The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars

The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger book cover
The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger

The 5th Gender, by G. L. Carriger (the pen name Gail Carriger writes under when she does spicy stuff), is a wonderful romance-cozy-mystery-scifi story. The lavender Galoi alien Tristol Zyga and the human security officer Detective Drey Hastion are just starting their courtship when a Galoi spaceship contacts the space station with an odd request—the Galoi, who have no word for murder, have a non-accidental death on board and need of a detective. It’s up to Detective Hastion and Tris—who, as an exile, no longer exists to his people—to find out what happened.

Also, for those of delicate sensibilities, there’s a lot of sex in this book, fully described, male on male.

1—Wonderful Worldbuilding

We get alternating points of view from Tris and Drey, and each’s observations on the other and and how they interact with the people and space station around them forms the basis of some excellent worldbuilding. I love Tris’s take on human customs and idioms. And Drey is always willing to answer Tris’s questions and explain things, as well as ask questions of his own. Between the two of them, we learn a lot about Galoi and humans both. In particular, the Galoi’s five genders and anatomy were interesting to learn about. Continue reading “The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars”

No Country for Old Gnomes—Unexpected Friends

No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne book cover
No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is continuing the Tales of Pell from the first book, Kill the Farmboy. In this book, we follow another group of not-exactly adventurers, this time on a quest to save the Skyr and the gnomes that are being blown up.

1—A New Set of Heroes

It takes a while to gather our heroes and set up the story, but between the puns, the umlauts, and the firebombs, it’s never dull. We begin with Onni and Offi, twin gnome brothers who couldn’t be more different, as their home comes under attack by smelly halflings. We shortly thereafter meet Kirsi, a young gnome woman who’s spent her life hiding the fact that she’s a bristle witch who can only curse people—not very gnomeric. They start out just wanting to get to a refugee shelter alive. Continue reading “No Country for Old Gnomes—Unexpected Friends”

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning book cover
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning

Warlock Homes: A Study in Brimstone, by G. S. Denning, is a fantastic, comedic take on Sherlock Homes, and is just as ludicrously fun as it sounds. Being the journal of one Dr. John Watson, it chronicles his first cases with the bumbling but powerful Warlock Holmes, and starts with John’s apology for ending the world.

1—The Characters

I loved the characters in this book. There is, of course, Dr. Watson, who narrates. Watson is observant and sarcastic—not to most of the people he speaks with, but to his reader, and, once comfortable with him, to Warlock. Next there’s Warlock Holmes himself, who is less than observant, and yet endearingly so. There’s Vladislav Lestrade, a nihilistic vampire and Scotland Yard detective, as is Torg Grogsson, an honorable ogre with a love of ballet dancers. There’s also a host of characters that don’t repeat from story to story, each with their own individual quirks. Continue reading “Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World”

The Devil You Know—Ghosts, Demons, and the Exorcist Caught in the Middle

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey book cover
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey, follows the first-person perspective adventures of exorcist Felix Castor. Felix—Fix to his friends—hasn’t been doing his job lately. After a botched exorcism on his best friend Rafi leaves Rafi intertwined with a demon, Fix looses the will to do what he was born to do. But when his dear friend and landlady Pen needs some rent money badly, Fix reluctantly takes on a job—a job that turns out to be much more than a simple ghost.

1—The Worldbuilding

The worldbuilding is done well, woven into the narrative, never too much at once but always building your understanding of the world Fix inhabits. The dead have risen in sufficient numbers that people can’t just ignore them anymore so there’s plenty of work for the few people with the talent to be exorcists. Besides your garden variety ghosts, there’s zombies—where a dead person re-inhabits their dead body—and loup-garou—where a ghost inhabits an animal and reshapes its flesh into their lost human image. Continue reading “The Devil You Know—Ghosts, Demons, and the Exorcist Caught in the Middle”

Art Matters—Because It Does

Art Matters—Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell book cover
Art Matters—Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Art Matters, by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell, is a short, beautiful book. It consists of four parts—Credo, which is bout ideas; Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming, which is about why all of those things are important; Making a Chair, which is a fun little anecdote; and Make Good Art, which is, to me, a rallying cry, as well as some good advise for creatives. I think my favorite piece of advise is, enjoy it, the whole ride. Don’t not enjoy it because you’re so worried about the future you fail to appreciate the present.

