Tag Archives: Max Gladstone

Tammy’s Top Ten Adult Books of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday new 7-14 copy

It’s that time of year, time to make all sorts of “best of” lists! I love making lists anyway, but when I get to look back over a year’s worth of reading and rave about the books that really stood out for me, that’s got to be my favorite sort of list-making. This week I’m highlighting my top ten Adult books of the year, and next Tuesday I’ll be listing my top ten Young Adult books, so don’t forget to stop back next week. I really tried to cut one of these out, but in the end, I just couldn’t choose. So yes, I have eleven books on this Top Ten list:-) So, here they are, my Top Ten Eleven Adult Books of 2014! (in no particular order)

most beautifully written white

Station Eleven

1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I guess if I have to pick my absolute number 1 favorite book this year, I’d pick this one. Station Eleven was a gorgeous and emotional surprise, and I’m so glad to have read it. I’m dying to see what Emily St. John Mandel writes next, because she is on my auto-buy list for sure. Read my review here.

best storytelling

Broken Monsters

2. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. I’m thrilled to have a new favorite author! I can’t wait to catch up on Beukes’ backlist, because she is so good. This thriller kept me on the edge of my seat, but better yet, the author delved deep into the lives of her characters. Highly recommended! Read my review here.

best new series

Red Rising

3. Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown. I read this nearly a year ago, but it still lingers in my memory. Brown’s kick-off to his series was kick-ass, full of bloody action, sex and bold world-building. The second in the series, Golden Son, comes out next month, and I can’t wait to read it. Read my review here.

scariest future 2014 copy

Annihilation

4. Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer. Here’s another great start to a series. I loved the eeriness of VanderMeer’s futuristic world, told through the clinical eyes of a biologist. I have the next two books close at hand, ready to read when I get the chance! Read my review here.

best characters 2014

The Girl with All the Gifts

5. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. This was a big surprise, since I tried not to pay attention to other reviews before I read it. If you think you’ve read all the zombie stories out there, you haven’t until you’ve read this one. Read my review here.

creative magic

California Bones

6. California Bones (Daniel Blackland #1) by Greg Van Eekhout. This was an unsolicited surprise from Tor Books, and boy am I glad I picked it up! I love urban fantasy anyway, but this book did new things with the genre and blew me away. Read my review here.

Best world building 2014

City of Stairs

7. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Bloggers raved about this book, and with good reason. Bennett gives us a unique world, an exciting plot, and well-developed characters, all of which are ingredients for a truly successful story! Read my review here.

most entertaining

The Martian

8. The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s hard to find a story with only one main character that can keep you riveted for nearly 400 pages, but Weir manages to do just that. The Martian proves that science can be fun, in the form of a character who laughs in the face of danger. Read my review here.

best series ending 2014

Endsinger9. Endsinger (Lotus War #3) by Jay Kristoff. Jay’s Lotus War series was a bleak, dangerous, wonderful, joyous, and heartbreaking opus, and I was sad to see it end. But it went out with a bang. This is one series where each book is just as good as the next. (And yes, I consider these books adult, simply because of the way they are priced.) Read my review here.

best female characters

Full Fathom Five

10. Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3) by Max Gladstone. Max’s books keep getting better and better, and this time he goes all out with the grrrl power! Unique worlds, intricately drawn characters, and plenty of action, if you haven’t started this series, what are you waiting for? Read my review here.

best historical

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

11. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman sets her story in New York in the early twentieth century, uses actual historical events to frame it, and adds her characteristic magic realism and wonderfully unique characters to make it come to life. Read my review here.

And because it’s hard to stop at ten (or eleven), here are my honorable mentions, all books I adored as well: The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue; The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini; The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan; The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher; Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix; Through the Woods by Emily Carroll; The Line by J.D. Horn; and The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen.

So there they are… Let me know if you’ve read any of these, and link me up to your top ten post! I’ve linked up with The Broke and the Bookishso don’t forget to check out other bloggers’ top ten faves of the year:-)

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Tough Traveling – Drugs

tough-traveling

Tough Traveling is a weekly feature, created and hosted by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn, in which participants come up with a list of books that follow the fantasy tropes that can be found in Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to FantasylandEach week, Nathan picks a new subject. This week, I was pleased that Nathan selected a topic that I suggested, drugs:

DRUGS- Driver of all the underground economies. At times glorified, at times responsible for all the world’s evil, but just as common in Fantasyland as our own.

