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Rating: ★★★½☆

Ignite the Stars

From the publisher:
Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cōcha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?

Rating: ★★★½☆

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault

From the publisher:
Monsters are real.
But so are heroes.

Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice . . . mostly.

Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger.

Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks–and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities–and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.

Turns out that “accident” was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius’s latest diabolical scheme. Now it’s up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team’s name should be!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Just Listen

From the publisher:
To find the truth you’ve got to be willing to hear it.

When she’s modeling, Annabel is the picture of perfection.

But her real life is far from perfect.

Fortunately, she’s got Owen. He’s intense, music-obsessed, and dedicated to always telling the truth.

And most of all, he’s determined to make Annabel happy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Marylebone Drop

From the publisher:
A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information.
It’s also what happens just before you hit the ground.

Old spooks carry the memory of tradecraft in their bones, and when Solomon Dortmund sees an envelope being passed from one pair of hands to another in a Marylebone café, he knows he’s witnessed more than an innocent encounter. But in relaying his suspicions to John Bachelor, who babysits retired spies like Solly for MI5, he sets in motion a train of events that will alter lives.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Lovecraft Squad: Waiting

From the publisher:
In April 1936, Lovecraft’s novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth was first published. Written five years earlier, but oddly rejected by every magazine it was ever submitted to, it accurately described a series of events that actually happened in February 1928, when federal government agents raided the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth and attempted to eradicate a deviant race of ichthyoid creatures which had been interbreeding with the human population for decades, if not centuries.

There was no way that the reclusive pulp writer could have known so much about a case where the details had been withheld for fear of creating a panic among the public. Following these startling revelations, the F.B.I. went back and investigated more closely into the stories that Lovecraft was publishing as “fiction.” Incredibly, it soon began to emerge that the events in Innsmouth were not a solitary event―and the monstrosities the author described really did exist.

To combat these cosmic horrors, the Human Protection League (H.P.L.) was established to investigate and combat these otherworldly invaders. Down through the decades since, the only defense that has stood between humanity and these creatures of chaos are the agents of the H.P.L.―or, as they are sometimes known to those few who are aware of their existence: The Lovecraft Squad.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files, book 9)

From the publisher:
Since she was promoted to the head of the Lords Select Committee on Sanguinary Affairs, every workday for Mhari Murphy has been a nightmare. It doesn’t help that her boss, the new Prime Minister of Britain, is a manipulative and deceptive pain in the butt. But what else can she expect when working under the thumb of none other than the elder god N’yar Lat-Hotep a.k.a the Creeping Chaos?

Mhari’s most recent assignment takes her and a ragtag team of former Laundry agents across the pond into the depths of North America. The United States president has gone missing. Not that Americans are alarmed. For some mysterious reason, most of the country has forgotten the executive branch even exists. Perhaps it has to do with the Nazgûl currently occupying the government and attempting to summon Cthulhu.

It’s now up to Mhari and her team to race against the Nazgûl’s vampire-manned dragnet to find and, for his own protection, kidnap the president.

Who knew an egomaniacal, malevolent deity would have a soft spot for international relations?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Impostors

From the publisher:
Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But Frey’s very existence is a secret.

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister—and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must.

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor—as poised and charming as her sister. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her. As the deal starts to crumble, Frey must decide if she can trust him with the truth . . . and if she can risk becoming her own person.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Heroine’s Journey (Heroine Complex, book 3)

From the publisher:
If there’s one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it’s normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of “should haves.” Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city’s plethora of demon threats.

But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be–even though she’s now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace’s more difficult customers. Sure, she’s not technically supposed to be playing with people’s mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?

When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that’s about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her “should haves” into the fabulous heroic life she’s always wanted. But gaining that life may mean sacrificing everything–and everyone–she holds dear…

Rating: ★★★½☆

Inkmistress

Asra is a demigod with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing with her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.

But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance in finding her manifest—the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.

Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself.

Most frightening of all, she discovers the dark secrets of her own mysterious history—and the terrible, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Hollywood Dead (Sandman Slim, book 10)

From the publisher:
Life and death takes on an entirely new meaning for half-angel, half-human hero James Stark, aka, Sandman Slim, in this insanely inventive, high-intensity tenth supernatural noir thriller in the New York Times bestselling series.

James Stark is back from Hell, trailing more trouble in his wake. To return to L.A., he had to make a deal with the evil power brokers, Wormwood—an arrangement that came with a catch. While he may be home, Stark isn’t quite himself . . . because he’s only partially alive.

There’s a time limit on his reanimated body, and unless Stark can find the people targeting Wormwood, he will die again—and this time there will be no coming back. Even though he’s armed with the Room of Thirteen Doors, Stark knows he can’t find Wormwood’s enemies alone. To succeed he’s got to enlist the help of new friends—plus a few unexpected old faces.

Stark has been in dangerous situations before—you don’t get named Sandman Slim for nothing. But with a mysterious enemy on the loose, a debt to pay, and a clock ticking down, this may truly be the beginning of his end. . . .

Rating: ★★★★☆

Orphan Monster Spy

From the publisher:
After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she’s the Nazis’ worst nightmare.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Kill Society (Sandman Slim, book 9)

From the publisher:

Sandman Slim returns in this stunning, high-octane ninth thriller in the series, filled with the intense, kick-ass action and inventive fantasy that are the hallmarks of New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey.

Sandman Slim has been to Heaven and Hell and many places in between, but now he finds himself in an unknown land: the far, far edge of the Tenebrae, the desolate home of the lost dead. Making his way inland with nothing but his unerring instinct for trouble to guide him, he collides with a caravan of the damned on a mysterious crusade, led by the ruthless Magistrate. Alone and with no clue how to get back home, he throws in with this brutal bunch made up of human souls, Hellion deserters, rogue angels—and Father Traven.

Slim didn’t land in Tenebrae by chance. His little stunt of trying to open Heaven has set off a tsunami across the universe. Now, the afterlife is falling apart because of the ensuing warfare. And when Heaven finds out Slim is close by, the angels put a fat bounty on his head.

It’s one thing to ride with a ferocious criminal pack across the treacherous plains—it’s another to do it when everyone in the land of the dead is itching to keep you there permanently. But Slim’s not too worried. He’s been fighting cosmic forces bent on destroying Heaven, Hell, Earth, and him for years. A pack of vicious bounty hunters, vengeful angels, and dangerous enemies with friendly smiles isn’t going to stop him fixing the chaos he’s caused . . . one way or another.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Black God’s Drums

From the publisher:
In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Kill the Farm Boy

From the publisher:
Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

Rating: ★★★½☆

War in the Dark

From the publisher:
Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Good Luck With That

From the publisher:
Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Down and Out in Purgatory

From the publisher:
A complete palette of story-telling colors from Powers, including acclaimed tale “The Bible Repairman,” where a psychic handyman who supernaturally eliminates troublesome passages of the Bible for paying clients finds the remains of his own broken soul on the line when tasked with rescuing the kidnapped ghost of a rich man’s daughter. Time travel takes a savage twist in “Salvage and Demolition,” where the chance discovery of a long-lost manuscript throws a down-and-out book collector back in time to 1950s San Francisco where he must prevent an ancient Sumeric inscription from dooming millions in the future. Humor and horror mix in “Sufficient unto the Day,” when a raucous Thanksgiving feast takes a dark turn as the invited ghosts of relatives past accidentally draw soul-stealing demons into the family television set. And obsession and vengeance survive on the other side of death in “Down and Out in Purgatory,” where the soul of a man lusting for revenge attempts to eternally eliminate the killer who murdered the love of his life. Wide-ranging, wonder-inducing, mind-bending—these and other tales make up the complete shorter works of a modern-day master of science fiction and fantasy.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Alternate Routes

From the publisher:
Something weird is happening to the Los Angeles freeways—phantom cars, lanes from nowhere, and sometimes unmarked offramps that give glimpses of a desolate desert highway—and Sebastian Vickery, disgraced ex-Secret Service agent, is a driver for a covert supernatural-evasion car service. But another government agency is using and perhaps causing the freeway anomalies, and their chief is determined to have Vickery killed because of something he learned years ago at a halted Presidential motorcade.

Reluctantly aided by Ingrid Castine, a member of that agency, and a homeless Mexican boy, and a woman who makes her living costumed as Supergirl on the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Theater, Vickery learns what legendary hell it is that the desert highway leads to—and when Castine deliberately drives into it to save him from capture, he must enter it himself to get her out.

Alternate Routes is a fast-paced supernatural adventure story that sweeps from the sun-blinded streets and labyrinthine freeways of Los Angeles to a horrifying other world out of Greek mythology, and Vickery and Castine must learn to abandon old loyalties and learn loyalty to each other in order to survive as the world goes mad around them.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Spinning

From the publisher:
It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion―and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Art of Escaping

From the publisher:
Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and performance artist.

When Will, a popular athlete from school, discovers Mattie’s act at an underground venue, Mattie fears her secret persona will be exposed. Instead of outing her, though, Will tells Mattie a secret not even his girlfriend knows. Through a blossoming friendship, the two must find a way to express their authentic selves.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You

From the publisher:
Does your life feel out of balance? Peter Walsh can help you tackle everything in your busy life.

Most of us are so overwhelmed by work, bills, and school and family commitments that we rush from person to person and place to place without ever feeling satisfied—sometimes giving one area of our lives too much attention and other areas not enough. It’s always too little or too much! This crazy imbalance and the resulting stress and unhappiness you feel are the clutter that Peter Walsh helps you tackle in Enough Already!

Peter starts by explaining how the six key areas of your life—Family, Relationships, Work, Health, Money, and Spirituality are interrelated. He then shows you how, if one area of your life is cluttered, that clutter will creep into the other areas creating turmoil and imbalance in your life, family, work, and personal life. Peter offers a step-by-step plan to help you acknowledge and address the emotional and mental clutter that continually holds you back from living the more fulfilling life you deserve.

With his wry humor, constant encouragement, and the specific tips and practical advice he offers, Peter shows how to prioritize what matters in your life; let go of the stress and clutter; and regain your balance, focus, energy, and purpose. By following his simple plan you will begin to view your life and how you spend your time and energy in a completely new way. By embracing Peter’s approach you will finally be able to live a stress-free life of balance and fulfillment—the life that’s been buried under all your emotional clutter for years and the one you’ve always imagined.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Of Fire and Stars

From the publisher:
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Summerland

From the publisher:
“How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?”
Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning. In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god. When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.

Rating: ★★★½☆

London Rules (Slough House, book 5)

From the publisher:
At MI5 headquarters Regent’s Park, First Desk Claude Whelan is learning this the hard way. Tasked with protecting a beleaguered prime minister, he’s facing attack from all directions: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat’s wife, a tabloid columnist, who’s crucifying Whelan in print; from the PM’s favorite Muslim, who’s about to be elected mayor of the West Midlands, despite the dark secret he’s hiding; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who’s alert for Claude’s every stumble. Meanwhile, the country’s being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks.

Over at Slough House, the MI5 satellite office for outcast and demoted spies, the agents are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath. Plus someone is trying to kill Roddy Ho. But collectively, they’re about to rediscover their greatest strength—that of making a bad situation much, much worse.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Meddling Kids

From the publisher:
In 1977, four teenagers and a dog—Andy (the tomboy), Nate (the nerd), Kerri (the bookworm), Peter (the jock), and Tim (the Weimaraner)—solved the mystery ofSleepy Lake. The trail of an amphibian monster terrorizing the quiet town of Blyton Hills leads the gang to spend a night in Deboën Mansion and apprehend a familiar culprit: a bitter old man in a mask.

Now, in 1990, the twenty-something former teen detectives are lost souls. Plagued by night terrors and Peter’s tragic death, the three survivors have been running from their demons. When the man they apprehended all those years ago makes parole, Andy tracks him down to confirm what she’s always known—they got the wrong guy. Now she’ll need to get the gang back together and return to Blyton Hills to find out what really happened in 1977, and this time, she’s sure they’re not looking for another man in a mask.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Low Chicago

From the publisher:
The stakes were already high enough at Giovanni Galante’s poker table that night in Chicago. Poker. Dealer’s choice. Seven players. A million-dollar cash buy-in.

But after a superpowered mishap, the most high-profile criminals in the city are scattered throughout the past and their schemes across time threaten the stability of the world.

Perfect for current fans and new readers alike, Low Chicago is an all-new time travel adventure that highlights the criminal underworld of 1920s Chicago, featuring a fresh cast of characters from the Wild Cards universe.

Co-edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass (screenwriter, Star Trek), Low Chicago features the writing talents of Saladin Ahmed (author of the bestselling comic Black Bolt), Paul Cornell (screenwriter, Doctor Who), Marko Kloos (author of the bestselling Frontlines series), John Jos. Miller, Mary Anne Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion, The Stars Change), Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy and Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist Christopher Rowe, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and Melinda M. Snodgrass.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Truly Devious (Truly Devious book 1)

From the publisher:
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Warcross

From the publisher:
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Good Guys

From the publisher:
Donovan was shot by a cop. For jaywalking, supposedly. Actually, for arguing with a cop while black. Four of the nine shots were lethal―or would have been, if their target had been anybody else. The Foundation picked him up, brought him back, and trained him further. “Lethal” turns out to be a relative term when magic is involved.

When Marci was fifteen, she levitated a paperweight and threw it at a guy she didn’t like. The Foundation scooped her up for training too.

“Hippie chick” Susan got well into her Foundation training before they told her about the magic, but she’s as powerful as Donovan and Marci now.

They can teleport themselves thousands of miles, conjure shields that will stop bullets, and read information from the remnants of spells cast by others days before.

They all work for the secretive Foundation…for minimum wage.

Which is okay, because the Foundation are the good guys. Aren’t they?

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Camouflage

From the publisher:
Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it.

Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home—but the Chameleon has decided there’s only room for one.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Empire Games (Empire Games, book 2)

From the publisher:
Dark State ups the ante on the already volatile situations laid out in the sleek techno-thriller Empire Games, the start to Stross’ new story-line, and perfect entry point for new readers, in The Merchant Princes series.

In the near-future, the collision of two nuclear superpowers across timelines, one in the midst of a technological revolution and the other a hyper-police state, is imminent. In Commissioner Miriam Burgeson’s timeline, her top level agents run a high risk extraction of a major political player. Meanwhile, a sleeper cell activated in Rita’s, the Commissioner’s adopted daughter and newly-minted spy, timeline threatens to unravel everything.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Something Coming Through

From the publisher:
The Jackaroo have given humanity fifteen worlds and the means to reach them. They’re a chance to start over, but they’re also littered with ruins and artifacts left by the Jackaroo’s previous clients.

Miracles that could reverse the damage caused by war, climate change, and rising sea levels. Nightmares that could forever alter humanity – or even destroy it.

Chloe Millar works in London, mapping changes caused by imported scraps of alien technology. When she stumbles across a pair of orphaned kids possessed by an ancient ghost, she must decide whether to help them or to hand them over to the authorities. Authorities who believe that their visions point towards a new kind of danger.

And on one of the Jackaroo’s gift-worlds, the murder of a man who has just arrived from Earth leads policeman Vic Gayle to a war between rival gangs over possession of a remote excavation site.

Something is coming through. Something linked to the visions of Chloe’s orphans, and Vic Gayle’s murder investigation. Something that will challenge the limits of the Jackaroo’s benevolence …

Rating: ★★★½☆

Empire Games (Empire Games, book 1)

From the publisher:
The year is 2020. It’s seventeen years since the Revolution overthrew the last king of the New British Empire, and the newly-reconstituted North American Commonwealth is developing rapidly, on course to defeat the French and bring democracy to a troubled world. But Miriam Burgeson, commissioner in charge of the shadowy Ministry of Intertemporal Research and Intelligence—the paratime espionage agency tasked with catalyzing the Commonwealth’s great leap forward–has a problem. For years, she’s warned everyone: “The Americans are coming.” Now their drones arrive in the middle of a succession crisis—the leader of the American Commonwealth is dying and the vultures are circling.

In another timeline, the U.S. has recruited Rita, Miriam’s estranged daughter, to spy across timelines and bring down any remaining world-walkers who might threaten national security. But her handlers are keeping information from her.

Two nuclear superpowers are set on a collision course. Two increasingly desperate paratime espionage agencies are fumbling around in the dark, trying to find a solution to the first contact problem that doesn’t result in a nuclear holocaust. And two women—a mother and her long-lost, adopted daughter—are about to find themselves on opposite sides of the confrontation.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Midnight Front (Dark Arts, book 1)

From the publisher:
On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front―the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program―and become a sorcerer himself.

Unsure who will kill him first―his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick―Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul―and there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, book 1)

From the publisher:
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The King of Bones and Ashes

From the publisher:
From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the story of a young witch’s quest to uncover her family’s terrifying history…

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness–willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too–caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Silence of the Six

From the publisher:
WHAT IS THE SILENCE OF SIX, AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? These are the last words uttered by 17-year-old Max Stein s best friend Evan just moments before he kills himself after hacking into the live-streaming presidential debate at their high school.

Haunted by the unforgettable image of Evan s death, Max s entire world is upended as he suddenly finds himself the target of a corporate-government witch hunt. Fearing for his life and fighting for his own innocence, Max goes on the run with no one to trust and too many unanswered questions.

Max must dust off his own hacking skills and maneuver through the dangerous labyrinth of underground hacktivist networks, ever-shifting alliances and virtual identities–all the while hoping to find the truth behind the Silence of Six before it s too late.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Fair Coin

From the publisher:

Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more dis­turbing: she thought she’d identified Ephraim’s body at the hospital that day.

Among his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin–a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he’s liked since second grade. But the coin doesn’t always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people’s lives as easily as it rebuilds his own.

The coin could give Ephraim everything he’s ever wanted–if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, book 1)

From the publisher:
Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy….

Malcolm’s parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.

He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him.

When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Mycroft Holmes

From the publisher:
Fresh out of Cambridge University, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name​ ​for himself in government, working for the Secretary of State for War. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to the faraway island of Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent, and where his fiancée Georgiana Sutton was raised.

Mycroft’s comfortable existence is overturned when Douglas receives troubling reports​ from home. There are rumors of mysterious disappearances, strange footprints in the sand, and spirits enticing children to their deaths, their bodies found drained of blood. Upon hearing the news, Georgiana abruptly departs for Trinidad. Near panic, Mycroft convinces Douglas that they should follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take…

Written by NBA superstar Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, Mycroft Holmes reveals the untold story of Sherlock’s older brother. This harrowing adventure changed his life, and set the​ stage for the man Mycroft would become: founder of the famous Diogenes Club and the hidden power behind the British government.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, book 1)

From the publisher:

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Overneath

From the publisher:
An odd couple patrols a county full of mythological beasts and ornery locals. A familiar youngster from the world of The Last Unicorn is gifted in magic but terrible at spell-casting. A seemingly incorruptible judge meets his match in a mysterious thief who steals his heart. Two old friends discover that the Overneath goes anywhere, including locations better left unvisited.

Lyrical, witty, and insightful, The Overneath is Peter S. Beagle’s much-anticipated return to the short form. In these uniquely beautiful and wholly original tales, with new and uncollected work, Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This One Summer

From the publisher:
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens – just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy – is caught up in something bad… Something life threatening.

It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

This One Summer is a tremendously exciting new teen graphic novel from two creators with true literary clout. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of childhood – a story of renewal and revelation.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch

From the publisher:
How would you go about rebuilding a technological society from scratch?

If our technological society collapsed tomorrow, perhaps from a viral pandemic or catastrophic asteroid impact, what would be the one book you would want to press into the hands of the postapocalyptic survivors? What crucial knowledge would they need to survive in the immediate aftermath and to rebuild civilization as quickly as possible—a guide for rebooting the world?

Human knowledge is collective, distributed across the population. It has built on itself for centuries, becoming vast and increasingly specialized. Most of us are ignorant about the fundamental principles of the civilization that supports us, happily utilizing the latest—or even the most basic—technology without having the slightest idea of why it works or how it came to be. If you had to go back to absolute basics, like some sort of postcataclysmic Robinson Crusoe, would you know how to re-create an internal combustion engine, put together a microscope, get metals out of rock, accurately tell time, weave fibers into clothing, or even how to produce food for yourself?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Parasite Eve

From the publisher:
When Dr. Nagashima loses his wife in a mysterious car crash, he is overwhelmed with grief but also an eerie sense of purpose; he becomes obsessed wiht reincarnating his dead wife. Her donated kidney is transplanted into a young girl wiht a debilitating disorder, bu the doctor also feels compelled to keep a small sample of her liver in his laboratory. When these cells start mutating rapidly, a consciousness bent on determining its own fate awakens, bent on becoming the new dominant species on earth.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Quillifer

From the publisher:
Rogue. Joker. Lover. Reluctant soldier.

Quillifer is a young man, serially in love and studying law, when a family tragedy throws him into the world to seek his fortune. A charmer rather than a fighter, he soon finds himself embroiled with a bandit gang, caught up in vicious court intrigues, and the plaything of an angry, beautiful, and very jealous goddess. While he struggles to establish himself in the capital, the country finds itself pitched into a civil war, and Quillifer, a unwilling soldier at best, finds himself caught up in the action, and able to tip the scales of fortune.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Rings (Ring Trilogy, book 1)

From the publisher:
A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed. Exactly one week after watching the tape, four teenagers die one after another of heart failure.

Asakawa, a hardworking journalist, is intrigued by his niece’s inexplicable death. His investigation leads him from a metropolitan tokyo teeming with modern society’s fears to a rural Japan–a mountain resort, a volcanic island, and a countryside clinic–haunted by the past. His attempt to solve the tape’s mystery before it’s too late–for everyone–assumes an increasingly deadly urgency. Ring is a chillingly told horror story, a masterfully suspenseful mystery, and post-modern trip.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

From the publisher:
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.

This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad, book 2)

From the publisher:
Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Between college applications and crushing on his best friend, will Bells have time to take down a corrupt government?

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Anno Dracula – One Thousand Monsters

From the publisher:
“There are no vampires in Japan. That is the position of the Emperor. The Emperor is wrong…”

In 1899 Geneviève Dieudonné travels to Japan with a group of vampires exiled from Great Britain by Prince Dracula. They are allowed to settle in Yōkai Town, the district of Tokyo set aside for Japan’s own vampires, an altogether strange and less human breed than the nosferatu of Europe. Yet it is not the sanctuary they had hoped for, as a vicious murderer sets vampire against vampire, and Yōkai Town is revealed to be more a prison than a refuge. Geneviève and her undead comrades will be forced to face new enemies and the horrors hidden within the Temple of One Thousand Monsters…

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Starlit Wood

From the publisher:
Once upon a time. It’s how so many of our most beloved stories start.

Fairy tales have dominated our cultural imagination for centuries. From the Brothers Grimm to the Countess d’Aulnoy, from Charles Perrault to Hans Christian Anderson, storytellers have crafted all sorts of tales that have always found a place in our hearts.

Now a new generation of storytellers have taken up the mantle that the masters created and shaped their stories into something startling and electrifying.

Packed with award-winning authors, this anthology explores an array of fairy tales in startling and innovative ways, in genres and settings both traditional and unusual, including science fiction, western, and post-apocalyptic as well as traditional fantasy and contemporary horror.

From the woods to the stars, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales takes readers on a journey at once unexpected and familiar, as a diverse group of writers explore some of our most beloved tales in new ways across genres and styles.

Contains stories by: Charlie Jane Anders, Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-mohtar, Jeffrey Ford, Max Gladstone, Theodora Goss, Daryl Gregory, Kat Howard, Stephen Graham Jones, Margo Lanagan, Marjorie Liu, Seanan McGuire, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Sofia Samatar, Karin Tidbeck, Catherynne M. Valente, and Genevieve Valentine.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

From the publisher:
Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out that evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and rum lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, book 1)

From the publisher:
Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship only it turns out to be for the town s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious ‘M,’ who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Wild Ride

From the publisher:
Mary Alice Brannigan doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Nor does she expect to find that Dreamland, the decaying amusement park she’s been hired to restore, is a prison for the five Untouchables, the most powerful demons in the history of the world. Plus, there’s a guy she’s falling hard for―and there’s something about him that’s not quite right.
But rocky romances and demented demons aren’t the only problems in Dreamland: Mab’s also coping with a crooked politician, a supernatural raven, a secret government agency, an inexperienced sorceress, an unsettling inheritance, and some mind-boggling revelations from her past. As her personal demons wreck her newfound relationship and real demons wreck the park, Mab faces down immortal evil and discovers what everybody who’s ever been to an amusement park knows: The end of the ride is always the wildest.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Crown of Three

From the publisher:
Toronia, a kingdom composed of three realms, is wracked with civil war. King Brutan rules with an iron fist. Cruelty and suffering abound. The kingdom’s only hope comes in the form of Brutan’s illegitimate triplets, prophesied to kill the king and rule together in peace. But the road to the throne is long and bloody. Separated at birth and scattered throughout the realms, the triplets face a desperate fight to secure their destiny. Will they survive long enough to rule?

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Rules for Thieves

From the publisher:
After twelve-year-old orphan, Alli Rosco, is cursed with a deadly spell, she must join the legendary Thieves Guild in order to try and save herself in this high-stakes debut.

Twelve-year-old Alli Rosco is smart, resourceful, and totally incapable of keeping her mouth shut. Some of these traits have served her well during her nine years in Azeland’s orphanage, and others have proved more troublesome…but now that she’s escaped to try her luck on the streets, she has bigger problems than extra chores to contend with. Surviving would be hard enough, but after a run-in with one of the city’s Protectors, she’s marked by a curse that’s slowly working its way to her heart. There is a cure, but the cost is astronomical—and seems well out of her reach.

Enter Beck, a boy with a gift for theft and a touch of magic, who seems almost too good to be true. He tells Alli that the legendary Thieves Guild, long thought to be a myth, is real. Even better, Beck is a member and thinks she could be, too. All she has to do is pass the trial that the King of Thieves will assign to her. Join the Guild, collect her yearly reward and buy a cure. Plus, Alli hopes the Guild will be the home—the family—that Alli has always wanted. But when their trial goes wrong, innocent lives are put in danger, and Alli has to decide how much she can sacrifice in order to survive.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

The End of Magic (Echo Park Coven, book 3)

From the publisher:
Lyse MacAllister used to be like everyone else—blissfully ignorant of magic, of the dire battles being fought in shadows and secrecy. But that was before her great-aunt Eleanora died, leaving her in control of the Echo Park coven; before she found herself in the middle of the witches’ clash with the anti-magic zealots known as The Flood; before her blood sisters lost their faith in her.

