Review – Of Blood and Honey

Of Blood and Honey by Stina LeichtI put it on my list and then pretty much did nothing about this book until I found it floating around on my Nook one day and decided it was time. Let me tell you, actually, I don’t know how to tell you how amazing this story is. It’s dark, in some ways terrifying, and in others, sort of sweet. The sweet parts are very few and far between and last only a sentence or two but you need them to get you through the darkness of this book. And don’t let my saying this book is dark turn you off; there’s some great reading here.

Liam has never known his father and has no relationship to speak of with his stepfather. His mother, trying to protect him, let’s him believe his father is dead. That doesn’t help matters especially when knowing would be in his favor. Liam’s true father is fey and when the battle between the fey and the fallen gets bloody, Liam is dragged in not knowing, or understanding, what is going on in his life.

Poor Liam. The boy gets picked up and jailed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, is abused in prison, and can’t get a break outside of it. Mary Kate, the love of his life is his only redemption but even that relationship has it’s limitations and problems. Liam’s father, a man not fully human, has passed along several traits to Liam but he’s ill-equipped to deal with any of it because no one’s told him how to. He can’t get out of anything, and is stuck in more ways than one.

While parts of this story are painful, it’s worth the read. Leicht overlays the political tensions of Ireland in the 1970s with a biblical battle of good and evil with the church taking sides and even condoning killing, believing the fallen angels need to be killed. Liam is protected not only by his mother but the local priest as well, Father Murray, who tries his best to help him. It becomes a tale of good and evil but the lines are incredibly blurry.

I said some of the story was dark and it’s not only the fantasy elements that apply. The prison scenes are rough but do add to the story in an impressively emotional way. Would it be easier to read this story without these parts? Yes. Would the story be the same without these parts? No.

And Blue Skies From Pain is the follow up to Of Blood and Honey in the Fey and the Fallen series. It’s on my list.

Of Blood and Honey

By Stina Leicht

Night Shade Books

ISBN: 9781597802994

 

Review – The Last Page and Black Bottle

I loved The Last Page, which is the first book in this duology about Caliph the reluctant king of Stonehold. (That’s the word the author uses to describe these books so I’m going with it.) The Last Page is a combination of fantasy, science fiction, and a little bit of steampunk. Black Bottle is a bit of the same with a strong end of the world vibe. Since I never did get around to talking about The Last Page when I read it, I’m reviewing the two books as a whole.

The Last Page by Anthony HusoBasic premise of The Last Page: Caliph Howl is the reluctant heir to the throne of the Duchy of Stonehold. At 23, he becomes king and is forced to confront a possible civil war, and every dirty secret held by the Duchy. What he really misses, is his lover, Sena. They met in school and Caliph fell hard for the witch, and while she returns to him, it’s not for love, it’s for his blood. The woman is looking for a book called the Cisrym Ta. This book can destroy the world, and she’s the only one who knows how to open it.

So, The Last Page = awesome. Seriously, read it. Thanks to Elizabeth over at Dark Cargo for pointing this one out one day. It’s a book worth your time.

Basic premise of Black Bottle: Caliph Howl has been raised from the dead by his witch, Sena — or at least that’s what everyone believes. Thanks to this tidbit of gossip, the Duchy of Stonehold has now captured the interest of the rest of the world. When Caliph is invited to speak as part of a delegation, Sena’s action’s may bring about Caliph and Stonehold’s demise.

Black Bottle by Anthony HusoI liked Black Bottle but I didn’t love Black Bottle. The reason is not because it wasn’t The Last Page but because at certain points, I didn’t know where the story was going. It felt a little lost to me. Overall, I think these two books make an epic worth reading and maybe I would have enjoyed the second book more if I had read it closer in the timeline of life to The Last Page. I think my love may have rubbed off on it, but as that didn’t happen, I think I was waiting for the love to arrive in the same magnitude.

This is a dark world that Huso creates. Blood magic, death, monsters, witches, black holes where no life exists. The blood magic is amazing — horrific, painful, and deadly — and as dark as it should be. Sena is the epitome of her order, she knows and understands more than her closest peer, but even she can’t use the magic without being hurt. While not going into it for spoilerific reasons, her transformation throughout the story was interesting. Also, I liked that there are strong female characters in these books but I do wish they weren’t only witches and/or addictive personalities with crazy hallucinations though.

