Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: "The Bone Witch" by Rin Chupeco

Rin Chupeco delivers a promising beginning to an interesting story in “The Bone Witch” ($17.99, Sourcebooks Fire).

Tea’s world is shattered when her brother, Fox, dies fighting a daeva, dark magical creatures that plague the land. She is so distraught at her brother’s funeral that she does something quite remarkable – and dangerous. In her grief, her hidden magic manifests, and she raises her brother from the dead.

That’s how she learned that she was Dark Asha, a necromancer, known and reviled by most of the public as a bone witch. Luckily, an experienced necromancer is nearby when she performs the feat, and rushes in to whisk her away from danger – at least of one sort.

Tea soon finds herself among the world of the asha, a geisha-like society of female magic users. But even among her own, her dark power makes her something of an outcast. It also may allow her to change the world.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tell-Tale Thoughts: "Alone"

I thought it only fitting that I celebrate Edgar Allan Poe's birthday by sharing some thoughts on my favorite poem, not just by Poe, but by anyone.

By the time I was in junior high, I was pretty well familiar with most of Poe's work. I had several collections that touted themselves as "complete," including a leatherbound volume that was the pride of my bookshelf at the time. Still, every time I got an American literature textbook in school, I went immediately to Poe, hoping to find something new. Eventually, I did, and it was a piece that spoke to me like no other piece of poetry had before or has since.

"Alone" is, in equal parts, melancholic, majestic and sinister. It appealed to the weird teenager who discovered it, and though the weird adult I am now is quite a bit different than that kid, it still hits very close to home.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Review: "Paternus" by Dyrk Ashton

Why just play with one mythology, when you can play with them all? That’s the way Dyrk Ashton sees it in “Paternus,” a finalist in this year’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.

Fiona Patterson lives with her Uncle Edgar, an eccentric but kind man, and has a relatively normal teenage life. She has insecurities and love-life problems. She works as an intern at a local senior care center, where she seems to be the only person who can get through to an invalid named Peter. She’s managed to determine that he likes flowers and figs, and she’s been the only person at the facility able to get a smile out of him.

When she’s confronted by a menacing beggar in a freak rainstorm on her way to work one morning, she thinks it’s strange, but she has no idea just how strange things are about to get for her. She’s about to learn that nothing around her is what it seems.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

My favorite reads of 2016

This past year was a busy one for me, so I didn’t get to read nearly as many books as I would have liked. Such is life these days, though, for many people, so who am I to complain?

Of the books I did get to read, there were some fantastic selections. Some of my own reading prejudices were also challenged in 2016 (actually, beginning in late 2015), and you’ll see more self-pubbed authors than ever before on my list of favorite reads.

As I do every year, I want to remind anyone reading this that it is not a “best of 2016” list. I read far too few books to make such judgments, and a number of the books that you’ll find on the list were not released in 2016. It’s simply a list of the books that I most enjoyed this year, and though I’ll admit the first few are my favorites, there is no particular order after that, so don’t read in any “rankings” that aren’t there. If you asked me to rank them 10 times from 1 to 10, you’d probably end up with 10 completely different lists.

“The Shepherd’s Crown,” Terry Pratchett. Published May 16. I’ll admit that this is a very sentimental pick for my favorite read of the year, but it will be my last visit to a world that I’ve been a regular tourist in for more than a quarter of a century. I waited a long time after Pratchett’s death to read this, not wanting to say goodbye, but I decided the time had come about mid-year. It was a fitting farewell, and fitting also that one of his most beloved characters went out with the author and the Discworld.