As far as I know, The Silvered by Tanya Huff is one of those rare creatures that at times may seem like a myth in itself—a stand alone fantasy book. While I love reading some books that tell a complete story on their own, I am hoping that this one does end up having a sequel or two. I thought The Silvered was delightful, and I would love to return to this setting and characters.

The Silvered combines mages and werewolves in a secondary fantasy world. The Kresentian Empire, led by an emperor enamored of science and technology, abhors the Aydori with their beastmen, whom they consider to be abominations. Their war is largely a backdrop for the story of four courageous characters—Tomas, brother of the Pack Leader; Mirian, a young woman who flunked magic school; Danika, a powerful air mage married to the Pack Leader; and Captain Sean Reiter of the Kresentian Empire, tasked with capturing six mages who prophets claimed would impact the empire.

As her family is fleeing the city before an impending invasion by the Kresentian army, Mirian witnesses the seizure of Danika and four other mages by Reiter and his men. To her mother’s great dismay, Mirian leaves her family behind in order to find Lord Hagen and inform him of the capture of his wife and the other women. However, this doesn’t turn out quite as planned, and Mirian herself along with Tomas may be the only ones who can rescue the Mage-pack from the Empire: a task made more difficult by Reiter’s search for the sixth mage of prophecy, whom he believes to be Mirian.

The Silvered is my third book by Tanya Huff and my favorite (although The Fire’s Stone is really good too!). There’s an objective side of me that realizes there are some problems with this book, mainly that it is the opposite of subtle and starts a little slowly, but I don’t really care that much because I loved it. The characters, their interactions, the subversion of some of the werewolf and fantasy tropes, and the sense of humor in the narrative and dialogue all worked very well for me.

The characters were the highlight of this novel. The main protagonists were all decent individuals, though capable of making mistakes or possessing beliefs that needed to be unlearned. They were all people trying to do the best they could in a bad situation. Despite the capture of several of the women, there were no damsels in distress in The Silvered. Sure, Danika and the other women were upset and frightened when they were captured, but as Reiter noted there was “a distinct lack of weeping and wailing” (pp. 83). These women were clever and resilient, and they did what they could to resist and plan for possible escape opportunities.

While all four main characters were interesting, my favorite was sensible and brave Mirian. When Mirian witnesses the capture of part of the Mage-pack, she doesn’t sit idly by and leave the city safely as planned but goes out and does something about it—first by trying to find the Pack Leader, then by trying to rescue them herself. Along the way, she and Tomas also rescue each other, and she never lets him forget it if he mentions he rescued her. I also found her reaction to the typical werewolf dominance struggle when she and Tomas run into another wolf particularly refreshing and unexpected:


Mirian didn’t have the patience to put up with it.

“Enough!” She used the wind to whip the word between the two of them, then, as they scrambled apart, put herself there bodily. “We’re no threat to you,” she told the stranger, “and you’re not threat to us, so just stop it! Tomas!” [pp. 337]

Mirian is an incredible character with a lot of inner strength and determination, and she has to face some tough choices throughout her journey as she comes to master her unusual magic. In many ways, Mirian is a nearly perfect character and I can see some readers feeling that she is too flawless. I felt that she underwent enough hardship and had a big enough disadvantage that she wasn’t too perfect, but she is closer to perfection than I generally like to see in my characters. She’s written in such a way that I enjoyed reading about her and found her very likable, though.

One other element I appreciated about The Silvered was how realistic it was. There is a war taking place, and people die. Certain expectations set up at the beginning did not come to be because of war. When Mirian is traveling for days, it is acknowledged that she is dirty with messy hair and not particularly attractive to look at (even if she smells amazing!).

