D.I.Y by John Wiswell

D.I.Y by John Wiswell
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When the the elitist institution of Ozymandias Academy and its headmaster, Vamon Kinctuarin, can’t find a solution to the city’s worsening drought, 2 self-taught magicians, Noah and his partner Manny, take it upon themselves to find a solution to the crisis.

Not all change comes slowly.

The character development was handled nicely, especially considering how few pages the author had to work with here. I grinned as I got to know the two main characters better. They were both compassionate individuals who genuinely cared about everyone around them. This was even more true for the low-income people in their lives who were suffering terribly due to the drought. I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover exactly how Noah and Manny reacted to this humanitarian crisis, but it solidified both my interest in the plot as well as in these two characters in particular.

I would have liked to see more energy spent on world building. Mr. Wiswell casually mentioned interesting things like angel bones or what sounded like a war between angels and humans, but he never dug into how all of those references fit together in the timeline. There seemed to be plenty of material for him to work with. He simply needed to explain it all a little better in order for me to feel comfortable going for a full five-star review.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that explored Noah and Manny’s feelings about their health and how they responded when they wanted to do things that bumped up against what they were physically capable of. My diagnosis is different from either of theirs, but I nodded along in recognition of all of the work-arounds people find when they really want to do something but need to be mindful of what their bodies are currently capable of doing. It was refreshing to read about heroes who aren’t invincible.

D.I.Y made me yearn for more.

Sand by Jasmin Kirkbride

Sand by Jasmin Kirkbride
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When Suzy was born, her parents filled her mouth with sand. But this is normal and natural and the way things are always done.

And if she finds it uncomfortable to keep it there, to eat with it there, to talk with it there, she’s just going to have to learn to live with it.

“Sand” is a heart-wrenching tale about generational trauma and healing.

Not every tradition is a good one.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this tale was its nuanced approach to the trauma Suzy and everyone else experienced in this world. Her parents genuinely loved her and thought they had no other choice but to continue the destructive patterns of behavior they’d seen as children. The compassion the author had for everyone involved in these rituals was admirable. It would have been quite easy to write Suzy’s parents off as negligent at best, so I was pretty happy to see how deeply the narrator dug into what was truly going on there.

I would have preferred to see a little more development of the ending. While I understood what the author was doing with her metaphor, I think it could have been expanded more to explain why Suzy’s culture felt the need to keep sand in their mouths in the first place and why she attempted to change that tradition. Had this section been given a bit more time to shine, I would have easily given it a five star rating as the message of it was marvelous.

Speaking of the metaphor, it was also well done. It was broad enough to reference many different types of intergenerational trauma that happen in the real world while also specific enough to firmly root this storyline in the science fiction genre. I enjoyed interpreting the most powerful scenes from these perspectives as certain conversations or actions could be viewed in completely different ways depending on how literally or figuratively the reader chose to understand them.

Sand was a thoughtful science fiction story that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: A Tor Book published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (324 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

On the heels of Kitty’s return from London, a new werewolf shows up in Denver, one who threatens to split the pack by challenging Kitty’s authority at every turn. The timing could not be worse; Kitty needs all the allies she can muster to go against the ancient vampire, Roman, if she’s to have any hope of defeating his Long Game. But there’s more to this intruder than there seems, and Kitty must uncover the truth, fast. Meanwhile, Cormac pursues an unknown entity wreaking havoc across Denver; and a vampire from the Order of St. Lazaurus tempts Rick with the means to transform his life forever.

I let the title mislead me thinking it was about adventures and shenanigans at a concert or something but it refers to something far more profound and stunning. Kitty’s whole power base gets tested, shaken up and taken in a direction that took me by surprise. When I finally got wind of what might happen and what it meant, I was aghast. Surely Ms. Vaughn wouldn’t do that! Talk about a gripping hook! This was a book that I simply could not put down.

The only thing that was a constant and made me feel good and secure and happy was the consistent love Kitty had for Ben. Ben loving her doesn’t just make her calm when she’s stressed, it calms me down too. Everything that gets thrown at the heroine, and in this book it’s substantial, is able to be born because he’s there, even when he’s not on scene; that kind of love and support gives a person the strength to endure – and a reason to fight. Ben is good for Kitty and every book seems to make me appreciate his presence in her life even more. When Kitty and Ben are together, I’m in my happy place.

