Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

I received this book for free from NetGalley, Purchased in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin HearneA Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Published by Random House Publishing Group on October 17th 2017
Genres: Action & Adventure, Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 640
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Purchased

So I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley, and then ended up with a(n annotated by the author) hardcover copy when I subscribed to PageHabit. The annotated copy was quite interesting, and I’m glad that I waited until after I finished the book before reading those.

I really don’t know what to say about this book except it was practically perfect. I’m only giving it 4.5 stars so that the series has some room to grow. It is a brutal book. It deals with an invasion and war, after all. I say war, but that war really begins with several massacres and while they’re not gratuitous, there is no guarantee in this novel that your favorite character(s) won’t end up dead. In fact, if this first volume is any indication, they probably will.

An aside (not actual spoilers): View Spoiler »

More than war, though, is that this book deals with the effects of war on ordinary people. You see all the different responses to horror and loss that one would see in real life – when one is so unlucky as to encounter it. The characters run the gamut in their responses to trauma and grief, and this book holds them up to the light and turns them about in interesting ways.

I think this book is a sign of the times. I think dealing with the aftereffects of horror and war and grieving for loved ones taken far too soon is something a lot of us are worrying about these days.

This isn’t a happy book. It’s not a depressing one either. Reading these characters’ stories gives me hope, and strength. I am very much looking forward to the next one.

Purchase your copy here [affiliate link].


What I’ve Read So Far in 2017

  1. The Broken Earth  by NK Jemisin 5 Stars
    • I would give this series 7 stars if I could.
  2. Girl Over Paris #1 by Kate Leth/Ming Doyle/Gwenda Bond 4 Stars
    • I liked it. Great art. Need to get back to the rest of it.
  3. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman 4 Stars
    • It’s Neil-Freaking-Gaiman.
  4. The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe 4 Stars
    • Loved these as a kid & I’ve been re-reading them. They still capture me.
  5. Mirabile by Janet Kagan 4 Stars
    • Actually a series of short stories. Funny & compelling.
  6. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine 3.5 Stars
    • An interesting premise, but the narrator is unlikable. Will read the rest eventually.
  7. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings 5 Stars
    • Has it’s issues, but this is a childhood favorite. I re-read it for a gender-flipped retelling I’m writing to amuse myself with.
  8. Nighty-Nightmare by James Howe 4 Stars
  9. Acorna’s People by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Anne Scarborough 3.5 Stars
    • I take issue with the “Every Woman MUST Reproduce” narrative in ALL of McCaffrey’s writing. But damned if I won’t admit that she writes a good story.
  10. Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire 5 Stars
    • A beautiful, lyrical, cautionary tale of suicide and ghosts. Also, can be abbreviated to DoDoDoD (I’m pronouncing it doo doo dodd), which provides me endless entertainment.
  11. Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe 4 Stars
  12. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flwelling 4.5 Stars
    • A fantasy world where all* sexualities are shown as valid. Heroes are bisexual — though the author doesn’t use the B word. *The only maybe-ace individual in the book isn’t outright named as such, and there’s a tiresome bit about how she’s in looooove but they can’t be together because no sex. Or something. In between everyone figuring out their sexy feelings, there are some damned good female secondary characters, a matriarchal monarchy, and a decent start to a hero’s journey tale.
  13. The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (DNF) 2 Stars
    • I’ve met Alex at Jordancon and he seemed like a decent enough guy, but after the 4th brutal death of a female character in 1.25 books, I decided this series isn’t for me. YMMV.
  14. Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone 3.5 Stars
    • I give this entire series 4 1/2 stars. I love mad gods and monsters and the humans trying to rebuild the world around them.
  15. Stalking Darkness by Lynn Flwelling 4 Stars
    • Book 2 in series above. Also good. Wishing there was a female narrator. Sigh.
  16. Rebel Flight by Mindy Klasky 3.5 Stars
    • Won this from LibraryThing! Seems like a really short book (novella?), and it’s a YA tale, but I really liked it. Part of a series.
  17. Bunnicula Strikes Again by James Howe 4 Stars
    • No one will ever drain my love for Bunnicula, okay? (Get it?)
  18. Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen 5 Stars
    • Transgender biracial cowboy in a fantastical Old West. I almost cheered at the moment when Rhett’s pronouns changed. (It was night. It would have been rude.)
  19. Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter 4 Stars
    • I like this series even better than Jane Yellowrock (sorry, Jane).
  20. Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire 5 Stars
    • I went into this book not wanting to like Annie because Verity is my favorite girl. By the end, I was cheering (and weeping) for her. If you haven’t picked up this series, I have to question your intelligence.
  21. Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop 4.5 Stars
    • Still has that icky self-harm theme running through it, and I’m still not sure she’s doing anything constructive with it. But *dammit*, I love this world.
  22. The Cold Eye by Laura Anne Gilman 4 Stars
    • Man, is Isobel in over her head. I have a tendency to mix up Bowen’s & Gilman’s worlds because the 1st volumes came out around the same time. Not since the 2016 elections have I worried so much about America’s ill-intentions. (Naw. I’ve been worrying this whole time. But that’s another article.)
  23. First Test by Tamora Pierce 3.5 Stars
    • Can you believe I haven’t read all of Tamora Pierce’s work yet? I’m ashamed.
  24. Power Lines by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Anne Scarborough 3 Stars
    • This series shouldn’t make any sense. Sentient planet? Seal shape-shifters? A whole world with *gasp!* NO ELECTRICITY?!? I’m in the middle of the sequel anyway.
  25. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch 4 Stars
    • I feel like this series is moving So. Slowly. Would like it to be a TV show so I can binge watch, pls.
  26. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (DNF)
    • I knew this was popular but had no idea what I was getting into when I picked it up because I hadn’t heard much of the story. The 4th time I fell asleep before the time-traveling even started was when I gave up. No rating.
  27. Acorna’s World by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Anne Scarborough 3.5 Stars
    • Why do I like this series so much? Pacifist bipedal unicorn people and giant evil bugs make literally no sense. (And why are insects always your villains, Anne? Isn’t human evil enough of a big bad for you?? It certainly is for me.)
  28. Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan L Howard 4 Stars
    • Johannes Cabal is a bad guy. He’s a bad guy with a pretty standard supervillain origin story, actually. If I think too much about this, I would probably feel like I shouldn’t read it. So I’m not going to, because I like the steam-punk-y world.
  29. The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold 3.5 Stars
    • Someone tried to get me to put down this series (written by a woman) to read Honor Harrington (written by a man). This individual tried to persuade me by saying Weber’s work was “more feminist”. So I’m continuing this series 75% for spite.
  30. Power Play by Anne McCaffrey – CURRENT READING!


