The Qwillery | category: trinitytwo | (page 5 of 8)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper

Edge of Dark
AuthorBrenda Cooper
Series:  The Glittering Edge 1
Publisher:  Pyr, March 3, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 399 pages
List Price:  $18.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781633880504 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper
What if a society banished its worst nightmare to the far edge of the solar system, destined to sip only dregs of light and struggle for the barest living. And yet, that life thrived? It grew and learned and became far more than you ever expected, and it wanted to return to the sun. What if it didn't share your moral compass in any way?

The Glittering Edge duology describes the clash of forces when an advanced society that has filled a solar system with flesh and blood life meets the near-AI's that it banished long ago. This is a story of love for the wild and natural life on a colony planet, complex adventure set in powerful space stations, and the desire to live completely whether you are made of flesh and bone or silicon and carbon fiber.

In Edge of Dark, meet ranger Charlie Windar and his adopted wild predator, and explore their home on a planet that has been raped and restored more than once. Meet Nona Hall, child of power and privilege from the greatest station in the system, the Diamond Deep. Meet Nona's best friend, a young woman named Chrystal who awakens in a robotic body….

Trinitytwo's Point of View

Centuries ago, humans created sophisticated AIs, and upon realizing their own inferiority banished them beyond the outer ring of the solar system in the cold dark of space with hopes that they would not survive. Now, the Next, as they call themselves, have returned. During their period of banishment they evolved and have become even more powerful than humans could have imagined. Their first show of supremacy is an efficient and coldblooded takeover of the space station High Sweet Home. Resident Chrystal Peterson, a bioengineer, finds her life is irrevocably altered the moment her home is targeted. Nona Hall has lived a privileged life that lacks purpose until she learns Chrystal and her family are on the space station that was assimilated. Loyal Nona will push her limits and use her considerable resources to try and rescue her childhood friend. Charlie Windar, a ranger and Nona's guide on the wild planet Lym, will do anything to protect the untamed beauty and raw force of nature that is his birthplace. No one is sure what the Next's ultimate goal is, but with an adversary this powerful, how will humankind preserve their way of life, and at what cost?

When I began Edge of Dark I didn't realize that Cooper had written her prior duology, The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep, in the same universe. However, not having read either of these novels didn't impede the story for me in the least. It is a riveting human drama that asks significant philosophical questions. Having already created this universe it's no surprise Cooper's world-building is superb; whether she is describing Lym's crashing waves or the seemingly endless tubes, tunnels and habitats of space stations, the author paints a clear picture for her characters to interact in. Three main characters' POVs propel the story and each are very distinctive and unique. I really identified with Charlie whose passion for the wild land and its beasts motivates him to step out of his comfort zone to fiercely protect and preserve its wildlife. Nona, is the weakest of the trio, but her character comes across as likeable and authentic. But it is Chrystal whose bravery and compassion tugs at my heartstrings and is brilliantly unforgettable. I feel this book has all the elements that are important in sci fi and I highly recommend it. Edge of Dark is a compelling, thought-provoking, chilling, and poignant tale that leaves the reader questioning who is more humane - humanity or the AI.

Review: The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray

The Waterborne Blade
AuthorSusan Murray
Series:  Waterborne 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015
       (North America Print and eBook)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 512 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857664365 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.

Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim – for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.

But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.

File Under: Fantasy

Trinitytwo's Point of View

As The Waterborne Blade opens, Queen Alwenna learns she must flee her home at Highkell, ahead of the imminent attack on her husband’s realm by her cousin, Vasic. King Tresilian believes that if Alwenna can reach the protection of the island sanctuary of Vorrahan she will escape the machinations of war. He entrusts Alwenna to Ranald Weaver, whose position of “King’s Man”, makes him the ideal candidate to deliver the Queen to safety. She is loath to go but once at Vorrahan meets with the seer, Brother Gwydion, who bestows upon her a powerful gift. This gift, combined with Vasic’s malevolent plans, will propel Alwenna on a journey full of treachery, danger, and unexpected discovery.

