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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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I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

I could not believe how good this story was and how much I wanted more!

Title: I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1: Madly Ever After
Author: Skottie Young (Writer, Artist), Jean-François Beaulieu (Colourist), Nate Piekos (Letterer)
Series: I Hate Fairyland (Trade), Book 01
Publish Date: April 20, 2016, Image Comics
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: From superstar writer and artist Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon, Wizard of OZ, Fortunately, The Milk), comes the first volume of an all-new series of adventure and mayhem.

An Adventure Time/Alice in Wonderland-style epic that smashes its cute little face against grown-up, Tank Girl/Deadpool-esque violent madness. Follow Gert, a forty-year-old woman stuck in a six-year-old’s body, who has been trapped in the magical world of Fairyland for nearly thirty years. Join her and her giant battle-axe on a delightfully blood-soaked journey to see who will survive the girl who HATES FAIRYLAND.

Collecting: I Hate Fairyland 1-5

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

Fairyland exists to pull girls into it to have a fun two- or three-day adventure, and then they get to go back home. What happens, though, when the girl can’t figure out what to do? That’s what we have here.

All Gertrude had to do was several quick quests in Fairyland, and then she could go home. Fairyland gave her a guide and set her on her way for a fun, magical adventure!

That was twenty-seven years ago. Apparently, Gertrude isn’t good at following directions. Or quests. Or a straight line.

It’s now twenty-seven years later, and she is still trapped in Fairyland. She can’t tell North from East, Up from Left, and can’t find the way back home. Fairyland is suffering as well. It is used to entertaining little girls for a day or two and doesn’t know what to do with Gertrude. The queen is doing what she can to get rid of Gertrude and restore peace to her realm.

Gertrude herself has aged mentally but not physically. And here is where it gets wonderfully wicked. Make no mistake about it, this is an adult book. There are adult themes in it and what could be some disturbing visuals. Not the language, though, because it’s Fairyland. No swearing allowed! That fun language alone is worth it. “Mother fluffer” abounds.

It was a great read! Fun story, fun visuals, and some hilarious dialog makes this a wonderful book! I can’t wait for the next one! Full five stars!

Savage Prophet (audio) by James A. Hunter

To listen or not to listen – there is no question about it. The audio of Savage Prophet is definitely one to listen.

Title: Savage Prophet
Author: James A. Hunter
Series: Yancy Lazarus, Book 04
Publish Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Charlie Kevin
Cover: Lou Harper Designs
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Legions of murderous undead, Haitian voodoo, and a 5,000-year-old serpent god.

Yeah, ’cause that’s exactly what Yancy Lazarus needs in his life: more complications. As if being the Hand of Fate and the newly appointed guardian over one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse wasn’t headache enough.

All Yancy wants is an easy life on the open road – chock-full of ribs, beer, cigarettes, and smoky bars blaring with gritty blues music – but that just isn’t in the cards. Nope, not anymore. He’s been charged with saving the world, and now that he’s got a no-shit demon riding shotgun in his head, he’s sorta committed to the cause.

If Yancy can’t sort through this colossal heap of bullshit, he’s coffin bound. But, he’s not dead yet. In fact, he even has a lead.

Turns out one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse – the pale Rider, Death – is slumming around in one of Yancy’s old haunts. In order to corner this new threat, though, Yancy’s gonna have to face some deadly supernatural nightmares from his distant past. And, to make matters worse, he’s not the only one trailing the Pale Rider. A powerful new mage with some serious magical chops is also aiming to find the Fourth Seal and he’ll do whatever it takes to win. Even if it means hurting those closest to Yancy…like FBI Agent Nicole Ferraro.

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



Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

“He could rot in that damn hole until the world imploded or mankind was finally eradicated by an army of tyrannical, laser-wielding monkeys riding cyborg dinosaurs. Or whatever. Though personally, I’ve got my money on the crazy monkey-dinosaur apocalypse thing.”

This book has graphic violence (to those who deserve it-except Yancy of course), no sex, a little bit of a cliffhanger (not bad), and a fabulous narrator.

Sometimes when I buy an audiobook I really hope that the narrator is invested in the characters enough to make the book come to life. I’ve listened to books where the accent the narrator uses to portray some characters muddies the listening experience so much that the dialogue is not understandable. This narrator does no such thing. As a matter of fact, if I listened closely (which I did) I figured out the identity of the person behind the secret brown robe. Charlie Kevin did such an amazing job of portraying Yancy Lazarus that I now hear Charlie’s voice in my head when I read Yancy’s words. That normally doesn’t happen unless the voice of the narrator and the character mesh.

James A. Hunter does an especially great job of writing…again. This series is a series that I can’t wait for the next release. Most of the time the heroes are threatened to be harmed but in the nick of time gets out of the jam. Not Yancy. Mr. Hunter, I think, enjoys putting Yancy through his paces and most of the time gets the raw end of the deal. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yancy does get his share of breaks but more often than not the danger outweighs any sort of a break he gets.

In this story, I felt like there is not one more thing that Yancy could possibly handle before he has a total breakdown. I totally understood his baser instinct of self-preservation and the idea of ‘just walking away’. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Yancy stuck with his destiny even though he knew it may be his final end. Oh – <spoiler> it’s not his final end yet. Thank goodness Brimstone Blues is released so I could move on to the next book without too much anxiety. I will really hate to see the end of this series.

Mr. Hunter is in negotiation for the audio of Brimstone Blues and it’ll possibly be released after the new year. Woot!!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

If you like cranky urban fantasy detectives, check out the Dresden Files, Sandman Slim, or Alex Rains.

