Wonderful First Collaboration

Lara Croft meets Highlander meets Indiana Jones… sounds like a bad bar meet up. Or the beginning of a bad joke. But in reality its one way to describe the main character of the new novel collaboration from Jasmine Walt and Ines Johnson.

Dragon Bones is the first Nia Rivers Adventure novel (with the next one following in mid-July).

Nia is an adventurer who travels around truthing archeological sites. But there’s a catch. She’s looking for her own origins. Still let’s not give too much away in this review though.

Instead… let’s talk about the non-stop action and wonderful writing. From the moment you open this book, Ms. Walt and Ms. Johnson plunge you into the thick of the story. It doesn’t let up through the first few chapters and only slows down a bit so that the reader (and Nia) can take a bit of a breath before diving right back into the action.

And then there’s the writing. Each character is well-rounded, even the minor characters getting their own chance to shine, while the major ones feel like old friends by the end of the book. Nia is quirky and adventurous, with her own little foibles that make her even more believable. Meanwhile Loren is wonderfully sarcastic and persuasive; persistent in a way that in any other situation could seem manipulative. Nia’s two suitors, Tres and Zane, have their own secrets. And Nia doesn’t know why she remembers one and not the other.

In short, if you like adventure, mystery, and just a touch of magic… pick up this book. And as a bonus… it’s on sale right now!

Just added, for the next few days, Ms. Walt is giving away a few copies of Dragon Bones! Click over to Amazon and see if you can win a copy!

Gripping Read

A very good friend recommended I read When by Victoria Laurie when she had to read it for work. Kate works for Scholastic and she had to read it for a book talk she did. Most of the books she reads for work, I’m like, nope too young for me, but something about this book drew me in.

Maddie Flynn has a unique ability, she sees things. (And now my brain is going “She sees dead people”.) She sees numbers on the foreheads of everyone she meets (and even on their pictures.) These numbers are their death date. The book follows Maddie as she deals with a mystery (disappearing children) and suspicion that falls on her and her best friend “Stubby”.

Victoria Laurie weaves a believable world that is inhabited mostly by teenagers. Maddie is a wonderful storyteller who shows the reader the way through her life. She seems a reliable narrator, although you are stymied by the fact that you don’t know any more than she does.

This is not a happy story, as evidenced by Maddie’s ability, and the mystery. Most of the truly awful parts of the mystery are shown only through Maddie’s eyes, but you also see the effects of her mother’s drinking though Maddie’s eyes and how teenagers react to bullying and even how teachers react to a student who is very different. I found this difficult to read as a teacher myself.

Overall, despite the ending bringing me to tears, I really enjoyed this book. And I highly recommend it!

Short but Poignant (Tested by Magic Review)

Normally when an author offers up a novella, I worry that some of the story will get lost in the rush for keeping it within word count. That didn’t happen with Jasmine Walt’s offering Tested by Magic. The first “short” story in Ms. Walt’s Baine Chronicles, Tested by Magic is a fabulous introduction to the heroine, Sunaya Baine, and does not require reading of any other book in the series (which isn’t to say you shouldn’t read the others.)

Tested by Magic gives us a glimpse into Sunaya’s start as an Enforcer, showing a different side to the girl readers might have met in Burned by Magic and allows us to see what she was like before she begins her journey. It’s a slightly different Sunaya (but not really) who starts her first day as an Enforcer: making friends with Annia (another enforcer) and searching for a lost little girl.

Sunaya struggles with her morals in this book, which underlays a nice little bit to things that will come up later in the series and characters that will be major players are introduced, but for the most part, this is a nice little introduction. For readers who aren’t quite ready to dive into the whole series, this is a nice little toe dip.

Me? I’ve read the first book and have the second book ready to cue up on my Kindle. You? Can rush over to your favorite eBook retailer right now and snag a pre-order of Tested by Magic. I highly recommend this one!

Pledge Review

Pledge by Christiana Gardner (Book One in the Witches of Coventry House) seems at first glance to be a story about a group of sorority sisters starting out on a new adventure. But secrets lurk within the walls of Coventry House; not just with the new pledges, but also among the sisters and the house mother.

The story mostly follows the group of pledges: Eden, Sarah, Hannah, Rebecca, Paige, Talia, Lexi, and Julie. Although you also see a lot of the pledge leader, Alex, and the house mother, Carolyn. Just as you are getting to know the girls, they start failing the “tests”. There is no hazing in Coventry House, but everything is a test. And failing means removal from Coventry House.

