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Storm of the Gods by Amy Braun

An excellent book, and a great start to a new series!

Full Disclosure: Percy’s wife and site co-founder, Ivana, was an editor on this book (and absolutely loves it!). She receives no remuneration from sales.

Title: Storm of the Gods
Author: Amy Braun
Series: Areios Brothers, Book 1
Publish Date: September 2018
Cover: Deranged Doctor Design
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThirty years ago, the gods of Greek legend returned to the world. Their return restored their powers, which had been spent in a cataclysmic battle with the Titans. With the ancient deities imprisoned in Tartarus, the Olympians now reside in Néo Vasíleio, formerly known as California.

Twenty-four-year-old Derek Aerios is a war scion, a descendant of Ares, the God of War. He and his brother, eighteen-year-old Liam, capture mythological creatures and rogue scions as part of Ares’s elite military force. As he struggles to cope with his violent powers and the scars of a traumatic childhood, Derek tries to keep the two vows he has made: protect his brother and never kill a human again.

But when Ares forces him to hunt and kill four rogue scions under Athena’s control—by threatening Liam’s life—Derek chooses to go after the scions in order to save his brother and keep his promise to himself.

Yet the closer Derek gets to the scions, the more he realizes that his orders are part of a deeper conspiracy that put him at odds with his mission and his conscience. Athena may not be the enemy, a traitor could be in their midst, and the Titans could be closer to freedom than ever before.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is an action book. It starts with the brothers returning from a hunt for a mythological creature that was running loose. However, they are attacked by other scions from another region and soon have many questions.

The battle scenes are so much fun. These are demigods using a lot of power, throwing around fire, lightning, and other abilities that have been granted from their heritage. However, when it comes to actual killing, all of the scions do hold back from actually doing that. Sure, they will blast each other with their fire or harden their skin for powerful blows, but they don’t fully kill. It becomes a big moment in the book when killing is considered. I liked that.

The action continues as they are quickly given a new mission from Ares, the god whose blood flows through them, giving them their powers: find out who attacked them, what they were after, and stop them. Recover anything they had taken. It’s a wild ride across all of the different gods’ domains.

The small complaint I have is that we never get into deep background. But instead of a negative, it makes me more curious about the area. Why did the Greek gods pick California to rule? Why limit themselves in that regard? Are the other pantheons real? Will we find more scions?

Derek and Liam find themselves crossing into the other areas, making uneasy alliances, and learning about themselves as they dig deeper and deeper into the mystery of why Athena did what she did, what the end game is, and what will happen to them if they go against Ares?

All during the read, I was pulled into the world. Again, I’m given just enough to hint a bigger picture and want to know more. I liked the brothers, and while it almost veered into some twenty-something angst, it never quite got to the point that I find annoying.

A solid five and I look forward to the next book!

Full Disclosure: Percy’s wife and site co-founder, Ivana, was an editor on this book (and absolutely loves it!). She receives no remuneration from sales.

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Tarnished Journey by Ann Gimpel

This is the final book in the Soul Dance Series. Shifters, Romani, and Celtic gods do battle with demons and vampires who have signed on with Hitler in order to save Earth.

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

tarnished-journey.jpgTitle: Tarnished Journey
Author: Ann Gimpel
Series: Soul Dance 04
Publish Date: July 18, 2017, Ann Gimpel Books, LLC
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionLong before Germany rounded up Romani and sent them to prison camps, the Netherlands declared them undesirables. Yara’s caravan disbanded when she was fifteen to avoid being driven out of the country. Ten years have passed, and she’s been alone for most of that time hiding in caves and abandoned buildings. It’s been a lonely life, but at least she still has one.

Stewart conceals his true identity for the best of reasons. He’s not actually Romani, even though he’s been a caravan leader for many years. In a bold and desperate move, he joins a small band of shifters and Rom to fight the Reich’s chokehold on Europe. When they’re crossing the border into the Netherlands, vampires attack.

Yara senses Romani near her cave. The stench of vampire comes through loud and clear too, along with shifters. While not nearly as bad as vampires, her people have always steered clear of them. Another type of magic plucks at her. She can’t identify it, but it draws her from her hiding place. That decision tilts her world on its axis when she comes face to face with Stewart’s raw masculinity and savage presence. She could still turn tail and run. If she stays, it doesn’t require magical ability to recognize her life will change forever.


Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

I am almost sad that this series is ending. I was not sure at first, but it became one I greatly enjoyed. For Tarnished Journey we leave behind the vampires and Nazis (for the most part) and get into another mythos, that of the Celts. I enjoyed that aspect a little more than I did the previous novels.

I love that the author features strong women in her stories. Yara is no exception. She has had to be tough and independent since her caravan disbanded and she has been alone since she was fifteen. Meeting Stewart changes everything for her. He introduces her to a new life and reveals many secrets that have been kept from her such as where her power really comes from. I really enjoyed the romance between them. Stewart is very honest with her and genuine in expressing his love. Even though Yara fights him at first, their love had me rooting for them.

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There is a lot of action in the story and many twists. Readers never know what to expect next as the characters encounter all kinds of danger. Not only do they face vampires demons and the Nazis but now god and goddesses are thrown into the mix.Every chapter the characters face a new and exciting danger.

I liked this story better than the previous installments. I give it 4 talismans!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out the Dragon Lore series by Ann Gimpel, The Hathaways series by LisaKleypas, Gypsy Lord by Kat Martin

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

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. 😉

Hexed by Kevin Hearne

As part of the Iron Druid read-along, Kat is adding her review of Hounded to Percy’s 2015 review.

You shall not suffer a witch to live. Well, unless they aren’t so bad. Or you want to make peace with them. Or. Wait, let me start over. Witches that try to kill you, well, you should try and kill them first. Welcome to Hexed.

HexedTitle:  Hexed
Author:  Kevin Hearne
SeriesThe Iron Druid Chronicles Book 02
Publish Date:  January 1, 2011
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:  Atticus Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Hexed picks up right where Hounded left off: with Atticus due to sign a non-aggression treaty with the local Polish witch coven and its leader, Malina. The coven is taking fire from a wicked German coven who have Bacchants as allies, so they’re requesting aid from Atticus. All in all, these baddies lead our not-so-humble Druid badass into a lot of bloody battles.

I really enjoyed the fight scene with Coyote and Atticus while they were taking down the fallen angel. Lots of chaos that was written well. Probably my favorite scene in the whole book.

Sadly, I think I’m enjoying the story more than the characters. Atticus is too complicated for me. Over two thousand or more years old has given him a lot of knowledge of magic and history. But it does nothing for his social life beyond him knowing how to blend in as a human and with other creatures of the supernatural world. I feel like he’s incredibly naive despite his age. It’s weird to explain. He’s trying to protect his friends but he’s also always leading them into situations where it’s necessary for him to protect them in the first place. Plus, he may have friends in high places, but I feel like he takes advantage of their friendship a lot.

I mean, even Hal, his lawyer, doesn’t want his werewolf pack entangled in his messes because he involved them in the first place. Maybe it’s his character flaw? I’m not sure, but I’m not a fan of him so far – though, I’ll admit I do enjoy the perviness Atticus exudes. Poor guy is definitely not afraid to get naked.

Overall, I enjoyed the storyline involving the Auroras coven versus the Hexen. However, I’m not sure where the whole Kabbal/Hammers of God is going. I’ve read the back cover of Hammered enough to know they’re featured in the next book, but I didn’t quite understand what they were doing in this one beyond being introduced. It felt out of place amidst all the excitement. It wasn’t a bad story, just seemed off-putting at times, especially when the Rabbi is suddenly in the middle of the ending battle.

For that, this gets four stars.

Also, I love Oberon.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of a darn thing I didn’t like.

What I liked: The whole book. I have read many books that ramble and it feels like filler. With this book, the next thing I knew, I was at the eighty percent done point! I enjoyed watching Atticus and the coven interact. I still enjoy his relationship with his dog, Oberon. Again, a good book about someone who has been around for a long time and seen tricks, even if he can’t always counter them. The history of the many different groups involved was fascinating, gave me the information I need, but left me wanting more.

What I’m really happy about, though, is that the book isn’t based on flashbacks. The main character is two millennia old and the author could easily use flashbacks to relate this to something else. For me, having seen it a lot on TV shows and books over the past two decades, it’s now an overused trope. So the one flashback that happens, is completely relevant, told well, and doesn’t detract from what is currently happening.

badge5v4I stayed up late to finish the book when I saw I was over eighty percent done. And I’m ready to read the next one!