As The Flood begins turning humans across the globe against the witches, Lyse must find a way to regain the trust of her former magical family and once again unify them. Because the final battle between good and evil is looming—and if the witches don’t stand together, all of humankind could be lost…

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold

From the publisher:
Spies and sorcerers face off during the Cold War, with the fate of the world in balance in this print edition of a hugely popular serial novel from five award-winning and critically acclaimed authors.

The Cold War rages in back rooms and dark alleys of 1970s Prague as spies and sorcerers battle for home and country. The fate of the East and the West hangs in the balance right along the Iron Curtain—and crackling beneath the surface is a vein of magic that is waiting to be tapped.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Boss Fight (The Twenty-sided Sorceress, books 5-7)

From the publisher:
Separated from her friends, their fates unknown, and without her magic, Jade must stop fighting on Samir’s terms or else her next battle will be her last.

Level up. Or die.

Jade Crow and her friends faced their worst enemy, her ex-boyfriend Samir, the most powerful sorcerer in the world, and they now lie defeated, and flung across the wilderness.

Samir had trained Jade to be a sorceress, to mold her in his image, until she rejected him and escaped here to Wylde. Jade must stop fighting on Samir’s terms or else her next battle will be her last.

Leveled up and wiser, Jade stands a chance this time, if she follows the true calling of her power, and changes the playing field. Everything has been leading up to this…Roll for initiative!

This is the omnibus of the next three volumes in the USA TODAY bestselling fantasy series, Heartache; Thicker Than Blood; Magic to the Bone, collected together for the first time in print.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goldenhand (Tales of the Old Kingdom, book 5)

From the publisher:
Goldenhand takes place six months after the events of Abhorsen and follows the novella Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, which is featured in Across the Wall.

Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic. On a dangerous journey, Lirael returns to her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier, where she was once a Second Assistant Librarian. There, a young woman from the distant North brings her a message from her long-dead mother, Arielle. It is a warning about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning? Lirael must use her new powers to save the Old Kingdom from this great danger—and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Cinema and Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film

From the publisher:
From the dawn of feature films, fans―be they artists, gamers, visionaries, writers, or dreamers―have drawn inspiration from the big screen. Now, between the covers of Cinema & Sorcery, embark on a decades-long journey through time from the earliest days of sword and sorcery films up to the present day. Learn the who, the what, the where, and the how of your favorite fantasy movies (and perhaps a few you may have never even heard of until now). Fifty films are covered in great detail, followed by shorter entries for every fantasy film we could find. So turn up your Krull soundtrack, slip into your Labyrinth t-shirt, and brush up on your Princess Bride quotes, this is Cinema & Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film!

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Arabella and the Battle of Venus (The Adventures of Arabella Ashby, book 2)

From the publisher:
Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire galaxy if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor

From the publisher:
Bruce Campbell makes his triumphant return from where he left off in If Chins Could Kill with further hilarious, gut-wrenchingly honest confessions.

Bruce brings us through his life in the decade since his first memoir and his roles as varied as they are numerous- from his roles in the Spider-Man movies to his self-referential My Name is Bruce to his role on #1 show Burn Notice and his new STARZ hit series Ash vs Evil Dead.

Over the last 15 years, Bruce has become a regular on the Wizard World convention circuit, has created his @GroovyBruce twitter account with over 400,000 followers and a Facebook page with almost 250,000 likes. His profile and reach is lightyears beyond where it was for Chins.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Level Grind (The Twenty-sided Sorceress, books 1-4)

From the publisher:
Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho, hiding from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers–her ex-boyfriend Samir. Yet when dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, Jade must save them by using magic. But as soon as she does, her nemesis will find her and she won’t be able to stand up against him when he comes.

This is the collection of the first four volumes: Justice Calling; Murder of Crows; Pack of Lies; and Hunting Season.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Delirium Brief (The Laundry Files, book 8)

From the publisher:
Bob Howard’s career in the Laundry, the secret British government agency dedicated to protecting the world from unspeakable horrors from beyond spacetime, has entailed high combat, brilliant hacking, ancient magic, and combat with indescribably repellent creatures of pure evil. It has also involved a wearying amount of paperwork and office politics, and his expense reports are still a mess.

Now, following the invasion of Yorkshire by the Host of Air and Darkness, the Laundry’s existence has become public, and Bob is being trotted out on TV to answer pointed questions about elven asylum seekers. What neither Bob nor his managers have foreseen is that their organization has earned the attention of a horror far more terrifying than any demon: a British government looking for public services to privatize.

Inch by inch, Bob Howard and his managers are forced to consider the truly unthinkable: a coup against the British government itself.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Afterlife

From the publisher:
The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Waking Land

From the publisher:
Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Heroine Worship (Heroine Complex, book 2)

From the publisher:
Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.

It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission.

All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Owl and the Electric Samurai (The Owl Series, book 3)

From the publisher:
The third exciting novel starring the unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. From the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish, this fast-paced novel is for fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and fantasy lovers everywhere.

The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural under wraps. They’re also responsible for ruining the promising archaeology career of Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl.

Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that.

Just to keep Owl’s life lively, the IAA has opened a bounty on the two designers of World Quest, the online RPG that is much, much more than it seems. Owl needs to locate the notorious gaming duo before the other mercenaries do. But finding the gamers won’t be easy since every clue points to them hiding out in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not to mention that the last time Owl and the game designers spoke, their conversation didn’t exactly end on the best note…

Meanwhile, undercurrents of supernatural politics are running amok in Tokyo, dragging Owl and her friends into a deadly game of wits with an opponent who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The cost of losing? All-out civil war between two powerful supernatural factions.

All in all, just another great day on the job.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Owl and the City of Angels (The Owl Series, book 2)

From the publisher:
Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Owl and the Japanese Circus (The Owl Series, book 1)

From the publisher:
Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem—and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Game

From the publisher:
Hayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby. Since then, she has been raised and homeschooled by her grandparents. Grandad is overworked and travels a lot; Grandma is much too strict and never lets her meet any children her own age. When Hayley does something wrong—she is not quite sure what—they pack her off to her aunts in Ireland. To Hayley’s shock, her family is much bigger than she thought; to her delight, the children all play what they call “the game,” where they visit a place called “the mythosphere.” And while she plays the game, Hayley learns more about her own place in the world than she had ever expected. This original novella by Diana Wynne Jones is sharply funny, fast-paced, and surprising until its very end—like all of this acclaimed author’s work.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Furthest Station (Rivers of London, book 6.5)

From the publisher:
There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

And time is running out to save them.

With this new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Spells of Blood and Kin

From the publisher:
Where we love, we ruin…

Some families hand down wealth through generations; some hand down wisdom. Some families, whether they want to or not, hand down the secret burdens they carry and the dangerous debts they owe.

Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother leaves her a big, empty house, and a legacy of magic: folk magic, old magic, brought with Baba when she fled the Gulag. In the wake of her passing, the Russian community of Toronto will depend on Lissa now, to give them their remedies and be their koldun’ia. But Lissa hasn’t had time to learn everything Baba wanted to teach her―let alone the things Baba kept hidden.

Maksim Volkov’s birth family is long dead, anything they bestowed on him long turned to dust. What Maksim carries now is a legacy of violence, and he does not have to die to pass it on. When Maksim feels his protective spell fail, he returns to the witch he rescued from the Gulag, only to find his spell has died along with the one who cast it. Without the spell, it is only a matter of time before Maksim’s violent nature slips its leash and he infects someone else―if he hasn’t done so already.

Nick Kaisaris is just a normal dude who likes to party. He doesn’t worry about family drama. He doesn’t have any secrets. All he wants is for things to stay like they are right now, tonight: Nick and his best buddy Jonathan, out on the town. Only Nick is on a collision course with Maksim Volkov, and what he takes away from this night is going to crack open Nick’s nature until all of his worst self comes to light.

Lissa’s legacy of magic might hold the key to Maksim’s salvation, if she can unravel it in time. But it’s a legacy that comes at a price. And Maksim might not want to be saved…

Rating: ★★★½☆

Real Tigers (Slough House, book 3)

From the publisher:
London: Slough House is the MI5 branch where disgraced operatives are reassigned after they’ve messed up too badly to be trusted with real intelligence work. The “Slow Horses,” as the failed spies of Slough House are called, are doomed to spend the rest of their careers pushing paper, but they all want back in on the action.

When one of their own is kidnapped and held for ransom, the agents of Slough House must defeat the odds, overturning all expectations of their competence, to breach the top-notch security of MI5’s intelligence headquarters, Regent’s Park, and steal valuable intel in exchange for their comrade’s safety. The kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg, however—the agents uncover a larger web of intrigue that involves not only a group of private mercenaries but the highest authorities in the Secret Service. After years spent as the lowest on the totem pole, the Slow Horses suddenly find themselves caught in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens not only the future of Slough House, but of MI5 itself.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The List (Slough House)

From the publisher:
Dieter Hess, an aged spy, is dead, and John Bachelor, his MI5 handler, is in deep, deep trouble. Death has revealed that the deceased had been keeping a secret second bank account—and there’s only ever one reason a spy has a secret second bank account. The question of whether he was a double agent must be resolved, and its answer may undo an entire career’s worth of spy secrets.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dead Lions (Slough House, book 2)

From the publisher:
The disgruntled agents of Slough House, the MI5 branch where washed-up spies are sent to finish their failed careers on desk duty, are called into action to protect a visiting Russian oligarch whom MI5 hopes to recruit to British intelligence. While two agents are dispatched on that babysitting job, though, an old Cold War-era spy named Dickie Bow is found dead, ostensibly of a heart attack, on a bus outside of Oxford, far from his usual haunts.

But the head of Slough House, the irascible Jackson Lamb, is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets that seem to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, who is either a Soviet bogeyman or the most dangerous man in the world. How many more people will have to die to keep those secrets buried?

Rating: ★★★½☆

Boneland (Tales of Alderley, book 3)

From the publisher:
The crowning achievement of an astonishing career, Boneland concludes the story that began over fifty years ago in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

If the sleeper wakes, the dream dies. . .

Professor Colin Whisterfield spends his days at Jodrell Bank, using the radio telescope to look for his lost sister in the Pleiades. At the same time, and in another time, the Watcher cuts the rock and dances, to keep the sky above the earth and the stars flying. Colin can’t remember; and he remembers too much. Before the age of twelve years and nine months is a blank. After that he recalls everything: where he was, what he was doing, in every minute of every hour of every day. But Colin will have to remember what happened when he was twelve, if he wants to find his sister. And the Watcher will have to find the Woman. Otherwise the skies will fall, and there will be only winter, wanderers and moon…

Rating: ★★★½☆

Slow Horses (Slough House, book 1)

From the publisher:
London, England: Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there─even if it means having to collaborate with one another.

River Cartwright, one such “slow horse,” is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself. But is the victim who he first appears to be? And what’s the kidnappers’ connection with a disgraced journalist? As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

From the publisher:
Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously successful game franchises in history—Doom and Quake— until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry—a powerful and compassionate account of what it’s like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps: Step by Step Cartography for Gamers and Fans

From the publisher:
The power of creation is at your fingertips!

Orcs prepare for battle against high Elves, Dwarves retreat to the mountains and men march to the sea to reclaim crumbling fortresses. Fortunes are decided. Kingdoms are lost. Entire worlds are created. This book will teach you to bring your fictional realm to life with simple step-by-step instructions on how to draw authentic fantasy maps. Set the stage for adventure by illustrating domains, castles and battle lines, mountains, forests and sea monsters! Learn to create completely unique and fully functional RPG maps time and time again on which your world can unfold.

All the skills necessary to create awe-inspiring maps are covered!

Landscapes. Add depth, balance and plausibility with rocky coastlines, towering mountains, dark forests and rolling plains.
Iconography. Mark important places–towns and cities, fortresses and bridges–with symbolic iconography for easy-to-understand maps.
Typography. Learn how to place readable text and the basics of decorative script. Bonus instruction teaches you to create fonts for Orcs, Elves, Vikings and dragons.
Heraldry and shield design. Depict cultural and political boundaries with shields and colors.
Advanced cartography. Includes how to draw landmarks, country boundaries and political lines. Build roads to connect merchants and troops, troll cairns and dragon lairs. And complete your maps with creative backgrounds, elaborate compasses and thematic legends.

30+ step-by-step demonstrations illustrate how to construct an entire fantasy world map from start to finish–both digitally and by hand!

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Walkaway

From the publisher:
Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.

But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be—except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Darkest Minds (Darkest Minds, book 1)

From the publisher:
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run,

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, book 10)

From the publisher:
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Wild Hunt of the Ghost Hounds

From the publisher:
The revival of the ancient Horn Dance for the church fete roused ancient feelings among the old villagers in Hagworthy. They feared it would bring back the Wild Hunt of supernatural hounds led by an evil, antlered rider. Anyone who saw the Hunt became part of it—as the prey.

Lucy Clough, visiting for the summer, felt there was an eerie presence hanging over the dance. It was as if the village boys, dressed in the old antlered masks and costumes, became something strange and evil—something that threatened Lucy’s friend Kester.

What happened when Lucy failed to stop the Horn Dance climaxes an absorbing story, rich with the author’s feeling for the landscapes and customs of the English countryside.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Blood Rose Rebellion

From the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Green Rider (Green Rider, book 1)

From the publisher:
On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, Karigan G’ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense forest called Green Cloak. But her thoughts are interrupted by a galloping horse bursting from the woods, its rider impaled by two black-shafted arrows.

As the young man lies dying on the road, he tells Karigan he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary messengers of King Zachary. Before he dies, he makes Karigan swear to deliver the “life and death” message he’s carrying and to complete his mission “for love of her country.” The man gives her his green coat, with the symbolic brooch of his office, bestowing upon Karigan the title of Green Rider and changing her life forever. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, Karigan is hounded by dark beings bent on seeing that the message, and its reluctant carrier, never reach their destination.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dreamwalker (Dreamwalker, book one)

From the publisher:
All her life Jessica Drake has dreamed of other worlds, some of them similar to her own, others disturbingly alien. She never shares the details with anyone, save her younger brother Tommy, a compulsive gamer who incorporates some aspects of Jessica’s dreams into his games. But now someone is asking about those dreams…and about her. A strange woman has been watching her house. A visitor to her school attempts to take possession of her dream-inspired artwork.

Why?

As she begins to search for answers, it becomes clear that whoever is watching her does not want her to learn the truth. One night her house catches on fire, and when the smoke clears she discovers that her brother has been kidnapped. She must figure out what is going on, and quickly, if she and her family are to be safe.

Following clues left behind on Tommy’s computer, determined to find her brother and bring him home safely, Jessica and two of her friends are about to embark on a journey that will test their spirits and their courage to the breaking point, as they must leave their own world behind and confront the source of Earth’s darkest legends – as well as the terrifying truth of their own secret heritage.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London, book 6)

From the publisher:
Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of Police Constable Peter Grant or the Folly—London’s police department for supernatural cases—even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the flats of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But the daughter of Lady Ty, influential goddess of the Tyburn river, was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favor.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the houses, where the law is something bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean.

But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.

He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week…

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The Secret Message of Jules Verne: Decoding His Masonic, Rosicrucian, and Occult Writings

From the publisher:
An exploration of how Jules Verne used his writings to encrypt important Masonic and Rosicrucian secrets and sacred symbolism

• Investigates Verne’s connections to the prominent secret societies of his time: Freemasons, Golden Dawn, Angelic Society, and Rosicrucians
• Reveals how certain of Verne’s works hold the key to deciphering the Rennes-le-Château mystery
• Explores Verne’s relations with other authors whose works reveal similar esoteric influence: George Sand, Gaston Leroux, Bram Stoker, and Maurice Leblanc

Prolific author and pioneer of the science fiction novel, Jules Verne also possessed a hidden side that was encrypted into all his works–his active participation in the occult milieu of late-nineteenth-century France. Among the many esoteric secrets to be found are significant clues to the Rennes-le-Château mystery, including the location of a great treasure in the former Cathar region of France and the survival of the heirs to the Merovingian dynasty. Verne’s books also reveal Rosicrucian secrets of immortality, and some are constructed, like Mozart’s The Magic Flute, in accordance with Masonic initiation.

The passe-partout to Verne’s work (the skeleton key that is also the name of Phileas Fogg’s servant in Around the World in Eighty Days) lies in the initiatory language he employed to inscribe a second or even third layer of meaning beneath the main narrative, which is revealed in his skilled use of word play, homonyms, anagrams, and numerical combinations. The surface story itself is often a guide that tells the reader outright what he or she should be looking for. Far from innocuous stories for children, Verne’s work reveals itself to be rich with teachings on symbolism, esoteric traditions, sacred geography, and the secret history of humanity.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The Amateurs (The Amateurs, book 1)

From the publisher:
As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.

As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Splinterlands

From the publisher:
Part Field Notes from a Catastrophe, part 1984, part World War Z, John Feffer’s striking new dystopian novel, takes us deep into the battered, shattered world of 2050. The European Union has broken apart. Multiethnic great powers like Russia and China have shriveled. America’s global military footprint has virtually disappeared and the United States remains united in name only. Nationalism has proven the century’s most enduring force as ever-rising global temperatures have supercharged each-against-all competition and conflict among the now 300-plus members of an increasingly feeble United Nations.

As he navigates the world of 2050, Julian West offers a roadmap for the path we’re already on, a chronicle of impending disaster, and a faint light of hope. He may be humanity’s last best chance to explain how the world unraveled—if he can survive the savage beauty of the Splinterlands.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Paper Girls, Volume 2

From the publisher:
The Eisner Award-winning “Best New Series” from BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and CLIFF CHIANG continues with a bold new direction, as intrepid young newspaper deliverers Erin, Mac and Tiffany find themselves launched from 1988 to a distant and terrifying future… the year 2016.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Paper Girls, Volume 1

From the publisher:
In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blood Oranges (Siobhan Quinn, book 1)

From the publisher:
My name’s Quinn.

If you buy into my reputation, I’m the most notorious demon hunter in New England. But rumors of my badassery have been slightly exaggerated. Instead of having kung-fu skills and a closet full of medieval weapons, I’m an ex-junkie with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or…whatever.

Wanted for crimes against inhumanity I (mostly) didn’t commit, I was nearly a midnight snack for a werewolf until I was “saved” by a vampire calling itself the Bride of Quiet. Already cursed by a werewolf bite, the vamp took a pint out of me too.

So now…now, well, you wouldn’t think it could get worse, but you’d be dead wrong.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

I Kill Giants

From the publisher:
I Kill Giants tells the story of Barbara Thorson, an acerbic fifth-grader so consumed with fantasy that she doesn’t just tell people that she kills giants with an ancient Norse warhammer — she starts to believe it herself. The reasons for Barbara’s troubled behavior are revealed through the course of the book, as she learns to reconcile her fantasy life with the real world.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes

From the publisher:
Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes–or face the horrible consequences.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Skill of Our Hands (The Incrementalists, book 2)

From the publisher:
The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people―an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.

Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back―but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.

But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s―and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.

Steven Brust and Skyler White’s The Skill of Our Hands is the thrilling and thought-provoking follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Incrementalists.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Shadowed Souls

From the publisher:
In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals wih some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters.

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES BY
Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tomorrow’s Magic (The New Magic Trilogy, book 1)

From the publisher:
It’s 500 years after the nuclear holocaust that devastated the earth’s population and left the few survivors dealing with unending winter. At their remote British boarding school, Wellington Jones and Heather McKenna have a lot in common. Both are misfits trying to avoid attention, and both are fascinated by Earl, a tall, calm, older boy with no recollection of his past, but a remarkable knack for showing up when he is needed most.

When a blow to the head brings Earl’s memory back, he claims that he is actually Merlin . . . a 2000-year-old wizard.

Originally published in two volumes in the mid-1980s, Pamela F. Service’s creative, futuristic spin on the Camelot legend will appeal to Arthurian purists and fantasy lovers alike.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Mind-Body Conditioning for Competitive Figure Skaters

From the publisher:
Mind-Body Conditioning for Competitive Figure Skaters is about mind-body conditioning as it applies to the artistic sport of figure skating. But as you read, you ll soon discover that mind-body conditioning skills can be applied successfully to any area of your life. Each chapter of this book begins with a description of the chapter topic, and ends with application exercises you can learn and apply to your skating and other areas of your life. Instead of trying to learn everything at once, choose the activities that make the most sense to you, and practice them until they are second nature, just like you would a skating skill. Chapters include: Introduction to Mind-Body Conditioning, The Inner Circle, Pre-Season Assessment, Seasonal Goal Setting, Productive Practice, Positive Thinking and the Competitive Mindset, Social Physique Anxiety and Other Body-Image Issues, Relaxation and Arousal Deactivation Techniques, Energy and Arousal Activation Techniques, Techniques to Enhance Attention, Focus, and Concentration, Techniques to Improve Confidence, and Effective Competition Preparation.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Bad Dreams

From the publisher:
Anne Nielson, an American journalist, comes to London to investigate the strange death of her sister. Soon, she becomes sucked into a netherworld of corruption and perversion and is hurtled toward a final confrontation where she has only the dead as allies.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Death Masks

From the publisher:
“That’s what, four lords dead?”

Revealed in death to have been Masked Lords, three more citizens had been murdered over the preceding day and night: the Sembian wine-seller and collector Oszbur Malankar; the half-elf sorceress and artisan Dathanscza Meiril; and the moneylender, landlord, and investor Ammasker Gwelt.

All of Waterdeep now knew someone was killing the Lords of Waterdeep, one by one. Yet that was about where truth ended and speculation—however plausible—began. The broadsheets were full of wild conjecture. Who’s behind this? The ousted Lord Neverember? The Zhentarim, the Cult of the Dragon or some other Outland Power? The Xanathar? Some cabal of guilds or nobles planning a coup?

The rumors would rage on, whether the Open Lord Laeral Silverhand did something or not. That was the trouble with rumors; once loosed, they roamed free like snarling, untamed beasts, with no simple way of stopping them. And all rumors aside, Waterdeep has become . . .
A City of Murderers!

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Vagrant

From the publisher:

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.

Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.

Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.

His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.

What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.

But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

From the publisher:
A week after Mother found her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is delivered to her new school, Drearcliff Grange in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular boarding school, Amy learns that Drearcliff girls are special, the daughters of criminal masterminds, outlaw scientists and master magicians. Several of the pupils also have special gifts like Amy’s, and when one of the girls in her dormitory is abducted by a mysterious group in black hoods, Amy forms a secret, superpowered society called the Moth Club to rescue their friend. They soon discover that the Hooded Conspiracy runs through the School, and it’s up to the Moth Club to get to the heart of it.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Angels of Music

From the publisher:
Deep in the shadows under the Paris Opera House resides Erik the Phantom, mysteriously enduring through the decades as the mastermind behind a strange and secret agency. A revolving door of female agents are charged by wealthy Parisians and the French Government to investigate crimes and misdemeanours they would prefer to keep out of the public eye.

The toxic underbelly of Paris is exposed by Erik’s tenacious women operatives as they confront horror and corruption throughout the city. But it is one dreadful murder during the 1910 Great Flood of Paris that brings Irene Adler, Kate Reed and others together for a final, deadly confrontation.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Central Station

From the publisher:
A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive…and even evolve.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

A Borrowed Man

From the publisher:
It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

From the publisher:
Award-winning translator and author Ken Liu presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China. Some stories have won awards (including Hao Jingfang’s Hugo-winning novella, Folding Beijing); some have been included in various ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies; some have been well reviewed by critics and readers; and some are simply Ken’s personal favorites. Many of the authors collected here (with the obvious exception of New York Times bestseller Liu Cixin’s two stories) belong to the younger generation of ‘rising stars’. In addition, three essays at the end of the book explore Chinese science fiction. Liu Cixin’s essay, The Worst of All Possible Universes and The Best of All Possible Earths, gives a historical overview of SF in China and situates his own rise to prominence as the premier Chinese author within that context. Chen Qiufan’s The Torn Generation gives the view of a younger generation of authors trying to come to terms with the tumultuous transformations around them. Finally, Xia Jia, who holds the first Ph.D. issued for the study of Chinese SF, asks What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Company Town

From the publisher:
New Arcadia is a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.

Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig–making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa’s front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be–but now, the danger is personal.

A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can’t be saved, or saving herself.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Silver Door (The Moon & Sun, book 2)

From the publisher:
In the powerful, lyrical follow-up to THE RUBY KEY, Genna must master her new powers and summon an ancient magic to save her people in the fight for their freedom.

In the battle between nightlings and humans, it’s prophesied that the Sunrider is destined to unite the magics of the sun and moon for the good of all. She alone can lead the fight to defeat an immortal evil.

Genna is the chosen Sunrider, and under nightling protection, she must learn the acient magics so she may bring an end to the war between slaves and masters. When she escapes a brutal plot concoted by the evil kai lords, Genna finds herself cast into the depths of the Sun Wizards’ world.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Severed Streets (Shadow Police, book 2)

From the publisher:
Desperate to find a case to justify the team’s existence, with budget cuts and a police strike on the horizon, Quill thinks he’s struck gold when a cabinet minister is murdered by an assailant who wasn’t seen getting in or out of his limo. A second murder, that of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, presents a crime scene with a message…identical to that left by the original Jack the Ripper.

The new Ripper seems to have changed the MO of the old completely: he’s only killing rich white men. The inquiry into just what this supernatural menace is takes Quill and his team into the corridors of power at Whitehall, to meetings with MI5, or ‘the funny people’ as the Met call them, and into the London occult underworld. They go undercover to a pub with a regular evening that caters to that clientele, and to an auction of objects of power at the Tate Modern.

Meanwhile, in Paul Cornell’s The Severed Streets, the Ripper keeps on killing and finally the pattern of those killings gives Quill’s team clues towards who’s really doing this….

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Ruby Key (Moon & Sun, book 1)

From the publisher:
Mankind is Sunkind
And rules by the light;
Nightlings are Moonkind,
And rule in the night;
Or there will be war.