This brings me to my biggest issue with The Silvered: a lack of subtlety and repetition. Wolves are attracted to mages primarily by smell, and it’s difficult to forget that Mirian smells amazing because it is mentioned constantly. This can lead to amusing situations, and it seems like something that would come up a lot since it’s portrayed as being very distracting to Tomas. However, this amazing smell, the lines of the prophecy, and how shocked the men of the Empire were to discover the beastmen seemed like people were repeated so many times I felt like these points were hammered into my brain far more than necessary. This did seem to be better in the second half of the book (or maybe I was just so absorbed in the story I didn’t notice as much then), but there were still some similar annoyances. Mirian frequently reflected on how her adventures were not like in the novels, another pet peeve of mine. Also, there is a scene at the end that is set up very obviously and the line uttered before it makes this worse.

While The Silvered suffers from one of my biggest pet peeves with its constant need to remind readers about the obvious, its advantages far outweighed any issues. It contains a cast of characters I truly cared about, and one of the best “strong” female protagonists I’ve read about recently. In addition, I enjoyed reading about the world Tanya Huff created, and I appreciated the dialogue and the occasional humor. While the beginning was a bit slow, it was not long before I was absorbed in this story, and I would be thrilled if I ever heard news of a sequel.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: I was sent the UK edition by its publisher.

Read an Excerpt

Other Reviews of The Silvered:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought three ARCs, including one of my two most anticipated releases of this year.

For reviews, I had a mini-review in the works, but I think one of the book reviews in it may turn out to be longer than that so I may have a review of The Silvered by Tanya Huff next instead of the mini reviews. It is a wonderful book and is one of my favorites read last year.

On to this week’s books!

Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

Artemis Awakening (Artemis Awakening #1) by Jane Lindskold

Artemis Awakening will be released on May 27 (hardcover, ebook). Jane Lindskold is currently working on the sequel, tentatively titled Artemis Invaded.

I have yet to read any books by this author, but her work has been on my wish list for awhile now and I love the sound of this book!


Artemis Awakening is the start of a new series by New York Times bestseller Jane Lindskold. The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…but there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had “bested” the environment.

The Empire was shattered in a horrific war; centuries later humanity has lost much of the advanced technology and Artemis is a fable told to children. Until young archeologist Griffin Dane finds intriguing hints that send him on a quest to find the lost world. Stranded on Artemis after crashing his ship, he encounters the Huntress Adara and her psych-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey with her will lead Dane to discover the planet’s secrets…and perhaps provide a key to give unimagined power back to mankind.

Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) by Elizabeth Bear

Steles of the Sky is scheduled for release on April 8 (hardcover, ebook). This is one of my most anticipated books of this year since I LOVED the first two, Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars. This is an amazing, beautifully written and characterized series, and I’m looking forward to finding out how it ends.


Elizabeth Bear concludes her award-winning epic fantasy Eternal Sky trilogy in Steles of the Sky.

Re Temur, legitimate heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers. But Temur’s enemies are not idle; the leader of the Nameless Assassins, who has shattered the peace of the Steppe, has struck at Temur’s uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. All the world seems to be on fire, and who knows if even the beloved son of the Eternal Sky can save it?

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones (Unnamed Trilogy #1) by Greg van Eekhout

California Bones will be released on June 10 (hardcover, ebook).


When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian. Then, when Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now thirty, Daniel is a petty thief with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los Angeles—the capital of the Kingdom of Southern California—he is trying to go straight. But his crime-boss uncle has a heist for Daniel to undertake: break into the the Hierarch’s storehouse of magical artifacts and retrieve Sebastian’s sword, an object of untold power.

Daniel assembles a trustworthy team of his closest friends from the criminal world. Moth, who can take a bullet and heal in mere minutes. Jo Morales, illusionist. The multitalented Cassandra, Daniel’s ex. And, new to them all, the enigmatic, knowledgeable Emma, with her British accent and her own grudge against the powers-that-be. The stakes are high, and the stage is set for a showdown that might just break the magic that protects a long-corrupt regime.

Extravagant, inventive, and shot through with moments of intensity as bright as the California sun, Daniel’s story is an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality—different from the world we know, and yet also familiar and true.

Iron Night is the second book about Fortitude Scott, following M. L. Brennan’s debut Generation V. A third book, Tainted Blood, is scheduled for release in November 2014—and I, for one, cannot wait since I’ve decided these books need to be added to my list of favorite urban fantasy series along with Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews, Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, and October Daye by Seanan McGuire. I loved both Generation V and Iron Night.

