The Myth Manifestation by Lisa Shearin

Lord Rake Danescu has his hands full.  Mythological creatures are attacking.  His hotel is hijacked.  People are dying. His magic is… not as it should be.  He does, however, have Mac and Ian and the whole SPI commando contingency working with him to figure out what in the fresh hell is going on.

Title: The Myth Manifestation
Author: Lisa Shearin
Series: SPI FIles #5
Publish Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Johanna Parker
Source: Purchased by reviewers

Publisher’s DescriptionThe agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) protect people from predatory supernaturals. This time, we’re the ones who need protection.

New York is one of the most popular convention destinations in the world—for humans and supernaturals. Every hundred years, rulers of the world’s supernatural races come together to negotiate and renew a peace treaty. Meeting in the same hotel are the governors of our world’s goblin and elf colonies. SPI is saddled with the security nightmare of keeping the living delegates alive and the undead delegates from becoming permanently deceased. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for SPI. Our security nightmare becomes real when monsters from the delegates’ mythologies begin mysteriously appearing in the flesh to hunt delegates from every side of the debate. And when the hotel gets sucked into another dimension, there’s no escape.

We discover that we’re all pieces in an elaborate and deadly game. A game about to spill out into the real world. Failing to escape is game over and not an option. We have to save the world—but first, we have to save ourselves.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*

Nervous Nellie says…

This book has no sex, no graphic blood and gore, no swearing since Mac edits it out of her ongoing dialog.  This has got a tiny little bit of romance that includes one very rich and charming goblin courting our protagonist.  SPI is made of a team of agents that will do their share of kicking asses and taking names while protecting the mundanes from learning about the supernatural.  There is a tiny cliffhanger, but it’s the overarching relationship stuff – not the story itself.  It’s easy to handle.  Don’t worry.

I love Mac and the gang.  I also love Mac and Rake’s relationship.  He’s under Mac’s skin and Mac has got Rake swooning.  Okay, maybe the other way around.  Anyway, there is a supernatural summit taking place and anywhere there are a bunch of supernaturals trapped together you know there will be trouble.

Goblins and Elves do NOT have a harmonious vibe going on.  All other attendees also have problems intermingling, so security for this event is beyond difficult.  It’s not enough that it’s all races and creeds of creatures attending this summit, it’s their political leaders that take the spotlight and create a ton of drama.  SPI is on high alert but all the special drills they could go through would never cover this problem.

This is a good old “Clue” episode.  Who did it in the ballroom or the bedroom or the beer keg with a big ol’ knife? Yeah, I said beer keg. You caught that, huh?  That’s what’s fun about the supernatural culture differences in this book.  There are so many variations between cultures that anything goes but one wrong step or a simple action or comment could be construed as offensive and then watch out!  With the caliber of individuals attending this convention, we have political fallout first and foremost to worry about. After that, then we could have not only an international incident but an interdimensional incident that could very well incite a war.  Tread carefully and walk on eggshells. But we still gotta figure out who’s killing whom and why.

You want details on the story?  Well, ok… I can give you this.  Rake’s impossibly above high class, ten-star hotel has been hijacked.  Yes, that’s right.  Hijacked.  At first, it looks like a security issue, but then it evolves.  Boy, does it evolve. It involves mythological creatures materializing out of nowhere.  And Rake has no answers.  Can you imagine? He’s got no “clue” as to what’s going on.

I can also give you a small detail on the romance between Mac and Rake.  It’s moving very, very slow. I like that Lisa Shearin is making their relationship a gradual thing.  It builds anticipation.  I love that a nice southern seer girl can capture the attention of a suave, sexy, interdimensional uber rich playboy.  Makenna is all sassy common sense if not skill. She is not Rake’s type, per se.  You’d expect him to be with fussy, glossy, supermodel bombshells in tight dresses with 4-inch heels and coifed hair.  Except… he’s choosing Mac.  She has her own style, no-nonsense woman that knows her limits and tries very hard to be an asset to the SPI crew.  She loves her job and I love her unique personality.

Johanna Parker is the narrator for this book as well as all the other SPI novels.  She gives the story that much more depth and complexity.  Another 5 star hit if you ask me.

Invested Ivana says…

Toward the end of negotiations for a massive treaty among outworld species and Earth, the delegates come together for a summit to celebrate and sign the treaty. Someone isn’t happy, though, and traps the delegates in their hotel with monsters … and a killer. Maybe more than one.

Though the Myth Manifestation has plenty of monsters — one of the signatures of this series — it’s primarily a political drama. Though the focus wasn’t on the monsters, this story was as much fun as any of the others in the series. Readers get to see old friends, such as the Vlad the vampire and the Norweigan SPI agents. And we learn a little more about other species, like dwarves, giants, and a race that makes love with their fingers, making waving and handshakes MUCH more exciting!

