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“A song of ice and fire” book 5 released! July 12, 2011

Posted by kmcalear in Book Debut, Fantasy.
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Hello blogland!

I found out one of the very nice perks of the kindle, you get your pre-orders nearly immediately upon hitting the release date! Yay! July 12, 2011 is the release date for the epic novel A Dance with Dragons which continues the stories of the characters of George R. R. Martin’s A song of ice and fire series. It’s hard to believe that I started reading these novels over a decade ago!

Now normally I would re-read the old novels in order to catch up, but A song of ice and fire are over 1000 pages each, and I do tend to warn people they are “stressful” books. The plots are intriguing and the books are hard to put down, but no character is actually safe in the series. George Martin kills characters off that you never expect to bite the big one!

That said, there’s something compelling about these novels and they tend to keep me up until the wee hours of the morning turning page after page. Thankfully I just found a really good summary/recap for those of you who, like me, can’t quite recall where everything left off.



Book Review: Soulless – Gail Carriger January 6, 2010

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Debut, Book Review, Book Series, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy.

It’s funny to me to live in Utah where the winters are routinely below zero.  I’ve been listening to people complain that it’s going to drop to zero in their home town or there might be snow and I respond with a typical intermountain west ‘meh.’  Snow and freezing temps are just part and parcel.  For everyone else I suggest extra socks, walk like a duck, and let your pipes drip just a little so they won’t explode.

Moving on to other things.  Today’s book review is focused on Soulless by Gail Carriger.  I picked this one up from the library after reading a lot of very positive reviews.  Then I accidentally dropped it behind my bed and forgot I’d checked it out until the library started sending me ‘return our book’ emails.  Despite acquiring a nearly five dollar fine (I should have just bought the book in the first place since between getting a copy and the fine I’ve nearly paid for it twice) I held onto the book and got it read.  I’m glad I did.

Soulless is a Victorian age Urban Fantasy crossed with some Steampunk.  My library shelved it in Horror, so I suppose there’s some of that in there too.  The Soulless are a type of prenatural as compared to the supernatural creatures who are seen has having an abundance of soul which is why the super powers kick in.  Alexia Tarabotti is a soulless who has the problems of being Italian blooded, big nosed, swarthy, unmanagable and old…like all of 25.  Her mother, step father and step sisters despair of ever getting Alexia properly married off and she seems to have accepted her social demise with at least some measure of grace.  I loved Alexia as our heroine.  Much of the trouble she gets into honestly isn’t her fault, and when it is she knows it and fesses up.  She’s a great balance of a proper lady and someone playing on the fringes of acceptable society and the combination was charming.  This charming aspect is reflected in the language of the book and the way she reflects on things such as a badly tied cravat on a vampire trying to eat her.

In this London the supernatural have come out of the closet, so to speak, and are an accepted part of society.  They have ruling classes within their own groups and both the werewolves and the vampires have specific attaches to the queen in order to keep everything in balance.  In particular we are introduced to Lord Conall Maccon, the Alpha werewolf who just can’t keep his eyes or his hands off the troublesome Miss Tarabotti, and Lord Akeldama, the vampire dandy who is one of Alexia’s best friends.

Plotwise the book holds together fairly well.  I saw some of what was coming early on, but it was done in such a way that I remained both amused and willing to go along with it.  I love the dichotomy of the scientific versus the spiritual and man versus supernatural.  It was also nice to seem someone using a proper mythological golem and it went well with the book.  As vampires and werewolves began disappearing and Alexia got drawn further and further in Carriger did a good job at balancing the pacing between drama, romance and action.  There were points that were maybe a big heavy on the romance for everything else that was going on, and the book ends on a rather sexy note, but it sets up really well for the next book.  I’d expand on that, but it’d be spoilerific, so ask in the comments if you want to know.  🙂

I’ll definitely keep reading this series.  Over the top, sure.  Charming, absolutely…and it left me craving treacle tart!

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror/Victorian Steampunk

Age: 15+

Content:  Some violence, sexual content and destruction of a perfectly good treacle tart!

Overall: 4.5 paws


Book Review: Child of Fire – Harry Connolly December 2, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Debut, Book Review, Book Series, Urban Fantasy.

Happy December, gentle readers.

This month K is crazy as she’s writing papers and taking finals.  Upon occasion she paddles bravely to the surface, takes a deep breath and plunges back in.  So we’ll see her sometimes, but the babbling is getting stranger.  Personally I think she’s going to summon feminist Cthulu Santa any time now.

Anyway…moving on to today’s book review.

I picked up Child of Fire after reading a recommendation from John Scalzi.  This is a debut urban fantasy taking place mostly just outside of Seattle, Washington.  We’re introduced to Ray Lilly and his sorta partner Annalise.  The two of them are on a mission which encompasses finding people using magic to be bad and killing them.  There’s some mention made of redeeming them, but that doesn’t seem to happen much.  We know immediately that Ray is under a death sentence, but not why and within a few pages the main plot is introduced, from there it really never lets go.  Ray is put through the wringer, particularly after Annalise is injured and can’t do as much as she usually does.