I don’t know why drugs are one of my favorite tropes in books (really, any genre will do), because I’m all about “Don’t do drugs!” I have kids, so my husband and I are always lecturing them about the dangers of doing drugs. But drugs can be used in fiction to great effect, and some of my favorite books use drugs prominently, and dare I say, would not be nearly as good without them. I know I’ve left off lots of great examples, but here are six books that come to mind when I think of using drugs in stories:

The Blue Blazes“Blue” from The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. Still one of my favorite books from last year, Wendig’s drug-fueled story about a hidden underground world in New York City features a powder that is mined from a mineral called Cerulean. When someone takes Blue, the veil is pulled back from their eyes, and they can see the underground “monsters” who are not visible to the human eye unless you take the drug. And yes, there are Blue addicts in the story.

Three“Quint” from Three by Jay Posey. One of the main characters, Cas, is a “chemic,” someone who is addicted to quint. Cas started using the drug when she worked for a group called RushRuin, but now she’s addicted and in a world of hurt, because she’s on the run, and her supply of quint is gone. I loved the idea that Cas is a victim of the drug, and she only started taking it to perform her job for RushRuin. Her traveling companion Three knows the withdrawal effects of quint aren’t fun, so he goes out of his way to find some for her.

Stormdancer“Chi” from Stormdancer (and Kinslayer & Endsinger) by Jay Kristoff. Chi is derived from a flower called the blood lotus. It is used primarily as a fuel to run the complex steam engines of Kristoff’s world, but it can also be smoked. People addicted to chi live aimless lives, as chi seems to have the same effects as marijuana. Unfortunately for the citizens of Kigen City, you’re going to be breathing in chi whether you like it or not, as the air is forever ruined by the smoke from the chi factories.

Premonitions“Blind” from Premonitions by Jamie Schultz. Here’s another story where a character takes drugs in order to avoid physical suffering. Without a constant supply of blind, Karyn can see slices of the future by hallucinating, and blind helps keep the hallucinations at bay. Unfortunately (isn’t there always an “unfortunately” when we’re talking about drugs?), blind is extremely rare (we’re talking black market, folks) and expensive, and she’s forced into heist jobs in order to pay for it.

Three Parts DeadVampire bites from Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. One of my favorite characters in one of my favorite books is Cat, a woman who has become addicted to the bite of a vampire, which gives her a high that she can’t find anywhere else. Ok, so technically vampire bites aren’t a drug, but in this case the bite releases a chemical that acts as a drug. This idea isn’t new, since many vampire stories use the vampire’s bite as a pleasure device, but Gladstone takes the idea further when Cat starts to fall in love with one of the vamps who is biting her.

Vurt4“Curious Yellow” from Vurt by Jeff Noon. This is the first book that comes to mind when I think about drugs in books. Noon’s writing feels as if he were on LSD while he was writing it (and who knows, maybe he was!). In any case, it worked, and this story still lingers with me, even though I read it nearly twenty years ago. In Vurt, the drugs are vurt feathers, which the user places on his tongue for a highly potent narcotic effect. Curious Yellow is rumored to be the most potent form of the drug, but it might not even exist.

Let me know if you have any good examples!

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Tammy’s Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday new 7-14 copy

It’s Tuesday, and time for another Top Ten list from the Broke and the Bookish! With so many upcoming fun Top Ten lists this month, it’s going to be hard to avoid some crossover, so I’m selecting books that haven’t been on any previous top ten lists. Also, I’m only highlighting books that already have a cover design, because it’s no fun to look at a book list without seeing the covers, am I right? I seem to have a lot of books from Tor on this list, which wasn’t planned:-) Here they are, in order of release date (click on the titles to go to Goodreads):

1. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith. Releases March 3 2015 from Dutton Childrens. I read my first Andrew Smith book this year (100 Sideways Miles) and loved it. I’m going to tackle his backlist at some point, but I also want to read ALL THE NEW ANDREW SMITH BOOKS.

2. The Hellsblood Bride by Chuck Wendig. Releases March 5 2015 from Angry Robot. Angry Robot has been going through some stuff lately, they were recently bought by a new company, and so they’ve halted their publishing schedule until next March, when they plan on coming back bigger and stronger! I couldn’t be more happy, it’s seriously been lonely in Bookland without new AR titles to read. And because The Blue Blazes was so amazing, of course I’m dying to read this sequel. And because, CHUCK WENDIG, PEOPLE!

