Review: Thieves' Honor (Wizards of London #1) by Jamaila Brinkley

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

I devoured this book so quickly, and with such enjoyment, that I forgot to take any notes for my review! Brinkley’s debut novel features romance, magic, and mystery set in historical London. She weaves together the tropes from multiple genres without ever falling into stereotype. And despite the large cast of supporting characters, all are unique and well-drawn.

Though the romance is inevitable due to genre expectations, Thomas and Em’s evolving relationship never feels contrived or inevitable. I believed in their growing attraction, grieved during the requisite dark moment, and cheered for their reconciliation and happily ever after. The mystery aspect of the novel featured a delightful plot twist that added to the story as a whole.

I’m looking forward to the other two books in this series. Brinkley’s take on magical London is sure to delight historical fantasy and and historical romance readers alike.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Farpoint 2020 Schedule

This weekend I’ll be back in Baltimore for Farpoint 27! Check out my schedule below. Come see me be exceedingly nerdy about some of my favorite things! Will I see you there?

Friday

  • 5 PM: Fanfic Confessions (panel)
    • Professional authors who still write fanfic or participate in fanfic-like habits such as PBEMs will talk about the differences between fanfic, tie-ins and original writing and how one can make the jump from writing fanfic to writing original works. They also may possibly confess some guilty secrets.
    • With Jennifer Povey and T. Eric Bakutis
  • 6 PM: Return to Downton Abbey (panel)
    • Three years after Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey ended its highly rated six-year run on television, audiences flocked to theaters this autumn to see Downton Abbey on the big screen. Panelists will discuss what worked about the film, what could have been better, and what the future has in store for the Crawley family.
      • With Allyn Gibson and Kelli Fitzpatrick

Saturday

  • 11 AM: Autograph Session
    • With Peter David and Dr. Valerie Mikles
  • 12 PM: Reading
    • With Jennifer Povey
  • 5 PM: The Expanse Explores a Strange New World (panel)
    • On Season 4, we see the Rocinante crew go through the gate and visit New Terra, one of the first worlds colonized. While Naomi and Alex mind the ship, Holden and Amos try to make peace between colonists and scientists. Meanwhile, Bobbie and Avaserala investigate a mystery. And then there’s Proto-Miller, hanging around with Holden and causing trouble. Let’s discuss Season 4, and what’s coming up in Season 5.
    • With Ann White, John White, and Russ Colchamiro

Sunday

  • 10 AM: Trek All Access (panel)
    • A look at Star Trek: Discovery‘s season 2 and speculations for season 3. Plus we’ll talk about Picard — where it fits in and where it’s going.
    • With Keith R.A. DeCandido and Derek Tyler Attico
  • 11 AM: Reading
    • With Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • 12 PM: Autograph Session
    • With David Mack
  • 1 PM: The Infinity Saga (panel)
    • 22 films and a massive inter-connected story later, what did you think? And what do you think is next for Marvel?
    • With Jay Smith, Dr. Arnold Blumberg, and Jay Justice

Note: I’m not staying at the hotel this time around, so my participation in the Friday night book signing event will depend on entirely upon how much energy I have/how much coffee I’ve drunk that day.

Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

I made it through the first quarter of this book before I realized that not much had really happened. Well, lots of things had “happened,” just not much of a plot. But I was intrigued by the world-building, so I decided to sit back and enjoy the story as more of a travelogue than an action-filled adventure.

Baxter has a distinctive writing style that I recognized from his other works. The difference here is the inclusion of a few more humorous moments, which I imagine are Pratchett’s brief touch. Baxter continues to not be able to write women, though the issues in this story are more cringey and less out-right offensive.

Readers interested in a very different take on the parallel worlds story will find this interesting. I especially liked the “explanations” for familiar creatures of folk-lore. I’m interested in continuing the series, but don’t have a strong urge to rush right into the next one, probably because of the lack of emotional connection with any of the characters.

Rating: 3.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Wild Seed (Patternnist #1) by Octavia E. Butler

I devoured this novel on a travel day, starting in Baltimore and ending in Indianapolis. I enjoyed many separate elements of this book, from the two very different main characters and their interactions to the historical and scientific elements. Doro and Anyanwu are fantastic foils to each other. While their interactions were sometimes uncomfortable, great storytelling is not always easy.

Doro is a fascinating antagonist, and I was intrigued by his manipulation of people. Overall, it’s interesting to read about genetics in a world where genetics has not yet been “invented.” There is a method to his madness, even if any modern institutional review board would have a proper fit.

Anyanwu barely begins to fill the void that exists in science fiction. We need more women of color heroes, especially ones who are strengthened by family ties and not limited by their sexuality. She and Doro are excellent foils, and neither character ever comes out on top in their interactions.

I love reading about any type of immortality and how age affects characters. We see Doro and Anyanwu in three different historical time periods during the course of this book, where individual’s roles are stratified in society by their race and gender. I look forward to continuing this series, to see where these two characters and Doro’s epic genetic program leads.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Strange Dogs (The Expanse #6.5) by James S.A. Corey

This novella is a beautiful vignette about early life on Laconia. It doesn’t answer many greater questions about the ecosystem of this world due to the limited point-of-view of the main character. But it answers quieter questions about how Duerte came to power and how he imposed his views on the burgeoning society.