Human and Nightlings are never to meet, but when Genna and her brother Dan venture into the old forest at night, they encounter a Nightling slave who reveals a terrifying secret: Genna and Dan’s village chieftain has made a dangerous deal with Letrin, ruler of the Nightlings, offering the lives of his people in exchange for his own immortality.
To save the villagers and themselves, Genna and Dan strike their own bargain with the Nightling lord, but the stakes are even higher. Now, the siblings must embark upon a journey along the Moonroads, and bring back the key to Letrin’s downfall.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

From the publisher:
t was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America

Starting as something of a prequel to the author’s previous book about the War of 1812, this book examines the historical context globally for the events leading up to the French and Indian War and how those events shaped both that war and the Revolutionary War before leading up to the War of 1812. It’s very interesting both in terms of a historical recounting of the events of the French and Indian War, but also does an excellent job of giving those events context.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Lost Child of Lychford (Witches of Lychford, book 2)

From the publisher:
It’s December in the English village of Lychford – the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another.

Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really.

Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Firewalk

From the publisher:
Izzie Lefevre was the newest investigator for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit when she first came to Recondito, a coastal city that’s been shrouded in mystery and legend for centuries. Local law enforcement had requested the Bureau’s assistance in hunting a sword-wielding serial killer who’d left a dozen mutilated bodies in his wake. Patrick Tevake was a local homicide detective assigned to the taskforce, and together he and Izzie managed to track down and stop the killer before he claimed another victim.

Five years later, Izzie and Patrick remain haunted by what the killer said before he fell in a hail of gunfire. Izzie’s ancestors were “mambos,” voodoo priestesses who claimed to communicate with the dead and protect the faithful from evil spirits. Patrick’s Polynesian great uncle told stories of Recondito’s supernatural menaces that lurk in flame and shadow. The killer’s last words have brought up a past both Izzie and Patrick thought they’d long since left behind, and neither has been able to shake the feeling that their case was never completely solved.

So when Patrick, now working with the vice squad to investigate a dangerous new street drug, discovers a connection between the street drug and the serial killer’s victims, he realizes that their instincts were right: the threat is far from over. Reunited again, he and Izzie will discover that Recondito is a city of dark secrets, and their own pasts may be the key to unlocking them.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Witches of Lychford (Witches of Lychford, book 1)

From the publisher:
The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.

Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth — that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.

But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Gentlemen of the Road

From the publisher:
They’re an odd pair, to be sure: pale, rail-thin, black-clad Zelikman, a moody, itinerant physician fond of jaunty headgear, and ex-soldier Amram, a gray-haired giant of a man as quick with a razor-tongued witticism as he is with a sharpened battle-ax. Brothers under the skin, comrades in arms, they make their rootless way through the Caucasus Mountains, circa A.D. 950, living as they please and surviving however they can–as blades and thieves for hire and as practiced bamboozlers, cheerfully separating the gullible from their money. No strangers to tight scrapes and close shaves, they’ve left many a fist shaking in their dust, tasted their share of enemy steel, and made good any number of hasty exits under hostile circumstances.

None of which has necessarily prepared them to be dragooned into service as escorts and defenders to a prince of the Khazar Empire. Usurped by his brutal uncle, the callow and decidedly ill-tempered young royal burns to reclaim his rightful throne. But doing so will demand wicked cunning, outrageous daring, and foolhardy bravado . . . not to mention an army. Zelikman and Amram can at least supply the former. But are these gentlemen of the road prepared to become generals in a full-scale revolution? The only certainty is that getting there–along a path paved with warriors and whores, evil emperors and extraordinary elephants, secrets, swordplay, and such stuff as the grandest adventures are made of–will be much more than half the fun.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Signal to Noise

From the publisher:
Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Greenstone Grail (Sangreal Trilogy, book 1)

From the publisher:
A desperate mother spirits away her infant son, seemingly drawn (chased, perhaps?) to the small English village of Thornyhill. She ends up on the doorstep of old Bartlemy, a curious man who has lived on the forested land for as long as anyone can remember–and who comes to believe that the child is destined for great things. . . .

While growing up under Bartlemy’s protective eye, Nathan Ward senses something else watching him, a shift of shadows in the surrounding Darkwood. Then pieces of his dreams begin to come to life. A man he saved from the ocean washes ashore on the television news. A greenish stone cup set with jewels that has haunted his visions sounds eerily like one lost by the Thorn family centuries ago–a cup that has recently made its way back into the hands of the village’s last living ancestor.

Yet when Nathan learns the chalice may have come from another world, a land with bloodstained moons and a toxic sun, he knows he is destined to play a part in something beyond his most vivid imagination. But why is the cup here, and what could it possibly want with a teenage boy and a sleepy town of villagers full of tall tales? With the help of his best friend, Hazel, Nathan must figure out why he’s been chosen–and for what purpose. Even if it means traveling deeper each night into dreams, into lands, into legends that both terrify and mesmerize him.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Villainous (Supers of Noble’s Green, book 3)

From the publisher:
The truth about the Super children—who have real powers like flight and super strength—is finally exposed, and the town of Noble’s Green has created a special boarding school for its superpowered children. That’s where all Daniel’s friends are headed, while he—regular kid that he is—is headed to summer school.

But all is not well at the Academy for the Extraordinarily Gifted. A clique of popular kids (led by a pair of sinister twins) has taken over the school, and once again, it’s powerless Daniel who may be able to stop them. To do so, he will have to turn to his sworn enemy, the Shroud, for help.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Super (Supers of Noble’s Green, book 2)

From the publisher:
Daniel Corrigan is as regular as can be, especially when compared to the Supers: kids in his new hometown with actual powers like flight and super-strength. But Daniel’s not powerless. Only he was able to stop the Shroud, a supervillain bent on stealing his newfound friends’ powers. And thanks to him, his friends got to keep those powers.

Now Daniel himself is starting to display powers, while at the same time his friends are losing theirs. His friend Eric thinks Daniel is just becoming a Super himself, a late-blooming one. But Daniel worries there may be something more sinister at work, since his power-stealing ability is uncomfortably like the Shroud’s. Of course, the Shroud is gone now . . . isn’t he? Or could Daniel himself be his new vessel?

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Powerless (Supers of Noble’s Green, book 1)

From the publisher:
Twelve-year-old Daniel, the new kid in town, soon learns the truth about his nice—but odd—new friends: one can fly, another can turn invisible, yet another controls electricity. Incredible. The superkids use their powers to secretly do good in the town, but theyre haunted by the fact that the moment they turn thirteen, their abilities will disappear—along with any memory that they ever had them. Is a memory-stealing supervillain sapping their powers?

The answers lie in a long-ago meteor strike, a World War II-era comic book (Fantastic Futures, starring the first superhero, Johnny Noble), the green-flamed Witch Fire, a hidden Shroud cave, and—possibly, unbelievably—“powerless” regular-kid Daniel himself.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons

From the publisher:
The life story of Gary Gygax, godfather of all fantasy adventure games, has been told only in bits and pieces. Michael Witwer has written a dynamic, dramatized biography of Gygax from his childhood in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to his untimely death in 2008.

Gygax’s magnum opus, Dungeons & Dragons, would explode in popularity throughout the 1970s and ’80s and irreversibly alter the world of gaming. D&D is the best-known, best-selling role-playing game of all time, and it boasts an elite class of alumni–Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, and Junot Diaz all have spoken openly about their experience with the game as teenagers, and some credit it as the workshop where their nascent imaginations were fostered.

Gygax’s involvement in the industry lasted long after his dramatic and involuntary departure from D&D’s parent company, TSR, and his footprint can be seen in the genre he is largely responsible for creating. But as Witwer shows, perhaps the most compelling facet of his life and work was his unwavering commitment to the power of creativity in the face of myriad sources of adversity, whether cultural, economic, or personal. Through his creation of the role-playing genre, Gygax gave two generations of gamers the tools to invent characters and entire worlds in their minds. Told in narrative-driven and dramatic fashion, Witwer has written an engaging chronicle of the life and legacy of this emperor of the imagination.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Hike: A Novel

From the publisher:
When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.

On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Sixth Watch (Night Watch, book 6)

From the publisher:
For a millennium, the Others, a supernatural race of magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers, have maintained an uneasy peace between Light Others and Dark Others that has protected both our world and the Twilight, a shadowy parallel world beneath our own. Now, these rival factions must unite against the ultimate enemy.

A Light magician and high-ranking member of the Night Watch, Anton Gorodetsky fears nothing. But lately the threats are mounting. A reincarnated vampire has been terrorizing Moscow, and is using the victims to send him a message. His daughter’s school is ambushed by a chimera unlike any he has seen. And the Prophets have all reached the same chilling conclusion: Our world is running out of time.

If we are to stand a chance, the rival factions of Others must unite against this evil as the Sixth Watch. But can they put aside their grievances with the world at stake? Will it be enough? Journeying from Russia to Paris, the Alps, and New York City, Anton comes in peace—but he is prepared for war. For if he fails, no one is safe.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Last Days of New Paris

From the publisher:
A thriller of war that never was—of survival in an impossible city—of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Miéville entwines true historical events and people with his daring, uniquely imaginative brand of fiction, reconfiguring history and art into something new.

“Beauty will be convulsive. . . .”

1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.

1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse.

But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties—to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Dark Matter

From the publisher:
“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0, book 1)

From the publisher:
Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.

What could possibly go wrong?

An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Stiletto (The Rook Files, book 2)

From the publisher:
In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic — and slimy — supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and…

The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Arabella of Mars (The Adventures of Arabella Ashby, book 1)

From the publisher:
Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew – if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Last Adventure of Constance Verity

From the publisher:
Constance Verity has been saving the world since she was seven, and she’s sick of it. She sets off on one last adventure to reset her destiny and become the one thing she’s never been: ordinary.

Ever since she was granted a wish at birth by her fairy godmother, Constance Verity has become the world’s great adventurer. She is a master of martial arts, a keen detective, and possesses a collection of strange artifacts. Constance has spent the past twenty-eight years saving the world, and she’s tired of it. All she wants is to work in an office and date a nice, normal guy. And she’s figured a way out. The only problem is that saving the world is Constance’s destiny. She’s great at it, and there are forces at work to make sure she stays in the job.

Then again, it’s also her destiny to have a glorious death.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Hope and Red (The Empire of Storms, book 1)

From the publisher:
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people will find a common cause.
Hope, the lone survivor when her village is massacred by the emperor’s forces is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance.
Red, an orphan adopted by a notorious matriarch of the criminal underworld, learns to be an expert thief and con artist.
TOGETHER THEY WILL TAKE DOWN AN EMPIRE.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim, book 8)

From the publisher:
Sandman Slim returns in a stunning, high-octane thriller filled with the intense kick-ass action and inventive fantasy that are the hallmarks of New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey.

The request from Thomas Abbot, the Augur of the Sub Rosa council, couldn’t come at a better time for James Stark, aka Sandman Slim. For a man who’s most recently met Death—and death’s killer—a few months of normal life is more than he can handle. He needs a little action, and now Abbott wants Stark and Candy to investigate the disappearance of a young boy—and help uncover council members who might be tied to Wormwood’s power brokers.

Stark’s plans change when he meets a dying angel who gives him a vial of a mysterious black liquid that could be a secret weapon in the ongoing war between angels who want to allow human souls into Heaven and rebel angels willing to die to keep them out. When one of Stark’s closest friends is poisoned with the black liquid, Stark and Candy have to go to the only place where they might find a cure: Hell.

But standing in their way are the damned souls who, even after death, still work for Wormwood. The secret deal they’ve struck with the rebel angels is darker than anything Stark has encountered. Not only does the fate of the world hang in the balance, but also the souls of everyone in it. Stark has to find a way to break the stalemate in the angel war, score the Perdition cure for the black poison, and make it back to LA in one piece—where an old enemy waits to finish him once and for all.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, book 7)

From the publisher:
Alex Schwartz had a promising future – until he contracted an unfortunate bout of vampirism, and agreed (on pain of death) to join the Laundry, Britain’s only counter-occult secret agency.
His first assignment is in Leeds – his old hometown. The thought of telling his parents that he’s lost his old job, let alone them finding out about his ‘condition’, is causing Alex more anxiety than learning how to live as a vampire secret agent preparing to confront multiple apocalypses.
His only saving grace is Cassie Brewer, a student appearing in the local Goth Festival, who flirts with him despite his awkward personality and massive amounts of sunblock.
But Cassie has secrets of her own – secrets that make Alex’s night life seem positively normal . . .

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Big Sheep

From the publisher:
Los Angeles of 2039 is a baffling and bifurcated place. After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities, and became essentially a third world country within the borders of the city. Navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there’s no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When a valuable genetically altered sheep mysteriously goes missing from Esper Corporation’s labs, Keane is the one they call.

But while the erratic Keane and his more grounded partner, Blake Fowler, are on the trail of the lost sheep, they land an even bigger case. Beautiful television star Priya Mistry suspects that someone is trying to kill her – and she wants Keane to find out who. When Priya vanishes and then reappears with no memory of having hired them, Keane and Fowler realize something very strange is going on. As they unravel the threads of the mystery, it soon becomes clear that the two cases are connected – and both point to a sinister conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the city. Saving Priya and the sheep will take all of Keane’s wits and Fowler’s skills, but in the end, they may discover that some secrets are better left hidden.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Smile at Strangers: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly

From the publisher:
Susan Schorn led an anxious life. For no clear reason, she had become progressively paralyzed by fear. Fed up with feeling powerless, she took up karate.

She learned how to say no and how to fight when you have to (even in the dark). Karate taught her how to persuade her husband to wear a helmet, best one bossy Girl Scout troop leader, and set boundaries with an over-sharing boss. Here this double black belt recounts a fighting, biting, laughing woman’s journey on the road to living fearlessly—where enlightenment is as much about embracing absurdity and landing a punch as about finding that perfect method of meditation.

Full of hilarious hijinks and tactical wisdom, Schorn’s quest for a more satisfying life features practical—and often counterintuitive—lessons about safety and self defense. Smile at strangers, she says. Question your habits, your fears, your self-criticism: Self-criticism is easy. Self-improvement is hard. And don’t forget this essential gem: Everybody wants to have adventures. Whether they know it or not. Join the adventure in these pages, and come through it poised to have more of your own.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Trailer Park Fae (Gallow and Ragged, book 1)

From the publisher:
Jeremiah Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be.

Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae – by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding…

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Star-Touched Queen

From the publisher:
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Plague of Spells (Forgotten Realms: Abolethic Sovereignty, book 1)

From the publisher:
Blue fire sears the face of Faerûn, leaving the twisted and mutilated dead in its wake. But a rare few escape death–and suffer some mystical mutation. Raidon Kane is one of those who survives, the wake of blue fire burning the sigil of the amulet he wears into his chest and binding him with all the power and responsibility it entails. With everyone he knows and cares about dead, Raidon must find within himself the strength to lead the fight against the rise of an elder evil the likes of which would be the end of mortal kind.

Award-winning game designer Bruce R. Cordell depicts the rise of a monstrous nation of elder evil as only he can in this brand-new trilogy Abolethic Sovereignty. Dedicated to showcasing one of the most fascinating new aspects of the changed face of Faerûn, this trilogy is packed with the exciting battles, wizardry, and monsters that are the hallmark of Forgotten Realms novels as well as introducing a new never-before-seen element of Lovecraftian horror to Faerûn.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

From the publisher:
They’re known as Firestarters. Boomers. Skychangers. The government calls them Illegals — children with inexplicable abilities — and detains them in menacing facilities so that society is kept out of harm’s way. Ashala Wolf and her Tribe of fellow Illegals have taken refuge in the Firstwood, a forest eerily conscious of its inhabitants, where they do their best to survive and where they are free to practice their abilities. But when Ashala is compelled to venture outside her territory, she is betrayed by a friend and captured by an enemy. Injured and vulnerable, with her own Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to a machine that will pull secrets from her mind. It’s only a matter of time before the machine ferrets out the location of the Tribe. Her betrayer, Justin Connor, is ever-present, saving her life when she wishes to die and watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Spellstorm

From the publisher:
Rumors race around Cormyr regarding the mythical Lost Spell, a powerful enchantment designed centuries ago by the presumed dead god of spells—a spell long thought lost to the ages. Found by some magic-less merchant, rumor has it the Lost Spell is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It is a powerful lure, and archwizards of every stripe descend upon the merchant, only to be trapped with him inside his manor by a vicious spellstorm—escape impossible, and their magic useless with the interference from the storm.

Moreover—they find themselves faced with the infamous Elminster of Shadowdale, who claims he’s just there to decide who gets the Lost Spell, but who clearly has an agenda of his own.

But before Elimster can put whatever plan he has in motion, archwizards start dying.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Emperor of the Eight Islands (The Tale of Shikanoko series, book 1)

From the publisher:
A future lord is dispossessed of his birthright by a scheming uncle, a mountain sorcerer imbues a mask with the spirit of a great stag for a lost young man, a stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother, and a powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne, the child who is the rightful heir to the emperor barely escaping the capital in the arms of his sister. And that is just the beginning.

As destiny weaves its rich tapestry, a compelling drama plays out against a background of wild forests, elegant castles, hidden temples, and savage battlefields. This is the medieval Japan of Lian Hearn’s imagination, where animal spirits clash with warriors and children navigate a landscape as serene as it is deadly.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Every Heart a Doorway

From the publisher:
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Everything Box

From the publisher:
Reminiscent of the edgy, offbeat humor of Chris Moore and Matt Ruff, the first entry in a whimsical, fast-paced supernatural series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim novels—a dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back . . . again and again.

22000 B.C. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll get a big promotion.

And now it’s time . . . .

The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.

“Crap.”

2015. A thief named Coop—a specialist in purloining magic objects—steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him—and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think . . .

And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Fellside

From the publisher:
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to end up. But it’s where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It’s a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

Will she listen?

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Regional Office is Under Attack!

From the publisher:
In a world beset by amassing forces of darkness, one organization—the Regional Office—and its coterie of super-powered female assassins protects the globe from annihilation. At its helm, the mysterious Oyemi and her oracles seek out new recruits and root out evil plots. Then a prophecy suggests that someone from inside might bring about its downfall. And now, the Regional Office is under attack.

Recruited by a defector from within, Rose is a young assassin leading the attack, eager to stretch into her powers and prove herself on her first mission. Defending the Regional Office is Sarah—who may or may not have a mechanical arm—fiercely devoted to the organization that took her in as a young woman in the wake of her mother’s sudden disappearance. On the day that the Regional Office is attacked, Rose’s and Sarah’s stories will overlap, their lives will collide, and the world as they know it just might end.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson series, book 9)

From the publisher:
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, book 1)

From the publisher:
Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship’s captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Borderline (The Arcadia Project)

From the publisher:
A cynical, disabled film director with borderline personality disorder gets recruited to join a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland in the first book of a new urban fantasy series from debut author Mishell Baker.

A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.

For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she’ll have to smooth-talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble’s disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.

No pressure.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The House of Shattered Wings

From the publisher:
In the late twentieth century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins, the aftermath of a Great War between arcane powers. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

A Gathering of Shadows

From the publisher:
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Apex (Nexus Trilogy, book 3)

From the publisher:
Global unrest spreads through the US, China, and beyond. Secrets and lies set off shockwaves of anger, rippling from mind to mind. Riot police battle neurally-linked protestors. Armies are mobilized. Political orders fall. Nexus-driven revolution is in here.

Against this backdrop, a new breed of post-human children are growing into their powers. And a once-dead scientist, driven mad by her torture, is closing in on her plans to seize planet’s electronic systems, and re-forge everything in her image.

A new Apex species is here. The world will never be the same.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Bloodbound (Pathfinder Tales)

From the publisher:
Larsa is a dhampir—half vampire, half human. In the gritty streets and haunted peaks of Ustalav, she’s an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital’s secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Meanwhile, in the cathedral of Maiden’s Choir, Jadain is a young priestess of the death goddess, in trouble with her superiors for being too soft on the living. When a noblewoman’s entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, the unlikely pair is drawn into a deadly mystery that will reveal far more about both of them than they ever wanted to know.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Last Dream Keeper (An Echo Park Coven, book 2)

From the publisher:
Lyse MacAllister did not step into an easy role when she took over as master of the Echo Park coven of witches after her great-aunt Eleanora’s death. As she begins to forge the bonds that will help her lead her sisters, she struggles to come to terms with her growing powers. And she soon faces a deadly new threat. A group of fanatics intent on bringing about the end of times has invaded the witches Council—but the Council is turning a blind eye to the danger growing in its midst.

Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness. And if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost…

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Other Wind (The Earthsea Cycle, book 6)

From the publisher:
The sorcerer Alder has the power of mending, but it may have become the power of destruction: every night he dreams of the wall between the land of the living and the land of the dead, and the wall is being dismantled. If the wall is breached, the dead will invade Earthsea. Ged, once Archmage of Earthsea, sends Alder to King Lebannen. Now Alder and the king must join with a burned woman, a wizard of forbidden lore, and a being who is woman and dragon both, in an impossible quest to save Earthsea.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Medusa’s Web

From the publisher:
In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and his sister, Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they once shared. While Scott desperately wants to go back to their shabby South-of-Sunset lives, he cannot pry his sister away from this haunted “House of Usher in the Hollywood Hills” that is a conduit for the supernatural.Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film stars. A collection of hypnotic eight-limbed abstract images inked on paper allows the Maddens to briefly fragment and flatten time–to transport themselves into the past and future in visions that are both puzzling and terrifying. Though their cousins know little about these ancient “spiders” which provoke unpredictable temporal dislocations, Ariel and Claimayne have been using for years–an addiction that has brought Claimayne to the brink of selfish destruction.As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott discovers that to protect her, he must use the perilous spiders himself. But will he unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s past and finally free them. or be pulled deeper into their deadly web?

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Girl with Ghost Eyes

From the publisher:
It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes–the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father — and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Witches of Echo Park (Echo Park Coven, book 1)

From the publisher:
Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using magic to keep the world in balance. But the witches are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Lyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping extraordinary secrets from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian house; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But accepting her destiny means placing herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Future Falls (Gale Women, book 3)

From the publisher:
When Auntie Catherine warns the family of an approaching asteroid, the Gales scramble to keep humans from going the way of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for the world, they’re wielding a guitar and a dragon.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, which has caused some supernaturally complicated family shenanigans in the past. So when NASA and Doomsday Dan confirm Auntie Catherine’s dire prediction, Charlotte “Charlie” Gale turns to the family for help.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Wild Ways (Gale Women, book 2)

From the publisher:
Alysha Gale’s cousin Charlotte is a Wild Power, who allies herself with a family of Selkies in a fight against offshore oil drilling. The oil company has hired another of the Gale family’s Wild Powers, the fearsome Auntie Catherine, to steal the Selkies’ sealskins. To defeat her, Charlotte will have to learn what born to be Wild really means in the Gale family…

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Enchantment Emporium (Gale Women, book 1)

From the publisher:
The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, and they like to keep this in the family. Alysha Gale is tired of having all her aunts try to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives willing her a “junk” shop in Calgary, Alysha jumps at the chance. It isn’t until she gets there that she realizes her customers are fey. And no one told her there’s trouble brewing in Calgary-trouble so big that even calling in the family may not save the day…

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, book 3)

From the publisher:
Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Golden City (Fourth Realm Trilogy, book 3)

From the publisher:
Struggling to protect the legacy of his Traveler father, Gabriel faces troubling new questions and relentless threats. His brother Michael, now firmly allied with the enemy, pursues his ambition to wrest power from Nathan Boone, the calculating leader of the Brethren. And Maya, the Harlequin warrior pledged to protect Gabriel at all costs, is forced to make a choice that will change her life forever.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, book 2)

From the publisher:
From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Butterfly Swords

From the publisher:
During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding.Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior….

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her—which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted….

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, book 1)

From the Author:
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, Celaena, an assassin, is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, book 1)

This book has not yet been reviewed.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, book 4)

This book has not yet been reviewed.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Serpentine

From the Author:
SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Poison Sleep (Marla Mason, book 2)

This book has not yet been reviewed.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Liminal War

From Kirkus Reviews:
Taggert, a former criminal, can “read bodies” and manipulate them on a molecular level. He’s lying low in London, working a shadowy business of healing people with terminal diseases and keeping an eye on his teenage daughter, Tamara, and adopted daughter, Prentis. Both Tamara and Prentis are also “liminals”—people with supernatural abilities—and survivors of Taggert’s criminal past. When Prentis vanishes from the planet, invisible even to Tamara’s powerful telepathy, Taggert and Tamara set out to look for her. They find themselves thrown into alliances with legendary musicians and the worshipers of a strange god and pitted against viciously ruthless nonhuman entities called “alters.” The plot moves swiftly, cramming incident after incident into a novel that seems surprisingly slim for this breed of action-adventure, and while the speed and lack of cumbersome worldbuilding is refreshing, certain elements (including giant praying mantises, a ghost ship, and time travel) feel like sketches that would have benefited from more generous exploration. The characters are refreshingly diverse, however, and the novel digs into the perspectives of the members of its multiracial cast in a way that encourages the reader to question the homogeneity of many stories that give characters the world-altering gift of superpowers.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blood Engines (Marla Mason, book 1)

From the Publisher:
Sorcerer Marla Mason, small-time guardian of the city of Felport, has a big problem. A rival is preparing a powerful spell that could end Marla’s life–and, even worse, wreck her city. Marla’s only chance of survival is to boost her powers with the Cornerstone, a magical artifact hidden somewhere in San Francisco. But when she arrives there, Marla finds that the quest isn’t going to be quite as cut-and-dried as she expected…and that some of the people she needs to talk to are dead. It seems that San Francisco’s top sorcerers are having troubles of their own–a mysterious assailant has the city’s magical community in a panic, and the local talent is being (gruesomely) picked off one by one.

