Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Review: HELLMAW: Of the Essence, by Gabrielle Harbowy

May 3, 2016

A debut novel from a respected editor, publisher, and author, Gabrielle Harbowy that takes us into the fascinating world of Hellmaw.  The main character, Quills, is a delight, wonderfully cynical, self-sufficient, tattoo artist, exile, and powerful daemen. of the essence

Harbowy slips easily into the world of novelist with her debut, Of The Essence. Quills may not be human, but she has no love for the politics of the other exiles from her homeworld of Arnaut. But taking advantage of the daemons seeking her services as a tattooist for whom daemons can get far more than ink, Quills has put herself on the radar of the powerful Araunt war exiles. It turns out, keeping to yourself is much more complicated than it seems. The fact that you have no use for the schemes of others, doesn’t mean they have no use for you.

The novel is set in a new shared world, Hellmaw, from The Ed Greenwood Group, (Ed Greenwood of Dungeons and Dragons fame, creator of The Forgotten Realms.) The main character, Quills, brings us a beautiful commentary on human behavior…from a daemon. As a character, Quills is sharp, smart, cynical, and self-sufficient. The beauty of this character isn’t that she’s a “strong female lead,” in the stereotypical way, but she’s independent in a sensible way. Rather than simply throwing off the limitations of her sex when she first arrives on Earth in Medieval Europe by shapeshifting into a man, Quills makes her own place, one that isn’t historically implausible or simply silly in the context of the history of the region. Harbowy doesn’t throw away tradition and convention to make a point, she makes her point by fitting her female lead into a strongly patriarchal society without compromising either the character or plausibility.

In the present day, Quills has made for herself a life in an exile she doesn’t regret. Living among the humans of London Soho, Quills is a tattooist, inking mundane art onto humans, and not-at-all mundane work on her fellow daemon exiles. For payment, each daemon gives Quills a sample of their essence, which carries the power of their individual magic. Quills is able to ink these magical essences into both her own skin, and for other daemons who come to her specifically to purchase powers they would not have otherwise. Considering the vast array of both secrets and magic Quills has been accumulating as insurance for centuries, she would seem to be in a safe position, especially for one determined to stay safely out of everyone else’s scheming. She soon finds that the power-hungry among the exiles have plans for her.

When she’s set up to take the fall for the murder of one of the exiled warlords, Quills finds herself in a desperate race across her adopted country of England, tracking down and solving the clues that will lead her to the real killer, before the warlord’s allies come for their revenge. Gabrielle Harbowy

Though Quills has never been averse to enthralling and using humans to her ends, she finds herself relying on a human whose strength of character and determination are the perfect foil for Quills’ strengths, and weaknesses. The evolution of their relationship is a lovely and natural progression that becomes something close to magical for Quills when she needs it most. Alongside this are set the varied relationships Quills has developed with her fellow exiles, the sort of many layered, complex constructions that can only develop over centuries.

Harbowy writes with the precision of an editor, and the sensibility and passion of a writer. Quills brings us into a fascinating new world as a character you’ll want to follow through until the end. I hope very much that Quills will appear again in this shared world setting. Of The Essence is the seventh book in the Hellmaw universe, a great place to start or as the next one to pick up. A highly recommended work from a talented and promising author.

First Review for Impact Velocity!

April 10, 2014


It’s HERE! Not just the book I’m SURE you’ve all been waiting impatiently for. (Don’t burst my bubble. If you haven’t, just don’t tell me, mkay?) I also have the privilege of sharing with you the first official review of the final book in the trilogy and it’s AWESOME! If you love Impact Velocity half as much as I love this review, then I will have done my job.

IV CoverYou can find the review for yourself on the #sffwrtcht blog, in The YA Report.  Here’s some of what she had to say:

One of the impressive aspects of The Physics of Falling is the way that Petersen takes us through most of Jake’s life, spanning decades between his teenage self, marriage, and parenthood. Because of this, each book has a different feel reflecting Jake’s increasing maturity and shifting perspective, from slum rat to scientist to emperor’s husband. Yet through it all, Jacob Dawes retains his identity as a scientist and reveals himself a man who cares deeply about his loved ones, enough to painstakingly teach himself how to live better for and with them…

The Physics of Falling is an amazing trilogy that no science fiction fan should miss. Leah Petersen delivers on romance, character development, plot and political scheming, and love of science – in no particular order. Each novel is as strong as the first and each offers a different flavor while presenting united themes and plotlines. Leah Petersen has earned my trust as a novelist and I would gladly pick up whatever she comes up with next, even if it be outside my comfort zone, as was a homosexual romance when I started reading Fighting Gravity. Come for the m/m romance or the strong science fiction, and leave with the full plate of a well executed series.

Interested? Well, go get yours!

Impact Velocity – Conclusion to the Physics of Falling Trilogy!