The Waterborne Blade is an enjoyable read. Susan Murray uses alternating POV’s to keep the story moving and its pacing is terrific. The use of dreams to fill in Alwenna’s past blends in seamlessly with the unfolding action of the story. Murray’s strong female protagonist begins as a pampered queen and shows excellent growth as she deals with the hardships being presented to her. The supporting cast is also well written, with the exception of, in my opinion, Weaver. Ranald Weaver is a bundle of contradictions. He professes his loyalty often to his king and queen yet I feel his actions do not always follow suit. I also didn’t like his treatment of Alwenna. Weaver’s many character flaws can be forgiven once his past is taken into account but not all. For example, Weaver lies to Alwenna, omits essential information, and is secretly captivated by his queen so what are his true motivations? For her part, Alwenna is an intelligent woman yet even after she finds out she has been deceived, she is still inexplicably drawn to him.

I like the fact that just when I thought I knew where the author was going with the story, something unexpected happened and the book went in a different direction. The Waterborne Blade is an exciting medieval adventure and I would definitely recommend this book to people who like fantasy and enjoy intrigue, magic, romance, and an interesting female lead.

Review: The Exile by C. T. Adams

The Exile
Author:  C. T. Adams
Series:  Book of the Fae 1
Publisher:  Tor Books, March 10, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765336873 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Exile by C. T. Adams
Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists--and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna's apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn't believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.

A suspenseful urban fantasy with a hint of romance, The Exile is the first solo novel by C. T. Adams, who is half of USA Today bestselling author Cat Adams. Like the Cat Adams Blood Singer novels, The Exile is set in a world where magic is real and contains Adams's trademark blend of suspense, action, humor, and strongly emotional writing.

Trinitytwo's Point of View

The Exile centers on Brianna Hai and her unique position as a child of two worlds. Brianna is the product of a relationship between her human mother and her Sidhe father and possesses both human and Fae magic. Brianna’s father is not a mere Sidhe; he is King Leu, the High King of Faerie. Years ago, Brianna’s mother was exiled from the realm of Faerie and Brianna chose to accompany her and live in the human world. Her mother, a skilled practitioner of magic, died several years ago, but Brianna chose to stay since day to day life in Faerie was complicated and she had no interest in the deceptions, the cruelty, or the assassination attempts that are the norm there. Although she misses her father, she has no wish to inherit her father’s throne, believing her full-blooded Sidhe siblings are much better suited for that. A surprise raid through the last portal between worlds by a group of vicious doxies (magical green bat like creatures with teeth like razors) force Brianna, her friend and employee David and his brother Nick along with Pug, a living gargoyle, to cross into the world of Faerie and the group finds themselves in the midst of a treacherous and dangerous bid for the throne.

This page-turning fantasy is so action-packed and exhilarating, I finished it quickly. I found the author’s world of Faerie fascinating and especially enjoyed the intrigue surrounding King Leu. Brianna was likable as were the eclectic cast of characters that supported her. The story, filled with doxies, dragons, pixies, trolls, gargoyles, and Sidhe along with humans make each encounter exciting, fresh, and interesting. The plot is pretty straightforward; the King must appoint an heir but is unsure which of his children he can trust to be a strong monarch in this time of impending war, but it is the treachery seemingly around each corner that made it fun for me to read. Although there are multiple POV’s I feel they serve the telling of events well and think the story flows at a great pace.

The Exile is the first solo novel by C. T. Adams and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Adams strikes just the right notes with wry humor, great action sequences, a suggestion of a future romance, and interesting characters. It’s an easy read and I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy. If you are looking for a wild, highly entertaining ride into the world of Faerie, The Exile is definitely worth the trip.

Note:  The King's name is spelled Liu in the book description, but Leu in the novel.

Review: The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

The Providence of Fire
AuthorBrian Staveley
Series:  Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Publisher:  Tor Books, January 13, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 608 pages
List Price:  $27.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765336415 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley
The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace is search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it

Trinitytwo's Point of View

The Providence of Fire is Book II in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series by Brian Staveley. If you have not yet read the first in this epic fantasy series, do yourself a favor and go buy books 1 & 2 NOW! I guarantee you will thank me later!

The Providence of Fire opens immediately after the events of The Emperor’s Blades. Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, tries to make sense of the treachery behind the political plot that led to his father’s murder, the massacre at the monastery, and his own near assassination. Fearing the involvement of the Csestriim, an immortal and brutal race intent on wiping out humankind, he decides to approach the Ishiens for aid. Tan, Kaden’s mentor, disapproves of this plan as the Ishien, an order of warriors dedicated to hunt and destroy the Csestriim, are violent and loath to trust. Kaden decided to move forward with his plan but in order to reach the Ishien, Kaden must pass through a kenta- a gate that can transport those who know how to use them thousands of miles away. Valyn, Kaden’s brother and leader of a wing of Kettral, pledge to get Kaden and Tan to the nearest gate. Valyn and his Kettral will then fly to the Dawn Palace to find Adare, their sister, gather information and await Kaden’s return.