Fort has always tried to embrace his humanity as much as possible, dreading the day his transition to a full-fledged vampire is complete and terrified that he’ll no longer be capable of compassion and empathy once the change comes. At the beginning of Generation V, Fort was mostly human, but his transition began before the end and he’s dealing with that at the beginning of Iron Night. While he still remains somewhat human, he is closer to becoming a vampire like his mother and siblings, and he has had to learn more about the family duties since that began. This makes it harder for him to ignore that side of himself, though he still lives apart from his mother by working in a restaurant and renting an apartment he shares with his new roommate.

Unlike Fort’s previous roommate, Gage is a decent person and he and Fort get along quite well—at least, until the night Fort is awakened by loud noises, checks Gage’s room, and finds his dead body, covered in blood with his hands neatly cut off. While Fort finds it suspicious that someone chose to murder a vampire’s roommate, his brother Chivalry brushes it off as a coincidence and believes that Gage just managed to upset the wrong people. Yet Fort refuses to just ignore the fact that Gage was brutally killed and enlists his friend Suzume’s help—and kitsune sense of smell—in tracking down the culprit, leading to the discovery of a plot that Fort’s vampire family will not want to ignore.

Generation V had the distinction of being one of the best openings to an urban fantasy series I’ve read, and I thought Iron Night was an even stronger book than the first. It has the same strengths as the previous volume—engaging characters and dialogue, a natural and humorous narrative voice, common myths with some unique differences, and an overall entertaining story—but since the first book handled the setup, the second succeeds at building on that foundation to give more depth to the world and characters.

M. L. Brennan skillfully parcels out information about her world, striking the right balance between too much detail and too little. When I read a series, I like to have a few tantalizing mentions to speculate on and a sense that there’s more to be learned about either the world or characters in future installments, but of course, not enough information can also be unsatisfying. At least so far, the amount of details is handled very well: there’s just enough that I feel like I understand the setting and characters, but there’s still enough held back that there are a few tidbits for me to wonder about. For instance, the first book covered the basics of vampire creation, but neither Fort nor readers know all there is to know about this subject. In this book, some of those questions are answered in a satisfying way, but not everything is neatly wrapped up, leaving more to explore in future installments. There’s also more to discover about the other main mythological peoples introduced, the kitsune and the elves, but there’s also new knowledge gained about them in this book.

While the world and mythological elements are well-developed, I think the biggest strength continues to be the characters and the way voice and dialogue bring them to life. As a vampire who would like nothing better than to be an average human, Fort is easy to sympathize with. He cannot escape that side of himself, and in this book, he’s moving closer to acceptance of the inevitable by learning more about how to be a vampire and a dutiful member of his family, yet he also cannot escape his humanity. He truly cares about others, and it’s difficult for him to deal with the fact that it can be dangerous to the humans he cares about to associate with him. Part of the power of his narrative is this realization and the difficulty he has in managing these two sides of himself. However, this book is far from serious and there are plenty of lighter, more humorous moments! My favorite character is Suzume, who is generally fun and light-hearted, though she also occasionally shows a more solemn side and is a great friend to Fort when he’s dealing with the murder of his roommate. I love how Suzume is confident and competent and the contrast between this and Fort’s gradual journey toward coming into his own. Also, I could just read an entire book containing nothing but conversations between Fort and Suzume, who are quite entertaining together.

While Fort and Suzume are my favorite characters, Fort’s vampire family remains interesting. He has a better relationship with his brother Chivalry than his sister Prudence, and Prudence plays a bigger role in this book than in the first. I was pleased that, like Chivalry, she was more complex than I initially thought. She’s still ruthless and calling her not very nice is a severe understatement, but I got the impression she had some fondness for her youngest brother and looked out for him in her own way even if she’s his polar opposite.

