Category Archives: Nell’s Reviews

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

Grendel AffairTitleThe Grendel Affair
AuthorLisa Shearin
SeriesSPI Files Book 1
Publish Date: Dec 31, 2015
PublisherACE Penguin
Narrator: Johanna Parker
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionWhen I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process. Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (or, in other words, SPOILERS).

Hey Nell! Guess who narrates the audiobook of The Grendel Affair.

Oh, Wait! I know this… her voice is familiar! Where do I know her from?

Johanna Parker narrates The Grendel Affair AND the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris! I just finished listening to the book and it was pretty good. I received this book from Goodread’s First Reads program early last year. Now that the sequel is out, I wanted to read it again to remind myself what happened in the story. I liked the book in audio. You’ve read this book, haven’t you?

Yes, I have. I have read it twice and listened to it audio once. It’s a great world with fun characters. I started the Dragon Conspiracy-I’m about 15% into the book as we speak.

Oh, good. Me, too. I wanna see what nasty monster Makenna and Ian get to fight next.

So, do you think there will be a romance between Makenna & Ian? I’m betting not… he seems too stuffy. What do you think?

I’m looking for monsters and you’re looking for romance. Doesn’t that just describe us both?

I can’t help it. Monsters will always be there, but romance is a fleeting thing.

Nervous Nellie says …

Main characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ At first, I thought Makenna Frasier was kind of wimpy. It didn’t take long – not very long at all- to discover that she was anything but wimpy. She was smart, able to think on her feet and she was a very believable character. She was not Wonder Woman like some protagonists portray themselves. She was just an ordinary woman hell-bent on making this new job work. Ian Frasier, Makenna’s new partner, was very patronizing at first. He was a seasoned veteran of monster hunting and knew that if he didn’t protect Mac, she’d never make it. He had lost a partner and he was not going to let it happen again. He beat himself up over that loss and immersed himself in responsibility, responsibility, responsibility. Mac didn’t want to be anyone’s responsibility. She figured out that she needed to protect herself so she wouldn’t be a liability to her team. She may have a special skill that is hard to find and worthy of protection, but she used her common sense and helped the other monster fighters as best as she could.

Other characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ Kenji Hayashi was my favorite. Technogeek extraordinaire. Vivienne Sagadraco was next. Rolf Haagan was Rambo on steroids – but he kept his sense of humor. Roy Benoit – he I would like to actually meet. I’m a sucker for a southern accent. Whoo-wee. Actually, all the characters were really entertaining. I liked them all – except for the grendels. They were scary.

World: ♥♥♥♥♥ The world is full of creatures that humans do not know exist. It’s SPI’s responsibility to keep those creatures under wraps. Makenna is a seer and she can ‘see’ the creatures for what they are instead of any glamour they might use.

Story: ♥♥♥♥♥ The story was excellent. I loved every bit of it. It was so good that I read it twice and listened to the audio too. The mystery was well incorporated and it was fun seeing New York though Makenna. There is a literary reference to Beowulf incorporated in the story, along with dragons, elves, vampires, and other creatures. I thought there may be a romance with Mac and Ian, but it only briefly hinted. The author really did well with this story. It had humor and seriousness (as serious as monsters invading Times Square could be).

Overall: ♥♥♥♥♥ I enjoyed this book very much. The pages flew by, and it was just as good the third time as it was the first. The characters were very likable and genuine. There is a good-spirited rapport between agents and their ‘trophies’ that they each had on their desks. Makenna was bound and determined she would have a weapon, and her putting Tequila in a squirt gun was just one of the many things she tried to succeed. In the end, she has proven herself as an asset and a darn good one. There was no cliffhanger, and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Invested Ivana says…

Main Characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ Makenna (Mac) Fraser is a likable character. She’s not perfect, she’s not superior, she’s just your average gal adjusting to a new job. She has funny quirks, only one special skill — the ability to see through glamours and veils — and is both afraid and brave. I love the fact that a smear of powdered sugar from eating too many cookies is what helps establish her credibility and that her contribution to the monster-fighting team is to shoot paintballs. The story is told first-person through Makenna, so the reader gets to know her very well throughout the book and is easily able to identify with her and invest in her success.