Am I glad I read both books? Yes. Will I recommend them? Yes. Will there be caveats? Probably, especially in regard to Black Bottle, but final word — read them if you’re looking for an epic to keep you company in the cold.

The Last Page

By Anthony Huso

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC

ISBN: 9781429964869

Black Bottle

By Anthony Huso

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC

ISBN: 9781429985536

Review – Vampires Don’t Sparkle!

Vampires Don't Sparkle! Needing some holiday reading (what, you don’t read horror at the holidays!?) I got myself a copy to read over Christmas, and can I just tell you how wonderful it is! It is! So wonderful! I mean that. It’s dark. The vampires are evil, depraved creatures. The people are terrified and bloody. It’s full of all that is awesome about vampire stories.

I used to love vampire stories. I say used to because they lost the wicked that was part of the myth. These are evil creatures hunting and feasting on humans not kind vampires who are happy chasing down wildlife and feeling guilty about it. Cruelty has been reinserted into their personalities once more with this collection. And I like it. Happy go lucky vampires are not my thing.

The stories and authors in this collection:

A New Life by J. F. Gonzalez

What Once was Flesh by Tim Waggoner

The Darkton Circus Mystery by Elizabeth Massie

Robot Vampire by R. J. Sullivan

Beneath a Templar Cross by Gord Rollo

The Weapon of Memory by Kyle S. Johnson

The Excavation by Stephen Zimmer

Skraeling by Joel A. Sutherland

Dreams of Winter by Bob Freeman

Dracula’s Winkee: Bloodsucker Blues by Gregory L. Hall

I Fuck Your Sunshine by Lucy A. Snyder

A Soldier’s Story by Maurice Broaddus

Rattenkönig by Douglas F. Warrick

Vampire Nation by Jerry Gordon

Curtain Call by Gary A. Braunbeck

Favorites, because I have a few:

The Darkton Circus Mystery by Elizabeth Massie — A traveling circus full of wonders but what if one of those wonders is a blood sucking beast kept hidden and abused? What would happen if the mystery were solved?

Beneath a Templar Cross by Gord Rollo — How far will someone go to exact revenge? Far.

Skraeling by Joel A. Sutherland — Vampires in a frozen wasteland. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about.

Rattenkönig by Douglas F. Warrick — What if things, unexplainable things, appears in your house? Would you fight? Or would you succumb?

If you crave vampires without the sparkle, go ahead, get lost in this book like I did. Another great thing about this book, a part of the proceeds will go to support cancer research.

No sparkles, if it pleases.

Thanks to Andrea at Little Red Reviewer for mentioning this one.

Vampires Don’t Sparkle

Edited by Michael West

Seventh Star Press

ISBN: 9781937929602

 

Review – The Book of Apex: Volume 4

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When I got an email from Andrea at Little Red Reviewer saying that she was organizing a blog tour for The Book of Apex, I readily agreed because it was on my list of books to purchase and it sounded like all the awesome.

Luckily, the publisher was willing to share a copy with me and I read it like the obsessed reader I can be. Except for when I got down to the last few stories, in which I drug my reading feet. Seriously, getting to the end was a joy but also sad because all the stories, which are so amazing, different, macabre, scary, creepy, and excellent were over. But the good news is that I now get to talk about them.

First, I’m going to share the full list of stories because there are some amazing writers in this anthology and all deserve a mention.

Table of Contents:

The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente

The Leavings of the Wolf by Elizabeth Bear

The 24 Hour Brother by Christopher Barzak

Faithful City by Michael Pevzner

So Glad We Had This Time Together by Cat Rambo

Sweetheart Showdown by Sarah Dalton

Bear in Contradicting Landscape by David J. Schwartz

My Body, Her Canvas by A.C. Wise

A Member of the Wedding of Heaven and Hell by Richard Bowes

Copper, Iron, Blood and Love by Mari Ness

The Second Card of the Major Arcana by Thoraiya Dyer

Love is a Parasite Meme by Lavie Tidhar

Decomposition by Rachel Swirsky

Tomorrow’s Dictator by Rahul Kanakia

Winter Scheming by Brit Mandelo

In the Dark by Ian Nichols

The Silk Merchant by Ken Liu

Ironheart by Alec Austin

Coyote Gets His Own Back by Sarah Monette

Waiting for Beauty by Marie Brennan

Murdered Sleep by Kat Howard

Armless Maidens of the American West by Genevieve Valentine

Sexagesimal by Katharine E.K. Duckett

During the Pause by Adam-Troy Castro

Weaving Dreams by Mary Robinette Kowal

Always the Same. Till it is Not by Cecil Castellucci

Sprig by Alex Bledsoe

Splinter by Shira Lipkin

Erzulie Dantor by Tim Susman

Labyrinth by Mari Ness

Blood from Stone by Alethea Kontis

Trixie and the Pandas of Dread by Eugie Foster

The Performance Artist by Lettie Prell

I want to talk about every single story here because they were all that good but in terms of space, here are a few of my favorites.

The 24 Hour Brother by Christopher Barzak — This story will bring out all the feels. It traces the 24 hour life of boy as seen through the eyes of his older brother, who is only a child himself. The baby, then unruly teenager, and then old man, is so sad and absolutely amazing at the same time.

My Body, Her Canvas by A.C. Wise — A man gives his body, and his soul, to a woman he loves — an artist who doesn’t even see him as a person, only a canvas for her art. She calls on him when she needs to expel personal demons, and he answers her call each time.

The Silk Merchant by Ken Liu — A Young man wants to know the secret of the finest silk in all the world. He finds his answer, right next to his broken heart.

Always the Same. Till it is Not by Cecil Castellucci — A zombie story, but a zombie story where the zombies are, well, more than just zombies. They evolve.

During the Pause by Adam-Troy Castro — Your planet is about the be destroyed and we have a message for you. We are here to tell just how horrible your last few minutes of life will be. Aliens, please stay away.

Trixie and the Pandas of Dread by Eugie Foster — Trixie, a godmobile, and farting pandas. I laughed so hard at this one. A vengeful god, a self-doubting god, a god with farting pandas.

The Performance Artist by Lettie Prell — This is the last story in the anthology and it’s simply one of the most amazing. It’s also terrifying. A performance artist puts herself on display, downloads herself into a machine, and becomes the installation.

If you missed it, I posted a few thoughts from author Cecil Castellucci earlier this month. Take a look.

Final thoughts: buy this one.

The Book of Apex: Volume 4

Edited by Lynne M. Thomas

An Apex Publications Book

ISBN: 9781937009205

The Republic of Thieves Read Along – 3

The Republic of ThievesThe third week, and knee deep in trouble. I love this series. :)

Lynn’s Book Blog is hosting this week’s questions.

The election competition.  Sabetha isn’t wasting any time throwing pranks at Locke and Jean.  Mostly it seemed fairly harmless, or at least not overly serious, until they were kidnapped and put onto a ship and taken out to sea.  What did you make of Sabetha’s latest plan? And what did you think about the way she executed it?

Well, give her credit, she thought ahead. The liquor license is sort of funny but annoying since they have to spend money to buy everyone off but, given time, I think Locke and Jean would have done something like that too. That kidnapping though wasn’t something one throws together in a few hours time. I think she should get extra credit here; she’s very good at the little details. But, it seems too easy to just get them out of the way; she seems too competitive for that kind of thing, so I’m slightly disappointed in her. Or, she’s actually that scared of what Locke and Jean can, and will, come up with. Or, she just wanted to see if they could get out of this mess and it was just to buy her more time.

During the escape overboard and Jean’s rather subtle nose dive into the water – I was curious about the lights Locke saw deep in the water when he was performing his rescue – Locke thought they looked different once he was under the waves which I suppose they would but he also had the feeling that he was being watched?  Do you think this relates back to the Eldren or some other presence?

I immediately went to the bondsmage when I read this but the Eldren make more sense. I really, really want to know how they fit in and the backstory there. The fires were both cool and creepy. I’m not convinced these are plain old fires, cuz, also, fire underwater doesn’t just happen. Maybe the ritual Patience performed has left him with some lingering side effects and he can now see things like this. Someone, tell me more!

Given that Locke hadn’t seen Sabetha for five years how did you think their first meeting together went (well, it wasn’t strictly speaking their first meeting of course – were you surprised that Jean and Locke hadn’t figured out that the woman pickpocket was Sabetha?) and also what did you make of Jean and Sabetha’s reaction to each other?

