Monday, April 3, 2017

The Collapsing Empire: By John Scalzi



Our universe is ruled by physics. Faster than light travel is impossible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time, which can take us to other planets around other stars.

Riding The Flow, humanity spreads to innumerable other worlds. Earth is forgotten. A new empire arises, the Interdependency, based on the doctrine that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and, for the empire’s rulers, a system of control.

The Flow is eternal—but it’s not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well. In rare cases, entire worlds have been cut off from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that the entire Flow is moving, possibly separating all human worlds from one another forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain, and the emperox of the Interdependency—must race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.


John Scalzi has written some absolutely amazing military science fiction books between his Old Man’s War series and Redshirts. However, I completely understand that it can be intimidating to know where to jump in when an author is six books deep in a series, as is the case with The Old Man’s War series. And thus, brings us to one of the first great things about The Collapsing Empire, it is a brand-new series and perfect for readers who have never read a word of Scalzi in the past.

That said, while I mentioned his previous books are military science fiction based, this is not your typical science fiction escapism book (very few spaceship battles and ray guns and so forth), however, it is still absolutely filled to the brim with tension and excitement that is sure to keep any reader glued to their seat. Which, considering this is more of a political space thriller, discussing the interplays of inter-space merchant ventures, the pains and struggles of installing a new emperor, and the political ramification of dealing with a collapsing empire (I phrased it that way in an attempt to not give anything away, since that is after all, the title) which just goes to show how impressive of a writer Scalzi really is.

As for the other things that I enjoyed about the Collapsing Empire, I honestly loved the characters best of all. Not only were the characters likable, but the villains were understandable in their motivations, in fact, because of this and the situations that they were placed in, many of the “villains” could turn out to be much more likable characters, or at least quasi “good guys” in later books, based purely on a change of circumstances. That said, I think I loved Kiva Largos the most out of all of the characters. She is smart, kickass, and most importantly doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about her. She has her own agenda, but doesn’t try to hide it. While she is smart, she is not trying to proclaim how much smarter she is, she just wants to get what’s best for her, if she can add in revenge on top of that, then bully for her. And on top of that, she was hilarious to read from as a POV character. Kiva is just one example of where Scalzi’s strength truly resides, in creating dynamic interesting characters who readers will absolutely fall in love with.

As for the pacing, The Collapsing Empire never felt slow. In fact, while there is very little physical violence to push the story’s inciting events along, the tension that Scalzi sews throughout the book will keep readers positively mesmerized.

All in all, I loved The Collapsing Empire. It ends in a way that promises more, and I hope that Scalzi delivers soon, because I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this exciting series. A great book for Scalzi fans and new readers alike.


Published: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Tor Books

Price: $25.99

Link to Buy:

A Conjuring Of Light: By V.E. Schwab



As darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, the once precarious balance of power among the four Londons has reached its breaking point.

In the wake of tragedy, Kell—once assumed to be the last surviving Antari—begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once a commonplace—but never common—thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry.

An ancient enemy returns to claim a city while a fallen hero tries to save a kingdom in decay. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.


You know those books that are so good that not only are you sad when they end but you have trouble deciphering just what made it so amazing, well that’s A Conjuring of Light for me (I know, just what you want to hear from the person reviewing the book, that they are having trouble describing what they like about the book, but don’t worry I’ll try my best).

I would say that probably one of the best attributes of A Conjuring of Light, was the impressive juggling that Schwab was able to do in balancing not just the old narrators from the previous books in the series, but also include impressive comprehensive perspectives from not one, not two, but THREE new major narrators in this final book of the series (and that doesn’t even include the other short narrator shifts that were used to detail the ripple effects affecting the other Londons). These new narrators are essential to the story and really help craft the story in a way that builds upon all the previous events. These new narrators allow readers to discover answers to questions in a much softer and more subtle way than what otherwise might be possible. Some of said questions include, how the King and Queen really feel about Kell, why Alucard originally left London, why Alucard took Lila aboard originally, and much more. On top of answering questions, these new perspectives allow for Schwab to seamlessly jump between locations and events without straining, offering a much more comprehensive view of the plans and actions that have taken place, and ultimately creating a much stronger emotional toll for all of the deaths that occur (and believe me, without giving anything away, you WILL want to have some tissues handy while reading this book).

Which, speaking of deaths, yes, there are characters who die in this book. It is well done, and you will feel the emotions come welling up into your throat when they occur, but it’s worth it, so just know it’ll happen and read on.

As for other characters, Lila is still badass and amazing, and Rye is more thoroughly developed as a character and in fact probably has the most emotional growth of any of the characters, and even Holland is thoroughly explored, thus allowing his character to become three dimensional, and allowing readers to see that his actions were caused by the world he grew up in, and that it if he grew up somewhere different he could have just as easily been the hero, instead of the villain .

