What I Read: A God in the Shed

IMG_0518Before I drop into my review, I should note I don’t normally read horror.

“If that’s true, why did you read A God in the Shed?

Because the idea of accidentally trapping a god in your backyard shed is awesome, and because I loved JF Dubeau’s previous book, the sci-fi The Life Engineered.

The good news, despite straying from my usual genre, is I enjoyed AGITS and plan to read its sequel when it comes out. This is a dark supernatural thriller with a high (and gruesome) death count, but that’s what happens when dealing with a god of death and hate. Dubeau has hit on a brilliant concept in this book and he executes the premise well. The story moves smoothly from revelation to revelation and the complex web of interrelated characters and plot points converge.

PS: If you do plan to pick up this book, I recommend getting yourself a physical copy. Inkshares have done an amazing job with the design and production of this — the cover looks great, and the pages are rough-cut, giving the book a glorious on-theme feel.

PPS: I won’t be booking a ticket to Saint-Ferdinand any time soon.

You can buy AGITS from:

What I Read: The Innkeeper Chronicles

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Clean Sweep is Book 1 in the series.

I became hooked on Ilona Andrews through the Kate Daniels series, then discovered the Innkeeper Chronicles, and my addiction grew. This series has a very different vibe to Kate Daniels, but it still packs the Ilona Andrews punch. There are (at the time I’m writing this) three novels out in the series: Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, and One Fell Sweep.

The novels are science-fiction with a dose of urban fantasy. They tell the story of Dina, an Innkeeper who caters to non-human clients. In this universe, the Earth exists on an interstellar crossroads, and humans are the smallest fish in a big ocean. To prevent humanity’s inevitable enslavement or extermination by another race, a great treaty was formed to establish the planet as a neutral zone and safe haven. Innkeepers provide accommodation and protection to those who come calling and ensure the great secret is never revealed.

The best way to describe this series is FUN. The blend of science and magic is perfect for the tone of the books, which are action packed, humorous, and touching. The Inns themselves are incredible, and the eclectic cast of characters are delightful (and yet another reason real-life social interactions can feel so tedious).

If you enjoy a fantastical sci-fi adventure, or are an urban fantasy fan looking for a new take on things which go bump, I highly recommend these books. They aren’t hard sci-fi, so readers looking for an explanation of how the Inn’s technomagic works are going to be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean the world-building is lacking, just that the explanation of how magic and technology mix isn’t relevant to the incredible stories packed into each instalment.

You can find more information on goodreads here, or buy the books at:

What I Read: Bones of the Past

Munro - Bones of the Past - CoverThe Night Guard walk the streets of the old kingdom of Bialta seeking out threats that are beyond the abilities of the common soldier. Nial is one such threat a girl changed into something other and on the hunt for human souls. Salt, a sailor recently rescued by the Night Guard, has been inducted into their ranks. He s a quick study, but as new threats multiply all around them, will he have what it takes to survive?

Bialta is not alone in its woes. Sacral, a city that vanished in the distant past, has reappeared where it once stood at the heart of the Wastes. Like many of Sacral s people, Maura is content living a quiet life, ignoring the outside world. But she finds herself desperately fighting to save her home as war comes to the city returned.

Meanwhile, across the Great Desert, creatures are stirring. Carver, the last living master of the magic known as fleshcarving, has won the support of the tyrant of Tolrahk Esal. Together they will unleash his twisted creations to sweep across the land and forever disrupt the balance of power.

In this epic tale, there is no good and evil. Armies march, demons feed, and deities unleash their powers on a world that will never be the same.

Bones of the Past is the first installment in a new epic fantasy series by Craig Munro. It tells a sprawling tale weaving together stories from dozens of characters across an entire continent in a high-fantasy setting. The novel strongly reminded me of the Book of the Malazan Fallen series by Stephen Erikson, and is a powerful debut novel from Munro.

I enjoyed this novel and devouring its pages felt effortless. The characters are all well-realised, and the world-building is impressive. Munro has created an enormous world with a deep history. He has invested the time to provide us a fresh fantasy landscape, without relying on the cliches some fantasy series fall back on. This is a world that lives and breathes, unencumbered by stereotyped races coughpointyearedelvescough.

Munro does a good job of weaving between his various plot threads and POVs, setting the stage for his different pieces to coalesce into a cohesive whole. However, he’s playing the long game, and many of these threads remain separate at the end of the book. He doesn’t completely abandon us here, with the stage primed for those pieces to come together in the next book, but it is something to be aware of going in — when you finish Bones of the Past, you’ll be left wanting the second book (not yet out) in order to find satisfaction for some of those stories you’ve become invested in (for me, it is mostly to experience the rest of the Zuly / Nial arc).

Bones of the Past is a great novel for those who enjoy gritty, sprawling high fantasy such as that produced by Stephen Erikson.