Fans of the Raine Benares series will see some familiar names and maybe faces. I did wonder if, had I been reading the Raine Benares series, I would have followed the politics between the elves and goblins a bit better. There is some massive political upheaval on their homeworld that, I’m guessing, is forefront in Raine’s series.

Regardless, I followed the story fine and really enjoyed it. As always, Johanna Parker does a fabulous job narrating. This is one of those series I much prefer to hear than read. She really brings Mac and all the other characters to life. 5 stars.

Our reviews in this series…


Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 2/18/18

Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip.  Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.


Today will be all about Jane Yellowrock.  I don’t know what I will do when the series is done.  I imagine I’ll just read it again…and anything else that comes from Jane’s author.  I love Faith Hunter’s writing.  I love the characters that she develops and the story is like an action adventure movie!

Before you read all the way to the bottom, I want to put this out there:  Ms. Hunter released a short story in the Jane Yellowrock world and you can find it here.

The story is Jane trying to get Wrassler and Jodi together for a date.  Bruiser, Jane, Eli and Syl went along to complete the “triple date”.  You’d think this would be simple.  Yeahhhh…..right.

Now, I’m sure ya’ll want to know why I have the cover of Dark Queen posted. Well, crew, I was lucky enough to get permission from Ms. Hunter to post the first chapter in Dark Queen, #12 in the Jane Yellowrock series.  Remember, this book is released on May 1, 2018.  The European vamps are coming for the big assemblage and you KNOW that if Jane can’t make it through a date (see above story) without something going wrong, you know that this confab will not be simple…nope, not simple at all since the fate of all rest on Jane’s shoulders.

Sit back, relax and be enthralled with the first chapter in Dark Queen, Jane Yellowrock series #12, written and produced by Faith Hunter.

Dark Queen


*I Killed the Only U’tlun’ta in NOLA*

I had been in my bed for all of one hour, and though the scent of Bruiser from the sheets and from his boxing gloves tied to my bedpost usually filled my head with calm, today his personal aromatherapy wasn’t working. I had rolled over half a dozen times trying to find a comfortable spot. Now the covers were twisted around me, my hair was tangled in a knotted mess, trapping me, and I was ready to explode. I resorted to punching my pillows in growing irritation, not that it helped. “I should give up and find something else to punch. Someone else to punch,” I muttered, thinking of Leo Pellissier, the Master of the City of New Orleans.

My attitude was so bad that my Beast retreated into the deeps of my mind to get away, her paws padding in a jog. “Coward,” I snarled at her. Being two-souled wasn’t easy for either of us.

A soft knock sounded at the front door. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap. The first tap in each repetition more forceful than the others, but barely loud enough to hear through the closed bedroom door. Maybe a preacher. Or a steak salesman. Beast stopped and looked back at me. Excitement zinged through her. Man who sells meat? Cow at door?

I chuckled internally. Could be, I thought back at her. Or a proselytizing vacuum cleaner salesman. Did vac salesmen even exist now?

Is vacuum good to eat? Or salesman? Both? she added hopefully.

The knocking came again, a bit louder. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap. It was a rhythm that Aggie One Feather, my Cherokee Elder, might have drummed. My partner and soon-to-be adopted brother Eli hadn’t answered the door, and I could hear shower water upstairs. I grinned and I was pretty sure I was showing teeth. Lots of teeth. I wondered if they were all mine, but I didn’t really care. I was sleep deprived and ornery and if this was some vamp’s minions calling to cause trouble about the arrangements for the upcoming Sangre Duello, that might actually make my day. I could use a good fight. A blood challenge to the death between Leo and the European emperor and all their pals would surely provide that, but until then, I had the knocking visitor.

I threw off the covers and twisted my long black hair back in a knot. In the black yoga pants and black T-shirt, I looked like a ticked-off ninja. I picked up a fourteen-inch-long vamp-killer I kept on the nightstand and tore open the bedroom door. The knob slammed into the wall behind as I reached the foyer. Eli stopped on the stairs behind me, shower-wet, a weapon at his side. My partner in protect mode. I shared my grin at him and his brows lifted, an infinitesimal gesture that meant loads for the former (and forever) Army Ranger. I didn’t bother to try to figure out loads of what. I peeked out the front, through the tiny slice of clear glass in the layers of bullet-resistant and stained glass window.

On the other side of the door stood a man, facing the street. He was tall, lean, maybe six feet three. Straight black hair hung long, down his back to his hips. Golden skin showed at his clean-shaven jaw, which looked tight with frustration. He was wearing black slacks and black blazer jacket. A white dress shirt collar showed from this angle and he was wearing polished leather cap-toe oxford shoes, what my boss, the Master of the City and walking, talking fashion plate, called a Balmoral. Imported shoes.

It griped my goat that I knew all that. Just another useless thing I had learned hanging around vamps. Another way they had changed me and my life. My irritation flamed.

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Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

From the author of the successful Dorthy Must Die series comes a new fairytale retelling of the Snow Queen.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Stealing Snow
Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Stealing Snow, Book 01
Publish Date: September 20, 2016, by Bloomsbury USA
Genre: YA fantasy, Fairytale retelling
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionSeventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high-security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything…including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Agent Annie says…

Ack, what a terrible book. It was so poorly written, even the choice of vocabulary was bad. You can’t have arrows pelt off of a wing. That’s not what arrows do! They pierce, sting, puncture, drill, perforate, etc. Pelting is what you do with a rock, or you can pummel with it or batter even. That simple choice of one inaccurate word is indicative of why I didn’t like this book. It needed a good editor.

The story was actually well conceived. I liked the plot, but the execution made reading this difficult to slog through. Even the ending (SPOILER) in which Snow holds her mother’s hand and freezes her solid was so lame. How was Snow able to do that? She had never done it before. It wasn’t even something she had considered. Also, how was her mother, who had been plotting for most of her own life, not to mention the entirety of her daughter’s life, not be able to defend against the freezing? It’s disappointing that the author chose to end the book with such an implausible scene in order to set the stage for next book. I definitely will NOT be reading any more books in this series. I give this book 2 stars.

Other recommendations…

If you’d like to read a good book with a fairy tale style story, I recommend The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, the Mordant’s Need Duo by Stephen R. Donaldson (The Mirror of Her Dreams, & A Man Ride’s Through) or His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book.

Title: The Weight of Ink
Author: Rachel Kadish
Publish Date: June 6, 2017, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”

Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Agent Annie says…

I give this book 5 stars. It’s deep, thoughtful, weighty, and has so much to say about women’s role in society both today and in years past.

I thoroughly enjoyed the back and forth between the two female main characters separated by centuries. The tension created by the author to find out what happens to both heroines was done so well that even the last few pages left me breathless. The role love & marriage play in most women’s lives is also a core theme in this book.

This is not a book for when you just need some brain candy. Part of the beauty of the book is the long philosophical treatises on the nature of man and God’s role in humanity’s day to day life.

I enjoyed Esther’s rebellious spirit and how she finds ways to prevent herself from being ensnared in the gender role that society creates for her. One of my favorite moments was when she finds herself about to be married off and recognizes in the other woman’s meddling that the only way forward for that other woman was to “insert herself, for sustenance, into the forming of further matches, whether or not they might serve as traps for the souls thus bound.” This is indicative of the writing style throughout the book that I enjoyed so much; part narrative, part poetry, part philosophical rigor.

I also learned much about the early Jewish community in London during the time of the plague. It was fascinating to read how the Jews that first settled in London were treated and how the plague effected the whole city. In addition, it was interesting to be a part of the letters that were being written in that time that laid the ground work for modern metaphysical thinking.

I highly recommend this book for book groups since there is so much to talk about along the themes of freedom, community, and power.

Switchback by Melissa F. Olson

The Chicago pod of the Bureau of Preternatural Investigations faces its next big challenge. But will all the members make it out unscathed?

Title: Switchback
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Series: Nightshades, Book 02
Publish Date: Dec 1, 2017 by Brilliance Audio
Genre: Paranormal thriller, urban fantasy
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe Bureau of Preternatural Investigations returns in the sequel to Melissa F. Olson’s Nightshades.

Three weeks after the events of Nightshades, things are finally beginning to settle for the Chicago branch of the BPI, but the brief respite from the horror of the previous few weeks was never destined to last.

The team gets a call from Switch Creek, WI, where a young man has been arrested on suspicion of being a shade. The suspect is held overnight, pending DNA testing, but seemingly escapes in a terrifying and bloody massacre. But is there more to the jailbreak than a simple quest for freedom?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested Ivana says…

Switchback is the second installment in the Nightshades series. I wasn’t aware the second book had come out and was pleasantly surprised to stumble across it on Audible, and to discover it is narrated by Luke Daniels, who is utterly brilliant! So I listened to Nightshades again before diving into Switchback.

The newly formed Chicago pod of the BPA is having its challenges, to say the least. The Special Agent in Charge is just returning from an extended time away, recovering from a disfiguring knife wound to the face and special hearings in Washington, when another major case hits their desk. The entire staff of a police station in a small Illinois town has been slaughtered, apparently by shades. The pod has to figure out what happened and why in order to stop the killers.

Fair warning to those who care—while the ending is not necessarily a cliffhanger, it made me sit up wide-eyed, cursing and loving Olson at the same time. It sure makes May 2018, the expected publication date of the next novel in the series, seem a LONG way away!

Switchback is another wonderfully entertaining story from Olson, whose previous series I have really enjoyed. Five stars.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Olson’s previous series feel more straight-up urban fantasy than the Nightshade series but are definitely worth checking out if you like UF. They all take place in the same Old World universe. If you’d rather read more paranormal thrillers, check out the Harmony Black series by Craig Schaefer, the Nathaniel Cade series by Christopher Farnsworth, or the Order of the Sanguines series by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell.

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