Other Characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ Ian Byrne, Makenna’s partner/bodyguard, is a professional agent, in contrast to Makenna, and does what he can to keep her safe. At first, I thought Ian was going to be an overly-protective male for the whole book, but that wasn’t the case. Ian is protective, having lost a partner in the past, but he recognizes that he can protect Makenna only so much and that she needs to be able to protect herself. Luckily, Ian has a sense of humor and is able to accept Makenna for who she is, quirks and all. I think the two make a good pair. I really enjoy the rest of the supporting cast as well: Ollie, the self-centered merchant of all things spooky; Yasha, the Russian werewolf driver; Kenji, the Japanese half-elf techie; Vivienne Sagadraco, British dragon and founder of SPI; and Rolf Haagen, the crazy Scandinavian with the prosthetic arm. Ms. Shearin certainly has embraced diversity in her characters as far as nationality AND species.

World: ♥♥♥♥♥ It seems all the monsters exist in Makenna’s world — dragons, elves, goblins, werewolves, vampires, ghouls, leprechauns, grendels, magicians, witches, dopplegangers, and more.  One ancient dragon, Vivienne Sagadraco, has created SPI — Supernatural Protection and Investigations — to protect the humans and good supernaturals from the bad supernaturals and keep the magical world under wraps.  SPI operates like a private FBI and police force, employing both humans and supernaturals toward the cause.

Story: ♥♥♥♥♥ In this first adventure, a pair of grendels are loose in NYC, ready to rampage through Times Square on New Year’s Eve in order to bring the supernaturals out of the closet and into the power some creatures believe they deserve. Makenna, Ian, Yasha, Rolf, and the others are tasked to bring down the grendels without revealing them to the world. Mayhem ensues. For the most part, I like the story. The time the group spends hunting the grendels in the tunnels under the city seems to drag on a bit. but I really love the scenes in the cemetery and in the crypt under the cemetery.

During the story, Ms. Shearin references Makenna’s first day on the job guarding a bachelor party of leprechauns. This sounds like a hilarous story that can now be found in an anthology called Night Shift. Makenna spends a fair amount of time introducing herself to us in the beginning of the book, where she references her hometown of Weird Sisters, North Carolina — a town that attracts the weird and wonderful.  With as much time as was spent on it, I was expecting to either find a short story about Weird Sisters or to have it become important in The Grendel Affair; but neither is true, as far as I can tell. I’d love to see a story or two about Weird Sisters; it sounds like there are generations worth of stories there to tell. The other story I would like to see is how Ian lost his first partner. We know it had something to do with “the ghoul” character that Makenna encounters both at the beginning and the end of the book, and we know it had a big impact on Ian. But we know only what Ian has told Makenna about the incident and we don’t know much about this “ghoul” character at all. I think there is plenty of fodder there for more interesting stories.

Narrator: ♥♥♥♥♥ Johanna Parker, who also narrates the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, is the voice of Makenna Fraser and company. Being a fan of Sookie in audio, this did a couple of things for me. First, it gave me an instant affinity for the story since I liked Sookie and Johanna as her voice. Second, it made me picture Makenna as Sookie for a while. I can separate them in my head now, but I don’t think associating the two characters was actually a bad thing.  They are fairly similar; both gals are blonde, Southern, and fairly normal except for one small talent — the ability to sense something others can’t. Neither have any special abilities that make them physically or mentally superior, and they both have faults, make mistakes, and have adorable quirks. It was a smart choice to have Ms. Parker read the SPI novels as it will lead some listeners to associate Ms. Shearin’s world with Ms. Harris’, and who wouldn’t want to be associated with such a success?

Overall: ♥♥♥♥♥ The Grendel Affair is a fun adventure with likable characters and just the right amount of humor. I think I enjoyed listening to it more than I did reading it, particularly because I already have a “relationship” with Johanna Parker. The story is more than fluff, but not a super serious or gritty adventure — it’s a “popcorn flick” of a book that makes for an entertaining few hours.

