REVIEW: The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco

REVIEW: The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa FalcoThe White Magic Five and Dime (Tarot Mystery #1) by Lisa Falco, Steve Hockensmith
Pub: Midnight Ink (2014), Paperback, 326pg
Filed under: Fiction, Mystery
Source: ALA 2014
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads

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Much to Alanis McLachlan's surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.

With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients. But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards ... and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.

I’ll be honest: I was drawn to this book because of the cover and the tarot theme. It’s a cozy mystery set in a tarot shop! So cute, right? It’s also got a tinge of paranormal to it. But it’s not really fantasy? Kinda magical realism maybe? But not really. But kinda? Who knows.

Anyway, I really liked The White Magic Five and Dime. Not only because of the tarot stuff,1 but also because I liked the characters so much. The protagonist/detective, Alanis, is the child of a con artist who doesn’t believe in hokum. She’s more than willing to play along with people who DO believe in hokum, though, if it means she can solve her mother’s murder. And then…

How to know when you need more bookshelves and/or less books

This post was inspired by a tweet:

More bookshelves: when the stacks of books on your floor break more toes than you’re comfortable with.
Less books: when your bookshelves have collapsed, possibly through the floor into the basement.

More bookshelves: when your collection of books about people who travel the world by unusual means (bicycle, freighter, walking) is getting REALLY GOOD.
Less books: when your collection of books about travel is preventing you from doing the same.

More bookshelves: when guests are coming for the holidays and you want the guest room to be well-stocked with interesting things for them to read.
Less books: when guests are coming for the holidays and you have nowhere to put them because Everything is Books Everywhere.

How do you know when it’s time to purge books?

REVIEW: The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly

REVIEW: The Silent Tower by Barbara HamblyThe Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly
Pub: Open Road Media (1986), eBook, 369pg
Filed under: Fantasy, Fiction
Source: Scribd
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads

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Someone was crossing the forbidden Void between the universes. In San Serano, Joanna felt the terror strike, before dark hands were seizing her to kidnap her and take her. . .elsewhere. In the Empire of Ferryth, Caris watched a wizard murdered by a figure that vanished into a tunnel of darkness. And abominations were crossing through the weakening fabric of the Void. And in the Silent Tower, where every stone was sealed and spelled against all magic, Antryg Windrose, student of the Dark Mage, was supposed to be going mad. Only Antryg and the Dark Mage had understood the Void, the Archmage claimed. Yet the Dark Mage had been executed for his evil twenty-five years before. And Antryg was helpless. Or was he?

Things that the world needs: more fantasy books with computers in them. The only one I can think of right now is High Wizardry, where the protagonist uses an Apple II1 to cast spells. Why isn’t there more? Think of all the amazing things you could do with a computer and magic at your disposal!

How strange that instead of taking advantage of all the great stuff technology lets us do, most fantasy books either ignore it or make technology anti-magic completely (think the Dresden Files, where Harry’s magic causes tech to explode just by proximity). I suppose steampunk is closest to what I want, since most steampunk books have some sort of scifi/paranormal element to them. But it’s not the same as a necromancer using her iPhone camera to steal someone’s soul, for example. Somebody’s got to get on that.

Anyway! The Silent Tower is not actually ABOUT combining tech and magic, not really. (Although Joanna’s programming skills come in handy when she needs to deconstruct a spell.) It’s really about good and evil, madness and love and all sorts of stuff. Family! Betrayal! Being confident and not dating losers just because they pressure you into it! And then…

REVIEW: Prosperity by Alexis Hall

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: Prosperity by Alexis HallProsperity (Prosperity #1) by Alexis Hall
Pub: Riptide Publishing (2014), eARC, 235pg
Filed under: Fantasy, Fiction, GLBTQ, Romance, Sci-fi
Source: NetGalley
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads
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A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!

Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart.

Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.

Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe.

This volume (available in print, and for the first time on mechanical book-reading devices) contains the complete original text of Piccadilly’s memoirs as first serialised in All the Year Round. Some passages may prove unsettling to unmarried gentlemen of a sensitive disposition.

Memory wrote an excellent review of Prosperity back in October, and it was SO excellent that I went on NetGalley and found Prosperity and requested it for review myself! And I’m so glad I did, because I LOVED it.

There is steampunk (or maybe gaslamp)! There is alternate history (kinda)!1 There are air ships and monsters living behind the sky and lesbians and a bisexual protagonist and crime lords and a nonbinary ship captain and a floating city and, really, the only thing missing was a band of sky pirates. (Maybe they’ll be in another book.) And then…

6 objects I have used as emergency bookmarks

1. My finger, which meant sometimes carrying a book around for a half hour before getting back to it.
2. A piece of cloth, usually my pillowcase or a sock.
3. Receipts, the classic non-bookmark bookmark.
4. A piece of candy (still in its wrapper).
5. Pens, pencils, and erasers.
6. Another book.

But I have NEVER
1. Folded down the corner of a page.
2. Ripped the pages I’ve read out of the book.1
3. Used a piece of food, such as a slice of cheese.

What sort of things have you used as bookmarks?

REVIEW: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

REVIEW: Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious by V. E. Schwab
Pub: Tor Books (2013), Hardcover, 364pg
Filed under: Fiction, Sci-fi
Source: ALA 2014
Buy it: Amazon (affiliate info) | Shelve it: Goodreads

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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?

So I knew Vicious was about an anti-hero (or even a villain) who did something with superpowers. I knew it had it amazing cover. I also knew several of my blog friends had read and loved it, so it seemed like a safe bet that I’d like it, too. And I did!

Superhero stories about people who aren’t actually heroic are great because they make you think about things. Like, what makes a hero? Are people heroes just because they think they are, or is it an outside decision? And what happens when a supposedly heroic person is really just a serial killer? And then…