With her partner-in-crime, Rondeau, Marla is soon racing against time through San Francisco’s alien streets, dodging poisonous frogs, murderous hummingbirds, cannibals, and a nasty vibe from the local witchery, who suspect that Marla herself may be behind the recent murders. And if Marla doesn’t figure out who is killing the city’s finest in time, she’ll be in danger of becoming a magical statistic herself.…

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Black Widow Forever Red

From the Publisher:
Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Entropy of Bones

From the Publisher:
Chabi doesn’t realize her martial arts master may not be on the side of the gods. She does know he’s changed her from being an almost invisible kid to one that anyone — or at least anyone smart — should pay attention to. But attention from the wrong people can mean more trouble than even she can handle. Chabi might be emotionally stunted. She might have no physical voice. She doesn’t communicate well with words, but her body is poetry.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Harbinger (Deluxe Edition Volume 1)

From the Publisher:
Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he’s a psionically-charged “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger Toyo Harada is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Fairest Vol. 5: The Clamour for Glamour

From the Publisher:
In final FAIREST collection featuring issues #27-33, refugees from Fabletown have returned to New York’s Castle Dark, and Reynard travels the mundane world to regale the animals with tales of his exploits, rubbing the other Fables’ noses in his good fortune.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen

From the Publisher:
Chef Edward Lee’s story and his food could only happen in America. Raised in Brooklyn by a family of Korean immigrants, he eventually settled down in his adopted hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where he owns the acclaimed restaurant 610 Magnolia. A multiple James Beard Award nominee for his unique patchwork cuisine, Edward creates recipes–filled with pickling, fermenting, frying, curing, and smoking–that reflect the overlapping flavors and techniques that led this Korean-American boy to feel right at home in the South. Dishes like Chicken-Fried Pork Steak with Ramen Crust and Buttermilk Pepper Gravy; Collards and Kimchi; Braised Beef Kalbi with Soft Grits and Scallions; and Miso-Smothered Chicken all share a place on his table. Born with the storytelling gene of a true Southerner, Lee fills his debut cookbook with tales of the restaurant world, New York City, Kentucky, and his time competing on Top Chef, plus more than 130 exceptional recipes for food with Korean roots and Southern soul.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Liminal People

From the Publisher:
Taggert can heal and hurt with just a touch. When an ex calls for help, he risks the wrath of his enigmatic master to try and save her daughter. But when Taggert realizes the daughter has more power than even he can imagine, he has to wrestle with the very nature of his skills, not to mention unmanned and uncreated gods, in order keep the girl safe. In the end, Taggert will have to use more than his power, he has to delve into his heart and soul to survive.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Legends of Baldur’s Gate

From the Publisher:
Evil, meet my sword! Sword, meet evil! Generations have passed since the original Heroes of Baldur’s Gate saved the city and the Realms. Now a new threat rises and an unlikely group of misfits are thrust into adventure with MINSC, the legendary Ranger do-gooder with a heart of gold, brain of lead, and hamster of pronounced wisdom.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Girl With All the Gifts

From the Publisher:
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Lost Covenant (Widdershins Adventure, book 3)

From the Publisher:
It’s been six months since Widdershins and her own “personal god” Olgun fled the city of Davillon. During their travels, Widdershins unwittingly discovers that a noble house is preparing to move against the last surviving bastion of the Delacroix family.

Determined to help the distant relatives of her deceased adopted father, Alexandre Delacroix, she travels to a small town at the edge of the nation. There, she works at unraveling a plot involving this rival house and a local criminal organization, all while under intense suspicion from the very people she’s trying to rescue.

Along the way she’ll have to deal with a traitor inside the Delacroix family, a mad alchemist, and an infatuated young nobleman who won’t take no for an answer.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Killing Pretty (Sandman Slim, book 7)

From the Publisher:
James Stark has met his share of demons and angels, on earth and beyond. Now, he’s come face to face with the one entity few care to meet: Death.

Someone has tried to kill Death—ripping the heart right out of him—or rather the body he’s inhabiting. Death needs Sandman Slim’s help: he believes anyone who can beat Lucifer and the old gods at their own game is the only one who can solve his murder.

Stark follows a sordid trail deep into LA’s subterranean world, from vampire-infested nightclubs to talent agencies specializing in mad ghosts, from Weimar Republic mystical societies to sleazy supernatural underground fight and sex clubs. Along the way he meets a mysterious girl—distinguished by a pair of graveyard eyes—as badass as Slim: she happens to be the only person who ever outwitted Death. But escaping her demise has had dire consequences for the rest of the world . . . and a few others.

For years, Slim has been fighting cosmic forces bent on destroying Heaven, Hell, and Earth. This time, the battle is right here on the gritty streets of the City of Angels, where a very clever, very ballsy killer lies in wait.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

False Covenant (Widdershins Adventure, book 2)

From the Publisher:
It’s been over half a year, now, since the brutal murder of Archbishop William de Laurent during his pilgrimage to the Galicien city of Davillon. During that time, the Church of the Hallowed Pact has assigned a new bishop to the city—but it has also made its displeasure at the death of its clergyman quite clear. Davillon’s economy has suffered beneath the weight of the Church’s displeasure. Much of the populace—angry at the clergy— has turned away from the Church hierarchy, choosing private worship or small, independent shrines. And the bishop, concerned for his new position and angry at the people of Davillon, plans to do something about it.

But a supernatural threat is stalking the nighttime streets—a creature of the other world has come to infiltrate the seedier streets of Davillon, to intertwine its tendrils through the lower echelons of society. Faced with both political upheaval and a supernatural threat to its citizenry, the local representatives of the Church are paralyzed and the Guardsmen are in over their heads.

And then there’s Widdershins–who’s tried, and failed, to stay out of trouble since taking over Genevieve’s tavern; who’s known to the Church and the Guard both, and trusted by neither; who may, with some of her Thieves’ Guild contacts, have unwittingly played a part in the bishop’s plans; and who, along with her personal god Olgun, may be the only real threat to the supernatural evil infesting Davillon.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Zeroes

This book has not yet been reviewed.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, book 6)

From the Publisher:
Dominique O’Brien—her friends call her Mo—lives a curious double life with her husband, Bob Howard. To the average civilian, they’re boring middle-aged civil servants. But within the labyrinthian secret circles of Her Majesty’s government, they’re operatives working for the nation’s occult security service known as the Laundry, charged with defending Britain against dark supernatural forces threatening humanity.

Mo’s latest assignment is assisting the police in containing an unusual outbreak: ordinary citizens suddenly imbued with extraordinary abilities of the super-powered kind. Unfortunately these people prefer playing super-pranks instead of super-heroics. The Mayor of London being levitated by a dumpy man in Trafalgar Square would normally be a source of shared amusement for Mo and Bob, but they’re currently separated because something’s come between them—something evil.

An antique violin, an Erich Zann original, made of human white bone, was designed to produce music capable of slaughtering demons. Mo is the custodian of this unholy instrument. It invades her dreams and yearns for the blood of her colleagues—and her husband. And despite Mo’s proficiency as a world class violinist, it cannot be controlled…

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Water Knife

From the Publisher:
The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky.

As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

From the Publisher:
Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister should have been immortalized in the lore of the sea—his exploits more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s. But his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Thief’s Covenant (Widdershins Adventure, book 1)

From the Publisher:
Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city ‘s aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon’s underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It’s not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it’s hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon’s political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she’s built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don’t finish the job first.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Rock Paper Tiger (An Ellie McEnroe Novel, book 1)

From the Publisher:
American Iraq War veteran Ellie Cooper is down and out in Beijing when a chance encounter with a Uighur—a member of a Chinese Muslim minority—at the home of her sort-of boyfriend Lao Zhang turns her life upside down. Lao Zhang disappears, and suddenly multiple security organizations are hounding her for information.

They say the Uighur is a terrorist. Ellie doesn’t know what’s going on, but she must decide whom to trust among the artists, dealers, collectors, and operatives claiming to be on her side—in particular, a mysterious organization operating within a popular online role-playing game. As she tries to elude her pursuers, she’s haunted by memories of Iraq. Is what she did and saw there at the root of the mess she’s in now?

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird

Some good stories, though the longest and best is Equoid by Charles Stross and I’d already read it elsewhere. Despite the wide range of styles and subjects, the stories manage to capture aspects of Lovecraftian darkness without devolving to purple prose or simple copycatting.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen mysteries, book 5)

From the Publisher:
A serial killer is stalking the young women of Shanghai. The killer’s calling card is to leave the victims’ bodies in well trafficked locations, each of them redressed in a red mandarin dress. With the newspapers screaming about Shanghai’s first serial killer, Party officials anxious for a quick resolution, and the police under pressure from all sides, something has to give.

Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department, a rising party cadre, is often put in charge of politically senstive cases. But this time, there’s a catch–Chen is on leave, ostensibly to study for his Master’s degree, but also to sidestep being dragged into a messy corruption case with political overtones.

But when the murderer strikes directly at the investigative team itself, Chen must take over the investigation himself discovering that this, his most dangerous and sensitive case to date, has roots that reach back to the country’s tumultuous recent past.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Brilliance (The Brilliance Trilogy, book 1)

From the Publisher:
In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in―and betray his own kind.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty

From the Publisher:
The nonfiction debut from the author of the international best seller Sacred Games about the surprising overlap between writing and computer coding

Vikram Chandra has been a computer programmer for almost as long as he has been a novelist. In this extraordinary new book, his first work of nonfiction, he searches for the connections between the worlds of art and technology. Coders are obsessed with elegance and style, just as writers are, but do the words mean the same thing to both? Can we ascribe beauty to the craft of writing code?

Exploring such varied topics as logic gates and literary modernism, the machismo of tech geeks, the omnipresence of an “Indian Mafia” in Silicon Valley, and the writings of Abhinavagupta, the eleventh-century Kashmiri thinker, Geek Sublime is both an idiosyncratic history of coding and a fascinating meditation on the writer’s art. Part literary essay, part technology story, and part memoir, it is an engrossing, original, and heady book of sweeping ideas.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Armada

From the Publisher:
Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Turbulence

from the Publisher:
Aman Sen is smart, young, ambitious and going nowhere. He thinks this is because he doesn’t have the right connections—but then he gets off a plane from London to Delhi and discovers that he has turned into a communications demigod. Indeed, everyone on Aman’s flight now has extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires.
Vir, an Indian Air Force pilot, can now fly.
Uzma, a British- Pakistani aspiring Bollywood actress, now possesses infinite charisma.
And then there’s Jai, an indestructible one-man army with a good old-fashioned goal — to rule the world!

Aman wants to ensure that their new powers aren’t wasted on costumed crime-fighting, celebrity endorsements, or reality television. He wants to heal the planet but with each step he takes, he finds helping some means harming others. Will it all end, as 80 years of superhero fiction suggest, in a meaningless, explosive slugfest?

Turbulence features the 21st-century Indian subcontinent in all its insane glory—F-16s, Bollywood, radical religious parties, nuclear plants, cricket, terrorists, luxury resorts, crazy TV shows — but it is essentially about two very human questions. How would you feel if you actually got what you wanted? And what would you do if you could really change the world?

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Rating: ★★★½☆

A Scattering of Jades

From the Publisher:
The great fire of 1835 burned most of New York City’s wooden downtown. Like many people, Archie Prescott thought he had lost everything. His home was a smoldering ruin, his dead wife’s body at his feet. And next to her is a child’s corpse he assumes was his daughter. It seems like the end of everything.

But it is only the beginning.

Goaded into action by New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett, Archie runs afoul of one of P. T. Barnum’s former sideshow workers, Riley Steen. With the help of an ancient book translated by Aaron Burr, Steen has resurrected a chacmool. This ageless Mesoamerican avatar plans to use the blood of Archie’s still-living daughter to bring about the end of humanity.

At the same time, Stephen Bishop guides tourists through the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Stephen, a slave, wants nothing more than a world where the color of his skin doesn’t deny his humanity. His fateful first meeting with the chacmool leads him to believe that the promise it offers may bring him to such a world.

In the midst of ancient magic and murderous conspiracies, Archie finds himself with the power to save the world or drown it in sacrificial blood . . . but first he has to stop mourning his daughter and undertake a grim cross-country journey to save her.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Soprano’s Last Song (Sherlock, Lupin, and Me, book 2)

From the Publisher:
Irene Adler, Sherlock Holmes, and Arsène Lupin planned to reunite in London, England, for their second adventure together . . . but Lupin doesn’t show up. His father, Théophraste, has been arrested for the kidnapping of a famous opera singer and the murder of a secretary to the great composer, Giuseppe Barzini! The three intrepid detectives start a full investigation to clear Théophraste’s name and rescue the missing soprano, Ophelia Merridew, only to discover that the singer is being held captive by criminals in the deadly district of Bethnal Green. Join Irene and her friends in their twist-filled bid to solve the mystery of The Soprano’s Last Song.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Dark Lady (Sherlock, Lupin, and Me, book 1)

From the Publisher:
While on summer vacation, little Irene Adler meets a young William Sherlock Holmes. The two share stories of pirates and have battles of wit while running wild on the sunny streets and rooftops. When Sherlock’s friend, Lupin, joins in on the fun, they all become fast friends. But the good times end abruptly when a dead body floats ashore on the nearby beach. The young detective trio will have to put all three of their heads together to solve this mystery.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Resistance

From the Publisher:
Eleven years after the passengers of flight BA142 from London to Delhi developed extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires, the world is overrun with supers. Some use their powers for good, others for evil, and some just want to smash up iconic monuments and get on TV. But now someone is hunting down supers, killing heroes and villains both, and it’s up to the Unit to stop them…

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Devil’s Footsteps

From the Publisher:
Bryan was 10 when his brother, Adam, just . . . disappeared. That was five years ago, and now Bryan is the only one who seems to remember what happened.

Until he meets two others with their own unsolved mysteries. It seems that Adam isn’t the first to disappear. Someone or something is after the kids in their neighborhood.

The adults can’t hear it, and they can’t see it or feel it—but the kids can. And it all comes back to the skipping rhyme that every child in town knows by heart . . . and the Dark Man who haunts everyone’s worst nightmares—while they’re awake.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen mysteries, book 4)

From the Publisher:
Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is assigned a high-profile anti-corruption case, one in which the principal figure has long since fled to the United States and beyond the reach of the Chinese government. But Xing left behind his organization, and Chen, while assigned to root the co-conspirators, is not sure whether he’s actually being set up to fail.

In a twisting case that takes him from Shanghai all the way to the U.S., reuniting him with his colleague and counterpart from the U.S. Marshall’s Service, Inspector Catherine Rhon, Chen finds himself at odds with hidden, powerful, and vicious enemies. At once a compelling crime novel and an insightful, moving portrayal of contemporary China, A Case of Two Cities is the finest novel yet in this critically-acclaimed, award-wining series.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Code (Virals book 3)

From the Publisher:
Tory and the rest of the Virals are put to the ultimate test when they find a geocache containing an ornate puzzle box. Shelton decodes the cipher inside, only to find more tantalizing clues left by “The Gamemaster.” A second, greater geocache is within reach—if the Virals are up to the challenge. But the hunt takes a dark turn when Tory locates the other box—it contains a fake bomb, along with a sinister proposal from The Gamemaster. Now, the real game has begun: another bomb is out there—a real one—and the clock is ticking.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Uprooted

A beautifully told fairy story with plenty of everything from wizards to court intrigues to romance to lost civilizations. The story of the wizard known as the Dragon and the witch Agnieszka who is unexpectedly chosen to serve him for ten years in place of her friend Kasia. Together, they discover that though their magic is very different, it’s the only way to defeat The Wood and prevent it from taking over everything.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Rat Queens Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

In this outing, the Rat Queens must save Palisade from extra-dimensional horrors who feed on the energy of displaced reality. Lots of character back-story and epic battles ensue.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Library at Mount Char

From the Publisher:
A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe.
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.

Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.

After all, she was a normal American herself once.

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father.

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.

But Carolyn has accounted for this.

And Carolyn has a plan.

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling—and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Zenith: Phase 1

From the Publisher:
Zenith Phase 1, Grant Morrison’s first comics masterpiece with unforgetable art by Steve Yeowell, has been unavailable to trade for twenty years, but is published again here in a stunning new hardback edition.

Berlin, 1945: The allies unleashed the second world war hero Maximan upon the German super soldier Masterman. Maximan’s defeat was only kept secret by the nuclear bomb which destroyed both men.

Forty-plus years later, and twenty years after a generation of ’60s British superpowered heroes came and went, the teenage pop star Zenith is the only superhuman left – and his only interest in women, drugs, alchohol and fame. So when he is contacted about the threat from the many-angled ones and the impending destruction of our world, his first reaction is to steer well clear. But the superhumans of the past have other plans…

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Divas, Dames & Daredevils

From the Publisher:
Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle ruled the pages of comic books in the 1940s. But many heroines of the WWII era have been forgotten. Through twenty-eight full reproductions of vintage Golden Age comics, Divas, Dames & Daredevils reintroduces their ingenious abilities to mete out justice to Nazis, aliens, and evildoers of all kinds.

Each spine-tingling chapter opens with Mike Madrid’s insightful commentary about heroines at the dawn of the comic book industry and reveals a universe populated by extraordinary women—superheroes, reporters, galactic warriors, daring detectives, and ace fighter pilots—who protected America and the world with wit and guile.

In these pages, fans will also meet heroines with striking similarities to more modern superheroes, including The Spider Queen, who deployed web shooters twenty years before Spider Man, and Marga the Panther Woman, whose feral instincts and sharp claws tore up the bad guys long before Wolverine. These women may have been overlooked in the annals of history, but their influence on popular culture, and the heroes we’re passionate about today, is unmistakable. Includes a foreword by Maria Elena Buszek, PhD.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ticker

From the Publisher:
A girl with a clockwork heart makes every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly died, the brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick managed to implant a brass “Ticker,” transforming her into “the first of the Augmented!” But soon it was discovered that Warwick kidnapped and killed dozens of people striving to perfect another Ticker for Penny.

The last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthing factory is bombed, Warwick disappears, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom demand for all of their Augmentation notes if they want to see their parents again. Who is trying to stop their work? Or to control it? Or is the motive more sinister?

Determined to solve the mystery and reunite their family, the Farthings recruit their closest friends: fiery baker Violet Nesselrode and gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling. Unexpectedly leading the charge is Marcus Kingsley, the young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Tabula Rasa

All Sarah knows is that the secret facility she’s at is her opportunity at a new beginning, free from the memories of her past. A series of occurrences culminating in a power outage and an attack on the facility by a team of well-armed mercenaries lead to her teaming up with a kid who may know what’s happening. As Sarah discovers that she’s capable of far more than she ever thought possible, the pieces of her past start coming back and she realizes that she’s different from the other patients at the facility.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

A Darker Shade of Magic

There are different Londons including Grey London, a place without magic, and Black London, a forbidden place. Kell is from Red London and one of the rare few with the ability to travel between the different Londons including White London, a place where magic is a commodity to be controlled and fought over. When Kell crosses paths with Delilah Bard in Grey London after being injured, he must join her to stop a threat to all the Londons.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Magician’s Land (Magicians Trilogy, book 3)

From the Publisher:
Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory—but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

The Magician’s Land is an intricate thriller, a fantastical epic, and an epic of love and redemption that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnificent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery

From the Publisher:
Collects RAT QUEENS #1-5

Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Vicious (Villains, book 1)

From the Publisher:
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates–brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find–aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge–but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Pennyroyal Academy

From the Publisher:
Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war. She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academy masterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London, book 5)

From the Publisher:
In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper.

Travelling west with Beverley Brook Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what’s more all the shops are closed by 4pm…

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Halo: Broken Circle

From the Publisher:
Centuries before the Human-Covenant War would rage across the galaxy, a similar conflict erupted between the Prophets and the Elites—two alien races at odds over the sacred artifacts left by the powerful Forerunners, who disappeared eons ago. Although they would eventually form a stable alliance called the Covenant, there are those on both sides who question this fateful union. From an Elite splinter group rebelling against the Covenant during the time of its founding…to a brave Prophet caught in the machinations of the new leadership…to the root of the betrayal that would ultimately shatter the Covenant many years later, this is the untold chapter of the most unexpected heroes emerging from a realm filled with shocking treachery and ceaseless wonder.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Avengers/Invaders

During the Marvel Civil War, the Invaders are sent forward in time from World War II. Epic clashes between the teams makes for some epic three-way battles, while also focusing on the human stories of Bucky, Toro, and the all-too-human GI who also traveled through time with the Invaders.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Captain America: Patriot

An alternate history where Captain America didn’t perish. Or rather, he did, but another hero known as The Patriot stepped in to fill his shoes during and after the war.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Invaders: The Eve of Destruction

Classic stories from the early days of superheroes including Namor and Captain America.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Dark Avengers, Vol. 2: Molecule Man

Bonus points for a more nuanced take on Molecule Man as he fights Osborn and the Dark Avengers that builds on his powers with the reveals during the old Secret Wars series.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dark Avengers Vol. 1: Assemble

Via Wikipedia:
The government assigned the team’s redevelopment to Norman Osborn (the reformed supervillain now calling himself the Iron Patriot) whom the government had previously assigned to head the superhero team the Thunderbolts and who had become a public hero for his role in repelling the Skrull threat. Osborn, also given leadership of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., reforms that agency into H.A.M.M.E.R. and creates a new Avengers team under its aegis.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dark Avengers: The End is the Beginning

A time-travel adventure with the Thunderbolts and the Dark Avengers, converging on the desert nation of Sharzhad and the secrets hidden therein.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The School for Good and Evil (book 1)

From the Publisher:
At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns

From the Publisher:
After decades of hiding, the evil Enchantress who cursed Sleeping Beauty is back with a vengeance.

Alex and Conner Bailey have not been back to the magical Land of Stories since their adventures in The Wishing Spell ended. But one night, they learn the famed Enchantress has kidnapped their mother! Against the will of their grandmother, the twins must find their own way into the Land of Stories to rescue their mother and save the fairy tale world from the greatest threat it’s ever faced.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Legends of Red Sonja

From the Publisher:
In this unique collection, ongoing Red Sonja series writer Gail Simone hand-picked eleven of the fiercest, most talented, and most popular female writers from the worlds of comics, prose, games, and television, to help her tell the greatest legends in the She-Devil’s long history! A group of savage mercenaries hired to hunt and kill Sonja come across campfire tales of her at every turn… and Sonja does not like to be hunted. – Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Rhianna Pratchett, and many more tell fascinating bits of Sonja’s legend, with a wrap-around tale by Simone herself, and art by the likes of Phil Noto, Jim Calafiore, Jack Jadson, and others. – Collects Legends of Red Sonja issues #1-5, the script to issue #1, concept art by Jack Jadson, and more!

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Horrorstör

The Orsk furniture store in Cleveland, a shiny Americanized version of a certain Swedish chain, is the setting for this haunted house novel. Amy and her co-workers are the typical assortment of employees, with the others ranging from the gung-ho assistant manager Basil to the spinster Ruth Anne to hobbyist paranormal investigators Trinity and Matt. Lacking only the ghost ambulance, the story is otherwise strongly reminiscent of the Danish film The Kingdom with things like the site of the store having a dark past and everything that happens building to a crescendo of doom.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, book 3)

The trilogy comes to a fitting end as the end of the world looms and Hank closes in on his missing sister. In order to discover if there’s truly a plan to save the world, he must solve one last mystery.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Doubt Factory

Alix leads a life of privilege, courtesy of her dad and his business that she only knows as some sort of PR-related thing. That is, until she discovers that his real job is reputation management and covering up the wrongs of major corporations, at least long enough for them to profit off harmful products and other unethical doings. After a mysterious guy named Moses opens her eyes to what’s really going on, Alix must choose between her family or Moses and his crew of crusaders.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar, book 1)

The job of an angel on Earth isn’t easy, but it’s rarely complicated unless you’re an angel like Bobby Dollar (AKA Doloriel) with too many questions and an unfortunate situation involving a missing soul. Part noir and part urban fantasy, there’s plenty of twists and Bobby must answer some serious questions about his job and his past.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Hellblazer: Original Sins

From the Publisher:
The first volume of Vertigo’s longest running series that stars England’s chain-smoking, low-rent magus.

Welcome to the haunted world of black magic, demons, and the ghosts of past mistakes—the world of John Constantine, Hellblazer. Constantine is a hero, of sorts, who manages to come out on top through a combination of luck, trickery, and genuine magical skill. With his sharp tongue and unequalled shrewdness, the sorcerer from Liverpool has managed to raise himself to a position as rarified as it is dangerous: being the magician of last resort for a world under constant siege from the forces of chaos and evil. That same rough path has also sharpened his mind, and taught him a thing or two about ruthlessness.

Collecting the beginning of the signature Vertigo series together with the Constantine tie-in story from SWAMP THING, this expanded edition of ORIGINAL SINS kicks off one of the most remarkable sagas of horror and dark fantasy in all of graphic literature.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Knights of the Cornerstone

From the Publisher:
When Calvin Bryson decides to visit his aunt and uncle, he learns that their small town is harboring some strange secrets-including a modern- day incarnation of the legendary Knights Templar.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Seconds

From the Publisher:
Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:

1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew

And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.

From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Getaway God (Sandman Slim, book 6)

From the Publisher:
Sandman Slim must save himself—and the entire world—from the wrath of some enraged and vengeful ancient gods in this sixth high-octane adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude—not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer—James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya—the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil—the Wildfire Ripper—is stalking the city.

No ordinary killer, The Ripper takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He’s also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. The trouble is, he’s also Stark’s worst enemy . . . the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Shaman Rises (The Walker Papers)

A satisfying conclusion to the Walker Papers series with a final confrontation in Seattle where everyone joins in.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur, book 3)

From the Publisher:
With his infectious love of storytelling in all its forms, his rich characterization and his unrivaled grasp of thrillingly bizarre cutting-edge science, Hannu Rajaniemi swiftly set a new benchmark for Science Fiction in the 21st century. Now, with his third novel, he completes the tale of the many lives, and minds, of gentleman rogue Jean de Flambeur.

Influenced as much by the fin de siècle novels of Maurice leBlanc as he is by the greats of SF, Rajaniemi weaves intricate, warm capers through dazzling science, extraordinary visions of a wild future,and deep conjectures on the nature of reality and story.

In The Causal Angel we will discover the ultimate fates of Jean, his employer Miele, the independently minded ship Perhonnen, and the rest of a fractured and diverse humanity flung throughout the solar system.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Avengers, Vol. 1

Brian Michael Bendis (Author), John Romita Jr. (Illustrator)

From the Publisher:
There came a day! A day unlike any other…when two of Marvel’s top creators teamed up for the very first time to create a bombastic new Marvel series that not only ushers in the Heroic Age of Marvel Comics but unleashes onto the world the most blockbuster Avengers team ever! Who will answer the call? And will they assemble just in time…because Kang the Conqueror is here from the future. And wait till you find out why…!

