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text 2017-09-26 00:34
On the Edge - Ilona Andrews

So ON THE EDGE is another urban fantasy by probably my all-time favorite urban fantasy author. It's as magical as all her other books I've read. I start reading and I JUST CAN'T STOP. But it's also rather different. It's weird and fun and I'm definitely reading rest of The Edge series.

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review 2017-09-19 09:42
Portrait of Vengeance (Gwen Marcey #4) by Carrie Stuart Parks
Portrait of Vengeance (A Gwen Marcey Novel) - Carrie Stuart Parks

Gwen Marcey has done a good job keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here? No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, Gwen’s ex-husband is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter. As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Let me start off by saying that if you haven't read any of the previous Gwen Marcey stories, I'd recommend checking out the earlier books with this particular series. While the cases themselves could technically make for stand-alone works, there are characters and certain details of Gwen's life that are carried through all the books. 

 

In this fourth installment in the series, forensic artist Gwen Marcey is investigating the murders of a married couple within the Nez Perce tribe (Lapwai community) as well as the whereabouts of the victims' missing (presumed kidnapped) young daughter. Some of the particulars of the case, as far as clues at the scene and specifics regarding the profiling of the killer, appear to echo traumatic events from Gwen's own childhood. As the case / plot progresses, Gwen becomes more and more convinced that finding the answers within this present case will, in turn, answer questions about her own traumas that have plagued her for years.

 

The journey to the truth proves to be a solidly uphill battle, as Gwen finds that many of the key witnesses she is relying on for information have deep-seated prejudices against Caucasian people. In what's now become a signature mixture within this series as a whole, author Carrie Stuart Parks creates her characters and environments by bringing forth a compelling blend of historical fact, details / inspiration from actual true crime cases, and occasionally details from cases Parks herself worked during her own years as a forensic artist. While working within the Nez Perce tribal lands, our protagonist Gwen gets a crash course in the history of such traumatic events as Wounded Knee / Pine Ridge, as well as the development of AIM (the American Indian Movement). It takes little time for Gwen to see that she will need to tread lightly when working with the descendants of people involved in these painful moments within Native history. Though the years have passed, the hurt has hardly diminished. 

 

Having followed this series from the beginning, I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head to find 8 pages into this latest book that Gwen is STILL having fights & custody battles with her ex-husband. I couldn't help but think "it's been four books now, that kid can't have too much high school left for this argument to be relevant much longer.." I feel for Gwen there. On the happier side though, I'm loving that the stories within this series seem to be quietly steering toward a "Gwen & Beth Investigate" kind of trend. Beth has a bigger role in this book than in some of the previous ones. She's such a hoot, I love to see her getting more of the spotlight! Keep your dictionary nearby though. Beth loves her some "word of the day" usage and Parks works in some words that definitely had me feel like I was back in SAT prep days! 

 

The true star for me though has to be Winston, Gwen's Great Pyrenees dog. While Parks always gave him quite the humorously entertaining dog personality, he, like Beth, was more in the background in much of the previous books. In Portrait of Vengeance however, Winston gets solid book "screen" time, scenes that will make dog lovers cheer at the protectiveness of pups over their humans. Go ahead, hug your own pooch after this one. :-)

 

So far, the very first book in the series, A Cry In The Dust, still proves to be my very favorite. But this one is now in a close second. This book proved to be slightly more gruesome in parts than its predecessors -- in one scene, Gwen likens a crime scene to a Jackson Pollack painting. Yeaaah, I'll just let you art fans visualize that one. But if you're not scared off by a little edge, Parks yet again gives the reader one fun ride full of twists and turns that have you wondering who in this story is to be trusted! 

 

It was neat to read in Parks' acknowledgements that she wrote this story (at least in part) while participating in a writing retreat at author Colleen Coble's home. She further notes author Frank Peretti as a mentor in the process of developing this series as well. For fellow fans of Gwen's investigations: when asked whether a 5th book was in the works, Parks answered (via Goodreads):

 

"As of now, book 5 will be a stand-alone about an artist (caught up in a case) in Kodiak Island, Alaska. My publisher wanted me to take a break from Gwen. You'll be meeting Murphy."

 

 

I, for one, am looking forward to meeting this Murphy fella! 