This is a strong five book in an already good series.

Stand Out Award Badge2Our reviews in this series…

Percy reviewed the first book in this series, Hounded.

Ivana has reviewed the audio versions of later books in this series:

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

Besides the normal urban fantasy types, I think anyone who likes the White Wolf RPG Scion would be interested in this book. A lot of themes, although certainly not exactly the same, are here and it would be a good example of how to do that style of game.

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

As part of the Iron Druid read-along, Kat is adding her review of Hounded to Percy’s 2015 review.

A two-thousand-year-old druid’s past finally catches up to him as he must face off against an old enemy.  Fortunately, he has friends.

HoundedTitle:  Hounded
Author:  Kevin Hearne
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles Book 01
Publish Date:  January 1, 2011
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAtticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

My second foray into the Iron Druid Chronicles was as fun and entertaining as the first time. In Hounded, readers are introduced to Atticus O’Sullivan – an ancient and solo Druid with lots of magical secrets, an Irish wolfhound best friend, and plenty of snark to go around.

I loved this story all around. Atticus is adorably fluffy at times, pervy, romantic, and intense as all hell when it comes to defending his magic and birthright. He’s had over 2,000 years of practice to get it all right but he’s still figuring it out and making stuff up as he goes.

The magic system in this one is new for me. Atticus isn’t all powerful. That being said, he’s still pretty powerful and attuned to the Earth in more intimate ways than some rocks. He’s also got friends in high places – including a team of vamp/were lawyers, a witch-possessed woman, some earth-formed golems who like to eat fairies, and Oberon, his best friend and hound. Not to mention, he’s got some feisty goddesses to deal with, some who are allies, others who may turn out to be a bit more complicated than that.

Atticus has spent most of his life hiding from his rival, Aengus Ohm, but when the old god sends some pretty crazy assassins to take him out and kills off pieces of land that are sacred to Atticus, it brings the druid out in the open for a full-scale battle against witches, werewolves, demons, and fae. The action and adventure in this is pretty intense as Atticus has to be one step ahead of his old enemy.

The one drawback to this story for me was only one thing. And before I say what, I will point out that is is VERY clear that Hearne knows his history, mythology, and religion extremely well. However, the first couple of chapters and some later on really drag for me while Atticus is explaining certain magic systems and historical memories. It gets better as the story progresses, but for me, the first chapter took a while to get through, especially. I feel like there was a lot of info-dumping that could have been more spread out. But I’m no editor, so maybe there was no other way for him to utilize all that information.

Either way, it was a great story. Now I’m on to book two!

Percy_Procrastinator_100

Percy Procrastinator says…

What I didn’t like: Very little. If I didn’t like anything, it was a lack of pictures of some of the tattoos. I also think that if I hadn’t had it in ebook format, I would have referred to the pronunciation guide more but it wasn’t easy with the ebook.

What I liked: I didn’t see Atticus as a surfer dude. In terms of writing, while that description may have been used, and for his age, he only looks in his early twenties, there is no attempt at an accent or mannerisms for that stereotype. I liked that this was a book about an experienced person, not someone still learning the ropes. As a character, Atticus knows who he is and what he wants to do. There is no angst or learning about the power; instead, this is about how you apply power to meet your goals. That was very refreshing. I like that he has a business that fits him, rare books, but has investments so that money isn’t a concern. For me, this is another example of showing that he’s older and experienced and doesn’t have to worry the trivial things.

I enjoyed the mythology set up in here. I liked reading about the old gods and their ways and how they interact. I liked that it’s kept to what is needed so more can be revealed in later books.

I really enjoyed his friends. Oberon, his dog, is awesome and fun and reminds me of a dog while being so much more. I like that he has supernatural friends who are willing to help him. All of this really added to the story and made me curious to learn more about Atticus and his world.

The bottom line for me is that this was a very fun, good read. I quickly enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the world. I look forward to the next book!

Stand Out Award Badge2Our reviews in this series…

Ivana has reviewed the audio versions of three books later in this series:

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

Besides the normal urban fantasy types, I think anyone who likes the White Wolf RPG Scion would be interested in this book. A lot of themes, although certainly not exactly the same, are here and it would be a good example of how to do that style of game.

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