A stand-alone fantasy heist book with potential for a series.

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Publication year: 2022

Publisher: Angry Robot

Format: ebook

Page count from Goodreads: 408

Darin, Evie, and Tom are doing a heist that should make them rich: they’ve infiltrated a gala full of the cream of the queendom. They are going to rob the wealthy crowd blind. Unfortunately, things go badly wrong. While Evie and Tom manage to get away, Darin is captured and loses everything. After a diversion, Darin manages to escape, too, but empty-handed.

A few days later the trio meets again in the Red Rooster Tavern in the middle of nowhere. The Queendom’s master criminal, the Dame, sponsored the heist and expects her cut. The fact that the thieves didn’t get anything doesn’t matter; they now owe her. The Dame gives them a month to get together a huge amount of money.

Also, Darin met Kat during his escape from the gala and invited her to the Rooster. Evie and Tom are suspicious at first but Kat quickly becomes an integral part of the group.

The group is an interesting mix. Darin is the leader. He’s an actor with a painful past and hides it behind quips and sarcasm. Evie is a beautiful seducer of the group. She was born into nobility and wants to return to wealth. Big Tom is a huge man and a fighter. He has a soft spot for horses. Kat lives in her wagon and rescues orphans. She brews ale that has a peculiar taste. She has traveled a lot and knows a lot of people. We get to know a bit more about their backstories during the book. They’re all POV characters.

The magic in the story is based on metallurgy, specifically silver. Darin has that talent but considers it a curse because whenever he uses magic, it drains him. He also doesn’t want to learn to control it better, even though one character offers to teach him.

The book has three major heists. The second heist involves domestic abuse. The story is fast-paced and the writing style is light and humorous. It has many prominent female characters, to my delight.

This was a fun read and I enjoyed it a lot.

The changing of the seasons has begun, and with it many who are looking forward to Halloween and its spooky fun! To celebrate spring giving way to fall, let’s talk about supernatural reads! Could be favorite supernatural creatures, supernatural settings, or a combination of both!

I read a lot of fantasy so many of them have supernatural creatures. Here are some of my favorite vampire books:

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Typographic Book Covers.

Usually, I don’t pay much attention to typography but a couple of books came immediately to mind.

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These covers are also really focused on the text:

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The book has three alternate universe Star Trek novellas.

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Publishing year: 2008

Format: Print

Publisher: Pocket Books

Page count: 501

Each of the three novellas is set in a different universe, so they aren’t related.

The Chimes at Midnight: in this novella, Spock died as a young boy. Kirk’s best friend is an Andorian named Thelin. Thelin is a passionate and impatient man so this throws the Kirk-Spock-McCoy trinity off kilter. McCoy is the logical one here. The story starts near the end of Wrath of Khan and continued with the Search for Spock and the Voyage Home.

Admiral Kirk and a crew of cadets face the Genesis device. Thelin and David Marcus manage to shield the Enterprise so it remains in one piece, if only barely. When Carol and David Marcus return to Earth, Starfleet wants to employ Carol as a civilian scientist to research the Genesis planet. However, David volunteers.

Aboard the Grissom, he meets the half-Vulcan, half-Romulan Saavik who is a diplomat and a civilian scientist. They transport down to the Genesis planet to find out whatever they can before the planet disintegrates. However, someone attacks and destroys the Grissom. The culprits are renegade Klingons and they take the two hostage. When the Klingon commander Kruge realizes that David is Kirk’s son, he blackmails Kirk to get the Genesis device.

Meanwhile, Kirk thinks that his son has died. When he finds out that David is alive, he recruits his old friends (Thelin, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and McCoy), steals the Enterprise, and is off to rescue his son at any cost.

However, soon after the Enterprise leaves, Starfleet notices a huge alien probe going toward Earth. Kirk decides to continue to meet Kruge.

While this story isn’t as dark as the next one, it did get quite dark about halfway through. Except for that rather graphic torture scene which didn’t feel like Star Trek to me. David and Thelin are the main POV characters. Unfortunately, this meant that we didn’t see much of Kirk-Thelin-McCoy banter which I was rather looking forward to.

