New from Heidi Cullinan and Samhain Publishing: Carry the Ocean

I have read this book and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t really review it because I felt incapable of summing up what the book meant to me in a few (any) words. Instead, I simply implored my Goodreads followers to READ IT. I added the qualifier: IT’S AMAZING.

Sometimes we just don’t need a lot of words to convey how we feel. Anyway, here are all the deets on a book I loved so much, I ordered a print copy for my bookshelves.

Review: Liesmith by Alis Franklin

Liesmith: Book 1 of The Wyrd

Sigmund Sussman is your stereotypical nerd. At twenty-two, he still lives at home. When not working tech-support, he plays games – handheld, console and MMOs. He has a Dungeons and Dragons group and the walls of his bedroom are papered with Star Wars posters and pictures of dragons. He’s a bit plain, a bit overweight, wears glasses and is still a virgin. So, perhaps no one is more surprised than Sigmund when the new guy in IT, the painfully hip and casually gorgeous Lain Laufeyjarson flirts with him. Sigmund has kissed a girl. Twice. Beyond that, he’s never considered is sexuality. Lain radiates the sort of confidence that encourages everyone to act now and think later, however, and so Sigmund flirts back. Clumsily.

Shortly after bucking the expectations the tech-support department, his two closest friends and his father by dating the hot new guy, Sigmund figures out the meaning of Lain’s last name. The fact that every story Lain tells is filled with lies sort of makes sense if he’s actually a deceased Norse god, right? When Lain sprouts horns and a tail, Sigmund’s suspicions are confirmed. He’s actually dating the Liesmith, more commonly known as Loki. Continue reading “Review: Liesmith by Alis Franklin”

Review: In the Fire by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

In the Fire (In the Kitchen #2)Holy angst, Batman! I read In the Fire in one sitting because I had to. I needed to know, from the second chapter forward, whether Ethan and Jamie were going to work it out—and if they didn’t, I was going to book the first flight to Seattle, or maybe New York, and start banging heads together. Never mind that these characters are fictional.

It’s been eight years since Jamie left for Paris and, apparently, it’s been about that long since the boys have seen each other. While I absorbed that little nugget with all due sadness, I can’t honestly say I was surprised. They were so young and both so hungry for success. The need for a “happy ever after” aside, I think they made the right decision in choosing their careers. Eight years later, the divide between them is wider than a coast to coast commute, however. And despite success in their separate careers, neither of them is overwhelmingly happy. Continue reading “Review: In the Fire by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin”

Review: The Sheltered City by John Tristan

The Sheltered City

Once again, John Tristan has created a unique and compelling world. The deeper into ‘The Sheltered City’ I got, the more I wanted to know. Why where they living inside what seemed to be a large dome sheltered by an enormous living tree? Where the dragons outside real or allegorical? What is the halfdeath and what about those elves?

Amon was born with the halfdeath, an affliction that gives him the gift of strength and supernormal healing at the cost of half his life. His skin is ash grey and traced with prominent black veins. He is a large man, a giant, and often possessed by rages. He is well suited to his job as bouncer in a whorehouse, until he assaults an elf, believing the elf had been hurting one of the boys downstairs.

Elves are the ruling class. They live in the Tree. Their word is law and to harm one carries a sentence that can only be determined by the elves. Probably death. Caedian is not a typical elf, however. He is young and naïve. In fact, humans seem to be as mysterious to him as the elves are to humans. Amon, with his grey skin and great strength, even more so. Caedian quickly forgives Amon the broken nose and then hires him to help in the search for his brother.

The search takes Amon to the Rim, the outer edge of the Last City. There, he encounters snippets of a legend he was born to, the dragonhunters. These men and women looked like him, grey, large, possessed of strength and fits of rage. Amon knew he was born of a dragonhunter and was raised by another. What he does not know is why he is the last and why he had never been called to serve, despite being trained. The Order has disappeared.

The event of finding Caedian’s brother is a catalyst of a sort. The truth of the Last City is revealed, in part, and the truth of Amon’s heritage. Facing death, both men chose exile and leave the shelter of the city. The world outside the city lives up to the harsh legends. The air is toxic and the dragons are real. Ill-suited to the environment, Caedian quickly falls ill and Amon devises a way to save him. From there, they stumble across an enclave of dragonhunters who finish telling the story of truth, about their poisoned blood, the elves and the city.

But where Amon was not suited for life within the Last City, Caedian is not suited for life outside the dome, even changed as he becomes. Ultimately, the two men face a series of choices, between themselves, what makes them feel happy and complete, and what they feel is right.

I really enjoyed ‘The Sheltered City’. John Tristan has a wonderful imagination. His worlds always come to life easily and I’m always sad to step away at the conclusion of the book. Despite the scope of adventure, the romantic elements in ‘The Sheltered City’ are more immediate than in his previous book, ‘The Adorned’. The love story feels more central. But what both novels have in common is well-conceived fantasy world that could support more than one tale. Gender and sexuality hold less importance than skin colour and race, a dynamic that I find refreshing. It’s the history of the worlds that has me wanting to read more, however. By the end of ‘The Sheltered City’, it becomes obvious that events are part of a larger cycle. That’s the story I want next. I want to know where the dragons came from and I wouldn’t mind reading about Amon and Caedian eradicating the threat once and for all.

Written for SFCrowsnest.