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, book 3)

Trapped on a satellite, Crescent AKA Cress has been the technological genius behind Queen Levana’s plans to take over the earth. But her conscience and her infatuation with a certain captain who’s helping the rightful Lunar princess leads to her escape and may prove instrumental in Cinder’s plans to raise a revolution against Levana.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files, book 5)

From the Publisher:
LONDON CAN DRAIN THE LIFE OUT OF YOU . . .

Bob Howard is an intelligence agent working his way through the ranks of the top secret government agency known as ‘the Laundry’. When occult powers threaten the realm, they’ll be there to clean up the mess – and deal with the witnesses.

There’s one kind of threat that the Laundry has never come across in its many decades, and that’s vampires. Mention them to a seasoned agent and you’ll be laughed out of the room.

But when a small team of investment bankers at one of Canary Wharf’s most distinguished financial institutions discovers an arcane algorithm that leaves them fearing daylight and craving O positive, someone doesn’t want the Laundry to know. And Bob gets caught right in the middle.

The Rhesus Chart is a brand new supernatural thriller from Charles Stross, and sees hacker-turned-spy Bob Howard take on the (literal) bloodsuckers running London’s financial district.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Journey into Mystery (The Complete Collection, Volume 1)

After events cause Asgard to fall and Loki died, he’s been brought back through the agency of his brother, Thor. Now, he’s trying to do the right thing, even when that runs counter to his old self, and to use all his wiles to defeat the Serpent, an evil that feeds on fear and overshadows all the other petty gods of nightmares. His unlikely allies include Volstag of the Warriors Three and Leah, the handmaiden of Hela who accompany him as he strikes deals with Surtur and Mephistopheles.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, book 8)

The return of her husbands ex-wife puts Mercy on the path to a confrontation with a terrifying ancient volcano god and his hounds who are stronger than any werewolf. Along the way, one of the Grey Lords pays a visit to demand the return of Lugh’s staff, seeing as how it belonged to his father. Trying to find Coyote may help her to that end while also providing the help she needs to deal with the more pressing threat.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 2)

A mysterious stranger who calls himself Wolf crosses paths with a young woman who goes by Scarlet. She’s looking for her missing grandmother and when he offers a possible lead, she travels to Paris. The story of Cinder Linh also continues as her travels also take her to France when she follows the path that led her from Luna to the Linh family.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Skin Game (Dresden Files, book 15)

Now the Winter Knight, Dresden must join some of his worst enemies in a heist, among them being the head of the Denarians and his daughter. Their target is the treasure vault of Hades, god of the underworld, and to get there, they’ll need to open a gate from Chicago, the only location that works being a secure vault belong to Gentleman Johnny Marcone. Dresden’s friends may be sufficient to help keep him from getting killed,

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Bubble (The Game trilogy, book 3)

The game continues with further revelations about Rebecca and HP’s father. The arrival of Mark Black, the CEO of PayTag for the opening of their new secure data center coincides with a royal marriage. The Gamemaster’s interest in the two events may put HP and Rebecca on a collision course unless they can figure out who to trust.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, book 1)

Cinder is the adopted daughter of a family whose mother regards her as little more than property, but relies on her ability as a mechanic to support her and her two daughters. Everything changes when she meets the Prince and may have to decide whether she can stand up to the threat posed by the Lunar Empire and perhaps play a role in curing the deadly plague sweeping the Earth.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

All Is Silence (Deserted Lands, volume 1)

As a mysterious plague claims the lives of people in Lizzy’s world including her family, she must find a way to survive and find other survivors. When she discovers that friends her age who were on a trip together have all been spared, she begins to feel safe. Then, she learns that the father she though had abandoned her is also alive and living in Texas. She contacts him and begins a cross-country odyssey to meet him in Utah.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Code Name Verity

A story told in two parts, the first is the story of a British agent, codename Verity, captured by the Nazis in Occupied France. As her story unfolds, she tells the story of her friend, a pilot, as she discloses crucial information including codes for the radios that were on her plane when she crash-landed. The twists and turns are surprising and deft, with unlikely heroism and friendships forged in wartime.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buzz (The Game trilogy, book 2)

What is the purpose of The Game? Henrik “HP” Pettersson wonders what it might be and is somehow drawn back into it, returning from his time abroad, he and his sister may figure out the secrets behind a powerful company that “fixes” reputations online and how it relates to The Game.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan

The origin of the second Nite Owl as he first meets the next generation of the Watchmen. Fans of Doctor Manhattan will enjoy the prequel to his life that foreshadows his denouement at the end of the Watchmen comic series. The two stories are very different in feel and perfectly complement each other.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

California Bones

In an alternate Los Angeles, the city and surrounds are ruled by osteomancy, power drawn from the bones of creatures. Some, like Mulholland and Disney have prolonged their lives through its use. The osteomancer and petty thief Daniel Blackland stays under the radar after his father was killed by the Hierarch who rules Los Angeles. When his uncle arranges a theft from the Hierarch’s vaults, Daniel assembles a crew to do the job, but what transpires may bring Daniel into direct confrontation with the Hierarch and shake the very roots of the city.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre

The first part of this book is the history of the Watchmen before the rise of Doctor Manhattan and Ozymandias. Told from the viewpoint of Nite Owl, Hollis just wants to publish a book telling the true story of the Watchmen and to expose the hypocrisy of those the public holds up as heroes.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Dark Shore (The Atlanteans, book 2)

The saga of the Antlanteans continue as Owen Parker and his friends travel south to the city of Desenna and the ruins of Eden South. After some harrowing travails, they finally make it to their destination, they meet the third Atlantean, Seven, and Owen meets his mother. However, there’s something darker going on and Seven may not be the Medium to Owen’s Pilot and Leech’s Navigator.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Rocketeer Adventures Volume 2

Vignettes from various times in the Rocketeer’s life, some humorous and some serious. The focus seems to be 1936-1938 with some wartime episodes including the incident that leads to the Rocketeer being allowed to go overseas. The variety of artistic styles fits each story’s theme very well without being jarring or inconsistent with the styles in the other stories.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Maze Runner (Mazerunner, book 1)

After he awakens in an elevator, Thomas is delivered to a place known as The Glade within an enormous maze. The boys who live there have spent years looking for an escape without success, but the arrival of Thomas changes everything. Things change even more with the arrival of a girl who has an inexplicable connection to Thomas, one he can’t remember.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Queen of the Dark Things

Long ago, when Colby was learning to use his magic, he traveled to Australia and spent time with one of the Clever Men in the Outback. Now, six months after he lost his best friend, that past is coming back to haunt him. Tied to those events are the appearance of the genius Loci of Austin and the powers of Hell who were imprisoned by Solomon.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Castle Behind Thorns

The Sundered Castle of Boisblanc has sat abandoned for years behind an impenetrable wall of thorns. When apprentice blacksmith Sand mysteriously finds himself within the castle, he sets about trying to survive and discovers that the more he fixes things, that his repairs are having other effects on the castle. He must discover a way to right old wrongs that led to the damage to the castle and find his own path, as well. A very different retelling of the legend of Sleeping Beauty.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Game (Game Trilogy, book 1)

It all starts with a silver cellphone on a train with the number 128 on the back. The next thing Henrik Pettersson, HP to his friends, and his sister, Rebecca Normen are drawn into a real-life game with deadly consequences that may or may not have something to do with the death of Rebecca’s fiance years ago.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Lost Code (The Atlanteans, book 1)

In a world devastated by environmental collapse, Owen Parker has won the privilege of attending Camp Eden in one of the domed cities where life continues as it was before. There, he meets Lilly after she saves him from drowning. Or did she? The next thing he knows, he’s at the center of a a series of events where he may hold the key to preventing the complete destruction of the human race.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Best of Judge Dredd

Some stories are stand-alone shorts and some are the start of stories that are fully collected elsewhere. The variety of stories and art styles is a great introduction to Judge Dredd and the world of the Cursed Earth.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

New Watch (Night Watch, book 5)

Continuing the story of Anton Gorodetsky and the lives of the Others, this book is divided into three sections like previous books. In this, the focus in on Others who have the ability to foresee the future, only a certain prophet has attracted the attention of a strange being who is neither a Light nor a Dark Other. What is the secret of the Twilight and how does it relate to the prophets? More philosophical and slower-paced than the other books, Lukyanenko’s latest exploration of the world of the Others.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

SYLO (The SYLO Chronicles, book 1)

Pemberwick Island is a quiet place and Tucker Pierce’s best friend Quinn can’t wait to leave. That’s before a substance known as Ruby appeared, people started dying and a military organization know as SYLO quarantined everyone. Now, Tucker, Quinn, and a local lobsterman’s daughter, Tori, try to figure out what’s going on and escape from the military.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Batman: Gates of Gotham

A mystery threatening the destruction of Gotham is tied to the founding families of that city, the Waynes, the Elliotts, and the Cobblepots. Who or what are the Gates of Gotham? Dick Grayson (as Batman), Tim Drake (Red Robin), Damian Wayne (Robin) and Cassandra Cain (Black Bat) must solve the mystery and stop the destruction.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Afterparty

After a teenager commits suicide at the detention facility where biochemist Lyda Rose is incarcerated, she realizes that a drug she helped create is now out on the streets. She gets released and sets out to find the others who created the drug. But the key to who’s behind the new release of the drug and the chemjet printers to make it, is tied to the events that originally resulted in Lyda Rose being committed and sent another friend to prison for a murder that Lyda is pretty sure she committed. The drug’s effects are to allow users to commune directly with their own personal god, but can Lyda rely on her own angel-winged figment or her equally unique companions who accompany her on her quixotic quest?

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Gaming As Culture: Essays on Reality, Identity And Experience in Fantasy Games

Sociological studies of games, roleplaying game and computer games, in particular, are always interesting. There are as many approaches to studying games and those who play them as there are games, so the insights can sometimes be surprising. There’s not necessarily as much new insight as I hoped, but the way games inform culture or have a culture of their own is worth a read.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

H W J N

What happens when a Jinn falls in love with a human? In this case, to be more precise, a half-Jinn and half-Marid, Hawjan discovers he can communicate with Sawsan, the daughter of Doctor Abdulraheem, using a Ouija board. The juxtaposition of the two worlds, seen and unseen, with the ways the teachings of Islam affected their worldviews was fascinating. Though the translation and word choices in the English version were sometimes a little choppy, the book overall was definitely worth a read.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

DMQZ

In the safe zone of Manhattan, police officer Jacob Hale is part of a team that foils a bank robbery by suspected terrorists. The robbers escape after threatening to release the virus that devastated much of the world, the so-called “dormouse”. He finds one of the robbers by chance during his suspension following the robbery and is drawn into a much broader conspiracy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Black Heart (The Curse Workers, book 3)

The Feds want to use Cassel Sharpe’s abilities for their own ends, while the Zacharov crime family (and the girl he loves) want him on their side. Can he find a way out and perhaps prevent the anti-magic law from passing by removing the Senator behind it.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Red Glove (Curse Workers, book 2)

Continuing the story of Cassel Sharpe, after discovering he’s a transformation worker, he discovers that Lila Zacharov has been cursed to love him by his mother and then his brother winds up dead. So even though he’s been readmitted to school and might, against all of his instincts as a con man, actually be making some real friends, his life has gotten even more complicated. When the federal agency responsible for policing curse workers gets their hands on a test that shows Cassel is a curse worker, he must help them track down his brother’s murderer.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Adjacent

After his wife is killed by a mysterious weapon that leaves only a blackened triangle on the ground, photographer Tibor Tarent returns from Turkey to Great Britain (or, rather, the Islamic Republic of Great Britain that feels like it’s some time in the near future) for a debriefing. There, he discovers that the IRGB is under attack by the same weapon that killed his wife and a large part of London has been destroyed. The story then skips to World War I where a stage illusionist crosses paths with H. G. Wells with the goal of rendering airplanes invisible to the Germans. Other stories including that of a mechanic in World War II and a magician in an alternate reality known as the Dream Archipelago, intersect with the life of Polish pilot Rosa and her curious connection to Melanie, Tibor’s wife.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

White Cat (Curse Workers, book 1)

The world of Cassel Sharpe is much like our own except that some people are “curse workers”, capable of performing feats like altering the emotions of others or killing with a touch. In his family, Cassel is the only one who has no abilities. Or so he thinks. When he wakes up on the roof of his school with no idea how he got there, he discovers that his family has been keeping secrets from him and all of it is somehow tied to the Zacharov crime family that the Sharpes have connected with. Somehow, there’s more to Cassel’s memories of murdering Lila Zacharov and his lack of memories of the event are putting him in grave danger.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide (This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War)

One in a series of guides to battles of the Civil War. This guide covers three battles with excursions around specific events during the battles with extensive maps and recaps of the events.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

When vampires became known to the world, entire cities were quarantined as “Coldtowns” and anyone who became infected was sent there. After a party, Tana wakes up to discover that she’s been left alive after a massacre claims everyone else except for her ex-boyfriend who is infected and has been left with a vampire by the name of Gavriel. They escape and travel to the largest coldtown in the United States where events unfold in an unexpected fashion as a result of Gavriel’s connection to the most famous vampire, Lucien Moreau.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

An excellent collection of essays on many aspects of worldbuilding by some of gaming’s most experienced voices.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Countdown City (The Last Policeman trilogy, book 2)

Retired detective Hank Palace’s latest case is to find the husband of his old childhood babysitter. In the course of his investigations, he travels to the anarchist camp at the University of New Hampshire and briefly reunites with his sister. The deeper examination of what it means to be human and humanity’s reactions in the face of catastrophe are strongly developed and very well portrayed.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega (volume 5)

The saga concludes with Dodge in possession of the Omega Key and sinister plans for the senior class party in the Drowning Cave.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman trilogy, book 1)

The asteroid 2011GV1, benignly known as Maia, is about to collide with the Earth in a few months. In light of this looming disaster, life continues as normally as it can. Detective Hank Palace is investigating a routine suicide when his instincts tell him there’s something more going on with the death of the otherwise mundane actuary. As a new detective on the force and with only months left, are his instincts right and does it matter whether he investigates further?

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Ghost Train to New Orleans (The Shambling Guides, book 2)

This book has not yet been reviewed.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse series, book 1)

An inventive blend of fantasy and noir, the story of Eddie LaCrosse starts prosaically in a river-side town where sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse hangs his shingle. Starting with a search for a missing princess, he’s soon pulled into a larger mystery when the wife of another kingdom is accused of murdering her child. To complicate matters, the king is an old childhood friend of Eddie’s and he may also have known the queen a long time ago.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Misfortune Cookie (Esther Diamond series, book 6)

Things go from bad to worse for Esther Diamond when she loses her job at Stella’s Bella on New Year’s Eve after police detective Lopez shuts down the place for money laundering, the same guy she slept with at Christmas who then didn’t call her. Things start to look up when she lands a job in a movie in Chinatown except that the movie’s backer is dead from a cursed fortune cookie and those close to esther might also be targets.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Lives of Tao

After he winds up with a millenia-old alien sharing your body, Roen Tan thinks he might be going crazy. Then again, he might wish he were when said alien forces him to train to become a secret agent in a centuries-long war between two factions, the Prophus and the Genjix.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Broken Homes (Rivers of London, book 4)

Though the murders and other odd happenings appear so unrelated that the plot feels a little choppy, things come together fairly well with minor characters getting more time. The southern London setting and the part of the plot revolving around that was interesting and fit the way magic works in this universe. The rest, including the meeting of the Rivers seemed a little superfluous or leading up to things in the next book.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Mariah Mundi: The Midas Box

The Colonial School has sent forth orphan Mariah Mundi into the world with only a first-class suit, a third-class train ticket, and a job waiting as a magician’s assistant at the Prince Regent Hotel. After being accosted at the train station and given a sealed deck of cards and a first-class ticket, Mariah is quickly embroiled in the unsettling world of the hotel and the nearby town. Sacha, a fellow employee, assists him as best she can while the two of them attempt to find the whereabouts of her friend and fellow employee, Felix.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Violent Century

The Vomacht Wave changed the world in 1932, giving rise to superheroes and ubermensch like Schneesturm and the Red Sickle. In the present day, British operative Fogg is summoned to London to meet with the Old Man, a shadowy figure who heads the department he used to work for, along with his old compatriot, Oblivion. In bits and pieces, we learn the story of Doctor Vomacht and, more importantly, that of his daughter, Klara AKA Sommertag, as her path repeatedly crosses Fogg’s.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job

The adage “don’t quit your day job” is one of the central premises of this book along with how to pursue your dream in a realistic fashion. The author’s Christian background factors into much of the anecdotal examples without ever being preachy or annoying.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Saga, Volume 1

Soldiers from opposite sides of a galactic war fall in love and have a child. The powers-that-be want them dead and they collect an unlikely assortment of allies as they flee for their lives.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Let the Dog Decide: The Revolutionary 15-Minute-a-Day Program to Train Your Dog – Gently and Reliably

An easy program of using a dog’s instincts to guide their training in a way that doesn’t involve assertions of dominance or punishment, but instead encourages the pet to act in it’s own best interests. Much of it is common sense with some excellent ideas on using rewards, use of a long lead, and playing with the animal as means to a happy and cooperative pet.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Something More Than Night

Equal parts The Big Sleep and Chinatown meets Wings of Desire, which is to say a novel that has a very cinematic feel to it in its combination of noir and the world of angels. Beginning with the death of the Seraph Gabriel, the story follows a small-time fallen angel Bayliss who accidentally kills a mortal, Molly, as part of a plan to use her as a replacement for Gabriel. Unfortunately, Bayliss had planned on using Molly’s brother Martin and whoever he’s working for had plans that didn’t account for someone like Molly. Now both of them have to work together to figure out who’s responsible and to track down the whereabouts of the Jericho Horn.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Annihilation: Conquest (Book 1)

Following the Annihilation War, in which various heroes and the Kree Empire banded together to defeat the forces of Annihilus, another threat arises. Known as the Phalanx, they succeed in infecting the Kree defensive network through a virus carried by the Galadorians, after which, they isolate Kree space from the rest of the universe. Unlikely heroes must discover the secrets of the phalanx and defeat them before everyone is assimilated.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

Loosely based on the story of Eyam in Derbyshire, the story of the village through the eyes of one of it’s inhabitants, Anna, is a tale of how the townspeople, under the leadership of their priest, chose to isolate themselves after the plague occurred. By doing so, they prevented its spread, but at great personal cost.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Hidden Things

The death of her ex-boyfriend, Josh, throws Calliope, a private detective and business partner of the aforementioned ex, into a world inhabited by creatures of magic and nightmare on a hero’s quest where she will have to come to terms with her past with him and her family. What starts as a tragic death turns weird when Josh calls her from beyond the grave and a man named Vikous shows up as her “guide”.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Sunken Pyramid (Rogue Angel, book 45)

An archeology conference in Madison, Wisconsin, should be the last place to find monsters, but when an old friend of Annja’s dies after sending an email telling her he has something for her to investigate the night before she arrives, she knows the quiet conference is going to be anything but.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun

With something for everyone, this is part activity book, part how-to (in the spirit of Mark Frauenfelder and MAKE Magazine), part manifesto for empowering kids, and part recommendations for reading and researching further. It includes some great booklists, more than a few outstanding projects, and some interesting interviews designed to appeal to kids.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster

Divided into handy sections dealing with broad topics (Financial Readiness, Food Supplies, When You Have to Get Out, etc.), there are good specifics on preparing kits and setting aside supplies, making plans, useful skills in an emergency (making a solar still and cooking lentils, among others) and much other useful information packed into a compact book. The author blogs at http://apartmentprepper.com/

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Rating: ★★★½☆

London Falling

Part police procedural and part paranormal thriller, this novel manages to be fairly entertaining and a little different from others of it’s ilk, though it has many similarities to Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, albeit a bit darker in tone. The four characters, Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross initially have little reason to trust each other. But after a gang boss dies mysteriously and their investigations result in their gaining “the sight”, things take a dramatic turn for the worse and the four must learn to work together to defeat a centuries-old evil.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dead Set

After her father’s death, Zoe and her mother moved to San Francisco. Her manifold difficulties are only alleviated by her dreams she shares with her imaginary brother, Valentine. But when she discovers a record store with a special section of “records” that reunite her with her father. But when the proprietor starts asking for teeth and blood to have the record of her father’s life, things take a sinister turn.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Fractal Prince

In this return to the world of The Quantum Thief, this second novel expands the universe from Mars to Earth. This time, Jean Le Flambeur and Mieli are endeavoring to open a Schrodinger Box that holds information about something Mieli’s patron wants retrieved. Meanwhile, on Earth, two sisters must navigate the intrigues of the various entities there, both human and post-human in a storyline that echoes that of the detective in the first book, though with more depth and complexity.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It

By turns, a history of Dungeons & Dragons and a personal narrative as the author reconnects with the game as an adult, culminating in his decision to run a game based on the new 5th edition rules. A good overview of both the history and the personalities involved, both past and present, enlivened by personal anecdotes and the typically atypical nature of the author’s own gaming group from the perspective of a player and a dungeonmaster.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

R.I.P.D. Volume 1

After being shot, police officer Nick Cruz is offered the chance to investigate his own death in exchange for serving with the Rest in Peace Department for 100 years. His partner, due to retire soon, shows him the ropes and takes him on a wild ride through the afterlife that involves a trip to Hell to stop an upstart from unleashing Armageddon ahead of schedule.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Bookman (The Bookman Histories, book 1)

In an alternate history London ruled by a race of lizards from beyond the stars, the young poet Orphan lives a simple life in a bookstore. When the mysterious Bookman kills his true love, Lucy, at the launch of a spaceship to Mars, he embarks on a journey to Verne’s L’Ile Mysterieuse, the landing place of Les Lizards. Reminiscent of Kim Newman’s work, the story is full of literary characters and a few famous authors, though it lacks some of the clever wit and extremely obscure allusions that Newman is fond of and the anachronisms are a bit jarring.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Super Stories of Heroes

There’s a good variety of stories in this colleciton, starting with Kim Newman’s Ubermensch and featuring stories by a variety of authors including Gene Wolfe, George R. R. Martin, Mike Mignola, Camille Alexa and Jonathan Lethem. Many of the stories are reprints from other anthologies, particularly the stories set in Martin’s Wild Cards universe. In all, a good overview, particularly as an introduction to the variety of stories featuring superheroes.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine, book 1)

VirtNet gamer Michael and his friends, Bryson and Sarah, have an fairly ordinary life until the appearance of a cyberterrorist known as Kaine. In order to find Kaine, the friends will unwillingly have to find the Path, a route to the deeper parts of the VirtNet where Kaine is hiding.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The A.I. War, Book One: The Big Boost (Tales of the Continuing Time, book 4)

Trent the Uncatchable returns to the inner systems with the goal of preventing the launch of a warship capable of extending Earth’s reach to the farthest corners of the Solar System. In order to do so, he’ll need to infiltrate the ranks of those building the shop, a task complicated by the presence of Peaceforcer Elite Melissa du Bois.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, book 1)

The witch Diana Bishop has spent her life avoiding magic and disavowing her magical heritage. Having built a life as an acclaimed historian, her researches take her to the Bodleian Library at OIxford University where she uncovers a manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Suddenly, she’s the center of interest of the supernatural world including the warlock, Peter Knox. Far more intriguing is the vampire Matthew Clairmont. Suddenly, Diana’s powers manifest and their appearance, not to mention her fate, is tied to the enigmatic centuries-old vampire who is equally taken with her.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Crux

Six months after the release of Nexus 5, the nanotech drug that allows users direct brain interface and the ability to run programs that run as if they were part of the user’s brain. Now, the government and the Post-Human Liberation Front clash with Nexus used as a weapon to turn people into human time bombs.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Bloodsworn (Ulrika the Vampire, book 3)

The plot by the von Carsteins is in motion in the Empire and Ulrika returns to Nuln from Praag with information about the plot. But the situation is far more complex than she thought as a number of foreign Lahmians have descended on Nuln while the von Carstein forces hide in the shadows and plot against the Emperor himself.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

Beyond managing software developers and some of the unique requirements in that arena, this book has some good advice for managers in general and, as it says in the title, dealing with all the complexities of managing and working with human beings (and not resources or coders or cogs). Some great insights on being a manager and understanding managers, how people approach work differently, how to have effective meetings and much other valuable insight. One of the better books on managing in a company with software developers.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Billy Moon

The stories of Christopher Robin Milne, the titular Billy Moon and the basis for Christopher Robin of the Winnie the Pooh books, and Gerrard and Natalie, students in Paris during the 1968 uprising, intersect in a surreal fashion that examines the nature of reality and dreams along with the question of what happens when we leave childhood and dreams behind in order to live our lives on our own terms.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1)

A strange occurrence during a school field trip results in Percy Jackson being expelled from his sixth school in as many years. Things get stranger when he discovers that various mythological creatures want him dead as he also comes to terms with the fact that’s he’s a demigod, the son of one of the Olympian gods.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Night Pilgrims (the Comte Saint-Germain Saga, book 26)

After leaving China (Path of the Eclipse), the Comte Saint-Germain finds himself back in Egypt in the early part of the 13th century. His services are requested as a translator by Sieur Horembaud, an Anglo-French knight leading a party of pilgrims to the Christian shrines and chapels in the Ethiopian Highlands to atone for the crime of slaughtering a village of Christians thinking they were Muslims on the verge of poisoning the local wells. During the journey, Sidi Sandjer’min (as he’s known in Egypt) must protect the pilgrims, atone for his own sins, and deal with the attraction he feels for the noble Margrethe.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

NOS4A2: A Novel

A horror novel about Victoria McQueen, a girl with a supernatural ability to find lost things and Charles Talent Manx, a creepy individual with a special ability of his own. The overall result is something between SIlence of the Lambs and Pet Sematary as written by an expert modern fabulist.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Overpowered

Teenager Nica Ashley is used to traveling the world with her journalist mother, rarely living in one place for more than six months. An opportunity to work in Antarctica results in Nica being sent to live with her father in the sleepy town of Barrington, Colorado. Aside from the evening curfew and the almost abnormally friendly residents, Barrington seems completely average. But there’s something else going on and it all seems to center around the offices of Bar Tech Industries, a global research-and-development company that makes its headquarters in Barrington. Together, Nica and her friends Oliver, Jackson, and Maya do their best to figure out what’s really going on.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Skinner

A legend in the intelligence world, Skinner is known for “asset protection” and his methods of protecting the high-value people entrusted to his care is ruthless. After being betrayed by his employers, he disappeared from sight until a cyberattack leads his original recruiter to bring him back to protect a brilliant robotocist who may be the able to stop more attacks. But its unclear who’s pulling the strings and orchestrating the entire affair.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Krav Maga: An Essential Guide to the Renowned Method – for Fitness and Self-Defense

An introduction to the history and principles of the Israeli martial art of krav maga along with introductory exercises and a basic workout sufficient to begin understanding the basics of this discipline.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

No Dominion (Walker Papers: A Garrison Report)

A collection of short stories that take place between the various novels or in some of the gaps within the novels. The first story takes place at the same time as the events of the first novel, Urban Shaman, but told from Gary Muldoon’s point of view. This collection also includes the titular novella, recounting Gary’s experiences after he and Joanne are separated in Raven Calls.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Sword Volume 3: Earth

After defeating the first brother responsible for the death of her family, Dara travels to Mexico to confront Knossos, master of the element of earth. She receives a surprise assist from Malia, Knossos’s sister, but Dara suspects Malia’s motives are no better than those of her siblings.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Atlas of the Roman World

A somewhat useful overview of Roman history with some good maps that appear along with illustrations to discuss different elements in the history of the Roman world from it origins on the Tiber to the eventual collapse of the empire. The later maps showing the regions under the sway of the Roman Empire at its peak are particularly good.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Mountain Echoes (Walker Papers, book 8)

Immediately after returning from Ireland, Joanne Walker has come home to the Qualla Boundary in North Caroline, the land where the Cherokee live and where she was born. Since she left when she was young, this is the first time she’s been back, brought there by news her father has gone missing. What she finds is more darkness and trouble wrought by the Master and his minions, this time in the form of the Kalona Ayeliski, the Raven Mocker of Cherokee legend, and other dark things bent on destroying the Cherokee people and, through their genocide, the rest of the world. While dealing with this newest threat, Joanne must also come to terms with her history in the Qualla Boundary and the son she left behind when she was a teenager.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Lexicon

Something bad happened years ago in the Australian mining town of Broken Hill. What exactly happened is unclear. The story alternates between past and present with the stories of Emily Ruff, who’s been tapped to attend a prestigious school run by a group known as the Poets, and Wil Parke, an ordinary guy who’s abducted from the airport and finds himself on the run. As we come to find out, sometimes language is more than communication and can quite literally bypass our normal consciousness and the filters in our minds. equal parts, thriller, love story, and mystery, this novel makes for a fun examination as to why so many cultures have stories like the biblical Tower of Babel.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Bloodforged (Ulrika the Vampire, book 2)

Fleeing the strictures and confines of Lahmian society, Ulrika flees to the farthest reaches of Kislev in hopes of aiding the city of Praag in their defense. Upon arriving, she discovers that no attack is pending, but a cult bent on subverting the city from the inside may prove a far more insidious and dangerous threat. With enemies on all sides including the Lahmian sisters of the city, Ulrika feels compelled to act to stop the threat to the city.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Kill City Blues (Sandman Slim, book 5)

Although he’s renounced the title of Lucifer (after pawning it off on Mister Muninn), James Stark is trying to settle back into life in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Candy and to clean up the mess he left behind. Key to that is retrieving the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon capable of killing angels and gods. It can also kill the Angra Om Ya, the gods from outside our universe, or it can allow them entry into our world. Unfortunately, the location of the Qomrama is a deserted megamall known to the Sub Rosa as Kill City.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Mind the Gap Volume 1: Intimate Strangers

Out-of-body experiences are one thing. Out-of-body amnesiacs are quite another thing. And it just gets weirder from there when Elle Peterssen “awakes” from a coma and discovers there are others in the same disembodied state she’s in. She gradually pieces together that someone tried to kill her, but she can’t remember the details. She needs to find out who tried to kill her and to communicate with the real world in order to figure out who’s behind the attack.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Bloodborn (Ulrika the Vampire, book 1)

As a freshly turned vampire, Ulrika must come to terms with her new life as a bloodsucking creature of the night under the guidance of Gabriella, the vampire who has claimed her after Ulrika’s friends slew her creator. She’s put to the test when Gabriella is summoned to Nuln to help investigate a rash of killings that are being blamed on her fellow vampires. She must use all her abilities and enlist the aid of her sworn enemy, a witchhunter, to get to the bottom of the mystery where everyone is set against each other and no one can be trusted.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual

Detailed standards on organizing family sheets, charts, narratives and more in a compact and comprehensive book.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Death in Delhi (Dangerous Journeys, book 3)

The Magister Setne Inhotep and the swordswoman Rachelle are summoned to the court of the Maharajah of Delhi to investigate the theft of the crown jewels. Failure to do so could be a tremendous embarrassment for the Maharajah, but the court is a nest of vipers and the thieves may be the enemies they appear.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art (P.S.)

Starting with the death of Vincent Van Gogh, his friends Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec first have to come to terms with his apparent suicide and then they discover there’s much more going on than appears including murder. Who is the villainous Colorman and what’s the secret behind the particular shade of blue that Van Gogh may have made a diabolical bargain to attain?

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Unity 3.x Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide

A good introductory book on the capabilities of the Unity 3D game engine with projects that cover the various aspects of the development tool. There are many good tips and hints on avoiding common pitfalls and enough to get your footing on developing a game.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Samarkand Solution (Dangerous Journeys, book 2)

Continuing the story of Magister Setne Inhetep, though also intended as a stand-alone novel that doesn’t require familiarity with the previous book (The Anubis Murders, this volume returns to AEgypt where Magister Inhetep is drawn into a web of conspiracy that once again sees him joining forces with a detective for the pharaoh by the name of Tuhorus (instead of his usual sidekick, the swordswoman Rachelle).

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Anubis Murders (Dangerous Journeys, book 1)

The sorcerer-priest Setne Inhetep and his swordswoman companion Rachelle are invited to help solve a series of murders in order to foil the plot of the Master of Jackals, a shadowy figure seemingly bent on subjugating Avillonia and perhaps the rest of the world. A bit disjointed and with too much exposition in places, but otherwise a fun read with action and world-building likely to appeal to fans of pulp fantasy along the lines of The Tower of the Elephant or the like.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Sword Volume 4: Air

Concluding the series, Dara confronts Malia in New York City where she must contend not only with the god-like powers of someone capable of controlling the air, but also with the U.S. military and a hostile public who sees Malia as their salvation against Dara who’s been painted as the real enemy. Dara remembers the lessons her father taught her and ultimately succeeds in being the better person as Malia forgets her own lessons in humanity that Demetrios attempted to teach her.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tomorrow, When the War Began

While camping out in the bush, Ellie and her friends return to find that Australia’s been invaded. How the teenagers cope is fascinatingly personal and the setting adds a great deal of verisimilitude with a feel that’s very different from similar works of fiction.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Keep on the Borderlands (Greyhawk Classics series)

Starting with individuals escorting caravans or otherwise traveling to the titular keep in the wilds, they become an adventuring group tasked by the castle’s lord to track down the source of the bandits who attacked them. Meeting with success in that endeavor, their “reward” is to seek glory by finding the source of the infestation of monsters who are preventing travel along the eastern road. Based on the original Dungeons and Dragons adventure of the same name, this book manages to capture most of the feel of that original with some interesting characters and exciting adventures, though the ending leaves a little to be desired.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Sword Volume 2: Water

With the sword in hand, Dara travels to Nassau in order to track down one of the three immortals, Knossos, who was responsible for the death of her sister. The story is told with a series of flashbacks to Dara’s memories of Andrea as she pursues and battles her foe until their final confrontation by the ocean.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Quarry

Kit’s dad is dying of cancer and his biggest question is who his mother might be. When his father’s friends come to visit, he might get some answers. Or, at least, come to terms with his father dying and his uncertain future.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ultra: Seven Days (volume 1)

A week in the life for the superhero Ultra and her friends. It’s hard to have a life when your a hero, so what can she do when a fortune teller predicts she’ll find true love in seven days?

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Sword Volume 1: Fire

This book has not yet been reviewed.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Evidence! Citation

A definitive guide to citing genealogy sources. Used in conjunction with the Chicago Manual of Style, this book fills in the special cases and exceptions that genealogists encounter. Deceptively slim, this book not only covers specific citation examples for things like online records, unpublished works and other commonly-encountered items, it also provides incredibly useful guidelines on determining the validity of sources (and in using secondary sources to prove facts) and the degree of specificity needed for citations, particularly in cases were sources disagree.

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Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Return to Quag Keep

I think it would be better if this book were badly written. Unfortunately, it’s main fault is that it’s badly plotted and overly focused on the gritty realism of the world at the expense of actual world-building or character development. The characters from the original book find themselves down and out with no money and no prospects where the only prospect for work is to hire on with one of the local nobles. As near as I can tell, the characters, having succeeded in reaching Quag Keep, have reverted to 0-level characters incapable of actually doing much of anything other than feeling sorry for themselves and, in the case of one character, dying in a rather perfunctory fashion early into the book just to hammer home the point that there’s some evil afoot intent on wiping out all the characters. This book manages to avoid the charm of the original and similar books like Hugh White’s Magira series while failing to full embrace the whiny fish-out-of-water trope of Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series. How does the first character die? He gets his throat cut in an alley after pages of build-up where that character’s backstory of his life on Earth is revealed. It’s not a heroic death or a battle against overwhelming odds compounded by the character’s stupidity since he and his compatriots somehow think, up until that point, that the perpetrator is on their side. We’re not talking something like the betrayal by Orl Fane in The Sword of Shannara – this is more obvious and predictable than that. So, to sum up, gritty realism, characters that aren’t sympathetic (until they get killed off), generic villain, generic fantasy setting where the only realism is the aforementioned grit, and a pointless plot-driven quest comprise this lackluster book.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

While there are some good point and the idea of following your passion may be deeply flawed, this book remains mostly a collection of anecdotes the neither proves nor disproves the author’s hypothesis. It’s a good starting point for considering other paths to satisfying work and fans of the craftsmanship approach to work (a common idea in technical fields where most of the examples are drawn from) will find this a satisfying read.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dreams and Shadows

When he was very young, Ewan was taken from his parents and a changeling left in his place. Another young boy, Colby, met a djinn and was given a wish. Colby’s wish was to see everything magical and that led him to cross paths with Ewan and to ultimately save him from the Faerie Tithe. With faery and magic and djinn, things are never what they seem and there’s always Coyote stirring the part.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

A Planeswalker’s Guide to Alara (A Magic:The Gathering Field Guide)

Long ago, the world of Alara was sundered and the parts cast into different realms, each unique in the available magical energy it possesses. This is a recounting of the history, surmises about the past and future, with details on the lands and notable features of each of the five parts of Alara. Beautifully illustrated with art from the Magic: The Gathering game.

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Rating: ★★★★½

JavaScript Patterns

Covers the basics and principles of writing Javascript with plenty of examples of good usage and reasons to design things in certain ways. In addition to Javascript-specific patterns, the author also applies common design patterns (the Gang of Four patterns) to Javascript and much more. This book is deceptively slim considering the amount of information packed into it.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Cape

What if you had a magic cape that let you fly? What if, on the day you discovered it, it was taken away from you, you were horribly injured in a fall, and everything in your life fell apart? What if, wile living in your mother’s basement, you rediscovered the magic cape and all the bitterness and anger came out? This is pretty much the story of the birth and death of a supervillain that answers all of those questions.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Essential Capoeira: The Guide to Mastering the Art

An excellent overview of the art of capoeira that covers all the different areas from history, stretching exercises, the different movements, and the role of music. A must-read for anyone considering studying capoeira and a handy study guide for beginners

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Shambling Guide to New York City

There are monsters living among us and a young out-of-work editor is needed to write a guidebook for them to help them find all the monster-friendly spots in New York City. Zoe is looking for work and editing a guidebook sounds like the perfect job, but she’s not sure why everyone she talks to doesn’t want her to take the job. She gradually discovers that the stories about monsters (or, as they prefer to be called, Coterie) are true and that producing the guidebook requires she learn everything about their world. Along the way, she’ll have to learn to defend herself, maybe hook up with the cute guy across the hall, and perhaps save the city from destruction.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Smoke in the Wind (Sister Fidelma Mysteries, book 11)

While en route to Canterbury, Brother Eadulf is injured when the ship he’s on encounters a sudden squall. He and Sister Fidelma are deposited in a port town in the kingdom of Dyfed, but before they have a chance to resume their mystery, the pair are asked for their assistance in investigating the mysterious disappearance of the residents of a local monastery. The strange disappearance may be related to the murder of a young woman in a nearby village, though it was take Sister Fidelma’s considerable expertise to find the connection and solve the mystery.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Life in Seattle is anything but normal for Bee (short for Balakrishna) whose parents are Elgin Branch, a Microsoft vice-president with the fourth-most-watched TED talk, and the titular Bernadette Fox, a MacArthur Genius grant honoree and famous architect who dropped out of view when she moved from LA to Seattle. Increasingly reliant on her virtual assistant Manjula, things begin spiraling out of control as she tries to deal with the parents at the Galer Street School that Bee attends and plan a trip to Antarctica. Then, she pulls her second disappearing act.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Focusing on an executive level, there are a number of lessons about how teams fail and how peers at a leadership level need to trust each other and discuss issues openly. This carries down to teams at any level and many of the issues addressed are present in any organization. Seeing how the dysfunctions connect with each other is particularly valuable.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Quantum Thief

The titular thief is Jean le Flambeur who is freed from the Dilemma Prison, a virtual jail of a group known as the Sobornost. The person who frees him, Mieli, is a warrior from the Oort cloud whose employers, the pellegrini, want him to steal something. In order to do that, he has to retrieve his previous memories hidden in the Oubliette, one of the Moving Cities of Mars. Meanwhile, in the Oubliette, Isidore Beautrelet is a detective who has been hired to prevent unwanted guests at a party hosted by the millenniaire Christian Unruh. One of those gatecrashers may be le Flambeur.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

You

At a dead-end in his life, Russell gets hired on at Black Arts, a game company started by his childhood friends. While they spent years working on games, Russell went into law and tried to follow the conventional path to success. As a game designer, he remembers the things that were important to him and to his deceased friend Simon. In the end, it’s that knowledge that will allow him to finally achieve what he’s really wanted and, at the same time, figure out how to fix a show-stopping bug that seems to be behind a potential world financial market crash.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Necessary Evil (Milkweed Triptych, book 3)

IN the conclusion to the Milkweed Tritych, Raybould Marsh has traveled back in time to 1940 right after the capture of Gretel before she’s freed by her brother Klaus. In order to save the world from being destroyed by the Eidolons, he has to remove all knowledge of the Eidolons and prevent his younger self from recruiting the warlocks of the Milkweed Project. At the same time, he must destroy the project that gave rise to Gretel, though it’s not clear whether she’s working against him or if this is all part of her mad plan to prevent the world from being utterly consumed.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The House of Rumour

A brilliant melange of real and fictional characters populate a narrative that jumps between the present and World War II with stops in between. There’s conspiracies, alien abductions, black magic, science fiction writers and more, all of which exist in a place where truth is stranger than fiction (or at least, equally weird) and where everything may be nothing more than the sad imagings and idealism of people who have too great a capacity for self-delusion. Most of the historical figures are sad, desperate and lonely, as are many of their fictional compatriots, Ian Fleming stands out as someone consumed by his double life and the existence of his famous creation, though the rocket scientist Jack Parsons is also destroyed by his obsession. All in all, an interesting line runs from Rudolf Hess, Aleister Crowley, Fleming, Parsons, Robert Heinlein and others and the author ties together the zeitgeist of these figures with the Cuban revolution and the Jonestown tragedy.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai

A collection of short stories about the residents of Red Dust Lane in Shanghai ranging in time from 1949 to the late 1990s, showing the changes in Chinese society. Originally published as a series in Le Monde, each story provides a different view of the people of Shanghai and how the larger events happening around them impact their individual lives.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)

Written as a fictional story about a retired manager looking for his next challenge, the book addresses some of the key things about what makes the workplace somewhere people enjoy or turns it into somewhere that people dread. In the style of Lencioni’s other books, it concludes with the prescriptive steps to turn around a workplace with further examples of putting those practices in place. A little too heavy on things that sound like disguised versions of faith-based underpinnings of servant leadership (the author is a bog fan) along with trying to apply quantitative measures to things that seem purely qualitative areas. There are some good ideas, however, particularly in the area of anonymity (employees aren’t interchangeable ciphers and managers need to take an interest in other aspects of their life outside of work).

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors

Told as a story about a consultant who, looking for his niche, discovers the causes and solutions to siloing and the impact of that behavior on companies. The end of the book reiterates the key points and strategies including a passing nod to problematic companies like matrix organizations.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius

Mad Scientists: Villainous staple or misunderstood geniuses? This collection of stories explore all aspects of supergeniuses whose enthusiasm for science verges on mania or, dare I say it, madness across different genres. Almost the only thing they share is their readability and excellent overall quality.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, book 7)

The entire pack has been kidnapped by an unknown group and Mercy Thompson must not only keep her step-daughter and others safe, but also figure out who’s behind the attack and free them. In order to do so, she’ll need to enlist any allies she can find before time runs out. It turns out there’s many more things going on than meets the eye with mercenaries, rogue CNTRP (or, as it’s popularly known, Cantrip) agents, vampires, and more all causing trouble and all with their own agendas. Trashing the vampire queen Marsilia’s new Mercedes may be the least of Mercy’s concerns.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Alehouse Murders (Templar Knight Mysteries, book 1)

When four people turn up dead in an alehouse in Lincoln Town, Templar Bascot de Marins is charged by the Sheriff’s wife, Nicolaa de la Haye, with investigating the murders and uncovering the truth. Who would want to kill the alekeep, a Jewish moneylender, a harlot, and a commoner? And are each of them perhaps more than they appear, considering that the whole thing was staged, down to the post-mortem stabbings?

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Wolfhound Century

Reading partly an alternate history novel and partly as an homage to Russian science fiction (the Strugatsky brothers come to mind), Wolfhound Century is a phantasmagoric detective novel. Police detective Vassarion Lom is summoned to the capital, Mirgorod, to investigate a series of random violent events and charged with tracking down the organizer. Meanwhile, the perpetrator of the events is driven by the commands of the Archangel who crashed to Earth and is orchestrating everything to its own ends.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Murder on Sisters’ Row (Gaslight Mystery series, book 13)

After delivering a baby at a brothel on the notorious Sisters’ Row, Sarah Brandt is drawn into yet another murder that has less to do with he identity of the baby’s father and more to do with the secrets that the mother knows.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Archived

In Mackenzie Bishop’s world, when people die, the part of them that’s their story goes to the archives. All their memories, feelings, and experiences are indexed and cataloged in a History that gets stored away. Like her Da before her, Mac is a Keeper, charged with making sure those histories don’t escape. When her family moves to the crumbling apartment house called the Coronado to escape from the memories of the death of her younger brother Ben, Mac starts trying to question her role and to find a way to reconnect with Ben through his History, something that only Librarians are allowed to do.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, book 1)

The sorceress Emma Bannon serves the rule of Britannia and, in her role as a trusted servant of the Queen (both the current physical incarnation, Victrix, and the immortal spirit, Britannia), is tasked with investigating the mysterious deaths of several Mentaths in London. She manages to reach Archibald Clare, an unregistered Mentath, whose deductive ability provides the key to unraveling the multiple threats facing the Queen. Accompanied by the likes of Mikal, Emma’s bodyguard (called a Shield), and Ludovico Valentinelli, an Italian assassin, they must confront dragons, griffins, sorcerers, and an army of clockwork mecha. As an aside, with Britannia being personified, I found some of the renaming in this alternate history a little confusing and kept stumbling over themis as the name for the river Thames, envisioning a spirit of the river as the goddess of Justice or something.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Staff of Judea (Rogue Angel, book 41)

Long ago, the wealth of the original Temple in Jerusalem was hidden during Roman times and the locations of the treasure recorded on two scrolls of metal. One of the missing scrolls has been uncovered at Masada and the finder has enlisted Annja’s help to uncover the location of the treasures. Unbeknownst to her, the person funding the expedition has an ulterior motive – the recovery of the legendary Staff of Aaron.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist

Exactly what the title describes, this book is a journey through the world of genealogy ranging from the author’s participation in a genealogy cruise, discussions with some of the leading genealogical luminaries, an excursion into DNA testing, and a visit to the ancestral places in Michigan and Alabama. A captivating look at the increased popularity of genealogy and the myriad reasons people pursue it as a hobby.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Queen of Thorns

Count Varian Jeggare and his hellspawn bodyguard Radovan travel the forests of Kyonin, the home of the Elves, after their search for a way to repair Varian’s coach becomes a quest for his father. They must deal with the machinations and prejudices of their Elven companions before finding what they seek against the backdrop of encroaching demons from the Abyss.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Forbidden Worlds Archives Volume 1 (Dark Horse Archives)

A reprinted collection of the first four issues of Forbidden Worlds, originally published by American Comics Group, with stories and art by some of the best know authors and artists back when they were first starting out.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Rage Is Back

From the author of Go the F**k to Sleep, this novel combines graffiti and magic realism as equal parts Clockers and Carlos Castaneda. Thirteen years ago, Billy Rage disappeared to South America after his crew, the Immortal Five, dissolved when one member, Amuse, is killed and another commits suicide. When he reappears, his son Dondi Vance tries to figure out what happened. In order to do so, Dondi and his parents must deal with Amuse’s killer, policeman Anastacio Bracken who’s now running for mayor of New York City.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sidekicks

The superhero Phantom Justice and his sidekick Bright Boy defend the city from a variety of villains. The recent escape of Doctor Chaotic means that his sidekick, Monkeywrench has also reappeared. During a fight with Monkeywrench, Bright Boy discovers that she’s a girl who goes to his school, but she uncovers his identity, too. As if that wasn’t enough, there may be more going on than he thought and the bad guys may not be entirely evil.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Third Caliph (Rogue Angel, book 40)

An archaeological dig in Morocco leads to the discovery of a scroll by an Islamic historian that’s almost 1,500 years old. But a surprise attack by bedouin raiders brings Annja into conflict with a ruthless terrorist and an alliance with a ruthless mercenary and his team who may or may not have Annja’s best interests at heart.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Liferay in Action: The Official Guide to Liferay Portal Development

Covers many of the important aspects of the LifeRay Portal through a sample project and other examples.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Council of Mirrors (The Sisters Grimm, book 9)

The final confrontation with the Master looms and his strength has been bolstered by the release of Atticus Charming, William’s older evil brother. But a prophecy by the Council of Mirrors holds a ray of hope, but the only hope for victory relies on the sisters. The conclusion to the series and a satisfying end to all the stories of the folk of Ferryport Landing.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Newspaper columnist Juliet Ashton begins a correspondence with the members of a reading group on Guernsey Island. As an increasing number of people write her, she learns about the origins of the Society during the German occupation. Her correspondence culminates in a trip to the island where she finds romance.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones (Girl Genius, volume 8)

The Castle Heterodyne is the ancestral home of Agatha’s family and now she must unravel its secrets. But despite being the rightful heir, things are in a bit of a state and the decay of the palace means there’s no easy way to disable all its deathtraps. Meanwhile, the elder Wulfenbach is bent on the castle’s destruction while his son is attempting to enter the castle and aid Agatha.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Inside Story (The Sisters Grimm, book 8)

In order to prevent The Master and Pinocchio from rewriting their stories, the sisters must travel through stories in the Book of Everafter while avoiding the Editor and his Revisers who are bent on preserving the integrity of the stories at any cost.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane

A fascinating collection of stories about magic and the practitioners thereof. Some are cautionary tales, some are adventures, a few are completely different, but all are worth reading.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Wide Open

Sergeant Hallie Michaels returns to her home in South Dakota on compassionate leave after her sister dies. The thing is, she can see ghosts and she knows the minute she arrives at the airport that her sister Dell didn’t die of natural causes when she sees Dell’s ghost waiting for her. Equal parts modern fantasy with a mystery in the Midwest that reminded as nothing so much as the Longmire mysteries, this novel is a compelling read with interesting and believable characters.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Salvage and Demolition

A novella combing the poets of the Beat Era with an ancient Sumerian suicide god (whose very existence is the negation of being) and a rare book dealer who is caught in a conspiracy by a cult who want to invoke that god.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Fables, Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland

As one of the wolf cubs (children of the Bigby Wolf and Snow White) learns to be the North Wind, the other kids have adventures of their own as part of the prohecy. We also learn about the prophecy that Bigby took for himself from a sorcerer a long time ago.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Everafter War (The Sisters Grimm, book 7)

The sisters successfully awaken their parents and must contend with an all-out war against the Red Hand and the villainous Master. In all of it, they must contend with a traitor in their midst.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Tales from the Hood (Sisters Grimm, book 6)

The Red Hand under the Queen of Hearts and the Sheriff of Nottingham are taking over Ferryport Landing while Mister Canis AKA The Big Bad Wolf stands trial for murder. While the Grimm sisters attempt to unravel the story of Little Red Riding Hood to save Mister Canis, they must also track down Goldilocks in their quest to wake up their parents. But first they have to find her and save her from the black-clad motorcycle-riding assailant who is pursuing her all over Europe.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Tears in Rain

In a dystopian future Madrid, there is an uneasy balance between humans, replicants, and aliens. A minority race, technohumans or replicants, have achieved a degree of freedom and their manufacture continues due to their inability to reproduce unassisted and despite their shortened lifespan, at the end of which all replicants succumb to “Total Techno Tumor” (or TTT). Bruna Husky is a combat replicant who works as a private investigator. She’s drawn into a vast conspiracy when her neighbor attempts to kill her and then kills herself after gouging out her eyes. A wave of anti-replicant sentiment seems to be carefully orchestrated with these attacks as part of a larger plan, but the motivations remain unclear. Though some of the translation from Spanish is a little stilted in places, the writing is a powerful examination of what it means to be human and addresses the disturbing idea that perhaps the non-humans among us may be the most human.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

DMZ Vol. 1: On the Ground

In this near-future graphic novel, the Second Civil War has split the United States into two factions with the island of Manhattan being the titular DMZ between the United States of America and secessionist Free States of America. A young intern reporter, Matty Roth, is sent to assist in live reporting and winds up stranded there after his group is ambushed and the chopper he arrived on is shot down and all aboard it are killed. After nearly being killed when he returns to the landing zone, he decides to stay and report from the DMZ.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (volume 1)

Retelling the classic novel by Wang Du Lu, this graphic novel sets the scene with various characters including Grand Yu and his daughter, the family’s enemies, the Ho brothers and their family, and master of internal martial arts Li Mu Bai.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Magic and Other Misdemeanors (The Sisters Grimm, book 5)

Prince Charming is missing and the sisters are no closer to finding a way to wake up their parents. The Grimms gather some of the Everafters to come up with some new ideas to wake up Sabrina and Daphne’s parents, after which things begin to go missing in Ferryport Landing. The sisters pursue some leads and are drawn into a very dark future through one of the time rips that are opening all over town. Will they survive their latest adventure or will the Grimms, past and future, be wiped out forever?

