Jul 30
2014

Library Journal on Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake

lake-lastplanetoheavenLast Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake

VERDICT: Perhaps inevitably this collection has a sense of yearning to it: a desire for escape, a wish for broken things to be fixed, a longing for more time. Here both literal and metaphoric narratives deal with Lake’s struggles with terminal cancer, but readers will enjoy plenty of adventure and pure flights of fancy as well.

Lake (1964-­2014) was a well-known author of sf and fantasy novels (Green; Mainspring), but he was also a prolific short story writer. This final collection shows the range of styles that Lake was comfortable with and showcases his clever way with words. There are pieces from the worlds he created in his novels, including “From the Countries of Her Dreams” about a priestess from the Copper Downs and “Promises,” a haunting tale of the City Imperishable about a young woman on a difficult path. Subtly steampunk is “The Woman Who Shattered the Moon,” centered on an old woman who was once a supervillain. “West to East” describes a landing crew trapped on a wind-scoured planet and their ingenious efforts to get one last message back to their ship. There are also two Lovecraftian stories that are perfect little gems in their own ways. — Library Journal

Jul 29
2014

Starred Publishers Weekly review for new Cherie Priest

priest-maplecroftMaplecroft: The Borden Dispatches, Book 1 by Cherie Priest

Lizbeth “Lizzie” Andrew Borden wields her axe against Lovecraftian entities in this terrifying and powerful series launch by fan favorite Priest (the Clockwork Century series). Two years after Lizzie infamously slew her mother and stepfather, she and her consumptive, scholarly older sister, Emma, remain in their hometown of Fall River, Mass., in an isolated and modified home called Maplecroft. Lizzie spends countless hours in her basement laboratory, trying to understand what transformed the Bordens into horrifying creatures, while protecting and caring for Emma and conducting a love affair with actress Nance O’Neil. Then Emma, who poses as “Dr. E.A. Jackson” to contribute to the men-only world of science, sends a biological sample to colleague Phillip Zollicoffer at Miskatonic University, with terrible consequences. Readers will be intrigued by the weird monsters and 19th-century science, but the story is really carried by the characters’ emotional dynamics, especially those between the Borden sisters. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Jul 22
2014

Starred Publishers Weekly review for final Jay Lake collection

lake-lastplanetoheavenLast Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake

The prolific Lake’s death in 2014, after a long, harrowing, and very public battle with cancer, gives extra weight to these 32 epitaphs. Lake’s command of language is strong and sincere, and his stories of everyday heartaches, filled with secret fears and self-delusion, whisk readers from inner geographies of mind to limitless gulfs of space. Lake’s characters emotionally embody the doomed heroism of Nordic gods sneering at grim fates, finding bittersweet redemption in dark byways of human ignorance. Reality is shattered when an alien controls a hardened mercenary’s dreams in the darkly romantic “Last Plane to Heaven: A Love Story.” Cynical humor greets oblivion in “The Speed of Time.” In surprisingly intelligent space opera (“Permanent Fatal Errors”) and a visit to the City Imperishable (“Promises”), revelations eschew oversentimentality for moral complexity. “Such Bright and Risen Madness in Our Names” injects pathos into the Cthulhu mythos, questioning identity and raising hackles. Malevolent faeries face metaphysical annihilation in a dying young woman’s cancer cells in “Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors.” And in “The Cancer Catechism,” Lake discovers faith in the inevitability of death. As he states, “In the end, words are all that survive us”; his fans and friends may find some comfort in the hope that his words will live on forever. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Jul 16
2014

Publishers Weekly on Stories of the Raksura, Vol. 1 by Martha Wells

wells-storiesofraksuravol1Stories of the Raksura, Volume 1: The Falling World and the Tale of Indigo and Cloud by Martha Wells

Two novellas and two short stories expand the setting of Wells’s dreamlike fantasy novels. In “The Falling World,” a vanished envoy triggers a diplomatic crisis between two courts, and investigation reveals a long-forgotten tragedy. “The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” sets two queens against each other, with an unhappy consort as the prize. Familiar characters appear in “The Forest Boy,” a prequel to The Cloud Roads that examines a brief encounter between Moon and forest dwellers, and “Adaptation,” in which Chime deals with an unwanted transformation and its disquieting implications. Wells is adept at suggesting a long, complex history for her world with economy, and, while her protagonists may not be human as we understand it, they are definitely people, sympathetic figures constrained but not defeated by their environments. Longtime fans and new readers alike will enjoy Wells’s deft touch with characterization and the fantastic. — Publishers Weekly

Jul 15
2014

RT Book Reviews on Herb of Grace by Adina Senft

Herb of Grace by Adina Senft

Senft is a talented author and her research on various herbs is a welcome surprise to readers. The story incorporates facts about herbs, what each of them can be used for and what will happen if used incorrectly. This sweet romance has a believable storyline with a lot of heart.

Amish widow Sarah Yoder knows her herbs, but she’s hesitant to work with the local Amish. Instead, she wants to concentrate on her two sons, whom she fears will soon leave the nest and leave her all alone. Henry Byler is back in Willow Creek only because he’s inherited the family farm. He left the Amish a long time ago. Should he stay in town and try to make a living with his pottery, or sell the property and go back to the world he’s been living in? Sarah and Henry share a common bond and help each other get over their fears, but will it be enough for them to see the true path God has planned for them? — RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

Next Entries »