You may notice that not many of these books are brand new. This is because I probably have 2,000 books on my TBR shelf (virtually, thank goddess, because I’m not sure where I’d put them otherwise.) If there are any immortals out there willing to share their secrets, I could really use the reading time. Thanks.

It’s Time to Save the World

Hello from 2017, and holy shit, has the world gotten pretty bad since Jan. 20th, hasn’t it?

First of all: YES, this is bad. This isn’t normal. We are not just being overly dramatic here. Even if you are middle-class and white and think that none of this will affect you — yes, it will. Also, stop being a selfish chump, okay?

Let’s recap the last week:

First of all, our current “leadership” has moved forward with repealing the ACA, and has already started making lists of people who “don’t deserve” to have it replaced. (Not that they have a plan to replace anything anyway.)

They’ve threatened to send the military against citizens of one of our own US cities over exaggerated and untrue claims of crime stats that don’t exist. The Superintendent of the Chicago Police literally said, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

Let’s not forget to mention that after the Jan. 21st Women’s March(es) on all seven continents, they still proceeded with their plan to punish and directly or indirectly cause the deaths of women seeking safe, legal healthcare, both domestically and around the world.

This is on top of the fact that one of the top advisors is a white supremacist who has gleefully gone on-record as wanting to “destroy the state” and “today’s establishment”. And this guy now has access to our National Security Council. I have to say — I don’t feel very secure!