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What I Read: A Court of Thorns and Roses (series)

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A Court of Wings and Ruin

I’ve just finished reading A Court of Wings and Ruin, book three in the ongoing A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas (I’ve previously written about Maas’ Throne of Glass series). I love this series — the latest instalment knocking it out of the park. Again.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fantasy series set in a world of fae and humans. A little reminiscent of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series, this world is divided by a magic wall, with lands to the North controlled by the fae and lands to the south controlled by humans. It follows the story of Feyre, a young woman who’s actions inadvertently result in her being trapped on the wrong side of the wall, where things are… not great.

Feyre is an awesome protagonist. She’s strong, self-sufficient, and doesn’t take shit lying down. She’s beautifully realised throughout the series, as are the rest of the cast.

The setting and plot draw from a wealth of existing tales, but Maas puts a strong stamp on it and isn’t afraid to smash our preconceptions — often turning our understanding of situations and characters on its head. She’s also a master of Chekhov’s Gun — returning to earlier books reveals a wealth of clues which add to the re-read value.

Book three brought with it an epic conclusion to key plot-points, and the series could stand proud as a trilogy, but there are more books planned. The world certainly has scope to keep me enthralled, so I’m looking forward to book four.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

If you haven’t started the series yet, I recommend you grab a copy of book one: A Court of Thorns and Roses.

 

What I Read: Sync City

Sync City - CoverTime and space are connected — they’re one big hypersphere of quirky goodness, so it stands to reason if we can break our physical world, we can probably break time. In Sync City, we did. Big time. This isn’t your typical time-travel caper where the hero bounces through time trying to prevent history being rewritten. Time has shattered, making life… complicated. Imagine sitting in your comfortable suburban bungalow when a mongol raiding party materialises on your doorstep. That’s the reality in Sync City, anyone, anywhere, could be catapulted through time and space without warning. Entire communities are picked up and dropped at random, left to fend for themselves until nature gets bored and (hopefully) takes them home.

This is the most radical time travel setting I’ve read, possibly forging its very own sub-genre — Time Travel Apocalypse. In such a dangerous future ah… past err… In such a world, people stranded out of time need help. They need the Keepers. Equipped with the greatest tech from any of the timelines, riding kick-ass bikes and keeping the timelines pure, they come to the rescue. Well. They come. If it’s Jack who arrives, he’s more likely there to blow shit up, but he’ll try to help you while he’s at it.

Sync City is exactly the book I needed. It’s chock-full of action, funky concepts, and a nice dash of humour. Jack is a great protagonist who’s well realised through a strong voice and bad-ass bike. He had me chuckling throughout while dragging me backwards and forwards (and sideways) through a future/past/present trying to stop things from getting worse (and hunting for his next drink). An unashamed prick, you can’t help but join his cheer squad. Do yourself a favour and go for a ride with Jack.

Sync City was written by Peter Ryan and is available from a bunch of places, including:

What I Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the name of an urban fantasy series by Laini Taylor, as well as the title of the first book. This series hit me hard, captivating my attention from beginning to end. Indeed, it was a series that left me devasted once over, desperate for one more word.

The series opens in modern-day prague, following Karou; a young arts student with distinctive blue hair. Along with her friends, she’s a typical, irreverent, joyous woman soaking up the rich history of her city. Unfortunately, the secret she carries with her, and the past she can’t remember, will tear her world apart.

Early on this series serves us a star-crossed lovers theme, one it executes flawlessly. However, staged across multiple worlds, in the midst of an unimaginable war, don’t mistake it for derivative or confined to the romance genre. This series is easily on if the best urban fantasies I’ve read. Taylor’s universe is one I yearn to discover actually exists (although I’d likely not survive). Her characters are incredible, shining stars you will fall in love with, and her prose entrancing.

I anticipate returning to these treasured new friends repeatedly over the coming years.

You can find Daughter of Smoke and Bone on Amazon here and Book Depository here.

What I Read: Throne of Glass Series

My “WIR” posts are not reviews, but rather short recommendations for books I love.

I’m writing this post having just finished Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas. Empire is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, the five books being:

  1. Throne of Glass
  2. Crown of Midnight
  3. Heir of Fire
  4. Queen of Shadows
  5. Empire of Storms

Sarah J Maas has two fantasy series which I have been reading, and both have proven to be tales told with a sure, deft hand. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t yet picked up one of her books, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of either Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses (first book in her other series).

The Throne of Glass series is set in the fantasy world of Erilea and follows the heart-wrenching adventures of Calaena Sardothien, the most renown assassin in the realm. I want to be careful not to give away too many spoilers, but from the start these books grab you by the scruff and drag you along behind wild horses. The pacing is fast, the dangers grand, and the myriad of schemes and plans intricate. I have yet to find fault with any of the books and am now destitute waiting for the next as the primary story ramps up to a climax of world-shattering proportions.

What type of fantasy are we talking? Humans (as you would expect), fae, witches (these are not the bubbling cauldron type), wyverns, shape shifters, daemons, and more.

You can find more info on the series on goodreads here, or pick up the first book on Amazon:

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