Back in the capital, Adare is unsure if her brothers are alive or dead. Serving as the Minister of Finance, she has uncovered the identity of her father’s murderer and develops a plan of her own. Risking everything, she attempts to escape the Dawn Palace and seek aid from the militarily strong Sons of Flame, the very group she tried to destroy. Events do not go as planned and the siblings must make rapid decisions based on what is best for the Empire. Each choice causes an effect that ripples the courses of each other’s lives and actions.

Providence of Fire
is superb. This is epic fantasy at its best. This book captivated me from start to finish. Rereading my review for The Emperor’s Blades, I coined a term “the quicksand effect” because reading that book completely sucked me in. If possible, The Providence of Fire was even more powerful for its quicksand effect. Staveley’s characters are thoroughly fleshed out and vibrant. Faced with do or die decisions, the trio of siblings with their quick minds and very different educations make believable and hard decisions that the reader may not always agree with but can understand and empathize with. I wasn’t sure about how I would feel towards the 4th POV introduced in this story. However, tough as nails, Gwenna, a member of Valyn’s Kettral wing, was a welcome addition to this story. My one fault with The Emperor’s Blades was that the female POV was given scant attention; not so in The Providence of Fire. The four POVs inform the reader from both the male and female perspectives and kept me totally captivated.

Brian Staveley completely caught me unaware with this book. I really liked The Emperor’s Blades and I expected to “really like” The Providence of Fire. What I didn’t expect was that this installment would kick it up a couple notches and make this story a must read! I’ve given myself time to reflect because sometimes I get caught coming off a book and the adrenaline and excitement entices me to rate it slightly higher than I might normally. It’s been over a month and my love for this book has not diminished. The Providence of Fire is an exceptional read and it’s my book to beat for the best fantasy of 2015.

Review: William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace
Author:  Ian Doescher
Publisher:  Quirk Books, April 7, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 176 pages
List Price:  $14.95 (print)
ISBN:  9781594748066 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher
Join us, good gentles, for a merry reimagining of Star Wars: episode 1 as only Shakespeare could have written it. The entire saga starts here, with a thrilling tale featuring a disguised queen, a young hero, and two fearless knights facing a hidden, vengeful enemy.

’Tis a true Shakespearean drama, filled with sword fights, soliloquies, and doomed romance . . . all in glorious iambic pentameter and coupled with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations. Hold on to your midi-chlorians:
 The play’s the thing, wherein you’ll catch the rise of Anakin!

Trinitytwo's Point of View

Unless you’ve been living in a Wampa’s ice cave on the remote planet of Hoth, I’d wager you’re familiar with the Star Wars universe. You also probably know a thing or two about William Shakespeare as it's required reading in most high school English classes. In The Phantom of Menace, Ian Doescher retells George Lucas’s original story through the iambic pentameter of William Shakespeare, and it's absolutely brilliant.

As a slightly obsessed fan of the original Star Wars movie trilogy, I have to confide that I’m less a fan of the prequels. Admittedly, The Phantom Menace introduced some very cool characters like Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn but nothing could redeem the introduction of the most reviled character in Star Wars history, Jar Jar Binks. Dare I confess that I enjoyed William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace more than the film? I did, mainly because this version throws a new spin on Jar Jar that I thoroughly enjoyed. Another character I connected to in this volume that I didn’t in the movie was Anakin Skywalker. Doescher‘s writing instills in him a level of heartwarming depth that I felt was sorely missing in the film. The Phantom of Menace is packed with action, humor, and unexpected emotion. Complimenting the story are many gorgeous illustrations by the talented Nicolas Delort. I also really enjoy the play format with its asides and soliloquies. They offer increased insight and information that brings an exciting added dimension to many characters. Another part of the fun for me is picking up on the author's many homages to the classics.

I like Shakespeare, I love Star Wars, and I am thrilled with the creative mix of the two. I would recommend this book for any fan of Star Wars, fans of the Bard but also to non-Shakespearean readers as well. It's fresh, easy to read, and delightfully entertaining. The Force is strong with Ian Doescher and The Phantom of Menace proves it.