Although the idea of the story was interesting, I found myself wanting to get to the meat of the story. There was a lot of buildup and false “mystery” in the story and the only reason to keep reading was to find out what was happening, not why it was happening. Ms. Gardner seems to want to leave her reader craving more. Although this can be a good thing, too much leaves the reader frustrated. And I reached that point.

I got to the point where I was starting to make guesses on what Eden’s “problem” was and predicting Sarah’s reactions to things. I also guessed things like the true meaning of Coventry House long before the characters in the book which left me with an almost unfilled feeling. (I didn’t read the subtitle so that didn’t clue me in.)

Taking the story at face-value, it’s a nice little college romp that happens to have some paranormal elements. While it’s probably not something I’ll continue reading (it’s the first book in a series), I don’t regret trying this one.

Magic Unknown Review

I received an ARC copy of Magic Unknown for a true and unbiased review. I did not receive any monetary or other compensation for my work. Please be mindful of spoilers below.

Magic Unknown by Caethes Faron picks up right where Magic Born leaves off. Ms. Faron drops readers right back into the action, hoping and expecting that they will remember where they were when they finished the last book. The story picks up with Kat Thomas and her shifter guard, Alex, debating what their next move is in the hotel dining room. It quickly jumps into the action and doesn’t let up until the last page, keeping you turning (or swiping if you’re on an e-reader) long after you should be asleep.

New characters are introduced as Ms. Faron takes the reader through a portal into Elustria and almost immediately into a confrontation with the Council, who Kat believes has sent assassins to kill her. She’s given an ultimatum; discover evidence of what her mother was doing or be banished to the Vortex.

Bouncing back and forth between Elustria and Earth, the pace never lets up as Kat, Alex, and Millbrook race to discover what Kat’s mother was working on and find evidence to clear Kat.

My only complaint about the book is how it jumps right back into the story. It’s been a while since I read the first book and I had to really dig into my memory to recall what had been going on. Still this was a gripping read, carrying on from the ideas created in Magic Born and building on the idea of the gaming world. Ms. Faron has created a worthy world, building on the idea of the game, and making a beautiful world out of it.

I highly recommend Magic Unknown, but make sure you read Magic Born first!

Crimson Death

I’ve been reading Laurell K Hamilton’s books since I got the first omnibus from the Science Fiction Book Club. These books were focused on Anita Blake and her hunting of vampires. It also focused on her work with the police and the cases she solved with them. Of lesser focus was her rising of zombies, although it did have a lot to do with why she was needed by the police.

 

The last couple of books have been quite the departure from the first few though. Many of the more recent books have focused on Anita’s relationships and her “men”. I recently picked up Crimson Death, Hamilton’s most recent book, and was hoping it was a return to the prior books when I saw how thick it was.

 

Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed. Instead of a book focused on a case and the evil vampire… it was almost 650 pages of Anita’s relationships and emotional problems and metaphysical issues (again). I say 650 pages because they did spend about 50 pages on the actual case. While at first I was thrilled to see Edward back, I was quickly disappointed because so much of the book was devoted to Anita and her relationships and the actual case was pushed aside. Seriously, it took over 350 pages to even get her to Ireland! Honestly I’m just tired of all the drama.

 

I enjoy erotica in the right place and in the right situation, but I started reading these stories because I liked how badass Anita was. She’s not quite so badass anymore and all the characters I enjoyed have because simply sex-fodder. While I like porn without plot as much as the next person, that wasn’t what I was looking for when I started this series.

 

I won’t be reading another one of her books.

Sirens Review

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I’ve had the privilege of knowing Rhonda Parrish for quite a few years. I first met her through a NaNo site online and although I’ve never met her in person, I’ve corresponded with her over the years about writing. So I jumped at the chance to review a book that she edited (even if she hadn’t written any of the stories).

It took me a while to get through this, not because the stories are bad, but because I wanted to savor them. The idea of Sirens dates back to the BC times, at least to the idea of Homer’s story, The Oddessy, if not before. Songs sung by women luring sailors to their doom… but the authors of this book took it to a new level. Not only did they have sirens of the sea, but land and space also. And even a siren spaceship (that one was fascinating!). The vast differences in the stories are what keep your attention as you page (flip) through the book, moving between each story from the Siren who’s looking for love (“Siren Seeking” by Kelly Sandoval which brings a whole new meaning to online dating) to the cheerleader sirens (“We Are Sirens” by L.S. Johnson and a very creepy look at the mentality of high school) to the spaceship siren (“Nautilus” by V.F. LeSann which almost reminded me of a Star Trek episode).

There’s something for everyone in here and although a couple of times I had to squint to try to figure out where the “siren” theme fit in, by the end of the story, I could figure it out. A few times I got to the end and went “wait, that’s it?!” but there’s a couple of authors I’m going to look up and see if they have any other books (and no I’m not going to tell you who… you’ll need to read Sirens for yourself), but overall, I didn’t feel the need to skip anything, a rarity in an anthology written by multiple authors.

So pre-order Sirens and then stop back next month for the blog tour when I host L.S. Johnson. I’ve already read her post and I promise it will give you something to think about.

Book Reviews! Part Three

Magic Born by Caethes Faron

[I received an electronic ARC of the book in return for a fair and honest review.]

Kat Thomas doesn’t want much out of life. To play her online game, keep her college scholarship, and maybe figure out what she wants to do when she graduates. She’s mourning her parents who recently died and has taken refuge in Wizards and Fae. Her only real friend is one of her online gaming partners.

Then a package is delivered to her door by a mysterious stranger (which honestly this pinged every stranger danger warning I have, but Kat clearly hadn’t gotten that memo as she took the box from him.) Despite his insistence, she didn’t let him in or have more than a brief conversation with him though.

The stranger turns out to be Alex, a panther shifter, and the son of Kat’s birth mother’s protector. He’s been sent by his father (and Kat’s mother) to deliver the amber necklace and Kat’s legacy.

And that’s when Kat finds out the truth. The game she’s been play? Not just a game… it’s a way for mages from Elustria to find latent mages on Earth. The creator, Casper Rothian, is actually from Elustria and knew Kat’s mother.

And when she puts on the necklace that Alex delivered to her, her world opens up in ways she never imagined.

I received this ARC on a Friday and I’m really glad I had the weekend mostly free because I was just going to read a couple of chapters each day. I did just that Friday night and then picked the book up again Saturday morning and finished it. Ms. Faron keeps you on the edge of your seat, turning pages and waiting to see what’s next. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Book Reviews! Part Two

Beyond the Veil by Pippa DaCosta

Charlie Henderson seems like an average girl at first glance. Granted an average girl that can “read” items and makes weapons for a living, but just an average girl.

But Charlie Henderson doesn’t exist. She’s actually Muse, a half-demon who is hiding from her demon master and trying to have a normal life. Until an assassin walks into her life and she is forced to return to the one man (demon) she never wanted to. The Prince of Greed.

Akil Vitalis in the human world (Mammon on the other side of the Veil); the Prince of Greed will stop at nothing to wrench Muse from her normal world. Against him is Stefan, who Muse is not sure if she can trust or not. At first she’s not even sure what he is.

To complicate matters, there is a group of humans who kidnap Muse and attempt to get her to fight with them (while blocking her demon side which doesn’t really endure her to them).

If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, I would recommend picking this one up. It’s currently free on Amazon for Kindle. And the rest of the series is already available so there’s no waiting for the next book!

 

 

 

Book Reviews! Part One

Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher

As a fan of the Knights Templar history, I picked up Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher on a whim when someone on one of my lists recommended it. I was leery at first because I’d attempted his Six-Gun Tarot and hadn’t gotten past the first chapter.

But Brotherhood surprised me. It’s gritty, horror filled, and keeps the reader on the edge of your seat until the last page. Now I’m not typically a horror reader (my love of Dean Koontz and SyFy’s Haven aside), but Brotherhood really reached out and grabbed me. The characters struggle not just with the supernatural, but the harsh realities of life.

The novel mainly focuses on Jimmie Aussapile, the “knight” of the story. In actuality, he’s a trucker trying to keep house and home together as he travels the Road. He’s joined by Heck, a biker, with a past that I’d love to find out more about (it’s hinted towards the end, but the author definitely leaves you wanting more) and Lovina Hewitt, a Louisiana State Police officer.

Of course you can’t have a White Knight without the dark or black knight and Belcher gives the reader one that will keep you up at night (no pun intended) with the Pagan. Beautifully drawn and imagined, the Pagan is one of the best villains imagined in a while.

If you go into this expecting sweeping battles and Knights Templar, you will be half disappointed. Belcher only briefly touches on the history of the Templars, but the battles are generously written and described.

Overall, definitely one I will be on the lookout for a second book of. The author left it open to write a sequel or two.