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Black Spark by Al K. Line

Black Spark introduces us to Faz Pound—called “Spark” since he is the Black Spark—an enforcer for the Dark Council, an interspecies group that ensures practitioners and magic beings follow the rules, particularly the one about not letting the Regulars know that magic exists. Faz has just broken that rule, killing a Regular in public. Bystanders filmed it, and YouTubers are eating it up. But Faz wasn’t exactly himself when he murdered the Regular with magic. Now he has twenty-four hours to erase the incident from the collective memory and figure out why he made such a horrible, horrible mistake.

Title: Black Spark
Author: Al K. Line
Series: Dark Magic Enforcer, Book 01
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 by Tantor Media
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Gildart Jackson
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: I watched in horror as dark magic sprang from my hand faster than an imp after your socks. I didn’t know my name, let alone that I had such power. The man was dead. I panicked. I ran.

How was I to know I was a dark magic enforcer, tasked with keeping magic hidden from the world? Yeah, total noob move, I know.

But my memory is returning, and the Hidden have given me twenty-four hours to make amends. Cover it up. Finish the job I was given, or else. Failure isn’t an option. Well, it is, but I like me, and I like being alive.

Time is running out as I battle to make things right and exact revenge on those that took so much from me. Easier said than done as I deal with angry mages, bitey zombies, oversexed imps, creepy necromancers, and grumpy trolls—and those are just my friends!—all while trying to stop myself falling in love with my best friend, Kate, who just so happens to be a hot vampire.

I’m Faz Pound, a.k.a. Black Spark, Dark Magic Enforcer, and time is running out.

At least I have my looks. For now.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested Ivana says…

“The rain had stopped, making the new paving gleam like a polished crystal ball as the sun made a risky move. It dared to shine for a few brief moments, before a concerted attack by the Welsh cloud gang took back their territory. The victorious clouds celebrated with a downpour so sudden and fierce the street emptied in seconds.”

Black Spark delivers a fun urban fantasy adventure, interesting world-building that turns some of the normal tropes on their heads, a thoughtful system of magic, and some fun and lovable characters. Kate, Grandma, and the imp Intus, are probably my favorites. There are some jewels of writing, such as the “Welsh cloud gang” quote above, that really tickled my fancy. And I love that Gildart Jackson is the narrator. Jackson is also the narrator of the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka, of which I am very fond. He does an excellent job.

The book is written as if Faz is talking directly to the reader. So the fourth wall gets broken a lot; the narrative switches between past and present tense, depending on whether Faz is describing something that Is (in his imaginary present state) or Was part of the story he’s telling; and the character’s voice is much closer to the informal way someone would talk rather than the more formal way someone would write. These appear to be deliberate choices by the author that make the book feel very chatty and fun, appropriate for an urban fantasy.

However, there are some less-polished aspects of the writing that I noticed, being a fiction editor myself. It often feels as if Faz is rambling. His sentences can get very long and go off in a multitude of directions. At times, the narrative tense changes from past to present when it probably shouldn’t. There are also parts of the narrative that feel a bit repetitive. None of these things really impacted my enjoyment of the story; I just happened to notice them.

I do have to say, though, that I’m very glad I chose to listen to the audio version. I happened to open the Kindle version, thinking I could get some reading done at a time when I couldn’t listen to the audio. Attempting to actually read the book was a very different experience because of a noticeable lack of editing or proofreading. I’m sure I’m more sensitive to issues of grammar and punctuation because of my job as a line editor, so not all readers may be as affected as I was by this lack. But I’m not sure I could have finished the book had I tried to read it. I have to give Gildart Jackson triple kudos for translating that raw text into a great performance.

That being said, I am not reviewing the text version of this book, but the audio. I give the audiobook four stars. I liked the characters and world-building, and I enjoyed the story. I’m sure I will pick up more audios in the series and check out Line’s other series as well. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that, since Black Spark was published in 2016, Line has discovered the benefits of a good editor.

Other recommendations…

Gildart Jackson also narrates the Alex Verus series, which I adore. You might also check out James Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series and anything by J.A. Cipriano.


Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will dig this sassy, smart heroine who faces all the creatures that go bump in the night.

Title: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels, Book 01
Publish Date: May 14, 2009 by Razorbill
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionDad? Zombie.
Mom? Long gone.
Me? Well, that’s the scary part.

The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken down her fair share of bad guys. She’s armed, dangerous, and ready to kill first and ask questions later. So it’s gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust . . .

Dru Anderson has been ‘strange’ for as long as she can remember, traveling from town to town with her father to hunt the things that go bump in the night. It’s a weird life, but a good one – until it all explodes in an icy, broken-down Dakota town when a hungry zombie busts through her kitchen door. Alone, terrified, and trapped, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. The monsters have decided to hunt back – and this time, Dru’s on their menu. Chances of survival? Slim to none.

If she can’t last until sunup, it’s game over . . .

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat Mandu says…

Dru and her creature-hunting dad are staying in a small town, trying to live a somewhat normal life despite their knowledge of the Real World. When her dad goes to investigate a lead and returns a zombie, Dru is left with no choice but to defend herself as her world flips upside down.

Now, she’s being hunted by some supernatural baddies, and her only allies are the enigmatic Christophe and the chatty, awkward Graves, who’s recently been turned into a half-werewolf. If she can escape the city before an old enemy gets to her, she’ll have to find out who’s really targeting her and if she can survive the encounter.

I really enjoy the characters in this one. Dru is tough and very reminiscent of Buffy Summers for me. She’s very protective, sarcastic, and not afraid to stand up for herself. Sometimes she does things that scare her and poor Graves, her new best friend, who gets bitten by a wulfen. The story mostly focuses on the two of them and their situation, and it’s a nice setup for a best-friend-forever or possibly more.

I only rated this a four because there were certain scenes I struggled with, mostly action scenes that threw me off. I didn’t really get the water fountain scene in the mall or how Dru managed to kill off the hellhound. And the chase scene in the van also confused me with its sporadic, unclear details. Besides those two parts, everything else was kosher.

It’s filled with sincere, tender moments that clash wonderfully with the intense action and supernatural tension.I really enjoyed it and I imagine many others would too.

Other recommendations…

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead; Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine; Madison Avery trilogy by Kim Harrison.

T*Witches: Destiny’s Twins by H.B. Gilmour & Randy Reisfeld

The Twitches are back in the final book of the series. Can they become witches and follow in their family’s legacy? Or will Thantos prevent them from their initiation by throwing evil at them from all directions?

Title: Destiny’s Twins
Author: H. B. Gilmour & Randy Reisfeld
Series: T*Witches Book 10
Publish Date: February 1, 2004, Scholastic
Genre: YA paranormal fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: In this gripping installment, Cam and Alex are on the brink of Initiation—until someone evil sets out to stop them from succeeding. Can the twins still become true witches?

It’s the moment they’ve been waiting for. Cam and Alex are about to be initiated. In just a month, the girls will be welcomed as full-fledged witches in a blowout bash on Coventry.

But first, they’ve got to prove themselves witch-worthy. The twins must complete a series of tough magick tests. And they’ve got an extra-credit exam: someone sketchy is out to stop them both from succeeding. It’s up to the twins to decide how to get rid of this creep. But they’d better choose wisely. Because nothing less than their destiny is at stake.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat Mandu says…

The Twitches are back in the final book of the series. Can they become witches and follow their family’s legacy? Or will Thantos prevent them from their initiation by throwing evil at them from all directions?

All bets are off for the twins as they spend their entire birthday month studying, training, and preparing for their Coventry Island initiation. This test will prove just how strong, brave, and kind they are against all witchy situations. But they’re also dealt wild cards in the fact that their malicious Uncle Thantos is plotting against them. He’s recruited Sersee and some of his other lackeys to tear Alex and Cam apart when they need each other most.

I don’t really have much to say about this book. I mean, happy ending, and lots of precious self-discovery and proud moments. However, it lacks in the build up. I just thought that there would be more to their initiation or more to the book itself perhaps? There was very little backlash from other villainous characters, like Sersee and the other Furies. Plus, you never really hear about the drama with Shane and what’s happened to him after he tried to kill Thantos.

Either way, I enjoyed this reread of the series.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

You might try the Daughters of the Moon series by Lynne Ewing, the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, and Witches’ Key To Terror by Silver RavenWolf.

T*Witches: Split Decision by H.B. Gilmour and Randy Reisfeld

Shocking secrets come to light at last as readers discover Thantos’s true nature, leaving the twins to deal with family drama, sinister death traps, and the loss of their magick without each other.

Title: Split Decision
Author: H.B. Gilmour & Randi Reisfeld
Series: T*Witches, Book 09
Publish Date: September 1, 2003 by Scholastic
Genre: YA paranormal fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Despite their much-needed vacation from themselves, Cam and Alex find their magick very weak while separated, resulting in evil settling in with no intention of leaving.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Alex and Cam haven’t really been apart since Alex first showed up on her sister’s doorstep in book one. Now for the first time, the Twitches are doing their own thing. Alex is figuring out her relationship with Cade and Cam, recently split-up with Jason, and is lonely enough to fall for another one of Shane’s romantic tricks.

So Cam ends up on Coventry Island to deal with not only Shane, but also Sersee and her friends, Miranda and a very angry Ileana. Thantos tries to lure her in with promises of power and a family, with one exception: Alex isn’t part of the picture.

Alex herself has fallen into Michealina’s spell – one that promises she’ll see Sara again – and finds herself wondering if things would be better if she went back to Montana. Which is exactly how Thantos wants her to feel.

This book has a big “finding myself” kind of theme as the twins discover what life could mean for themselves without the interference of the other sister. The last eight books have tested their powers, and now it’s time to test their mettle and inner strength.

So overall, I really liked it and am ready for the finale.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

You might try the Daughters of the Moon series by Lynne Ewing, the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, and Witches’ Key To Terror by Silver RavenWolf.

Stork by Wendy Delsol

A cute start to a new series.

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

StorkTitle: Stork
Author: Wendy Delsol
Series: Stork #1
Publish Date: October 16, 2016 by Candlewick Press
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionSixteen-year-old Katla has just moved from Los Angeles to the sticks of Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, she learns to her horror that she’s a member of an ancient order of women who decide to whom certain babies will be born. Add to that Wade, the arrogant football star whom Katla regrettably fooled around with, and Jack, a gorgeous farm boy who initially seems to hate her. Soon Katla is having freaky dreams about a crying infant and learns that, as children, she and Jack shared a near-fatal, possibly mystical experience. Can Katla survive this major life makeover and find a dress for the homecoming dance?

Drawing from Norse mythology and inspired by The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, debut author Wendy Delsol conceives an irreverent, highly entertaining novel about embracing change and the (baby) bumps along the way.

Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

I can definitely say that I have never read anything quite like this. An L.A. city girl is thrust into small-town life with many more surprises thrown in along the way.

The history described in this book is so creative and the mythos is new to me. I enjoyed getting lost in the unfamiliar world of the Stork Society and its unique customs. The symbolism in the dreams that Katla was having, and in the novel in general, were well thought out. I do wish a bit more time was spent on the society itself, but I also understand that we needed to get introduced to the players of the future novels.

Katla can be a bit brat-ish at times but she is only 16 so I will give her a pass. She has high fashion on the brain and, at times, thinks her sense of style is the only way to go. But she takes to her new duties like a champ. The romance between her and Jack can be a bit eye-roll inducing but it is cute none the less.


There are some plot points that I guessed pretty early but there were many more that leave you with questions that I hope will be answered in future installments. I added this novel to my personal keep shelf and will be on the lookout for the next novel. I give Stork 4 feathers.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

My Life with the Lincolns by Gayle BrandeisEnchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst, Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

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

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