A Gutted World: the darkest of these stories. Bajor is still under Cardassian rule but the ore mines are depleting. Kira is the last surviving member of her resistance cell and she has knowledge that the rest of the galaxy needs to know. She decides to turn to the Federation. However, it’s not easy to steal a mining shuttle and drive it to Federation space.

Meanwhile, the great powers of the galaxy are near total war. A Romulan ship attacks and destroys a Klingon outpost without warning. The outpost commander’s kin attacks Romulans in retaliation. The Cardassians have engulfed the Ferengi. The Enterprise-E has just returned from the past where they stopped the Borg from assimilating the Earth. The ship is in a bad shape and many crewmembers died. However, the Enterprise is ordered to reinforce the Klingon Defence Force against Romulan retaliation. Captain Picard is tired of war but has no choice but to obey.

The story starts with multiple POV characters ranging from the Romulan ambassador to the Klingons, the Romulan Praetor, and a journalist in the Federation. However, the major POV characters ended up being Worf and Kira.

This is one of those dark alternative realities where we get to see the characters we love dying. The world is fascinating, though. Since the Cardassians still hold Bajor, the other powers don’t know about the wormhole. Voyager didn’t end up in the Gamma Quadrant. Commander Sisko builds starships, Odo has vanished from Terok Nor, and Quark has bought himself his own planet.

Brave New World: my favorite of the stories. In this world, Soong didn’t create just a couple of androids: he created hundreds of them. Federation created thousands more and they’re serving aboard spaceships and space stations, on colonies and homeworlds. Ten years ago, the androids received citizenship as sentient beings. Well, not quite a full citizenship: they can’t reproduce. When that decision became public, Data and thousands of other androids left without telling why or where they were going. Now, Data has sent an urgent message to Picard asking the Enterprise-D to come to a planet on the Romulan Neutral Zone. Picard is curious and agrees.

In this story, Romulan-Klingon Alliance is the strongest faction in the Alpha Quadrant rather than Klingons allying themselves with the Federation. Commander Ro Laren is Picard’t tactical officer, LaForge is his first officer, and Wesley Crusher is the chief engineer. In addition to androids, the story has also people who have uploaded their minds into android bodies (Ira Graves from Schizoid Man was successful), in essence becoming immortal.

I enjoyed all of these tales, even though the Gutted World was darker than I’d like. I wouldn’t mind reading more stories set in these worlds, but that’s not going to happen.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss a different bookish topic each week.

We are officially almost in the second-to-last quarter of the year, which means we still have time to catch up on reading those books we kept saying we would read earlier this year! What are some books you plan to read before the month or year ends?

I’ve read all the books I’ve put in my TBR blog posts. Next, I plan to read:

1, Dan Koboldt: Silver Queendom

A fun fantasy heist. I love reading heists and there aren’t enough of them in fantasy books.

2, Phillip L Wray: The Pointcourt Murders

A musketeer adventure I’m looking forward to.

3, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith: Colliding Worlds volume 1

I love Rusch’s short fiction and this one has been on my virtual TBR shelf for almost a year.

4, Marty Windgate: the Bodies in the Library

A murder mystery where the victim is a mystery fan fiction writer.

5, Blake Crouch: Dark Matter

It’s the book of the month in the Action/Adventure GoodReads group.

A stand-alone fantasy book.

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Publication year: 2006

Format: Audio

Running time: 11 hours, 33 minutes
Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir

Brenden Vetch is a young man who was born with the magical talent of hearing plants. He’s also good at healing people. Unfortunately, he couldn’t heal his parents who died of illness. Then his brother leaves. He’s all alone, feeling disconnected from everyone. Soon, he meets a woman but can’t stay with her and she also leaves.

One day he meets a giant woman who invites him to come to her magic school in the city of Kelior where only magic that is taught in the school is permitted. Brenden comes to the school as a gardener, not as a magic student. Soon, the king’s wizard becomes suspicious of Brenden. He has strange magic so he must be a threat.

However, this book is mostly the story of other people. Yar Ayrwood is a wizard and professor in the magic school. He’s becoming increasingly tired of the way the king controls everything about magic. He feels that the wizards are missing out on actually finding out things rather than being spoonfed the old facts that the king wants them to learn.

A wandering illusionist Tyramin comes to Kelior and the king’s closest advisor, wizard Valoren, thinks that Tyramin could be a threat if he uses real magic. Valoran is a suspicious, cold man.

