strong heroine

The Lyre Thief

21895680The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon
Genre: High Fantasy
HarperCollins / Voyager: March 1, 2016
Source: Free from publisher and library

Outstanding Adventure!

Jennifer Fallon always delivers complex and fast-paced fantasies, and I loved this book at least as much as her other works set in the world of the Hythrun Chronicles, if not more. The characters are complex, the narrative voices distinct, the action tense, and the plot tightly woven.

The Lyre Thief continues the story of the Demon Child… sort of. The heroines are really two half-sisters, who are also half-sisters of the high-maintenance and clever High Princess of Fardonhya who played a supporting role in the Demon Child trilogy. this is a complex fantasy that brings together the politics of several countries within a continent, mixes them with the gods of thieves, death, love, and lies, and tells the intimate stories of several individual characters.


Book Adventures Weekly, Issue 36

If ever there was a reason to get back into Doctor Who, it would be Maisie Williams/Arya Stark playing the villain.

Mental Floss lists 5 Bookish Facts about American readers and their habits. SHOCKING: “Some people have not even touched a book this year.” Did you know most book reviews are written by men, even though women read more books than men? Sort of reminds me of attitudes toward “women’s fiction” and “romance novels”…

Would you return a book 63 years after you borrowed it from the library?

Do you wear white in winter? Other rules to break, this time in the “reading” category.

Who doesn’t love a book set in a magical academy? I’m going to have to check out Rainbow Rowell’s The Rise and Fall of Simon SnowThere are other reviews by the NYT, as well, in case the first doesn’t strike your fancy.

For Katniss fans, Booklist Reader suggests two similar leading women.

Do’s and Don’ts of Reading and Drinking. For example: Don’t choose a bar in close proximity to a bookstore. Your lowered inhibitions may lead to unwise impulsive book purchases.

That’s all for this week! Tune in again next Monday for Issue 37.

Oh, and as a last-minute addition…

Eye candy. Libraries of the rich and famous. Move over, Beast!

Feminism vs. Time Travel in ‘Weighing Shadows’

weighing shadows Weighing Shadows by Lisa Goldstein
Night Shade Books: November 3rd, 2015 (Science Fiction)

Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Outstanding Adventure!

Fellow Book Adventurers, the only thing I did not like about this book was that there wasn’t enough of it.

I’d read Goldstein before – The Red Magician, which I reviewed a year ago, opened my eyes to Jewish magic, set in the Holocaust. With Weighing Shadows now behind me, I am determined to catch up on everything she’s written.

Ann Decker, our heroine, is a loner. A foster child with a difficult past, she employs her hacking skills at a small computer maintenance shop, fixing customers’ computer problems. Until the day she is followed home by a strange woman, who, even more strangely, offers her a job. Intrigued, Ann goes through the interview process and accepts the job – even though she is not told what the job is until after she accepts . (Demonstrating a surprising lack in survival skills here, but we can ignore that).

Turns out, this organization time travels. Purportedly to fix the past so in the future humans don’t destroy the world. So, as you might expect, she’s really excited about going on her first assignment, to ancient Crete. Society is matriarchal, with a queen who takes a consort for seven years (the Minos), before sacrificing him to the goddess, Kore. Unfortunately for Ann’s time-traveling team, things go wrong. Before she can blink, they’ve been arrested on suspicion of treason. On the trip, Ann encounters another time-traveler, one who warns her that the Company is not at all benign.


Flying above the clouds with “Updraft”

UpdraftUpdraft by Fran Wilde
Tor Books: September 1st, 2015 (Fantasy)*


Outstanding Adventure!

There’s so much to love about this thrilling fantasy above the clouds.

Built out of bone towers, layered in secrets, Kirit Densira’s city is rife with tension. How the city came to be, and how the bone towers came to be necessary, is never really explained. It just is. The skies are dangerous. Skymouths are invisible, huge wormlike creatures (at least, that’s how I imagined them) that swallow people whole. When there is a migration of the creatures, they can devastate whole towers. The bone towers grow on their own, solidifying from the center outward as they rise – making dwelling on the lower levels uncomfortable, and the very lowest levels uninhabitable. There is a mystical/spiritual element to the world: magic and mysticism are the forces behind the growth of the towers, and the city (the bone) is perceived a sentient being. Like many early civilizations, human sacrifice is used to appease the city when it grows troubled.


