Category Archives: Both Genders

Blood Deal by Brad Magnarella

How can one man find so much trouble? It’s not even when he’s looking for it?  Professor Croft gets pounded, spelled, glamoured, beat on and even has the blood sucked from his own body – with his permission! Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Title: Blood Deal
Author: Brad Magnarella
Series: Professor Croft #2
Publish Date: October 17, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: James Patrick Cronin
Source: Purchased through Audible.com

Publisher’s Description: Everson Croft here, professor of mythology and … nervous as sin.

Tonight’s the night I tell Caroline the truth: about my feelings, my magic, everything.

So why am I surprised when Detective Vega calls me to a new case? An elusive creature is chewing up residents in a housing project run by rival gangs. One more mangled body and the place will explode into warfare.

Problem is, someone’s protecting the killer. All signs point to the vampire Arnaud—who’s just upped the stakes. If I don’t send Detective Vega down a trail of bad leads, he’ll snatch her child. But is Arnaud trying to derail the investigation or twist it to his own ends, ones that could reshape the city?

Worse, Caroline has disappeared, and I’m under suspicion. No one believes I last saw her with Angelus, a mysterious hunk and full-blooded faerie. Dangerous no matter how you slice it.

Two cases: one personal, one professional, and both going to hell in a hurry.

Time to wizard up.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

This is an urban fantasy, no sex, lots of violence that comes in various forms and though the ending is good, I believe it will be a very dangerous step for our beloved professor to take.  ALSO, I want to warn those nervous readers like me, Everson’s relationship with Vega is very rocky.  I have all the faith in the world that Author Magnarella will make everything right again.  If he doesn’t then….well…us readers will just have to set him straight. 😉

I will admit that I was drawn to the fact that Everson Croft reminds me of Indiana Jones and Harry Dresden wrapped all up in one.  I mean, really? Who could refuse that face? Check out the cover – it’s fantastic.  Anyway, Everson thinks his life is quiet for the moment and wham! he is pulled into not one, but two separate investigations.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**  I want to say that Everson was trying to be a good guy and Vega took his actions way to the extreme end of the reactionary spectrum.  I learned that Vega’s nickname or maybe even real first name is “Ricky”.  I learned she grew up in a neighborhood that was not known for it’s white picket fences and block parties.  I also learned that she is one tough broad.  She takes a gut shot and she powers her way through it enough to tell Everson how to stitch her up.  Incredible.  I also learned that if she trashes this relationship with Everson, she is making a huge mistake.  It feels like he’s the only one that will back her up and help solve the murders that no one else can touch.  Also, I think Caroline is very selfish to put Everson in the difficult spots that she is putting him in.  She could have at least checked in with him to tell him – “Hey, I know I left the party before you got back, but I wanted to touch base with you.”  That would be the considerate thing to do.  Anyway, it is what it is and that’s why it makes for a good story.  Oh, and one last thing.  Everson should have took the ring option instead of the information about his mother.  He just should have.***END OF SPOILERS***

This series is great to read but even better to listen to.  The narrator does a very good job and he fits my image of the voice for Everson Croft.  Grab the book or the audio – you won’t be sorry.  Oh, and for those of you up to book #3, like me, Mr. Magnarella assures me that the audio will be out by the first week in April and book #4 will release in print and audio closely to the same time together.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Yancy Lazarus series by James A. Hunter, Cisco Suarez/Black Magic Outlaw series by Domino Finn or Immortal Vegas series by Jenn Stark.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

“In this literary masterwork, the author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in indigenous culture.”  –from Goodreads

laroseTitleLaRose
Author: Louise Erdrich
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: May 10th 2016 by Harper
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Narrator: Louise Erdrich
Source: Purchased in audio

Publisher’s DescriptionNorth Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.

The youngest child of his best friend, Pete Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools, and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.

LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new “sister” Maggie welcomes him as a co-conspirator who can ease her volatile mother’s terrifying moods. Gradually he’s allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches’ own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal.

But when a vengeful man with a longstanding grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.

Inspiring and affecting, LaRose is a powerful exploration of loss, justice, and the reparation of the human heart, and an unforgettable, dazzling tour de force from one of America’s most distinguished literary masters.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

This is definitely not one of Erdrich’s better books. It is still filled with many stories and complex characters, but I didn’t feel that she wove the past and the present together strongly. I enjoyed learning the history with the chapters of the early years with Native Americans being forced to attend boarding school, but the ramifications of those years weren’t really brought to full light in this story. I liked the imagery of the first LaRose being pursued by a bodiless head and then the 2 boys, Romeo and Landreaux thinking they had been caught after they ran away because they saw the head of their school headmistress. When I was listening to it, I thought for sure there would be more imagery or something that would make these heads significant. That wasn’t the case.

I also don’t feel that I was that engaged with any of the characters. The author chose to move between several as first person voice, but in this case, I think it made it difficult to really bond with a specific character. I also thought the relationship between Emmaline and Father Travis came out of nowhere. Father Travis’ passion was brought forth throughout the story, but Emmaline reciprocating felt too abrupt.