Our reviews in this series…

If You Like This Book…

One Book Two will be reviewing the sequel, The Dragon Conspiracy, in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that. If you haven’t read them yet, the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris would be good for fans of Makenna in either book or audio form. You might also like the Paranormal Scene Investigation series by Laura Anne Gilman or the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. Of course, there is also the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin, but we haven’t read that one to recommend it.


Vengeance of the Demon by Diana Rowland

VengenceTitleVengeance of the Demon
Author: Diana Rowland
Series:  Kara Gillian Book 7
Publish Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: DAW Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Demon summoner Kara Gillian is on the wrong side of the law, and there’s evidence to prove it. Too bad the courts don’t accept “fighting demonic forces” as justification for murder and mayhem.

Yet Kara has problems that go way beyond her legal woes. When the enemy demonic lords spur their human accomplices into high gear, master summoner Katashi aggressively pursues their goal to establish a permanent gate between Earth and the demon realm. To hell with the consequences for humanity.

The line between ally and enemy blurs as Kara gathers the remnants of her posse to prevent a devastating demonic incursion, but a shattered trust may cost them the war and put Kara behind bars. With treachery rife, and her loved ones in danger, Kara must call upon the essence of who she truly is in order to rally back from a crushing loss.

And if she can’t, the world is going straight to hell.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).

Nervous Nellie says…

”You are going to straight up sh*t a cat sideways.”   OR  “Rednecks vs. Demons”

Main characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ Kara Gillian is still recovering from the horrendous devastation that happened in the last book when the Mraztur tried to create a permanent gate between worlds. She is attempting to avoid being implicated in Faroche’s murder and keep the people she loves safe. She is also trying to re-establish the bond between herself and Mzatal. Mzatal is trying to keep the plexus in the demon world from blowing apart because if the demon world collapses, so does the human world.

Other characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ Pellini is quite a focal character in this story. It’s amazing what we learn. The Qzatal are all involved in more manipulation and furthering their own agendas–uh, duh, that’s what they do; they are demons. Szerain has broken free of Ryan and appears to have left Zach to fade away into nothingness after all Zach had done for Szerain. Idris figures out his relation with Kara–which I am sure will come into play further along in the next book. Rhyzkahl (the ass) has lost his ptarl (Zach) and is now nearly powerless. He is still his devious self, but his stalkerish obsession with Kara is still at the forefront of this mind and the story. If he could just manipulate her just right… his plans would materialize.

World: ♥♥♥♥♥ The contemporary world and the demon world are very well defined. The places are described in detail. and sometimes. the pictures are so vivid in my head, it’s just like a movie.  The terminology is a little daunting, but if you’ve read all of the Kara Gillian books, you are more likely to understand–plus, if you are stuck, the author provides a nice little index that can help you research this world. Kara’s arcane power, the potency of the nexus, the stabilization of the plexus that keeps both worlds from being destroyed, are all linked together. Everything has a meaning and all is wrapped up in mystery and secrets.

Story: ♥♥♥♥♥ Another betrayal. This one didn’t hurt me as much as the one a few books back, maybe because I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that no one is who they seem to be, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot predict the endings to these stories. There are a few questions answered as more information is released and more information is held back to taunt us. There is a hugely emotional scene between Mzatal and Kara (yes, I admit I cried for them and the sacrifices that they have to make) that I bookmarked because the writing was so very good. The only thing that is keeping me holding on to this series is the fact that the scene in question is so heart-wrenchingly hard to bare that Kara and Mzatal HAVE to be rewarded in the end. They just HAVE to be!  Zach and Jill’s child is born, and she will be a force that the author tends to leave open-ended as to whether or not she is good or evil (Yes! Yes! I remember they are demons! *echoing words from Ivana’s warning*).  Szerain appears to be manipulating Zach, though I’m not sure if it’s voluntary or not. They could have a plan they hatched out within the last 15 years. To do what? I don’t know… foil the evil demons… wait… they are demons. Crap. Well, then, Zach could be coerced by Szerain into doing what he does so his family is left in peace? Do demons even know what peace is? Mzatal and Szerain could be working together to get the Qzatal to abandon their plans. There are endless scenarios, and we could play this game all day long. There is more reference to the twelfth demon lord. Is it Zach’s child? Is it Kara? Again, game. All day long. The only hint that we may have is “The twelfth is a radical game changer…”

