Monday, December 17, 2012


Series: Shapeshifters' Library (#1)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Amber Polo
Publisher: Self-published

Yes, I know. It was barely a month ago I swore off self-published books, and now here I am with another one. This is a special case. Most self-pubs, I get a request from the author to review, forget about how much I hate these things, and say "sure, I'll do it." Released is different; I approached the author about doing a review, because the idea was interesting. Then I promptly forgot about it. So, when I was clearing my slate of self-pubs, I remembered this, and figured that since I was the one who asked and that they've already been waiting quite some time, it would be rude of me to just toss the book out unread. So I read it, and I'm giving it a writeup, and I really wish I could say I enjoyed it. But alas, it's just the same problems as always.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shifted Perspective (Non-Review)

There are certain rules to be followed when reviewing a book, especially if you're an author yourself. One of them is to evaluate the book as it is, not how you would have written it. I admit to having bent this rule in the past, but have generally respected it. Don't throw stones, after all. Don't rock the boat, don't open that can of worms, etc., etc.. Pick any idiom you want, you know what I mean. Well, I'm about to rock the boat big time. Shifted Perspective is such a fundamentally wretched book that I'm going to stand it up before you all and give you an enumerated list of how, exactly, author J. Bridger turned a decent idea into the festering pile of refuse it is today. (Which is why it's a non-review.) Mr. Bridger, if you are offended by what I am about to say about a book that you provided to me free-of-charge in exchange for my opinion, I am sorry. But I'm more sorry for myself for having suffered through it, because each of these 192 pages was like a knitting needle stabbed into my chest.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kitty Steals the Show

Series: Kitty Norville (#10)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Tor

I've reviewed so much Kitty Norville by this point that I worry about repeating myself. I want to call this book a "return to form", but have I used that term in relation to one of her other recent books? I can't remember, and I'm too lazy to look it up. But it's true. After wandering into unfamiliar territory in her last outing, Kitty has gotten back to basics. The latest entry in this long-running series hearkens back to the early days, full of strange, remarkable, and above all human characters. It pays off: Kitty Steals the Show is the series' best book in years.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wolf Girls

Series: Stand -Alone
Genre: Anthology
Author: Various (edited by Hannah Kate)
Publisher: Hic Dragones

I get a lot of requests to review my fellow indies. I don't accept anywhere near as many as I'd like to, especially since I'm now trying to balence a regular job and my own writing career with my blog. But when Hannah Kate asked me to review her small press' new anthology, I couldn't say no. Hannah's blog is one of the most underrated on the net (at least when it's not drowning in CFPs), and her academic background gives her a needed dose of perspective on the stories we all rant and rave about. As an anthologist, she proves just as adept, as do the collection of lesser-knowns and up-and-comers assembled to write for her.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Taken by Storm

Series: Raised by Wolves (#3)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont

I'm fanboyish about Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Raised by Wolves series. This shouldn't be a secret to anybody who reads this blog regularly. So the news that Taken by Storm would be the last chapter of this series, at least for the time being, made me sad. After having read the book, however, I can totally see why Barnes wants to wrap things up. Taken by Storm is by no means a bad book, but there's a sense of fatigue about it; a feeling that's it's time to move on. All great stories, after all, must come to an end.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Wolf Gift

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Adventure
Author: Anne Rice
Publisher: Knopf

When I heard Anne Rice was writing a werewolf novel, my eyebrows were raised. Her novels are, after all, one of the major touchstones of modern urban fantasy, second only to Chris Claremont's run on X-Men in their influence. So the fact that she's writing a werewolf novel feels like a personal stamp of approval; a rebuttal to the people who think of the current craze for things lycanthropic as just another passing fad. This is, after all, not some newbie hoping to make it big; this is someone who knows what she's doing, and she thinks the subject has storytelling potential. And, as expected of a writer of her experience, she fulfills that potential on a level that most don't bother reaching for.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Series: Nightshade (#3)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel

The Nightshade books have had their ups and downs. The first volume gave us an impressively deep story with a lot of potential, but also some issues arising from a tenderfoot author and an overdose of epicness. The sequel Wolfsbane stumbled, giving us more epicness when we had too much to begin with while introducing new problems. Wolfsbane was still a decent book, but it was more or less coasting on readers' goodwill. That goodwill is now exhausted. Bloodrose is thus a make-or-break point. Either the trilogy finishes strong, leaving open the possibilities for sequels (and prequels, one of which is being hyped as we speak), or it sputters out. After reading, I have to report with sadness that it's the latter.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Running With the Pack

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Anthology
Author: Various (edited by Ekaterina Sedia)
Publisher: Prime Books

I'm happy to report that the popularity of werewolf fiction has not declined during my hiatus: all the books that I had planned to review first thing I got back had been checked out of the library before I got there. So, I improvise. I got Running with the Pack as a gift from a blogging friend a while back, and had meant to get around to it last year, but stuff kept coming up. So, maybe this is fortuitous: one should, after all, dispense with old business before getting to new.

There's no major theme or gimmick for this anthology, beyond werewolves. That means the authors have full license to unleash their creativity, and produce a remarkably varied body of work.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Promise of the Wolves

Series: Wolf Chronicles (#1)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Dorothy Hearst
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

I've been duped. Or rather my girlfriend, who got me this book for Christmas, has been duped. But I don't mind too much, because a good story is a good story.

If you've seen this book marketed as a werewolf book, it ain't. It's a fantasy novel that takes place 14,000 years ago, before the neolithic revolution. Is there a genre for prehistoric fantasy? There ought to be, because I can think of two or three works using a similar conceit. You could also argue that Promise of the Wolves is a furry story, since most of the main characters are essentially talking wolves. So I'm a bit out of my element here, but not enough that I can't recognize a worthwhile tale being told.