But if that wasn’t enough, they also want to build a useless wall and starve our families and friends. Or that pesky little executive order from yesterday that’s already been blocked (but the fight’s not over yet).

Protest sign that says: "First they came for the muslims and we said not today motherfucker."
Photo from:

This is NOT OKAY.

Yes, this blog has historically done book reviews. If you’re about to message me and tell me to keep my political opinions to myself?


Did you think I’d spent hours as a kid searching Goodwill for a real-life copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard? so that I could sit back and let this shit happen? Did I check the back of every closet I came to for a door to Narnia to not go in? Bullshit. Ever since Ce’Nedra fought for her armor and jumped on a horse with all of the West at her back, I’ve been preparing for this. The purpose of supernatural power is to use it to defend the defenseless. That’s what we need now.

If you’ve ever said something along the lines of, “I’d never let that happen…” about Germany in the 1930’s? THIS IS YOUR TIME. Put up or shut up time, kiddies. And if you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, “That could never happen. She’s being melodramatic”? You’re part of the problem. I’d like to say I don’t care how you voted, but I do. If you voted for this shit, or abstained from voting against this shit, you have betrayed everything the women in novels from The Wheel of Time to Discworld to a hundred others have tried to teach us. I’m ashamed of you. But there’s also time for forgiveness. I’m putting my hand out. Help carry this bag of Cheetos to Mordor and we’ll throw it in the goddamn volcano together.

So what do we do to stop this?

First of all: be the kindness you’d like to see in the world. That doesn’t mean be a doormat. You should still stand up, speak out, and punch Nazis. Compliment someone. Smile on the street — especially if it’s at a person of color. They need our support right now. Buy small gifts for those you love. Bake cookies. Recharge. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Donate to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, if you can. Volunteer if you can. Voice support if you can’t do anything else. These organizations are fighting for us, and they also need our support.

Go to a march. I’m seeing signs that they’re planning one for scientists and another for LGTQBIA+ folk. Watch. Listen. Be vigilant. If you can’t march, voice support for those who do. Knit a hat.

If you want more to read or to do, check out the following resources:


Resistance Manual

Digital Security for Protestors (EFF)

Be safe, and know that you are loved and valued.

Work. Fight. Resist. Persist. Rest. Repeat.

We can do this together.

Review: Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Blood of the Earth by Faith HunterBlood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Urban
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth. When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her. Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville. Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…

Releasing today, this is a second series in Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock universe. The only problem I had with this book is that I’m at least 3 books behind on the JY series (soo many books to read!) and so I spent the whole book thinking that this series was a prequel to Jane’s story and kept trying to figure out how it fit together. I’m still not sure whether it is or not, because I like to get my thoughts on paper before I start reading too much information about the book.

Not having been in an actual cult, but having grown up around a Southern Baptist church, I believe the author has done a really good job here of depicting the kind of misogyny that can breed in an evangelical, uber-religious setting while also being careful not to paint everyone involved as either evil or stupid. Don’t get me wrong! There’s certainly some evil in the book! Our protagonist needs something to fight against. But the people are also fully realized and not at all one-dimensional. View Spoiler » in particular are depicted as being good people who have some less-than-mainstream beliefs but are trying to do the best they can with what they have — including with their cultural history and the way that they’ve been raised.

Nell’s powers are mysteriously powerful… She spends most of the book unsure of how to use them or where they come from but always manages to instinctively save the day. I didn’t mind that because I enjoyed Nell’s interaction with the PsyLED team so much. It would feel fake to complain about how powerful Nell is in a book that has vampires and werecats and magic. It makes sense within the world, and her power is balanced by what is effectively PTSD from her upbringing. Nell is a lonely, solitary woman, and I loved seeing her being forced out of her self and into the world.

All in all, an entertaining read that doesn’t make you think too hard, and — given my lack of keeping up with Jane  — there’s no need to have read anything else first. This is an excellent jumping on point for someone who doesn’t want to commit to Hunter’s extensive Jane series.