The combination of dysfunctional hormone release with excessive, voluntary fluid intake can lead to the development of water loss and brain http://davidfraymusic.com/project/dont-miss-david-frays-german-tour-with-academy-of-st-martin-in-the-fields/ viagra generic brand swelling. viagra free delivery It is because online stores facilitate them in bulk and get huge discount over the price. It was founded on the grounds of providing davidfraymusic.com levitra generic online a holistic treatment, which works in unison with other disciplines. Thus there are different treatments for IBS-C (with constipation) compared to http://davidfraymusic.com/project_category/news/page/3/ cialis cheap fast IBS-D (with diarrhea) and for functional dyspepsia and nausea and vomiting. But this isn’t a book about happy. This is a book that reveals that the war between one vampire and his minions against the world is much bigger and darker than anything revealed yet. The scope is staggering. And, thoroughly intriguing, entertaining and left me wanting to know more. That fact that allies are not always to be trusted and that their idea of ‘helping’ leaves a lot to be desired was another plot stirring addition. I’m kind of hoping I’ll see the hunky troublemaker again with the hope that next time he’ll be a better asset to the Denver pack.

As for Cormac and Amelia, oh yeah, there’s some significant plot exacerbation from those two. My personal interpretation is that Amelia overstepped this time around and lost focus. Instead of assessing the domino effect of her/his actions, and Cormac is just as culpable as she is, the single-minded determination reminded me of a computer hacker. She kept at it and kept at it because it was a challenge to her skills and Cormac, being the hunter he was, and probably still is, was just as fascinated and eager to do the deed. Did they even once ask WHY it was so powerful or needed? I suppose, in all fairness, I have to say that vampires are the ultimate poker players – they keep everything close to their chest to the point of stupidity. All it would have taken is one simple explanation, you know, show their cards, maybe even an entreaty for help, something, anything to avoid what eventually happened. But Ms. Vaughn knows her vampires – they are a paranoid lot. Obviously, they never listened to Kenny Rogers sing “The Gambler”. I felt bad for the priest but seriously, share much?

I liked seeing Kitty show the interloper just why her pack is so different, and effective. I enjoyed seeing her grow just a bit more. I also appreciated that Ms. Vaughn hasn’t let the reader or Kitty forget that the heroine has a real family, a mother and a sister that needs her. That personal touch, that snippet of normalcy is what makes what Kitty stands for and what she’s fighting against so profound and meaningful. It kept me connected to the characters in the book.

At this point, a new reader really shouldn’t start here with this story. Even though this book has a definite beginning and end, it’s based and built upon the parts of the series told in previous books. This series sticks with Kitty and the gang and is a continuation as we follow Kitty’s discoveries about her new world and herself. This is a great book for fans to enjoy.

Kitty Rocks the House is a story not to be missed by any fan of the series. It introduces a possible new direction and it infuses the series with fresh thought and opportunities. The threat remains the same but it’s more dire and imposing than anyone first thought. This book also created an intense desire to know more because I can’t even guess what Kitty is going to face next. It’s a great hook and I guarantee that the next book coming out later this year will be an auto-buy. If I had it now, I’d be nose-to-the-page; this series is that gripping and engaging. Ms. Vaughn has another winner and I’m a happy reader.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

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Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Publisher:  Tor
Genre:  Science Fiction/Fantasy
Length:  full (302 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by Poppy

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

It is probably to my benefit that I’ve not read “Jane Eyre”, so didn’t realize this was a retelling until long after I was done reading it.  I was able to enjoy the book for what it is, and not so much what it wasn’t.

Our heroine, Jane, is “ironskin” — she’s been cursed by the fey during the war and uses iron to keep her curse (rage) from bleeding out into others.  Let go by her employer now that the war is over and men have returned, she has little choice but to accept a position for a strange recluse, Rochart, to be governess to his daughter.

The book’s story intrigued me enough that I read it to the end, but I have to say it wasn’t a terribly exciting book.  If not for being attached to characters (especially the very clever Poule) and wondering what was going to happen to Dorie, I might not have finished it at all.  The writing was well done, but the story tended to drag.   Every so often, something would happen to perk me back up, and turn pages to find out what happened, but it wasn’t consistent and much of the book had a “day-to-day” feel.

I wish we’d gotten to know our hero more as well.  Though this wasn’t written in first person, it might as well have been, as we spend no time in anyone’s head but Jane’s.  I think this weakened the story some and created distance between the reader and other characters, especially Rochart.