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines, book 1)

An earthquake in Israel reveals hidden tunnels underneath Masada that may house a book known as the blood Gospel. The discovery teams up an archaeologist, a special forces soldier and a priest to plumb the secret depths while others may also be striving to reach the same goal.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Redshirts

The Intrepid is the flagship of the Universal Union, a a star-spanning federation of planets and an exciting opportunity for Ensign Andrew Dahl. That’s before he discovers things aren’t quite right and that the mortality rate for new crew members is astronomical. In fact, it’s like being in a science fiction television show and a badly written one at that.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Once Upon a Crime (The Sisters Grimm, book 4)

Red Riding Hood and her pet Jabberwocky have been defeated, but Puck was gravely injured during the battle. The Grimms use the Vorpal Blade to cut a whole in the barrier around Ferryport Landing in order to take him to Faerie which is now located in the middle of New York City. There, the sisters find out much more about the double life of their mother who apparently spent much of her time helping out Everafters, but first they need to track down the murderer of King Oberon and stay alive while doing so. In the process, they contend with creatures from Gulliver’s Travels, meet the other six dwarves, and get some questionable help from Sinbad who is never one to shy away from a battle with pirates!

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, book 3)

With Puck’s help, Sabrina Grimm barely escapes from Red Riding Hood and her pet Jabberwocky. She and her sister Daphne must come up with information that will allow them to defeat the homicidal and insane Everafter and her allies in the Scarlet Hand. In order to do so, they must track down the three pieces of the Vorpal Blade.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland

Bigby Wolf is looking for a new place for Fabletown and his journey’s take him to one of Bluebeard’s holdings, a small town in the Midwest called Story City. There, he encounters some people from his past when he was fighting in World War II including his American ally from the OSS, Arthur Harp, and their foe, Sieglinde Von Abensberg, who is now Harp’s wife. After fighting Frankenstein’s monster and destroying the lab, Bigby though both were dead, but instead they had been affected by his blood and become werewolves, as was the rest of the town. Not the best Fables story and something of a one-off with art that has a rather different feel from the other books.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Unusual Suspects (The Sisters Grimm, book 2)

After settling in to life in Ferryport Landing, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm must brave the trials and tribulations of school. For Daphne, everything is wonderful and she loves her new teacher, Snow White. What Sabrina can’t figure out is why her new teacher, Mister Grumpner, is so terrible and why her classmates are even worse. That’s before he turns up dead, suspended from a giant spiderweb. Could it have something to do with the story of Rumpelstiltskin? Now the sisters must tackle a whole new monster problem with the assistance of a boy whose dad turns out to be the school principal and, incidentally, the Pied Piper of Hamelin,

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, book 1)

Sisters Sabrina and Daphne are used to being shunted from one foster home to another, so being sent to live with someone who claims to be their grandmother in a place called Ferryport Landing is nothing new. After Sabrina determines that Grandma Relda and her assistant, Mister Canis, are crazy with their talk of giants and fairytale make-believe, Sabrina resolves to run away. An encounter with a boy named Puck and a real live giant changes her mind. Now she and her sister must figure out who’s behind the giant attacks. In the process, they discover their parents may actually be alive and that their disappearance is tied to being descendants of the Brothers Grimm.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Nexus

The drug Nexus-3 lets people connect mind-to-mind. It’s also a controlled substance and usage of it and other potentially destabilizing drugs fall under the purview of the ERD, the Emerging Risks Directorate, along with other “threats” to humanity. Kaden Lane is a brilliant researcher who, together with his friends, have engineered a new version of Nexus, one that isn’t flushed out of the body and can serve as a substrate for an operating system. He runs afoul of Samantha Cataranes, an ERD agent with a dark history of her own and, before they know it, they’ve been sent to a neuroscience conference in Thailand in the hopes that Lane will be recruited by Chinese researcher Su-Yong Shu. A fascinating examination of the inflection point where human becomes transhuman or even posthuman.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Hemlock Grove

When tragedy strikes a small town in Pennsylvania, the obvious suspect is Peter Rumancek, an outsider who is rumored to be a werewolf. After he teams up with the equally unusual Roman Godfrey to find the murderer, the question remains as to who’s the actual monster. If you like unreliable narrators, this story skirts the line of whether every single character is either psychotic or delusional and how much of the magical happenings are for real.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Prepare to Die!

After being defeated by a group of supervillains known as The Eleventh Hour, Steve Clarke AKA Reaver has two weeks to wrap up things before he’ll be killed. As he travels back to the small town where he was born, he relives the events that brought him to this point including the appearance of the first superhero and the chemical spill that gave him his powers. The revealing of each piece of history fits together until the fateful final confrontation that succeeds in feeling like a hero’s journey where Reaver resolves the traumas of the past.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Jackdaws

Set in World War II France with D-Day imminent, a resistance cell attempts to destroy a key communications exchange in Reims. When the attack fails, Felicity “Flick” Clairet proposes a daring operation to return and destroy the exchange with an all-woman team hurriedly recruited from among Special Operations Executive (SOE) rejects and other unsuitable types. Opposing them is former policeman Major Dieter Franck, whose close ties to Rommel may allow him to overcome Gestapo incompetence and break the back of the Resistance. With the clock ticking down to the invasion, the team needs all their wits and assistance they can get in order to succeed in their critical role in assisting the invasion.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work

The classic book with the original idea for square foot gardening, starting with the considerations for choosing it as a method. The book then lays out the details of building a garden layout suitable for square foot gardening, the plant spacing by type and other considerations such as harvests and plant rotation.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Everything Small-Space Gardening Book

Building from the original square foot gardening concept by Mel Bartholomew, this book provides a variety of ideas for layouts and a detailed list of plants along with troubleshooting issues like poor soil, pests and plant diseases.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Soul Trade (Black London, book 5)

Raising a child is difficult, particularly for Jack, a sorcerer, and Pete, a weir who’s ability is to absorb and channel magic. When a group known as the Prometheans place a geas on her, she has no choice but to answer their summons and travel to a small village that’s been taken over by something horrible. If they’re to escape, Pete and Jack must figure out what’s really going on and figure out the real aim of the Prometheans. Add in a surprise appearance by Jack’s dad and things get really complicated.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Cold Days (Dresden Files, book 14)

Wizard Harry Dresden is now the Winter Knight for Queen Mab of the Winter Court. When she commands him to get rid of Maeve, the Winter Princess. After some missteps in not telling his friends and family that he’s still alive (after they saw him die in the previous book), Harry learns some things about the world and discovers that he may be the only one who can defend Demonreach from a threat beyond what he’s encountered before.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Hollow Earth

Twins Matt and Em have a special ability to animate things they draw, part of a group of people known as the Animare. But when a faction within the council that oversees the Animare, they flee to their grandfather’s in Scotland and discover the extent of their powers. But will they be able to stand up to those who want to use their powers for dark ends, particularly when on of those villains is in their midst.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Wonders of the Invisible World

A collection of magical and thought-provoking stories including a really great Bordertown story. Even the stories that have appeared elsewhere are worth another read.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia

A collection of stories about what happens after the end of the world, depicting a variety of apocalyptic or dystopian scenarios in which humanity struggles for survival or to simply make sense of a world much different than the one we know now.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix (Judge Bao, volume 1)

The incorruptible Judge Bao, whose character is based on a Song Dynasty-era official, travels to a city where he honors a dying woman’s wish to save her son from the corrupt officials running the town. In so doing, he reunites the son and the woman he was betrothed to when her father would use her as a political pawn. Gorgeous pen and ink drawings accompany this complicated story.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People

A resource manual divided into sections on the types of creative jobs, finding work that matches your style and how to put everything together into a satisfying career. Somewhat in the same vein as What Color is Your Parachute, but a more compact and focused on creative types (who may be employed full-time) rather than jobseekers. There’s a list of careers based on Holland Codes for the types of jobs likely to appeal to creative types (which, as might be expected for creative people is less focused on Conventional and Realistic and more on Artistic and Investigatory among the six career areas in Holland’s RIASEC system, though Bonsai Culturist stands out from the rest as an RAE – Realistic, Artistic, Enterprising – sort of career).

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Game Design: Principles, Practice, and Techniques – The Ultimate Guide for the Aspiring Game Designer

For those aspiring to be game designers, this book provides a good overview of games in general, the key elements in them, and the role of designers in the process of creating video games. Starting with a look at the various genres and highly representative examples, the book then moves on to design theory with things like character motivation and finally to design process, covering all the elements that are brought together to make a game that’s playable and fun. There’s a good list of resources divided by the various aspects of games, be it level design, 3D graphics, physics engines or the like.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

City of Dark Magic

When young musicologist Sarah Weston is offered the job of a lifetime cataloging some of Ludwig van Beethoven’s work in Prague, she jumps at the opportunity. That’s before she learns that her mentor who was previously doing the work died under somewhat suspicious circumstances, all of which may or may not be tied to mysterious deaths in Venice, the machinations of a U.S. Senator whose decades-old indiscretions give her a particular interest in current events, an handsome and wealthy prince who has an agenda of his own, and an odd cast of antiquarians and subject experts who have all been hired to catalog the prince’s collection. Somewhat reminiscent of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in terms of setting, mysterious events and the protagonist, though not nearly as gothic.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Rook

The person who awakes in the body of Myfanwy Thomas has no idea what is happening or why people are after her. In order to get to the bottom of things, she takes on the life of a person who’s more than an administrator in a secret British government agency, but is a Rook, one of the high-ranking members of an organization known as the Checquy, an organization charged with handling all manner of supernatural or inexplicable threats to the Realm. With a dash less Cthulhu, this novel should appeal to fans of Charles Stross’s Laundry series. Did I mention it has cover blurbs from both Lev Grossman (The Magician King) and Austin Grossman (Soon I Will Be Invincible), two authors whose work I’ve also enjoyed greatly and who, despite being twins, write very different styles of books but agree in their positive take on this book.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Dead Town (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, book 5)

Allies begin to meet and coordinate their plans as the true dimensions of the reborn Victor Frankenstein’s plans come to fruition. As the penultimate book in the series, the cast of characters remains interesting and the new additions to the original cast fighting Victor are welcome additions who are interesting in their own right without bogging down the story.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Stormdancer (The Lotus War, book 1)

In the land of Shima, the blood lotus fuels the empire and the Guild controls the Chi derived from the lotus and makes the devices that the Chi powers. When the Emperor commands his Imperial Huntsman Masaru to bring back one of the legendary arishitora or storm tigers, Masaru’s daughter Yukiko is the one who bonds with the tiger and embarks on a journey to overthrow the Emperor and the Guild. An otherworldly mix of Japanese culture and myth with legendary creatures and steampunk technology in a world despoiled by the blight of the blood lotus, the compelling story of a girl and her tiger companion becomes a new legend in the annals of Shima. Fans of steampunk and the likes of Tim Lukeman’s Koren and Rajan will likely find this a compelling read.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Build Your Own Wicked Wordpress Themes

Though it covers most of the basics of creating themes, the best part of this book are the larger design concerns in creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing theme. The authors discuss ideas like the golden mean and various column widths and layouts that take advantage of proven design principles. Though there’s plenty of nuts and bolts of building a theme, the deeper stuff that can readily be found in the Wordpress Codex or elsewhere (and which rapidly becomes dated) is left out and keeps the book uncluttered and relevant over time (and a useful resource for any designer, even if your CMS of choice is something other than Wordpress).

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Lost Souls (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, book 4)

Though Victor Helios has been killed, his plans continue under the leadership of his clone, Victor Leben. This time, Deucalion collects Carson and Michael to go to the town of Rainbow Falls, Montana, where they team up with Erika Five and Jockoo. Meanwhile, others in the town discover what is happening and begin to fight back against the new and improved version of the New Race and the horrifying Builders.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Fables, Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind

With the passing of WInter, a new heir must be found, so Bigby and Snow’s children begin training and are tested. Meanwhile, the other Fables begin returning to the Farm and to Fabletown to pick up the pieces after the defeat of Mister Dark.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever

Some of the stories of Cinderella’s adventures as a secret agent as she encounters assassin-for-hire Dorothy Gale (AKA The Silver Slipper). It all ends with one final confrontation in the lands of Oz in the middle of the Deadly Desert.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Jack of Fables Vol. 9: The End

The final confrontation between Jack as a dragon and Jack Frost with all the supporting characters present at the end on one side or the other of the conflict. With a truly Shakespearean ending, the strange place known as Canada will never be the same.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Jack of Fables Vol. 8: The Fulminate Blade

The adventures of Jack Frost, the son of Jack and the Winter Queen as he learns about being a hero as he learns the ways of the world and acquires the magical weapon known as the Fulminate Blade.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Professional WordPress Plugin Development

Though some sections feel disjointed, the organization of the book is such that it’s not intended to be a step-by-step guide, but rather a look at the deeper parts of plugins organized by types of functionality. For exampe, one chapter focuses on AJAX and scripting and provides examples of that particular type of plugin. There’s the assumption of some fairly understanding of Wordpress and an interest in creating professional plugins for use by others.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

City of Swords (Rogue Angel series, book 39)

Filming back-to-back episodes of her TV show takes Annja from the mean streets of Paris to Avignon with a wealthy madman on her trail who’s intent on acquiring the sword she wields to add it to his collection alongside Charlemagne’s Joyeuse. His plan is nothing less than to to remake France in the image of Charlemagne’s City of God by any means with his twelve paladins wielding famous swords from history.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Halo: The Thursday War (Kilo-Five trilogy, book 2)

Kilo-Five, ONI’s black-ops team responsible for dirty tricks has its hands full when they must simultaneously deal with a missing civilian member of their team while trying to destabilize the Sangheili and deal with insurrectionists whose leader may be the father of Spartan-010. Dropping right into the middle of the action, the author assumes a high degree of familiarity with the Halo universe and the events following the war with the Covenant. A fast-moving read bouncing around the galaxy with most of the action centered around Sangheilios and Onyx. For American audiences, the only jarring point may be that the main characters all use British English, making the ODST’s sound like SAS paratroopers, but it certainly works in the Forward Unto Dawn web series with the accents, so it’s more the word choices that stand out. The big kind of loses some steam after the big confrontation on Sangheilios, but sets up events for a third book nicely as the characters learn more about the Forerunners and the Didact.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Dead and Alive (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, book 3)

Things go from bad to worse in this installation as Victor Helios Frankenstein’s creations deviate even further from their original programming in new and disturbing ways. Deucalion, Victor’s original creation destroys Victor’s laboratory at the Siters of Mercy hospital and precipitates a final confrontation outside New Orleans at Victor’s new facility in which Deucalion along with detectives O’Connor and Maddison play in role.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blackdog

Long ago was an age of wizards, gods, and devils, though those legends are mostly forgotten. But the seven devils that were defeated by the old gods and trapped on earth are still alive. One of them, in the form of the wizard Tamghat, comes with an army to Lissavakail where the temple to the goddess Attalissa is located. In a land littered with small gods who are genius loci, Attalissa is a goddess who has chosen to incarnate herself in a human and whose successive incarnations live in an island temple where she is protected by the Blackdog, a spirit bound to a human. She is forced to flee in order to escape destruction, setting in motion the story and the spirit of the Blackdog is passed to a caravan guard who unfortunately happens to passing by and tries to aid the incarnation of the goddess.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Atlas of Middle-Earth (Revised Edition)

Though not as charmingly rendered as some of Tolkien’s original maps in black and red, nor colorful like the 1970s calendar map by Pauline Bayes, this book is perhaps the definitive set of maps of the lands of Middle Earth. It covers everything from the creation of the world through the end of the Third Age with detail maps covering much of the action in the different books including the wars against Morgoth from The Silmarillion, the travels of the dwarves with Bilbo from The Hobbit and both the journeys of the Fellowship and the movement of armies from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There’s also a wealth of detail on things like climate, geology and other such details near and dear to cartographers along with maps showing key information like the political divisions of Numenor.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

TIME Great Places of History: Civilization’s 100 Most Important Sites: An Illustrated Journey

Divided into sections of ten with different categories relating to why particular sites were chosen for that section. Many of the historic sites are among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, though some (like Burning Man) reflect their importance to the modern world.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

City of Night (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, book 2)

Having figured out the identity of Victor Helios, the detectives must concoct a plan to strike at him with the help of Deucalion. Meanwhile, the New Race is breaking down and developing in ways their creator can’t imagine.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Hydrogen Sonata

The latest novel about the Culture begins with the planned sublimation of a race called the Gzilt and almost reads as something Douglas Adams would have written, had he chosen to inject a healthy dose of political intrigue and skullduggery into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Lots of back-and-forth between the different ships and some interesting alien civilizations including the Gzilt themselves.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Codex Derynianus

An A-to-Z look at the world of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series, covering both the original series, the Camber of Culdi series along with miscellaneous books and short stories. In addition to an encyclopedic look at the Eleven Kingdoms, the lineages of the various royal families, a timeline of the major events of the various books, and a set of maps of the different localities and broader world. If you’re a fan of the series and also like the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Known World Handbook, this book is highly recommended.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, book 1)

The original monster, now calling himself Deucalion, comes to New Orleans after receiving a letter from an old friend. After 200 years, he learns that his creator is still alive and has plans to improve on his original creation. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose and detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison must find him. In their investigations, they cross path with Deucalion and the good doctor, now going by Victor Helios.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Lost Worlds

A look at places that are lost, either because they disappeared from history or because they never existed in the first place, with illustrations by John Howe, one of the best know artists of scenes from The Lord of the Rings. Interesting as an overview and visually appealing, though not as deep as it could be given the subject matter and prowess of the artist, but not disappointing.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Ironskin

An alternate history retelling of Beauty and the Beast with overtones of Jane Eyre. After the Great War with the Fey, battle-scarred Jane Eliot takes a position as a governess with a reclusive widower at his manor of Silver Birch in order to care for his child. The child, Dorie, is different in a way that Jane understands, both having been afflicted by the Fey, though Jane’s is outwardly visible. But there are darker secrets and sinister machinations that only Jane can hope to face.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Other Normals

The only thing worse than being a loner who plays Creatures and Caverns is being sent to summer camp by his divorced parents and their lawyers in hopes he’ll grow up. Inadvertently, Peregrine “Perry” Eckert instead discovers another world, an alternate reality, that was the basis for one of the rulebooks for Creatures and Caverns. He also finds that what happens in the other world affects what happens in ours and that he may be key to saving this other realm.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Supergod

A alternate history of a secret arms race where the weapons are superhumans instead of nuclear weapons. The question is, what happens when mankind constructs gods as flawed as they are? Will it be the utopia promised by India’s Krishna (after reducing the population by 90%) or some other outcome imagined by beings who are no longer (or who have never been) human? A graphic look at the end of the world of mankind’s own making.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel

The protagonist, a junkie and ex-member of the Guild that regulates those with mental powers, works for the Atlanta police department. When police detective Isabella Cherabino needs his expertise to investigate a crime scene, they’re soon on the trail of a murderer (or murderers) on a killing spree with a darker agenda than simple murder. Staying on the straight and narrow becomes increasingly tough, particularly when his precognition kicks in to warn him how bad things could become.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Matador’s Crown (Rogue Angel series, book 38)

While on a dig in Cadiz, Annja becomes involved in tracking down an antiquities smuggling ring. When it appears that a famous local bullfighter might be involved, the situation is complicated by the fact that he’s friends with Garin, Annja’s sometime nemesis. A somewhat meandering storyline and a lack of much tension or interesting bad guys make this outing less exciting than it could otherwise have been.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Down These Strange Streets

This short story collection is kind of a grab bag of wildy different takes on the urban fantasy genre, if one takes urban fantasy to mean a fantastical story in an urban setting. Or, in fact, any kind of story that might be supernatural in nature (a very generous definition that means if Arthur Conan Doyle were a modern writer and The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire had been set in London, that story might well have found it’s way into this collection). Stories by many of the best-known authors in the genre are represented here with some really good stories. Definitely a good entree into the genre, even if you don’t read it cover-to-cover. As a note, the last two stories are the best, even though the final story is sort of missing the “urban” part (unless you consider a military base in the Aleutians to be some sort of urban setting).

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

An autobiographical trek through the heart of geekdom, starting with the author’s early experiences with gaming and his burgeoning desire to learn why he’s never quite left behind his gaming roots. The author treks to places ranging from Oxford, Englak, to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, interviewing fellow geeks and discovering the constellation of personalities and lifestyles that make up current geek culture. Likely to appeal to fans of The Elfish Gene.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Night Sessions

In this near-future history, the Faith Wars have resulted in a complete separation of government and religion with most major world religions having suffered a dramatic decline in membership. In this brave new world, the death of a Catholic priest in Edinburgh raises the specter of terrorism and a possible return to the bad old days. The death of a second religious figure brings to light the possibility of a conspiracy that may be larger than originally feared. The world-building, setting, and police procedural is likely to appeal to fans of Halting State and Rule 34 by Charles Stross.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Complete Wargames Handbook: How to Play, Design, and Find Them

Another definitive book on wargaming, also a little dated but still highly relevant. Includes a complete World War II wargame with design notes showing the evolution of the maps, units and rules. There’s some really good information on game design philosophy, information on how to successfully create your own game, recommendations of games representing different historical eras, and an overview of the then extant list of game publishers (most of whom no longer in business). The author was the president of Simulation Publications (SPI) and has dozens of games to his credit.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Art of Wargaming: A Guide for Professionals and Hobbyists

Though somewhat dated, this is one of the definitive works on wargames and their history., Definitely worth reading to understand the influences and rise in popularity of wargames during the eighties and nineties, starting with naval simulations and kriegsspiel. The author, Doctor Perla, is an authority on all things wargame-related, having written on the subject, consulted for the Department of Defense, and having created several notable board games.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

HTML5

A good overview of the various elements of HTML5 and CSS3 with information on older browsers, the use of Modernizr and some other fun features like GIS and Microformats.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Devil Said Bang (Sandman Slim, book 4)

Now stuck as the ruler of Hell, James Stark AKA Sandman Slim wants to get back to Los Angeles. First, he has to figure out how to stay alive amid the lethal scheming of his subjects along with tracking down the other half of Lucifer’s power (the old Lucifer, Samael, has hidden them somewhere and left few clues to where). After his return to Los Angeles, he’s reunited with his girlfriend Candy and has to deal with a whole different group of people who would also like to see him dead (not to mention alter Earth’s entire reality). After all of that, maybe he can find some other sucker to take over the rulership of Hell.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Encyclopedia of Gangs

Despite it’s appearance, this is not just an encyclopedic rundown of gangs, but rather a more scholarly look at gangs categorically around the world. Apart from specific entries on the Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings, there’s also some detailed analysis of Chinese gangs and their roots in the Tongs and Triads, gangs of Brazil’s favelas, and much more with a strong emphasis on the social origins of gangs and their history. While the articles are well-written and cited, the book as a whole suffers from some serious proofreading issues including many sections that appear to have suffered from OCR issues (the section on Chinese gangs, for example, refers to the Hop Sinq and Hip Sinq at the top of one page and, correctly to the Hop Sign and Hip Sing farther down).

