Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Perfect Assassin: By K.A. Doore



Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.


When you read a title like The Perfect Assassin you would expect a world filled with assassins battling amongst themselves, poisoning, stabbing, and (if the book is in the science fiction and fantasy section) using magic against each other until only one assassin survives. You would expect the protagonist to initially follow orders, only to strike out on their own as they are betrayed and almost killed, leading to them plotting against the antagonist until a larger betrayal is discovered, thus putting the assassin protagonist in the right.

This is not that book.

So now that your expectations are properly erased, what is the Perfect Assassin?

Set in a desert based community, tensions are often put to the test during the end of a season when the water runs low. But when a killer starts killing seemingly random citizens, hiding their bodies so their jaan (spirits) can run free causing havoc, things are put in even more tenuous situation. When a newly graduated assassin is given the task of finding said killer, things get even worse. Considering said assassin doesn’t want to kill, and you’re looking at the Perfect Assassin. It’s a book of tradition, obligation, and budding feelings.

Yes, you heard right, budding feelings. That’s what honestly surprised me the most about this book, not that there were feelings and emotions, but the extent to which these emotions drove the story and the superb way that K.A. Doore captured the emotional intricacies of falling in love. I know, not what you were expecting, but Doore masterfully captures the subtle intricacies and shifts in Amastan from when he first meets Yufit. Not only are these emotions well crafted, but Doore actually takes the time to build upon them slowly, allowing the emotions to take the driver’s seat in terms of the pacing of the book. While technically Amastan’s search for the killer moves the plot along, it is really his budding feelings, and realizations of said feelings toward Yufit, that drives the pacing. This does something that I did not expect Doore to be able to pull off, it creates a complex and full character that readers are sure to commiserate with. Considering the protagonist in question is an assassin in a desert based community who I have very little in common with, it is truly a testament to Doore’s writing craft that I was able to relate so much with Amastan.

All in all, while The Perfect Assassin does have murder, magic and intrigue, its shining achievement is its relationship between the characters, and it’s for this attribute alone that I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for intense and realistic character relationship and development.


Tor Books

Published: March 19, 2019

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy:

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Ruin of Kings: By Jenn Lyons



Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel's son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family's ruthless power plays and political ambitions.

Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he isn't the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.

He's destined to destroy it.


I really loved The Ruin of Kings, the characters are likable, the magic interesting, and the story engaging, the but while all of those things are good, they are not the main reason fans of fantasy should read The Ruin of Kings.

What I mean by this is I don’t know if I’ve read a book like The Ruin of Kings before. The way it was written is absolutely remarkable. Not only do you have an unreliable narrator because of nature/personality of the person speaking (he is after all a thief and a liar who is telling a story to his captor under duress) but the unreliability of the narration is exasperated by the shifts in time in the actual story itself.

What I mean by this is the narration is split between two different narrators discussing different time periods of the same story. One is from the point of view of the Kihrin, our thief/captured protagonist, and the other is from his murderous shape shifting captor, Talon, who tells the story from the points of view of the people she has eaten (yes eaten, so anytime you get a new person’s POV you know that person is not going to make it). These shifts in time between the different storytellers transform the natural flow of this story from that of a typical rags to riches story into a rags to riches/rise to power/end of the world ect.. story (aka a much more complex story that would normally evolve three books into a series instead of the first in the series). Not only that but by skipping many of the essential details between the timelines, Lyons improve upon the overall mystery surrounding Kihrin, keeping the reader guessing until even after the last pages, including myself, I personally I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, The Name of All Things.

Of course, the only downside to these time jumps in the story is that some readers might feel somewhat lost in the middle of the story, but if these readers keep going then they are sure to enjoy the final payoff.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Ruin of Kings. It was engaging, had likable characters, and was written with a fascinating style, and I personally can’t wait for the next book in the series. I highly recommend.


