April 2014

The second book in the series. Sequel to Indigo Springs.

Publication year: 2012
Format: print
Page count: 382
Publisher: TOR

As sometimes happens with sequels, I didn’t like it as much as the first book. The book, Indigo Springs, has quite an intimate feel to it and in contrast Blue Magic is epic in scope. Blue Magic has four POV characters and two of them are familiar from the previous book, Astrid Lethewood and Will Forest. In addition, we follow Astrid’s gender changed parent, Ev Lethewood, and Juanita Corazon who is a US Marshal. In Indigo Springs a group of friends discovered blue, liquid magic (called vitagua) and it bled into the real world.

Blue Magic starts pretty much from where Indigo Springs left off. In the first book, US Army had imprisoned Astrid but she managed to get away, and now Sahara and some of her followers are in prison. In fact, the book starts with the beginning of their trial. Sahara Knax and her mystics are charged with terrorism because they brought magic into the real world and killed people. They are also trying to convert other people into following goddess Sahara. Sahara’s followers call themselves the Alchemites and they call Astrid the Filthwitch. The two groups of mystics are sworn enemies.

Juanita is charged with guarding Sahara. However, the Alchemites have kidnapped her brother (sort of, he is trapped in a dream world along with others) and are blackmailing Juanita into helping them. She’s not happy with the situation but has to reluctantly smuggle enchanted objects to Sahara. She’s also personally loyal to the judge of the trial so her loyalties are very much divided.

Will Forest is in the same dilemma. He’s a hostage negotiator in the employ of the US Army and their local commander, general Roche, is his old friend. Will’s wife Caroline, now ex-wife, is one of Sahara’s most reverent followers and she’s also on trial. Worse, Caroline has kidnapped their two children and Will don’t know where they are. He only knows that the Alchemites have them. He tries to persuade Caroline to give up the kids she’s adamant. Astrid offers him a way to get to the kids to safety through magic.

Ev Lethewood started her life as a woman and gave birth to Astrid. However, she was never comfortable in a woman’s body and Astrid’s father was the only man she’s ever been attracted to. When she was exposed to magic, it promptly changed her into a man and he feels that is right. Astrid has sent him to the Unreal. The Unreal is another world where the magic comes from. Religious zealots have imprisoned a lot of people in there, over the centuries. Most of them are buried and frozen under the magical ice and Astrid is trying to free them. The most vocal amongst them is Teoquan who is very angry that he and his people have been entombed into the Unreal and he wants revenge.

And then there are the Fyremen. They are an ancient brotherhood of religious zealots who have been taught that all magic and magic users are evil. They punish the use of magic by burning the witches and banished people into the Unreal. US Army has allied themselves with the Fyremen.

Astrid and her group are trying to mitigate the drastic effects of the magic when more and more bleed into the real world. Astrid has seen glimpses of the future and she’s sure that things will be alright for most people. Everyone calls this the Ever After. However, she doesn’t know how that bright future will come about and lots of people will die before it happens. So, she and her people are trying to save as many people as they can.

Despite the fact that Astrid has a lot of volunteers following her, she feels alienated. She’s not entirely sure if she can trust the knowledge she receives through magic but she tries to be optimistic. She’s been in love with Sahara for a long time and Sahara has betrayed her, showing that Sahara only cares about Sahara. She’s developing feelings for Will and her magical insight tells her that they will become a couple in the future. However, Will doesn’t trust her and it seems unlikely that he will ever be attracted to her. She’s also not so sure she can trust him. She’s also not a leader and yet a lot of people are depending on her. Most of her life she’s been a gardener.

The book is fast-paced and has quite short chapters. The scenes change quickly and compared to the previous book, Blue Magic has surprisingly many fight scenes.

The book has a lot of secondary characters. Most of them have some personality but many are barely more than names. Patience is one of them more intriguing. She was an old woman, Astrid’s neighbor, whom the magic transformed into the most beautiful woman ever. However, because people’s perceptions and opinions of beauty change, she can also change herself. Teoquan is an interesting foil to the pacifistic aims of Astrid’s group.

Astrid herself seems to be a pacifist but some of her followers aren’t. Some of them want quick and decisive action against the Fyremen and even the Army.

I quite enjoyed it.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: J. G. Jones
Publisher: DC

The Comedian dies at the start of Watchmen so he appears only in flashbacks but those are quick to establish him as one of the more psychotic of the superheroes: he clearly enjoys killing people and is a rapist, to boot. So, the miniseries isn’t all rainbows and puppies.

Right from the start we’re shown that the Comedian is a very good buddy of the Kennedy family and even though it isn’t spelled out, it’s strongly hinted that the blonde woman he kills right at the start, was Marilyn Monroe. The start of the Watchmen movie strongly hinted that the Comedian had shot JFK but in this series, that’s clearly not so. In fact, the Comedian is attacking a hideout where one of his enemies, Mooloch, is hiding and when they see from the TV that the president has been shot, they’re both clearly devastated. Then the Comedian is off to the Vietnam war.

Pretty much everyone who has power is corrupt. The Kennedys engineer murders and the US generals in Vietnam finance their war with drug sale. In the US, there are race riots on the streets and the Comedian is just making it worse.

However, the series has some lighter moments, too, which makes Eddie Blake almost human, such as when he’s playing rugby with the Kennedys or when he adopted two little Vietnamese kids (then again, we never see them again, so I have no idea what actually happened to them…). It seems that JFK’s murder pushed him over the edge from an aggressive violent man to a maniac. There’s also some contrast with the first Captain America movie because here the Comedian is initially sent to the war as a way to boost the morale and then things go wrong. However, he doesn’t bring dancing girls with him and of course ends up being a killer.

I don’t think this story brings anything new to the character which is a bit surprising because we didn’t really see the Comedian that much in the original series.

Booking Through Thursday

Do you have a favorite book? What do you say when people ask you? (This question always flummoxes me because how can you pick just one, so I’m eager to hear what you folks have to say.)

And, has your favorite book changed over the years??

I have several favorite books. In fact, if someone asks me to name just one favorite writer or book I tend to say “So, you don’t read a lot?” I can’t even pick one favorite book by a favorite author. Or I could ask “how much time do you have?” or “in which genre?”

Some of my favorite authors: Lois McMaster Bujold, Steven Brust, Elizabeth Bear, Elizabeth Peters, Liz Williams, Neil Gaiman, Anne Logston, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, C. J. Cherryh… and I haven’t even started on comics yet.

Yes, my favorites have changed quite a lot. When I was young, I loved the Famous Five and the Black Stallion. Then I discovered fantasy and SF but my favorite author isn’t R. A. Salvatore anymore.

Then again, I have similar trouble picking one favorite movie or TV-show.

Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Publisher: DC

This series was written in 1986 and it changed superheroes to psychotic individuals. In this world, only one person has actual superpowers: Dr. Manhattan. Still, there has been a number of masked adventurers in this world. In fact, there has been so many heroes that in 1977 a law was created which made it illegal to be a costumed hero. Most heroes retired either then or earlier. Rorschach seems to be the only crime fighter still operating and the police is looking for him. US government employs Dr. Manhattan as a scientist and a living nuclear deterrent, and the Comedian as, basically, a hired killer.

The story starts when the Comedian is killed. He’s beaten and thrown out the window. The police investigate but don’t realize his identity as the Comedian. Rorschach is also investigating and deduces that someone is killing costumed heroes. He warns Dr. Manhattan and the former Nite Owl that they could be attacked, too. Then an assassin attacks the former hero Ozymandias and the press reveals that Dr. Manhattan’s powers might give the people around him cancer.

The world view in the story is pretty bleak and the world is on the brink of a nuclear war between US and the Soviet Union. The outlawed heroes are shown as very flawed. Rorschach is a psycho and his horrible childhood is revealed in one issue. Nite Owl seems to want to genuinely help people but he has his own psychological hang ups, too. Dr. Manhattan sees the past and the future at the same time, and has trouble distinguishing them. He also seems to care less and less about humans at all. The book has only two female heroes whose stories revolve around their relationships with men and sex. The aged Silk Spectre is reliving her glory days through her daughter Laurel, whose most distinguishing feature is that she’s Dr. Manhattan’s girlfriend. Ozymandias is a very successful businessman and his ads for various products are seen around the city on various panels.

The comic has also lots of interesting side stories. The most gruesome of them is a comic book about a man who was attacked by pirates and who tries to stay alive in a deserted island. Then he journeys home on a raft built from his dead crew mates. Apparently, that’s a children’s comic and one of the characters is reading it. The detectives who are investigating the Comedian’s death are also seen from time to time and so is a harassed Gazette editor and his bumbling assistant. Each issue also has extra material: chapters from the book ”Under the Hood”, various interviews, and articles.

This was a groundbreaking comic back then and I remember that I was hugely impressed then. It’s still a very impressive work that shows a coherent world and how masked vigilantes might be treated in the real world. Today there are a lot of comics which have been inspired by (or imitate) the gritty style of Watchmen.

FAERY REALMS: TEN MAGICAL TITLES (Multi-Author Boxed Set, novels & novellas)

Faery Realms-final fix

*Purchased individually, these books cost over $15 – List price $9.99 – Save 90% – Now on sale for only $0.99 cents!*

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Enter the magical realms of Faery with these ten award-winning, bestselling fantasy authors. Each title in this sampler collection offers a new and different world full of mystery, love, and most of all, fae enchantment!

Over 1400 pages of stories, with *exclusive* titles from Alexia Purdy, Tara Maya, and Anthea Sharp! Together, these books have over 250 5-star reviews on Amazon and 150 5-star reviews on B&N.

Best for ages 13 and up.

Faery Realms Final 3D


Kickbutt faerie Violet is about to graduate as the top guardian trainee of her class, but when an assignment goes wrong and the human boy she’s meant to be protecting follows her back into the fae realm, a dangerous plot is set in motion. (298 pages)

THE WITHERING PALACE (A Dark Faerie Tale 0.1)ALEXIA PURDY *Exclusive Content*

Untold darkness rules the Unseelie realm of the Land of Faerie. Hidden in this vast area, Aveta, the future queen of the Unseelie Army, perfects her gifts over lifetimes. Learning that magic isn’t the only way to manipulate the world around her, this naive girl grows into a woman of strength and cunning, ultimately becoming one of the most feared leaders in Faerie.


Rylie’s life is turned upside down when a stranger knocks on the door, claiming to be her real mother. Soon she will have to face the terrifying fact that not only is she a faery, but one that has been promised to the dark prince. (240 pages)


High-tech gaming and ancient magic collide when a computer game opens a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie. Jennet Carter never thought hacking into her dad’s new epic-fantasy sim-game would be so exciting… or dangerous. But behind the interface, dark forces lie in wait, leading her toward a battle that will test her to her limits and cost her more than she ever imagined. (65 pages)


Unjustly sentenced to death, Eilidh ran—away from faerie lands to the streets of Perth, Scotland. When she discovers a human murdered by one of her own kind, she must choose: flee, or learn to tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything. (264 pages)

HOOD & FAE (Daughters of Red Riding Hood)TARA MAYA *Exclusive Content*

Roxy Hood is just trying to make ends meet to pay her mom’s medical bills. Sure, Roxy takes on some jobs of, ahem, dubious integrity, like pretending that she can speak to the dead. But hey, that’s harmless. It’s not like a malignant ghoul is going to attack her. Or a sexy billionaire will show up trying to buy her red jacket. Or a werewolf will attack Granny Rose. Because that would be whacked.


Alicia can recognize the mischievous fae when they show up to “play” with the humans. Only now she’s faced with one highly annoyed dark fae and she’s certain he knows the truth about her. She can see him, which means her life is forfeit. (184 pages)


Cade MacRoich is Ehríad, an outcast of Eile. While hunting Otherworldly monsters in the mortal world, he discovers Meghan, a young woman whose magic seems very familiar … Three scenes from Faelorehn – Book One of the Otherworld Trilogy, told from Cade’s perspective. (84 pages)


Harmony’s life will never be the same… Every day is just as normal, and just as boring, as the one before it… And then the Carnival comes to town. Suddenly, Harmony’s small town world is overtaken by the handsome Kieran and she discovers that not all fairy tales are pretend. (140 pages)


Accused as witch, Eileen flees for her life. When a strange black horse appears, her only hope of escape, she mounts it—to discover the cost of her ride may be more than any mortal could bear. (20 pages)

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“It was fast paced, entertaining, witty, and even swoon-worthy at times. Rachel’s characters were fun to follow, and Violet is sarcastic and strong and a force to be reckoned with—everything I love in a female lead.” –Cover2CoverBlog review of The Faerie Guardian

“Turmoil, heartache and unexpected romance – all three are immersed into this tale of the Fae.”— Craving YA Reads review of Dark Promise

“The plot was fast paced and interesting … I can’t recommend the rest of the trilogy enough.” –The Mad Reviewer on Feyland: The First Adventure

“All in all, this is hands down one of the most unique Fae stories I have ever read before- India Drummond has truly created a beautiful world.” –Avery’s Book Nook review of Blood Faerie

“Enter the World of the Fae: Magical worlds aren’t just for young adults, I enjoyed this tale and look forward to reading the other books in this series.” –ParaNormal Romance Reviews of The Dark Fae

“I thought this was a great, quick summer read! Great story combined with bits of mythology and Irish folklore. I read the entire trilogy in a few days.” –Kristin David on Ehriad

“Once I started this book I could not put it down, I had to know what happened next.” ~ Amazing Book Come To Life review of Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale)

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I realized that I haven’t mentioned that awesome Kristen is hosting the third annual Women in SF&F month! There are already a lot of great posts at the Fantasy cafe and more to come.

My to-read-pile is reaching a new high this year.

The 10th book in the series.

Publication year: 2000
Format: Audio
Narrator: Grover Garnder
Running Time: 18 hours, 49 min

A Civil Campaign is sort of a culmination of several things in the books before it, most of them character based. Because of this, I heartily recommend starting the series from the beginning with ”Shards of Honor” and not with this book. I especially recommend reading Komarr before this one.

That said, I’m a huge fan of this series and enjoyed this book, too, although perhaps not as much as some of the others. It’s quite unlike from the previous books. For one thing, it has several POV characters: Miles, Mark, Ekaterin, Kareen, Ivan. Also, the main plot is a romance not an action-adventure and the whole book is set in Barrayar.

Emperor Gregor is marrying Laisa Toskane and that has turned everyone’s thoughts to romance. Including the Vorkosigan brothers. Miles met Ekaterin in the previous book, Komarr, and is still smitten with her and starts to court her. However, Ekaterin is still hurting from her first unhappy marriage and says firmly that she doesn’t want to marry again. Desperately, Miles decides to do it anyway – but secretly. That is, secretly from her. Unfortunately for him, he also asks advice from all sorts of other people and the result is that quite quickly, Ekaterin herself is the only one who doesn’t know it. Miles wants to keep her close so he arranges a job for her – as his gardener. Hilarity ensues!

Also, Miles’ clone brother Mark is back from the Beta Colony. He has brought with him an Escobaran doctor who has invented Butterbugs, bugs which eat almost anything and produce eatable substance. Mark, Kareen, and the doctor have started a company and are trying to make the bugs palatable enough to sell them. Also, Mark and Kareen have been lovers on Beta but now Kareen is uncomfortable continuing their relationship in front of her family and is feeling pressured by the Barrayaran customs for women. Mark is head over heels in love with Kareen and is unhappy. When Kareen’s parents find out that their daughter is in love with a clone who has assassin training, they are unhappy. Hilarity ensues!

Meanwhile, there’s trouble in the Council of Counts. Young count Rene Vorbretten and his wife want to have kids and have chosen to use the uterine replicator. That means a gene scan and to their horror, they find out that Rene is part Cetagandan. Therefore, it’s possible that he will lose the countship. Also, many of their former friends are shunning the couple. Also, the old Vorrutyer count has died without a direct heir. His closest male relative, Richards, is quite repulsive. His sister Lady Donna has been running the district for years but she can’t inherit. Although she has asked, and received, a delay before a Count has to be confirmed. She has left for Beta Colony and people speculate on what she intends to do.

A Civil Campaign in romantic comedy with lots and lots of delightful characters and great humor. There’s also a lot of politicking. Most of the POVs are very entertaining but sometimes I was a bit impatient with the angsting lovers (all four of them!).

It also has lot of lovely lines:

“You don’t pay back your parents. You can’t. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It’s a sort of entailment. Or if you don’t have children of the body, it’s left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one.

The family economy evades calculation in the gross planetary product. It’s the only deal I know where, when you give more than you get, you aren’t bankrupted – but rather, vastly enriched.”

”Never… ever suggest they don’t have to pay you. What they pay for, they’ll value. What they get for free, they’ll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear.”

First in an urban fantasy series starring a vampire thief.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Narrator: Natalie Ross
Running Time: 11 hrs, 13 m

Raylene Pendle is a thief and a vampire. She’s also rich and takes on pilfering jobs purely out of need for excitement. And she gets even more than she wants when Ian Stott contacts her. Ian wants to hire her to steal some papers; he even knows where they are. Ian is a vampire, too, but he’s blind. He claims that the US government had kidnapped him and done experiments on him, especially on his eyes. He knows a doctor in Canada who might be able to help him, but he needs the papers to know what was done to him. Curious and disturbed Raylene agrees to take the case. She’s also (not surprisingly) attracted to Ian.

Then her warehouse is broken into. Even though Raylene thinks of herself as a loner, she has started to protect two homeless kids. Pepper who is eight years old and her older brother Domino. They ”live” in the warehouse. Pepper calls Raylene for help and she races to the warehouse. There she overpowers a ninjalike intruder and kills him. The intruder has a business card which points Raylene to a mysterious park our club run by a man known as ”Major”.

The book has a very chatty style, like Raylene is telling her tale to you over a drink, but there’s no framing story to support that. Raylene herself is around a hundred years old and thinks of herself as a loner; she doesn’t care for any of the vampire houses because of the internal politics. She claims to have some problems with modern technology but she uses phones and internet easily. Because of her job as a thief she also lives off the grid, so she doesn’t have any friends, just a few contacts and of course the two homeless kids. Raylene calls them her security system, which is cute. Pepper clearly adores Raylene while Domino shows nothing but scorn for her.

Raylene is a very human vampire, definitely of the kind where undead aren’t monsters but just different. She’s fast and strong and has minor ”paranormal” abilities. There are a couple of scenes were she feeds from a human and thinks that it’s better than sex, but she only needs to feed about once a month and she doesn’t think of humans as prey.

I thought that the most interesting character in the book was a former Navy SEAL who is also a drag queen. However, he appears around half-way of the book. Ian is the obvious love interest; cultured and intelligent but also vulnerable. Ian has also a ghoul; a human devoted to a vampire. Raylene calls him a seeing eye ghoul and doesn’t care for him at all.

Overall, this was entertaining enough but not as interesting to me as Priest’s Clockwork books.

Collects issues 1-28 and annuals 1-3 of the Marvel comics which ran originally 1977-1979.

Writers: Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, and others
Artists: Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, and Dave Cockrum and various others
Publisher: Dark Horse

I’ve read about half of these comics before. The John Carter comics were also printed here in Finland and I managed to collect about half of them from various second-hand shops. For some reason, I never managed to get my hands on the comics which has the endings of the storylines, so it was great to finally read them all together.

It’s actually almost astonishing to me how long most the storylines ran: for example, the first one the Air-Pirates of Barsoom was 10 issues long and the final story, the Master Assassins was 12 issues. Today it seems that a writer can barely make a three issue arc.

Almost all of these stories happen during the 10 years John spent on Mars, during the first book, A Princess of Mars, and they use the familiar cast from that book: John, Dejah, Tar Tarkas, Sola, Kantos Kan. The villains are, of course, new.

The first storyline is the Air-pirates of Mars and it starts with Dejah kidnapped and John going to her rescue. Dejah is kidnapped several times during the story and John is even blackmailed to help her kidnappers, the air pirates, or she will be killed. The story focuses on John but there are some scenes in Helium, too, where the pirates are trying to turn the public opinion against John. Even though Dejah is kidnapped, she isn’t a total damsel in distress; in fact in she ends up rescuing herself. Also, Tars Tarkas is torn between his desire to live in Helium (and take part in all of the adventures :)) and being the leader that his people need.

The next is a one-shot called ”The origin of Dejah Thoris”. However, this is a shortened version of A Princess of Mars focusing on Dejah and John’s romance. I was expecting Dejah’s childhood, based on the headline.

Then we get a three issue story where John and Tars battle the undead! This was great fun.

After a couple of one-shots the majority of the rest of the collection is taken up with the massive The Master-Assassins of Mars story. This is perhaps the most unlike Burroughs’ books because it brings to us an additional human race: the orovars. They are light-skinned, like John, but the men have wings and they keep the red Barsoomians as slaves. They live a great canyon and their religion teaches that there’s nothing beyond it, so they don’t venture out and meet the other races. However, in spirit, this story is very fine pulp adventure and I enjoyed it throughly.

It’s interesting to note that during the Master-assassins storyline, Dejah is portrayed as not just a skilled warrior but equal to the assassins and she’s even capable of killing four trained opponents at the same time. Of course, the writer is Chris Claremont who brought us many capable X-women, so I’m not surprised.

The last three stories are from annuals and so somewhat longer. One of them seems to be an adaption of Burroughs’ short story and in one of the John meets the Kaldanes and Rykors (the all head race and the headless race) from the Chessmen of Mars.

Overall, I think that these stories keep to the pulp adventure spirit of the books and I think people who enjoyed the books will also enjoy this collection. However, there’s an awful lot of word boxes in all of the stories, sometimes even explaining in words what is happening in the pictures, like the writers’ didn’t believe the reader would understand the plot or setting just from the art. The writing mimics Burroughs’ pulp style.