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Shadow Duel by Brad Magnarella

Beware the shadow of many faces, but fear the master of many places…

shadow duelTitle: Shadow Duel
Author:  Brad Magnarella
Series: Prof Croft #9
Publish Date: April 15 2021
Source: purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description:  Beware the shadow of many faces, but fear the master of many places…

It’s Monday morning, and I’ve recovered a strange glyph-covered chest from a landfill. By Monday afternoon, someone’s stolen it from my warded loft.

Before I can suss out who, why, and most importantly, how, I’m neck-deep with the NYPD on a murder case. A bigshot CEO is dead in his penthouse, his kidneys harvested in a way that screams black magic. Only there’s no magic in evidence.

The two crimes connect somehow, and the key may be an old explorer’s club in the heart of Manhattan. But this mage needs to get moving. More victims are turning up sans organs, and twice now I’ve found myself in a shadow realm—a darker, more dangerous version of the city, where a mysterious entity wants me dead.

And here I thought the summer’s biggest chore would be persuading my succubus cat to play nice with my wife.

Spoiler alert: she’s still Tabitha.

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

Nervous Nellie says…

I really love this series.  It’s kind of a police procedural but not.  That’s pretty wishy washy, huh?  Well, you have your intense magic user, you have nasty mythological creatures that terrorize people and murder.  If you have never tried this series and think that sounds boring, let me clue you in.  These books, this one included, are often edge of your seat adventure, murder in mysterious magical circumstances in a world that does know about magic.  I feel the comparison to Indiana Jones would lead to an idea of the content of these books…except Indy never had a consultant gig with the NYPD.

Everson now has a family.  I never thought that Ricki Vega would ever succumb to Everson’s charms, let alone his dangerous and most often very closely lethal magic dealings.  The baby they are expecting is growing and Vega is on desk duty.  She doesn’t like it, but she does manage to get inside this case due to her ability to liaison with the wizard.  She doesn’t really have an active part in this story, but she does have her moments in the spotlight.  It is a complicated relationship that plays out between Detective Hoffmen and Prof Croft.  They HAVE to get along and solve the case.  Ricki can only do so much since she’s not working directly on the case.  It’s a tough partnership between the two men.

So, the case.  Weirdest dang thing – people are getting killed and having certain organs removed without a trace of incision or cause of death.  No why or how.  Just is.  That’s where Everson is brought in.  He has a huge task of solving this riddle that just becomes more dangerous and mysterious as the book weaves it’s story.  It’s surprising Everson doesn’t develop a concussion for as many times as he hits a brick wall leading him to no answers, but he perseveres.  I have got to tell you that I’d never have guessed where leads took him and the places he ended up.  The dangers he put himself into were not just to solve the case, but to stop the destruction to humans of the earth.  This feels like an over-several-books story that doesn’t end at the end of this book.  It’s not a cliffhanger to the murders, so don’t worry about that part. There is, however, a revelation at the very end that was of particular interest.  It’s not a bad revelation – a very “OMG” moment and I cannot wait to see where this leads.


Our reviews in this series…

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Smoke Show by D.N. Erikson

Emmy Davis, the world’s most famous fox shifter, went missing two years ago. And I’ve just been hired to find her.

smoke showTitle: Smoke Show
Author:   D.N. Erikson
Series:  Tess Skye #2
Publish Date:  August 17, 2021
Source:  purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description: Emmy Davis, the world’s most famous fox shifter, went missing two years ago.

And I’ve just been hired to find her.

If only things were that simple. The cops have no leads. Other PIs haven’t fared any better. The trail is colder than an arctic winter. And to make matters worse, a mysterious creature from Javy Diaz’s past has taken an alarming interest in the case.

But all that might be the least of my problems. Because you know everything you’ve heard about the pitfalls of social media?

Yeah. Turns out it’s worse than that.

Way worse.

And having 113 million crazed fans breathing down my neck as I search for their lost idol might prove more dangerous than crossing paths with whoever actually took her in the first place…

Smoke Show is the breakneck, action-packed second novel in the new Tess Skye urban fantasy series. It must be read after the first book, Drop Dead.

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

Nervous Nellie says…

You know how the next book in a series loses some of it’s shine?  Not in this series!  I am so happy I found this author because they are amazing.  Another book-in-one-day kind of story.

This story does not stray from the urban fantasy genre.  No sex, no romance.  There is an over arcing story that follows the agreement Tess and Javy made in the first book.  To help people.

You’d think this would be a fairly straight forward plot line.  1. missing person 2. search for person 3.  found person story done.  Yeah, not so much in this story.  There are a lot of twists and turns in this story and the action?  It was a page turner.  I was glued to the book from the first page.  There are 3 friends that are social media influencers and they came up with a fantastic idea to boost their ratings, except the plan did not go according to script.  I would love to tell you what happened, but I feel like one slip and it’d ruin the anticipation getting to the end of the story.  It all ends well, so no fears there.  When I got to the end, it was like a lightbulb moment when all was revealed.  It was so simple, but yet complicated.  I enjoyed the ride greatly.

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Drop Dead by

I just woke up in a motel.  I have no idea who I am or how I got here.

drop dead skyeTitle:  Drop Dead
Author:   D.N. Erikson
Series:  Tess Skye #1
Publish Date:  January 20, 2021
Source:  purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description:  I just woke up in a motel.
I have no idea who I am or how I got here.
But I do know three things.
There’s a body on the floor…and one in the bathtub.
There’s a bullet in my shoulder. And it hurts. Bad.
And there’s a vampire warlock right outside the door. And he’s coming to finish the job.