If there was one weakness with Iron Night, it was that the beginning spent too much time covering what had gone on in the previous book and what Fort had been doing since then with his new job, training and duties, and his new roommate. (It hadn’t been long at all since I read the first book so what had happened before was pretty fresh in my mind and I just wanted to continue with the story.) However, the narrative voice was strong enough to keep it from lagging too much, and by the end of chapter two, Gage’s body was found and the story picked up.

M. L. Brennan is an impressive new voice in the fantasy genre. Generation V was an excellent debut, and Iron Night manages to surpass it with its unique mix of myths, memorable characters, and amusing dialogue. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, and I hope there are many more books about Fortitude Scott after it.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the author.

Read an Excerpt from Iron Night

Reviews of Other Generation V Book(s):

Other Reviews of Iron Night:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought a lot of books that look interesting so it was a very good week! Most of the books are from mailing lists I’ve ended up on, but one is a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband.

For reviews, I was hoping to get one up last week, but now I’m hoping to finish it for this week. The review I’m working on now is of Iron Night by M. L. Brennan (preview: I LOVED it and think I may have found a fourth favorite urban fantasy series, joining Kate Daniels, Mercy Thompson, and October Daye).

Two of this week’s books have already been discussed and are now coming out soon. Here’s the link to the previous posts about them in case you missed them:

On to the new books!

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

My husband got me this book for Valentine’s Day. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, and I hadn’t heard of this before despite its appearance on several Best of 2013 lists, but he assured me it was one I would like. After reading the description and a little bit of the beginning, I’m inclined to agree that I will probably like it. I may need to read this before the Hugo nomination deadline!

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is available in hardcover and ebook. Some sample pages are available on the author’s website.


A beautifully illustrated book of imaginary fables about Earth’s early–and lost–history.

Before our history began, another–now forgotten–civilization thrived. The people who roamed Early Earth were much like us: curious, emotional, funny, ambitious, and vulnerable. In this series of illustrated and linked tales, Isabel Greenberg chronicles the explorations of a young man as he paddles from his home in the North Pole to the South Pole. There, he meets his true love, but their romance is ill-fated. Early Earth’s unusual and finicky polarity means the lovers can never touch.

As intricate and richly imagined as the work of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton’s in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg’s debut will be a welcome addition to the thriving graphic novel genre.

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Quick by Lauren Owen

This debut novel will be released in June (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The Quick sounds right up my alley, and I’m pretty excited about it now!


An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London

London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

This week is unusual in that I ended up with not just one but two new graphic novels. Like the first, I hadn’t heard of this one, but my husband has heard good things about it. After looking at it a bit, I think it does sound like a book I might like.

Sailor Twain is currently available in hardcover, and the paperback edition will be available on February 25. A sample can be viewed on the publisher’s website.


One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular—and notoriously reclusive—author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.

A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, this new paperback edition of the New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel by author/illustrator Mark Siegel is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense. Don’t miss Sailor Twain.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan

I have wanted to read this ever since first hearing about its US release last year. It was released in the UK on February 14 (paperback, ebook). An excerpt from A Natural History of Dragons is available on the author’s website.

A second book, The Tropic of Serpents, will be released in the US on March 4.


You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart no more so than the study of dragons itself… From Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, Isabella, Lady Trent is known to be the world s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning and natural history defied the stifling conventions of her day. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects and her fragile flesh to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach

Honor’s Knight (Paradox #2) by Rachel Bach

The second Pardox book, following Fortune’s Pawn (which I still need to review), will be released on February 25 (paperback, ebook, audiobook). The third and final book in the series, Heaven’s Queen, is scheduled for release in April of this year.


The rollicking sequel to Fortune’s Pawn — an action packed science fiction novel.

Devi Morris has a lot of problems. And not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either.

After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she’s determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi’s not actually looking for it — trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she’s supposed to hate.

But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there’s worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh

Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh

Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh, who also writes as S. L. Farrell, will be released on March 4 (hardcover, ebook).