The book was very interesting on a lot of levels.  It was a very different Urban Fantasy, much closer to the works of favorites like Jim Butcher, but also with a darker horror bent.  I was reminded very much of Lovecraft and the investigator novels.  I liked the male pov, since much of UF is female, and the matter of fact attitude that he brought to his universe.  One of the neat things is that for the most part Ray is just a guy.  He has some knowledge about the way things are and a couple of magic tricks which help him out, but when he goes up against fire breathing monsters the right answer is to run for it and he knows it.  I’m fascinated by the world presented as it mentions some of our favorite UF critters, but stays very firmly with people and the horror they cause with the absolute best intention.  As a study of human nature the book is absolutely brilliant.

This is not to say it was perfect.  It has a few issues of pacing and I was felt a bit teased by some of the information.  We had so MANY hints about Ray’s past and his great sins, but nothing ever really explained.  I think I’ve pieced together the vast majority of it, but my mental picture is still missing some puzzle pieces that I’m not really happy to wait for.  Hopefully we’ll get more of this in the next book.  As my husband put it:  It’s not perfect, but I’m invested enough in Ray as a character and the world to keep reading.

And I do like Ray.  He visits a lot of violence on a lot of people, but mostly in reaction to being threatened himself or defense of other people and at the end of the day he feels bad about it and is trying to be a better person, even as the world around him seems determined not to let him be.

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror

Age: 15+

Content:  Violence, frightening images, language and some very mild sexuality.

Overall: 4.5 paws


Wednesday Book Promo: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher April 29, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Debut, Book Review, Book Series, Uncategorized, Urban Fantasy.
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Heya there loyal readers and those who we are related to and have to read this blog because of family ties and cookies.  You may have noticed some lack of content in the last few days which is explained by the fact that Kristen is studying for her end of semester finals and papers and Jana’s house just sold and she’s trying to arrange for new house and somewhere to store all the stuff and people until new house is settled.  Ergo we are both crazy.  So forgive us if updates aren’t as frequent, but still come and visit.  I figure with everything I’m cleaning out I’ll likely find a good prize or two for a Yay I moved contest in June.

Moving on to our book of the day.  We’re featuring Turn Coat by the ever impressive Jim Butcher.  Turn Coat is the 11th Dresden file novel out of what will be, according to Butcher’s site, a 23 book series.  Not quite half way there, though I can tell you I want all of the books RIGHT NOW.  Waiting for another twenty years to have the series complete is good for the author’s continued career, but may just kill the fans with anticipation.

Rather obviously I’m a big fan of this series and this author and Turn Coat did not let me down.  Some of the things I love about this book and the series in general is that the books aren’t just about Harry Dresden, wizard, but the ‘secondary’ characters are vitally important and help to create a well rounded world.  In this book in paticular there are many changes happening.  It’s a turning point book where politics are in full swing and people who have been around for a while are coming into their own.  This is another big point for me.  The characters in the Dresden universe change and grow.  They tend to remember past mistakes and try, not always successfully, to keep from repeating them.  It’s a relief to read a series where the same stupid mistakes are not repeated ad nauseum and the characters don’t forget all the important life lessons they learned a few books ago.

If you’re a Dresden fan this is a must have.  For those coming into the series the book does stand alone well, however a lot of the details of personalities and where things came from are lost without having a background.  I’d personally suggest reading the earlier books and working upto this one myself, but definitely start reading.  Harry Dresden will save the world…or he’ll die trying.  Maybe both.

As an extra benefit there is a wonderful interview with Jim Butcher over on Bitten By Books.  They have a contest and he’s answering questions in the comments section today as well.  Go see it HERE.

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Age: Adult

Content: Sexuality, language, violence

Overall:  BUY!!!  Right now would be good unless you’re like me and you want it in paperback.  In that case borrow and then stew until you can buy it.


Indie Bound


Magic Strikes Release Day March 31, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Book Debut, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy.
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It’s time for “Magic Strikes” by Illona Andrews, the wonderful husband-wife writing team of the Kate Daniels series. I can’t wait to get more of the Atlanta paranormal team. Illona is particularly good with her (their?) world building, I find the setting fascinating and the magic well done. The writing is quick and easy to read and Magic Strikes has earned 4.5 stars on the Romantic Times review. The balance between action, romance, mystery and character development is well done.

Magic Strikes Sales

–Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times, 4.5 Stars, Top Pick, GOLD standard

“Andrews’ crisp dialogue and layered characterization make the gut-wrenching action of this first-person thrill ride all the more intense. … Place your book orders now; it’s worth every penny!”


Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games – an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament – she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.