Arneth is the son of the City Warden. The Warden is proud of his position and has promoted Arneth to a position that Arneth doesn’t want. He would much rather patrol the bad parts of the city, the Twilight Quarters. When he’s ordered to question Tyramin to see if Tyramin has actual, aberrant magic, he’s initially thrilled to return to the streets. But the task is more difficult than he realizes. Mistral is Tyramil’s daughter and the glue that keeps the wandering troupe together. But she has a couple of secrets.

Princess Sylus loves to wander alone in the Twilight Quarter. She also has natural magic and hasn’t told her father the king. The king hardly even notices her. When she’s told that she’s going to marry Valoran she hardly knows, she realizes that the life she knows is over. Her only ally is her great-grandmother who taught her how to use her natural magic.

The writing style reminds me of fairy tales, as is usual for McKillip. Her writing is lush and beautiful, like painting with words. The book has several magic styles or systems but unfortunately, it deals more with politics and power. It’s also about control: how powerful people need to control things they fear, how good intentions can be twisted in the service of fear and control.

The many POVs meld together into a coherent story. Brendan’s POV felt more disconnected from the whole until near the end. I also felt that the ending was a bit too easy. The reader has a breathless, “young” voice and it didn’t feel like it belonged to Valoran or Yar.

It’s been years since I last read a McKillip book and Od Magic reminded me that I want to read more from her.

I stumbled on a fun Kickstarter project: Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups. Each story pairs two classic characters. The character and authors are:

The character and authors are:

  •  Captain Nemo meets Frankenstein’s monster (Kevin J. Anderson)
  • Prospero meets Don Quixote de la Mancha (David Mack)
  •  Dr. Moreau meets Audrey II (Scott Sigler)
  •  Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde meet Dracula and John Henry (Derek Tyler Attico)
  •  Ace Harlem meets the Conjure-Man (Maurice Broaddus)
  •  Marian of Sherwood meets Annie Oakley (Rigel Ailur)
  •  Gulliver meets Sacajawea and Ernest Shackleton (Diana Dru Botsford)
  •  Van Helsing meets Athena and the Medusa (Jennifer Brody)
  •  Lord Ruthven meets Lydia Bennet (Delilah S. Dawson)
  •  Bastet and Fenrir meet Quetzalcoatl (Ben H. Rome)
  •  Dan Fowler meets Stinger Seave (James Reasoner)
  •  Captain Battle meets Blackout (Dayton Ward)
  •  Ayesha, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, meets Egungun-oya (Keith R.A. DeCandido)
  •  Flaxman Low meets Mezzanotte (Nancy Holder & Alan Philipson)
  • And finally, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die must survive the Night of the Living Dead (Greg Cox)

I’m not familiar with all of these characters but most of them sound like a lot of fun.

The project started recently so they need about 7,000 dollars more. 27 days to go.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week.

Probably one of the most recognized tropes in fiction is the chosen one trope. While it might not be as popular in fiction, especially YA, as it was a few years ago, there are still books being written with this love-or-hate trope. In honor of these “chosen ones,” what are some books you have read or seen that have this trope?

I don’t read much YA so I haven’t seen it as much in books as in TV and movies. But here goes

1, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

The Belgariad was hugely popular when I started reading fantasy. Garion is a humble orphan farm boy who finds out that he’s born for greater things.

2, Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Pratchett was, of course, playing around with this trope. When we first meet the two-meter-tall Carrot it’s obvious that he’s the Chosen One. However, it seems that Carrot himself doesn’t know it.

3, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

4, The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia McKillip

The main character of the Riddle Master Trilogy has stars on his forehead.

5, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

The identity of the Hero of Ages isn’t revealed until the final book in the Mistborn trilogy.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Books with Geographical Terms in the Title.

This was a fun topic. I almost went with books that have the word planet but I think that would have been too obvious.

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Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a new Kickstarter project: a new novel in her Fey fantasy series!

It’s already funded and hit the fifth stretch goal. That means that every backer over 5 dollars will get five Rusch fantasy short stories. Us writers get motivational videos.

Among the pledges are two writing workshops: How to write magic systems and Combining Steampunk with fantasy.

Five days to go.