An immortal Muse whose very survival depends on the creativity she nurtures within her lovers…
Another immortal who feeds not on artistry but on pain and torment…
A chase through time, with two people bound together in enmity and fury…
Magic and science melded together into one, and an array of the famous and infamous, caught up unawares in an ages-long battle…

Immortal Muse is a tale that takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Paris of the late 1300s with the alchemists Perenelle and Nicolas Flamel, to contemporary New York City. Along the way, there are interludes with Bernini in Rome in 1635; with Vivaldi in Venice of 1737; with Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier and Robespierre in the Paris of the French Revolution; with William Blake and John Polidori in 1814; with Gustav Klimt in fin de siècle Vienna; with Charlotte Salomon in WWII France. And in modern-day New York, a complicated dance of love and violence finally brings a resolution to the centuries-old deadly feud.

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

This young adult science fiction novel will be released on February 25 (hardcover, ebook). The first five chapters can be downloaded from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and an excerpt from Tin Star is on


On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist’s leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula’s desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.

Like a Mighty Army by David Weber

Like a Mighty Army (Safehold #7) by David Weber

Like a Mighty Army will be available on February 18 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first six books in the Safehold series are as follows:

  1. Off Armageddon Reef (Read an Excerpt)
  2. By Schism Rent Asunder
  3. By Heresies Distressed
  4. A Mighty Fortress
  5. How Firm a Foundation
  6. Midst Toil and Tribulation has an excerpt from Like a Might Army.


For centuries, the world of Safehold, last redoubt of the human race, lay under the unchallenged rule of the Church of God Awaiting. The Church permitted nothing new—no new inventions, no new understandings of the world.

What no one knew was that the Church was an elaborate fraud—a high-tech system established by a rebel faction of Safehold’s founders, meant to keep humanity hidden from the powerful alien race that had destroyed old Earth.

Then awoke Merlyn Athrawes, cybernetic avatar of a warrior a thousand years dead, felled in the war in which Earth was lost. Monk, warrior, counselor to princes and kings, Merlyn has one purpose: to restart the history of the too-long-hidden human race.

And now the fight is thoroughly underway. The island empire of Charis has declared its independence from the Church, and with Merlyn’s help has vaulted forward into a new age of steam-powered efficiency. Fending off the wounded Church, Charis has drawn more and more of the countries of Safehold to the cause of independence and self-determination. But at a heavy cost in bloodshed and loss—a cost felt by nobody more keenly that Merlyn Athrawes.

The wounded Church is regrouping. Its armies and resources are vast. The fight for humanity’s future isn’t over, and won’t be over soon…

David Weber’s Like a Mighty Army is the hotly anticipated seventh volume in the New York Times bestselling Safehold series.

Hammer of Angels by G. T. Almasi

Hammer of Angels (Shadowstorm #2) by G. T. Almasi

The second book in the series beginning with Blades of Winter will be released on February 25 (paperback, ebook). It’s possible to look inside Hammer of Angels on the publisher’s website.


In G. T. Almasi’s thrilling alternate reality, the United States, the USSR, and the Republic of China share a fragile balance of power with Greater Germany, which emerged from World War II in control of Europe and half of the Middle East. To avoid nuclear Armageddon, the four superpowers pursue their ambitions with elite spies known as Levels, who are modified with mechanical and chemical enhancements.

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, code-named Scarlet, is a kick-ass superheroine with killer Mods and an attitude to match. She’s considered one of America’s top Levels, even though her last mission nearly precipitated World War III. So now Scarlet and her new partner, Darwin, have been sent to Greater Germany to help sow the seeds of anarchy and prevent Germany’s defection to Russia and China.

But where Scarlet goes, chaos follows—and when her mission takes an unexpected turn, she and Darwin must go ever deeper into enemy territory. As Scarlet grapples with a troubling attraction to her new partner, explosive information comes to light about the German cloning program and one of its prisoners—a legendary American Level who just happens to be Scarlet’s father.

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku

The Future of the Mind will be available on February 25 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).


The New York Times best-selling author of Physics of the Impossible, Physics of the Future and Hyperspace tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: the human brain.

For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.

The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics.  One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net”; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.

Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness.