Book Adventures Weekly: Issue 13

Twitter users share stories about boys reading about girls using the hashtag #BoysReadGirls – from Let Toys be Toys – for Girls and Boys, a UK blog.

BookRiot examines tropes we love – and why we love to see them subverted.

Malinda Lo, author of Diversity in YA, has written a four part essay on Perceptions of Diversity in book reviews.

The Horn Book opens the discussion about who reviewers are, and who their audience is. Yes, this one’s about diversity, too.

That’s cool. Ferguson, MO just hired a crowdfunded children’s librarian. The story (and an interview with the new librarian) is over at Library Journal.

Haven’t read a romance yet but want to see what the fuss is all about? BookRiot lists the 10 romance novels you should start with.

Some of my favorite heroines EVER are on this list of Science Fiction/Fantasy heroines you ought to know, from BookRiot.

And, from the Department of Random, Celebrity Division

Leonard Nimoy on Spock’s Secret Jewish Origins (via Tor)

Howl with Werewolves (Halloween Special Part 2)

In the second installment of our Halloween Special series (see the first, on Vampires), we look at my personal favorite supernatural: the Werewolf. Check out some good, better, and best werewolf stories in the list below. Word to the wise urban fantasy reader: Werewolves are sexy, so beware – many of these are romantic to varying degrees.

Just reviewed this week, a witty take on supernaturals living among us.


The Silver Wolf. The book that got me started on werewolves: a young, poor orphan, in the decaying Roman empire, sold by her family in marriage for well, the usual – money.


In Written in Red, Meg Corbyn, a blood prophet, finds sanctuary from the humans who tortured her in an enclave of the terra indigine, creatures like vampires and werewolves and other shapeshifters. Simon Wolfgard, leader of the enclave, doesn’t know why she doesn’t smell like food, or why he and the others find her so interesting. As Meg learns what it is to live in the wild, Simon discovers how much he wants to protect this strange human.


So, this one – not my favorite. But that doesn’t mean you won’t like it! It’s a humorous story about a witch just trying to get by, when werewolves nose their way into her orderly life.


The Mercy Thompson books are some of my absolute favorite stories, series, werewolves, EVER. Witty, sometimes dark, romantic, spooky, and upbeat, this is one of the best in the genre.


By the same excellent author, starring a different kind of heroine. Anna, victim of a vicious werewolf pack, is an Omega. Yup, that means she’s special. While not as stunningly amazing as the Mercy Thompson series, it’s still worth a read. You’ll want to start with the opening novella, Alpha and Omega. It may or may not be part of your copy of Cry Wolf.


Just started Silver, a serendipitous library find, and it has a different focus: Silver is a young wolf who has been tortured, poisoned, and is flirting (pretty sure I meant flitting there) between reality and visions. When Andrew Dare, enforcer for the East Coast packs, finds her, he’s driven to protect her and find out what happened.


Admittedly, I’ve only seen the TV series. But it’s a fun show! Might be a good book, too…


This is the second in a series about a former cop, who left the force to become a private eye because she developed a degenerative sight condition. In this one, her new sort-of-partner, Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of King Henry VIII and vampire, head out to the country to solve a mystery involving werewolves. Tanya Huff writes superbly drawn characters and complex settings and plots. A longer haul than most urban fantasy, this is totally worth it.


Sort of a tongue-in-cheek comedy of manners set in a steampunk Victorian England where the Queen has werewolf investigators and deals with vampires, Soulless begins a fun series about a soulless young woman, Alexia, and her encounters and involvement with the supernaturals in the community.


Crimefighting meets werewolves again in this one by Eileen Wilks. Lily Yu, a police detective, needs the help of Rule Turner to infiltrate the werewolf clans and find a killer.


I nearly forgot this one, though I don’t know how! The Psy-Changeling series is a truly enjoyable series that mixes humans, weres (mostly panthers and wolves) and a psychic race, in an alternate, sort of futuristic United States. Each book pairs a new hero and heroine, so if you’re into urban fantasy romance, you’ll probably enjoy these. Start with Slave to Sensation.

