Archive for November, 2016

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

November 16, 2016 - 8:57 pm No Comments

THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS by Aliette de Bodard. Gollancz, London, UK. £14.99 trade paperback. 400 pages. ISBN: 978-1-473-21255-8

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

51clq6f-lzl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Especially in the USA, there is a current fascination with angels. This is not just amongst the readers of fantasy but in the general public. To some extent, this is even greater than the interest in vampires, werewolves or zombies, the reason being that so many religious books mention them. Thus, some writers have taken the idea of angels as a focus for their novels, Nalini Singh being one of them. Her approach is very different from Aliette de Bodard’s involving vampires along with an angelic hierarchy.

Like Singh’s work, The House Of Shattered Wings doesn’t make angels nice and friendly. If you offend them, they are deadly. A difference is that they should not be regarded as sex objects. De Bodard’s angels are the Fallen. They have been thrown out of Heaven for misdemeanours they do not remember, and all parts of their body contains magic that can be harvested.

The setting is a Paris dramatically ruined as a result of a war between the Houses of the Fallen. At the end of that, Morningstar, the oldest of the Fallen (we would know him better as Lucifer), disappeared leaving Selene as the heir apparent of the House of Silverspires. The war might be over but enmity isn’t. Asmodeus usurped House Hawthorn twenty years before the action starts, a time when Madeleine, a human alchemist left Hawthorn and was taken in by Silverspires.

The book opens with a newly Fallen being discovered by Ninon and Phillipe, two gang members. Ninon wants to collect parts of the Fallen one for the magic and Phillipe cuts off two fingers before Selene arrives to claim the new one for her House. Phillipe is a stranger to Paris in that he was forcibly brought there to fight in the angels’ war. He originates from the Far East where he was born a mortal but worked to gain ascension to the courts of the Jade Emperor and immortality. He was ejected for dissent but retained his immortality, and a knowledge of magical working. Selene captures him and takes him and the new Fallen (who she names Isabelle) to Silverspires. While he is there, Phillipe is instrumental in releasing a curse that begins the destruction of the building occupied by Silverspires.

There is a lot to like in this book. Madelaine, Phillipe and to some extent, Isabelle, are the characters that the readers are drawn to. They are at the centre of events and their failings are weaknesses that cause them to make mistakes. The other Fallen, such as Selene and Asmodeus, are remote and cruel. Their main motivation is the survival of their House whatever the odds. While Selene would prefer not to sacrifice her dependents, Asmodeus is more ruthless and it is the cruelty of the Fallen is at the heart of the destruction wrought before and during the time of this tale.

I like very much that the action is centred on Paris, because so many novels are American-centric and it is refreshing to have a new landscape. A shame the City had to die. The characters are well drawn and the turns of events are satisfyingly unexpected. This book has already gained acclaim as it was awarded the BSFA award for best novel of 2015 at Eastercon earlier this year. It is a delight to read and well worth investing time with.

Haunted Grave and Other Stories by Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

November 13, 2016 - 10:14 am No Comments

Haunted Grave and Other Stories by Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

Published 1st August 2016 by Parallel Universe Publications

101 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

31567396

8 short stories each completely different, the only common theme was the African setting. I have not read anything by this author nor have I read a story set in Africa, I didn’t know what to expect but I pleasantly surprised. Each story left you wanting to read more, making it a quick read.

Eaters of Flesh is about a young man’s missing mom. Written in his POV, you find him trying to find the truth about why his mom was getting ill and then just disappeared. With a note left from his mom and his dad’s weird behaviour, was is due to her religious belief or was it something else. It is not till the end of this story do you find out what actually happened.

The Last Man Standing: Nigeria is battling ADAIDS, an advanced form of AIDS. To speed up the research, the government start moving their money from non-essential items like TV, Radio and what they deemed non-essential foodstuff. This does not hit home to the protagonist until he can’t buy a can a Sprite. Opening up his place he tries to set up a safe haven for survivors and it works pretty well until one of his trips he finds a lonely young girl. This story shows the true horror of death and the fear of dying.

Exorcism: The narrator of this story is the other half of Ifeanyi. Reading this you can’t tell who is good or evil as Ifeanyi likes to get on the wrong side of people and the narrator tries his best to put it right. A good twist at the end when a priest pays a visit.

Haunted Grave: A story about an urban legend. Sitting in an old cemetery Chidi tells them the story of Ekene. Like all urban legends was it true or not but the story never goes away. Beware of people with nails as teeth.

To Love is Strange: A moving story of a clan that the females are cursed. They can have sex but not with the man they love. Juliet enjoys sleeping around to satisfy her itch but what feelings does she hide. Her twin sister Ginika is in love with Ebuka. Written in Ginika POV, the story is about the battle of her conscious and what risks she is willing to take to get what she wants.

A Cursed City: When children go missing they are reported to the Elders. The one witness is Nkeshi, the local drunk, she saw a bird like monster with the body of a man take a child. Due to her status, they did not take her serious, but then more children go missing, each eye witness the same thing. This is a story about revenge and the loss of a civilisation.

The Game of Aids: Another story about the Aids virus, Maria is the latest victim of the Aids virus. Caught from her husband this is story about how he caught the virus.