The main character, LaRose, was supposed to have been the 5th of a line of healers and other than the fact his father gave him away to make up for killing Dusty, I didn’t see how LaRose actually did any healing that was special. Perhaps that’s the point in the story is that the day to day lives of Native Americans are not really that different or extraordinary than the rest of us, but it is the small things and the continuity from one generation to the next that makes everyone special, but I had to really stretch to understand that might have been the point.

badge3v4I did enjoy the author’s narration. She was able to catch the cadence of a Native American’s voice and fluidly went from the first person to narrator which can be difficult. I give this book a 3 since I have read others by Louise Erdrich that are far better.

Teen Hyde by Chandler Baker

A classic tale set in modern times makes for a great read!

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

teen-hydeTitleTeen Hyde
AuthorChandler Baker
SeriesHigh School Horror Story, Book 02
Publish Date: January 10, 2017, by Feiwel & Friends
Genre: YA Horror
Source: provided by the publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionHigh school meets classic horror in this YA contemporary twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Head Cheerleader Cassidy Hyde’s life should have been perfect. But it really, really wasn’t, and she’s about ready to give up and disappear. Until, the first time she takes Sunshine. This new experimental drug makes Cassidy feel like the perfect, golden girl once again. A little memory loss seems like a small price to pay to get her life back . . . at least until boys start to go missing . . . boys that Cassidy NEVER wanted to think of again . . .

Thus begins Chandler Baker’s second twisty-turny retelling of a familiar tale, once again set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: What a great way to bring to light real life issues that teens face today—pressures of school, drugs, and sexual assault. These problems, mixed with the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, makes this book twice as scary. I did enjoy that this novel is part of a bigger story but can be read as a standalone. Cassidy’s descent into madness is well written and both her and Macy’s voices are distinct.

badge4v5Dislikes: I would like to have heard more about the drug Sunshine. It is never mentioned after a certain point and gives us the impression that this drug is the reason that Cassidy changes, but it never really states so. Many of the background characters could have been a little less in the background. They would have rounded out the story nicely.

This is a great novel about modern issues mixed in with classic horror. Overall I give this 4 tally marks.

Other recommendations…

Looking for more creepy teen reads? Check out the following: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker, The Midnight Club Christopher Pike, The Cellar by Natasha Preston

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

Etched In Bone by Anne Bishop

I LOVE THIS SERIES! I can’t tell you how happy it made me to have another installment to read. Usually, I save these books for audio because the narrator is so awesome. But when the book became available on NetGalley, I just couldn’t wait.

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

etched-in-boneTitle: Etched In Bone
AuthorAnne Bishop
SeriesThe Others, Book 05
Publish Date: March 7, 2017 Roc
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionNew York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves…

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


ivana 100Invested Ivana says…

After Marked In Flesh’s very large political conflict, the conflict in Etched in Bone is closer to home. Detective Crispin James Montgomery’s brother comes to town and puts the delicate balance of the courtyard in danger.

There are some interesting themes in this book. The main theme, the impact a toxic person has on the lives of others, will hit home for so many readers. I’m guessing just about everyone has been in the radius of a toxic person at some time or another. Even while we recognize their influence, many times we feel powerless against it. Monty and his family, along with the whole Lakeside Courtyard, feel helpless against the influence of Monty’s brother, Cyrus James—a self-centered, manipulative, immoral jerk. Though many of the residents of the Courtyard, including Monty and his mother, know that Cyrus James should be turned out, the Elders who are visiting the Courtyard want to understand how one bad human can impact a stable group, and so demand that Cyrus be allowed to stay.

Another theme in this book is overcoming addiction and increasing impulse control. Meg and her friends have come up with an alternative to cutting herself for prophecy. She has combined several decks of fortune telling cards in an attempt to create the Trailblazer Deck for other blood prophets. We see Meg deliberately using the cards when she has the compulsion to cut, even hear her thought process. This is excellent modeling and I’m so glad Bishop included it in this book. Lack of impulse control is linked to so many bad things like criminality, poor relationships, poverty, addiction, and other things that prevent one from having a genuine and satisfying life. It seems our country is suffering from a major lack of impulse control right now, and having good models is crucial.

Fans of the romance between Simon and Meg will be happy. Meg is beginning to grow and heal from her trauma, and though it is happening sooooooo slowly, this book finally marks a progression in the relationship between the two.

badge5v5Each book in this series gives me “big things” to think about while also thoroughly entertaining me. I love all of these characters and the careful life they’ve built. I’m looking forward to release day when I can “reread” this in audio. 😉

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Again, this series is so unique, I can’t really recommend anything quite like it. But for other excellent urban fantasy series, see my favorites list.

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

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys are back at it again in this next installment of The Raven Cycle.

dream-thievesTitleThe Dream Thieves
AuthorMaggie Stiefvater
SeriesThe Raven Cycle, Book 02
Publish Date: September 17, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: Readers get to know Ronan better in this novel as it is focused mainly on his history, secrets and his terrifying yet useful ability to pull things from dreams. One of the best things about this book is that it explores the relationships not only between the characters but between the characters and their personalities.

Dislikes: What I liked so much about the first book was that the lines between reality and the paranormal were blurred. Not so much so in The Dream Thieves. The story seems much more functional and informational. It seems like the magic that was found in the first book is decidedly absent in this one.

badge3v4While this book is still essential to the overall story, I think that the magic that appealed to the reader in the first book is decidedly absent, and so I give this 3 feathers.

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Other recommendations…

Black Heart by Holly Black, Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow, All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terrill.