Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Turn by Kim Harrison

As a huge fan of the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, I was very excited to be allowed to preview The Turn, the novel that details the events that lead to supernaturals being outed in Rachel Morgan’s world.

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

the-turnTitleThe Turn
AuthorKim Harrison
SeriesThe Hollows, 0.1
Publish Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description#1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before!

Can science save us when all else fails?

Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague-torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved.

Kal surreptitiously works against her as Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

The Turn stirred up quite the mix of emotions for me. On the one hand, it was fantastic to revisit the world of the Hollows and get a glimpse of its history. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a stronger urge to slap two protagonists upside the head as much as I did with Kal and Trisk.

I have a couple of nitpicks. These really are nitpicks—tiny things that bother me but do not really impact my love of the book.  First, I had to work hard to remember that the Kalamack in this book is NOT Trent. That was just a mental mindset I had to change. 🙂

Second, the cover, while beautiful, feels like a Young Adult cover. Like with many YA books, the focus is on the fancy dress.  It’s hard to tell that Trisk is holding a black tomato, and the black stain on the dress is obscured by the title treatment. When I first saw the cover, I was concerned—I’m not a big fan of YA. However, this book could be considered New Adult, which often has similar covers as YA. The book doesn’t seem to be billed as either YA or NA, but Amazon does have it listed as Fantasy Romance. I would have to disagree with that—this is not a traditional romance. This reads, to me, like a New Adult Urban Fantasy, and for that, I guess the cover is fairly appropriate.

Being written for a New Adult audience would certainly explain why I felt the protagonists needed a good slap so often. In my admittedly limited experience, the New Adult genre is about newly independent adults working through new situations, screwing it up, fixing it, and learning from their mistakes. That is very much what happens in The Turn, only the mistakes these two new adults make have devastating consequences for an entire country.

Both Trisk and Kal are somewhat self-involved, as new adults tend to be—Kal more so than Trisk, as is generally appropriate for male and female development at that age, from what psychology tells us (disregarding that they are elves, of course). Actually, Kal is just an ass all the way through the book.  By the end, I still didn’t like him one bit. Trisk was more sympathetic—while many of her decisions weren’t very smart, she mostly got screwed over by Kal.

The book takes place in the 1960’s. As a lover of historical fiction and consistent world-building, I found the ending of the book appropriate for the time period and accurate based on what we have learned in the Hollows series. But as a liberal female, it was emotionally frustrating. I actually harrumphed as I ended the book. This is not a book about female empowerment. That is Rachel’s story.

Even with that, however, I truly enjoyed The Turn. Because I love world-building so much, I love books that delve into the history, or future, of a known world, examining how what we know about the world ties into other eras or characters. Harrison laid some great groundwork for the rest of the series, particularly when it comes to how Trent treats Jinks and other fairies. It was very interesting to see the political games at work among the supernaturals, games that seem too familiar and real from our own history.

badge4v5In the end, I think this would be an emotionally frustrating book to read stand-alone, but a great addition to the Hollows series. We get to visit with familiar characters, see how they connect to the past, and get to watch the groundwork being laid for the future we know. I’m very much looking forward to listening to this book in audio, just to cement more of the details in my mind. 4.5

Our reviews in this series…

Series Spotlight: The Hollows by Kim Harrison

Other recommendations…

I haven’t read many New Adult books, but if you like them, check out the Custard Protocol by Gail Carriger. Of course, I recommend the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, and though I haven’t read them yet, I’m really looking forward to the Peri Reed Chronicles. Harrison also has a Young Adult series, the Madison Avery series, about a young Grim Reaper.

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

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The Woman in the White Mask by Rob Blackwell

Incredible addition to the Soren Chase episodes.  The overall mystery becomes clearer but the plotting and scheming to get it there? Un-freakin’-real!!!

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

33800839Title: The Woman in the White Mask
Author: Rob Blackwell
Series: Soren Chase #3
Publish Date: January 30, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Author

Publisher’s Description: Eight years ago, Soren Chase was attacked by a vicious supernatural creature that murdered his friends and stole his memory. Now a mysterious woman in a white mask is forcing him to relive that night—as both the victim and the killer.

Her arrival couldn’t come at a worse time. Someone is raising demons and setting them loose, and only Soren can stop them. But as the supernatural assaults grow more frequent, his visions of the past start to take an alarming toll. It’s a grim race to see which might kill him first.

The Woman in the White Mask is the third novel in the highly-rated Soren Chase series, which mixes urban fantasy, action and suspense. Find out why readers have hailed it as “one of the best paranormal series I’ve ever read” with a unique hero who is “a kindred of Harry Dresden.”

