Book Review: Siren Bridge

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Siren Bridge by Jean Marie Ward

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Lady adventurer Oleander Jones knew the rules:

  • Never embroil yourself in the affairs of kings.
  • Never offend an asshole with an army.
  • And never, ever confront a monster in its lair.

But the ruby Heart of Gruende, the most precious of all the Gruen crown jewels, was so big and so sparkly, and the pay-off for stealing it was so enormous. She couldn’t bear to leave it in the sweaty, grasping paws of the governor of the New Dominion Territories another instant. Smashing a whiskey bottle over his skull was simply a bonus.

Now she’s got a reward on her head bigger than the Logressan national debt. The Territorial Militia, the full detecting might of Falchion Apprehension Services, and every country bumpkin and city lowlife who can read a wanted poster are on her tail. And there’s only one way to get where she needs to go…

Through the killing ground of the biggest, meanest, man-eating, avian monster Roche County has ever seen. Dead across Siren Bridge.

 

MY REVIEW

The cover (both versions – the boobie bird and the fantasy bridge) do a disservice to this amusing, involved Weird West-Heist-Fantasy-Humor delightful novella (story of about 100 pages).

I adored all the problem-solving Oleander, our quick-thinking thief-illusionist main character, comes up with as each step of her “simple” heist of a necklace drags her deeper and deeper into monsters and militia. Bounty hunters and governors; sirens and bartenders. Magic for sale in this weird west and the differences money can buy.

The language is spot on. The motion is constant. The ending when all the pieces come together in an explosion of energy worthy of a supernova dragon, is picture perfect (really, totally movie worthy!).

Loved this.

(Read through Kindle Unlimited)

Book Review: Two Gun Witch

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Two Gun Witch by Bishop O’Connell

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She’s got two guns loaded with magic.
Will they be enough?

Talen is a Stalker, a bounty hunter hired by the Marshal Service to hunt down humans stained by dark magic. She’s also a two-gun witch, one of the few elven women who can wield two magical revolvers, spell irons, at once. For three years she’s lived for the next bounty, and a whisper of vengeance for the destruction of her people.

That changes when she takes the warrant on Margaret Jameson, a new kind of stained, one immune to the usual tools of collection. Upon finding her quarry, Talen realizes Margaret isn’t stained at all, but someone worked very hard to make her appear so.

The search for an answer carries the two unlikely partners from the wilds of the Great Plains to the expansive cities of post-Civil War America. There, they learn the truth is much darker than they imagined, and it could mean the death of millions, or even reshape the world itself.

 

MY REVIEW

Wow, this is a great piece of Weird West.

Amazing worldbuilding (my jam), great characters, incredible vistas (translating this into a visual medium like a movie would actually work), good mix of action and plot, nice magic and nice western.

Full disclosure: Received the book as part of an online Facebook Christmas book party, won the contest on best piece of Western History or something like that. No review required.

****

Final comment (May be considered a spoiler by some)

Goodread only comments since I see this as turning some people off buying the book, and the book really should be bought, especially by those people whom this comment will make them less likely to buy the book.

“Woke” Weird West – this narrative actually acknowledges the systemic racism and misogamy, as well as the War which America still has PTSD from, laying down deep roots to permanently imbedded their poison into our culture. It’s gonna take some mighty and constant tugging to uproot the issues. Generations. Like mint and mimosa.

[Two-Gun Witch is an awesome “weird west” with guns, witches, elves, and the western plains – but it also touched on systemic hatred, the history of bigotry and misogamy, slavery and Jim Crow laws being developed, genocide of indigenous people, dealing with PTSD and other fallout from Civil War, all for the sake of “manifest destiny”.]

Why are books like this important? Sometimes people won’t look in a mirror, but they will visit the funhouse at a carnival – a distorted mirror is still a reflection.

Book Review: A Fistful of Dust

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A Fistful of Dust by A.G. Carpenter

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During my last days on Malachee, I told Diamondback Jack it didn’t matter how many souls I sent to an early grave, I could only die once for my sins.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Tashndelu of the High Sand got her revenge on the man who defiled and murdered her mother and did his damnedest to kill her, but now she has to pay the price. For his death, and all the others she caused in her quest for vengeance.

Now she lives, if you can call it that, in the custody of the Company that rebuilt her, working off the cost of her resurrection as a living test subject for new regenerative tech to the tune of one death for every life she took. When she has died once for every person she has killed, she‘ll finally face whatever judgment or peace lies in the grave.

She took one hundred and fifty other souls as she hunted down the thirteen men responsible for her mother’s murder.
That’s one hundred and sixty-three deaths that she owes the company, and she feels every one of them.

Now she’s come to the one place she never planned to see again, in the company of a man willing to put a bullet or six in her just to see how the tech works. Against all odds and against her will, Tashndelu of the High Sand has returned home.

There will, once again, be blood.

 

MY REVIEW

Breathtaking voice buried in this Weird West. When I first read A.G. Carpenters Touch: A Trilogy, especially Of Lips and Tongue – the Southern Gothic voice sat me on a porch in a creaky rocking chair with a glass of sweet tea in the heat of July evening, waiting for true dark to creep across the land. A Fistful of Dust may be even better than Touch for the pureness of genre voice. This time the (western) voice swept me across the stars to the new desolate, unforgiving frontier where woman and man would murder for water and kill for justice.

Carpenter is a master of voice and story and has crafted a tale for those that love westerns and science fiction in A Fistful of Dust.

(Read through Kindle Unlimited)

Book Review: Buffalo Soldier

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Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus

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Having stumbled onto a plot within his homeland of Jamaica, former espionage agent, Desmond Coke, finds himself caught between warring religious and political factions, all vying for control of a mysterious boy named Lij Tafari.

Wanting the boy to have a chance to live a free life, Desmond assumes responsibility for him and they flee. But a dogged enemy agent remains ever on their heels, desperate to obtain the secrets held within Lij for her employer alone.

Assassins, intrigue, and steammen stand between Desmond and Lij as they search for a place to call home in a North America that could have been.

 

MY REVIEW

Book club read for March by the ConCarolina 2020 Guest of Honor.

An alternate history, steampunk, weird west novella which sticks a lot of material in a very small space, maybe too small. It has an exploration of different storytelling traditions, a commentary of expansionist governments, and the pure fun of guns and the wild west. I think the central plot is figuring out how a found family works.

The ending is abrupt, but as stated throughout the storytelling examples – stories are messy, and clean, and complicated, and simple, and you never know where they end or begin.

The copyediting/proofreading could use another pass to eliminate the couple-few repeated phrases.