Category Archives: Historical Fantasy/Gaslamp

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

2016-standout-award-badge-smallWhat a beautiful novel! Gorgeously vivid descriptive writing, a complex mystery, and a heartbreaking love story make Ghost Talkers one of my top picks for the year.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ghost talkersTitle: Ghost Talkers
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: August 16, 2016
Genre: Historical fantasy
Source: From the publisher at BEA 16

Publisher’s DescriptionGinger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to this book: I discovered this book at BEA 16. I recognized Mary Robinette Kowal’s name as an audiobook narrator for the October Daye series. She is also an author with several books in print, but this is the first of hers that I have read. The book has a beautiful Chris McGrath cover that can’t fail to catch the eye

What kept me reading: I found everything about this book to be beautiful: the world-building, the characters, the relationships, and the vividly descriptive writing.

The premise of this book is unique to me. Ghost Talkers is set during World War II. The British army has a secret weapon—the Spirit Corps. Concealed among the WAC, the Spirit Core is made up of mediums and their support “circles” who take reports from the ghosts of soldiers who have died on the front. The soldiers are conditioned to report to the Corps before their spirit can cross over. This gives the British Army a great advantage in intelligence gathering.

This book is part mystery and part love story. Kowal creates a relationship between the two principles that is absolutely heartbreaking. There’s also a beautiful relationship among the members of the protagonist’s circle. The mystery is satisfyingly complex and the stakes are high, which kept me totally engaged.

Mediums and sensitives can see auras, and auras communicate emotions. The way Kowal describes emotions in auras is fascinating. She describes protective anger as red plate armor and fury as sweeping red wings. Fear can either be smokey black tendrils or a tight, controlled ball of dark energy. Each emotion has a color or a shape and her descriptions are amazingly vivid.

badge5v4Being a voice performer, Kowal gets to narrate her own audiobook. I’m looking forward to experiencing the book again through the eyes, and voice, of the author herself.

Why I recommend it: Ghost Talkers makes my short list of top books of the year. It’s unique, gorgeous, and deeply moving. I can’t recommend it enough.

Agent_Annie_100Kat Mandu says…

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal is great. I give it 5 stars! You should just go get it and start reading now. It’s set in WWI and uses mediums to help understand the strategy and moment-to-moment movements of the German army. It’s a unique use of the paranormal dropped into historical events.

I enjoyed the main character, Ginger, and how self-assured she is. I enjoyed that the mystery keeps building and that even to the last moment you don’t know who the spy is and how Ginger will get away, much less convince others to believe her. I also enjoyed that the author included the regiment from India, which is not often brought up in WWI novels and they played a crucial role in the story and in history. Helen is another medium that Ginger relies on heavily and the fact that Helen is a black woman from the Caribbean Islands just adds to the complexity of the story, during a time period of war when the roles of minorities were changing.

badge5v4The author has also written the Glamourist Histories series and I am really excited to read those books because of how well written this one is.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Girl In Time by John Birmingham

The ancient and the modern collide in this fun time travel adventure. I couldn’t help but wonder if I would do as well as Cady in Victorian London or in Ancient Rome!

This review is of a purchased copy; however, the author is a client of Jen Edits, which is an affiliate of this site.

a-girl-in-timeTitleA Girl In Time
AuthorJohn Birmingham
Series: stand alone (so far)
Publish Date: December 9, 2016
Genre: Time-travel fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: The past is another country. A dangerous one.

On the eve of a huge, breakout success, a poor but brilliant young game developer is pulled out of her world, and time itself, by a cowboy desperately searching for the daughter he lost two hundred years ago.

Cady McCall is ready to be rich and famous. She’s sacrificed everything, putting her work ahead of family and friends. Now with mad success and huge wealth so close she can taste it, her life is blown apart by Deputy Marshal John ‘Titanic’ Smith, the man who rescues her from two muggers, only to carry her off into history. Lost on the seas of time, Smith is desperate to get home to his family in 1876, and now Cady is lost along with him, facing danger and finding love in Victorian London, Ancient Rome and in the near-future America of President for Life Donald Trump.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

This book surprised and delighted me in all the right ways. We get a glimpse into Cady’s life and how she’s on the verge of a big payout. I waited to find out what she would do with the money, but had to keep waiting because her adventures start before she can get the big payday.

The book divides itself into three parts. Part I is about the present and Victorian London. I think this is the slowest part, but it’s needed to set the scene and those to come. The author does a great job exploring and showing us Victorian London and how foreign someone from the present would find it. The smells would be offal (pun most definitely intended). For a modern woman to go back, though, it would have to be scary. It’s why I can forgive Cady not being as strong as I hoped she would be, because other worries come crashing down. Once that is complete, we move forward to Part II.

Part II is an alternate history of the present. Without getting too political, it posits that everything bad that Trump said he would do has been implemented in a few short years, and that’s where Cady finds herself. The author cleverly switches points of view here so that now we are following Smith, who needs explanation as to what is happening. That was a good choice as it gave the author the ability to explain some changes to us in a natural way and keep the story going. I was happy that Cady was able to gain her strength back and do what she needed to do and was more of the driving force.

Part III sees our travelers in Roman times and the author switches as needed between the two main characters. This works well for me and the story. Now, both of them are in a world that is foreign to them and they have to work together if they ever want to get back home.

badge5v4Through it all, there are a few sidebars about the time travel and a bigger picture with time travel. These don’t come together as well, as many things are left hanging about an aspect of it, but hopefully, we will learn more in another book. Between that and a few quibbles I had with the characters, I would give this a four and a half stars but will round up to five. A good read and I look forward to reading more.

