Monthly Archives: January 2018

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.

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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!

Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up

Sadly, I cannot rate this very high. Maybe after I read more in the series, it will be higher than a two, but unto itself, I can’t go higher.

Title: Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up
Author: Joe Kelly, Fabian Nicieza, Daniel Way, Kevin Shinick, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Christopher Hastings, Scott Aukerman , Pete Woods (Illustrator), Patrick Zircher (Illustrator), Eric Canete (Illustrator), Carlo G. Barberi (Illustrator), Aaron Kuder (Illustrator), Mike Hawthorne (Illustrator), Jacopo Camagni (Illustrator), Skottie Young (Illustrator), Ed McGuinness (Illustrator), Reilly Brown (Illustrator)
Series: Spider-Man/Deadpool, Book 00
Publish Date: May 24th 2016 by Marvel
Genre: Superhero
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Two great tastes that taste great together! As Spidey and Deadpool fast-talk their way into an ongoing buddy book at last, grab the full story of their unlikely bromance. Through the magic of comics, Wade Wilson steps into the swinging shoes of a young Peter Parker! Then, the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler and the anti-social there-goes-the-neighborhood merc trade blows and “yo mama” quips. If friendship blossoms during encounters with Hit-Monkey and the Hypno-Hustler, will that jerk Otto Octavius ruin everything by being all Superior?

COLLECTING: DEADPOOL (1997) 11, CABLE & DEADPOOL 24, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) 611, DEADPOOL (2008) 19-21, AVENGING SPIDER-MAN 12-13, DEADPOOL (2012) 10, DEADPOOL ANNUAL 2

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is a situation where there needs to be a reader’s guide. Many book series have published a prequel after the first several books are out. They can clarify things that the author intended but that the readers didn’t understand or know about. Or they can muddy the waters to readers who don’t know when to read it. For me, this is firmly the latter.

I don’t usually notice art in comics. If It’s a good story, the art is second. It’s only if the story isn’t going well that I notice the art.

I noticed the art.

It could have served to help tell the story, and that’s what they were trying to do, but it fell flat for me. I lost count of how many different styles were used. I think it attempts to patch a few things here and there to be tied to other stories. Again, maybe if I had already read other volumes, it would make sense. It doesn’t.

The story itself is disjointed. It feels more like an anthology that covers several gaps in an ongoing story than a cohesive story itself. We start in some action, but I never got the sense that there is tension about anything. I think that’s because, as with most series, the main characters have a feeling of not being able to be hurt. That’s certainly true here. After that, we move to a different point in the timeline, and things are different, and it takes a while to figure that out.

In the end, I found this too disjointed. Again, it reads as if it actually came out several years into an ongoing series and acts to glue various things that happened in that series better. If they had had some expository explaining where the story fit and what happened, or maybe even a warning that it should be read after a certain point, it might be better. Perhaps if I ever get to those, I will revisit this and see how it stacks up then. Until then, I can’t recommend it.