As for the pace and action, honestly, I had a hard time putting A Conjuring of Light down. I found myself reading late into the night, and pretty much whenever I could find a spare minute. There are loads of action scenes, and even when the action stopped the suspense was enough to keep me pressing on late into the evening.

All in all, not only has V.E. Schwab improved by leaps and bounds between each book in the Shades of Magic series, but she just flat out nails the landing in this final book of The Sahdes of Magic series. A Conjuring of Light provides a true sense of conclusion to a wonderful world, while at the same time leaving the possibilities of spinoffs open in the future. The magic that Schwab is able to weave in this world is nothing short of spectacular, and there really isn’t anything I can say that could be construed as negative about this series. The world building is grand and yet not cumbersome, the characters developed and engaging, and the plot well-paced and full of action. Therefore, there is nothing I can say but go buy this book. It is for your own good. Believe me. And when you love it, make sure to tell your friends.


Published: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Tor Books

Price: $25.99

Link to Buy:

Bound: By Bendict Jacka



Right now I wasn’t seeing Richard as the teacher out of my nightmares; he was just another Dark mage, and I looked into the future to see what would happen if I turned that knife on him instead…

Alex Verus is still haunted by his time apprenticed to Richard Drakh. He’s been free of him for many years, but now the only way to keep his friends from being harmed is to again work for Richard and his deadly ally. Even worse, Alex is forced to bring the life mage Anne into this servitude as well.

After weeks of being hunted and finally cornered into what he thought was his last stand, Alex never imagined his life would be spared—and never anticipated at what price. This time, the diviner can see no way out…


When I first started reading Bendict Jacka’s Alex Verus series I thought it was a pleasant surprise, it was raw, full of energy and had a likeable protagonist in Alex. All in all, it was something to pass the time between Jim Butcher books.

Then after about the third book in the series Jacka’s writing began to get more advanced and the plot more intricate. Suddenly Jacka’s series didn’t feel like a collection of one off urban fantasy books collected into a series, instead like Butcher, Hearne and the other New York Times bestselling fantasy authors, this series began to really build upon itself. Decisions from previous books led to ramifications in later books, friends of Alex (the protagonist) didn’t just turn a blind eye to questionable actions he made, and most importantly Alex and his group of friends have evolved, some became stronger and more confident, some more fragile and withdrawn, and a few others have just plain quit and given up. This may sound silly, but I love these adaptations, these changes in the characters’ behavior and attitudes make for more realistic stories and overall better characters. Don’t get me wrong, just because a series doesn’t have these characteristics and adaptations in their characters doesn’t make their characters bad or undeveloped, but in my opinion these changes are some of the attributes that make the difference between A-/B+ characters and A characters. Other examples of these kinds of fuller character development can be seen in Kevin Hearn’s Iron Druid series, Jim Butcher’s Dresdan Files series and Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series.

Of course, you didn’t come here to read about my enjoyment of the series as a whole, you came to read about Bound. Well, not surprising after reading my soliloquy about the series as a whole and the way in which each book builds off each other, my first bit of advice is to not read Bound unless you’ve read the other seven books in the series. However, please note I very much do recommend that you read the first seven books in the series, if you enjoy action, mystery, urban fantasy in the vein of Jim Butcher or Kevin Hearne then you will thoroughly enjoy this series.

As mentioned above, Bound has incredibly strong characters that have adapted through each book. In Bound, the ramifications of Alex and Anne’s emergency flight and the proceeding on the run exploit has come back to haunt them. We see the ramifications it had on Alex’s friends and companions. Luna in particular was shaken by the events. Jacka uses his exceptional pacing in Bound to emphasize these points. What I mean by this is that Bound both had a realistic period of time elapse to make the learning and adjustments from the terrors seem realistic as well as made this period of time flow naturally with the book without slowing down the plot or action, thus allowing readers to appreciate the time that was occurring as well as not be bogged down by small nuances. This is particularly important since the events of Burned left many of the characters (such as Luna, as mentioned above) in hysterics and a deep depression, which cannot be solved with a wave of the hand. Further, it’s theses nuances such as the slow and gradual healing, or re-learning to trust one another, or even the acceptance and adaptation to a darker thought pattern, that help truly define each character. Speaking of such changes to characters, I was particularly impressed with Alex’s evolution in Bound. Not only does Alex begin to get in touch with some of his softer emotions, but he also embraces some of his dark mage attributes as well, in an effort to finally try to combat the evils that have been complicating his life over the last eight books.

All in all, Bound is a great novel. The characters adapt and evolve, there is more action than you can shake a stick at, and the story just moves in a very engaging fashion that is sure to catch and sweep any reader of the series up off their feet. On top of that, Bound ends in a truly shocking way. I can’t say more without ruining it, but just know readers will be left dying for more and that Jacka is truly gifted in his ability to craft a well written and surprising ending. Bound is a great book, and as a fan of great books, please read it so we can all read more in this amazing series.


April 4, 2017


Price: $7.99

Link to Buy: