Silver on the Road Review

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne GilmanSilver on the Road
Book 1 of The Devil’s West
by Laura Anne Gilman (2015)

On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel chooses to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. He’s a being with immense but limited power, who deals fairly with people looking for a deal, and who makes sure they get what they deserve. His wild west needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in.

Trained to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy sets out to learn the ways of the territory. She will find herself, and what it means to be the devil’s hand, on the endless road.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

Silver on the Road delivers an original fantasy in the endless plains and arid foothills of the Old West. If you like a western setting, you’ll love. Landscapes are perfectly rendered and beautifully described. The grammar and prose is just rural enough to feel natural, without ever leaving you to decipher chicken scratch dialogue. You’ll get a feel for life on the road, from the sway in the saddle to the daily rituals of camp and campfire.

Book Quote: Silver on the Road, Laura Anne GilmanBut it’s not just the stunning setting that makes Silver on the Road a worthy read. Izzy, the devil’s hand, and Gabriel, an experienced rider who shows her the ropes, are nuanced characters to travel with. Their friendship evolves slowly, through shared silences and long miles. It’s a joy to see characters brought to life without the need for much dialogue, as they learn to read each other’s actions through experience.

The fantasy element is subtle, almost magical realism. It’s embedded in the land, in the traditions of unclaimed territory and the road that leads across it. For much of the story, it’s possible to not take much notice of the magical forces that shape events. But as Izzy and Gabriel track down a strange darkness come to the territory, they face forces more comfortably in the realm of heroic fantasy. It’s a slow-paced read, but richly rewarding for its realistic characters and rich settings.

Recommended for:
* Old West historical setting
* Vivid descriptions and subtle magic
* Believable characters that bond through shared experiences

If you like Silver on the Road, check out these book recommendations!

Drift and Dagger Review

Drift and Dagger by Kendall KulperDrift and Dagger
by Kendall Kulper (2015)

Mal used to have a home, a best friend, and a secret. He lost all three the day Essie Roe exposed him as a blank: someone unaffected by magic. Everyone hates and fears blanks—even Mal.

Now Mal travels the world in search of dangerous magical relics with his partner in crime, Boone. When they learn of a dagger that steals magic, Mal may have found a way to even the score.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

Let me get this out of the way first. Drift & Dagger is a companion book to Salt & Storm, which I’m not at all interested in (too much romance for me). But Drift is a heist novel in a fantasy setting, and you know how I am about those. Reviews say it can be read separately, and even advise reading Drift first, so I did. And yes, Drift stands alone just fine.

Drift & Dagger is set in nineteenth century New England, at the height of the whaling industry, and you can practically smell the salt in the air. The world is saturated with magic, for everyone but Mal. But what makes him an outcast also makes him a uniquely-skilled thief. His quest for an illusive artifact will take him around the world, delivering enough capers and narrow escapes for anyone else who might share my weakness for con men. (If you do, check out my list of Ten Heist Novels to Fall For.)

But it’s character which keeps the story grounded. If you like morally ambiguous heroes driven by painful pasts, Mal is your man. His childhood friendship with Roe, revealed in bittersweet memories, provides the context you need to understand Mal and the quest for revenge that drives him. Drift and Dagger is a fun, fast fantasy in a unique setting, and only a minimal amount of romance.

Recommended for:
* Fast-paced heists with magic
* Flawed, morally ambiguous heroes
* Unique historical setting

If you like Drift and Dagger, check out these book recommendations!

Status

Ten Fantasy Books for Music Lovers

Top Ten Musical Fantasies

Music soothes the soul and draws us to dance. The beat works its magic; toes start tapping and heads bop along. With such an elemental effect, it’s no surprise that music has inspired many fantasy authors.

Here are ten books which capture the magic of music on the page. Be warned: lyrical prose and rhythms that leak off the page may have you humming along or seeking out songs online.

Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Series: Kingkiller Chronicles #1
Why: The son of traveling performers tells an epic tale of magic and adventure in the voice of a talented poet and natural musician. You’ll be spellbound.

Soul Magic by Terry PratchettSoul Music, Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #16
Why: If madcap comedy sounds to your tastes, try Soul Music. This zany tale of music with a mind of its own also works as a good entry point to the Discworld series.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffreyDragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
Series: Pern Series; Harper Hall #1
Why: For old school fantasy, try Dragonsong, where a young woman denied her music runs away to find her destiny, and ends up teaching wild dragons to sing.

Signal to Noise by Sylvia Moreno-GarciaSignal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: Standalone
Why: If urban fantasy is more your style, try this little-known gem. Signal to Noise tells a tale of musical magic in Mexico City. Read with the soundtrack, filled with classic jazz, rock and roll and 80’s pop, in both English and Spanish. Read my review.

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex BledsoeThe Hum and the Shiver, Alex Bledsoe
Series: Tufa #1
Story: In the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the truth of the Tufa people hides in the music they’ve passed down for generations. Bronwyn Hyatt will have to reconnect to those roots if she is to stop the restless darkness rising in the hills. (Read with bluegrass soundtrack.)

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. MyerLast Song Before Night, Ilana C. Myer
Series: Standalone
Why: Travel to a high fantasy world of bards and poets. This song-infused fantasy is told in flowing, lyrical prose that creates the feel of music on the page. This tale of poets off to restore enchantments to the land is the perfect read to bring your musical journey to a close. Read the review.

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanSeraphina, Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Why: Seraphina is a gifted musician who joins the court just as a royal is murdered. The investigation threatens to reveal the secret of her musical gift, which could endanger everything.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black
Series: Standalone
Why: Ben has the gift of fae music and plays bard to his sister’s knight. But fae magic is hard to control, and he swears off music after a horrible accident. To save the day, he’ll have to face his fears and reclaim his magic. Read the review.

The Naming by Alison CroggonThe Naming, Alison Croggon
Series: The Books of Pellinor #1
Why: Maerad is trapped in a hopeless life of slavery and war, until a bard selects her as his next student. But the two musicians have a long road ahead, filled with danger and dark forces.

The City of Dark Magic by Magnus FlyteCity of Dark Magic, Magnus Flyte
Series: City of Dark Magic #1
Why: This bizarre, raunchy cross-genre read features Beethoven, espionage, time travel, sex and humor all rolled up into one weird story. Read the review.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Music & Books.

Video

Watching Shannara Chronicles

What I’m Watching: The Shannara Chronicles
When: Season one, 7 episodes so far
Where: Television; MTV
Why I watched: Terry Brooks is a classic fantasy author I’ve never read.

My verdict for the show: Loving it

The Shannara Chronicles is an addictive, enjoyable trip into a classic fantasy world. With pretty young actors and lightning fast world-building, MTV’s presentation marries surprisingly well with fantasy. The story feels very YA, with young characters trying to find their place in the world and save it from destruction in the process. Sometimes the dialogue is too full of info-dumping, but it’s a tradeoff to keep the story moving at lightning speed. Strong acting and fast pacing make MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles an addictive experience.

The world of Shannara is a high fantasy world set in a dystopian future. Artifacts of the modern world linger on in gorgeous fantasy landscapes. Gnomes, trolls and dwarves are human offshoots, after the fall. It’s a fascinating genre mix that leaves me searching the screen for details and eager to read the series. Not everyone will appreciate the YA MTV treatment, but for me it’s making a missed classic feel fresh and exciting.

Sound off!

Are you watching? Interested?

What do you think? Whether you’re new to the world or a book fan, sound off in the comments! Please clearly mark any spoilers, including whether they’re show, book, or whole series spoilers!

Based On:

Elfstones of Shannara - Book Two of the Shannara Chronicles by Terry BrooksThe Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Series: #2 of The Original Shannara Trilogy
The Summary: A magical tree is dying, and its protection against demons dies with it. An Elven princess and a half-elf boy set out to save the tree and stop the demon army.
My progress: Never read the series, but I want to now.

For comparison, check out a book fan’s reaction to the show.

Last Song Before Night Review

Book Review: Last Song Before NightLast Song Before Night
by Ilana C. Meyer (2015)

Long ago, poets were Seers with powerful magic. Then the enchantments of Eivar were lost. Now a song is only words and music, and no more.

But when a dark power threatens, two poets must restore enchantment to the land. The road to the Otherworld, where the enchantments reside, will imperil their lives and test the deepest desires of their hearts.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

If you enjoy music, bards, and lyrical descriptions of the arts, then you’ll love this song-infused fantasy world.

Last Song Before Night takes a while to start moving, but the world is rich and interesting. It’s a book to take your time with. Flowing prose complements the story, creating the feel of music on the page. It’s a pleasurable escape to savor as you read, and the story pacing picks up a lot by the end. Overall, Last Song Before Night is a solid fantasy with a lyrical feel.

Recommended for:
* Music lovers
* Fantasy fans
* Lyrical prose

If you like Last Song Before Night, check out these book recommendations!

Girl with Ghost Eyes Review

The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. BoronsonThe Girl with Ghost Eyes
by M.H. Boroson (November 2015)

It’s the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and Daoshi ghost hunters keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world.

When a sorcerer threatens Chinatown, only Li-lin can stop his plans. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

The Girl with Ghost Eyes boasts Chinese magic and spirits from Asian mythology, and a turn of the century Chinatown full of complex, nuanced characters. With a spirit world layered just over ours and mythical creatures that spill over to threaten reality, it’s got the hallmarks of urban fantasy. But well-researched folklore and the intricate customs and structure of San Francisco’s immigrant community at the century’s end make this debut fantasy feel like nothing you’ve read before.

If you’re looking for rich, folklore-based fantasy in a vivid moment of history, The Girl with Ghost Eyes will satisfy. The vibrant life of Chinatown’s immigrant community is revealed with an action-packed punch.

Recommended for:
* Fantasy in a rich historical setting
* Spirits and magic from Chinese folklore traditions
* Cultural immersion with vivid characters and lyrical language

If you like The Girl with Ghost Eyes, check out these book recommendations!

Signal to Noise Review

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-GarciaSignal to Noise Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2015)

Recommended for:
* Music as magic and as the soundtrack of life
* Friendship & magical realism in Mexico City
* Twin story lines in the late 80s and the present

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends, Sebastian and Daniela, and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love.

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories she thought long buried. Is there any magic left?
4 Stars - Recommended
My result: Recommended

Read the full review!

Persephone Review

Persephone by Kaitlin BevisPersephone Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Kaitlin Bevis (April 2015)

Recommended for fans of:
* Greek mythology retellings
* A YA romance with natural development, not instalove
* A believable heroine that avoids the extremes of weak or all-powerful

One day Persephone is an ordinary high school senior working at her mom’s flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she’s fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s a bonafide goddess—a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until Spring.

There she finds herself under the protection of Hades, the god of the dead, and she’s automatically married to him. It’s the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn’t interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. The Underworld is a very cool place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living?
4 Stars - Recommended
My result: Recommended

Read the full review!

California Bones Review

California Bones by Greg Van EekhoutCalifornia Bones Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Greg Van Eekhout (2014)

Recommended for fans of:
* L.A. noir: gritty streets and California sunshine
* Interesting and unique magic systems
* Heists and con men
* Urban fantasy with no vamps or weres

Magic lives on in the bones. Those who ingest the fossils of ancient creatures gain their powers, and that magic settles into their bones in turn. Daniel’s father made him into an osteomancer by feeding him kraken spine at age six. At twelve, Daniel watched his father die, devoured by the Hierarch for the magic he carried. He’s been on the run ever since, hiding in the criminal underground of Los Angeles.

Now, Daniel is offered a heist he can’t refuse: break into the Hierarch’s storehouse of magical artifacts and steal back his father’s sword. He needs a team he can trust, so he brings his closest friends in on the job. Together, they plan to crack the most closely guarded vault of a corrupt regime and take on the man who killed his father.
4 Stars - Recommended
My result: Recommended

Read the full review!

Ember in the Ashes Review

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes Add An Ember in the Ashes to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Sabaa Tahir (April 2015)

Recommended for fans of:
* Fantasy worlds that are dark but not graphic
* Female friendship in difficult circumstances
* Casual Roman history mixed into a fantasy world
* Complex relationships to read as friends OR romance

When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for the rebels’ promise to rescue her brother, she will become their spy, as a slave at Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, she meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier, and secretly, its most unwilling. Their destinies are intertwined. In a brutal world inspired by ancient Rome, their choices will change the fate of the Empire.
4 Stars - Recommended
My result: Recommended

Read the full review!