Publisher: Tor Books

Published: February 5, 2019

Price: $24.99

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Monday, May 13, 2019

That Ain't Witchcraft: By Seanan McGuire



Crossroads, noun:

1. A place where two roads cross.
2. A place where bargains can be made.
3. See also “places to avoid.”

Antimony Price has never done well without a support system. As the youngest of her generation, she has always been able to depend on her parents, siblings, and cousins to help her out when she’s in a pinch—until now. After fleeing from the Covenant of St. George, she’s found herself in debt to the crossroads and running for her life. No family. No mice. No way out.

Lucky for her, she’s always been resourceful, and she’s been gathering allies as she travels: Sam, fūri trapeze artist turned boyfriend; Cylia, jink roller derby captain and designated driver; Fern, sylph friend, confidant, and maker of breakfasts; even Mary, ghost babysitter to the Price family. Annie’s actually starting to feel like they might be able to figure things out—which is probably why things start going wrong again.

New Gravesend, Maine is a nice place to raise a family…or make a binding contract with the crossroads. For James Smith, whose best friend disappeared when she tried to do precisely that, it’s also an excellent place to plot revenge. Now the crossroads want him dead and they want Annie to do the dirty deed. She owes them, after all.

And that’s before Leonard Cunningham, aka, “the next leader of the Covenant,” shows up…

It’s going to take everything Annie has and a little bit more to get out of this one. If she succeeds, she gets to go home. If she fails, she becomes one more cautionary tale about the dangers of bargaining with the crossroads.

But no pressure.


I've been a fan of Seanan McGuire for a few years now, which in terms of McGuire’s book production equals about 300,000 books and short stories published (the absolutely amazing thing is that this is not nearly the staggering hyperbole that it appears to be when compared to reality).

Of McGuire’s books, I have a special place in my heart for her InCryptid series, as it was the first series that got me hooked on her writhing, but I've always been a little disappointed in their somewhat one off/duology nature of each of the books in the series. Which is why I was so excited about McGuire’s most recent POV chapter in the InCryptid series, Antimony’s POV, as not only does it pick up from the final moments of Chaos Choreography, but because of Verity’s shocking declaration of war against the Covenant, Antimony's entire storyline deals with the ramifications of Verity and Antimony's actions, which shake the very foundation of the world our characters live in to its core. These cosmic quakes include Antimony’s attempting to infiltrate the Covenant, and getting caught, Antimony falling in love with a cryptid (while infiltrating the carnival he lived at) and making a deal with the crossroads to save him, and now attempting to battle with both the Covenant and the Crossroads, all of which will have lasting effects on the series and where it’s going (I really want to say what the effects are but I won’t because it would be massive spoilers!). These lasting effects are one of my favorite elements of a long running urban fantasy series and it makes me positively giddy to see them finally take effect in such an amazing series.

As for the book itself, That Ain’t Witchcraft was filled to the brim with heart-pounding action scenes, endearing characters and witty dialog. I personally loved Fern, and really thought McGuire did a fantastic job using her and Antimony’s relationship to show the trust and reliance that the other members in the group have in the Antimony and the Price’s as a whole. Not only that but all of the amazing things we find out about Mary. I really want to say more, but let me tell you after this book I need a second book just about Mary just to help discuss the revelations that are discovered in this book.

All in all, I was a big fan of That Ain’t Witchcraft. It had action, great character development, insight into other characters in the series, and I personally can’t wait for the next book in the series.


Publisher: DAW

Published: March 5, 2019

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy:

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Storm Cursed: By Patricia Briggs



My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.
And a coyote shapeshifter.
And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.

But we are pack, and we have given our word.

We will die to keep it.


If you want the short version of this review it is simple, Storm Cursed is another amazing book by Patricia Briggs, and it will leave you craving more from Mercy and the gang.

As for more details, while Storm Cursed tends to focus on black magic witches, readers are also given a more detailed glimpse other supernatural communities and their leaders, including the Goblin King and even a small bit into Wolf’s history (which is both fascinating and creepy as all get out and I want to know so much more!!!)