 

 

FTC Disclaimer: BookLookBloggers kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book with a request that I might check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

------------------------

ICYMI -- My reviews for the previous books in the series:

 

#1 A Cry In The Dust

#2 The Bones Will Speak

#3 When Death Draws Near

 

* Gwen Marcey also makes a cross-over appearance in Colleen Coble's Mermaid Moon AND Twilight At Blueberry Barrens

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-13 08:41
Inside the “Outsiders” — An Anthology with stories by Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Joe Landsale, & Poppy Brite
Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge - Brian Hodge,Neil Gaiman,Tanith Lee,Bentley Little,Lea Silhol,Michael Marano,Jack Ketchum,Freda Warrington,Elizabeth Massie,Brett Alexander Savory,Melanie Tem,Yvonne Navarro,Steve Rasnic Tem,David J. Schow,Katherine Ramsland,Elizabeth Engstrom,Thomas S. Ro

 

 

Below, I mention how I liked each story and include a favorite quote:

 

The Empty Chambers by Neil Gaiman

A poem. Very creepy but I’d rather have read a Gaiman story.

 

The Company You Keep by Steve Resnic Tem

Walking among us are the members of a secret company. I don’t know what I took away from this story if anything.

 

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Scarabesque: The Girl Who Broke Dracula by Tanith Lee

This was actually an excerpt from one of Tanith Lee’s novels. It was also the first time I read anything by her. I liked the imagery that her words created. For instance:

 

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Under the Needle by Lea Silhol

You’d appreciate this story more if you focused on how it was written rather than the plot. I did and I ended up liking it!

 

Expanding Your Capabilities Using Frame/Shift(TM) Mode by David J. Schow

A literally visceral story about a man who discovers his remote can do much more than change channels!

 

Cat and the Cold Prince by Freda Warrington

A story that brings to mind dictatorships and restrictive regimes, such as the Prohibition in the Cromwell era. Oh, and a girl falls in love with a tiger!

 

Faces in Revolving Souls by Caitlin R. Kiernan

This one was about a splinter group of people who left their human status behind by choice fighting for their rights.

 

Lighten Up by Jack Ketchum

Smoking is banned. Smokers decided to retaliate.

 

Pit Boy by Elizabeth Massie

The beginning of the story is set up to deceive the reader. The end is one of the saddest endings I have ever read!

 

The Country of the Blind by Melanie Tem

A blind girl will accept you into her family but she needs a sacrifice first.

 

Ruby Tuesday by Kathe Koja

A hidden cult in the midst of the society and a boy with a dying mother looking for a place to fit in.

 

Running Beneath the Skin by Brett Alexander Savory

Can you even said to be alive, if your insides have been replaced with metal? No, this isn’t about Wolverine!

 

Grim Peeper by Katherine Ramsland

There’s necrophilia and there are grim peepers. Read this story, if you love being grossed out.

 

Craving by Yvonne Navarro

This story is based on a certain type of “outsiders” who like to watch accidents.

 

Violent Angel by Thomas S. Roche

A planned hit where the hitman isn’t on the complete plan.

 

…And the Damage Done by Michael Marano

Beautiful imagery is one of the characteristics of this story. The other is heartbreak!

 

Pop Star in the Ugly Bar by Bentley Little

Simply gross but a fitting addition to this collection. A wannabe pop star ends up in a gore-hardcore bar. She doesn’t make it out.

 

Miss Singularity by John Shirley

A teenager’s depression comes out to play!

 

The Working Slob’s Prayer by Poppy Z. Brite

The going ons in a restaurant with some very interesting characters thrown in!

 

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If I Should Wake Before I Die by Brian Hodge

Expectant mothers miscarry all around the world. No one knows why until we reach the end of the story…*shudder*

 

Honing Sebastian by Elizabeth Engstrom

A sad story about the dreams of those below being crushed by the powers that be. This line from the story says it all:

 

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Another favorite quote:

 

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The Shadows, Kith and Kin by Joe R. Landsale

A broken man tired of being put down by the whole world makes friends…with shadows…who talk to him…

 

My Favourites

Lighten Up by Jack Ketchum

Pit Boy by Elizabeth Massie

Miss Singularity by John Shirley

The Working Slob’s Prayer by Poppy Z. Brite

 

Have you read this anthology? Which ones are your favorites?

 

Image

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on September 13, 2017.

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review 2017-09-04 01:58
Dark Currents
Dark Currents (The Emperor's Edge #2) - Lindsay Buroker

Mutilated bodies appeared in the city aqueducts, luckily found by Books and Maldynado. A little later, people in the city are getting sick. Wondering if the 2 things are related, Amaranthe and her gang investigate.
One thing I liked about this was the interplay between the characters. They are a chosen family. Amaranthe (a former enforcer and one the first women), Books (a former university professor), Sicarius (assassin- for the Emperor), Maldynado (disowned by his family), Basilard (former slave), and Akstyr (former gang member currently learning about magic). Amaranthe is a bit idealistic and naive. The strength of their shared relationship is what made this book work for me.
I thought there were moments that should have been explored more (for lack of a better word). Like when Maldynado hit Akstyr and bloodied his nose. It was to see and prove if he could heal himself. There was a brief mention of his face later and then nothing until he needed to heal someone else. There was also the issue of foreign-run businesses in the city being framed; mentioned, but nothing came from it. Unless book 3 tackles that?
A map and list of countries/nationalities would also be helpful. There are the Turgonians, Kendorians, Mangdorians, Nurians, and Kyattese. It was impossible to keep anything straight. (At least for me). The Turgonians are the main inhabitants of the city/empire/the conquerors (I think). 
At least I know I'm right when I write that Basilard is Mangdorian!!!
I do wonder if there will be any romance between Sicarius and Amaranthe later in the series. 

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review 2017-07-17 01:10
The Edge of Awakening (The Soul Tamer Series #1) by Alanna J. Faison
The Edge of Awakening - Alanna J Faison
Jasmine died. She died in utterly terrible, awful conditions.
 
But for Jasmine death is not the end - she has a destiny and a mission to train for as she and her allies prepare for the battles ahead
 
But how much was her family hurt by this destiny?
 
 
 
This book is a spin off series of the Rayne Whitmore Series, following Rayne’s dead sister, Jasmine. Jasmine is destined to become a Soul Tamer, joining a team of other new Soul Tamers, trained by Micah and other mentor Soul Tamers into their powers, skills and missions.
 
This adds a whole lot of interesting world building to this already excellently rich world. I think it’s an excellent idea to use a new protagonist to do this as Rayne couldn’t exactly stretch to cover this without severely distracting her own story and generally slowing things down
 
Instead using a new character and a new world we have an excellent chance to build into more world building, using the first book in a series to have the usual introduction to a series without derailing an already ongoing plot line.
 
And this world building is extremely good and interesting - the general use of ghosts and demons, the different powers and abilities and how they work and interact. I really like the little nuances like how simply being the most powerful doesn’t make you the most effective.
 
But more than the general world building is the personal stories of her fellow Soul Tamers - albeit some of the needing more development. All of them are young and all of them have had tragic pasts - but their pasts point to a lot of terrible injustices in the world, from starvation and poverty to hate crimes that starkly covers a lot of this diverse cast.
 
A lot of this book covers their training and I do like some of the interractions - probably Cas and Rayne the most because they do strike sparks - there’s respect and competitiveness and they’re probably not a great fan of each other but it’s not full on girl hate we see quite often in urban fantasy and young adult.
 
Her closest companion is probably Jayce, but Jayce is the LGBTQ representation in this book and it’s not really done well (another character may be a lesbian or bisexual but she also may be asexual, it’s not clarified yet). At one point he calls someone out for assuming bisexuals are just looking to have sex with anyone all the time - which is great. If that pretty much wasn’t the sum total of Jayce’s character. He exists to hit on guys, and that’s basically his characterisation even when said guys are not interested in him.
 

Her mentors and fellow Soul Tamers come from many different races - Micah is biracial and from segregation America, Dorian is Middle Eastern, Kenji Japanese and Atara, one of her peers is described as having brown skin
 
We also have minor passing characters not part of Jasmine’s group who are also racially diverse
 
Jasmine herself is Black.
 
This is an extremely racially diverse book and we do not have racial stereotypes or tropes clinging to them and that diversity extends from both minor characters to the protagonist herself
 
There’s also some brief looks at class as Jasmine is very aware of her family’s great wealth that she became so used to and stands out starkly against her fellows who faced hunger and debt.
 
I do think that Jasmine’s mentor etc were both not very forgiving and kind of dismissive about what she went through. How she died, how she became their chosen one, the implication that they were behind her “earlier” death. There seemed to be little acknowledgement that she was only 14 or how her death deeply affected her sister and led her to take some very severe risks. Yes, everyone has had a tragic past - but hey that kind of makes me question the way they treated everyone, rather than think Jasmine needs to suck it up and move on. While there’s a lot of bonding there’s also a real sense of judgement at times where they’re quite harsh, make no allowances expect a lot of her and even a little gaslighting. Like they seem to use the team to guilt her for feeling, for hurting, for feeling angry. It had an edge of manipulation that made me considerably suspicious of the powers that be here and I’m not sure I was meant to regard them with this level of suspicion - because part of me is kind of expecting them to get a severe call out or be revealed as a villain. But I think I’m getting the utter wrong end of the stick there.
 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/the-edge-of-awakening-soul-tamer-series.html
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