I did like Jane.  She was strong, determined, intelligent and overall a good heroine.  She loves loyally, and seldom gives up if she knows her course is right, no matter what.  She has much to overcome and there are many times she might have given up and taken an easier course, but she does not.  Truly an admirable person.

While I was pleased it ended up being a love story of sorts, I wasn’t entirely sold on the depth of emotion between Jane and Rochart. They spent almost no time together and many times Rochart was less than charming, but still, I imagine their relationship will grow more believable as this story is continued.  And, ultimately, this wasn’t really a romance anyway.  It was more a mystery and an adventure.  A journey for Jane as she became the person she was meant to be.

While this may not have been the best book I’ve read, it introduced a storyline intriguing enough that I’ll pick up the next book in the series to see where it leads.  While many questions were answered and tasks completed, more were introduced, especially at the end when things were happening at a fast and furious speed and I look forward to seeing where they lead.

Living Proof by Kira Peikoff

Living Proof by Kira Peikoff
Publisher: Tor/Forge
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (368 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

In 2027, destroying an embryo is considered first-degree murder. Fertility clinics still exist, giving hope and new life to thousands of infertile families, but they have to pass rigorous inspections by the United States Department of Embryo Preservation. Fail an inspection, and you will be prosecuted.

Brilliant young doctor Arianna Drake seems to be thriving in the spotlight: her small clinic surpasses every government requirement, and its popularity has spiked—a sudden, rapid growth that leaves the DEP chief mystified. When he discovers Arianna’s radical past as a supporter of an infamous scientist, he sends undercover agent Trent Rowe to investigate her for possible illegal activity.

As Trent is pulled into Arianna’s enigmatic world, his own begins to unravel. The secret he finally uncovers will deeply move him—and jeopardize them both. With the clock ticking her life away, he finds himself questioning everything he knows to be true, and then must summon the courage to take the greatest risk of all. Nothing less than human life—and a major scientific breakthrough—hang in the balance.

A thought-provoking thriller by debut author Kira Peikoff, Living Proof is a celebration of love and life that cuts to the core of a major cultural debate of our time.

It’s easy to surround yourself with people who agree with you. What many moral crusaders don’t realize, though, is how even the most noble intentions can buckle into something unrecognizable if there’s no one around to challenge their assumptions about the world.

Trent and Arianna are deeply committed to their respective belief systems. Both see themselves as the heroes of their stories, as guardians of something precious. Neither one has the self-knowledge to understand how someone could ever disagree with their positions on abortion or stem cell research. A hyperactive of the thyroid gland – it’s a trouble where immense thyroid hormone gets heightened An levitra generika 10mg underactive of the thyroid gland- it’s a medical issue in which an inadequate thyroid hormone gets developed Cushing’s disorder – it’s a hurdle, which impacts the construction of the website, and there are essentially two types of web designs that you can decide, which dynamic and stable designs are. You might be fooled by its herbal front, as do cialis tadalafil generico djpaulkom.tv many unsuspecting consumers. It also improves stamina, buy viagra no prescription sex drive and strength to perform better in bed. india viagra But alas! I failed every time. The awkward, sweet interactions between Arianne and Trent as they slowly begin to understand one another were my favourite scenes in the story.

Unfortunately there was a very black and white separation between the the pro-life/anti-stem cell research and pro-choice/pro-stem cell research sentiments in the book. Certain scenes came across as carefully scripted sermons instead of spontaneous, genuine conversations between friends.

While I understand the simplicity of painting one side as fighting for good and the other as evil the story would have been more compelling if all of the characters had been allowed to have more nuanced opinions. The vast majority of people cannot be pigeonholed into narrowly-defined labels and I think showcasing characters with such extreme opinions on this issue hurt the character development and plot.

When the characters weren’t being fed lines they flowed smoothly from one scene to the next. I found myself growing quite invested in Arianna’s story in particular and it was a little disappointing to switch from those heavy emotions to characters saying things that sounded like those political ads that air during election season in the U.S.

The premise of this book was fantastic, though. After I finished reading it I couldn’t stop thinking about Ms. Peikoff’s projection of one possible future. She’s one of those writers who can create a universe similar enough to our own to be believable and just different enough to send a jolt of terror down your spine.

So what would the United States look like in a few decades if the separation between church and state were to erode? Living Proof will give you a spine-tingling glimpse into one possibility. Just remember that it’s only fiction.

So far.