3. A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell. Releases March 24 2015 from Harper. This story sounds A. Ma. Zing. Just go to Goodreads and check it out! It sounds extremely dark, which is my kind of book, and I’m getting a creepy The Virgin Suicides vibe from it. Can’t wait!

4. Rook by Sharon Cameron. Releases April 28 2015 from Scholastic Press. I just recently came across this title, and it sounds like a wonderful mix of alternate history and romance, and it takes place in Paris, or maybe a different sort of Paris?

5. The Shadow Revolution (Crown & Key #1) by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith. Releases June 2 2015 from Del Rey. The Griffith duo are at it again with a new series! I still haven’t read Vampire Empire, but that doesn’t stop me from adding this to the list. Just check out the description on Goodreads and see for yourself!

6. Survive the Night by Danielle Vega. Releases July 7 2015 from Razorbill. Vega’s The Merciless was one of my favorite YA books this year, and I can’t wait to see what she does next!

7. Time Salvager by Wesley Chu. Releases July 7 2015 from Tor Books. Wesley’s making the jump to the big leagues, after having great success with Angry Robot! I’m so happy for him, and excited to read this time travel story.

8. Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4) by Max Gladstone. Releases July 14 2015 from Tor Books. I’ve been a steadfast fan of Max’s Craft Sequence since the beginning, and I’m happy that he’s not stopping at a trilogy.

9. The Uninvited by Cat Winters. Releases August 11 2015 from William Morrow. This is Cat’s first adult book, and it promises to have the same creepy, historical vibe as her YA books, In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Cure for Dreaming (which I still need to read!). I can’t wait!

10. Nightwise by R.S. Belcher. Releases August 18 2015 from Tor Books. I loved Rod’s Golgotha series, and this time he’s tackling urban fantasy! This one sounds just as crazy good as his other books:-)

Of course, this is by no means a complete list, as there will always be more than ten books that I can’t wait to read. But these are the books I’m most excited about today. Let me know what books you’re looking forward to in 2015!

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Tough Traveling: MONSTERS

tough-traveling

Hey, this is my first time participating in Tough Traveling, a weekly event created and hosted by Nathan from the Fantasy Review Barn! I’m finally joining the party this week, because the theme is “Monsters,” and I tend to read lots of books with monsters in them.

Nathan’s idea for Tough Traveling is to follow along with Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which is a funny and irreverent send-up all of the fantasy clichés and tropes you can think of. Each week, Nathan picks one of those tropes, and bloggers are encouraged to come up with a list of books that fit the category.

This week, we’re talking about MONSTERS:

MONSTERS are likely to lie in waste areas, caves, and old ruined cities. You can usually detect their presence by smell.

If I didn’t limit myself, this list could seriously get out of control! So I selected the first six books with great examples of monsters that popped into my head:

City of Stairs

Urav from City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Urav was one of my favorite things about this book, even though he only plays a small role in the story. Urav is a many-tentacled sea monster that devastates the city of Bulikov. Scary yes, but I sure loved him!

The Blue Blazes

Gobbos (goblins), Vollraths, Trogbodies, Snakefaces and more from The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. This was one of my favorite books last year, and is a great example of a creative use of monsters. In The Blue Blazes, the underground world of New York City is alive with monsters, because of a hole that leads straight into Hell. The kicker—you can only see them if you take a drug called Blue Blazes.

Full Fathom Five

Penitents from Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. Max’s Craft Sequence books all have monsters in them, but I particularly liked the Penitents from this book. Penitents are huge creatures made out of rock that act as prisons for humans who break the law. These unfortunate people are trapped inside the body of a Penitent and must go after other law-breakers, in order to force them into the same horrific situation. It’s an extremely painful process for those unfortunate enough to be caught.

The Shotgun Arcana

Gerta from The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher. I haven’t posted my review of this book yet, but it has one of the most interesting monsters I’ve run across: a Frankenstein-like creation. Auggie’s dead wife Gerta’s head has been kept “alive” by mad scientist Clay since the first book in the series, The Six-Gun Tarot, and you won’t believe what happens to Gerta in this follow-up book!

