Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Silver Mirrors by A.A. Aguirre

Title: Silver Mirrors
Author: A.A. Aguirre
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk
Series: Apparatus Infernum #2

Mass Market Paperback, 325 Pages
Publication: April 29, 2014 by Ace 

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.


Criminal Investigation Division inspectors Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko were lucky to make it out of their last mission alive. Since then, strange troubles have plagued the city of steam and shadows, apparently as a result of magic released during the CID inspectors’ desperate interruption of an ancient ritual. The fabric of the world has been unsettled, and the Council has assigned Mikani and Ritsuko to investigate.

They soon discover that matters are worse than they imagined. Machines have developed minds of their own, cragger pirates are raiding the seas with relentless aggression, and mad elementals are running amok. As the chaos builds to a crescendo, Mikani and Ritsuko must fight a war on two fronts—and this time, they may not be able to turn the deadly tide….

Silver Mirrors, the second book in the Apparatus  Infernum series takes place one month after the events of Bronze Gods. CID inspectors Ritsuko and Mikani are still recovering from the aftermath of the first book when they stopped a Ferisher prince from opening the gates for the dead souls of Ferishers beyond the veil. Ritsuko and Mikani barely have time to recover when they are summoned by the Architect to investigate strange occurrences developing all over Dorstaad; Trains and mirrors are screaming and carriages are acting like they’re possessed. It’s once again up to Ritsuko and Mikani to solve the problem plaguing Hy Breasil.

In Silver Mirrors, Ritsuko and Mikani leave the city of Dorstaad for the Winter Isle taking them on an adventure on the high seas and the dark mysterious land beyond the mountains. There was nonstop action once the inspectors board the pirate ship, captained by none other than Mikani’s ex-girlfriend Saskia and her motley crew. The group is attacked on all fronts from beginning to end; from fire elementals, cragger pirates, rock golem, a witch, and even an almighty dragon residing in the mountains. The second book is definitely jammed pack, but it was a nice change of pace from the first book where it was a straightforward murder mystery. I also really enjoyed the expanded world of Hy Breasil and the new characters. In Bronze Gods readers saw more of the mechanical aspect of the world building, the different devices used, and in Silver Mirrors we saw the magical sides, full of different creatures/elementals. Furthermore, readers get more back-story of the time before the Architect enforced a barrier around Hy Breasil; a time when the elementals and Ferisher courts ruled the world. I also loved the new addition of characters, mostly in the form of Saskia’s crew who were a lively unique bunch. 

Beside all the crazy action going on in book two, we get a side plot involving Ritsuko and Mikani’s complicated-changing relationship. Things have differently taken a turn at the end of the first book, Ritsuko and Mikani’s feeling for one another go beyond  mere partners; they both have deep feelings for one another but aren’t sure if the other reciprocate it. While everyone around them sees that they should be together, they are oblivious to one another. It was quite vexing, I mean seriously?! It’s so obvious!! I appreciate the slow burning tension between the two main leads as it was one of the things I loved in the first book, but it was really like the two were completely blind to the other person’s feelings. And I must add it was refreshing to see Saskia support Ritsuko and Mikani’s relationship…most (not saying there’s none but rarely) exes in fiction/or real life wouldn’t be so supportive or genuinely happy. 

I loved everything about Silver Mirrors, and can’t wait to see what the authors have in store for the characters/series.  This is an amazing series, with incredible world building and characters that make this series stand out among others of its kind. If you’re looking for a character driven and unique fantasy steampunk novel, look no further… Apparatus  Infernum is it! I highly recommend this series to everyone, definitely a series you don’t want to miss! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Title: Sparrow Hill Road
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Ghost Stories #1

Trade Paperback, 308 pages
Publication: May 6, 2014 by DAW 

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.


Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

I love McGuire’s work! I’ve read most her books, such as her October Daye series from the beginning, her latest series featuring a family of cryptologists and her Parasitology duology under her pen name Mira Grant…anything she writes, I will read. When I first heard about McGuire’s Sparrow Hill Road, I was ecstatic since I’m a sucker for ghost stories, and happened to miss the serialized version of the story when it was online years ago.  So when the chance came to review Sparrow Hill Road, I jumped at the opportunity!  

Sparrow Hill Road is a first person narrative, as readers follow along Rose when she was alive and in death. The majority of the book takes place after death, as Rose navigates the ghost roads, hitchhiking her way across America. It takes Rose about 3 years to really understand the rules of the ghost road, content with her job assisting the newly departed to their home/final destination. It isn’t till Rose learns that her murderer, Bobby Cross, a man neither dead nor alive is still preying on people just like herself, running them off the roads to their death that she wants to put an end to his terror.  

Whether McGuire is writing about fairies, monsters, zombies, bio-engineered alien-like worms, or ghosts; she definitely puts her own signature on the topic, creating a unique and wonderful world within the pages of a book. I didn’t know what to expect when I started Sparrow Hill Road, it was different from any ghost story I ever read. It was like mini Rose stories within a story (I get why now it was a serial/episode first), the story jumps back and forth over the span of 60 years since Rose died in the first 2/3 of the book and in the last 1/3 of the book it is set in the present day.  We encounter each and every single person Rose manages to save and the unlucky ones that she assists along the ghost road. I’m an action type of gal, I like seeing an overall conflict or an endgame in the long run and I didn’t really see one in Sparrow Hill Road. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the stories (book is divided into 4 parts: book1, book2…etc) within the story because I did. I thought it was really interesting to see what it means to be a road ghost and all the other types of ghosts Rose meets; many I never heard of before. Each ghost has their own trait and duties that differ from road ghost Rose (given that she died on the “road”); there is also a handy little ghost reference guide at the back of the book to help you familiarize yourself with the types of ghost before you start the book. 

Rose isn’t what I expected either. Rose died when she was 16-years-old but she isn’t like any typical 16-year-old, having been died for 60 years…she definitely has a lot of tricks up her sleeves, and isn’t ashamed to do some questionable things. And while she is 16, she has a voice of someone in their early-mid 20’s; she’s real, straightforward, a ‘takes no crap’ kind of girl. This happens to be exactly my type of heroine. 

Sparrow Hill Road is a great introduction to the new Ghost Stories series, and I am really looking forward to see where McGuire plans to take this series. The story wraps up nicely, but I’m assuming there will be more stories of Rose or a character within in the world since this book is titled ‘Ghost Stories #1’. I highly recommend this book to all McGuire and urban fantasy fans, it surely will not disappoint.