Ugh. My first thought when he bumped into the woman, “”No, no, check your pockets. Something just happened and why are you being so lazy!” No one just bumps into Locke unless he wants it to happen and while he wasn’t paying attention, he should have known something was up. Jean was late to this party too. I want to give them a break since they are playing catch up but this was too easy for Sabetha, which I’m sure is all the more reason for her to do it.

During the actual face to face meeting, I think Jean was right to be skeptical, and Locke should have been too, but he’s too caught up in the idea of her. Jean, oh Jean. He put up a good front but I think he knew Locke was too far gone for any logical arguing so he gave in. I think he’s hurting too much and doesn’t want to see them together anyway. Locke, well, he was just a dumbass; he falls for her so easily and she knew he’d do it all over again.

So, the gang have arrived in Espara and already the plans have gone wrong through no fault of their own!  Jail for a year plus lose a hand for slapping a noble?? What do you think of the justice system in Espara and how does this bode for the gang?

Slightly harsh to lose a hand over a fight, but you play by their rules when in their city. I did like the thinking, and collaboration, between Locke and Sabetha on getting Moncraine out of prison. Of course, if the two of them could find a way to work like this all the time, just think of what they could accomplish. I think Chains may have to help out in the end, or maybe Locke and Sabetha can work together long enough to keep everyone in one piece and out of jail for the time they’re there.

The acting company are finally coming together and we’re watching the gang as they try to read, act and grab the best parts – are you all ‘happy face’ with the whole theatre scenes or, sad face!  Also, I can’t help feeling like this whole storyline is a step out of character for the gang.  Any ideas of how it will play out??

I don’t see the point of this story line. I think I’m all sad face and I don’t know why. It just doesn’t fit for me. I get the training, and Chains wanted all of them out of his hair for a bit, and the need to get themselves out of trouble on their own is going to be a needed lesson for them, but a play? It doesn’t do much for me. I do love that’s where the title comes from though! I have faith this will all make sense in the end.

We are also being introduced to a number of new characters, particularly Moncraine and Boulidazi.  What are your first impressions of these two and the other new characters in the Company and any particular likes or dislikes so far?

Moncraine is interesting but he can get annoying fast and I see that being a source of tension. I’m also predicting he’s going to try and get in Sabetha’s pants and that’s when Locke is going to go all crazy. The boy got upset when someone else would be kissing her on stage!

Boulidazi, I’m not sure what to think of him yet. He’s obviously going to be trouble and I think he knows more than he’s letting on.

The rooftop scene and the apology.  How did it all go so wrong?  And how will Locke get out of this latest fix with Boulidazi?

Ok, give the boy a slight break — he tried. If he would only stop talking, his life would be so much easier. And, they all need to learn how to talk less because this is going to go to hell all so fast now. I’m starting to think Chains has a rather sinister reason for sending them there.

Republic of Thieves Read Along – 2

So, week 2! And, I did a really craptastic job of visiting other blogs in the first week of this read along. Thanks to work and it’s now second week of conference hell, I’m now in Las Vegas. I’m actually sitting in my room working with the promise of room service in the next 40 minutes or never, but, the good news, week 2 of the read along! Forgive me if I ramble this week; writing with no sleep. Yep, I take chances.

This week covers chapter 3 thru interlude “Bastards Abroad” and is being hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow. Go visit!

Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?

Um, he now sees dead people (what the hell Bug!). Locke bought in, thanks to Jean (go Jean!), and when his stubborness kicked in he finally, I think anyway, understood what he was in for and I don’t think he was truly ready. Of course, it was also nice to see he wasn’t ready to die yet either. Then again, who could be ready for something like that.

Patience is not one to mess around with, the woman can reign down hell on you in an all very real way. The body painting and dreamsteel were great elements to the ritual. She doesn’t play around. She told him she’d basically rip his soul apart and comes close. I’d like to think Locke learns a lesson out of all of this but…it’s Locke, so.

Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?

I think Sabatha thought it would be her. I think she thought she deserved it but maybe Chains wanted to take a chance on Locke and see what he would do with the opportunity. I think Chains has a soft spot for Locke and he wants him to step up and thought that if he gave him this chance, he might become everything that Chains wants him to be and thinks he can be.