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


Nervous Nellie says…Nervous_Nellie_100

Soren was on the floor reaching out to John, tears on his face.  John raised a bloody hand back toward him.

Soren Chase is one of my all time favorite supernatural detectives.  In a life fairly reminiscent of any other detective, he gets pounded over and over by supernatural beings bent on hurting or killing anyone that gets in their way.  There is a lot of death, but none horribly graphic.  There is no graphic sex and no blatant, in your face romance. This story doesn’t qualify, in my mind, as horror-it’s more along the lines of thriller/suspense.

I stumbled upon this incredible series and I’ve read every book I could get my hands on.  This is one of the most suspenseful and intense supernatural detective novels I’ve read.  Please, don’t start with book #3 in the series, it’ll just ruin it for you.  Now, I’m all about spoilers, but suffice it to say, I didn’t want any with this story.

badge5v5Soren has been wallowing in guilt ever since his best friend and two other friends were killed at a cabin during a weekend getaway.  That is the very tip of the iceberg.  What had really happened is so totally off the charts, I didn’t see it coming.  The twists and turns of  the investigations, the ensuing answers and the amount of distrust Soren had to sustain was heart breaking.  This character grabbed hold of my imagination and made me hungry for more. While I am over the moon with the ending and several of the reveals in this book, I’m not going to tell.  It’s really THAT good!  You’ll just have to trust me.  It’s totally worth it.

Remember, start with book #1 or at the very least the novella, Closed at Dark.  While it only scratches the surface, it’ll give you a taste of the ride to come.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  The Inquisitor series, Eric Carter series or Harbinger P.I. series.

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

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Nell’s Next Month New Release List

New releases.  We all love, love, love them.  The next in a series. The start of a new series by a favorite author.  A new world to escape into.  A new author whose writing will make you fall in love.  I love new releases and I want to share my excitement for what books are being released in February.

#1Melissa Olson is a fabulous writer.  She writes two favorite series of mine: Boundary Magic and Scarlett Bernard.  She’s coming out with a new series, Disrupted MagicScarlett Bernard is in this series but also features a character that does “walk-ons” in Boundary Magic series.  I especially love how the worlds and characters run together – it makes me feel like it’s my own little community.  It will be released February 7, 2017.

midnight-curseTitle:  Midnight Curse
Author: Melissa Olson
Series: Disrupted Magic #1
Description:  Scarlett Bernard is used to cleaning up messes. As a human who cancels out any magic around her, Scarlett’s job is to keep the supernatural world hidden—at any cost.

On the eve of the Vampire Trials, a two-day tribunal that allows the otherworldly community to air their grievances, Scarlett receives a blood-soaked message from Molly, her estranged former roommate. Molly, a vampire, had been living with twelve human college students…and in one terrible night, she slaughtered them all.

Scarlett believes Molly’s been set up, but no one else in the Old World agrees with her. And the true perpetrator is determined to make sure Molly goes on trial for the massacre—the penalty for which is death.

With less than two days to prove her friend’s innocence, Scarlett calls on former LAPD detective Jesse Cruz to help her dig into Molly’s past. But no one—Molly included—wants Scarlett and Jesse to bring the terrible truth to light.

#2  Hungry Ghosts is the continuation of the Eric Carter series by Stephen Blackmoore.  Fans have been waiting for a couple of years for this next release, but we are all happy about the dedication the author shows to his work.  Hungry Ghosts was ready but the author felt it could be better, so he trashed it and started over.  I appreciate the honesty and the gamble Stephen Blackmoore showed when he could have just released a book.  Now he’s about to release A BOOK!

Title:  Hungry Ghostshungry-ghosts
Author: Stephen Blackmoore
Series: Eric Carter #3
Description:  Necromancer Eric Carter’s problems keep getting bigger.

Bad enough he’s the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli has come back and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade Carter is slowly turning to stone.

To make matters worse both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other, but only one of them can be telling him the truth. And whichever god is left standing Carter’s likely to suffer the consequences.

Carter’s solution? Kill them both.

If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact he’ll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst the place has to offer him: his own sins.

#3  The Wrong Dead Guy by Richard Kadrey.  Now, this author doesn’t need me to promote his books, but if you like his humor, you’ll appreciate the heads up that this book will be released on February 28, 2017.

wrong dead guyTitle:  The Wrong Dead Guy
Author: Richard Kadrey
Series: Another Coop Heist #2
Description:  In this fast-paced sequel to The Everything Box—the second entry in New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey’s comedic supernatural series—chaos ensues when Coop and the team at DOPS steal a not-quite-dead and very lovesick ancient Egyptian mummy wielding some terrifying magic.

