting. But this book is really more of a first draft than a final manuscript, no matter that it’s published and sold on Amazon. I have been in several writing groups for years and that experience combined with my own writing efforts makes me think that this story needs more work before it’s ready to be read.

Some of the problems I had with it include:

It’s written in first-person with mostly I-subject sentences. In other words, most of the sentences read: “I did this. Then I did that. I did something else. I felt this way, then I felt that way. And finally I did another thing.”

There is nothing wrong with first-person POV. But that’s only if the author doesn’t spend all of his or her time expounding on what “I” did. In fact, I can’t remember the name of the character, because most of the time she referred to herself as “I.” (Her name is Dina Durst.)

To read, reading, read…

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I love to read, I always have. But as I get older I find myself more and more willing to stop reading mid-stream. Ironically, eBooks have made this even more likely, as I stop reading something, thinking “I’ll come back to this…” all the while knowing that, well, I won’t.

Devil’s Punch (2012)
by Ann Aguirre

Thus we come to today. I finished Devil’s Punch by Ann Aguirre. This was a good book. It’s the third I’ve read about Corine Solomon and I’m enjoying the ride.

Corine is a woman who can sense the history, especially strong emotional history, of items when she touches them. In recent books she has undergone some changes to become more of a witch, but as is the course of many urban fantasies, she has to make choices that on the face of them are evil and so has been branded a black witch by most other practitioners.

When her best friend is stolen by demons and taken to hell (Sheol), Corine puts her life and soul on the line to go save her. That is some friend! Of course, in the course of getting to hell and saving herself and her friends, she has to make more gray choices.

There were bits in the middle that were confusing, especially as Corine is slowly being subsumed by a demon queen who has been a parasite on the Solomon line for hundreds of years. But right before the point where I would get so confused about who was in control of Corine’s body, it would be made clear again.

The action was fast paced and fun, and the story didn’t stick to standard tropes in fantasy, so I was surprised at how she ended it. The story starts in Mexico, moves to Sheol, and ends up in London. And Corine saves her friend, but with a large cost to herself and her soul.

After the break are two more reviews of a book I’m reading and another that I am starting to read.

Brave

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“Brave” (2012)
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell (Buy soundtrack)

Brave is going to have a special place in my heart because it’s the first feature film my son watched all the way through in the theater. (I don’t count Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because he was only a few months old at the time, and slept through the whole movie.) He and his father went to see Cars 2 last summer, but only made it through about 30 minutes before they had to leave. So, in order to be sure that we got to see the whole movie, we resorted to bribery (if he sat through the whole movie he got to go to Barnes and Noble afterwards) and chocolate raisins. And that worked. I’m not sure how much he really got out of the movie, but he did sit and watch the whole thing, only asking interminably if it was over yet during the credits. And I think he even liked it.

Brave is a fairy tale, but not an insipid or sexist one. It is the story of a young girl trying to find her place in the world, which was not the same place her mother wanted her to enter. This is a common theme for both girls and boys — their choices might not be the same as their parents’ and they have to figure out a way to reconcile it.

I particularly liked that this was a story about a girl. Pixar has been fairly boy-focused up until now, and I admit I wasn’t confident that they would be able to pull off a female main character, without going the Disney route of “reading” to prove she’s smart (Beauty and the Beast), annoyingly jealous and bitchy to prove she’s tough (Tinkerbell), or dependent on a big strong man (Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, etc.). So I went in expecting a standard girl-wants-to-be-boy type plot.

But I was pleasantly surprised.