Three

The Weir from Three by Jay Posey. Weir are humanoid-like creatures with glowing blue eyes that live in the desolate Strand, a dangerous place where humans are prey. If you are caught by a Weir, you may become one yourself.

The Scar

The Remade and more from The Scar by China Miéville. It’s been YEARS since I read this book, so my memory is a bit hazy. But Miéville is one of the grandmasters of monsters. Just about every character in this book has some monstrous quality or other. The Remade are slaves who have had their bodies physically altered. This book also has grindylows (like the ones in Harry Potter!), sea creatures who drown their victims in the ocean. I know I’m forgetting a bunch of other great examples from this book, but like I said, I read this a really long time ago.  Just READ THIS BOOK if you haven’t already.

That was fun! I’d love to hear from you. I’m sure I missed many great examples of monsters:-) Thanks to Nathan for hosting! Check out the link above if you’d like to join in the fun.

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Waiting on Wednesday (119) LAST FIRST SNOW (Craft Sequence #4) by Max Gladstone

WOW 2014 copy

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a fun way to share upcoming books you’re “waiting on” with other bloggers and readers. Oh you guys, I’m so excited about this week’s WoW pick:

Last First Snow

Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4) by Max Gladstone. Releases from Tor Books in July 2015. So, those of you who have been following this blog for a while know I’m a huge fan of Max Gladstone, and that I love his Craft Sequence books! The cover for Book #4 is so new that it doesn’t even have a cover blurb yet, so I can’t even tell you much about the story. However, I did snag a bit of information directly from Max’s website, which gives us a small taste of what we’re in store for:

Just between us, I’m really excited for this book.  It’s the most intense of them all by far.  Also I’m focusing on older characters for the most part, folks like Temoc, Ms. Kevarian, and the King in Red, people carting around more history.   And there’s this really cool bit where—Aaaaaah I can’t wait to for y’all to read this.  Maybe I’ll write an early trailer for you.

goodreads-badge-add-plus

When the author is excited about his book, you know it’s going to be awesome:-) Thanks, Max!

Feast you eyes on the lovely covers of books 1-3:

Are you also a fan of the series? Let me know!

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Book Review Giveaway! July 2014

Book review giveaway button 2014 copy

It’s time for another Book Review Giveaway…have you been keeping up? If not, you can read my reviews from July and think about which book sounds the best to you. It was a very slow month for me, due to all sorts of things (work, mostly) that kept me away from blogging, so I only posted six reviews last month. But, there are some great ones to choose from, and like most months, there is a mix of adult and young adult. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I guess I’ll go with California Bones, which just made me so happy to read:-) This giveaway is International, provided the Book Depository ships to your country.

Also, I want to congratulation last month’s winner, Josh Atkins!

Here are the books you can choose from if your name is randomly selected (click the book titles below to read my reviews):

five stars
California Bones by Greg van Eekhout

five stars
Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

four and a half
Blightborn by Chuck Wendig

four stars
Irredeemable by Jason Sizemore

four stars
Rebel Nation by Shaunta Grimes

three stars
Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir

You can grab the giveaway button here:

Books, Bones & Buffy
<div align="center"><a href="http://wp.me/p1GQyK-3Lf" title="Books, Bones & Buffy" target="_blank"><img src="//booksbonesbuffy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/book-review-giveaway-button-2014-200.jpg" alt="Books, Bones & Buffy" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Ready to enter? Simply click the Rafflecopter button below:

Raffle button

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Over-Booked (8) – A Book Haul Post

Over booked banner

Welcome to Over-Booked, my book haul post where I link up with Stacking the Shelves and The Sunday Post. Head on over to link up your own book haul post, or jump around and see what everyone’s got!  I have a smallish haul this week, which is good after my Comic Con haul last week, and I’m very excited about these books:

8-9 overbooked

The Golden City and The Seat of Magic by J. Kathleen Cheney. I was so excited when I found out I had won these beauties from The Bibliosanctum! This is one series I’ve heard nothing but good things about, and I’m anxious to start reading them. Thanks, Mogsy and Wendy!

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. I loved this third entry in Max’s series, and Tor was kind enough to send me a finished hardcover. Thanks Tor!

The Apex Book of World SF3 edited by Lavie Tidhar. I’ll be reading this anthology this month. Apex has never let me down, and I’m excited to read some diverse stories from all over the world. Thanks Apex!