This review is of a purchased copy; however, the author is a client of Jen Edits, which is an affiliate of this site.

The Story of Lucius Cane, Book One by Vanya Ferreira

In this quick read, we meet ancient vampire Lucius Cane and his opponent, a brutish werewolf named Jack the Hound. Jack the Hound has paid to kill Lucius and an epic showdown waits between them.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

lucius-craneTitleThe Story of Lucius Cane, Book One
Author: Vanya Ferreira
Series: stand alone (so far)
Publish Date: February 9, 2016
Genre: Dark fantasy
Source: From where you got the book

Publisher’s Description: London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a peculiar sort of vampire, comes upon an opponent the likes of which he has never seen before – a brute with remarkable abilities. But not all is as it seems as their encounter unfolds in a manner that neither of them expected.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

I would have liked to see more character descriptions, both physical and mental. Jack the Hound has a lot of background information (he’s a drunk with an abusive father who got transformed as a young kid) but Lucius didn’t get much. In fact, there’s a voice inside his head that I wish I would have known more about.

badge4v4I really enjoyed the fight scene between both characters and the unexpected twist near the end. It was really well written and I would very much love to read the next one.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer

It’s all been building to this, from the series spotlight to the reviews of the prequels to the cover reveal, until finally we’ve reached it, a review of newest book in the Noon Onyx series, Pocket Full of Tinder! Be sure to check out the blog tour giveaway, too!

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

pocket-full-of-tinderTitlePocket Full of Tinder
AuthorJill Archer
SeriesNoon Onyx, Book 04
Publish Date: December 15, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Cover: Rebecca Frank
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente.

Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…

Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heartbreaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.

When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.

Buy Links

Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

Book will also be available on Nook and CreateSpace on or about December 15.


Blog Tour Giveaway…

To celebrate the release of Pocket Full of Tinder, the author is giving away a sweet prize! Be sure to enter via Rafflecopter!

  • #1 – an Etsy “Book Lover” prize pack (https://www.etsy.com/people/archer48/favorites/pocket-full-of-tinder-book-lover-prize-pack), which includes a book hoarder dragon poster, a dozen book page flowers, six book wine charms, and a pair of book earrings. (U.S. Only for Option #1. If these items are no longer available on Etsy, winner will receive Option #2).
  • Or #2 — $50 worth of fantasy books from Book Depository and a $25 Etsy gift certificate.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: Once again we have a beautiful cover. I was so happy to see that there is very little repeat information in this installment. The characters still continue to grow, especially Noon who still has so much to learn about herself. This book is heartbreaking—you will have to read it to find out why—but it is also uplifting.

badge5v4Dislikes: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about the fourth installment of the Noon Onyx series. The deaths were devastating for both Noon and this reader! However, many of the issues I had with the previous novels have been fixed. I’m also not sure how I feel about the ending. It leaves room for another installment in the series, but it could also be a wonderful wrap up as well.

Overall I think this is the best Noon novel yet and give it 5 drakons!

Our reviews in this series…

Recommendations…

Looking for a strong female lead? Check out Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Want more angels and demons? Look into Penryn and the End of Days series by Susan EE. YA not your thing? Check out the adult urban fantasy Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.


About The Author…

Jill ArcherJill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice, and Pocket Full of Tinder. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

Website: http://www.jillarcher.com/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n

Blog: https://jillarcherauthor.wordpress.com/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/archer_jill

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jillarcherauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782149.Jill_Archer

Discussion Questions: http://jillarcherauthor.wordpress.com/book-clubs/

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer

You may have noticed that we’ve been creeping up on a new release by Jill Archer, book four in the Noon Onyx series. We’re getting closer, but for today, check out Luna’s review of book three, White Heart of Justice.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

White Heart of JusticeTitleWhite Heart of Justice
AuthorJill Archer
SeriesNoon Onyx, Book 03
Publish Date: May 27, 2014, Ace
Genre: Fantasy
Cover: Jason Chan
Source: provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Since Lucifer claimed victory at Armageddon, demons, angels, and humans have coexisted in uneasy harmony. Those with waning magic are trained to maintain peace and order. But hostilities are never far from erupting…

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: I like that the information dump that can be found in the first two novels is absent for this novel. Readers can focus more on the current story and action. I love that Noon is now comfortable in her own skin. In the first two novels, we were introduced to Host magic and Angel magic. This novel presents a new kind of magic – perennial. I can’t wait to see how all three play into the next installment. There are quite a few surprises that I didn’t see coming.

Dislikes: I am heartbroken! As much as I liked Ari, I liked Rafe that much more! Noon and Rafe just seemed to belong together and those swoon worthy feels were dashed! My only other complaint is that the first section of the book talks about how difficult Tartarus will be, but compared to the first half of the book, the time in Tartarus is quite short and I didn’t get the sense of danger that was claimed in the first section.

badge4v4Despite the first two book having a lot of repeated information and a lot of information given all at once, I fell in love with the overall story and the characters. This book doesn’t disappoint in improving upon the flaws of the previous books and making readers want to continue the story. I give this book 4 stars.

Our reviews in this series…

Recommendations…

Take a look at the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin, the Marla Mason series by T.A. Pratt, or the Promethean Age series by Elizabeth Bear.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.