October 29, 2015

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

Title:  Gil's All Fright Diner
Author:  A. Lee Martinez
Pages:  268
Genre:  Comedy Horror
Publisher:  Tom Doherty Associates, 2005
"Hector has a theory on it. Calls it the law of 'Anomalous Phenomena Attraction.'  He explained it to me once.  Didn't really pay close attention, but it boils down to 'weird shit pulls in more weird shit'."
Synopsis:  Welcome to Gil’s All Night Diner, where zombie attacks are a regular occurrence and you never know what might be lurking in the freezer. . . .Duke and Earl are just passing through Rockwood county in their pick-up truck when they stop at the diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around--until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them one hundred dollars to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this looks right up their alley.  But the shambling dead are just the tip of a particularly spiky iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the diner, and more than willing to raise a little hell on earth if that’s what it takes. Before Duke and Earl get to the bottom of the diner’s troubles, they’ll run into such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jailbait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig Latin.And maybe--just maybe--the End of the World, too.  Gory, sexy, and flat-out hilarious, Gil’s All Fright Diner will tickle your funny bone--before ripping it out of its socket!
His canine mind knew that on the other side of that light was a paradise of unending liver-flavored treats and things in constant need of being peed on and slow rabbits.
Review:  So far this year I've had Science Fiction Fluff and now Comedy Horror.  What a completely great, fabulous book this is.  A quick read, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  But, don't think it won't be a good story because, all jokes aside, it is a pretty darn good story too.

Between Loretta, the overweight diner owner; Earl, the scrawny vampire with an overbite and low self-esteem; Duke, the big, bulky werewolf who was a truck driver in his past life; and Tammy, the high school hottie who is practicing black magic, the cast is so completely engaging!  Add to them, Cathy, the ghost who falls in love with Earl, and Chad, Tammy's hormone-crazed boyfriend, and the fun just keeps coming.  My favorite character, however, was Napoleon, the ghost terrier -- he's got heart and balls in equal measure.  Toss in the fact that the end of the world is coming unless the unlikely heroes prevail, and you've got a winner.

I have had this book sitting on my shelf for ages and have avoided it because I just wasn't sure it would be good.  I was so very wrong.  I'd give it 20 stars, just for it's originality.  I will absolutely be looking for more books by this author.

Rating:  10 / 10

October 27, 2015

Memory & Dream by Charles de Lint

Title:  Memory & Dream
Author:  Charles de Lint
Pages:  591
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Tom Doherty Associates, 1994
"I don't have a red crow beating its wings in my chest.  When we die, we become nothing.  We're not the same as you.  When you die, the red crow flies away and you're supposed to live somewhere else.  I want to follow it.  I want it to show me how we can be real, too."
Synopsis:  As the young student of the brilliant Vincent Rushkin, Isabelle Copley discovered she could paint images so real they brought her dreams to life.  But when the forces she unleashed brought tragedy to those she loved, she turned her back on her talent -- and on those dreams.

Now, twenty years later, Isabelle must come to terms with the memories she has long denied, and unlock the power of her brush.  And, in a dark reckoning with her old master, she must find the courage to live out her dreams, and bring the magic back to life.

Review:  This story revolves around an artist and her ability to bring beings from Otherwhere to our reality, just by painting pictures.  These pictures have to be painted in just the right way or they don't work.  It's an enticing idea and one I immediately fell in love with.

However, her mentor Rushkin feeds on these beings, called numena, that are brought across.  They keep him youthful and strong.  He is so horrible and cruel and scary.  Thank goodness, in the end, he meets his match in Isabelle's first numena, John.  After all the hundreds of numena he murdered, I was so very happy to see him go.

I loved the numena, some of which weren't even human, but were all so believably real.  Cosette, the wild girl.  Rosalind, the maternal woman with a calm grace.  Paddyjack, the little wooden being who reminded me of a tree fairy.  They were all such great characters.  They do not age, do not need to eat or sleep....and cannot dream.  When the picture that brought them to this world is destroyed, they disappear forever.

Now Isabelle and John and the rest of her numena have to learn to live again, free from fear and lies.  The ending was so full of promise and hope, that I can only be sure they all succeed in their own way.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

October 21, 2015

Mystic Empire by Tracy & Laura Hickman

Title:  Mystic Empire
Author:  Tracy & Laura Hickman
Pages:  474
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Warner Books, 2006
"It is your gift," comes the voice from the stars.  "It is for you to know and to see.  It is up to your own wisdom how you use this sight -- for the greatest road is never the easiest, and few would take it if they knew the price of the way."
Synopsis:  Eighty Years have passed since the Mystics founded Calsandria, and now their nation is mired in politics and bloodlines. A woman with no magic, Theona Conlan leads the desperate search for the missing Prince of House Arvad. In the faery realm, Dwynwyn learns that slave creatures are mastering a magic that threatens the fragile peace between the faeries and their enemies. And while the goblin Lunid builds a device to reach across worlds, her masters plot to use it for their own dark ends. But unknown to them all, the gates between realities are about to burst open and plunge humans, faeries, and goblins into a war that can be won only with an undiscovered magic...

One that will unite--or destroy--three worlds.

Review:  Well, this was a great trilogy, there is no doubt about that.  But the binding (and possibly ending) of the three worlds hasn't taken place at the end of this, the last book.  The worlds now know that the others exist.  Many of the faeries have moved to the human world.  The goblins have attacked the human world but were not successful in the invasion.

