Tag Archives: fantasy

Angel Burn, by Lee Weatherly

Publisher: Candlewick (May 24, 2011)
Kindle: 464 pages / 801 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Review: Angel Burn actually turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be. The jacket summary of the book was a little cringe worthy, and it certainly wasn’t a monument of literature, but I found the story and characters to be very engaging. The premise also was very immaginative. As the title suggests, the story is about angels, but in this case, the angels are not heavenly beings sent from God to grant miracles, they are soul sucking fiends from another dimension.

The angels’ world is collapsing, and they have realized the only way to survive is to come to our world and feed off the life force of humans. They can disguise themselves in human form, but when they feed, they become giant, beautiful beings built of light and energy. They latch onto a human’s aura and suck them dry. The humans don’t die instantly, but are left with lasting physical, metal and emotional scarring–they develop cancer, MS, depression, Schizophrenia…the list goes on. The scariest part is that the humans are left feeling nothing but bliss after their encounter. They never make the connection between their future illnesses and the day when they were touched by an Angel. The plague of the angels has become so wide spread that a cult-like church, Church of Angels, has spring up and attracted thousands of devotees nationwide. The members of the church are sick, some of them dying, but they think that the angels are saving them and giving them peace, when actually the angels are destroying them.

Sounds cool right? Indeed. There is a small band of “AKs,” Angel Killers, who know the truth. The travel around the country trying to take down angels when they can. This works okay, but the angels are planning something big. maybe too big for the AKs.

The book is about a young girl named Willow who gets pulled into the thick of it after giving a psychic reading to a highschool friend, Beth. She doesn’t know the truth about the angels, but she sees horrible things in Beth’s future–and that these things are linked with the angels. Beth is considering dropping out and joining the Church of Angels after one feeds on her. willow just wants to go to the church to talk some sense into beth, convince her the angels are bad. It all goes awry, and leaves willow on the run with Alex without even getting a chance to say goodbye to her family.

It’s pretty action packed and engaging story, but it definitely has some faults. Willow is a bit of a Mary Sue, and some of the “reveals” of the story are painfully obvious (I won’t spoil them here!). The love story between Alex/Willow is well done at first but gains so much momentum that it reads like a Melodrama toward the end. However, it is still a very entertaining tale. There is a sequel, Angel Fire, and I found this book to be intriguing enough to pick up the second one.
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Un Lun Dun, By China Miéville

Publisher: Del Rey (February 13, 2007)
Kindle: 448 pages / 1504 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

I just finished reading Un Lun Dun, By China Miéville, and I found it to be very much fantastic. It definitely reminded me of the whimsical style of The Phantom Tollbooth, and made me want to pick up that book again.

Un Lun Dun is a story about two cities—London, and its “abcity,” UnLondon—in the midst of a brewing war with a foreboding enemy: The Smog. No, not Smaug, the Dragon. Smog the substance, sentient smoke that can rain down deadly chemicals, raise the dead, and essentially raise holy hell. Two Londoners, unaware of the existence of the abcity, mistakenly stumble into UnLondon and are forced to participate in the battle against Smog. Their coming, apparently, was long foretold in a persnickety old book—who is quite a character—by a group of Prophets. Zanna (short for Susanna) & Deeba must take up arms against the Smog and help the UnLondoners, lest the Smog makes its way across the “odd” and into London itself.

Anyone who read and loved The Phantom Tollbooth will adore this book. I suppose it’s technically a YA or even independent reader story, but it’s an awesome one nonetheless. It’s the kind of book you really just want to lose yourself in. My reading (read: devouring) of this story reminded me of the pull I felt when a new Harry Potter had just come out. It’s the kind of pull you feel when you’re reading in the bathtub and suddenly realized that a few hours have slipped away without you even noticing.

This is the first book I’ve read by Miéville but it will most certainly not be my last—the man seems to have so much fun with words. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to the storytelling that really ensnared me—the characters were batty and imperfect and wonderful, and the adventure put a really amusing twist on the classic “chosen one” style of fantasy quest story. The chosen one in this novel is referred to as The Shwazzy (think: the French choisir: to choose).

This book is hilarious, sparkling, dry, fanciful, youthful, sad—and at times legitimately terrifying. For instance, one of the creatures the protagonist encounters in UnLondon is called a Black Window—and it is indeed a window spindly spider legs. This in itself isn’t very scary, but each window opens up into a small world, and the spider traps you by making you forget you want to leave. And then you’re gone. Legit terrifying.

I don’t want to give too much away but seriously, how can you go wrong with a story that has Spider windows, predatory giraffes, sentient garbage, ghosts & flying busses? You’re right. You can’t.


The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (May 1, 2011)
Kindle: 304 pages / 441 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

Review:

It was a fun read that was easy to get caught up in. Carter brilliantly craftered this tale that, rather than being a retelling of Hades and Persephone, was very much it’s own story.

Fast paced, almost too fast at times, I was able to enjoy Katie’s changing feelings in regards to her tests and towards Henry. The mysteries that kept me reading late into the night were one by one revealed in the end.

Though I would have been happy if this was a stand alone novel, to find out it is just the first in a trilogy is great as well. I recommend others even remotely interested in YA romances and Greek myths to read this. You won’t be disappointed. Then we can anxiously anticipate the next books together. (“Goddess Interrupted” coming late January 2012 according to AimeeCarter.com!)


Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Fiction)

If anyone reading this has read my previous review of “Skinwalker”, you guys may have noticed how enamored I am with the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. The first book, “Moon Called” will be the review topic for today and hopefully cause one or two people to try one of my favorite series. Plus the new book in the series (“River Marked” yay!) comes out today, so I thought this review would be a nice way to commemorate it.

As the series name indicates, the book is about Mercy Thompson, a mechanic who also happens to be a skinwalker. When a stray werewolf finds his way to Mercy, it triggers a chain of events that lands her in the middle of it all. And she soon finds herself in more trouble than she wanted. You’ll meet the potential love interests of Mercy: Samuel Cornick, Mercy’s old flame, and Adam Hauptman, her hot & hotheaded, controlling neighbor. Coincidentally (or not), both men are werewolves. Plus, throughout it all, you get a taste of the romantic tension to come as the series progresses.

Categorized as an urban fantasy, Briggs is skillfully able to weave in the fantasy and mythology, of monsters & creatures of magic thought to be mere story, into the world as we know it today. The fae have come out, and it is clear that werewolves and other magical beings are likely to follow.

Written from a first person POV, we see Briggs’ world through Mercy. A kickass character, Mercy is a skinwalker who had been raised by werewolves. As anyone aware of any werewolf folklore may know, werewolves are intensely dominant and aggressive creatures. Growing up in that sort of environment has helped develop Mercy in a headstrong character. She’s a good mix of disobedience, stubbornness and caring that makes her a compelling character to learn more about.

This is a book at the top of my recommendation list. This is the first time I seriously started thinking about reading adult sci-fi/fantasy books. Prior I mainly stuck with YA ones, because as a coworker of mine said, YA sci-fi/fantasy books tend to be plot driven and lack a lot of the gratuitous sex and violence often seen in adult sci-fi/fantasy. Check it out.

Side note: We’re always looking for suggestions. If there’s something you want us read and review, leave a comment or email. Thanks.


Skinwalker by Faith Hunter (Fiction)

As a fan of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, It’s no surprise when I was recommended the Jane Yellowrock series written by Faith Hunter. Starting with “Skinwalker”, the series is an urban fantasy novel about Jane Yellowrock, a skin walker. The fact that the protagonist is a female walker is the extent of the similarities with the Mercy Thompson series.

Jane Yellowrock is a bounty hunter, but with a less than traditional target. She hunts rogue supernatural beings. The book starts off with Jane going to interview for a job catching a rogue vampire loose in New Orleans. An excellent introduction to the series, we meet the hot, motorcycle riding “Joe”, Jodi the vampire contact in the NOPD, as well as Leo the head vampire in New Orleans.

Hunter takes the reader along at a brisk pace, without skimping out on the descriptions and details. What’s interesting is how, Hunter makes use of the urban fantasy element. Set in New Orleans, Hunter expertly crafts this supernatural component into the world. Rather than just being and “underworld”, Hunter fashions a way for the supernatural to co-exist with society, while still not quite fitting in. Staying true to much of the supernatural lore, Hunter skillfully manipulates it to fit in the world she’s created for Jane Yellowrock.

“Skinwalker” is like Mercy Thompson’s dangerous but sexy cousin. There is an inherent sexuality underlining the story. Unlike Mercy Thomspon who finds herself in dangerous situations due to circumstances, Jane Yellowrock actively seeks them as part of her job as a bounty hunter.


Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, by Ethan Gilsdorf (Non fiction)

For anyone who is a Geek or Nerd at heart, this book will ring absolutely true. It’s a nonfiction epic of sorts, following the author-as-unlikely-hero through a personal quest to discover the true roots of his fantasy addiction.

It begins at the beginning, revealing a very sad portrait of the author’s family life when he was a child, and how a brain Aneurism transformed his once lively and vivacious mom into what he and his siblings called “The Momster,” a wholly different and scary entity. It then shows how the game Dungeons and Dragons helped an awkward and unsure adolescent Ethan cope with his “IRL” (in real life) problems and gain social prowess.

Cut to Ethan, middle aged, after supressing his love of D&D for years — trying to convince himself and others that he didn’t need it as a crutch anymore. He finds a blue cooler from his youth that contains a treasure trove of his D&D memories: maps, books, character sheets etc. After some internal hem-hawing, he embarks on a quest of heroic proportions. The book is part interviews, part anecdotes, part nerdgasm, part pilgramage. He explores fantasy realms into which even his D&D engrossed teen-self had not dared enter: Live Action Role Playing (LARP-ing), the addictive charms of World of Warcraft, Gaming conventions, and more.

The saga even includes various treks to Lord of  The Rings meccas, which are definitely my favorite parts. He visists the film sets in New Zealand, JRR Tolkein’s home and other haunts in Oxford, and makes one final journey that is too nerd-a-licious to be spoiled here.

The guy has chops. Any nerd who reads this book will not find him (or her!) self internally quibbling with the author about various facts and trivia  from different fantasy and sci fi books/movies/etc. As a milenium-era nerd, I have never played D&D but after reading this I want to haul out some graph paper and 20 sided die and go to town.

If you are a nerd, if you know a nerd, if you have loved a nerd, I highly recommend this book. It’s just the right amount of self-indulgent in that it waxes like a big in-joke to anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “fool of a Took!” or, “My precioussss.” It’s funny, self-depricating, curious and a little sad. It also has a lot of pictures the author contributed, which–among many other things–show how important having the ability to laugh at yourself really is.