With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force–an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

Once again, I’m doing some more catching up with some shorter reviews/thoughts on a few books. Unfortunately, none of the books in this particular set are ones I liked very much, though you may want to look at some other reviews of them since I’ve seen positive reviews for them, even mainly positive reviews for some. It was going to be a slightly more positive post, but I ended up taking out the book by a new to me author I really liked since I’d like to include it in a post on books that I think deserve more readers and discussion.


The paper called Eli a hero.

The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?

He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that. [pp. 91]

Vicious is either a stand alone book or potentially the first book in a series since the author would like to write more about the characters. It sounded like a book I should have loved—one involving a struggle between two people with superpowers who both felt like they were doing the right thing despite neither being pure of heart of heroic. While it certainly had some strong points, particularly the character of Victor Vale and the ending, it also didn’t have a particularly memorable storyline. However, I would consider reading a sequel since I did enjoy later parts of the book more once it focused more on the present-day story rather than dwelling on the past and the background of how the major characters gained their different powers.

Vicious is not told linearly but slowly advances the story while filling in events from the past. Victor Vale has escaped from prison and is determined to find and punish Eli Ever. In college, the two were good friends and intelligent young men at the top of their class, though Victor generally ended up overshadowed by Eli. When Eli decided to make his project researching EOs (ExtraOrdinary), people with abilities humans should not have, the two of them discover the secret to gaining these abilities—but this discovery tears the two apart forever, landing Victor in jail and starting Eli on a personal quest to rid the world of all other EOs.

The way the past and present of the story were connected was done in an interesting way, and I liked the juxtaposition of Victor’s feelings about Eli 10 years after the two became EOs. In order to become an EO, one must die and be revived, and the glimpses of Victor from the day Eli underwent this transition show he was very concerned about his friend, but Victor despises Eli once he escapes from prison. It sets up a mystery about what changed between the two, and I was a bit let down by the cause of their rift once it was revealed.

On the subject of becoming EOs, I did find how quickly Eli and Victor started trying to kill themselves in order to get superpowers rather strange. They were supposed to be very intelligent people and neither of them had a death wish. It’s not completely unrealistic because smart people can still do stupid things, especially if they are perhaps a bit competitive and want to prove themselves to be right about something. Yet it bothered me that they were so willing to go through with it with so little evidence to support their theory that dying and coming back to life equaled SUPERPOWERS.

I found Eli’s drive to kill EOs based on a religious need to get rid of the unnatural rather trite and did not find him a particularly interesting character, but Victor was intriguing.  He is the underdog, and he never seems to quite measure up to Eli. Eli gets the girl he wants to be with, Eli is smart, Eli is charming, Eli is handsome, Eli is the one who comes up with the EO theory, Eli is the first one to become an EO AND does so on the first try unlike Victor, and to top it all off, Eli gets the better superpower. That in itself is enough to make me root for Victor a bit, but he also seemed less cold than Eli. He’s not beneath murder to further his goal so he’s certainly not a good guy, but he has some complexity and seems far more self-aware than Eli when it comes to the horrors they are both involved in. Plus there are a few times he seems to care a little, despite himself. I also loved that Victor actually had intelligent plans and seemed rather competent at carrying them out.

Vicious and I have a complicated relationship. The story didn’t excite me, but Victor was the type of character I find compelling to read about and the ending was very well done. I’m not likely to make any related books a huge priority, but if one were written that contained Victor, I might have to read it just for that reason alone.

My Rating: 6/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC/review copy from the publisher.


“So,” she says, looking back up at me. “You are well-equipped for our service.”

“Which is?”

“We kill people.” [pp. 17]

Grave Mercy captured my attention because assassin nuns, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. It certainly isn’t what I would call a terrible book since it could be mildly entertaining, but I found both the characters and the political intrigue somewhat dull. In the end, it wasn’t memorable at all and I forgot about it as soon as I finished it and set it aside—a shame because it had a convent full of women who assassinated people in the service of the god of death! I was convinced this book would be a winner for me.