Review: Grave Matters by Lauren M. Roy

Grave Matters
Author:  Lauren M. Roy
Series:  Night Owls 2
Publisher:  Ace, February 24, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425272497 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Grave Matters by Lauren M. Roy
Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But, as Lauren M. Roy’s thrilling sequel continues, even its supernatural staff isn’t prepared for the dead to come back to life…

Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she’s still getting used to working alongside them. While she’s learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston’s most powerful vampire has her on edge—especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual…

Cavale isn’t thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he’s determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices—until Elly’s job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer’s undead army…

Trinitytwo's Point of View

Grave Matters by Lauren M. Roy is the second in the Night Owl series which features a sensational array of supernatural characters. Book two picks up about a month after the events of its predecessor and although Roy fills in all the blanks to allow this installment to stand alone, I think the reader would get a much better flavor for the world of Night Owls if they start with book one, Night Owls. (Click here for review.)

Vampire Valerie McTeague owns Night Owls, a bookstore that caters to the nocturnal crowd. Staffed by Chaz, Val’s Renfield, and Justin, a newly turned vampire, the bookstore and its surrounding area are a hub of paranormal activities. Val and her crew have joined forces with Elly and her brother Cavale, both former members of the mysterious Brotherhood. Elly and Cavale are well-versed in the all things mystical and especially the laying to rest of a variety of monsters, either by magical means or lethal force. In Grave Matters, a renegade necromancer is raising the dead and causing havoc within the circles of their small community. To further complicate matters, Elly’s new boss, the powerful leader of a nearby vampire coven, is keeping her busy dealing with a rival group of vamps who are trying to edge into his territory.

I like this series. It’s entertaining and dark at the same time. Roy does a great job of fleshing out her characters while dealing with the emotional complexities and conflicts that come with such a diverse group of supernaturals. Physically badass but emotionally vulnerable Elly continues to be my favorite character. Elly is now living with her brother Cavale, which alternates from being awkward to endearing. Elly is new to the concept of friendships and it’s interesting to see how she handles the relationships she is beginning to forge with the Night Owls crew. I find Cavale fascinating and liked discovering more about his talents and flaws. I really enjoy his interactions with his sister as well as his occult work at Hecate’s Cabinet as a Tarot reader. Chaz, realizing he is now physically the weakest link, begins self defense training with succubi Lia and Sunny. His attempts to keep up with the other members of the group are admirable; I respect his motives, but he somehow rubs me the wrong way and I’m not really sure why. Grave Matters is at its best for me when our heroes are kicking supernatural ass and taking names, but I’m also happy with the way they support one another in the face of the unspeakable and always have each other’s backs. Grave Matters is an enjoyable read and if the pace lags a tiny bit from time to time, the satisfying climax more than makes up for it. I would definitely recommend this book and the series to lovers of paranormal adventures.

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015

Please welcome Robert Levy to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Glittering World was published on February 10th by Gallery Books.

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Robert:  I co-authored with a classmate my first poem at the age of five or six. It was about a family of mice, and our poetry teacher Marty transcribed it and hung it on the wall in the stairwell. I vividly recall looking up at that giant piece of paper with our poem on it and feeling nothing so much as amazement: something I'd written was out there for the whole school to see! I've been chasing that feeling ever since, and having my debut novel published all these many years later is a startlingly similar experience.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? How does being a playwright affect (or not) your novel writing?

Robert:  I'm a pantster who wishes he were a plotter. I plot, and then usually fail to adhere to my outline. There are significant moments in my work that I pin down early, such as the midpoint and denouement, but outside of that I land up winging it a lot of the time. This can lead to both fortuitous serendipity and brutal dead ends, depending on the day. I haven't given up on trying to outline more, however!

As for being a playwright, the only relatable skill I've found directly connected to writing in other forms is dialogue. I've written plays since I was fifteen, and they live and die on the dialogue level, so the spoken word is something I've been tuned into for most of my life. It's by far the part of writing prose that comes the most naturally to me.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Robert:  Ah, what a fitting follow-up question! In terms of writing this novel, I'd have to say that I definitely reached a point about 3/4 of the way through the drafting process when I couldn't for the life of me see the entire piece at once. This really rattled me, because as authors we're used to being these kind of godlike figures that can oversee our make-believe worlds as if from above, and not being able to sense the story's overall arc was disturbing. I powered through this dark night of the soul, however, and was relieved to be back on track.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Robert:  So, so many! Elizabeth Hand, Truman Capote, Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson, Toni Morrison, Dan Chaon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jennifer Egan, James Baldwin, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Lanford Wilson, David Mitchell... I could go on all day.

TQ:  Describe The Glittering World in 140 characters or less.

Robert:  A dark contemporary fairy tale about four friends vacationing in Cape Breton and the wondrous and horrible things that happen to them there.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Glittering World that is not in the book description.

Robert:  The word "glittering," like the word "shining," makes most people think of light. But for something to truly glitter, it has to move in and out of the dark. For me, this novel is at heart about the journey in and out of darkness, and hence in and out of light, how one cannot possibly exist without the other.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Glittering World? What appealed to you about writing a supernatural thriller?

Robert:  The novel's basic situation is inspired by life experience: traveling with my boyfriend (now husband) and another couple on vacation to Nova Scotia. As for the supernatural thriller aspect, I've long accepted that everything I write has at the very least a deeply creepy undercurrent, which is probably because that's what I most like to read. I can't help it!

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Glittering World?

Robert:  The bulk of my research was on Cape Breton and the supernatural element of the novel, which is an indigenous race of humanoid insectile beings that possess the ability to shift their shapes, among other powers. The setting of the novel, as it turns out, is inextricably connected to the essential nature of these beings.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Robert:  Of the four protagonists, the easiest to write was probably Elisa. All four are searching for meaning and validation outside themselves, but she's the most hyperaware of this fact, and hence struggles with it the most. I think that's true of me as well. As for the hardest, it would probably be Gabe, which is kind of surprising, seeing as how in some ways he's a younger version of myself. Maybe it was having to tap back into those earlier, rawer emotions that made it somewhat difficult.

TQ:  Which question about The Glittering World do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: How did you manage to write such a heartbreaking work of staggering genius?

A: Why, thanks so much for asking, how kind of you to say! It was a very tortuous, angst-filled process, and necessitated a vast intake of red wine and stockpiled Halloween candy. Please send more of both as soon as possible.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Glittering World.

Maureen had told them about the canoes docked at the water, and after clearing the dishes they sauntered down the steep hill, bright sparkles on the stony shore cast by the early afternoon sun that made the wet rocks appear dusted with glass shards, if not quite diamonds.

TQ:  What's next?

Robert:  I'm going on a book tour, which I'm super-excited about, and then it's back to work on a heap of new projects, including my next novel. You can read more about all of this at my home away from home,

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Robert:  Thanks so much for having me!

The Glittering World
Publisher:  Gallery Books, February 10, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  $26.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781476774527 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015
In the tradition of Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), Scott Smith (The Ruins), and Jason Mott (The Returned), award-winning playwright Robert Levy spins a dark tale of alienation and belonging, the familiar and the surreal, family secrets and the search for truth in his debut supernatural thriller.

When up-and-coming chef Michael “Blue” Whitley returns with three friends to the remote Canadian community of his birth, it appears to be the perfect getaway from New York. He soon discovers, however, that everything he thought he knew about himself is a carefully orchestrated lie. Though he had no recollection of the event, as a young boy, Blue and another child went missing for weeks in the idyllic, mysterious woods of Starling Cove. Soon thereafter, his mother suddenly fled with him to America, their homeland left behind.

But then Blue begins to remember. And once the shocking truth starts bleeding back into his life, his closest friends—Elisa, his former partner in crime; her stalwart husband, Jason; and Gabe, Blue’s young and admiring coworker—must unravel the secrets of Starling Cove and the artists’ colony it once harbored. All four will face their troubled pasts, their most private demons, and a mysterious race of beings that inhabits the land, spoken of by the locals only as the Other Kind...

