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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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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 by HachetteAudio
Genre: Historical fiction
Narrator: Allison Hiroto
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionPachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

“Life keeps pushing you around, but you never stop playing.”

I picked this book up because it got several good reviews and it covers a time period and geography that I’m not that familiar with.

This is a remarkable tale that covers several decades about Koreans and the plight those who immigrated to Japan faced during and after the wars. The narrator, Allison Hiroto, did a wonderful job with the pacing and the pronunciations of the names of the characters, the various forms of address, and the Korean vocabulary. I’m not sure I would have finished the book if she hadn’t been so good.

I also picked up the book because I was familiar with the game, pachinko. I didn’t realize it was associated with gangsters in Korea and Japan. I just played it in a friend’s basement as a little kid. It was a really fun game and a bit like an upright pinball machine.

I liked the beginning of the book quite a bit. I was introduced to one of the main characters, Sunja, and the Korean peninsula during the colonial era. The day-to-day life of a rural peasant was written in such a way that I had a vivid picture in my head, and I really wanted to continue to know more about Sunja’s life.

However, the book seemed to veer off of that intimate relationship I had with the character when the author chose to have many more first-person narratives. Each of them was a member of Sunja’s family or had some close connection to that family, but I felt less and less close to the characters as more points of view were introduced.

I give this book 4 stars.

Other recommendations…

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay, or The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng.

Raw Power by Ambrose Isben

If you were dying, and you were asked if you wanted a risky experimental surgery to save your life, would you do it?  What if the surgery involved a demon’s heart?

Raw PowerTitleRaw Power
Author: Ambrose Isben
Series: Demon Hearted #1
Publish Date: June 6, 2016 by Audible Studios
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: James Foster
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:  I’m one of those disgruntled millennials you’ve heard about on the evening news. I’ve got a master’s degree in Art History, a mountain of student loan debt and no job to show for it.

Wait, scratch that. I track down stolen pieces of art for wealthy clients and then beat whoever stole them to within an inch of their life. Say what you will, but it puts bread on the table.

Something went wrong with this last job of mine, though. I walked in on something I wasn’t supposed to see and got murdered by witches. Yeah, real, legit witches. Never saw that one coming, did you? Neither did I, and the only reason I’m writing this is because some doctor working for an ancient secret society decided it would be a good idea to use me as a science experiment.

See, he implanted a new heart in me and saved my life, but it wasn’t just any old heart. It was a demon’s heart. Nifty, eh?

Anyhow, I’m back and better than ever, except that, now and then, the demon takes over completely and I do awful things. Lose control. But enough about that. This is a story about how I (mostly) rein in the demon’s impulsive personality and seek revenge against the coven of witches that tried to kill me. Along the way, I learn a thing or two about this secret society I’m apparently now a member of and find out that there’s a lot of shit out there that goes “bump” in the night.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

Wow. This was a great book.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this Nervous_Nellie_100book, but it was non-stop action until the end.  This story did not have any sex. There was plenty of violence but nothing too graphic. There was no cliffhanger.

Lucian is kind of a jerk.  I won’t lie and say he’s super cool because he’s not.  He’s basically a thug that “repossesses” items for the uber rich.  He’s just looking for a fast buck and really doesn’t care much about the whys or wherefores. He just wants the payday.

Then the demon heart happened.

The next thing Lucian knew, he was thrown into an A-Team situation where he had the temperament of a spoiled prom queen and the power of… well… a demon.

Not sure that’s a good idea, but the witch coven that is super evil is sacrificing children to work their magic.  It’s up to Lucian and his Scorpion-like team to stop their end game.

By the end of the book, I got to liking Lucian a little better.  That’s good writing right there.  The author took a character from slug to hero in two hundred pages. I am looking forward to the next book, Roaring Blood, as it is waiting for me in my TBR pile.

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Quickly, I’d like to address the narrator.  Sometimes you get really crappy narrators that can’t fit their character no matter what.  Not this guy.  His spin on Lucian Colt was awesome.  He captured Lucian’s whiny, spoiled attitude and then helped him along his way to self-realization and becoming a better guy.  Super narrator.  I’ll listen to him again, no questions asked!

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.