Overall: ♥♥♥♥♥ This was a one-sitting book. I started it and could not stop, even though I kept telling myself ‘only one more chapter’. Those of you who, like me, need to know about the ending will appreciate that there isn’t EXACTLY a cliffhanger, but the story does end so it may be picked up in the next book. There are so many schemes on top of plots, with intricate maneuvering running underneath. This series is a series that is really worth reading. It’ll have you pondering it well after you have finished with the last page and it’ll have you coming back for more because whether you like it or not, you’ll just HAVE TO know!

If you like this book…

Try Dark Heir by Faith Hunter, Spider’s Trap by Jennifer Estep, or Dreamwalker by Allyson James.

Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older

Half CoverTitleHalf-Resurrection Blues
AuthorDaniel José Older
SeriesBone Street Rumba Book 1
Publish Date:  January 6, 2015 by Roc Books
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionCarlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death. 

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).

I finished Half-Resurrection Blues, and I’m very upset. It didn’t even have an ending that would encourage me to read the next book.

What was wrong with the ending?

Sasha’s pregnant, which has got to be a miracle, and she leaves him. It just… ends. Sure, there was a resolution to the bad guy, but it was rather anticlimactic. I really thought, for a first book, there should have been a zippier ending that would lead to me wanting to pick up the next book. 

Well, it certainly isn’t a romance book that’s required to have a happily-ever-after. It’s much more of a gritty urban fantasy. Did you like the characters, though? The story?

I liked the story. I liked the characters, except I was expecting a little more depth with Sasha. I mean, if she’s pregnant with Carlos’ child, shouldn’t we at least care about her a little? I liked the twists in the story, but it seemed like I skipped parts when I really didn’t. I had to go back a couple of pages more than once to figure out what was going on and when was it going on. It confused me. I especially liked Riley and Carlos. I could see them in my head as plain as day. Sasha and the rest got murky. I got lost.

I have to agree with you that I got a little lost, and a lot wasn’t fleshed out. I’d read some great reviews about this author’s writing, so I was a little sad there wasn’t more depth to the story.

I feel like I’m really being critical. I’m not normally that nit-picky, but I’m being honest. I felt kind of let down at the end. You know I don’t like sad endings. I can go to my day job and get plenty of sad endings.

Well, the series isn’t over. There’s a very good chance that Sasha will come back, the baby will be fine, and they’ll get their happily-ever-after.

One can hope. I love my happily-ever-afters!


Nervous Nellie says…

Main Characters: ♥♥♥ Carlos Delacruz is a man who was found by a ghost.  Carlos was dead… but not. Riley, Agent Washington to some, never sticks his nose anywhere other than the job at hand… except this one time. He discovered Carlos and took him to a ‘house’ ghost who healed him. Riley gave Carlos his name because Carlos could not remember any of his life. When Carlos healed enough to resemble something useful, the Council of the Dead made Carlos an offer he didn’t want to refuse. The Council of The Dead made Carlos an assassin, and he really liked his job. They also told him he was the only one of his kind. It was not made clear whether he was a good guy in life or a bad guy. Not much was ever really revealed and therein lies the problem. If I could have been able to distinguish what kind of man he was – whether it be a gangster, drug runner or maybe even an undercover cop, then that would have helped my progress in the development of the character in my head. As it was, I felt like a fish out of water throughout the story.

Other Characters: ♥♥♥ Riley Washington starts out as a secondary character — one who I felt was not really intended to be in the spotlight much, but as the story went on, he was featured more. Sasha, Carlos’s love interest, was very blurry. I couldn’t get much from her description, and that made her personality seem cold and unlikable.