And if you want to get your werewolf fix in 5 minutes or less, here is the famous music video werewolf:

Sword-Wielding Heroines: A Reader’s Map

It’s been a while since we’ve done a reader’s map at Spicy Nodes. Today, you can interact with a map of books (mostly fantasy) that feature women who wield swords. There’s a Celtic fantasy series, several books about mercenaries, “sword and sorcery” books, an alternate fantasy, and of course, romantic fantasies.

Click the image below to be taken to the interactive map.

Do you know of any other books with swashbuckling, bada$$ women who wield swords? Share in the comments and I’ll add them to the map!

Illusion, danger, and mystery in The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter


The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, by Rod Duncan
August 26th, 2014 – Angry Robot Books (Steampunk)*

My rating: Beach read that I might read again (3.5/4)

In this steampunk novel, Elizabeth Barnabus lives on her own in the restrictive, Calvinist-esque society of the Anglo-Scottish Republic. For propriety’s sake, and to facilitate her private eye investigations, she tells everyone she lives with her brother, a private investigator. In truth, as the daughter of one of the greatest illusionists of her time, she disguises herself as her brother as she conducts her work, when she pays her rent, and whenever he is required to assuage her neighbors’ curiosity or concern. This book encompasses one of her investigations, involving the Duke and Duchess of Bletchley, from Elizabeth’s home country – which Elizabeth fled in exile after a nobleman decided he wanted her, impoverished her family, and bought up all their debts so he could claim her as payment. The Duchess of Bletchley asks Elizabeth to find her missing brother, who escaped punishment for using forbidden (un-patented) technology. While Elizabeth agrees to take on the case, the danger that comes with it give her pause. Along the way, she falls in with circus performers, evades pursuit by the Patent Office (tasked with the regulation and prohibition of new, un-patented technologies), and disguises herself as many different characters.  (more…)

‘Crown of Dust’ A fantastic Gold Rush tale

crownofdustCrown of Dust by Mary Volmer
Soho Press: November 1st, 2011

My rating: Outstanding Adventure! (5/5)

I’ve been waiting for a good time to post this review, and my vacation on the West Coast seems ideal. Sharing the west-coast theme, Crown of Dust is a historical fiction that takes place during the Gold Rush.

In the late 19th century, a young man arrives in Emaline’s town of Motherlode, a small mining start-up near the grass valley. Alex, the young man, is running from a past he doesn’t want to remember, and hiding a secret that could ruin his life, and take his freedom. For Alex is not a young man, but a young woman. The story is about Emaline and Alex, and all the other inhabitants of Motherlode, with their many desires, ambitions, dreams, cares, and problems. The setting is a poor town with plenty of water in the creek and enough gold to keep the miners panning, but not much else. A town with an unfinished church, and a wild but mostly decent population. (more…)

Summer Vacation Itinerary: Nine Adventures

I always wish I had more time to read in the summer, but there are so many other attractions! When I get the chance, though, I’ll be reading these:

Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, has been discontinued. Which is why I finally purchased actual, new, books: The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke, published by Strange Chemistry. I’ve heard great reviews from Jaclyn and others, so obviously I have to try it. And it wasn’t too hard to rationalize the purchase.

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1)

The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2)

I’ve been thinking about Madeleine E. Robin‘s Sarah Tolerance series for ages, and as I haven’t read the third one, The Sleeping Partner, and I can’t find the first two at the library (another sad lack in libraryland), these are next on my to-buy-list. Sarah Tolerance is a swashbuckling, pants-wearing, crime-solving woman in a slightly altered 19th century. Think Sebastian St. Cyr, but female. With a little fantasy, a little mystery, and some serious fighting, this will make corn fields breeze by on your road trip.

The Sleeping Partner (Sarah Tolerance #3)

Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen. Peter Pan, from Hook’s perspective. Enough said? Hook is not an evil villain, but a misguided, un-self-reflective, childish adult, who has some growing up to do. I’m reading this one now, and it’s the ultimate summer reading, with the top, adventure-story layer and the deeper, growing-up layer readers can choose to digest.

Alias Hook (more…)