While Briggs spent some of the end of the last book focusing on the healing that Mercy and the Pack needed and were dealing after Mercy’s abduction, Storm Cursed opens with a continued sense of recovery. The Pack are trying to teach Mercy how to use a cutlass to protect herself, Mercy still wakes with nightmares, and her friends and allies are hesitant to leave her alone (so that a situation like last time cannot occur again). I saw all that to focus on the excellent job that Briggs has done caring over these feelings and the effects of the previous book into this next installment. It is only natural that after such a terrifying and horrible experience there would be far ranging ramifications and it is nice to see these ramifications span more than an isolated book.

That said, while the echoes of the last books effects are still present, like the last book in the series, Briggs has continued to expand on the strength of Mercy’s magic (and let me tell you it is awesome!). Of course, much of Mercy’s use of the magic is not fully explained, but as Mercy herself is only recently discovering it this lack of knowledge makes sense to the story. On top of that, it is also clear that we have only seen the tip of her magic, and I personally can’t wait to see more of this awesome powerhouse that Mercy is becoming.

Pacing unfortunately was the only downside to this story. Partially because Briggs focused a bit more on the witch’s effects to the community, including the making of zombie goats and the like, instead of on actual confrontations with the witches, the end battle felt a little lack luste. I recognize it wasn’t but in comparison to some of the other battles Mercy has had in the past it felt a bit easy. That said not every battle has to be the hardest things of all time.

Considering the only other complaint I had about the book was how quickly I finished it I would say that’s a pretty good sign. So in summary, as I mentioned above, Storm Cursed is amazing and I fully recommend it. Its action packed, a great installment in the series, filled with great characters and absolutely leaves readers wanting more. All in all, a great book.


Publisher: Ace

Published: May 7, 2019

Price: $27.00

Link to Buy:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

White Trash Zombie Unchained: By Diana Rowland



Angel Crawford has finally pulled herself together (literally!) after her disastrous dismemberment on Mardi Gras. She’s putting the pieces of her life back in order and is ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Too bad the future is a nasty bitch. There’s a new kind of zombie in town: mindless shamblers, infectious and ravenous.

With the threat of a full-blown shambler pandemic looming, and a loved one stricken, Angel and the “real” zombies scramble to find a cure. Yet when Angel uncovers the true reason the plague is spreading so quickly, she adds “no-holds-barred revenge” to her to-do list.

Angel is busting her ass dealing with shambling hordes, zombie gators, government jerks, and way too many mosquitos, but this white trash chick ain’t giving up.

Good thing, since the fate of the world is resting on her undead shoulders.


So, the first thing you have to ask yourself is why would a person want to read a series about a white trash zombie? Personally, I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading the White Trash Zombie series, but I have to say not only was I hooked from the very first chapter, the more important answer is BECAUSE THEY ARE PURE FUN!

In her White Trash Zombie series, Rowland has created an endearing protagonist with an interesting cast of characters to surround her in her journey through zombiehood. Of course, the books are not just about being a zombie, they are also about the struggles of believing in oneself, working hard, overcoming obstacles in life and ultimately succeeding, which brings a much more relatable connection to these books as opposed to the overall zombie motif.

On top of creating more relatable characters, these books are also highly addicting. In fact, as mentioned above, Diana Rowland’s writing reeled me in from the very beginning, in part, because the characters are likable and endearing, in part because of the witty and engaging dialog, and in part of the fast-paced action that ultimately drives the book.

In White Trash Zombie Unchained, Rowland sets in motion a new series of events that has drastic ramifications to the overall plot in the White Trash Zombie series. Characters that were once thought dead will be brought back into the fold, new zombie traits and tricks are learned, and even love is in the air with relationships blossoming among our cast of characters.

All in all, White Trash Zombie is a great addition to the White Trash Zombie series. It is an easy to read, fast paced book that it filled with likable characters, and more action than you can shake a stick at. While I would recommend reading the other books in the series first, there is no doubt that this book and the other books in the series are pure fun!


Publisher: DAW

Published: September 5, 2017

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Brother's Ruin: By Emma Newman



The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben's life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn't a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.


I know this is old news, but I am a BIG fan of’s publishing of novellas in physical formats. While I can’t speak to everyone, this has certainly increased the number of novellas that I have read in the last few years, and it has dramatically increased the number of novellas I’ve read from new authors who I hadn’t read before (usually I would read novellas by established authors I was already a fan of, when they would release a novella to tide their readers in-between books).