Anyway, it was a short book, one you can read in an evening and I greatly enjoyed it. Now go forth and make something.

In a Witch’s Wardrobe—The Woman in the Mirror

In a Witch's Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell book cover
In a Witch’s Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell

In a Witch’s Wardrobe, by Juliet Blackwell, is a cozy mystery set in San Francisco, told from the first-person perspective of Lilly Ivory, a witch and owner of a vintage clothing store. This time out, she’s helping a young woman under a sleeping curse.

I have also reviewed previous entries in this series.

1—Sleeping Beauties

We start out at a costume ball, where everyone is dressed up like from the 1920s. Lilly has gone with Aiden, the witch “Godfather” of the Bay Area, but when she runs into a young woman, Lilly gets a vision of the woman reaching out to her but covered in vines. Aiden tells her to leave it alone. Later, that same young woman falls into a coma in the ladies’ bathroom, and Lilly sees her spirit trapped in a bathroom mirror. Again Aiden tells Lilly to leave it alone. But Lilly is never one to shrink when she can help, and soon Lilly finds out that another young woman has died from this same curse. Continue reading “In a Witch’s Wardrobe—The Woman in the Mirror”

Dreadful Company: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—Vampires Underground in Paris

 

Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw book cover
Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Dreadful Company, the second of the Dr. Greta Helsing novels , by Vivian Shaw. It continues the adventures of Greta and her friends, the vampire Ruthven and vampyre (there’s a difference) Varney, as they go to Paris for a medical conference. Unfortunately, there’s another vampire in Paris that hates Ruthven and kidnaps Greta to get at him.

1—Glittering Vampires

The vampires who kidnap Greta, led by the murderous twit Corvin, are a bit too into the “creature of the night” thing. They wear body glitter, for fuck’s sake. Corvin even steals bones from Paris’s catacombs to decorate his underground lair—which will become plot relevant down the line. There’s Lilith, Corvin’s consort, who keeps summoning and then abandoning little hairmonsters and wellmonsters. There’s Grisaille, Corvin’s second in command, who’d rather do anything but command. And there’s the newest vampire, Sofiria (nee Emily), who hasn’t really been taught anything she needs to know, not even that the glittering isn’t natural. She has to come see the captive Greta to get even remedial lessons in what it means to be a vampire.  Continue reading “Dreadful Company: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—Vampires Underground in Paris”

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman—Part2—From Vienna to Budapest

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss book cover
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, by Theodora Goss, continues the adventures of the Athena Club—a gathering of women who were all experiments and daughters of alchemists—from their meeting and formation of the Club in The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. This time out, the Club are trying to rescue another daughter-experiment, one Lucinda Van Helsing.

I’ve broken my review up into two parts partially because this book is a doorstopper and partially because the book itself is divided into two parts. The first part of my review can be found here.

1—When Last We Left Our Heroines

Mary, Diana, Justine, and an increasingly unstable Lucinda had disappeared, kidnapped by Mr. Hyde, who is Mary and Diana’s father. He’s had them taken to a crumbling castle in the middle of the Styrian forest. Hyde wants Lucinda’s blood, and is willing to take it at gunpoint, to try to save his patient. Continue reading “European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman—Part2—From Vienna to Budapest”

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman—Part 1—From London to Vienna

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss book cover
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, by Theodora Goss, continues the adventures of the Athena Club—a gathering of women who were all experiments and daughters of alchemists—from their meeting and formation the Club in The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. This time out, the Club are trying to rescue another daughter-experiment, one Lucinda Van Helsing.

I’ve broken my review up into two parts partially because this book is a doorstopper and partially because the book itself is divided into two parts.

1—The Setup

Mary Jekyll receives a letter from her old teacher Mina regarding the disappearance of Lucinda Van Helsing, spurring her and Justine—disguised as Justin—to leave early for Vienna and the home of one Irene Norton nee Adler, via the Orient Express. They also have to borrow money from Sherlock Holmes, Mary’s employer, which they all chafe at, but needs must. Meanwhile, Diana Hyde, Mary’s sister, sneaks along with Mary and Justine. Sherlock goes missing shortly thereafter. Continue reading “European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman—Part 1—From London to Vienna”