Trinitytwo's Point of View

The Glittering World is an intelligent supernatural thriller that kept me riveted to its pages. Michael Whitley or Blue, as he’s called by friends, is off to Canada to sell the house left to him by his grandmother, a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from since he was five years old. Due to some desperate financial difficulties pertaining to his restaurant in New York, Blue is eager to sign the legal papers, but he wants to see the old place first hoping to stir up the lost memories of his youth. Vibrant Elisa, Blue’s newly married best friend, persuades Blue that he needs some R & R so a week away from it all while checking out the place would do just the trick. Blue invites Gabe, his “it’s complicated” companion; an emotionally wounded and physically scarred young man. Jason, Elisa’s husband, books four plane tickets from New York to Halifax and the pilgrimage to Blue’s birthplace begins. Blue rents a vacation cottage by a lake, near the ruins of the Starling Cove Friendship Colony, on the remote island of Cape Breton where he had lived as a child. On the night of their arrival, at a party held by their neighbors, Blue has the sensation of being watched from the woods. The next day, during a hike with his friends, he hears strange, alien voices. Something in Starling Cove awakens the memories of his long forgotten past and the mysteries that surround it. Something beckons to him and seems to welcome him home.

Everything about this story impressed me. Robert Levy’s rich descriptions will envelop his readers in an eerie world filled with unfamiliar sounds, smells and feelings. The four companions' adventures in the forest and mountains of this secluded place are packed as much with peculiar events as with their personal baggage. The Glittering World is written in four separate sections, one from each of the main characters’ point of view but advancing with the unfolding events. Levy explores each person’s motivations and personality in a way that opens them completely to the reader. The complexities of the human spirit and soul are deeply delved into as each of his character's vulnerabilities and suffering is revealed. As I learned each person’s background, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for them, even if I didn’t necessarily like them. I hesitate to share too much of the book, as its mystery is delectable when savored. I wager this novel will be eagerly scoffed up by book clubs. I highly recommend The Glittering World - it’s a mesmerizing and thought-provoking story that will inspire both discussion and wonder.

About Robert

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015
Photo by Colin Douglas Gray
ROBERT LEVY is an author of unsettling stories and plays whose work has been seen Off-Broadway. A Harvard graduate subsequently trained as a forensic psychologist, his work has been called "frank and funny" (Time Magazine), "idiosyncratic and disarming" (The New York Times), "ambitious and clever" (Variety), "smart" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) and "bloody brave" (the UK's SFX Magazine). His first novel, the contemporary dark fairy tale THE GLITTERING WORLD, will be published worldwide on February 10 by Gallery/Simon & Schuster.

Website  ~  tumblr  ~  Twitter @therobertlevy


Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard

Author:  A. G. Howard
Series:  Splintered 1
Publisher:  Amulet Paperbacks, February 18, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback, 400 pages
    Hardcover and eBook, January 1, 2013
List Price:  $8.95 (print - Trade Paperback)
ISBN:   9781419709708 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Trinitytwo’s Point of View

Splintered is a dark and twisted take on Wonderland that centers on Alyssa, the original Alice’s great-great-great grand daughter. Alyssa, as with all women of her bloodline, is cursed with the ability to hear the constant whispering of flowers and bugs and her dreams are clouded with nightmares of Wonderland. Alison, her mother, couldn’t bear the strain of Wonderland’s influences and became so dangerous that she was committed to Soul’s Asylum where she will spend the rest of her days. Alyssa desperately wants to spend her senior year in a London exchange program near her best friend, Jeb Holt. Unfortunately, Alison’s mental illness has made Alyssa’s father overprotective of his only child. Banking on Jeb’s help, Alyssa is crushed when Jeb agrees with her dad that she should spend her senior year at home. After a harrowing incident at the asylum involving her mother, Alyssa’s dad makes the heart-wrenching decision to approve electroshock therapy on Alison. A familiar voice in Alyssa’s head tells her there is only way to stop this, and she nobly goes through the “Looking Glass” to try and save her mother. What she didn’t expect was Jeb being summoned by her last wish just before falling down the rabbit hole. In order to return to her world, Alyssa must undo the mistakes that Alice Liddell made all those years ago, and restore the balance in Wonderland. But Wonderland is a much more terrifying place than Lewis Carroll ever wrote about. The two humans trapped in this world of dark fantasy must gather all their bravery and wits to outsmart the denizens of this place who have plans and schemes of their own.