White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland

The White Trash Zombie series is one of my favorites in audio. Rowland’s writing and McLemore’s narration are a perfect match. In this sixth installment, Angel Crawford pits herself against the ambitious and narcissistic scientist, Kristi Charish, to stop the spread of a zombie epidemic and find a cure. And along the way, she makes herself some new pets—zombie gators!

Title: White Trash Zombie Unchained
Author: Diana Rowland
Series: White Trash Zombie, Book 06
Publish Date: September 4, 2017, Audible Studios
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Cover: Tony Mauro
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Angel Crawford has finally pulled herself together (literally!) after her disastrous dismemberment on Mardi Gras. She’s putting the pieces of her life back in order and is ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Too bad the future is a nasty bitch. There’s a new kind of zombie in town: mindless shamblers, infectious and ravenous.

With the threat of a full-blown shambler pandemic looming, and a loved one stricken, Angel and the “real” zombies scramble to find a cure. Yet when Angel uncovers the true reason the plague is spreading so quickly, she adds “no-holds-barred revenge” to her to-do list.

Angel is busting her ass dealing with shambling hordes, zombie gators, government jerks, and way too many mosquitos, but this white trash chick ain’t giving up.

Good thing, since the fate of the world is resting on her undead shoulders.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

OMG, I love this series! Listening to it makes me giddy. I feel a series reread coming on. 🙂

Angel Crawford has come a long way from the pill-popping loser she was at the beginning of book 1. She’s drug-free, has a good relationship with her dad, excels at her job, is going back to school for a degree, has made some true friends, and is instrumental in protecting the zombies in her community.

So when it appears she accidentally creates a new batch of mindless, shambling zombies, she feels pretty bad about it. The whole town seems to be turning into shamblers—including Nick, her co-worker, friend, and perhaps more. In order to save Nick and everyone else, Angel has to figure out what the evil Dr. Charish is up to and help her own scientists find a cure.

I love that Rowland has Angel still battling with her self-esteem. Behind the zombie science and outrageous situations, Angel’s story is really one of reclaiming herself, working hard to drag herself up from poverty and substance abuse to have a full and productive life and role in her community. When a person’s life starts in poverty and tragedy, there’s a mentality that never really goes away, regardless of how far they may have come. Rowland doesn’t let it dominate the story or beat the readers over the head with it, but it’s there in Angel’s thoughts about herself and her limits. It’s great to see her work through it productively in this book, and it makes her a role-model, of sorts.

Unchained gets top marks from me. This installment seems to be a turning point in the series, and I’m very excited to see what happens next (particularly with the zombie gators!). I can’t recommend this series enough, especially if you enjoy audiobooks. The narration is such a treat.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out the Adventures of Owl and Kincade Strange series by the real, and not evil, Kristi Charish. If you haven’t read it yet, the Sookie Stackhouse series is about another Southern gal put in outrageous situations.

American Gods 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman

I’m going to make a confession: I’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book before now. I’ve purchased several of his books with the intent to read them, and I’ve seen several movies based on his work, including his Dr. Who episode “The Doctor’s Wife”, which I absolutely adore.

I was super excited when Starz announced it would be reimagining American Gods as a series. I’ve watched it, and it’s fantastic. So when season 1 ended, leaving viewers halfway through the story, I decided I needed to read the book. I’m not patient enough to wait a year to hear what happens to the characters!

Title: American Gods 10th Anniversary Edition
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publish Date: June 21, 2011, HarperAudio
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Full-cast production
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

When I went looking for the audio of American Gods, I discovered there is not only a 10th Anniversary edition (print and audio), but the audio is done by a full cast. It’s not a dramatic production; there aren’t sound effects or background scores. It’s still unabridged, though I suspect some dialog tags may have been removed for the reading. But each character has a different voice, brought to life by several fantastic voice actors. I would swear some of the voices were done by the TV series actors, but that doesn’t appear to be the case (cast list).

Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in American Gods (2017)

Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in American Gods (2017)

The full cast audio recording is wonderful! Multiple voices really enhance the listening experience. Gaiman himself voices not only an introduction and conclusion, telling the listener about the experiences that went into the writing and how the tenth-anniversary edition came about, but he also narrates the Coming to America segments of the book—historical vignettes describing how many of the old gods traveled to the new world. Gaiman has a great voice for the narration.

Since I had watched the show before reading the book, I was looking for the similarities and differences between the two, as well as more depth and explanation than a series can typically go into. There is certainly more depth—a lot more. I’d love to hear a world religion or theology class discuss this book. There are also differences between the two mediums, but they all seem to fit into the same universe, and I enjoyed them all.

American Gods seems to be a good urban fantasy if you want to approach it casually, and a very interesting look at people and religion if you want to dig into the imagery and metaphor. It’s certainly worth more than one read, as there is so much to the book that I’m sure I didn’t absorb it all. I will say that if you are not at all familiar with the myths of a few world religions, you’ll want to have the internet nearby to Google some of the references.

Other recommendations…

David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Good Omens (2018)

David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Good Omens (2018)

It is very easy to see the influence American Gods has in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, so it’s likely if you enjoy one, you will enjoy the other. Gaiman has also breathed new life into the myths of one of the world religions in American Gods in his book Norse Mythology. I’m super excited about the upcoming release of the TV version of Good Omens by Amazon/BBC in 2018. I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to read the book first or not. Sometimes I find it makes for a better experience to read the book after, so that I’m adding richness to the show instead of taking it away from the book. 😉