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. I don’t usually read middle grade, but this looks like fun, and it’s pretty short. Thank you, Scholastic Press!

Edelweiss/NetGalley review titles:

Into Darkness (Night Prowler #6) by J.T. Geissinger. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know I’m one of J.T.’s biggest fans. This is the final book in her Night Prowler series—boo!! I know the author is probably ready to move on to something else, but I’m not! Big thanks to Montlake Press.

Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge. Right after I featured this book on Waiting on Wednesday, I realized it was an Edelweiss title, and I was thrilled to be quickly approved. Thank you Harper Voyager!

Indie review titles:

rewinder-200

Rewinder by Brett Battles. Yeah, I know. I don’t review indies any more. But Brett and I, well, we go waaay back. And when he told me his latest is a suspense/time travel story, of course I said I would read it! I love his books, and he’s one indie writer that really knows how to do things right. I mean, check out the cover! It looks professional, right? (And it is. He does everything professionally.) I may not be able to squeeze this in this month, but next month for sure. Thanks Brett:-) And put this up on Goodreads, will ya?

That’s it for me. Let me know what goodies you acquired this week!

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Guest Post with Max Gladstone + Enter to Win a Copy of FULL FATHOM FIVE!

Author Guest Post

I’m so excited to have the extremely talented Max Gladstone visiting Books, Bones & Buffy today. I had originally asked Max to write a post about the role that gods and idols play in his books. But what I got back was something much more interesting, an endorsement, if you will, from a character who’s been to the island of Kavekana (from Full Fathom Five) and has partaken in their particular trade. He’s going to explain what’s going on there, and why sacrifice isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…(and keep reading, because there’s a giveaway at the end of this post!)

Max Gladstone

Sacrifice is rough on a business.

Let’s be realistic about it for a second: there are gods all over the world, and wherever there isn’t a god it’s because something godlike took its place.  What’s the practical difference between a voice speaking out of the wilderness demanding you bleed out a dozen aurochs (aurochses? auroxen?) on a particular stone and a necromancer in a pinstriped suit stretching out his skeletal hand for a cut of what’s yours?  The distinctions are cosmetic.  They both want something.

It used to be reasonable!  People didn’t travel as much, and if they did it was an event, you know, long caravans and legions of guards, so big they seemed like cities on wheels or water.  A merchant might have to sacrifice to a few local gods on the way for protection, but most of the business was done at origin and destination.  Serving two masters sucks, but it’s manageable.

These days, though.

I mean, don’t get me started.  Let’s say we have a concern that makes something really simple—paper, maybe.  It’s cheaper to grow trees in one part of the world, mill them in another, and of course we want to sell paper everywhere.  We can’t settle for making paper to serve one city, or even ten.  It’s a business of scale.  We want school-age kids in the Shining Empire taking notes for their high-stakes tests on paper with our watermark.  We want the Dread Lord of Zur signing treaties with steppe-lords on high-bond You And Me brand extra strength eggshell white, now imbued with real griffin blood!  (Which means, shit, we have to go find griffins, which are native to the highlands in the Southern Gleb, so that’s another set of gods we’ll have to deal with.)

Every place we go, every place we sell, someone wants a sacrifice. How can you live like that?  Let alone do business.

This is where godhavens come in.  See, gods have a good thing going—they respect one another, more or less, and now the God Wars are over, while they might not actually trust or like human wizards, there’s at least some grudging tolerance between the sides.  Or whatever it is you call that wavy truce you get between two bare-knucks boxers trying to catch their breath in round 37.  Gods don’t ask other gods’ priests to sacrifice to them.

Yes, I know, you don’t want to get ordained.  I mean, the whole idea here is to give you fewer obligations, right?  Seems priesthood would be the last thing you might want.

You would think that.

See, what if you could be a priest of something that just looked a lot like a god?  No faith, no distortion of behavior, no precepts or confession.  Just a sort of bloodless obligation that meant you never had to sacrifice anything again.

Check out these guys.  Kavekana’s a little island in the Skeld Archipelago, sent their gods to the Wars and they never came back.  They just—vanished.  Shit like that happened a lot back then.  Gods’ disappearance, as I’m sure you can imagine, puts the local priesthood in a tizzy.  What’s a priest to do without gods?  They started celebrating ancestor spirits at first, as a kind of stopgap—then they got good at building rituals, telling consistent myths, praying to stuff they’d never prayed to before.  And somewhere along the line, a bright kid saw the future.