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Immortal Lycanthropes

Young Myron’s life is difficult, not the least because he’s horribly scarred by an attack that he was too young to remember. After further unexplained events, he finds himself on the run, trying to sort out who he can trust among the animals who can assume human form known as the immortal lycanthropes. There are also other forces including the Illuminati, the Gnomes of Zurich and the Nine Unknown Men. Likely to appeal to fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz series with snarky narrative and an improbable melange of fantastical elements.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Blades of Winter: A Novel of the Shadowstorm

Basically Mack Bolan for the cyberpunk set with a dose of cyberpunk alternate history and a main character lacking in impulse control make for a fun read if you don’t think about it too hard. Diverging from our history with the success of Operation Sealion and then the death of Hitler with Valkyrie, the modern world is divided between then Americans, the Germans, the Chinese and the Russians. Cybernetically and biologically enhanced agents called Levels are responsible for ferreting out secrets of the other powers and thwarting their aims in their own territory. The daughter of the most successful Level ever, Alix is following in her father’s footsteps and soon finds herself in nearly over her head tracking down the mystery behind her father’s death as she treks across the world.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London, book 3)

Constable Peter Grant is called in to provide his unique expertise during the murder investigation of an American found at Baker Street Station in London’s underground. Following the lead of a shard of stoneware bearing magical traces leads Grant to an Irish artist who may be tied to the deceased along with the personification of the River Fleet. The deceased’s father, a state senator and the FBI agent assigned to liaise with the police complicates things considerably.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts

The collected wisdom of experts on the art and science of Software Architecture. Like other books in the series, this book covers a wide variety of topics from nuts-and-bolts to human factors to corporate culture. In other words, there’s lts of good stuff and something of relevance to nearly everyone.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent

A concise summary to the hiring and care of programmers. Fairly familiar ground to readers of the Joel on Software site, but nicely organized and presented with references to the specific posts on the aforementioned site. Food for thought, not just for managers and those looking to hire developers, but also for developers looking for a new position or looking to change the working environment at their existing place of work.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Library of Gold (Rogue Angel series, book 37)

It’s impossible to refuse a request from her boss’s boss’s boss (which would be the guy who owns the network that broadcasts Chasing History’s Monsters) and before you know it, Annja is traveling to Russia in an attempt to track down the missing library of Ivan the Terrible. There’s some fun with urban spelunking, rogue Federal Security operatives and more to liven the search for the Library of Gold, not to mention the inevitable double cross.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Coldest War (The Milkweed Triptych, book 2)

Britain’s warlocks have enabled the Soviet Union to defeat the Third Reich. Now an Iron Curtain has fallen across continental Europe and life in England is slowly returning to normal 20 years later. After such a long time, Gretel and her brother Klaus escape from the Soviet experimental facility Arzamas-16 and have come to London. There, the current administration of Milkweed calls back Raybould Marsh and uncovers the treachery of William Beauclerk. Now they must uncover the next step in the Soviet plan or find out if they’re instead being manipulated, yet again, by Gretel with her terrifying ability to see far into the future.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Magic Lantern (Rogue Angel series, book 36)

Pursuing a story in London about a killer whose methods echo the fictional Mister Hyde, Annja finds herself caught between criminal groups trying to gain ownership of an 18th century magic lantern. The question becomes why everyone is so interested in this magician’s prop and whether it truly has magical powers.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws

Full of stories of real-life ninjas, Japanese history and background, this lushly illustrated book discards most of the myths of black pajama-clad assassins in favor of factual information. Many of the stories separate fact from fiction and provide plenty of background for further reading and research by those interested in the role of the ninja throughout history. In addition to biographies of historical ninja, there are also biographies of those who lived during the Warring States period and those who hired and worked alongside famous ninja, so the likes of Miyamoto Musashi, Yagyu Jubei, and Oda Nobunaga also receive mention.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Fury’s Goddess (Rogue Angel series, book 35)

Investigating attacks by a mysterious “beast” in Hyderabad takes Annja and her cameraman, Frank, into the depths of a cavern complex in the mountains. After being repeatedly captured by members of the Thuggee cult, she must uncover their leader’s true plan and figure out who she can trust.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Rasputin’s Bastards

Equal parts of Cold War intrigue and meta-human weirdness, the surreal tone of this book is a somewhat meandering tale about the future of humanity that has shades of The Men Who Stare at Goats along with the People stories of Zenna Henderson and Octavia Butler’s Parable series. The book starts off innocuously in one direction with a smuggling operation that goes awry in the Atlantic. The story peels apart like an onion as it bounces back and forth between East and West, reveling the stories of the characters and their history as they discover much of what they know and remember has been manufactured.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, book 4)

In which we learn that The Laundry is a bureaucracy and there are many other actors for Her Majesty’s Government. After a charismatic minister from the Golden Promise Ministry comes to London and has a meeting with important persons, IT Support Specialist Bob Howard is tapped for promotion to management and dispatched to Denver to oversee a pair of consultants who are “external assets” with a unique set of skills that may be the only way to prevent global catastrophe. In other words, what happens when evangelical God Botherers think they’re bringing back Jesus, but are instead working on behalf of the Black Pharaoh AKA The Sleeper in the Pyramid? As a note, this book stands on it’s own well, but references enough of the earlier books in the series that having read them first gives this latest outing some additional punch.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Green Lantern Corps: Blackest Night

Filling the gaps of the Blackest Night storyline and tying into the part of the story told mostly in the Green Lantern issues, this graphic novel includes the section on how the Lantern Corps banded together to come to Earth, how the living planet Green Lantern Mongo’s role played a pivotal role in protecting Oa, and the aftermath of the war with the Black Lanterns.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps

Tales of the individual members of the different colors involved int he Darkest Night along with a very meta two-part story about Superboy Prime.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Blackest Night

The appearance of the Black Lantern is foreshadowed by a day of celebrations of all the heroes who have died. When the first dead heroes start to rise as the bearers of Black Lantern rings, heroes like The Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom, Mera, Firestorm (fighting the deceased original), and others fight back. The reappearance of Elongated Man and his wife, Sue Dibny is particularly horrific, as is the murder of Hawkman and Hawkwoman and their rise as Black Lanterns.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns

A grab bag collection of storylines from the other DC titles affected by the Darkest Night storyline including Green Arrow, Weird Tales of the West (with an appearance by the resurrected Jonah Hex), and a variety of others. If there’s a weakness to how DC threw continuity out the window in the interest of grouping titles together in the other Darkest Night books, this book is the worst of both worlds since it lacks both narrative cohesion and continuity outside the individual stories while simultaneously containing a variety of artistic styles (which is about the only reason I can actually conceive for the editorial decision to group everything by title in other books).

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

China Ghosts: My Daughter’s Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood

A story of a father’s journey to adopt his first child from China and his reflections on the changes it has made on his life, both from the perspective of becoming a father and from his understanding of the Chinese people.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Alif the Unseen

Young Arab-Indian computer hacker Alif is willing to help anyone whose ideas run counter to that of the authorities. But all he really wants is to be with the woman he’s in love with, an aristocratic student. When she’s betrothed to non other than Alif’s nemesis, “The Hand of God”, he’s devastated. But even as she breaks off their relationship, she sends him a book of stories alleged to have been narrated by the Jinn. Next thing you know, ALif is on the run, aided by an underworld figure known as Vikram the Vampire along with his neighbor, Dina, and a host of others who have an interest in changing the status quo. A good mix of magic with technology and current events.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Green Lantern: Blackest Night

Hal Jordan must play his part in the rise of the Black Lanterns. Collecting the issues of Green Lantern that tie into the Black Lantern story, it’s a bit of a muddle since action happening in other titles appears part-way through the story in this graphic novel. Many DC heroes star including a resurrected Black Lantern Martian Manhunter, The Flash (Barry Allen), and The Spectre. The story is excellent, but poorly presented due to the muddled chronology.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 2

Continuing the battle against the Black Lanterns with the heroes beginning to turn the tide. The combined light of the Lanterns may be enough to stop them, but the outcome remains uncertain.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 1

Villains and heroes are rising from the dead, animated by the power of the Black Lantern and fueled by the emotions of their opponents. Batman (Dick Grayson, not Bruce Wayne) and Robin team up Deadman and others to battle an incursion in Gotham, while Superman must protect Smallville and the Teen Titans confront a nightmarish conglomeration of friends and foes. If only the bad guys didn’t all look the same and really seem rather colorless; And it’s not just their costumes – we’re talking some serious second-stringers who were originally killed off for a reason along with some others whose return seems really lacking without some serious in-depth interest and attachment to the whole DC Universe continuity.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Once More with Footnotes

A fun collection of essays, speeches and stories including one by a 13-year-old Terry Pratchett. The best stuff is served up last, bringing the whole collection to an end with a suitable flourish. Worth reading for those interested in the author and his work and containing some gems worthy of one’s time even if you’ve never read a Discworld novel in your life or heard of it before (I don’t know what rock you’d have to be living under to have done that, but there you are).

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Queen & Country : Declassified Vol. 3

The troubles in Northern Ireland pit SAS officer Nicholas Poole against an IRA killer recently released from prison. Poole discovers he’s targeting a politician who wants peace and that the killer’s actions are personal.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Queen & Country: Declassified Vol.1

“The first spin-off from the award-winning Queen & Country graphic novel series takes readers back in time to the mid-’80s. Before Paul Crocker was head of Special Section, he was an agent in the field. A run of bad luck is dogging him across Europe. His attempt to extract one political refugee from Berlin met with failure, and when he is immediately sent to perform a similar assignment in Prague, he is determined to succeed at all costs. Leaving his new wife and the quiet home life they dream of behind, Crocker commits himself to the double-edged world of espionage once and for all.” – Oni Press

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Operation: Saddlebags (Queen & Country, Vol. 7)

After her last mission, Tara Chace takes a vacation to Switzerland in order to visit her mother. Upon her return, she and the new Minder Three are sent to St. Petersburg to investigate a government official who may be selling secret geological data to the Russians. The only problem? His brother is high up in the Ministry of Defense and friends with the Prime Minister. This graphic novel is a direct lead-in to the full-length novel A Gentleman’s Game. While I appreciated the French and German dialogue, particularly the way it highlights Tara’s facility with languages, the lack of translation and nuance (such as might be provided in a prose work) actually detracted from the flow of the story.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology

A smorgasbord of superhero stories featuring original characters of interleaved with real life stories and narratives that captures the Asian American experience and goes beyond the stereotypical Asian heroes that are so prevalent (while still woefully under-represented on the whole) in the world of mainstream comics. The real people featured in the book include many of the contributors touching on why superhero stories resonate and the importance of Asian American role models in pop culture. There’s a variety of great stories and art styles, making this anthology a great read. I’m even happier there’s a second book in the works.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Partials

After the RM virus destroys most of humanity, the survivors on Long Island have banded together for mutual survival and for defense against the Partials, genetically engineered soldiers believed to have been responsible for releasing RM. Teenage Kira wants to find a cure, but things keep getting worse after a disastrous salvage mission and violence from a group of humans known as the Voice who oppose the Hope Act, a mandatory program requiring women to become pregnant in an attempt to give birth to humans resistant to RM.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

The Escapists

Based on the work by Michael Chabon (and with a foreword written by him), this is the story of Max Roth, a young man who is a fan of the forgotten Golden Age hero the Escapist. In attempting to resurrect his hero, the lines between fiction and fact blur, much like the meta-fictional Escapist himself. The story by Brian K. Vaughn is as much an homage to Chabon’s work as it is to the whole Golden Age of comic books, all told with a poignancy that will likely appeal to fans of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World but having more emotional depth (at least to me).

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Queen & Country: Declassified Vol. 2

Going back to 1999 and the handover of Hong Kong, Tom Wallace must investigate the murder of a British national and discover his secrets. In the process, he has to navigate treacherous waters where enemies become allies and vice-versa. An interesting back-story on the current Head of Section in the Queen & Country series.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Operation: Morningstar (Queen & Country, Vol. 2)

“Afghanistan is one of the hottest political spots in the world. When the taleban discovers foreign journalists are also serving as covert-agents for the SIS, the Minders are put on a mission to find a secret contact list before the enemy does; however, when Director of Operations Paul Crocker decides to send only his male agents into the field, it doesn’t sit well with Tara Chace. Adding insult to injury, she’s currently required to attend therapy sessions to deal with the effects of previous operations. Not content to sit on her hands, Tara spends her time trying to piece together the puzzle, aiding Minders Wallace and Kittering in their race against the clock.” – Oni Press site synopsis

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Raven Calls (The Walker Papers, book 7)

In order to avoid turning into a werewolf, Joanne travels to Ireland seeking a cure. Accompanied by Gary Muldoon, she finds other unexpected allies and must confront a variety of legendary foes in a land that has fallen under the Master’s dark influence. Her journey takes her traveling through time, explaining may of the events and circumstances of the earlier books. In addition, Joanne finally meets the spirit of her mother and gains an understanding of the role both her parents played in the world.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Drowned Cities

Growing up in the Drowned Cities, the former east coast of the United States around Washington D.C., Mahlia and Mouse have only ever had each other and the doctor who took them in as orphans. When the chimera Tool, a genetic hybrid bred for war, escapes from one of the warlords of the Drowned Cities, their lives and the balance of power is changed as a result.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

A Gentleman’s Game: A Queen & Country Novel

A fast-paced action thriller that starts with a terrorist attack on London. In the aftermath of the attack, Her Majesty’s government must decide on a course of action that will send Tara Chace and her fellow minders on a mission to the Middle East that may be a one-way trip.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Cairo

Five strangers cross paths in Cairo and must confront the evil magician Nar with the assistance of a Jinn named Shams. A fast-paced story that should have been a longer story, but manages to hit all the right notes with references to Rumi and all manner of colorful characters and not just the five central characters, though they’re equally interesting, being a hashish smuggler, a disillusioned Lebanese-American jihadist wannabe, a reporter from Orange County trying to find herself, a dissident journalist who’s in love with the smuggler’s sister, and an Israeli special forces soldier stranded on the wrong side of the Egyptian border.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Air Volume 4: A History of the Future

For her final test, Blythe must complete three tests that involve tracking down a missing work by Jules Verne and finding the resting place of the airplane of Antoine de Saint Exupéry. In doing, she takes control of her destiny and, after a final confrontation with the Etesian Front, comes to a resolution of her relationship with Zayn.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Air Vol. 3: Pureland

In learning how to be a Hyperpraxis pilot, Blythe travels into a war zone and meets Zayn’s brother, the leader of the Metal Jihad, a group of militant anti-jihad jihadis. There, she learns more about Zayn and how he came to join Interpol.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Dancing With Bears

A little bit of Fraser’s Flashman and a little bit of Lieber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser in a thoroughly original post-apocalyptic wasteland where the machines of Baikonur are threatening to take over the world and wipe the scourge known as mankind off the face of the earth. The con-men Darger and Surplus are on a mission to the Duke of Muscovy when their caravan increasingly runs afoul of trouble and they find themselves, through their machinations, in charge of the whole enterprise. In the end, the outcome is nothing any of them could have foreseen.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia

When a woman appears at the Themiscyra embassy and invokes hiketeia, wherein a suppliant asks for protection, Diana accepts without question. As a result, she must contend with the Erinyes who dog her steps in the event she breaks her vow and with Batman who is intent on bringing the woman to justice for murders she’s committed.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Question: Five Books of Blood

A linked set of investigations on the trail of the Bible of Crime leads The Question to a confrontation with the leader of the religion of crime, Brother Flay.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Hide Me Among the Graves

This book could be considered a sequel to The Stress of Her Regard, though it’s stylistically more dramatic and really consists of three novellas taking place at seven year intervals and featuring the same characters. There’s a further novella that covers some events mentioned and which takes place between the previous book and this, A Time to Cast Away Stones, which appeared in The Bible Repairman and Other Stories. The main characters are the Rossetti family (all four of them) and the fictional couple of John Crawford and Adelaide McKee along with their daughter Johanna and the roguish Edward Trelawny. Together, they must defeat two of the Nephilim and prevent the destruction of London.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Shadow Dancer (A Wind River Reservation Mystery)

A cult reviving the Ghost Dance, a missing computer programmer, and the murder of a rancher draw Father John and Vicky Holden into a mystery that they need to solve before worse things happen and before Vicky is arrested for murder since the murdered rancher used to be her husband.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Ghost War (John Wells series, book 2)

After a North Korean scientist attempts to defect and is betrayed, CIA agent John Wells is back in the field leading a raid on well-trained insurgents in Afghanistan. When it turns out these two are related, his partner and lover Jennifer Exley attempts to track down a mole who’s selling secrets to the Chinese government while Well attempts to make contact with a highly-placed agent in China and avert a war between China and the United States.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Book of Blood and Shadow

Tragedy follows Nora Kane. Her family was torn apart by the death of her brother and she’s sought solace in learning Latin and getting a scholarship to a prep school on the other side of town. That leads to an independent study project at the local university with her best friend Chris and the enigmatic Max researching the Voynich Manuscript. But mysterious happenings intrude and then things go horribly bad, taking Nora to Prague on the trail of hidden secrets and the mystery of the Lumen Dei.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Bitter Seeds (The Milkweed Triptych, book 1)

Starting at the end of World War I, the Germans launch a project to tap into extraordinary human abilities. When the Germans launch their offensive in 1940, the world is caught unprepared until the British mobilize magicians, people with the power to invoke Eidolons, beings outside our world who are inimical to humans.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Venetian Betrayal (Cotton Malone series, book 3)

A conspiracy between the leader of the (fictional) Central Asian Republic and the Venetian League puts Cotton Malone and his colleagues on the trail of Alexander the Great and a possible miracle cure. Along the way, we learn more about Cassiopeia Witt and her connection to the mysterious Ely.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone series, book 2)

The sequel to The Templar Legacy, the action kicks off with Cotton Malone’s ex-wife showing up in Copenhagen and telling him his son’s been kidnapped. It turns out, this is the opening gambit in an attempt by the Order of the Golden Fleece to find a man whose location is known only to Malone. this man may hold the information of the location of the Library of Alexandria, long thought destroyed. Lots of plot twists involving agents from the Library, Israel, various Arab nations, and the U.S. Government.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Dragon’s Gate (Golden Mountain Chronicles, 1867)

After accidentally killing a Manchu soldier, Otter’s son gets his wish to travel to the Land of the Golden Mountain. But he discovers that having your wish come true may not be the as wonderful as it sounds and life working to build the transcontinental railroad is much more difficult than he thought.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Final Crisis

Between the collapse of reality as we know it and reality being overrun with Darkseid’s anti-life equation (with some surprising villain cameos), the pantheon of DC heroes including the various versions of the Flash and most of the Superman variations (including fascist German Superman and Antimatter Superman) must put things right and “plug a hole in reality.” A brilliant story, if a bit muddled in places due to the hallucinogenic nature of the reality shifts and too many characters.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Burning Realm (Shattered World duology, part 2)

A year after the events of the first book, the narrative picks up with the same cast of characters and where their attempts to reunite the Shattered World have taken them following the attempted resurrection of the Necromancer. Various heroes must band together to defeat the Chthons, including the Lord of Scorpions and Setihaculus, the current Demogorgon.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai

Being both a history of Japanese martial traditions (bugei) and the author’s personal journey to learn them. And interesting and entertaining take on the deeper meaning of Japanese traditions and their continuing relevance, both in Japan and in the west.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Mountain Light (Golden Mountain Chronicles 1855, book 2)

The unlikely meeting between Cassia of Three Willows Village and Squeaky of neighboring Phoenix Village following one of many actions against the Manchu turns out be life-changing for both of them as both fall in love and circumstances send Squaky to the Land of the Golden Mountain to join Cassia’s brother, Foxfire.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Trailblazing Mars: NASA’s Next Giant Leap

Starting with a history of NASA’s space exploration efforts, both manned ventures and unmanned ventures with particular emphasis of the latter to Mars, the book then moves on to the future of our efforts to send missions to Mars. Of particular interest is whether such an effort is feasible and looks at the economic costs and the political issues around such a venture.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Serpent’s Children (The Golden Mountain Chronicles 1849, book 1)

Set in 1849 when China was under the domination of the Manchu and when the Western powers were first imposing the unequal treaties, the Young family growing up in the countryside near Canton opposes both the Manchu and the westerners. But bad fortune and drought cause Cassia and her brother Foxfire to look to the United States, the land of the Golden Mountain.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

All Star Superman

The trade paperback collecting All-Star Superman issues 1-12 is a stand-alone arc with Superman as a literal sun deity and the story covering his arc including a descent to the underworld before his eventual rebirth. Many Superman stalwarts make their appearance including Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Krypto, Lex Luthor, and Bizarro. But all of that is secondary to the story of Superman dealing with his mortality after being poisoned by too much solar radiation through the machinations of Lex Luthor. The story and the “12 feats” that Superman performs are a look at the enduring presence of Superman as an iconic comic book character.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Budo Mind and Body: Training Secrets of the Japanese Martial Arts

A broad overview of the tradition of martial arts, how to get the most out of martial arts training, and how to pick a good school are all covered in this book. Though a bit general and definitely slanted by the author’s personal experiences, there’s some valuable insight and an excellent bibliography with more detailed descriptions of books the author considers essential to the well-rounded budoka (a list that hits all the important books for all the right reasons).

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Identity Crisis

The cast of the the Justice League is present in this work with all its many dysfunctions and loyalties brought to light when a mysterious intruder kills Sue Dibny, the Elongated Man’s wife. On high alert and determined to find the person or persons responsible, the members of the League soon discover what appears to be a conspiracy that turns out to be as surprising as it is poignant.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Secret History of Fantasy

This thoroughly whimsical collection of stories is very likely to appeal to fans of the editor’s work. As a noted fabulist, Peter Beagle has collected an excellent set of stories that range from modern fairy tales to literary fantasy that blend together in a fairly seamless whole. The inclusion of the Mythago Wood short story (the original version upon which the novel is based) by Robert Holdstock at the end of the volume is a welcome addition and appears right before a concluding piece that reminded me of Ray Bradbury.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

The Case of the Goblin Pearls (Chinatown Mystery series, book 1)

Life is pretty ordinary for Lily until her great-aunt and movie star Tiger Lil’ comes to visit. She’s in town to promote a local businessman’s product in San Francisco’s Chinese New Year’s parade and, before you know it, she’s enlisted Lily’s help. As a result, when the famous Goblin Pearls are stolen, Lily and her great-aunt are thrown into the middle of the mystery and must find who’s behind the theft.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Of Blood and Honey (A Book of the Fey and the Fallen)

Growing up in 1970’s Ireland, Liam Kelly never knew his father. Unbeknownst to him, his father is one of the Fey, a Fianna, awoken to defend against the Fallen Angels brought to Ireland along with Christianity. As an order of militant Catholics also fights the Fallen, Liam may be the one who convinces them that the Fey and the Fallen are very different, but only if he doesn’t succumb to his own darker nature.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us…

Starting with the early days of comics with the golden age and silver age heroes along with some of their creators, Supergods then veers to the autobiographical and then alternates back and forth between history of the characters and their creators along with Morrison’s personal experiences, both in creating comics and in the experiences that formed his work. A fascinating read for those interested in comics, comic fandom, and the creative process that goes into creating comics.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

The story of video games as art and their place in our world told from the point of view of a video game aficionado. The author talks about many games he’s played and talks with many game designers about the how and why of their creations.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Fables Vol. 16: Super Team

With the threat of Mister Dark looming ever closer, the Fables set in action Pinocchio’s plan to form a “superhero” team. Meanwhile, the North Wind has sworn to eliminate all zephyr’s and that includes Biby and Snow’s youngest child, current whereabouts unknown. In addition, what machinations has Mister Dark set in motion with Mrs. Spratt that may persist in the event of his demise?

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Stones Unturned (Menagerie series, book 3)

Focusing on Danny’s transformation into a demon and Leonard Graves’ attempts to uncover the mystery of his murder, this outing of the Menagerie answers some questions while allegiances shift with the only unifying element being the imminent arrival of the Demogorgon and the actions necessary to save the Earth.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Atlas of Legendary Places

Being a look at places fictional and otherwise mentioned in legend and history. Lots of material about places like Atlantis and the attempts to place it in the real world and other pseudo-mystic stuff like ley lines, but giving a broad overview of places of significance throughout the world.

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

CSS3: Visual QuickStart Guide (5th Edition)

A good overview of CSS with particular focus on CSS3 and all the changes from previous versions specifically called out. ALso touches on the changes with HTML5 and cross-browser compatibility concerns.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Official Guide to Ancestry.com

Though somewhat dated, this is a good reference on how to use Ancestry and the different general categories of records a genealogist might use in researching a family tree. Nicely laid out and helpful to genealogists of all levels of expertise.

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Cradle of Solitude (Rogue Angel series, book 33)

In Paris, Annja is contacted by the French police as a representative of the United States since the remains of a deceased man have been found in the catacombs below a construction site. Far from being recent, the remains are of a Confederate captain who held the key to a disappeared Civil War treasury. The search becomes a race against time when Annja teams up with Garin Braden and learns a sinister group is also after the treasure.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Atlas of Mysterious Places: The World’s Unexplained Sacred Sites, Symbolic Landscapes, Ancient C

The book is broken into several sections of places that are somewhat thematically linked. It covers a broad swath of the world’s man-made places from every part of the globe.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Oracle’s Message (Rogue Angel series, book 32)

In a return to the Phillipines, Annja is vacationing when she meets a group of Germans in search of the legendary Pearl of Palawan. She helps them in their dive and uncovers a lost city under the water. There, she learns the pearl is the power source that sustains the city. Featuring a return of several notable characters from previous books apart from the usual suspect (though Roux also plays a major role).

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Tears of the Sun: A Novel of the Change (The Sunrise Lands series, book 5)

While Rudi, Mathilda, and the others were away, the war against the CUT continued and the Portland Protective Association dealt with treachery within their ranks. The narrative jumps back and forth between the current events following Rudi’s coronation as High King of Montival, and the events of the previous years as forces mobilized to repel the combined forces of Boise and the Church Universal and Triumphant. Kind of choppy due to cutting back and forth and much time is dealt with preparations for war before the major battles (which will presumably occur int he next volume).

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Tear of the Gods (Rogue Angel series, book 31)

The burial site of an ancient Celtic chieftain is discovered in England and an old friend of Annja’s invites her to the dig. But the chieftain was the owner of a torc made of some unidentified material and certain parties want to obtain it for purposes unknown. When a group of Irish terrorists and Annja’s old friend Roux gets involved, things really get rolling.

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Rain Storm (John Rain series, book 2)

After leaving Japan, John Rain finds himself hired by the Agency to assassinate an arms dealer named Achille Belghazi in Macau. He’d gone to ground in Brazil and done his best to disappear including learning Portugese, but when he reconnects with Naomi, a woman he met in Tokyo, that choice provides the information they need to track him down, leaving him with no choice but to accept the assignment. His first attempt is thwarted by the enigmatic Delilah, Belghazi’s traveling companion who may or may not be working for the Mossad and has an agenda of her own that doesn’t involve Rain getting rid of Belghazi before she’s accomplished her mission.

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Halo: Primordium (The Forerunner Saga, book 2)

Some time after the events of Halo: Cryptum, the story continues with Chakas, now marooned on a Halo that has become damaged by the war being waged. Accompanied by other humans and bearing another personality knows as the Lord of Admirals, he travels across the Halo discovering the nature of the Shaping Sickness AKA The Flood along with the aims of the Didact. Still a little too much deus ex machina, making it more of a narrative history than an actual story with a protagonist attempting to control his fate. There’s also some awkward bits of exposition where the story ties into actual human history – not a smooth fit, though a commendable effort.

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Death’s Heretic (Pathfinder Tales)

Though sworn to the Pharasma, the Lady of Graves who oversees the ordering of souls in the afterlife, Salim Ghadafar is anything but her paladin, much less a priest. Still, he carries out her work, traveling across the lands of the Inner Sea and the planes of the multiverse to that end. He’s sent to the the desert nation of Thuvia to investigate the death of a merchant who the priests of Pharasma were unable to resurrect. Now, teamed with his daughter, he must travel across the dimensions in order to investigate the mystery.

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