A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

The author of the beloved Iron Druid Chronicles delivers a high fantasy series rich in magic, history, and culture.

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

A plague of giantsTitle: A Plague of Giants
Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: Seven Kennings 01
Publish Date: October 17, 2017, Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Provided by publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionFrom the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology–complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts.

MOTHER AND WARRIOR
Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons–all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY
Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.

REBEL AND HERO
Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all–if it doesn’t destroy him first. Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine–and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.


Percy Procrastinator says…

I was very nervous about reading this series. The reason is quite simple—authors that I like for one series rarely catch me with their other series. Butcher’s Codex Alera and Cinder Spires didn’t thrill me as much as the Dresden Files, and Armstrong’s Cainsville series didn’t quite live up to the Women of the Otherworld series for me. While there are a few exceptions to this, this seems to be the general rule in my experience.

Kevin Hearne defied my expectations. This was an excellent start to what I hope is a gripping series, as gripping as his Iron Druid Chronicles.

Hearne manages to weave a tale of six peoples in six kingdoms that pulled me into their story. Each one has its own kenning, or magic, they practice. The titular giants make up the only nonhuman group, but the diversity of the humans astounds. Not so much in speech, as the story is recounted by a bard to a group of refugees, but in culture and appearance, each kingdom comes alive. When the bard mentions the Canopy, I knew he spoke about Forn. The best stone workers hail from Rael, while water kennings are from Brynlon. Only Ghurana Nent, or Nentians, stand alone with no kenning.

The title quickly comes into play as the giants of Hathrir, with their fire kenning, come to invade Ghurana Nent while at the same time, the other side of the continent sees Brynlon and Rael invaded by Bone Giants. Both deal with giants but in very different ways.

We learn about all of this from the bard Fintan as he entertains refugees of Byrnlon with what happened during all the “plagues.” Fintan gathered journals from people close to the events and shares with everyone. He then weaves a tale, switching back and forth from character to character. This allows us to learn about each people and their kenning and also how each invasion progresses.

I was hooked after fifty pages. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Would one giant invasion succeed while another failed? Would Abbi take up the spear to honor his family? Will Tallynd keep pushing herself beyond her limits? I wanted to know!

I did get this book as a physical book, and I appreciated that a lot due to the map in the front cover and the cast of characters in the first pages until I got to know them all. While I could have read it on an ebook, I think having those things available did help.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s where it ended. Not everything was wrapped up, and I expected that, so that was fine. I do think that a few smaller things could have been explained in only four or five more pages, and that would have been more satisfying. That is not going to stop me from giving this a five-star rating! If you are a fan of Hearne, run out and get this now!

[Editor’s note – please don’t run as we would hate for you to fall and get injured.]

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Luna Lovebooks says…

I must admit when I saw the cover, even after reading the synopsis, my mind went straight to Vikings. I am not sure why. But what I got instead was one wild ride and a great start to a series with myths all its own.

The story is told from multiple points of view. All these views contribute to the overall story of how the giants came to the different lands. To be honest there are almost too many points of view. While each is distinct, I still found myself wondering who was who and what magic they could possess.

It took me a while to get intrigued and drawn in. I am not sure if this is because there were so much world building going on or the fact that I struggled to keep everyone straight, even with a little guide at the beginning as to who was who. Each character has his/her own nation, customs, language, and magic or kenning.

badge3v4I think I will have to rate A Plague of Giants at 3.5. The beginning didn’t flow well since there were so many characters but once I got used to the way the story was progressing it smoothed out. I haven’t decided if I want to continue the series yet but I hope my fellow readers will give it a try for themselves.

Other recommendations…

Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, Raymond Feist’s Riftwar Saga, Feist and Wurts’s Empire TrilogyThe Glass Spare series by Lauren DeStefano, Swords & Fire series by Melissa Caruso

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

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Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter

In the third installment of the Soulwood series, Nell Ingram continues to build a life outside of God’s Cloud of Glory church, master her powers with the Earth, and expand her role as a PsyLED agent.

Title: Flame in the Dark
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Soulwood, Book 03
Publish Date: December 5, 2017, Audible Studios
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionSet in the same world as Faith Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, the third, thrilling Soulwood novel stars Nell Ingram, who draws her powers from deep within the earth.

Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED—the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet.

A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead—and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more—or less—than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

Like all the Faith Hunter books I’ve read, I enjoyed Flame in the Dark very much. I like seeing the characters develop and learning more about the magic and creatures in their world. Khristine Hvam does a wonderful job of voicing the characters.

Flame introduces us to a new magical creature thought long extinct, sheds a little more light on the history of creatures like Soul, and furthers Nell’s relationships with the team and with her sister, Mud. I’m really looking forward to Mud becoming a bigger part of the story. She is a pistol!

Before listening to Flame, I listened to the whole series again, including “Off The Grid,” the Jane Yellowrock short story that introduces Nell. This is a series I’ll come back to often. 5 stars.

Nervous Nellie says…

I cannot praise Faith Hunter enough.  First, she got me hooked on Jane Yellowrock, and then, as Jane’s world expanded, Faith brought in Nell Ingram.  This is an action-packed adventure with plenty of story and character advancement.  There is no sex, no swear words, a little graphic violence, and best of all, no cliffhanger.  I thought there would be, but Faith Hunter saved me from wallowing in cliffhanger self-pity.

The story was great.  I don’t mean on the low side of 5 great. I mean as high on the high side of 5 as the meter will go.  There were monsters.  You think there maybe aren’t monsters at first, but you know better since PsyLED is involved.  These are monsters that give me that feeling like the movie Jaws did to the ocean.  If you listen closely, you can figure out where the monsters are coming from, but the “why” that is answered in the end is just plain dark!  It was GREAT!!!

The other part of the book was fun too.  Not just a little bit, but a lot!  I got to ride around with Nell and live her day.  I liked how she got home and had to put logs into the stove to make heat for the house.  I found her life interesting in an everyday kind of way.  I enjoyed how she used her “church speak” to her advantage.  I loved how Nell put her own father in his place when no one else could.  Not even the Mamas. Go Nell!!  I loved how Nell’s love life changed and she had to do a lot of soul searching to figure out what to do. The “will they/won’t they” between Occam and Nell was palpable.  I could nearly feel the tense vibes that Occam was sending.  Why tense? Well, there is a new man on the scene. If you are on team Occam, you’d better dive in and see what it’s about.

You think that’s all? Um, no.  There is still the whole Brother Ephram thing, the vampire tree thing, and the Mindy “Mud” thing.  There is a whole lot happening in this book.  I was riveted, and the conclusion was very satisfying.

Now, I read a blog that claims this is the end of the series.  Oh, boy.  I hope not.  I still want to be a part of Nell’s life.  I want to ride with her on her journey of life.  In some ways, she is wiser than a woman twice her age, and in other ways, she’s as wise as a girl half her age.  It’s a interesting and engrossing kind of story.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Faith Hunter’s other series—Rogue Mage and Jane Yellowrock. Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series. Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.

The Myth Manifestation snippets by Lisa Shearin

Whoa, baby! Author Lisa Shearin of  The Myth Manifestation – sent tantalizing snippets that make me want the whole book even more! It’s releasing this TUESDAY, so we just have to hold on until then!

Earlier I posted about the fabulous Lisa Shearin releasing The Myth Manifestation.  This is episode #5 of the SPI Files series.  If you haven’t read #1-4, hop to it.  This is not a series to be missed.

Ms. Shearin sent us chapter 1 and chapter 2 of The Myth Manifestation to share with you. Today, she’s sent us TWO snippets.  Just enough to drive us crazy and make the wait until Tuesday that much harder! Come on…whatcha waitin’ for? Dive in!

SNIPPIT #1

Some of the delegates were strictly nocturnal, and now was their happy hour. The other delegates fell into two camps: too pooped to party, and wide awake with worry so they might as well try to have fun.

Yes, there had been a murder committed to keep anyone from leaving. The delegates didn’t know about it, and had yet to be targeted. Since the success of the summit depended on maintaining congeniality, Vivienne Sagadraco had determined that the best way to deal with the current situation would be to carry on with the summit’s meetings as scheduled, beginning in the morning. I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, the boss was the epitome of the whole “Keep Calm and Carry On” thing. If her tea time would not be interrupted for monsters and murder, neither would the Centennial Supernatural Summit.

Rumor had it there was one heck of a poker game going on in the room Vlad had taken for his team’s headquarters. As Ian and I headed toward the lobby, one of Vlad’s people passed us, presumably on his way to the game, and nodded a polite greeting. He had a flying monkey tucked under his arm.

Is that the vampire version of taking a keg to a party?” I quietly asked my partner.

“More like just a growler. But yeah.”

SNIPPIT # 2

The thing slammed into the bottom of the elevator, sending the car—and our legs—up a good two feet. Kenji and I had instinctively grabbed the cable, which was all that’d kept us on our feet.

Then the car kept creeping upward, as if pushed from beneath, thumps and hisses coming from all around us.

Holy crap.

I did not want to look, but I had to.

I shined my penlight against the elevator shaft.

Snakes. Plural.

Not just two, but half a dozen snakes, maybe more, trying to squirm their way up from below, pushing against each other, each one the size of my thigh and plenty big enough to crush and eat us. They were eagerly squeezing themselves through the space between the elevator car and the shaft like Play-Doh in an evil Fun Factory.

Kenji and I were in total agreement on what to do next.

We screamed.

Don’t forget.  The Myth Manifestation releases January 16, 2018.

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 by HachetteAudio
Genre: Historical fiction
Narrator: Allison Hiroto
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionPachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

“Life keeps pushing you around, but you never stop playing.”

I picked this book up because it got several good reviews and it covers a time period and geography that I’m not that familiar with.

This is a remarkable tale that covers several decades about Koreans and the plight those who immigrated to Japan faced during and after the wars. The narrator, Allison Hiroto, did a wonderful job with the pacing and the pronunciations of the names of the characters, the various forms of address, and the Korean vocabulary. I’m not sure I would have finished the book if she hadn’t been so good.

I also picked up the book because I was familiar with the game, pachinko. I didn’t realize it was associated with gangsters in Korea and Japan. I just played it in a friend’s basement as a little kid. It was a really fun game and a bit like an upright pinball machine.

I liked the beginning of the book quite a bit. I was introduced to one of the main characters, Sunja, and the Korean peninsula during the colonial era. The day-to-day life of a rural peasant was written in such a way that I had a vivid picture in my head, and I really wanted to continue to know more about Sunja’s life.

However, the book seemed to veer off of that intimate relationship I had with the character when the author chose to have many more first-person narratives. Each of them was a member of Sunja’s family or had some close connection to that family, but I felt less and less close to the characters as more points of view were introduced.

I give this book 4 stars.

Other recommendations…

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay, or The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng.

Raw Power by Ambrose Isben

If you were dying, and you were asked if you wanted a risky experimental surgery to save your life, would you do it?  What if the surgery involved a demon’s heart?

Raw PowerTitleRaw Power
Author: Ambrose Isben
Series: Demon Hearted #1
Publish Date: June 6, 2016 by Audible Studios
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: James Foster
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:  I’m one of those disgruntled millennials you’ve heard about on the evening news. I’ve got a master’s degree in Art History, a mountain of student loan debt and no job to show for it.

Wait, scratch that. I track down stolen pieces of art for wealthy clients and then beat whoever stole them to within an inch of their life. Say what you will, but it puts bread on the table.

Something went wrong with this last job of mine, though. I walked in on something I wasn’t supposed to see and got murdered by witches. Yeah, real, legit witches. Never saw that one coming, did you? Neither did I, and the only reason I’m writing this is because some doctor working for an ancient secret society decided it would be a good idea to use me as a science experiment.

See, he implanted a new heart in me and saved my life, but it wasn’t just any old heart. It was a demon’s heart. Nifty, eh?

Anyhow, I’m back and better than ever, except that, now and then, the demon takes over completely and I do awful things. Lose control. But enough about that. This is a story about how I (mostly) rein in the demon’s impulsive personality and seek revenge against the coven of witches that tried to kill me. Along the way, I learn a thing or two about this secret society I’m apparently now a member of and find out that there’s a lot of shit out there that goes “bump” in the night.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

Wow. This was a great book.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this Nervous_Nellie_100book, but it was non-stop action until the end.  This story did not have any sex. There was plenty of violence but nothing too graphic. There was no cliffhanger.

Lucian is kind of a jerk.  I won’t lie and say he’s super cool because he’s not.  He’s basically a thug that “repossesses” items for the uber rich.  He’s just looking for a fast buck and really doesn’t care much about the whys or wherefores. He just wants the payday.

Then the demon heart happened.

The next thing Lucian knew, he was thrown into an A-Team situation where he had the temperament of a spoiled prom queen and the power of… well… a demon.

Not sure that’s a good idea, but the witch coven that is super evil is sacrificing children to work their magic.  It’s up to Lucian and his Scorpion-like team to stop their end game.

By the end of the book, I got to liking Lucian a little better.  That’s good writing right there.  The author took a character from slug to hero in two hundred pages. I am looking forward to the next book, Roaring Blood, as it is waiting for me in my TBR pile.

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Quickly, I’d like to address the narrator.  Sometimes you get really crappy narrators that can’t fit their character no matter what.  Not this guy.  His spin on Lucian Colt was awesome.  He captured Lucian’s whiny, spoiled attitude and then helped him along his way to self-realization and becoming a better guy.  Super narrator.  I’ll listen to him again, no questions asked!