Black Friday Madness {Gift Offer Inside}

It’s that time of year again. Where we celebrate the obliteration of an entire continent of cultures by gorging on food and pretending to be thankful for our drunken familial arguments over politics and religion and then wake up hellishly early the following morning in an orgiastic display of America’s One True Religion: Capitalism.

Let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with people celebrating Thanksgiving. I think we should be thankful. I think it should be every day, but I’ll take 1 day a year over none. What I don’t appreciate is Black Friday. I don’t appreciate being told that I need to show my love for family and friends with dollar signs. I don’t appreciate the encroachment of commerce into one of the only days of the year that retail & service industry workers — including members of my own family — were guaranteed to have off from their labor.

I was willing to stay home on Friday and be quiet about it, but these “early Black Friday”, “forcing people to skip dinner with their families”, Thursday sales are bullshit. ESPECIALLY when your workers aren’t getting holiday pay. (YES, I’m looking at YOU, McDonald’s franchise my mother works for!)

So to all of this I say, fuck it. Fuck Black Friday, fuck forcing low income workers to work on one of the few days they were previously guaranteed a rest, fuck commerce, fuck all of it. I’m not doing it. I urge all of you not to do it either.

I’m going to be away from a computer when this posts, but here is my counter offer: if you’re going to give gifts this holiday season, make them. If you can’t make them, support small businesses and artists by making your purchases next week.

For those of you who are thinking, “I’d love to get a person I love a gift this season, but I can’t afford it.” Or maybe, “I don’t have anyone who’ll be getting ME a gift this year, and that makes me sad.” For those people, I have a counter-counter offer.

Let me help. I’ve donated to Worldbuilders this year, but I want to do more. I want to, but I’m no Patrick Rothfuss. I don’t have a NYTimes best-seller to my name to rate me celebrity friends to help and bigger clout. So I’m going to start small, but I’m going to do what I can.

If you know someone who could use a gift this season, let me know in the comments. Maybe you know someone who could use getting a package in the mail to make them smile. Maybe that someone is you. Tell me.

Obviously, you need to be willing to share your mailing address with me in order to participate. I’m in the US and don’t have a budget for international postage, but I’m hoping more people will chime in wanting to give.

Here’s what I have on offer: a few books of the SF/UF/F variety that are gently used to send to someone who will love them. I’m a crafter who sews and works in polymer clay. I’m still learning at both of those things, but I’m willing to share what I have. I like to make wallets and bags, and tiny strange creatures in clay. I can’t promise the seams will all be straight or the creatures won’t have lumps and bumps. But it’ll be a promise, from me to you, that I care. That I’m thinking of you. Even if I don’t know you.

These are a few things I’ve made in the past.

There are no strings attached to this offer. I’m not sure if/how I’m going to do international packages but I could probably manage a letter if nothing else. I’d prefer people who sign up be truly in need, but I don’t have any way to check up on that. So if you tell me you need it, I’ll believe you. I’ll do what I can.  I’d also like it if people who are able could also offer to help send someone else a gift. Otherwise, I’ll try to fulfill as many as possible myself.

If you’re interested, leave me a message in the comments about why you feel you (or your friend) could use a gift. Tell me a little about the things you like. Then fill out the form with your personal info.

If the form doesn’t show up below, click this link to reach it directly.

Most Anticipated Books of 2015

A new year means a new round of “best of” and “most anticipated” lists. This year, there’s been some noise about those lists being (as usual) too large a percentage of the White and Male variety. So out of my own curiosity, I thought I’d look at my wishlist so far for the upcoming year and see how my stats fell out.

In no particular order:

  • Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear – Steampunk in the wild west. Release date: 2/3/15.
  • Liesmith by Alis Franklin – Norse god gets an IT job. Gay main couple. Out now.
  • The Diamond Conspiracy  by Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine – More steampunk. Part of a series. 3/31/15
  • Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop – Alternate world fantasy. Part of a series. 3/3/15.
  •  The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber – Victorian fantasy. New series. 2/3/15.
  • Hunting the Dark by Karen Mahoney – Part of a series. Out now. (1/1/15)
  • The Hellsblood Bride by Chuck Wendig – NYC UF with demons and mobsters. Technically released 12/30/14.
  • Hit by Delilah Dawson – New series. Young adult. About a teenage indentured assassin trying to pay off her mother’s debt. Just in time for tax day in the US – 4/14/15.
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I honestly have no idea what this one’s about, but I want to read it anyway. 8/4/15.
  • The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs  – Nonfiction. About feminism in geek spaces, written by and for geek girls. 5/15/15. 
  • The Skull Throne by Peter V Brett – Epic fantasy. Part of a series. 3/31/15.
  • Kin by Lili St.Crow – Young adult. Part of a series of retold fairy tales. 3/3/15.
  • Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch – Part of a series. Has a male PoC protagonist. 1/6/15.
  • Servants of the Storm by Delilah Dawson – YA horror. HC is already out but I’m including because I’m waiting for the paperback releasing 6/2/15.
  • Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire – Part of a series. Go read it. Read it now. 3/3/15.
  • Dark Heir by Faith Hunter – Part of a series about a Cherokee shapeshifter. 4/7/15.
  • Gemini Cell by Myke Cole – Militiary UF. It’s billed as military sci-fi, but there’s not that much science in it. I think the UF label is shied away from simply because that’s seen as a “female” genre. (Tell that to Jim Butcher. I dare you.) 1/27/15.
  • Prudence by Gail Carriger – Technically I’ve already read an ARC of this but I’m including because everyone else needs to read it. Victorian UF. 3/17/15.
  • Unbound by Jim C Hines – Part of a series. Librarian mages. 1/6/15.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I have bookmarked right now. So there are 19 books on that list. 7 of them are written or co-authored by men. So my list is 58% female. That’s not bad, but I had honestly expected it to be overwhelmingly female, and it’s not. I see 2 authors that I’m aware of that aren’t heterosexual. That’s a little under 12% of the list. That’s kind of disappointing, honestly. And though there are 2 books about PoC, I only see 1 book where the author is a PoC (to my best knowledge). That part is… really disappointing, actually.

I have N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor on my radar, but I don’t know of any upcoming releases from the former and the latter’s previous work is still on my TBR list. Somewhere, I have bookmarked a list of fantasy works by PoC and I am going to go now and put my hands on it because honestly this is just pitiful.

Sometimes we have to actively SEEK OUT diversity. Sadly, some aspects of our current system mean that great books by people Not White and/or Not Straight (and yes, Not Male also) aren’t put in front of us to see them. It is our own responsibility to find these books and to be widely read. I have, obviously, not been doing a very good job of that. I hadn’t been looking for this when picking up new books. And sometimes “not seeing” race, or sexuality, or gender identity is just another way of saying you’re ignoring those people different from yourself. (Often times. Most times. 99.99999% of the times.)

I will be sure and share the list when I find it. In the meantime, if you have an upcoming or recently released fantasy or sci-fi novel on your radar by someone Not Straight/White/Male**, please share it in the comments section so we can all be aware.

**Written by someone other than yourself, please. This is a space for awareness, not self-promotion. 

[P.S. – I am also looking for suggestions for authors with non-binary gender identities, but I have personally not seen anyone in the SF/F genres “advertising” this information. So if you know of any, please list them. Thanks.]

Wrapping up 2014

[Disclaimer: I have blatantly stolen the idea for this post from Chuck Wendig. You should probably go read his blog. He’s way wittier than I am, anyway.]

  1. Favorite novel of the year: Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things
  2. Favorite non-fiction book of the year: Chuck Wendig’s 30 Days in the Word Mines
  3. Favorite short story of the year: Seanan McGuire’s White as a Raven’s Wing
  4. Favorite movie of the year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. Favorite TV show of the year: Whose Line Is It Anyway? 
  6. Favorite song of the year: Halestorm Here’s to Us
  7. Favorite album: Halestorm The Strange Case Of…
  8. Favorite video game: Pokemon Omega Ruby on Nintendo 3DS
  9. Favorite app: Trackthisforme
  10. Favorite [something else] of the year? Rat Queens, a comic written by Kurtis J Wiebe, former artist Roc Upchurch, and current artist Stjepan Šejić

Further discussion:

  1. I read much more in 2014 than was focused on here. An awful lot of it was fantastic, but Rothfuss’ surprisingly thin volume focusing on his elusive and mysterious character, Auri, was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. Beautifully and lyrically written, Auri reminds us that we can still have meaningful lives even when we’re feeling broken and that there is wonder in even the darkest, most forgotten places — in the world, and inside ourselves.
  2. Chuck wins by default here, as his National Novel Writing Month-inspired book was the only non-fiction, not related to work volume I read for pleasure this past year. And as fascinating as I find business analytics, I doubt many people here would feel the same.
  3. Seanan releases a lot of shorts on her website, but this recently released story is my favorite of the year. This glimpse into the world of Istas (a minor character from her Incryptid novels) is a quick, efficient killer, just like the waheela herself. This is ultimately the story of a woman striving to become her best self after a lifetime of being told she was nothing but a monster. I am not being sarcastic when I say: who can’t relate to that?
  4. Proof that a movie doesn’t have to pass the Bechdel test to give us strong, capable, fully envisioned female characters. (Though, we wish it still would.) Complete with eye candy enough for everybody and a blu-ray full of Anthony Mackie’s hilarious outtakes, this is my favorite movie of the year. We’re still quoting that car scene outtake at our house.
  5. We’ve been fond of Whose Line since the Drew Carey version here at Casa de Fairies. The upgrade to Aisha Tyler and additional diversity in this newest incarnation is our favorite yet. We really wish they’d go back to using the audience more instead of ‘special’ guests from other TV shows we don’t watch, but I guess you can’t have everything…
  6. I don’t know when exactly this Halestorm album dropped, but my 2014 musical year was all about the girl powered rockers. I hope to carry that trend forward into 2015. (Leave your recommendations in the comments, please!)
  7. If you haven’t heard of this band, look up their cover of Get Lucky. Pure awesome.
  8. Yes, I am a giant nerd. No, I don’t care. Pokemon hits all the completionist/collector buttons in my gamer girl psyche. If you’re not one for beating up on cute animals, though, you can try my second favorite: Fantasy Life. Part RPG, part Glitch the Game, all adorable. **
  9. You may have noticed from other entries that I am both a giant nerd and into analytics. Charts and graphs are my wonder drugs. This app lets you track anything, anywhere, and with a small in-app purchase you can export it anywhere. And it’s pretty, too. I’m currently using it to track books read, words written, and my current moods, among other things.
  10. Despite the issues which led to the original artist being dropped, I still love the all-girl D&D ass-kickery in this series. Looking forward to new issues! I’m happy to be able to say that, with the new artist, I can continue to support Rat Queens with a clear conscience.

** Are you a gamer, too? Want to trade friend codes? Mine is 1435-4938-8444. Leave yours in the comments and I’ll add you back.

NaNoWriMo Bargaining 101

November 1st — I will defeat NaNo this year and I’ll do it by the 20th!

November 6th — I will defeat NaNo this year by the 30th!

November 10th — I can still catch up this weekend. No problem!

November 15th — Well, the whole experiment was about writing consistently, so even if I don’t win, it’s a success.

November 20th — Screw it, where’s the hard cider / egg nog / whiskey?


Review: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Review: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuireSparrow Hill Road on 2014-05-06
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea. It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running. They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her. You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Sparrow Hill Road has a unique format, in that it is more of a collection of shorts with most of the same characters and an overall theme than it is a linear book. This is mostly, I think, because the book started out as a series of shorts. However, I think the format is also a suggestion of the way a ghost might experience time. Namely, in strung together bursts of interaction with the living or their fellow dead. Sometimes convenience and storytelling work together, and it’s lovely when they do.

There is an over-arching plot, however. Rose Marshall died in 1952 due to a car crash on the way to her high school prom, a crash that was instigated by a man named Bobby Cross. Bobby sold his soul to live forever and must use the souls of the dying to fuel his existence. Rose is the soul that got away, and she’s been doing her best to thwart him ever since, sometimes directly and other times indirectly. These are her stories, and the stories of the souls she’s tried to save.