Idols made to order, for folk like you and me.  Salt of the earth, engines of trade, just trying to enjoy our profits and prophets both without bad guys taking them from us.  Go to Kavekana.  Talk with a priest about your problems.  Hang out on the beach sipping those little, whatchyacallm’s, drinks with umbrellas in, sorta pink.  They’ll give you a few prayers to say, some salt you and your employees have to scatter before bed or whatever, and bam.  Some goddess wants her cut?  Tough.  You’ve got a Lord and Master already.  Convenient for you he only, you know, sort of exists.

I’ve done it a couple times.  Lots of people in our line of work do.  It’s not just sacrifice avoidance, either—it’s easier to operate this way, less paperwork, fewer demon uprisings.  Really good for estate planning, too, if you ever intend to die.

Trust me.  You’ll love it.

Find Max: Author Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Read my reviews: Three Parts Dead | Two Serpents Rise | Full Fathom Five

About Full Fathom Five:

The third novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world ofThree Parts Dead.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

Thanks to Tor Books, I have one finished copy of Full Fathom Five to giveaway to a U.S. winner (with apologies to my international friends!) All you need to do to enter is fill out the form below. One entry per person, please! A winner will be randomly selected on July 31st. Good luck!

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Grrrl Power: FULL FATHOM FIVE by Max Gladstone – Review

Full Fathom Five 3D

Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3) by Max Gladstone
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 15 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Pages: 368

five stars

The nitty-gritty:  A world that shimmers with magic, female characters that do wonderful and impossible things, and a layered story that will keep you riveted.

They fell through space and worlds, following that unseen beacon. They did not slip from realm to realm so much as burst through. The color of the sea changed, wine-red and spreading. Constellations danced and transformed.

The volcano’s mouth approached. At its bottom, pinhead small but growing larger, lay the pool, another sky into which they could fall forever. The size of a cherry now, a fig, lemon orange apple pineapple watermelon—

She braced herself for impact, too late.

This is the third book in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, and as much as I loved the last two books, I think this may be his best yet. Each book in this series can easily stand on its own, so reading the first two books first isn’t necessary—but why would you want to miss out on them? Gladstone’s world is full of gods and idols, sea monsters and Craftswomen, nightmares and pools where you can remake yourself. Each detail is painstakingly melded into the story so that you feel as if you are right there with the characters. Things that we are all too familiar with—job security, market shares, salesman-client relationships—are cheekily disguised as fantasy elements, which makes them much more interesting.

In Full Fathom Five, idols are molded and created by the Order for pilgrims. But when Kai, a priest with the Order, witnesses the death of an idol named Seven Alpha, she makes a risky decision to jump into the pool to try to save her. But Kai nearly dies in the rescue attempt and is later fired by her boss for attempting something so risky. It is only after she meets a street kid named Izza and a poet named Margot that Kai realizes Seven Alpha’s death is only part of a much bigger scheme. With her friends, new and old, to help out, Kai must get to the bottom of what’s really happening to the idols, keep her distance from the murderous Penitents, and try to get her old job back, before anyone else dies.

The biggest surprise for me this time around was the fact that most of the main characters in Full Fathom Five are women. In fact, just about every male in the story is a side character or a bad guy. Not that I don’t love me some strong male characters, too, mind you, but it was a nice change of pace to see a male writer taking the time to create such interesting, strong and utterly human female characters, who are all flawed in one way or another, yet possess the strength to rise above those flaws. I think my favorite character was Izza, a fifteen-year-old thief who is distraught when her goddess the Blue Lady dies. Izza takes care of a rag-tag group of street kids who look up to her to tell them stories about the Blue Lady and restore their faith in the world—much like Wendy Darling telling tales to the Lost Boys.

I also loved Kai, who nearly dies from trying to save Alpha Seven, yet never gives up hope that she will figure out the truth of what’s going on. We also have two characters who make a return appearance from Three Parts Dead, Mrs. Kevarian and Cat (who along with vampire Raz was my favorite character of that book). Unfortunately, Raz is nowhere to be found in this story, but that’s ok, because all the other characters are so amazing. Each woman goes through pain (and sometimes torture), loss and disappointment, yet never do they lose their faith in the gods and idols they worship.

