Category Archives: book review

Book review: The Shambling Guide to New York City

The Shambling Guide to New York City, by Mur Lafferty(disclaimer: Mur is a local writer, and I am acquainted with her. I purchased this book on my own.)Zoe Norris, a travel writer, moves back to New York City after she loses her job at a publishing com… Continue reading

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Book review: The Shambling Guide to New York City

The Shambling Guide to New York City, by Mur Lafferty(disclaimer: Mur is a local writer, and I am acquainted with her. I purchased this book on my own.)Zoe Norris, a travel writer, moves back to New York City after she loses her job at a publishing com… Continue reading

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Book review: Obsidian and Blood

Obsidian and Blood, by Aliette deBodardAs promised, I am back from Germany and posting a review of this trilogy.This omnibus collects the three Acatl novels and three short stories.In the first novel, Servant of the Underworld, Acatl, High Priest for t… Continue reading

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Book review: Obsidian and Blood

Obsidian and Blood, by Aliette deBodardAs promised, I am back from Germany and posting a review of this trilogy.This omnibus collects the three Acatl novels and three short stories.In the first novel, Servant of the Underworld, Acatl, High Priest for t… Continue reading

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Book review: Wastelands

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, edited by John Joseph AdamsThis anthology came out in 2008, so it isn’t new. I can’t remember how I got my copy (an e-book), but it was sitting there on my e-reader when I wanted to read something I could pick up … Continue reading

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Book review: The Future is Japanese

The Future is Japanese, edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi WashingtonI bought this anthology after Ken Liu’s piece “Mono no Aware” was nominated for the Hugo. I put off reading it until recently.Individual stories within an anthology are often hit or mi… Continue reading

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Book review: Remnant Population

Remnant Population, by Elizabeth MoonOfelia is a woman in her 70s who lives on a colony world and works on a farm. As the story opens, she has just learned that Sims Bancorp, the company she “works” for and which owns the rights to colonizing that worl… Continue reading

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Book review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastards #1) by Scott LynchLocke Lamora, as you may guess from the title, is a liar. He’s very good at it, as a matter of fact, and he uses his skill at lying to separate rich fools from their money.His little band o… Continue reading

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Books I love: Swordspoint

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, 1987.

The book opens thus:

Snow was falling on Riverside, great white feather-puffs that veiled the cracks in the façades of its ruined houses; slowly softening the contours of jagged roof and fallen beam. […]
Let the fairy tale begin on a winter’s morning, then, one drop of blood new-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as the single spot of claret on the lace cuff.

Richard St. Vier is a swordsman who lives in the mean streets of Riverside. Nobles from up on the Hill hire him to duel for their honor, to first blood or to the death. His signature is a killing blow straight to the heart, very difficult, but he’s the best.

Alec Campion is a student with a secret past, and he has a bad habit of trying to get himself killed in bar fights. Fortunately (or not) for him, St. Vier took a liking to him and will defend him from the attackers. Sometimes Alec starts fights on purpose, just so he can watch Richard work.

The plot is twisty and full of intrigue, intricate and intimate. Richard and Alec’s love story is at the heart of the novel, but there is another larger plot going on around them. There’s a power play going on among the nobles, into which Richard and Alec are drawn, in no small part because of Alec’s secret past*.

Alec isn’t the most likable character; he’s an ass, a drug addict, and a bit of a liar. Richard is a cold-blooded killer, with a soft spot for Alec.

Kushner has said that everyone in her books is bisexual; Richard had a wife, and Alec had several female lovers. (Yet people still classify them as “gay lovers;” the book is on lists of books with gay main characters. Bisexual erasure: it’s a real thing.) This is wonderful and still rare in publishing.

The edition I own, Bantam Spectra 2003, includes three short stories: “The Swordsman Whose Name was Not Death,” how Richard met Alec, “The Death of the Duke,” as it says on the tin, and “Red-Cloak,” a tale of a duel between Richard and a man who may not have been as he seemed, as well as an afterword by Kushner.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys political intrigue, romance between two extremely flawed individuals, and beautiful, evocative writing. I hope you love it as much as I do.

*SPOILER: he’s the heir to Duchess Tremontaine. Continue reading

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Book review: Cast in Shadow

Cast in Shadow by Michelle SagaraKaylin serves in the Hawks, a sort of police department, in Elantra. She’s summoned to the Hawklord’s office one morning to receive an assignment and two partners. One of the partners is an old friend who betrayed her s… Continue reading

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