Tag Archives: magic

Review of Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1), by Mary Robinette Kowal

I borrowed an audio copy of Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Shades of Milk and Honey through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men. 

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Review:

This is the third book in a row that I’ve finished disappointed in. I found it uninspiring. Yes, I see all the Jane Austen parallels. But they didn’t endear the book to me. I thought Jane was a bit of a doormat. She seemed smart, so I was bothered that she’d kept forgiving her sister Melody. The sister who was basically just jealous and manipulative. 

The fortune hunter aspect was blatantly obvious. Again, Jane was smart. How was I really to believe she didn’t see the situation for exactly what it was?

A whole presumed romance was set up and then a marriage proposal came from someone the reader hadn’t been given to feel invested in. (Was that meant to be a twist? It just felt hollow.) Basically, despite being told Jane’s feelings for one man for an entire book, the fact that another had feelings for her was supposed to be enough to make it magical. Bah. Boring. 

The actual magic in the book was pointless. It would have made more sense for them to simply be artist, painters maybe. It was just clutter in the plot. 

Lastly, I really wish the author hadn’t chosen to do the audio version herself. She did a fine job in the narration sections, but lord the dialogue was stiff. It was painful combination of being written without contractions and the stilted way Kowal read it. I almost gave up several times.

Review of Soul Breaker (City of Crows #1), by Clara Coulson

I picked up a free copy of Clara Coulson‘s Soul Breaker from Amazon on the recommendation of someone in a Fans of Urban Fantasy group.

Description from Goodreads:
There’s a hideous monster on the loose, crushing heads and taking names.

But Detective Calvin Kinsey is on the case!

Two years ago, Cal Kinsey was an up-and-coming cop in the Aurora Police Department. But during a fateful nighttime stakeout in search of a prolific killer, Cal witnessed the darkest corner of his dreams come to life. A rogue vampire slaughtered his partner — to put it nicely — and introduced Cal to the supernatural world he never knew existed in the shadows.

Now, Cal is a newly minted detective at the often mocked Department of Supernatural Investigations. By day, the agents of DSI are called “Kooks” by local law enforcement. By night, they’re known as “Crows,” reviled by the supernatural underworld.

Mere weeks out of the academy, Cal catches his first real case, a vicious murder at a local college. An unknown sorcerer has summoned a powerful creature from the Eververse, a realm of magic and mayhem that borders Earth, and set it on a dangerous warpath through the city.

Between butting heads with his grumpy team captain, stirring up ill will with the local wizards and witches, and repeatedly getting the crap beaten out of himself, Cal must find a way to stop the Eververse monster and send it back to the hell it came from…

…preferably before Aurora, Michigan runs out of coffins for the dead.

Review:
I seriously did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did, so it really was an awesome surprise. Cal, while 22 and ready to be a hero, is also self aware and willing to be inspired by those around him, including several badass women. (Women who were martially badass without reading like men-with-tits characters). He’s inconsequentially bi-sexual, meaning it’s no big thing or in need of explaining. He’s bi, just like he’s brunette, no need for further drama about it (this isn’t a romance, after all). He shows emotion, including grief and tears and then gets up and does his job.

Of the side characters you have several powerful women, who aren’t using sex to get ahead. A 40+ year old women still allowed to be sexy, have sex and enjoy it, (So often ‘older’ women’ seem to have lost this aspect of themselves in literature.), man in authority who is grieving and showing physical pain but still functioning, an academic who is basically saving the day with research and being appreciated, and racial and sexual diversity.

All in all, I really liked this and look forward to more. I did think Cal made a couple leaps of logic that were a little too keen to follow and despite saying he’s scared and such, he was a tad close to Marty Stew perfection (but not too close). I’ll be looking for more books by Clara Coulson.

Review of The Queen of Lies (Architects of the Grand Design #1), by Michael J. Bode

I received a free copy of The Queen of Lies, by Michael J. Bode for signing up to Queer Sci-Fi‘s mailing list.

Description from Goodreads:
Maddox is a mage with dreams of immortality and a drinking problem. Heath is a faithless priest working as an assassin for hire, paired with a sentient sword. Jessa, the last daughter in a long line of Thrycean tyrants, is a timid young woman seeking to escape her domineering mother, Satryn.

Rivern, the greatest city in the Protectorate, is a place of arcane magic and mechanical wonders that has stood for five hundred years as a bulwark against the tyrannical Stormlords of Thrycea. But Riven’s strong foundation is beginning to crack. People are dying in their sleep, the dead are walking the streets, refugees are flooding the city, and a mysterious Harbinger has returned with dire omens that could mean the end of the Protectorate.

Murder, magic and politics create a menacing tangle that the three must resolve before the Protectorate is crushed. But first they must save each other.

Review:
This took quite a long time to come together, but eventually it did and I enjoyed it. I liked a lot of the characters and I didn’t immediately figure out the mystery villain, which is always a bonus. Having said that, I never felt overly connected to anyone as we’re only ever given a shallow understanding of them. The coda felt extraneous (for a lot of it I wasn’t even sure it was connected to the primary story at all), there is quite a lot of anachronistic language, and the book really needs another editing pass. All in all, an interesting, though not perfect read.