World: ♥♥♥ The world was interesting. I would have liked it a lot more if the characters were a little more put together. The creatures that inhabited this world were more of nightmares than anything that would bring about a happily ever after. It felt like I was blind trying to feel my way through the whole story.

Story: ♥♥♥ I liked the concept of the story. I liked that Carlos had a love interest, but I would have liked it more if she would have been more solid. She seemed like an unknown subject most of the time. No idea where she was, who she was, what she was or why she was there. The story became clearer towards the ending when Carlos finally got a clue, but the ending was less than satisfying. It wasn’t a cliffhanger, though there was unfinished business that could get solved in the next book.

Overall: ♥♥♥ I will look into the next book if it’s published. I want to find out if Sasha and Carlos really get together or not, but that’s my only motivation. If Carlos becomes a more kick-ass agent, then we’ll see, but right at this point, I am not inclined to put it on my ‘to watch’ list for when the next book comes out. If I find it, I’ll probably research it, but it’s not a story that gave me much in the line of inspiration. Oh, and the guy on the cover? He doesn’t look like a Carlos Delacruz to me–Carlos isn’t white, sorry.

“Bureaucracy’s got its own special language. It’s trifling, of course, the lowest order of poetry, and manages to divest words of all meaning and still weigh them down with extra banality.”

Invested Ivana says…

I’m going to dispense with the formatted review for this book.

I like this book, but I don’t love it. What I love is its potential. The story idea is good—a plot by a mysterious figure to merge the worlds of the living and the dead; a secret history for the protagonist; a ghost bureaucracy. The idea of the characters is interesting—a half-dead assassin; a ghostly council with ghostly troops and commanders; ghosts that encompass whole geographies. This book has all the makings of some really good stuff.

But to me, it felt like I was reading a comic book without the pictures. I know all about the actions of the characters, but I don’t feel I really know the characters that well. I’m not deep enough into their heads to know what their motivations and feelings are, so the actions they take sometimes seem random, and the threat to their lives isn’t as intense. I don’t know the world well enough, either. What is the Council of the Dead? What is a house ghost? What are the inbetweeners, for that matter? Are they zombies? Something else? Why are the villains acting like the villains? What do they want? Older gives me just enough explanation to follow the action of the story, but not enough for me to really feel invested in the people. The story seems to stay on the surface with the plot and the action. The plot and the action are good. Nothing wrong there. It’s just not enough to satisfy me.

I’m going to give this book a three because I really WANT to know more about this world and its denizens. There is a 50/50 chance I’ll pick up the next book when it comes out, but it won’t be an automatic buy or an immediate read. If the next book doesn’t get deeper into the characters and the world, I can see me dropping it in favor of other books. I hope the next books flesh out the characters and world, though, because there really is some good story here and I’d love to learn more.

Series list and reviews…

  • Half-Resurrection Blues, Book 01
  • Midnight Taxi Tango, Book 02
  • Salsa Nocturna: Stories, Book 2.5
  • Battle Hill Bolero, Book 03

If You Like This Book …

You might pick up Salsa Nocturna, a book of short stories by Daniel José Older, one of which is about Carlos Delacruz.

Deception by D.B Reynolds

DeceptionTitle:  Deception
Author: D.B. Reynolds
Series: Vampires in America Book 9
Publish Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Belle Books
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher’s DescriptionKauai, Hawaii—tropical paradise, vibrant jungle, turquoise sea… and sensuous nights that hide vampires so powerful they can change the world.

Raphael—powerful, extraordinary, arrogant. He’s been eliminating rivals and gathering allies, determined not just to survive, but to demolish the Europeans who think they can steal what he’s worked for centuries to create. In a final bid to avert a war that seems inevitable, Raphael agrees to meet an enemy he knows of old. She is formidable, wily, and not to be trusted. But in his arrogance, Raphael believes he can foil whatever treachery she has brewing.

Cynthia Leighton—Raphael’s human mate, beautiful, smart, and deadly when threatened. She doesn’t trust anyone, much less a powerful vampire claiming to want peace. So while Raphael prepares to negotiate a treaty, Cyn is preparing for the inevitable double-cross that she knows is coming. Raphael worries about saving thousands of vampire lives. She only cares about one, and she will do anything to keep him alive and in her arms.

