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Tarnished Knight by Bec McMaster

In the steam-fuelled world of Victorian London, vampires, werewolves and slasher gangs stalk the night and a man made partly of metal is about to discover just how far he’ll go to protect the woman he loves…

Title:  Tarnished Knight
Author:  Bec McMaster
Series:  London Steampunk #1.5
Publish Date:  April 5, 2013
Source: free only to those signed up for author’s newsletter

Publisher’s Description: In the steam-fuelled world of Victorian London, vampires, werewolves and slasher gangs stalk the night and a man made partly of metal is about to discover just how far he’ll go to protect the woman he loves…

After a vicious vampire attack left him struggling to leash the dark urges of the craving virus, John “Rip” Doolan thinks he’s finally starting to master the darkness within. The only thing that threatens to shatter his hard-won control is Esme, his closest friend and the only woman he’s ever wanted. If the stubborn beauty ever realized precisely what was going through his mind, their friendship would be ruined.

For six months, Esme has waited for Rip to recover and take her as his thrall, not daring to hope for more. Too afraid to put her heart on the line, she is devastated when Rip reveals that he never had any intentions of making her his.

But when a savage gang of Slashers start causing havoc in Whitechapel, Rip and Esme have no choice. They must face up to the depth of the passion that burns between them and forge a new relationship…or risk losing each other forever.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

Indeed, the dark should fear him.

 

This is a typical case of a man being blind as a bat.  John was turned blue blood by Blade to save his life.  John and Esme were very good friends but Esme wanted more.  John wanted more too, but he didn’t think Esme did even though she practically hammered the idea on his head.  Esme tried every way she could think of to tell him – directly, indirectly, actions, words, no actions, no words and nothing seemed to break through John’s thick head.

It finally took “meddlin'” as Blade called it to clear the air.  Blade and his wife, Honoria, are making a home for their “family”.  Some are blood, some are not but they are all family.  Blade can’t stand not seeing Esme happy and even though he was supposed to leave things alone, he HAD to play matchmaker – which tickled him pink.

This is a fun book (except for when the bad guys steal people to drain them and want to take over Whitechapel) and it ends with a good ending.  There is some sex, some foul language but John and Esme get their own story which was *sigh* so nice.

 

Other reviews in this series:

  • Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

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The Entity Game by Lisa Shearin

In a race against time, Rory must find and stop a very different kind of killer.

TitleThe Entity Game
AuthorLisa Shearin
SeriesAurora Donati #1
Release date: May 12, 2020
DescriptionA powerful United States senator and his aide die in their office of cardiac arrests. The next day, a second senator dies of an aneurysm. Officials declare their deaths natural causes, but the FBI fears there is something sinister happening on Capitol Hill and looks to psychometric detective Aurora Donati to investigate. Rory’s ability to get information from people or objects with a single touch uniquely qualifies her to explain the inexplicable. Only this time, she begins to wonder if she is up against forces that no one has ever encountered before.
 
The next attack strikes close to home and turns Rory’s world upside down. She finds herself entangled in a deadly mix of terrorists, corrupt politicians, and secretive intelligence agencies in a web of deception and conspiracy dating back to experiments performed in a Cold War-era Soviet laboratory and perfected by modern science.
 
Someone else is pursuing the truth: Gabriel Marshall, CIA operative, who has an agenda and abilities of his own. They find themselves locked in a deadly game, stalked by a seemingly supernatural assassin who puts Rory and Gabriel’s abilities to the ultimate test in a deadly duel. Time is running out and Rory must counter each move and play the game to its heart-stopping end in the halls of the US Capitol itself.  

 

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


Nervous Nellie says…

This was an AWESOME first of the series story!  New characters, new world, same strong and powerfully talented artist painting a movie for the mind through word!

This world is parallel of our world except for a female president, politicians that are actually acting for the greater good and, of course, supernatural talents that can only solve this mystery.  There was no sex.  No foul language.  A strong set of main characters and a charming grandfather to boot.  The story sets in Washington DC and surrounding area.  Aurora Donati and her grandfather have special gifts that help the F.B.I. solve difficult cases.  This time when they are called in, it is more than they bargained for as there is a sociopathic killer priming the world for his grand performance and a C.I.A. agent that writes his own rules.

I LOVED this book.  These characters are as dimensional as all the other characters that Lisa Shearin writes, but with more of a real world kind of “it could maybe happen here” kind of twist.  I cannot wait for the next in this series.  The characters took me on an investigation that could only happen in the political world and only with the C.I.A. and secret forces at play.

There was a good ending which I am always thrilled to see and good triumphs evil…at least for now.  This particular story could remain a player in an over arc of the whole series.

 

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Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Title:  Kiss of Steel
Author:  Bec McMaster
Series:  London Steampunk #1
Publish Date:  September 1, 2012
Source: purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description: When Nowhere Is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

 

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


Nervous Nellie says…

“Are you decent?”

“Rarely,” he said, with an ironic drawl.

“Are you clothed?”

“Aye.”