For whatever reason, I’m more interested in reading alternate histories of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland than in the original. While browsing through a local bookstore, my attention was captured by this book’s beautiful cover. I picked it up and although I don’t read a ton of YA, its promise of a more sinister Wonderland piqued my interest further and I thought I’d give it a try. Am I glad I did! Splintered is author A.G. Howard’s debut YA novel, published in January of 2013, so I am a bit behind the times, but this actually works out for me because now I don’t have to wait for more in the series to satisfy that endless question: what happens next? The Moth in the Mirror, an E-novella was published in October of 2013, book two, Unhinged, was published January of 2014 and book three, Ensnared, is on bookshelves in January of 2015. Howard’s version of Wonderland is similar to the source material in some ways and totally off the wall in others, which made for an adventure that was fresh but relatable. Her innovations include a moth-like fairy boy (familiar) who Alyssa has known from childhood who becomes part of a love triangle that had me rooting for both suitors. Alyssa has complicated feelings for both Jeb and Morpheus, the Netherling boy, who shared her childhood dreams. She struggles for independence from the men in her life who alternately try too hard to protect her or control her. She is fiercely brave as she learns to fight for herself and her loved ones while accepting the warped reality of Wonderland. Her relationships with Morpheus and Jeb ring true with just the right amount of angst, tenderness, and teen awkwardness. She is a great protagonist. This is a gorgeous gothic fairy tale with the right amounts of romance, adventure, and introspection. Immerse yourself in the lush madness that is Splintered and enjoy the wild ride!

Review: The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

The Accidental Alchemist
Author: Gigi Pandian
Series:  An Accidental Alchemist Mystery 1
Publisher:  Midnight Ink, January 8, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook,  360 pages
List Price: $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780738741840 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review:  The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian
From USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian comes a modern tale of ancient intrigue 

Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can’t help but notice she’s picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-half-foot gargoyle—not to mention a master of French cuisine—and he needs Zoe’s expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who’s trying to put her old life behind her, isn’t so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past . . . until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice.

Includes recipes!

Trinitytwo's Point of View

I’ll bet everyone has uttered the old adage “never judge a book by its cover” at least once in their life. Well, in the case of The Accidental Alchemist, I totally judged a book by its cover and I’m glad I did. My interest was definitely piqued by the grimacing gargoyle on the cover holding an innocuous kitchen whisk. I have always been fascinated by gargoyles and the cover illustration by Hugh D’Andrade and cover design by Kevin Brown is phenomenal.

Zoe Faust has just moved to Portland, Oregon in the hopes of finally settling down. She barely begins unpacking before a gargoyle named Dorian appears from his hiding place in one of her crates. It seems Dorian needs the help of an Alchemist, albeit a reluctant one, to translate something from his antique Alchemy book. Zoe agrees to help the little gargoyle as best as she can. Fourteen year old Brixton accepts a dare and breaks into Zoe’s house, thinking it’s haunted. He eavesdrops on Zoe and Dorian’s conversation, and becomes an uninvited partner in the secret of Dorian’s existence. The very next morning problems multiply as the handyman Zoe hired to fix up her house winds up dead on her front lawn.

The three main characters are great. Dorian is my favorite; I fell for him right from the start. I love his lapses into French and delighted in his general disdain of America. I was often quite amused at his comments as he gamely adapted his love of cooking gourmet French cuisine with Zoe’s vegan diet. Zoe is likeable and well-meaning although at times I found her to be a bit self-pitying. I especially enjoyed the historical information about alchemy, herbalists, and magicians from her past. Living as long as she has, Zoe’s back stories were intriguing and meant to showcase her feelings of loneliness and unworthiness. I felt that while some portions rang true, other revelations were a bit of a letdown. Brixton, largely neglected by his single parent mom, is reckless and gets into trouble frequently. He adds a bit of mayhem, humor, and warmth into Zoe’s life and in my opinion, makes her more likeable.

One peeve was that the minor characters were really minor. I knew there was a murderer among them but knew so little about each one that it was hard to decide on a suspect. I would have liked to have read more interactions with these characters to get a better feel as to a possible motive before the final reveal.

All in all, The Accidental Alchemist is a charming paranormal cozy with entertaining characters. I hope Dorian stays with Zoe, because in my opinion, he’s the best sidekick since John Watson or Aunt Dimity.

Review: Edge of Dark by Brenda CooperReview: The Waterborne Blade by Susan MurrayReview: The Venusian Gambit by Michael J. MartinezReview: The Exile by C. T. AdamsReview: The Providence of Fire by Brian StaveleyReview: William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian DoescherReview: Grave Matters by Lauren M. RoyInterview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015Review: Splintered by A. G. HowardReview:  The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

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