Meanwhile, Theona, a great-granddaughter of some of the original mystics, is seeing visions of a dark and bleak future that only she can see.  And only she can choose the path that will cause the least amount of destruction.

I wasn't exactly pleased with the ending.  It seemed unfinished.  I wanted to see what happened next, but there is no next forthcoming.  I'd give it a lesser rating because I feel a little gypped, but the fact is that I loved it.  I'm just sorry I'll never know how it all ends up.

Rating:  9 / 10

October 14, 2015

Mystic Quest by Tracy & Laura Hickman

Title:  Mystic Quest
Author:  Tracy & Laura Hickman
Pages:  575
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Warner Books, 2005
Thrice upon a time...
An heir to a kingdom was sought,
A war threatened all of history,
And the veil between worlds was breached.
But that is a different tale.
Synopsis:  Thrice upon a time, three worlds were in peril. Twenty-three years have passed since Galen Arvad first exposed the deep magic. Now that magic brings tragedy and darkness to the lives of all who wield it in the world. Galen and his clans suffer an endless war in the realm of the dragonkings, the fairies contend with a gruesome kingdom of the undead, and in the realm of the reanimated, rusting titans, a tyrant goblin’s lust for conquest goes unchecked. A new generation of heroes will set out on separate, life-altering journeys. Whether in search of freedom or atonement, each will find their redemption may be beyond the power of magic—for their darkest secrets and greatest dangers are those they bring with them.

Review:  The promised 'Binding of the Worlds' didn't seem to happen.  Or at least not how I expected.  One human, Caelith, son of Galen; one fairy, Aislynn; and one goblin, Thux, all meet in the Dreamworld and put together an artifact that lay unremembered in their worlds.  This artifact was the key to ending the reign of the Dragonkings and Dragonqueens in the human world.  It was the end to the kingdom of the undead in the faery world.  It was the end to the might of the Titans in the goblin world.  It was an amazing and harrowing journey.  Cephas the dwarf (who lived in the human world) was lost along the way and I will miss him.

I'm not sure where these books are headed, but this story was even better than the last.  Perhaps because I already am familiar with the three worlds and how the Dreamworld works.  I've got to see what happens next.

Rating:  9 / 10

October 9, 2015

Mystic Warrior by Tracy & Laura Hickman

Title:  Mystic Warrior
Author:  Tracy & Laura Hickman
Pages:  495
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Wagner Books, 2004
"Thrice upon a time...
came the Binding of the Worlds.
Not even the gods knew
.....which world would reign....
.....which world would submit....
.....and which world would die."
Synopsis:  The Bronze Canticles is an expansive new saga chronicling the world-altering changes that take place as three connected universes - the Human world, the Goblin world, and the Faery world - are slowly drawn together. — In Book One, Mystic Warrior, young Galen Arvad, a human with magical powers, must avoid the ritual that puts those with such talents to death. It seems that in the eyes of the community, magic is a sign of lunacy, and in a yearly ritual the local "crazies" are offered up to the Dragon Priests. Galen is suddenly captured and imprisoned. Now, as Galen's wife, Berkita, and his friend, Cephas the dwarf, set off to rescue him, Galen learns of the fate that awaits him, a fate far worse than even his own death
"It is the place of dreams, the place of the past, the place of the future -- all these and none of them.  It is a place of the possible, the probable, and the entirely improbable.  It's a bridge or an ocean and often both."
Review:  This book is hard to review.  It is such a great idea and has so many new elements.  It also plods along a little slowly in places.  But, then, it picks you up by the seat of your pants and races you through thrills and surprises.

The Binding is coming.  There is the Dreamworld, where during sleep, certain members of each of the three worlds can sometimes meet and sometimes make magic that carries over into one of the three worlds.

There is the Faery world, where the Faeries consider themselves to be the ultimate and possibly only truly intelligent beings.  The rest - the merfolk, the centaurs, the multitudes of other races they call collectively Famadorians are lesser beings and not to be trusted.  Seemingly, the only thing that matters to Faeries is Truth and the search for New Truths.  Their rigid caste system and racial vanity are observed to a fault.  Seekers can see the Dreamworld.

There is the Human world, where dragons rule and are the deities.  Their priests have spent hundreds of years 'electing' humans and taking them off to fight the wars that are the way the Dragonkings and Dragonqueens settle their disputes.  Under the guise of helping people who are insane, they take the people who are Mystics and allow them to be slaughtered on the battlefield.  It is the lesser of two evils.  If the dragons didn't have the wars to settle their disputes, they would actually raze the countryside fighting themselves.  The Mystics are the ones who can see into the Dreamworld.

The Goblin world is one of greed.  The one with the most junk wins.  And most of the things they consider valuable would be considered junk anywhere else.  Gears and rusty metal are prized.  At some point in the very distant past, the Goblins were slaves to the Titans, a group of giant mechanical men.  Enter Mimic, who finds that books give him the ability to make the old machines work again.  He becomes King of the Goblins.  He and other 'Engineers' like him can see into the Dreamworld.

Now, some of those who can see the Dreamworld are being called to move to the same area of their respective worlds.  A confrontation (or a binding) is at hand.  There is so much more to this story, but that is the bare bones of it.  It was great in some places and not as great in others.  However, I have to know what happens next.

Rating:  8.5 / 10
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