Review: SMALL MAGICS by Ilona Andrews

Small Magics

Favorite story: Because I’m always thrilled to learn more about Kate’s protege, I was delighted to read “Magic Tests” in this collection. Julie shined in this story, especially because she’s not just a miniature version of Kate. She’s been influenced by all the adults in her life, and it shows in the way she handles interpersonal relationships and conflict. I also enjoyed this look into an educational institution in the world of Post-Shift Atlanta, especially because that is a world-building element often overlooked in fantasy series that are not primarily “magical school” narratives.

Story that I wish would be expanded into a novel: How do insurance claims work when magic and nonhumans walk the land? “Retribution Clause” not only featured a protagonist completely different from Kate Daniels, but an entirely new location and type of hero as well! (Gender, race, job, the works.) This was a fun story with a twisty plot, but the most exciting thing about it was everything that was new, such as its setting of Post-Shift Philadelphia. If this story is a “test pilot” to see whether readers are up for a spin-off series, count me in.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars.

Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads

Currently reading: Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #1) by Jodi Taylor (63%)

RDSP News Roundup

RDSP news roundupIt’s been a while since I posted, because I’ve been a bit caught up in things like writing book 4, reading lots of books, and binge-watching Orphan Black. (No spoilers, please. I’m only on season 2.) But lots has gone on in the world of my amazing publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press, in the meantime. I figured I’d post about all of it at once here. Read on for not one, but two amazing cover reveals and news about a contest!  Continue reading

Bean Hollow

Tomorrow night, I should be meeting my writing group at an amazing local coffeehouse in Historic Ellicott City. But I can’t, because it is functionally gone.


The street around it is gone, but the eggplant survived!

As a military brat, I’m only a transplant to Howard County, Maryland. I’ve been here since I finished undergrad, because it was where my parents happened to be stationed at the time. I stayed in Howard County despite over 10 years of working in Baltimore City, meeting and marrying my husband here. He’s been an Ellicott City resident since birth, and I finally put down real roots when we had a house built here (a few miles away from the flooding). It took a long time for an introvert such as myself, but I eventually pulled together a circle of local friends. I had things like a local pizza joint, a sushi place where everyone knew my name, and the beloved indie coffee shop that every writer needs. One day, I looked up and realized that I’d spend over a third of my life here. For this reluctant wanderer, it was amazing to finally have a home.

I’ve experienced loss of the physical in my life. My mother and I evacuated Clark Air Base during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, leaving everything we owned behind. A few years later, when my stepfather was transferred to Ft. Lewis in Washington State, our moving van caught fire during the cross-country drive and we lost almost everything again.

And even with that, I have absolutely no idea what the residents and business owners on Main Street must be going through. I know just enough to barely grasp the scope of it. I know enough to want to do what I can to help those people recover. I know enough to know that the city will recover.

She might be the artist of the group, but as someone who has also lived in Ellicott City her whole life, who has spent over a decade with Bean Hollow as opposed to my handful of years, Julia says it best:

I am still in disbelief that I won’t have the smell of Bean Hollow lingering in my hair and my clothes and my backpack Wednesday nights. That I won’t get to have the best damn corn muffin or hot chocolate that’s ever been made. That I won’t be sitting at that back table with my writing group tomorrow. That I won’t get to see awkward first dates falling in love with what I and many others call ‘my coffee shop’. Disbelief that the place I always feel at home in, no matter how far away or how long I’ve been gone for, is wrecked. I am glad everyone made it out of the building safely (and from Discoveries). I hope they frame the phone and put it back in the shop when it is rebuilt. I can’t wait to get back to my coffee shop.

We’ll miss you, Bean Hollow. We can’t wait for you to be back.


From the Howard County  Government Facebook page:

Those looking to donate money or food can contact the United Way of Central Maryland which established a fund called “ECStrong.” Donations will be used exclusively to support humanitarian relief for the victims affected by Saturday night’s severe flooding. Those who wish to contribute financially can text ECStrong to 51555 or follow the link

July Wrap-Up & August Goals

What a whirlwind of a month, filled with emotional highs and lows!

Pokemon Go

It was also filled with lots of Pokemon Go.

