Monthly Archives: September 2013

Magic Ex Libris

Codex BornUnknown

by Jim C. Hines

DAW Books New York, NY 2013

ISBN: 978-0756408169

I read The Libriomancer shortly after it was published and was hooked.  Here was magic any reader could relate to.  The idea that you can step into a book and pull out the “magic” appeals to anyone who resonates with what they read.

Issac Vanio is a Libromancer.  He discovered the skill as a teenager when he reached into a book and pulled out Smudge, his pet flamespider.   In the first book Issac is developing his powers and testing his limits.  He finds that he is particularly talented.  He’s not an especially powerful magician, but he has a creative mind, a wide interest in reading, and an eidetic memory.

We learn that the art of Libromancy has been around since Gutenberg, and the printing press.  In fact Gutenburg used his magic to reach into the Bible and produce the Holy Grail, which has kept him alive and working all these years.  He’s also responsible for “locking” books so that no one can use their magic.  For instance, all the D and D texts are locked.

In the first book we are introduced to a psychologist for Libromancers, Nidhi.  She is assigned to essentially keep Issac from killing himself in his enthusiasm to learn more.  We also meet Lena Greenwood, the only known sentient being to be pulled from a novel.  The vampires, werewolves and other similar things come into our world because people reach into those novels and become infected.  There are even “sparklers”.

In this novel the adventures of Issac continue.  But the novel is actually focused to a large degree on Lena.  She is a dryad and the novel she comes from is essentially a sex slave fantasy.  Here we get to see Lena struggling to become her own person and maintain her independence, even as she continues to be influenced by the people she becomes close to.

We also get the hint of a new wave of magic.  How do the e-readers impact Libromancy?  Does the written word really need to be written?  Are there other ways this magic can be accessed and applied?  It’s these kinds of questions Issac lives for and he jumps in with both feet, consequences be ……..

I am enjoying this series and can hardly wait for more.  Given the outcome of this book, who knows what Issac will do next?

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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Fantasy


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The Daylight War

The Daylight WarUnknown

by: Peter V. Brett

Del Ray Books New York, NY  2013


I reviewed the first book of the Demon Series  The Warded Man.  The second I found typical of a mid-trilogy novel.  It was important, kept the story moving, gave deeper insight into the characters but didn’t provide me with a new theme.  There was, however a dramatic ending continuing the sense that these novels would stand alone.

My biggest disappointment with this third book is that it’s not the end.   Not only is this not the trilogy I’d signed up for, the ending of this book is a cliff hanger.  Literally, there’s a cliff and the reader is left hanging at the edge of it, with night coming on and the Demons rising.

Having said that I understand the need for this expansion.  This third book is largely set in the desert culture.  This is not something most Americans have a lot of experience with.  To appreciate these people and understand their motivations, rather than assuming them the villains of the tale takes a certain amount of time and patience.  This is not the culture I know, but it is a full and rich one.  Successful in its own right, even though I may object to many of its practices.

This is also the book where the two cultures come into conflict.  The desert people are on the move, expanding against the demon invasions.  The farm people, where our main characters originate, can’t hold off against the armies.  The ruling class, which we visited in the second book, doesn’t really get involved until they feel directly threatened.  It’s interesting to note that the threat they feel most strongly is from the warded man not from the leader of the desert tribes.

Only one man can unite the people against the demons, the Deliverer.  Thus is the prophecy interpreted, in both cultures.  Arlen, the warded man, fights against this notion.  He advocates for the people rising to deliver themselves.  Ahmann, Lord of the Desert tribes, may question his worthiness but recognizes the omens pointing to him.

Arlen and Ahmann are zahven.  They are brothers, counterparts, rivals, nemeses.  They are certainly reflections of each other and it seems that either has the potential to become the Deliverer.  As we learn in the story both have their strengths and their character faults.  They have approached the problem of the demons from different vantage points and found differing tactics.

Now I have to wait for an indeterminate amount of time before I can read the end of the story.  How do the people defeat the demons and who will become the Deliverer?

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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Fantasy, Science Fiction


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If You Could See What I See

If You Could See What I SeeUnknown-1

by: Cathy Lamb

Kensington Books New York, NY 2013


Cathy Lamb writes novels about women who have been in abusive relationships.  Their stories are told as they overcome the odds, struggling to find their strength and build new lives.  This novel is not an exception to the rule.

The center of the story is a lingerie company Lace, Satin and Baubles.  The main character Meggie O’Rourke is returning home at the request of her grandmother and sisters because the business is in trouble.  So is Meggie.

She left the family business, started by her immigrant grandmother, to pursue film making.  She became a noted documentary film maker.  She also met another filmmaker and they became involved.  The twist on many of Lamb’s novels is that Meggie’s new husband is struggling with manic depression.  He’s been fighting his mental illness since childhood, but neglected to mention the problem to Meggie before their wedding.

We learn about that relationship in bits and pieces as Meggie works to rebuild herself and the business.  She is inspired to use her documentary film making skills to tell the stories of the employees of the company.  Many of these women have been with Lace, Satin and Baubles since their 20’s and continue to work into their 60’s and 70’s.  They all have stories, many of them expressing gratitude to Meggie’s grandmother for helping them get out of difficult relationship circumstances themselves.

We all know the fashion industry hires overseas workers and this lingerie company is no exception.  Still the theme of providing a safe place for women to become independent carries through even in the third world.  The manager of the oversea’s plant is a spitfire.  She’s clearly proud of the fact that she left her abusive husband and is happy to show off her “war wounds” across the Skype.

Even Grandma has a story to tell.  She’s kept her secrets all these years.  In its final scenes Meggie’s work brings this story full circle.  This novel is a tear jerker, but you are never sure if you are crying in sorrow or in joy for what these women accomplish.

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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Fiction, Romance


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White Horse

I posted this review accidentally on my other blog. I reposted here because I want it to count towards that 50 review total!

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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Science Fiction




by John Scalzi

Tor Books New York, NY 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-1699-8

John Scalzi is a noted science fiction writer.  I have read and enjoyed many of his books and that’s why I picked up this one.  Redshirts is pure fan-fiction at it’s finest.  Unlike most fan fiction this does not take existing characters and expand on their histories.  Nor does it take an existing story and turn it on its head.  This is  fan fiction about the phenomenon that the guys in the red shirts are the one’s fated to die.

The story is set on a spaceship, the the crown jewel of the star fleet.  A ship designed for exploration.  A group of new transfers meet waiting for the shuttle to take them to their posts.  Ensign Andrew Dahl has our viewpoint into the story.  As he is escorted to his posting he’s pointedly asked about his willingness to participate in away missions.  He also observes some odd behaviors and weird science going on in the xenobiology lab.

There is a mysterious character, Jenkins whose name is whispered among the crew.  He’s “on an independent assignment”.  Apparently that means that he’s warning the rest of the xeno team when any of the bridge crew come looking for volunteers for an away mission.  A bell rings on one of the crew’s computer screens and they all “disappear” .

Dahl is a curious sort.  He actually runs into Jenkins on his way to deliver a message to the bridge.  He’s warned “not to let the narrative take hold of him.”  Eventually Dahl tracks Jenkins down to confront him about what on earth appears to be going on.  He’s told there is a higher death toll on the Flagship Intrepid than on any other ship – including the battle cruisers – in the system.  In fact, the only ship with a similar fatality pattern is a ship Dahl doesn’t recognize.  The starship Enterprise.

The story was a romp.  Although certainly not great literature, it did explore the fourth wall phenomenon.  I found it a refreshing summer read.  It’s certainly some of the best fan fiction I’ve ever read.

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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Science Fiction


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