I’m pleased to see on Goodreads that this book is listed as Ghost Stories #1. I was originally a bit crestfallen at the book’s ending, but knowing there is supposed to be more makes me feel a lot better about things. (Please, DAW, don’t tease us! We need more Rose.) ((And readers, please buy this book! Sales = Life in the world of publishing, and I need Rose to live. Figuratively speaking.))

Sparrow Hill Road is a book that serves up ghost stories on a heaping slice of Americana. It is a testament to, and a warning of, the American highway system, and all the miles of road and the strangeness that has grown up around them. When I’m driving sometimes at night, I wonder if a dark road after dusk is what Purgatory is. I wonder if I would know if I can crossed over from the living into the world of the dead. Seanan McGuire has taken that spinal chill and extended it into a full body shiver of a ghost story. This book is an apt spiritual successor to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. (Spiritual. See what I did there?)

I wish McGuire’s writing got as many accolades as her work under the name Mira Grant does. It is justly deserved, regardless of which name is on the book. Sadly, I think it’s the genre that doesn’t get any respect. All I can say is — I pity the people who aren’t giving McGuire just as much attention as Grant*. The work is outstanding, regardless of subject matter or hot pink covers (as seen on Discount Armageddon, probably my favorite of the McGuire canon.)

*Full disclosure: I’ve only read part of one book from the Mira Grant list, and that book (Parasite) wigged me out to the point where I put it down and have yet to work up the courage to go back to it. 


Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley ChuThe Lives of Tao on 2013-04-30
Pages: 204
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.He wasn’t.He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…File Under: Science Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]

I’m going to call The Lives of Tao an “urban sci-fi story”. Firstly, because that’s honestly what it is. This isn’t near-future, far-future or even “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away”, but actually set right now in our world science fiction. So I’m going to call it urban sci-fi because 1) It’s got all the elements of an urban fantasy except replace the vampires and werewolves with aliens and technology, and 2) I know it will drive the no-girl-cooties parts of the science fiction fandom absolutely wild. You’re welcome.

Tao is an ancient, immortal, sentient, parasitic being from a race that crash-landed on Earth pretty much at the dawn of man. He’s part of an in-fighting group of aliens that are now stuck here until they can get human society to be advanced enough for long-flight space travel. The two groups of aliens have been fighting amongst themselves since they argued over a small matter of policy eons ago.

The small matter they argued over? Whether human civilization really *needs* to continue on after the aliens get what they want. One group, the Prophus, think that humans are pretty handy people to have around and that they can get what they want without killing millions of people in the meantime. War is the fastest way to advance technology. It’s also the fast lane toward extinction. The other group, whose designation eludes me at the moment, and my book is all the way across the room so you’ll have to live with it, [Editor’s note: They’re called the Genjix.] thinks humans are necessary eggs for their interstellar omelette. They don’t really care if humans live or die, so long as the Prophus die with them.

Caught in the middle of this is a depressed, out-of-shape, programmer from Chicago. Tao, wise and immortal ancient being, is forced to take up residence in this hopeless lump of a man if he wishes to survive. Sure, Roen — the useless lump — gets a brand new diet and exercise regimen courtesy of the Prophus and Sonya, the woman tasked with training him. He also gets some bad ass hand-to-hand and weapons training. He also gets his ass kicked several times by bad guys, his View Spoiler » gets [spoilered] and View Spoiler » [spoils] [the spoils].

I honestly don’t know if I liked this book. It was well-written, at times hilarious, and the alien bits were fascinating — but the plot was mostly taken up with turning a fat guy into James Bond. Hoo. Ray. Although I’m not really surprised that I’ve heard whisperings of Wesley Chu one day being a big name is SF/F. [Editor here again: Since I originally wrote this review, Chu was shortlisted for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award.  So, plot twist! I was right!] This book dragged me all the way through it even as I insisted that no, really, I was bored and wanted to do something else. I honestly don’t know how the author managed that.

I will be looking at the sequel, The Deaths of Tao, with great suspicion in the near future. Of course, I WILL be looking at it, which means the author has done his job. N’est-ce pas?