Drop Dead is the first book in the new urban fantasy series starring Tess Skye.

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

Nervous Nellie says…

First of all, I loved this story.  It was well written and it was never slow…ever.  There is no sex – pure urban fantasy.  There is death and some of it is a little gory too.

Tess is a Soulwalker.  Someone that can live the last few minutes of someone’s life as well as re-animate them.  It’s a dang cool trick and it sounds like it could make a human full on insane.  Tess is fighting the odds in a losing game.  It’s really quite amazing that she actually finishes the year long fight in good vs. evil.   Tess is the last Soulwalker and there are many magical creatures that are out in the public eye because of the Great Reveal.  This time, the cops are against the good guy and are corrupt all because of one guy that, again, wants all the power.  There are Immortals, Vampires and probably others that haven’t been mentioned yet.  I guess the reason I liked this story so much was because it didn’t duplicate something I’d already read.  This book popped up after I read Demon Rogue by this same author.  If I had to measure in stars, I’d rate this book one more star higher than Demon Rogue.  If you like urban fantasy and a fairly fast paced, but not complicated story, this is the book for your next planned escape.  I really enjoyed it.

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Back off Witch by Brad Magnarella

back off witchTitle: Back off Witch
Author:  Brad Magnarella
Series:  A Croft and Tabby Short (#2)
Publish Date: February 14, 2022
Source: Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Publisher’s Description: What’s worse than a sharp-tongued cat in a heatwave? Being stuck inside with her.

When my friend Kayla asks for my help as a wizard, I jump at the chance to escape my apartment—and Tabitha.

In New York’s inner city, a child’s closet hides a monster. At least according to my starry-eyed friend, who claims powers of intuition. But this time she might be onto something. The scariest part? The child will only confide in Tabitha.

Now I need to convince my succubus cat, who remains committed to eating, sleeping, staying cool, and, yes, devouring my soul, to help stop a supernatural threat that’s climbing faster than the city’s thermometer.

Can Tabitha and I overcome our differences in time to save an innocent life?

Or will she undermine me just to prove she’s still queen?

Croft & Tabby is a spinoff of the popular Prof Croft series, set before the main books. If you like snarky cats, fledgling mages, and supernatural investigations, you’ll love Croft & Tabby!

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

Nervous Nellie says…

Tabitha and Prof Croft work together again. Tabitha is always reluctant to help, probably because she’s once removed from a demon, but Prof Croft bribes and cajoles her into coaxing a little boy to reveal the beast he’s afraid of and that is endangering his life. Of course, with Prof Croft, nothing is easy. What sounds like a decent low involvement plan totally blows up into something much bigger. Non magic believers, gather ’round for an entertaining and well written addition to the Croft and Tabby short. By the way, these short stories are a nice way to try out Prof Croft’s world to see if you might want to engage with the full size novels, which I encourage wholeheartedly.


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Listen Up! Three Light-Hearted UF/PNR Series

Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I thought I would play catch-up with a multi-book review. My goal lately has been to listen to audiobooks I’ve already purchased instead of buying something new. I have over a thousand audiobooks in three accounts, after all. I should be able to find SOMETHING entertaining, right? I landed on three light-hearted urban fantasy/paranormal romance series that had good mysteries and fit my mood perfectly.

I’m not going to include the story descriptions in this review to save space, but I’ll include a link to the series’ Goodreads page for descriptions. I highly recommend all three of these series if you’re in the mood for belly laughs, mysteries, relatable problems, gorgeous men, and a touch of romance.

Ordinary Magic series by Devon Monk

I decided to listen to Devon Monk‘s Ordinary Magic series again. I like this series a lot. It’s quirky and fun, and Khristine Hvam, who also voices the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series, does a fantastic job. I’ve liked Devon Monk’s writing since her Ally Beckstrom series. Ordinary Magic is lighter-hearted than Ally, but the mystery is good and I’m eager to see where it goes.

While the first three books in this series are published in the unabridged, single-narrator format, Graphic Audio has the first five books available. Graphic Audio produces full-scale dramatizations, though somewhat abridged. I like both types of productions, but I’d like to stay consistent within a series, so I hope the rest of Ordinary Magic gets made with Hvam narrating. Please, Audible? Pretty please?

Betwixt and Between series by Darynda Jones

After Ordinary Magic, I tried several different audiobooks. Either the story or the narrator wasn’t fitting my mood until I landed on Darynda Jones‘s Betwixt, and I realized I was wanting some light-hearted brain candy rather than my typical serious UF. The signature humor from Jones’s Charley Davidson series is all over Betwixt, and I laughed out loud several times, which was exactly what I needed. Traci Odom does a great job as narrator, ensuring the humor lands just right. My only frustration is that the second and third books aren’t out yet in audio! Bewitched releases on March 30 (a week from now) and Beguiled releases on May 5. All three books are available now in eBook, though, so I might have to switch formats to get more of this delightful series.

Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain

I wanted to stick with this lighthearted theme, so I decided to listen to Rebecca Chastain‘s Madison Fox series in audio. Before the audio was released, I had previously read and enjoyed this series in ebook format. So I knew I’d like the story. I just hoped the narrator did it justice. And she did! Elise Arsenault does a beautiful job voicing the characters and bringing the story to life. There are a few shorts and novellas in this series not in audio, and I’d love to see an anthology narrated by Arsenault, along with more Madison Fox adventures. In the meantime, however, I get to reread Chastain’s Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and catch up on her Terra Haven series, which is starting to appear in audio as well. Thank you, Tantor!

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