Category Archives: Speculative Fiction

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter

Yellowrock Clan is back to battle revanants, European Vampires, traitors, spies and conspirators.  Another day in the life of Leo’s NoLA Enforcer and her people.

Title:  Cold Reign
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #11
Publish Date:  May 2, 2017
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source:  Reviewer purchased book and audio

Publisher’s Description:

Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker…and the woman rogue vampires fear most. Jane walks softly and carries a big stake to keep the peace in New Orleans, all part of her job as official enforcer to Leo Pellisier, Master of the City. But Leo’s reign is being threatened by a visit from a delegation of ancient European vampires seeking to expand their dominions.

But there’s another danger to the city. When she hears reports of revenant vampires, loose in NOLA and out for blood, Jane goes to put them down—and discovers there’s something unusual about these revenants. They never should have risen.

Jane must test her strength against a deadly, unnatural magic beyond human understanding, and a ruthless cadre of near-immortals whose thirst for power knows no bounds… 

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


 

Nervous Nellie says…

Dang ninja vamp.

This is an urban fantasy with hints of sex – nothing descriptive, lots of blood and gore.  Plenty of scheming and manipulation – vamps are good at that and magic.  The ending isn’t a cliffhanger but the game has changed dramatically so it will be impossible to stay away from the next installment. There is only one word for this book and it has to be “EXCELLENT” or how about two words..”Solid Gold”.

I have loved this series since it began.  Jane Yellowrock has grown and grown into a force that no one can deny.  Even the fangheads have to respect her because she CAN and much to her independent nature WILL take them out.

This story threw me into the action right away with Jane and Eli fighting a revenant.  There are NCIS investigations into dead sailors and since the dead sailors were drunk dry, Yellowrock Securities or rather Leo Pellissier’s Enforcer were called.  That had me hooked from the get-go.  Seriously? NCIS and Jane Yellowrock in the same paragraph? I am SO in.

The action doesn’t stop there.  Nope.  Not even close.  The revenants are the main story line and why they are all of a sudden digging themselves out of their graves 200 years after they were put there is the million dollar question.  And then comes the riots.  And then the storms.  And then the attacks on Leo and his HQ.  The suspense and treachery reach a friendzied pitch and then back down just as I was on the edge of my seat.  When I finally relax a bit, here goes the action and mayhem all over again.  Jane and her team get thrown in head first time and time again while Leo sits back with his drink and his toys just waiting for Jane to fix things.  He’s such a jerk.

Leo doesn’t come out of this adventure unscathed, however.  He suffers some loss although the loss isn’t as great to a vamp as to normal people. They have games not relationships.  Now, I may be a bit biased because I don’t like Leo much.  I will concede that he does seem to treat his people well and he pays Jane well.  I hate the vamp politics and the long game they play to one up each other.  He’s just too devious for his own good.  And pretty.  And a schmoozer.  And a liar.  And just plain fangy.

Relationships expand in Jane’s household in this book.  She gets herself a Primo, a Secundo and to top it all off – an Enforcer.  Jane has worked dang hard for her place in vamp hierarchy and she deserves happiness.  Enter Bruiser.  *Swoon*  Yes, he is pretty and romantic as ever.  I think they make a super pair.  It makes me all warm and melty.  Of course I couldn’t get comfortable with that because THEN things so a bit sideways because Ricky Bo makes an appearance.  He makes it known that he wants Jane back and (this is the part that is cool) Jane is the one that tells him to…um…go jump in a lake.  Bruiser is not the one flexing muscles here and going all alpha protective over Jane because Jane can take care of herself.  Go Jane!

I cannot rate this any higher than 5 stars though I’d want to give it 20.  Faith Hunter’s writing is out of this world and her story line is one that is original and engaging.  Go Faith!

 

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Soulwood series by Faith Hunter

 

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A Dream of Ashes by Orlando A. Sanchez

Ava James has been framed for murder – and the real culprit behind the Mystic deaths is drawing closer to home with every kill.

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

TitleA Dream of Ashes 
Author: Orlando A. Sanchez
Series: Chronicles of the Modern Mystics 
Publish Date: April 27, 2016
Publisher: OM Publishing
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Provided by the author & Wordslinger.

Publisher’s Description:

Mystics. Magic. Murder.

A Rogue Mystic. A Ruthless Killer. A Dark Secret.

Ava James is a fire mystic with the Mystic Investigative Division. As a branch of the Enclave, a worldwide mystic organization, the MID is feared, respected and reviled. When the half-charred body of a Mystic is found, the Enclave sends her to investigate the strange death. Ava finds that all the clues point to the killer being a fire mystic, one of her own. Accused by the Enclave of working with the killer she must solve the case before a secret buried in her past is revealed and destroys her world.

Can she save herself? Will she find the murderer?

If you like hardcore, fast-moving action, complex mystical powers and an unstoppable heroine, then you’ll love Orlando A. Sanchez’ thrilling new series: Chronicles of the Modern Mystics. Buy A Dream of Ashes and join Ava on her adventure today!