Coop, a master thief sort of gone legit, saved the world from an ancient doomsday device—heroism that earned him a gig working for the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome top secret government agency that polices the odd and strange. Now Woolrich, Coop’s boss at the DOPS, has Coop breaking into a traveling antiquities show to steal a sarcophagus containing the mummy of a powerful Egyptian wizard named Harkhuf. With the help of his pals Morty, Giselle, and a professor that’s half-cat, half-robotic octopus, Coop pulls off the heist without a hitch.

It’s not Coop’s fault that when DOPS opened the sarcophagus they didn’t find the mummy they were expecting. Well, it was the right mummy, but it wasn’t exactly dead—and now it’s escaped, using a type of magic the organization hasn’t encountered before. Being a boss, Woolrich blames his underling for the screw-up and wants Coop to find the missing Harkhuf and make it right, pronto.

Digging into Harkhuf’s history, Coop thinks the mummy is hunting for an ancient magical manuscript that will help him bring his old lover back to life.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t a warrior sorceress hell-bent on conquering the world with her undead armies.

Coop would very much like to run from the oncoming chaos. It’s one thing to steal a mummy, but another to have to deal with head-hunting bureaucrats, down-on-their-luck fortune tellers, undead mailroom clerks, and a rather unimpressed elephant. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to run. If he wants the madness to stop, he’s going to have to suck it up and play hero one more time. But if Coop manages to save the world AGAIN, he’s definitely going to want a lot of answers. And a raise.

#4. Again, this next author doesn’t need me to plug her book, but she is one of my favorites, so it behooves me to let you know. This book will be released February 7, 2017.

Echoes in DeathTitle:  Echoes in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #44
Description:  As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock, the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”…

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

#5  Amy Braun has been working like a demon to keep us all wanting more of the Dark Sky series.  The unfortunate thing is that this is the last book in this series. Obsidian Sky releases February 7, 2017.  That’s going to be one hell of a busy reading day for me!!

obsidian skyTitle:  Obsidian Sky
Author: Amy Braun
Series: Dark Sky
DescriptionThe final struggle against the Hellions has arrived. A trapped engineer and a desperate marauder scramble to fight an enemy with unspeakable power on its side. Time is running out, and one world will be destroyed…

After sacrificing herself to save the lives of her friends and family, Claire Abernathy struggles to outwit her Hellion captors. They torment and terrify her into working on a weapon with the sole purpose of obliterating the world, friends, and love she has struggled to save. If Claire has any chance of saving those she loves, she must delve deeper into the Hellion world, and witness nightmares she could never imagine.

In Westraven, Sawyer Kendric is desperate to find the woman he loves. To do so, he must finally embrace his family’s atrocious past and heal the wounds it has caused. He will be forced to make new allies, uncover secrets that change all he knows, and find the courage to lead a ragtag crew into the darkest, deadliest battle of their lives.

Claire and Sawyer fight to save their broken world in the final installment of the epic DARK SKY trilogy.

#6 on the list is Kim Harrison‘s The Turn from the Hollows series—-the prequel to the Hollows and the story of how the supernats came out of the closet and everyone stopped eating tomatoes.  It will release on February 7, 2017.

Title:  The Turnthe-turn
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: Hollows
Description:  Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before!

Can science save us when all else fails?

Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague-torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved.

Kal surreptitiously works against her as Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found.

#7  The Burning World by Isaac Marion, the long-awaited sequel to the apocalyptic zombie novel, Warm Bodies, releases February 7, 2017.

burning worldTitle:  The Burning World
Author: Isaac Marion
Series: Warm Bodies #2
Description:  Being alive is hard. Being human is harder. But since his recent recovery from death, R is making progress. He’s learning how to read, how to speak, maybe even how to love, and the city’s undead population is showing signs of life. R can almost imagine a future with Julie, this girl who restarted his heart—building a new world from the ashes of the old one.

And then helicopters appear on the horizon. Someone is coming to restore order. To silence all this noise. To return things to the way they were, the good old days of stability and control and the strong eating the weak. The plague is ancient and ambitious, and the Dead were never its only weapon.

How do you fight an enemy that’s in everyone? Can the world ever really change? With their home overrun by madmen, R, Julie, and their ragged group of refugees plunge into the otherworldly wastelands of America in search of answers. But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find. A past life, an old shadow, crawling up from the basement.

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Rivers of London, Vol. 2: Night Witch by Ben Aaronovitch

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels. Night Witch is the second original story in graphic novel format in the Rivers of London/PC Peter Grant series. It takes place before both the upcoming third graphic novel, Black Mould, and before the sixth full novel, The Hanging Tree.

night-witchTitleNight Witch
AuthorBen Aaronovitch
SeriesRivers of London, Vol 2/Book 5.1
Publish Date: December 13, 2016, Titan
Genre: Urban Fantasy graphic novel
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Press-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt his missing daughter, PC Peter Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis: The Faceless Man. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems! An all-new story that takes place before the new Rivers of London novel – The Hanging Tree!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

The second graphic novel sends Peter and Nightingale on the hunt for a child kidnapper, but they also end up tangling with Leslie May and the Faceless Man.

I liked this story, but I will caution that it’s not as good an introduction to the series a Body Work. There is a lot going on in Night Witch that isn’t fully explained, so you’ll want to read this in order with the novels. It took me rereading a few sections to get the story straight at times.

I really appreciate the way the art ensures that Toby, the terrier from book one, is part of the story. He doesn’t have a role to play in this story as he did in Midnight Riot, but he’s always included in the story. There is also a hilarious bit with Beverly Brook in this novel that is priceless.

badge4v5Once again, the trade contains several one-page shorts at the end of the book. They are just as cute and clever a those in Body Work and are probably my favorite part of these trades.

If you are a fan of the series, I certainly recommend picking up this graphic novel.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka, the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey, or the Asylum Tales series by Jocelynn Drake.

Double Review: A Monster Calls and A Swift Pure Cry

Today we have a double-review. A Monster Calls, popular recently because of the movie, was written by Patrick Ness based on notes written by author Siobhan Dowd, who also penned A Swift Pure Cry.

monster-callsTitleA Monster Calls
AuthorPatrick Ness
Series: stand alone
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAn unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

I decided to read this book because I saw a preview at the movie theater. The preview looked absolutely amazing, with the coloring of the images as they bled on the screen like a watercolor painting. It didn’t hurt that Liam Nesson was the voice of the monster. When I searched for the book, there was a movie tie-in, so I got that one and have thoroughly enjoyed not only reading the story, but learning about how they went about making the movie. One thing I did learn was that the original hardback had pictures in it that spread across more than a single page spread, so I kind of wish I had bought that instead. When you read or listen to this book (or watch the movie), do make sure that you have a box of Kleenex because it is heart-wrenching.

I am particularly fascinated that the author, Patrick Ness, was asked to write the story based on the notes and discussions the late author, Siobhan Dowd who died young of cancer, had with her editor. The book is about a mom dying of cancer and it’s why this is such a powerful book: having bad emotions about bad situations is not a reason to hate yourself. This is not an easy lesson to learn, and Conner, the son of the dying Mom, has no adult in his life helping him to understand that. When the monster tells Conner that he comes walking not to heal the sick mom, but to heal Conner himself, the true power of the story comes out.

badge5v5So, now I have read the book, watched the movie, and listened to the audio version. You cannot go wrong by choosing any one of these paths to immerse yourself in the story and idea that Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd created.

swift-pure-cryTitle: A Swift Pure Cry
Author: Siobhan Dowd
Series: stand alone
Publish Date: September 9, 2008
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIreland 1984.

After Shell’s mother dies, her obsessively religious father descends into alcoholic mourning and Shell is left to care for her younger brother and sister. Her only release from the harshness of everyday life comes from her budding spiritual friendship with a naive young priest, and most importantly, her developing relationship with childhood friend, Declan, who is charming, eloquent, and persuasive. But when Declan suddenly leaves Ireland to seek his fortune in America, Shell finds herself pregnant and the center of a scandal that rocks the small community in which she lives, with repercussions across the whole country. The lives of those immediately around her will never be the same again.

This is a story of love and loss, religious belief and spirituality—it will move the hearts of any who read it.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

Because I read about A Monster Calls, I felt compelled to read one of Siobhan Dowd’s other books just to see why she was such an acclaimed author and why her editor thought it was important to publish her ideas/story posthumously. I chose A Swift Pure Cry, which did not disappoint.

This story takes place in modern day Ireland, which didn’t feel all that modern because of how backward the treatment was of the children who had just lost their mother. The church failed the children, the community failed the children and so did the school system. The young girl, Shell, has to take on the burden of caring for her younger siblings and her drunken father, she is acting the adult, but doesn’t have an adult to turn to when she herself needs help after she discovers she’s pregnant. I find it compelling that Siobhan Dowd has themes of children faced with very adult situations and not having adults to rely on and how the children make choices to get through these ugly circumstances which aren’t always based in reality.

badge5v5I would highly recommend these books for adults and young teens. Adults so that we don’t forget that young people have complex emotions and understand what’s going on, but from a powerless perspective, and for young teens so they can understand that they aren’t the only ones experiencing these circumstances. Books, on many occasions, have proven to be the only “friends” that people have and good books can help you make it through really tough situations.