Right off I have to tell you  that I LOVED this book.  The story starts out in a steampunk world of 1870’s London, England.  The aristocracy are all “creatures” called Blue Bloods.  They have been infected (on purpose) with a craving virus similar to vampirism except it’s not quite the same.  The vampirism doesn’t take hold until after a blue blood (called so because their blood is a purplish/blue kind of color) goes through the “Fade”.  The Fade is called so because a blue blood’s virus count tops out and the higher it gets the less color the person has.  Meaning that everything about them turns albino in coloring and then they loose their mind and become a raging, killing machine that is nearly invincible.  It’s like Vampires but a different spin!

So, there is swearing, some romantic scenes and some sex scenes.  There is a lot of blood and gore at times but a lot more mystery and intrigue.  Honoria’s father was a scientist trying to find a cure for “The Fade” – not necessarily the craving virus because the aristocracy or The Echelon WANTS that.  The virus keeps them young, strong and hardy for as long as the virus count stays low enough.  All males born into aristocracy gets a chance at the craving virus.  At 15, all boys get infected as a rite of passage.  Some that are low born are accidentally infected.  Those are made into the “secret service/F.B.I.” of the aristocracy called the Nighthawks.  The best of the best of the Nighthawks are moved into the Coldrush Guards.  Those low born or those that are accidentally infected that eschew the Nighthawks are rogues and will be killed immediately unless…they can get away.  Blade is a rogue.

I loved these characters.  They are so dimensional and clear that they could step right out of the book.  I loved this book so much, that I continued and read book 1.1 and book 1.5 immediately.  I’m now starting on book 2.  This series sucked me in quickly and I cannot put it down!!

 

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Listen Up! Looking Glass by Christina Henry

I adore Christina Henry’s Chronicles of Alice, as you can see in my reviews of Alice and Red Queen. Though I enjoy her other fairy tale retellings as well, Alice has always been my favorite. So I was extremely excited to hear that a third book, Looking Glass, was in the works. Looking Glass rounds out the story of Alice and Hatcher completely and gives them the ending they deserve.

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Looking GlassTitleLooking Glass
Author: Christina Henry
Series: Chronicles of Alice, Book 3
Publish Date: April 21, 2020, Penguin
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Jenny Sterlin, Gildart Jackson
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIN FOUR NOVELLAS, CHRISTINA HENRY RETURNS TO THE WORLD OF ‘ALICE’ AND ‘RED QUEEN’, WHERE MAGIC RUNS AS FREELY AS SECRETS AND BLOOD.

LOVELY CREATURE

In the New City lives a girl with a secret: Elizabeth can do magic. But someone knows her secret – someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that was supposed to be gone forever; a butterfly that used to be called the Jabberwock. . .

GIRL IN AMBER

Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm she stumbles into a house that only seems empty and abandoned. . .

WHEN I FIRST CAME TO TOWN

Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive. . .

THE MERCY SEAT

There is a place hidden in the mountains, where all the people hate and fear magic and Magicians. It is the Village of the Pure, and though Alice and Hatcher would do anything to avoid it, it lies directly in their path. . .

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

Story: There are four novellas in Looking Glass that make for perfect bookends to the Chronicles of Alice.

When I First Came To Town is a flashback story of Hatcher’s past, giving the reader a sense of who was before and how he became to be Hatcher. Lovely Creature gives the reader a sense of what happened to Alice to land her in the hospital where she met Hatcher.

Then Girl in Amber and Mercy Seat wrap up the story of Alice and Hatcher, bringing them to their (what we assume is) a happy ending.

As with Alice and Red Queen, the story is mesmerizingly horrible and beautiful at once. The voice in which Henry paints Alice’s twisted world is, in contrast, sweet and innocent. That contrast is what makes the story feel like a magical, misty fairy tale – lovely and dark at the same time.

Narration: Jenny Sterlin’s performance perfectly captures that sweet, innocent voice that makes this series so fascinating. I don’t believe I’ve listened to any of Sterlin’s other audiobook performances, but I have Sorcerer To The Crown on my TBR list, so I just might listen to that one soon. She is an amazing performer.

Gildart Jackson narrates Hatcher’s story perfectly, bringing to it that same sense of innocence as Alice has along with helping of young male bravado. Jackson already has my devotion as the voice of Alex Verus, of course. He’s a fantastic performer with a huge catalog of audiobooks and does a fantastic job in every one that I’ve heard.

badge5v5Overall: I’m so glad to have this book as part of the Chronicles of Alice. Seeing both the character’s origins and their story’s ending makes the tale feel complete. Stories told in that beautifully dark way aren’t all that common, so I treasure the ones I find.

Listen Up! Dark Divide, Badlands Witch, and Immortal Conquistador by Carrie Vaughn

I’m super excited to be going back into the world of Kitty Norville for these stories about Kitty’s friends — bounty hunter, Cormac, and his witch partner Amelia, and the vampire Rick, Conquistador de la Noche and Master of Denver.