When Cyn is proven right, when it all falls apart and Raphael’s enemies draw on ancient magic to trap him, taking him away from Cyn and out of the war, it all falls to her—to find Raphael, to save the thousands of vampires who will die if she doesn’t succeed… and to kill every single being, human or vampire, who gets in her way.

Nell 100

Nervous Nellie says…

Main Characters: Cyn is tough. As a diamond blade, she has to be if she’s going to be with Raphael. I am pleased to report that even though she is living with THE HARDEST vampire there is, she is retaining her human side. She was very distracted in this book, so her snark level wasn’t as high as usual, but her friends and support staff made up for it. Raphael is a HARD man. It is awesome to see him be soft around his inner circle, but they know how powerful he is. I don’t think there is anything that Vampire can’t do.

Other characters: I LOVE Lucas (though Duncan is my favorite). He makes an appearance in this book and he is brilliant as always. Juro, Ken’ichi, Elke, Robbie, and lastly, Jared are there too. I still like Juro better than Jared. We meet a new character that I hope sticks around. He has the hots for Elke, who she may or may not return. We again meet Nicodemus Katsaros and were enlightened as to why Raphael hates Nick so much… other than Nick having history with Cyn.

Story: The story starts out two weeks after the events in Mexico, which were horrendous. The European vampires will not give up, and they want Raphael’s territory as well as Raphael’s death and destruction. They need more room, more territory, for all of their vampires, so they make a play for the West. After the West, they will move on to the Plains, because, after all, they *THINK* they are so much more powerful than the vampires that already hold lordship in those areas.

The book is action filled right at the start and hardly ever gives you a chance to catch your breath. There are equal amounts of sex, violence, and death with a whole lot of deception mixed in. There are power plays against the bad guys that just want me to laugh maniacally. It’s a great story, and there is no cliffhanger, but Ms. Reynolds does give you a taste of things yet to come.

Series list and reviews…

  • Raphael, Book 1
  • Jabril, Book 2
  • Rajmund, Book 3
  • Sophia, Book 4
  • Duncan, Book 5
  • Vampires In America, The Vignettes, Vol. 1, Book 5.1
  • Betrayed, Book 5.5
  • Lucas, Book 6
  • Hunted, Book 6.5
  • Halloween Memories, Book 6.75
  • Aden, Book 7
  • Unforgiven, Book 7.5
  • Vincent, Book 8
  • Deception, Book 9
  • Christian, Book 10
  • Compelled, Book 10.5
  • Lucifer, Book 11
  • Relentless, Book 11.5
  • Quinn, Book 12
  • Vampires in America: The Vignettes, Vol 2., Book 12.1

Prison of Hope by Steve McHugh

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

cover62128-mediumTitle: Prison of Hope
Author: Steve McHugh
Series: Hellequin Chronicles (Book 4)
Publish Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: 47North
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Publisher’s Description: Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.

Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.

Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).

Ivana! Guess what I got to do over the weekend?!??!

Hard to tell with you. What?

I got to review Prison of Hope by Steve McHugh EARLY! It’s not released ‘til April 14, 2015!

Really? Well, I won’t ask who you had to kill for that honor. What’d you think?

It was awesome. I figured it would be considering the last books in the series didn’t disappoint. I finally got to learn more about Nathan — all sorts of things that mean something to him personally. I got to see that he isn’t just a tough guy, that he has not entirely desensitized himself to the killing and rage that makes him the Hellequin.

So, was there romance in this book? You know I won’t read it if there is a lot of romance.

No, nothing that you’d hate. It was very subtle, but it made Nathan more realistic. He is 1600 years old and to never talk about the people that he may have loved and out-lived was making the story a little shallow from the emotional point of view.

Was there a cliffhanger? I know you hate those.