Jake has finally found peace and a family with the man he loves. But when the unimaginable happens, Jake finds himself on the run with his greatest enemy and the man who betrayed them both.

If he can’t find a way to bring down the man who now wields the power of an emperor, he’ll lose not just his own life, but his daughter’s as well.




Review, Hapax by K.T. Bryski

November 12, 2012

HapaxHapax by K.T. Bryski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There was so much to love about this fantasy by debut author K.T. Bryski. The unique setting, the beautiful writing, and the thrill of knowing this is a young writer with so much potential.

I don’t do the “this is what the back of the book cover” says stuff in my reviews. If you want to know what it’s about, you know where to find it. I like to tell you the things I loved and the things I didn’t and maybe even the things I absolutely hated about a book.

And it was easy to find things to love. So often, a fantasy in which the world’s religion plays a large part goes wrong for the reader. Either it’s so far from the typical experience it takes a long time to explain and even longer for the reader to figure out, or it feels like one of Earth’s major religions with the serial numbers filed off.

The fascinating thing Bryski managed was to essentially do the later, while making it feel fresh and new. You could see it all so clearly because it was very much like what even non-religious people have experienced or at least seen on TV. But the core doctrine was so different, so fascinatingly NOT like anything you’ve ever heard in church before, that it ended up being the perfect balance of ‘I get this’ and ‘wow!’

The writing itself was beautifully executed. I had the privilege of meeting Ms. Bryski the weekend of the book launch, so I know that this is a relatively young writer in age not just experience, that she was even younger when she wrote it. And that’s really exciting when you see such well written prose, when she creates full, rich characters, evokes deep and authentic emotions, knowing that this is her freshman effort and that she’s likely to blow you away down the road.

I imagine if I dug down hard enough, I could find things to criticize, but frankly, I don’t want to. Why ruin the experience when, whatever weaknesses might have been there were completely overshadowed by the good stuff? I don’t usually trust gushing reviews that don’t at least note where the author could improve, or where another reader might be disappointed, but I can’t be bothered with this one to look for the bad among the good.

I’m thrilled I found this author now, with her debut, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

View all my reviews

It’s Friday and I’m Not Even Here

May 25, 2012

Doesn’t everyone do a ‘thank God the week’s over here’s my I’m Getting Ready For the Weekend, Baby!‘ post?

So going into the Memorial Day weekend I bet most of you are looking forward to an extra day off. I am too. Only I’ve taken it by force today since I live and work in a vacation area and we don’t get the holidays off because you do.As we speak I’m headed up to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to get some much needed quiet time and, oh, write my ass off.

But since you’re probably working today and sneaking Twitter and blog time between tasks, here’s my Friday round up of things that happened recently.

Steve Umstead, @SteveUmstead posted a review of Fighting Gravity on Monday.

Jules, @bookwormjules reviewed Fighting Gravity on Jules Book Reviews.

I was interviewed by Michelle Ristuccia, @mrsmica on the #sffwrtcht blog.

Jeff Pfaller posted a review of Fighting Gravity on his blog.

Some things unrelated to me (because, frankly, I’m not that interesting):

My fantastic editor, Gabrielle Harbowy, announced that she’s got a new column over at Lambda Literary:

I will be answering all sorts of questions about the publishing industry, not limited to: being out in publishing, queries, books, awards, publishers, agents, editors, and how many spaces go after a period. I’m even looking forward to questions that stump me — if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find you someone who does.

The address for questions is publishing @, and the post with more information is here, on Lambda’s website. Please spread the word!

That’s all I can think of right now, which is a pretty good sign that I’ve forgotten something. But check these people out! And have a great weekend!

Blog Tour Prize WINNERS!

May 15, 2012

Sorry it took me so long to get to this part. Let me assure you, it had nothing to do with a lack of appreciation for those who stopped by and said hi or participated in the conversation on the blog tour. You guys rock my world.

I promised the following prizes for two lucky commenters:

A hat knit by me. (Color will vary.)

Also knit by me, a sort of random (let’s call it a coaster) knit piece where I tried to knit the symbol of the IIC, the school Jacob is taken to early in the book. Opinions vary as to whether it looks like what I intended it to. (OK, by that I mean that no one but me thinks it looks like what I intended it to.) So if you were wondering, it’s a galaxy cupped in a hand. This piece is less useful than ridiculous. But, hey, the winners will be two of exactly three people who have one. So, if I ever become famous, there you go, it’s something weird, but special.

So, who did pick as the winners?

Catherine Lee: Comments all over the place but the one that got the win was on Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews.)

Debby: Comment on Beyond Romance.)

Congrats, ladies! I’ll be in touch about sending out your prizes. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by, to the fabulous hosts, to those who reviewed the book, those who bought it, to Goddess Fish Promotions  and in general to anyone and everyone. 😉