July Wrap-Up: 

  • The Steel Magic book launch went really well, and I think the book had a great reception where I talked about it online and in person. Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word and promote my second novel. Book 2 of the Steel Empires series, which features the continued adventures of warrior-mages Toria and Kane, is available in both print and ebook form. (The Steel Victory ebook is still 99 cents if you need to catch up first.)
  • My meandering blog tour around the interwebs also did a lot of help promote my new novel, and I thank all of the authors who hosted me!
  • I had a blast at my book release party at East City Bookshop in Washington, DC! You can check out my recap or one from my publisher.
  • While I will continue to promote Steel Magic, writing a series means always looking forward. I’m pleased to announce that book 3, tentatively titled Steel Blood, is currently with my editor for review.
  • My other major event this month was Confluence, a great convention in Pittsburgh. I posted my con report last night if you missed it.
  • In all the excitement, I someone managed to forget avoid not write any book reviews this month. Oops.
  • And because of the aforementioned emotional highs and lows, Camp NaNoWriMo was a bust. A spectacular 0 words written on book 4 despite every good intention. On the other hand…
  • I critiqued almost 20k words for a the Confluence writer’s workshop. And I also proofread an upcoming novel for my publisher. Look for me to squee more about that book soon, because it was amazing!

August Goals:

  1. Book 4 needs to be written! Let’s shoot for 15k to 20k words this month.
  2. Book reviews also need to be written! I currently have 8 in the queue.
  3. Fulfill my contributor commitments to an awesome new fanzine, Speculative Chic. (Which you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet! We are officially live this week.)
  4. I literally can’t think of anything else. I have no events planned. I guess I could focus on blogging this month, since I have a list of ideas that I haven’t gotten to yet. Let me know if there’s anything you really want my take on!

I imagine that this month will also be filled with lots of Pokemon Go. My office is near the water, so as you can see above, I have magikarp coming out my ears. Now I need to find some eevees!

Speculative Chic is LIVE

I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new blog focused on all aspects of speculative fiction: books, film, television, games, and more!

Speculative Chic


Please join us for our soft launch today, and consider subscribing to continue receiving great content from a bunch of awesome people (like yours truly). We’ll have everything from in-depth reviews to regular features to advice columns and more! Right now I’m only a part-time contributor, but I’m hoping to have the time soon to submit monthly projects that focus on the areas that I’m passionate about.

That’s something I think will really make Speculative Chic a fun place to be: all of the contributors are very involved with their chosen areas of SF/F/H fandom and their enthusiasm absolutely shows through their writing.

Any help spreading the word as we get things rolling would be greatly appreciated. And let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see us highlight! There are so many people involved in this project that there’s bound to be someone who will also be interested.

Author Interview: Jennifer Loring

what's left of me

To celebrate the release of, What’s Left of Me, the second book in the Firebird Trilogy, author Jennifer Loring has stopped by give us a peek into her life as a writer!

Don’t forget to also check out book 1, Firebird.

1. What’s the hardest thing about balancing writing with the rest of your life?

I would write, or do writing-related things, all day if I could. I’m very passionate about it, and when I’m deep into a project, I want to do literally nothing else. But I have a house, a husband, and two dogs, so finding balance has been essential. I’m trying to stop writing after a certain time if my husband isn’t also busy, so we can do more together.

2. Do you have a special writing space? What’s in it? What can’t be in it?

I write first drafts longhand, so my special writing space for that is the couch.😀 If it’s nice out, sometimes I’ll write on the deck. When I’m working on anything other than a first draft, I have an office. There’s my desk, my filing cabinet, and several full bookshelves. It’s a small space, so nothing else fits in it! Continue reading

Book Giveaway!

To conclude my interview series, Calico in Conversation is hosting a scavenger hunt through each of my interview segments. If you’ve been reading carefully, you have a chance to win ebooks of BOTH Steel Victory and Steel Magic in the format of your choice! Go here to see the questions and find the entry form.


20 Questions: Author Edition

Fellow urban fantasy author Romarin Demetri tagged me to answer some questions about author-type stuff, so I thought I would play along.

1. What is your author name?

I write under my initials, J.L. Gribble, because my first name is not pronounced the way it’s spelled and I decided to make it easier on everybody that way.

2. What is the first book you ever published?

The first book published with my name on the cover was an anthology I edited called Far Worlds (now out of print). My debut novel as an author was Steel Victory! Continue reading