No, not really. I am letting go of some of my nervousness on this series. I think I’m trusting the author more not to start massacring characters. He’s not yet killed anyone I loved and he’s actually brought in a past love interest. I’ve read his blog and he says he has notes for a lot more books, so I’ve given myself over to the author and depend on him not to stab me in the heart.

You do realize these are only stories? No one is actually hurt or killed in the creation of this series.

I know, but I can’t help getting involved. The author is a good writer and has made me invested in the characters.

You don’t usually do that. This series must be pretty good. I’m getting interested in reading it. I know you’ve been recommending it for years. Maybe I will finally give in and start it. The first in the series is called Crimes Against Magic, right?

Yes, and Prison of Hope is the fourth book in the series. There is a novella that was published in December of 2013 that you could try first if you wanted. It could be a stand-alone to get the flavor of the characters. It’s about the missing princes and King Richard III. I wish you would read it. You’d love the history and the historical characters that the author uses. Also, Nathan lives in London, England, and I know you love England.

Wow. British royalty? History? London? AND killing rages? Why haven’t I read this series yet? I’m going to go get the books right now!

Nell 100

Nervous Nellie says…

Main characters: ♥♥♥♥♥ Nathan does not disappoint. He is a sorcerer of unimaginable strength and he has friends of unimaginable fame. To be in his circle must be a hell of a rush. He does have his enemies as well as his secrets. That’s what makes him attractive as a protagonist. He is 1600 years old – an age I cannot even imagine.

Other characters: ♥♥♥♥ There is Hope/Pandora who is the main focus of the book. Hades, Persephone and the whole lot of Olympian gods. We meet more friends and see Germany during the Nazi reign as well as in contemporary time. We meet one woman that was a love interest from Nathan’s past. We get to meet an older Kasey, whom I love and has turned into a very admirable young lady. Tommy is also accompanying Kasey as they drag Nathan along on an innocent school outing that turns into a lot more. We see Olivia and even meet King Arthur’s brother. All the recurring characters are well thought out and I feel like I’m visiting friends when I drop into Nathan’s world.

World: ♥♥♥♥ A little brushing up of Greek mythology’s dysfunctional family tree will make following the scheming and plotting easier. I like the world weaving the author delivers. The story falls into the fantasy genre, but it’s a fun world in which to get lost. There are contemporary landmarks used as well as known countries, so the world is a recognizable one. The author meshes together the contemporary time with that of Olympian Gods and historical figures. The attention to detail is fabulous.

Story: ♥♥♥♥♥ No cliffhanger ending. The story is another one of the author’s incredible designs and he does deliver some answers to past unanswered questions. I love how the author takes us back in time to the relevant history of Nathan’s and shows us that what goes around usually comes around. We learn more about Nathan, about Hellequin. There are some secrets revealed that make Nathan even more genuine. We get to experience his grief, heartbreak as well as rage and even a little laughter. The banter between Nathan and his friends make the story appealing and more solid. This is not a story that has one character that saves the world, it’s the whole team.

Overall: ♥♥♥♥ This series is a must-read. The action, adventure, and history keep the reader engaged at all times. It is a story that incorporates the emotional side of the characters, their passion for justice as well as their conflict.

I think a toy of me with a real spinning sphere of death is an unlikely action figure.

Take-away: “I’ve never been all that concerned with being right. If I’m wrong, someone will correct me, and if I’m right, then no one will. Being wrong is how we learn; it’s how species – human, sorcerer, or otherwise – have managed to survive without imploding. We learn from our mistakes.

Our reviews in this series…

  • Small Time Vengence, Book 0.5
  • Crimes Against Magic, Book 01
  • Born of Hatred, Book 02
  • Infamous Reign, Book 2.5
  • With Silent Screams, Book 3
  • Prison of Hope, Book 4
  • Lies Ripped Open, Book 5
  • Promise of Wrath, Book 6
  • Scorched Shadows, Book 7

If you like this book…

Stay tuned for more Nathan Garrett as Hellequin–according to the author’s website he has notes for several more books. Alex Hughes’s Mindspace Investigations series would be a good choice, and you might also try Craig Schaefer’s Daniel Faust series or Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series.

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

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