The Green Race: The one sci-fi story, Professor Oliver Brown is giving a lecture about his time on Mars and his views on the alien life form he met.

What I enjoyed about this book is that not all horror are monsters, what happens in the modern world is just as horrific. The stories leave you thinking about the vulnerability of the human race, Aids, revenge and racism all play a part. These stories are well written with a mixture of African culture and horror makes them a good quick read. Looking on his Amazon page, this author has other stories published which I will definitely read.

Queen of the Gods (Hanson Hell Series #1) by Taylor Rose

November 7, 2016 - 10:38 pm No Comments

Queen of the Gods (Hanson Hell Series #1) by Taylor Rose

Published on 28th April 2016

164 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

29608251

Arissa is not a typical teenager, going to a college for gifted children, she is being trained to become a spy. Leaving college for the summer break, she has a big decision to make and it means breaking her best friend’s hearts. Hale has been Arissa’s best friend ever since they were young and with his cousins will protect Arissa with their lives. But what they find out over the summer changes all their lives for ever.

Arissa is a very determined girl and although she likes have her boys around, she does like to stand on her own two feet. Hale and his cousins all have a heart of gold and are all gorgeous, but Hale only has eyes for Arissa and whilst you are reading this book you are wondering if they are blind to each other’s feelings.

Swapping from Arissa and Hale’s POV, helped tell their story. This story flowed well and it was a pleasant change for me to read more about the demi gods. Throughout this book there were some funny moments especially when the boys all got together and I did have a few giggles when I read their antics. The battle on the beach was a surprise and I didn’t expect the outcome, but it completed the story.  My only complaint was to the boy’s reactions when they found out their ancestry. I would have a freaked especially when I found out that the Arissa’s dad was Zeus, but this did not stop me enjoying the story. Reading the excerpt for book two, I am pleased that the author is going to concentrate on further demi gods.

If you love your Greek mythology and want to read a book with a modern feel and HEA then get this book. A good read that kept my interest.

Playing with Fire (Criminal Elements Book 1) by Clare and Cris Meyers

November 6, 2016 - 2:58 pm No Comments

Playing with Fire (Criminal Elements Book 1) by Clare and Cris Meyers

Published 31st August 2016

276 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

51qe0iss3ol-_sy346_

Renee and Stone are both Talents, people with magic but each with their own expertise. Used to working alone, they both do jobs on the wrong side of the law, but a botched job in Russia is the start of a beautiful working and personal relationship. Whilst after Russia they go their separate way, they meet up a few years later when Stone is doing a small security job. From that moment, they start working as a couple. When they are hired to pull off a heist involving a magical gem and get revenge on an old nemesis then the fun starts.

Renee is a strong very confident woman, she’s a loner, and does not give anything away with her emotions, she is a tough nut to crack, and is good at her job. Stoner is ex-military, ex-hitman who is not afraid of violence. Individually they are good but together they are unstoppable. Working with their strengths they know how to get the best from each other.

What I enjoyed about this book was that the main heist required more than just Renee and Stone to pull it off and the authors introduce us to Rook, Carlos and Grace. Adding these three characters changed the dynamics of the group and you see Renee softening to Grace and Carlos. Rook is the character everyone loves to hate as he is so annoying, but the interaction with him does add to some comical moments and I think that it does teach Stone a lesson in tolerance.

This is a good Paranormal mystery with a touch of romance and it is different to read about a couple that are on the wrong side of the law. With the additional characters, I can see spin offs to this series as I for one would like to read more of Grace’s story. The ending left me wanting more as I wanted to know what happened after the heist. I will definately keep an eye out for the next book

Ecta: The Divide by Kyle Perkins and Samantha Harrington

November 6, 2016 - 12:26 pm No Comments

Ecta: The Divide by Kyle Perkins and Samantha Harrington

Published 17th February 2016

150 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

28936857Skywaard is in crisis, a civilisation living in the sky, they rely on technology to survive, but with a growing population and a lack of food, they realise that they need to start negotiating with Ariviil. Ariviil is the complete opposite to Skywaard. Living off the land, with no technology insight. The residents of Ariviil have worked hard to survive.

Leading the negotiations for Skywaard is Sebastian, sent to Ariviil for his charm and good looks, Sebastian likes nothing more than a good time and excels in his life of booze and a different woman on his arm.

Landing on Ariviil, not knowing the customs, Sebastian comes across Loriella who is an outcast to her people due to her magical ability. She has a gift of willing people to see what they desire and it has a stronger effect through sex. When she meets Sebastian, there is an instant attraction and against her better judgement she helps him.

Sebastian is very sure of himself and is a man who likes his sex, but when things don’t go his way, he reminds me of a lost little boy. Loriella is a self-confident, no nonsense woman, happy to live her life, but when she meets Sebastian she starts having doubts and although she tries to hide it her magic gives her away.

A great mash-up of genres, steampunk, erotica, fantasy, this story is a good introduction to what is to come. Although this book is written by 2 different authors, you could not tell, as the story flows evenly. Written from the protagonists POV, it never once got confusing as straightaway you could tell who’s story it was. With the story ending with the threat of war, I am so looking forward to the next book.