Book Review: Sword of Michael by Wynne (2.5 Stars)

The Sword of Michael by Marcus Wynne

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Marius Winter doesn’t walk the road of the shaman-warrior alone. He has powerful allies in the Other Realms and in ordinary reality. His spirit guides are a Lakota war-chief and medicine man, First In Front; Tigre, a powerful feminine spirit who appears as a white tiger; and Burt, a spirit raven who channels an old Jewish bookie from the Bronx.

Now Marius is targeted by a powerful sorcerer. In the battle for the souls of his friends and lover, he must storm the gates of the underworld and fight through the Seven Demi-Demons of Hell to the deepest dungeons to confront Belial himself.

My Thoughts:

I found myself skimming and skipping most of this book.  The first two-thirds seemed your standard urban fantasy with a supernatural flare, demons and angels, the old Holy War, tied into or growing out of the Fall of Atlantis.  The dialogue was forced and re-used one-liner clichés poorly.  After about the sixth time I’d read a ‘one-liner’ I just about gave up.  I forged on, but the ‘pay off’ didn’t pay as much as just felt off.

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Book Review: Ysabel by Kay (3.5 Stars)

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read in Nov/Dec 2013

Synopsis (excerpts from author’s website Bright Weavings):

Provence, in the south of France, is a part of the world that has been—and continues to be—called a paradise. But one of the lessons that history teaches is that paradise is coveted and fought over. Successive waves of invaders have claimed—or tried to claim—those vineyards, rivers, olive groves, and hills.

In Guy Gavriel Kay’s novel, Ysabel, this duality—of exquisite beauty and violent history—is explored in a work that marks a departure from Kay’s historical fantasies set in various analogues of the past.

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Book Review: Hounded by Hearne (3.5 Stars)

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read from February 25 to 28, 2013

This type of urban fantasy could easily grow on me. Absolutely no zombies and only one token cameo vampire. I didn’t mind the pack of werewolves.

All the rest of the ‘paranormals’ hailed from Celtic mythology. Oberon the Irish wolfhound got the best lines, often at the expense of our hero, the Iron Druid.

A fun fast read.

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Audiobook Review: The Rook by O’Malley (3 Stars)

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Narrated by Susan Duerden

2.5 to 3 out of 5 stars

Read in July/August 2013

I listened to this book because it was the July 2013 book of the month for the Fantasy Book Club.

Parts of this book were laugh-out-loud funny, but other parts of it just set my teeth on edge. Too many infodumps and a bit too much profanity.

I can easily see this novel as a British television series (along the lines of bad books make good movies? or average books make good television?).

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Book Review: The Eyre Affair by Fforde (3.5 Stars)

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read in May 2009

A wonderful thing happened on the way to The Eyre Affair; I read Jane Eyre.  For that alone I will be eternally grateful.

Otherwise, it was an enjoyable but forgettable mystery set in a chaotic vortex of genres spanning paranormal, science fiction, alternate history, and time travel.  At one point, it even reminded me of Butcher’s Dresden series.

The puns, literary references and alternate history gaffs intrigued me and sparked quick forays of research to confirm or deny my suspicions.

I have the sequel Lost in a Good Book waiting in the wings to see what happens Next.

Book Review: The Mystery of Grace by de Lint (4 Stars)

The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint

4 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2010

I enjoyed this short novel, but found it hard to categorize since it crossed so many subgenres. Ghost, spirits or spiritwalkers, a smidgen of Native American shamanism, a pinch of paganism (Wiccans at the Witches’ Ball no less), Catholic saints, a peculiar Purgatory, existentialism, a dangerous delusional mother and a surprising touch of redemption wrapped in tattoos. Oh, and a brief romance kindled after the protagonist’s death. Trust me, it sounds strange (it is strange), but de Lint delivers.

Book Review: Storm Front by Butcher (3 Stars)

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

3 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2008

Harry Dresden is a wizard P.I. with more trouble than you can shake a wand at and a sarcastic wit to die for – literally.

A fun quick read through a nearly contemporary Chicago where sorcery and demons roil just under the civilized veneer.

I would have given this four stars, or at least three and a half, except for the first person point of view. It’s such a limiting perspective in my opinion, where I must rely on the narrator’s information and thoughts for the entire length of the novel.

And I had the entire ‘mystery’ figured out by the time he first met Monica at his office.

Honor v. Harry (Not the Harry Your Thinking Of)


The Beyond Reality group at GoodReads posted a run-off poll this week to decide our next series group read, pitting space opera legend Honor Harrington, created by David Weber, against urban fantasy gumshoe wizard Harry Dresden (no, he’s not a graduate of Hogwarts and doesn’t have a lightning bolt scar on his forehead), created by local Kansas Citian Jim Butcher.

The Honor Harrington series barely hangs onto a narrow lead by her fingernails over the Dresden Files in this last day of voting.  Both series offer a full year’s worth of reading with a dozen novels published in each (assuming we read one book a month).

So if you’ve been looking for an excuse to read either one of these series, come join the party!  Cast your vote before the stroke of midnight tomorrow.

Beyond Reality Series Selection Poll

SERIES DISCUSSION: This run-off poll decides which series will be the topic of our third Beyond Reality Series Discussion!

Book Review: A Shot in the Dark by Stewart

A Shot in the Dark (Jesse James Dawson, #2)A Shot in the Dark by K.A. Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

A Shot in the Dark continues a few months after A Devil in the Details, with Jesse James Dawson mostly recovered from his last demon death-dance and tornado tango, but still suffering from nightmares of an earlier near-fatal demon fight. His annual Colorado camping trip with his buddies should provide ample opportunity for rejuvenation and recreation… What should have been a relaxing retreat quickly turns into a siege reminiscent of the Alamo . . .

A Shot in the Dark provides a good mystery, a few thrills, a new take on zombies, MacGyver-esque innovations in demon fighting and a peek into the true identity of Jesse’s favorite demon sidekick, Axel (hint: read To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust or Milton’s Paradise Lost). This is a strong sequel to last year’s A Devil in the Details and a great summer vacation read. Just don’t forget the holy water, mirrors and swords.


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Book Review: A Devil in the Details by Stewart

A Devil in the Details (Jesse James Dawson, #1)A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wry urban fantasy is not my normal fantasy subgenre, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart. I can savor the supernatural (angels, demons, witches, clerics) but please pass on the paranormal (vampires, werewolves, zombies) and that’s just what Jesse James Dawson did.

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