Book Review

Book Review: The Price Guide to the Occult

The Price Guide to the Occult
By Leslye Walton

My Edition:
Hardcover, 272 pages
2018, Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763691103

I won this from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.

Nor lives on a small island, as have all the cursed women in her family. She wants a normal life, but she can’t have one because she’s a witch with a crazy, power-hungry mother. She’s also pale with waist-length hair, and don’t you forget it! Nor is destined to be unlucky in love, which we all know is one of the biggest priorities in a 17-year-old girl’s life. Can she find true love and save her island and its inhabitants from the evil closing in on them!? WHO CARES?!

Oh, oops, was that too snarky? As you can tell from my sass, this book wasn’t a hit for me. Warning: rant ahead!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Tangled Lands

The Tangled Lands
By Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell

My Edition:
Hardcover, 295 pages
2018, Saga Press
ISBN: 9781481497299

Thank you to Geek Girl Authority and the publisher for sending me this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

The use of magic is forbidden to the residents of Khaim, except for the Magister, because magic causes the growth of the deadly vines that threaten to swallow the city and all its inhabitants. A touch from the hungry vines, referred to as the bramble, will sink anyone into a deep sleep and eventually death, the toxins persevering their bodies until mother nature’s creatures come for them.

I won’t say any more about the plot than that – but I will say that this book is comprised of four sections, each following a different character and their families, as they struggle to survive in the city of Khaim.

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Book Review

Book Review: Flotsam

Flotsam
by R.J. Theodore

My Edition:
ARC paperback, 402 pages
2017, Parvus Press
ISBN: 9780997661378

I received this book for free from Parvus Press in exchange for an honest review.

Captain Talis took a salvage job in hopes that the payout would give her and the crew enough to fix up her airship and have some spare coin to splurge on food. The ring she retrieves turns out to be valuable to several groups, including the strange aliens who have come to research her home planet of Peridot, the religious cult her ex-boyfriend belongs to, and the gods of Peridot themselves. Talis and her crew find themselves in the middle of a war between the living gods and the groups who want to murder them and steal their powers.

Guys. Guys. Do you like airships, steampunk, aliens, sky pirates, cults and otherworldly beings? Then probably you should read this book because it’s a lot of fun.

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Book Review

Book Review: The Interminables

The Interminables
By Paige Orwin

My Edition:
E-book, 416 pages (paperback)
2016, Angry Robot
ISBN: 9780857665911 (paperback)

The year is 2020 and an incredibly powerful magical being started a war against America, forcing wizards everywhere out of hiding. In the aftermath, the states have been reorganized into rough territories and are trying to rebuild themselves, amidst the residual magic left behind and the strange beings that come from it. Edmund, known as the Hour Thief, and Istvan, his right-hand ghost, are trying to keep the peace in Massachusetts when they hear of a ring of smugglers dealing in magical devices that could blow the entire state. What they discover in trying to stop the smugglers is another war that’s being waged against an even darker power that threatens to enslave them all.

What I most enjoyed about this book was the overall concept – magic in the modern times, meets some superpowered beings, plus a semi-dystopian setting, in my home of New England to boot! I liked that the magic that was unleashed by Shokat, the being who started the war, not only changed up the way people lived and caused existing wizards to reveal themselves, but also created things called “spell scars” that spit out all kinds of creatures, some from the past or future, and even gave some previously normal humans super powers.

However, that’s where my enjoyment of the world ended. The world building itself was incredibly confusing and as a result, I never got my bearings or had a solid picture in my mind of what was taking place. I wanted to understand how the world and the magic worked, but instead I was confused by Orwin’s mention of “conceptual” magic, magic that was “interdicted” and just regular magic.

I was also confused by the magic our main character, Edmund (the Hour Thief – the one thing I won’t forget because they call him that on what feels like every other damn page), possessed. He can manipulate time by stealing it from others and using it for himself – he can then teleport or take extra time to recover from a bad injury if needed. Yet, Edmund somehow doesn’t actually teleport, nor does he time travel, so I was constantly confused about how his magic worked. He could even give time to others, but again, I don’t know how this functioned. Since Edmund and his abilities are essential to the story, it was frustrating to be so confused.

Unfortunately, I didn’t fully understand his ghostly companion, Istvan. He is a deceased soldier from WWI, but is also apparently the conceptual (there’s that term again!) embodiment of the War itself? Again, I was never clear on what this meant, or what he could or couldn’t do because of this. He works closely with Edmund and is also one of his closest friends so they team up on most missions. Istvan can help with scouting and can somehow help fight any monsters they come up against, but he can’t physically help Edmund if he falls, or punch him if he’s mad. Nor can he touch physical objects, like a gurney, when someone in the medical ward needs his assistance, except when he can, like when he picks up Edmund’s hat to hand it to him or puts the kettle on for tea. He can also reach inside of people to heal their organs, tissue, bones, etc. but still somehow isn’t a physical being.

Perhaps I’m being picky, or I’m used to more clearly defined rules when it comes to books with magic, but there seemed to be so many grey areas and hypocrisies that it made Orwin’s writing feel sloppy.

I felt that too much of the backstory was being hinted at, but never clearly defined and rather than leaving me hungry for more, it left me with so many unanswered questions that they became all I could focus on, rather than the plot. For the last 30% or so, I essentially zoned out. Nothing was clicking for me and I was simply trying to get to the end. It’s possible some of my many questions were answered in this chunk of the book, but if so, I didn’t pick up on it. Sadly this book was a big disappointment for me.

I received this book for free from Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
You can head over to Paige’s website or chat her up on Twitter.

Book Review

Book Review: Midnight Queen

Image from Penguin

The Midnight Queen
By Sylvia Izzo Hunter

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 432 pages (paperback)
2014, Ace Trade
ISBN: 9780425272459 (paperback)

I received this book for free from Penguin’s First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blurb from Penguin: Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

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