Kat Mandu says…

In A Dream of Ashes, readers are introduced to Ava, a mystic with the ability to create and manipulate fire. Right from the beginning of the book, she’s been framed for several vicious murders she didn’t commit, not to mention she’s being hunted by a group of obviously wicked mystics trying to kill her. As she tries to navigate her way through a unique New York City without getting caught or killed, she’s gotta figure out where her uncle is and just who he was taken by. But getting mixed up in the affairs of mystics much more powerful than her is not what she intended, so she’ll need every ally and skill she can get.

Likes: This really is full of action and cool visuals, so it reads like a fast-paced movie with lots of awesome graphics. Plus, you know, the majority of the characters are Japanese, so ninjas. Either way, I really loved the easy-to-read flow of the book and I was quite fond of the quirky one-liners Ava gets to dish out.

What didn’t grab me: Like my fellow reviewer, this book was lacking in that really strong world-building that really would have made this a five for me. I had the feeling that the more the author wrote, the more ideas he came up with, which is nice but makes the beginning lackluster compared to the final moments. I would get caught up in the action but was left wondering just what Enclaves were and what Enforcers did and how everything worked out. Even if the info isn’t dumped at the beginning and spread out in hints throughout the book, it would have improved that clear structure of Ava’s New York/Japan aka “Mystic world.” I just didn’t get much that would help me really understand how everything works.

The only other thing is that there is quite a few organizations that come into play, plus numerous allies. I wish I could have gotten some more details on them as well, so I didn’t have to go back and ask myself “Okay, what did these guys do again?”

I just think this needs a clearer focus, but overall, I was impressed and give this three stars.

Luna Lovebooks says… 

“Go lick your wounds. When I see you next I will erase your existence.’ He turned and walked away as the sphere turned opaque and shifted us away from Nezu. We are going to die.”

Likes: This book is fast paced and action packed! Much like poor Ava, the reader doesn’t get to stop and rest. The characters and world are interesting, if not fully developed. Ava was resilient, but still vulnerable and had moments of weakness.  I love the fact that she is strong but not super woman. The mysterious Ghost and his daughter are two characters I’d like to get to know better. I would also love to know more about warders and mystics in general. This may slow down the book a bit, but it would also back up the world building.

Dislikes: I feel there are too many unanswered questions, even if this is the first book in the series. The cover is part of what drew me to pick up this book. But when I received my copy the cover is very pixilated and loses some of its beauty. I’m am sure that as a writer Sanchez knows the world he is creating. It feels solid, but as a reader I was lost.  There isn’t much information given about enclaves, mystics, or those special sticks. I feel that the plot should have slowed down to give some more world building to the readers.

Over all I give this book 4 mystics. 

 

Other recommendations…

If you like magic with unique systems and spins, we’d recommend Brandon Sanderson, J. F. Lewis, and M.K. Hobson. 

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

The Storm Bringer by Ken Lange

The adventure continues and the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place.

Title: Rise of the Storm Bringer
Author: Ken Lange
Series: Warden Global #2
Publish Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Reviewer purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionFor most people, a visit from their former in-laws is unpleasant at most. If only I were that lucky.

Mine have unexpectedly dropped by, leaving a couple of bodies in little bits and a message in blood as their way of saying hi.

Which is just great. Now I can add one more group to the growing list of nut-bags who want to tuck me in for a dirt nap. Simply put, if the in-laws don’t get me, a dead woman, the Loki, or any one of a legion of mythological beasties just might.

To top it off, I’ve learned that there’s a cosmic war that’s been raging since the dawn of creation, and somehow, I’ve found myself at the very center of it all. I know it’s gonna be a hell of a day when death might be the least of my problems.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

The only thing that matters is to do the best you can in the moment and realize that no one has all the answers.

This science fiction/urban fantasy/action adventure story takes place in NoLA,  There is death and dismemberment and often blood, gore and goo. The protagonist often gets the crap beaten out of him AND he’s almost (I said ALMOST) as clueless about what is happening to him than us readers.  Viktor is a smart ass and that’s what draws me to a good character.  The story is written like he’s telling the story to you personally. He’s got depth to him that comes from a lot of experience tending to the things that most don’t care to deal with.  Anyway, the story does have twists and turns that end up leading down a dark alley not knowing if a monster will pop out or not.  Usually does, though.  Just warnin’ ya.

There is a lot of name dropping in this book.  Brush up on your Greek and Norse mythology because it will help with the characters and where they fit into the whole scheme of things.  Actually, scratch that. You really don’t have to know the mythology, just know the individuals are important and it’ll be fine.  I happen to like to track down the mythology because I think knowing where they all came from makes the reading more fun.

There are several characters that are mentioned from book 1 as well as a couple from Accession of the Stone Born – another series from the same author.  In my opinion, the mention of other characters made my reading more like a family reunion.  I didn’t actually get to see the characters, but the mentioning made it fun for me.

It’s important, I think, to mention that it would be a good idea to start with the first book in the series, The Wanderer Awakens, because this is a series that would be hard to follow if it wasn’t started from page 1.

If you like a white hat that doesn’t really look at himself that way, with a team of good people that look out for the unknowing humans and supernatural, mythological and ancient people thrown in as well as a science fiction basis, this is a good series to begin.  Normally, I’m not one for science fiction, but I liked it.  It’s a challenging read.  It kept my brain engaged and every page there was a scene that would suck me in as quickly as the one the page before did.

Someone once said that this author makes writing look easy.  I really do believe it.  It’s complicated, but yet simple in the end.  It’s worth the time and energy.  I rate it a 5.

Our reviews in this series…

 

Elementally Priceless by Shannon Mayer

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels.  You get a “two-for” when you read this novella.  The start of two series in one book. How much better can it get?

Title: Elementally Priceless
Author: Shannon Mayer
Series: Rylee Adamson #0.5    and   The Elemental #0.5
Publish Date: January 20, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description: “My Name is Rylee, and I am a Tracker”

This is the story of my first salvage, seeking out a missing child that my mentor has warned me away from.

What I find is more than one child: I find my destiny.

“They call me the Destroyer.”

I’ve been banished to the desert for years after saving a life I should have let the darkness take. But as an earth elemental, I couldn’t turn from the pleas for help any more than I can turn from them this time. Except that this time, I have a Tracker to deal with.

This is about to get interesting.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

This is an urban fantasy with some swearing.  There is no sex, no graphic violence, no romance. There is no cliffhanger, but there is an excellent hook at the end of the book. There is sword play, elementals, goblins, Minotaurs and a host of other creatures.  This is the kind of book I live for and it was excellent.

The book is divided chapter by chapter from each protagonist’s point of view.  So, you have Rylee in one chapter and the next will be Lark.  I could get a feel for both and decide if I like them well enough to proceed with the series.  I liked them.  A lot.

Rylee is what the supernatural world calls a “Tracker”. She can find anyone anywhere at any time as long as she has a picture and a name.  She uses her gift in finding the missing – mostly children – which is a noble calling.  Lark is an “Elemental”.  She has a reputation for not following the rules set in the Elemental’s world.  She has incredible power and a moral compass that will not be ignored.  She risks everything – and I mean not just her life, but risks being imprisoned for decades, maybe centuries for breaking the rules she feels need broken in order to save the world.  That’s pretty honorable too.

This novella will take a couple hours to read – it’s only 102 pages.  It’ll give you the taste and feel of Rylee and Lark’s lives.  I found their lives exceedingly worth reading, so I give this novella a 5.  I’ll be hot on the heels of book 1 in both series.  I gotta see what happens next.

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Immortal Vegas series by Jenn Stark, The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep,  Harbinger P.I. Series by Adam J. Wright,  Prof Croft series by Brad Magnarella and I could go on and on and on…

 

Troll Whispers by Ashley C. Harris

This stand-alone novel set in the Troll Universe gives readers a closer look or how Cordelia came to be who she is in the later novels!

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

TitleTroll Whispers 
Author: Ashley C. Harris 
Series: Troll Universe (trilogy)
Publish Date: May 2, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author/publisher.

Publisher’s Description:

The highly anticipated standalone novella from the International Bestselling TROLL series!

At the age of seventeen, Cordelia Connor’s teenage life is not what it seems…. By day, she attends high school and pretends to be normal. But by night, she and a select group of other teens, called the Knights, spend their time training and sparring. They are preparing to fight the most magically seductive and wicked creatures of all, the trolls.

Cordelia yearns for her classroom life to end so she can help hunt underground. But time seems to be going by ever so slowly, especially while she watches other high schoolers date and have fun. To Cordelia, non-knight boys are off limits. Something that’s not a disappointment until the new kid, Daemon Banks, shows up.

Daemon is nothing like the knight boys or high school males she has known. He’s taller, stronger, faster, and up to something in Cordelia’s little beach side town. Because he’s a normal human, whatever his motives are… they should be off limits. But when a possible troll sighting sends the knights to a débaucheras party that Daemon is attending. Suddenly, his and Cordelia’s worlds get scrambled, and she’ll have to decide if she should let Daemon in.

Who to trust becomes alarming as troll sightings and mischief turn into a grave battle. Because of a traitor among the knights, the perilous treat only seems to be multiplying in Cordelia’s world.


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: The overall story is entertaining and fairly original. I enjoyed reading it. It was interesting to know the back story to Cordelia’s character and get a little more immersed in the world of trolls. There were a few twists and surprises that I did not see coming that made my jaw drop. Troll Whispers is a fairly fast-paced read.

Dislikes: This is an advanced readers copy, but there were still numerous areas with awkward/repetitive wording that I hope gets fixed before the final copy. While it is a good read, I feel it could be a bit more engaging. There are sections that lagged for me.

Taking into consideration that this is an advanced copy I give this book three knives. 

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Troll Series by Ashley C. Harris, Camp So and So by Mary Mccoy, The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale.

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