On the surface, Laconia appears to be a much “better” place to live than Ilus/New Terra (a terrible, terrible planet), but it has its own share of unique and dangerous differences. This is the first extra story set in the world of The Expanse to make me incredibly excited to the next main installment of the series.

An excellent read for fans of the book series, though it doesn’t have much relevance to the time line in the television show yet.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Wolfromance (Reluctant Necromancer #3) by Kaye Draper

I understand that authors are always warned not to “info-dump” to their readers, that they should include the information the reader needs to know naturally through the story. But there’s a downside to that, when so many things are going on that everyone EXCEPT the main character knows about. At some point, someone needs to sit Esper down and just give her a crash course in the greater magical world instead of constantly bemoaning that she should have learned all of this stuff growing up.

Overall, this book suffers from general “middle book” syndrome. Stuff gets interesting but no one gets any answers. A more minor quibble is that a werewolf is introduced to the greater cast of characters, but there’s no romance with her.

Luckily, a newer character to the series is Jet the familiar. He absolutely steals the show, and I’m excited to see where the story goes with him in the mix.

Rating: 3 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) by Joanna Chambers

The finale to this trilogy does an excellent job of concluding plot threads from previous books on multiple levels. David and Murdo have grown as people and grown closer together, but some roadblocks (internal and external) still stand in the way of their happily every after. When both of them must travel to London, they confront these issues head-on in a way that was both unexpected and completely satisfying.

The overall message of this book is finding love and acceptance outside of borders proscribed by society. This applies to a few different relationships in the book, and the sacrifices characters must make to achieve their goals (even when those goals are not what society says they should be).

But through it all, David and Murdo realize their true goals involve each other. They open up to each other in ways that would never have been possible in the first book of this trilogy, and I’m happy these two characters joined together to find their happiness against so many odds.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: The Vital Abyss (The Expanse #5.5) by James S.A. Corey

This novella in the midst of the epic saga of The Expanse fills in some interesting blanks. It explains the missing years of a relevant character’s life and how he eventually ends up where Our Heroes encounter him again. It also shows the evolution of the character and his history on Earth, accomplishing some interesting world-building about life on “Basic” that contrasts with what we learn in “The Churn.”

However, it does absolutely nothing to humanize this character. And that’s okay. We’re probably never meant to sympathize with him, not knowing about his actions in the main series installments. As usual, the writing makes this a worthwhile read for any fans of the Expanse.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

January Wrap-Up & February Goals

This year is off to an EXCELLENT start, if I do say so myself. I got lots of reading done. I got lots of editing done. I played a lot of video games. And I’m thrilled with my health progress. I know I said I wasn’t travelling anywhere, but I managed to sneak away to the beach and have a lovely 2 days with excellent friends. Not much other news to report, so let’s jump in!


January Wrap-Up

  • The final Steel Victory rewrite is completed, copy-edited, and submitted to my editor. This new edition of the text will also include a bonus short story (how Victory and Mikelos first met!) AND a brief history of the city of Limani. I can’t wait to share all of these goodies this summer!
  • Beta-reading progress report: SO. CLOSE.
  • As promised, there are new goodies over at the Worldbuilding section of my website! (Links below.)

February Goals

  1. It’s time to jump back into book 6, Steel Justice! This month, I’ll be focusing on revisions based on the feedback I received from my fabulous beta readers.
  2. Review two super-secret projects! (Sometimes, I get to read books by my favorite authors before publication. I love this part of my job.)
  3. A new indie bookstore in Baltimore, Carpe Librum, is hosting me for an author brunch! I hope you’re able to stop by if you’re local to the Baltimore area. Details here.
  4. Attend my first con of 2020: Farpoint, also in the Baltimore area! Will I see you there?
  5. Two more updates to pages over at the Worldbuilding section!

In Case You Missed It

Book Reviews

On the Website

Around the Internet


If this hasn’t been stuck in your head for the past month, obviously you haven’t watched the best new fantasy show available.

Review: All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

This novella has won ALL OF THE AWARDS, which makes it difficult to review. There’s not much I can add to the discourse about it that hasn’t already been said, and it doesn’t need the advertising help. But it was a wonderfully fun read, so if you’re one of the five science-fiction fans after me who hasn’t started on this series, you should probably rectify that immediately. You won’t regret it.

This is a fun locked room (planet) sort of mystery, and the POV character (self-named Murderbot) is just as adorable/hilarious/murderous as everyone raves. The pacing works well for novella-length story, and I was never bored with any facet of the adventure.

The technology and world-building of this universe are never totally fleshed out, but it’s appropriate to what Murderbot knows and accepts about its life. I also especially enjoyed the novelty of a POV character without a specified gender, which adds a subtle nuance to the writing.

As usual, my greatest praise for a book is whether I get the sequel. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the further adventures of Murderbot.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.