Emma Newman is one of the new authors that I was introduced to because of’s novella publishing plan, and I’m certainly glad that I was.

Newman’s Brother’s Ruin begins in 19th century England, where those that have magical talents are required to turn themselves into the government for training and regulation. This system is heavily based on a carrot and stick incentive program, if you report yourself, then your family will be handsomely rewarded, and if you don’t then the mages will find you and drag you to them, your family will get nothing, and your family will have shame rain down upon it from the neighboring communities. So, it is no great surprise that the main character, Charlotte, is talented and has been keeping it a secret. What makes it more interesting and what gets the ball rolling is that her brother, Ben, offers himself for conscription into the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts (the mages), when he thinks he is performing magic, when in reality it was his sister. A testing occurs and events are struck into motion that place both Charlotte and Ben into the mages sight lines.

Without giving more away, this was a fun novella that felt as if it was setting the stage for a larger series. A larger conspiracy is hinted at, a dastardly plot ruined, and the players put in place for larger roles and training in the world of magic.

As for the characters, while at times some of the minor characters such as Charlotte and Ben’s parents seemed a bit one-dimensional, many of the other characters offered great promise for future character growth, which is all one can hope for in a 192 page book.

All in all, I enjoyed Brother’s Ruin. I tried it out because of it’s awesome title and I’m certainly glad that I did. I’d be happy to pick up a future installment of this potential series.



Published: March 14, 2017

Price: $3.99

Link to Buy:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians: By Brandon Sanderson



On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry gets a bag of sand in the mail-his only inheritance from his father and mother. He soon learns that this is no ordinary bag of sand. It is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. Alcatraz must stop them, using the only weapon he has: an incredible talent for breaking things.


Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Are you looking for something whimsical, sarcastic, and all around action packed from a middle grade book? Then Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is just the book for you.

I was more than a little hesitant to give the Alcatraz series a try. They seemed overly goofy, silly, and not geared towards my age group (myself being a 28-year-old and not a 10-year-old).

However, because this series was written by Brandon Sanderson, one of my all-time favorite authors (so yes, please note that this review is biased based on that statement alone), I thought I would give it a shot.

And let me say, I’m very happy that I did.

Not only is Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians full of fun action, witty and unique characters, and pretty much non-stop fun in a fast-paced form, but it also has enough sarcasm and self-awareness during its many breaking of the fourth wall to keep even older readers thoroughly engaged and entertained.

What do I mean by this you might ask? Well, when Alcatraz speak to the audience he often speaks in such a sarcastic and self-aware tone that readers can’t help but smile and chuckle to themselves. On top of this, when Sanderson so cleverly puts little tricks and entertaining tidbits in the books, such as making the last page of the book a false storyline that will depress and confuse readers who skip to the last page without reading the entire book, he just shows his genius in writing.

As for the books themselves, they are short and to the point. This is not The Way of Kings (Sanderson’s epic fantasy), which runs in at 1008 pages in hardcover format. In hardback, Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is 320 pages of non-stop fun.

Of course, even though I keep mentioning that these books are loads of fun to read, please note that this does not mean that they do not have substance. Over the course of the series the characters develop and become more complex. Backgrounds are explored, weaknesses probed, and personality traits more thoroughly understood. To be able to do this, while at the same time being able to keep elementary age children engaged is truly a feat upon itself.

So why you should read the Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Series? Well, if you’re looking for a good series for your kid that will entertain them, that you won’t have to worry about them reading, but that will end with them asking to get the next in the series, then this is the series for you. If you have just finished a long epic fantasy and want something light but entertaining, then this is the series for you. Or even if you just want something fun to read at the end of the day, then this is the series for you. All in all, clearly I enjoyed this series and personally can’t wait until the last book in the series is released. But don’t take my word on it, go check out this series yourself, believe me it’s worth it.


Publisher: Starscape

Published: February 16, 2016


Link to Buy:,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=detail