Sabetha, I think, sees all of this going on. She see that Locke is the favorite, and without much work, and even if he has talent, she confident, smart, and her intuition tells her she needs to find a way around this bond between Locke and Chains or leave.

Poor Locke though. He really is helpless around Sabetha. He’s blinded by love and his own ability to be so stupid sometimes that he doesn’t see what’s going on, or maybe he can’t see it, or doesn’t want to see it. Or maybe Locke is just playing dumb in the hope that Sabetha won’t see that he’s worming his way into her spot in the gang and wants to take over and kick her out. Although, I don’t think what’s going on is intentional though, just the dynamics of the group are changing.

Um, I’m really tired and am starting to ramble. Move on to the next question. Please.

Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?

Locke needs to ask more questions. I want to know more. One of the reasons I like these books is sections like this one. I start getting comfortable with the world (in a very good way) and then Lynch goes and adds another layer. He builds new worlds inside one I thought I knew and was beginning to understand. They also happen to be a rather terrifying group of individuals. When can I have more? Please tell there will be more about this soon!

Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?

Yea, that many teenagers in the house — of course he sent them away! I kinda like it though. It’s the type of scheme they need to work out for themselves and I’m sure it’ll be an interesting play as well. If there happens to be one, that is.

The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?

Ugh. I’m not surprised. Locke and Jean, well, nothing can be easy. It’ll be interesting to see how they get around this bit so it doesn’t cause problems for them but I’m not worried. I think this is going to a really interesting election.

Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathise with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

They’re both at fault. Sabetha thinks Locke should get it. Locke just wants to understand but Sabetha isn’t interested in explaining. I do understand why Sabetha is so frustrated though. Sadly, it’s not something that’s going to go away. Obviously, Locke isn’t going to get over her and I don’t know what she wants with him. Sometimes it seems as though she might like him, or at least have a brotherly love for him, and other times she probably wants to kill him for one too many reasons to name. I get that. Then again, Locke has every right to be frustrated and annoyed with her too. She strings him along a bit, gives him hope that there might be some far off chance (let’s face it, that’s all Locke needs to start scheming) but then doesn’t talk to him for several days. What’s the poor boy to think! Both of them need to tossed in lake right now.

Republic of Thieves Read Along – 1

Read Along Week 1

The Republic of ThievesThe Republic of Thieves Read Along! You have no idea how excited I am for this. I’ve got a million things going on — traveling for work, taking a class on historical fiction, yoga, planning a vacation, and just remembering to breathe as I run from one thing to the next. But, I don’t care about any of that right now. Yay for this!

Dab of Darkness is hosting this week’s questions. If you want more info, want the schedule, and want to see who is hosting in the upcoming weeks, go to Little Red Reviewer.

Prologue through Intersect I is covered in this week’s reading.

1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Carlo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?

Bitter sweet, with a side of happy dance. I loved all these characters in the previous books so it was nice to have them back, even if only for a short time. For some reason, I particularly missed Chains; it was nice to see him being fatherly to Locke, since he’s rockin the death bed right now.

2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?

I think I like her, so far. Truthfully, I’m not sure what to think of her since she’s being filtered through Locke’s eyes, and, well, you know, he’s not always the best judge. How will a romance play out? Sad. It will end badly, sadly. I’m willing to hold out for a happy ending though. Any chance of that?! Yea, probably not, but I can go there, for Locke’s sake.

3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?

This is why I like Jean — right to the point. And Locke listens. Jean needs to be all — we’re doing this so shut it more often. Of course, I’m with Locke on it being a bad idea to fix this election but it means he’ll be alive, and really, it’s not like he hasn’t gambled with his life before. Come to think of it, isn’t that where all the fun is for these two?

4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?

Grasping for control. I agree with him on wanting caveats though. Locke’s pretty good at seeing a few steps ahead and he needs that for this upcoming ploy.

I don’t know what I’d ask Patience. It would be something so boring and mundane — like what gifts I’m going to buy people for the holidays because I loathe shopping and thinking about what to buy people is torture — that she’d probably just leave the room.

5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?
Leave it to Locke and Jean to step in something like this. I have all the confidence they will somehow get out of it, when Sabetha shows up and gets them out of it. That can happen, right?!