Gladstone’s brilliant writing skills are hard at work, as usual. His lush and poetic prose is one of the things that keeps drawing me back to his books, and it just gets better and better. And as far as the world-building goes, you don’t get much better than this. The island city of Kavekana (think Honolulu, Hawaii) is completely different from ours, yet there are moments of odd familiarity, like when Kai stops at a corner store to buy frozen yogurt. At its heart, this is a mystery story, as Kai tries to figure out who is killing the island’s idols. The pace is not the rip-roaring action-packed sort, but rather the slow-building kind that surprises you when you realize you’re in the middle of some desperate action and you can’t pinpoint exactly when you got there.

The scary monsters this time around are the Penitents, gigantic human-shaped creatures made of stone that patrol the city and keep order. The kicker, however, is that their bodies act as prisons for the city’s criminals, humans who have been caught and placed inside a Penitent, where their bodies and wills are bent to perform the duties of a Penitent, until their sentence is over and they are released. What a truly terrifying way to be punished!

The ending was perfect, and I wasn’t expecting to tear up like I did. But Gladstone hit all the right notes, both emotional and plot-wise, and I couldn’t imagine a better ending. Whether or not another Craft Sequence book is in the works remains to be seen, but I for one certainly hope Max isn’t done with this fabulous world.

Many thanks to Tor Books for providing a review copy. I was not compensated in any way and all opinions in this review are mine and mine alone. The above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.

Check back later this week, because Max himself will be stopping by with a guest post!

Catch the rest of the series:

You can find Full Fathom Five here:

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What’s On My Plate – July 2014

On My Plate

Welcome to another thrilling What’s On My Plate post! It’s July already, people! I can’t believe it’s finally San Diego Comic Con month! In a few weeks I’ll be in San Diego, running from book event to book event, and trying to squeeze in some TV and movie panels as well. If you’re going this year, let me know!

I’m frightfully behind in my reading, as usual, but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, as I’ve stopped requesting books from Edelweiss and NetGalley (until further notice, or until something pops up that I can’t say no to). This month I’ve got a handful of digital ARCs to review, a couple of small press releases, and two blog tours. Here’s what I’ve got scheduled:

From NetGalley/Edelweiss:

The Buried Life by Carrie Patel. Releases this month from Angry Robot.

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne. Releases this month from Disney-Hyperion.

Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir. Releases this month from Bellevue Literary Press

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Releases this month from Henry Holt.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow  by Thomas Sweterlitsch. Releases this month from Putnam Adult.

From Small Presses:

Irredeemable by Jason Sizemore. This short story collection by Apex editor Jason Sizemore is published by Seventh Star Press, and in addition to reviewing the book, Jason is visiting the blog next week with a guest post. Be sure to stop by!

Midnight by Mari Adkins. This is an Apex Publications book, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by their titles. It’s hard to tell what this one is about from the blurb, but I’ll be reading it soon and I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.

Blog Tours:

I am really, seriously going to stop doing blog tours (for the most part), but I do have a few more on the calendar. Rebel Nation by Shaunta Grimes is this Friday, you can stop by for my review and a giveaway. And I’m featuring Max Gladstone (Full Fathom Five) here on July 17th. I’m pretty damn excited about that! This is one of my favorite series, and I’ll have a guest post from Max as well.

Events:

                                     Angry Robot200    comic con small

I just got word yesterday that Angry Robot will be celebrating five years of publishing amazing science fiction and fantasy, and I’ll be part of the celebration this Friday! Join me as I host author Andy Remic, who will be talking about his Top Five Indie Films. Angry Robot is also giving away FIVE copies of Andy’s book, Kell’s Legend. Don’t miss it!

Yep, it’s finally here! San Diego Comic Con is July 23-27th, and I’ll be there all five days! I’m taking both my kids this year, and they’ve already started working on their costumes. They don’t release the schedule until about two weeks before the event, so I still don’t know what I’ll be doing. Ahh, the anticipation! Stay tuned for a recap when I get back!

I’ve also been working on an updated blog design, which I hope will go live this weekend…I’ve been changing my mind a lot about the color scheme, so I haven’t finalized it yet. Hopefully with the long weekend coming up (Independence Day) I’ll be able to make some decisions. Stay tuned…

So, what’s on your plate this month?

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