Jump To Review

Dark DivideTitleDark Divide and Badlands Witch
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: set in the world of Kitty Norville
Publish Date: January 28, 2020, Tantor Media
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: In brand-new stories spun off from the New York Times Bestselling Kitty Norville series, dark mysteries push the bounds of sanity. Cormac Bennett, ex-con and former bounty hunter, is a paranormal investigator with an edge: his partner is the disembodied spirit of a Victorian wizard, Amelia Parker. Together, they solve problems no one else can.

In Dark Divide, they’re asked to investigate a mysterious death in the Sierra Nevadas: a man died of hunger —in a cabin that was fully stocked with provisions. The kicker? The cabin is located near Donner Pass, the site of the gruesomely ill-fated Donner Party, where forty men, women, and children died of exposure and starvation. The event was made famous by reports of cannibalism among the survivors. Is the Donner site haunted? Is some evil force rising again after a hundred fifty years to wreak destruction? Can Cormac and Amelia learn the truth without being caught in the web? Well, they can try…

In Badlands Witch, Cormac and Amelia travel to South Dakota, where an archeologist has hired them to examine an artifact for possible magical qualities. Cormac is skeptical, Amelia is intrigued. And it turns out – the whole thing is a trap. Cormac used to make his living killing monsters, and he made more than a few enemies back in the day. Who from his past is out for revenge, and can he and Amelia survive?

These stories are published separately as Kindle novellas but together in audio.

Immortal ConqistadorTitle: Immortal Conquistador
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: set in the world of Kitty Norville
Publish Date: April 28, 2020, Tantor Media
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: From Carrie Vaughn, author of the beloved Kitty Norville werewolf talk-show host series, comes the vampire origin story of Kitty’s famed ally, Rick-and his sudden turn to darkness in the seventeenth century.

More than 500 years before his friendship with Kitty, noble Ricardo de Avila’s life met a fate-changing twist, and his morally-complex, blood-soaked existence as an immortal began. Before being turned, Ricardo de Avila would have followed Coronado to the ends of the earth. Instead he found the end of his mortal life-and a new one, as a renegade vampire. For over five hundred years as an immortal, Ricardo has followed his own moral code, upsetting the established order in the demon world. He has protected his found family from marauding evil, joined up with a legendary gunslinger, tended bar, appointed himself the Master of Denver, and discovered a church buried under the Vatican. The life of a vampire is frequently long, but for Rick, it is never easy.

DEFINITE spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

Story: In Dark Divide and Badlands Witch, we get to know more about Ben’s cousin, Cormac, and Cormac’s partner, the 19th-century witch, Amelia, who hitched a ride in his head while he was in prison. Since Cormac can no longer pursue his career as a bounty hunter, he and Amelia start investigating paranormal events and, of course, find lots of trouble.

I enjoy their adventures very much. The contrast in their voices and perspectives is interesting, and seeing the incredibly closed-off Cormac from inside his own head is enlightening. He’s a tough nut to crack in Kitty’s stories, and though he’s a beloved character, readers don’t really get to know him. Seeing him open up in these stories, even if it’s because he doesn’t have a choice to do otherwise, is a cool bit of character development.

I couldn’t help myself, though. Everyone once in a while as I was reading, I had to whisper to myself, “back in bowl” the way Richard Libertini says it in All of Me (1984). Yeah, I know. I’m old and that’s an old reference. But oh, so appropriate.

The Immortal Conquistador is both a flashback novel and forward character development for Rick, the reluctant vampire. He’s another interesting character in Kitty’s world—which, in all honesty, is filled with interesting characters. Readers get to follow Rick through periods in history as he contemplates his origins and how they made him the perfect agent for a secret papal army fighting the supernatural baddies of the world.

I really enjoyed this novel, but it also left me with more questions. This novel didn’t tell us how Rick came to be a part of the Denver group of vampires after he refused to do so several times over (though it’s been a while since I read the Kitty series, and if it’s told there, I forget). Also, will we see more of Rick in his new role as a Vatican-sanctioned vampire? Perhaps pursuing the new information we learned about Dux Bellorum? I’d read that for sure. Maybe the upcoming October release, Kitty’s Mix Tape, will touch on some of these.

And as long as I’m asking, how about a novel about Odessus Grant, the magician Kitty meets in Vegas with the magic box behind which I like to imagine the Old Gods lurks? I am super curious about his character and would love to learn more about him.

Narration: I am pleasantly surprised by the narration by Neil Hellegers, not having heard him before. I wasn’t sure at first if Hellegers sounded like Cormac to me, but as with any new narrator, it just took me time to align the character and the voice in my head. I see Hellegers narrates the Black Magic Outlaw series by Domino Finn, which is in my TBR list, and J.P. Sloan’s Dark Choir series, which I’ve read and reviewed but not heard, so I’ll have to pull those out soon.

badge5v5Overall: I think I would read any story set in Kitty’s world, whether it was about Kitty or her many interesting acquaintances. Vaughn has created a rich world full of magic and mayhem that could support thousands of stories. Sign me up for all of them!

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