It doesn’t take long to get to the nunnery of death. Ismae’s father marries her off and once her new husband sees the horrific scars marking Ismae as the daughter of the god of death, he beats her and locks her up. While he’s out, a priest helps her escape and sends her to a convent where Ismae learns she has some unique abilities as a child of death. She is offered the opportunity to join in the service of Mortain: training to kill. She accepts and eventually ends up assigned to court in the guise of the mistress of Gavriel Duval, advisor to the duchess.

Ismae’s narrative was overwrought, and she, like the other characters with one exception, didn’t have much of a personality. She’s primarily defined by her role as Death’s handmaiden, and other than wanting to learn to kill and avoid men, there’s not a lot that stood out about her character. (And of course, she predictably falls in love despite herself.) I didn’t care about any of the major characters and despite generally enjoying stories focused around court, I found the court intrigue in this one pretty dull.

Despite feeling lukewarm toward Grave Mercy, I do find myself a bit curious about the second book, Dark Triumph. It focuses on Sybella, who had potential to be interesting, and Beast, the one character I thought brought some life into the first book. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything compelling enough to save Grave Mercy for me.

My Rating: 5/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.


A long time ago, in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere. [pp. 1]

After reading the prologue, I thought I was going to love Finnikin of the Rock. The background of Finnikin’s dream from the gods and the wonderful kingdom that was torn asunder and divided five days later was well told and made me want to know more. However, that was the best part of the book and I found it a struggle to finish because I was so unbelievably bored by both the story and characters.

The first chapter of the book takes place 10 years after the prologue. Finnikin, who ended up on the side outside Lumatere when a curse divided the kingdom and its people, has always believed Balthazar, his childhood friend and heir to throne, managed to survive when most of the royal family was killed. When he and his companion are summoned by a priestess, they are introduced to Evanjalin, a novice who can lead them to this man. He told her of his childhood friend and wants him to take their people home with her aid.

With the way this book picks up in the middle of the story and fills in background details as it goes, I found it difficult to be invested in what happened. I was told about all that had been lost, but I never really saw enough of it to get the full impact, even though it was terrible to think about what it would be like to be exiled from one’s home under these circumstances. There was a lot of traveling and a lot of talking, and I just didn’t care about any of the characters (and really disliked one of the characters who attempted to rape one of the others).

For the most part, there wasn’t anything especially horrible about Finnikin of the Rock other than being so dull and unmemorable. I could barely finish it and found myself having to go back and reread parts over and over again because my mind kept wandering off.

My Rating: 4/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher.

Much like the book above, I thought this one started well and soon ended up bored to tears by it—except I didn’t finish this one. I gave it a couple of chances, setting it aside at one point and then going back to it after reading another book. Alas, time apart did not make my heart grow fonder and I ended up deciding it was too much of a struggle after reading 257 pages. I hate not finishing books, but it’s long and I ended up so bored I had to keep rereading it. It would have taken me forever to read, and it’s one of those books that was making me put off reading to do other things. When it gets to that point, it’s time to throw in the towel and move on to other books.

I was pretty excited about reading A Study in Silks since it was supposed to be a steampunk story about the niece of Sherlock Holmes and sounded like it would have both mystery and romance. While these were present, it was much too meandering to hold my interest. Evelina seemed like a fairly unoriginal character from the start, an “unladylike,” spunky woman with an interest in mechanics, but I was rather interested to see that she had an interest in both mechanics and magic since those two things are often treated as opposites in fantasy books. I was also intrigued by her discovery of an automaton reeking of dark magic at the end of the first chapter, plus there was soon a murder so it seemed to be off to a quick start. And then… It just didn’t seem to go anywhere or progress the plot.

There was a lot of focus on characters other than Evelina, though she was the central character that pulled most of them together, but they all seemed very stereotypical. There’s a villain, and there are two “bad boys” who are potential love interests, each from one of the two worlds Evelina inhabits through her families: one lowborn rogue and one noble rogue.

The first part of A Study in Silks was just plain uninteresting. The plot moved glacially and the characters were dull, nor was it a particularly well-written book. I just didn’t care enough to want to trudge through about 300 more pages of it.

My Rating: None-did not finish

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher.