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review 2019-06-18 20:33
An Unexpected Escapade
An Unexpected Escapade - Kandi J. Wyatt
A rip in the space-time continuum has been wreaking havoc in a small town on Oregon's Coast.   Kajri, a Unicorn has found herself ripped out of her own world and into one with animals that look similar, but are lacking a horn.  When middle-schooler Daisy goes out to find her two appaloosa horses in the pasture, she is surprised to find another horse with them.  Daisy is amazed to find that the third horse has a horn and can speak to Daisy through her thoughts.  Daisy lets her friend Ana in on the secret as well.  The girls try to keep Kajri safe as they learn of a poacher that wants Kajri for her magical healing horn, but they will need help from Professor Raleigh and some friends who have been in a similar situation.  
 
A fun middle-grade fantasy with unicorns!  This book takes place soon after An Unexpected Adventure and it is helpful to have read that book beforehand in order to know the importance of Professor Raleigh and Will, but not necessary.   I liked Daisy's character and how her confidence and strength grew around the horses as well as Kajri. The friendship between Daisy and Ana was refreshing as well.  Even as Ana was facing family issues that Kajri could have easily solved, she knew that her friends were there to support her.  Kajri herself was amazing as well, gentle and calming even though she was in a completely different world than what she knew.  I do wish there were a few more details about where Kajri came from and her powers.  I liked that there was a little more adult involvement in this story, however I didn't get the sudden inclusion of religion.  I am glad that there is a happy ending for Kajri and I am still hoping for a similar solution for Steria from the first book!
 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2019-06-18 19:22
Spellbound - Allie Therin
Spellbound - Allie Therin

This is one of those books I picked up off Netgalley because it sounded like it might be my cup of tea and, for the most part, it pretty much worked for me. It's historical urban fantasy, for lack of a better descriptor, set in the Prohibition era in the US but with added magic - a number of the characters we meet during the book have various powers and this is not generally known. 

 

Their way of life is under threat from the import of artefacts which can be used to devastating effect by people who have these magical powers, though usually at a high cost. One of our protagonists (Rory) has such a power, in his case the ability to see the history of an object, which he uses to determine whether or not antiques are fakes and he helps his aunt run a profitable business in Hell's Kitchen. Early on, Rory crosses paths with our other protagonist (Arthur), who has no magic of his own but who hangs around with a hell of a lot of people who do - he and his friends also have a troubled history with magic and its misuse, which led to the death of people they cared about.

 

There's a lot to like about Spellbound, the adventure plot of which mostly hangs together well and the setting of which also promises some future issues around period-typical discrimination even if those are only alluded to in this particular book. There's enough period detail to make the setting work without falling into infodump territory or the perils of an author wanting to demonstrate that they have Done The Research. 

 

In terms of the romance storyline, this book was on the knife-edge for me between 'these characters are delightful' and 'these characters are annoying me now' and I'm not completely sure which side they landed in the end. For a novel-length story, there's a temptation for miscommunication to get over-used and I think this was a little too heavily done here. There's only so much mileage to get out of 'surely he can't feel about me the way I feel about him?' and this was a fraction overdone for my tastes.

 

There's also some messing about with names, as one of our heroes is commonly known as 'Ace' and that's used interchangeably (and not always consistent with the temperature of the relationship at the time) while it's revealed partway through that Rory is actually using an assumed name and not only does he get called by both names, there's also a nickname added in too. I initially thought that Rory's big secret, one of those 'you wouldn't like me if you knew the truth'-type secrets, was that he was trans and that then led me down the wormhole of dead-naming someone, which made the name usage really not work for me. 

 

Anyway, an enjoyable enough read even with the issues above and apparently the first of at least a trilogy, so I guess if I end up reading those then we'll see whether the author can push the characters firmly back into 'delightful' for me!

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2019-06-18 17:59
Review: Meridian Chronicles: Fairy Nymphs & The Demon Court (#3) by M.D. Fryson
Meridian Chronicles: Fairy Nymphs & The Demon Court - MD Fryson

Meridian’s curse still haunts her after running back to Salem. Living with heartbreak, Aiden cannot go on without Meridian and flees with Tallulah to Salem.

Raina continues her deceit and willfully accepts possession from a demon of the high court, Pyro who commands Raina to kill one of the good witches.

Another trip to the dark realm brings another fight between the Fairy Nymphs and members of the Demon Court when they arrive to answer the dark one’s riddle, one that was not meant to answer.

When Meridian and Aiden accept the help of the Fairy Nymphs to unlock the Universe’s message of their fate, it is then that Meridian finds herself within the Hall of Souls where the Angels, known as the keepers have a message for her.

With Warrick still out to keep his position in Etheria, the demon court members staging their attack on the spirit guides, Aiden against all odds will not leave Meridian.

Aiden’s reoccurring dream is more significant that what he realizes until the very end, where an ironic twist of fate emerges testing his true love for Meridian and the road to saving her soul. Who will end up being Meridian’s twin soul? Is it Aiden? Will Warrick succeed and avoid his judgment? What is the message from the Angel? Find out in this dark paranormal romance.

 

*I received a free copy from the author and chose to leave a voluntary review. Thank you!*

 

Wow, this book is even better than the last one, each book gets better as we dive deeper and deeper into the world of Fairies, Demons, Spirits, Witches and much more.

I really love the character growth. Not only Meridian but everyone else as well. The story arc is also growing and we get deeper and deeper into their world and discover new and exciting but sometimes shocking things.

One of my favorite parts is that we get so many unique supernatural groups, all a bit different and yet the same as we read or heard about before, some have a nice unique spin to it.

It was all a bit overwhelming in the first book, with so many people and groups, but now it’s a breeze to read and follow along not to mention fun.

Some things we get answers to others we have to wait for the next book. We get plenty of action, twist and turns, and lots of snarky humor that I love.

Overall I really, really enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down and I will ever so patiently wait for the next book.

I rate it 5 ★

 

 

Available NOW ONLY on Amazon 

Amazon 

 

Source: snoopydoosbookreviews.com/index.php/2019/06/18/review-meridian-chronicles-fairy-nymphs-the-demon-court-3-by-m-d-fryson
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review 2019-06-18 17:27
"The October Man - Rivers of London #7.5" by Ben Aaronovich
The October Man - Ben Aaronovitch

"The October Man" is a fresh, fun novella that I hope is the start of a new series of German "Rivers" books.

 

"The October Man" novella breathes new life into the "Rivers Of London" universe by taking us to Trier in Germany where Tobias Winter, broadly the counterpart of Peter Grant is investigating the death of a man whose corpse has been found covered in a strange fungus. The fungus is strange enough to merit the involvement of the Abteilung KDA in which Tobias is an Investigator and one of only two licensed magical practitioners in Germany.

 

I enjoyed the way in which this book differed from "The Rivers Of London" series while inhabiting the same world. It seemed to me that Ben Aaronovitch succeeded in giving the book a plausible German feel, starting with the wonderful name of the organisation that Tobia works in: "The Department for Complex and Unspecific Matters". That's so different than just calling something "The Folly". It speaks to a need to classify by function rather than by history that I rather admire.

 

I was pleased to see that Tobias is not Peter with a German accent. He comes from a solidly middle-class background in the boring suburbs of Mannheim. His father is a high-ranking police officer. His mother is politically active and diametrically opposed to his father's politics. Tobias is urbane and calm. His wit is drier than Peter's. He comes across as more mature and more grounded. A professional policeman from a police family who just happens to be able to do magic.

 

The history of magic is different in Germany than in the UK, not just because of the Nazis and the conflict between the magic practitioners on both sides but because of the difference in gods and goddesses, as well as constant, tantalising, references to powerful werewolf groups and individual vampires.

 

It's also interesting to see the world from the point of view of those on the receiving end of the RAF bombings that reduced the city of Trier to rubble, including the notorious Christmas bombings on 19th, 22nd and 24th December 1944 and to see how splitting Germany into East and West affected the development of magic.

 

The plot centres around wine, of course, we are on the Mosel after all. Solving a mystery in a wine region gave the perfect pretext for involving Vanessa Sommer, one of the local police who is an expert in wine. The Winter / Sommer combination is irresistible. She is enthusiastic, optimistic and insatiably curious and not at all thrown to discover that magic is real.

 

The plot is slight and a little static but but we get river goddesses, an evil revenant and the weight of a lot of bitter history. We also get a whole section of Tobias' KDA that is really, really enjoys blowing stuff up. Still, this is a novella and so a little thinner than a full-length book would be.

 

"The October Man" felt like a pilot for a spin-off series. If it had been a pilot, I'd have bought the rest of Season One on the spot. I hope we will see more of Tobias and Vanessa soon.

 

I particularly liked the narrator of "The October Man". I think Sam Peter Jackson (who is German, despite his very English sounding name) brought just the right tone to the text and was able to do different German regional accents convincingly. Click on the SoundClound link below to hear a sample.

https://soundcloud.com/orionbooks/the-october-man-by-ben-aaronovitch-read-by-sam-peter-jackson
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review 2019-06-18 10:38
Jalousien runter, Feierabend!
A War in Crimson Embers - Alex Marshall

Musik spielte für Alex Marshall während des Entstehungsprozesses der „The Crimson Empire“-Trilogie eine große Rolle. Er liebt Rock und Metal und ließ sich von diversen Bands und Songs inspirieren. Beispielsweise lief „Square Hammer“ von Ghost in Dauerschleife, als er das Finale „A War in Crimson Embers“ schrieb. Angeblich verstecken sich in der Handlung des Dreiteilers einige Anspielungen und Referenzen, die auf seinen Musikgeschmack verweisen. Solltet ihr sie finden – lasst es mich wissen.  ;-)

 

Einst wurde Jex Toth versenkt, um die verheerenden Pläne des Priesterrats zu vereiteln. Für alle Zeiten sollte die verfluchte Insel im Ersten Dunkel angekettet sein. Doch das folgenschwere Ritual der Burnished Chain brachte Jex Toth zurück und die Priester zögern nicht, dort anzuknüpfen, wo sie vor 500 Jahren unterbrochen wurden. Ihre furchteinflößenden Truppen bereiten sich darauf vor, den Stern anzugreifen, die Bevölkerung zu versklaven und jede Seele auszulöschen, die sich ihnen widersetzt. Leider sind die Königreiche des Sterns in eigene Machtkämpfe verwickelt und ahnen nicht, welche Bedrohung am Horizont aufzieht. In Diadem hinterließ die überstürzte Abreise der Chain ein Vakuum, das die Revolutionäre zu füllen versuchen. Zosia und Indsorith bieten ihre Unterstützung an, müssen allerdings feststellen, dass die Umstürzler allzu bereit sind, die ehemaligen Königinnen für ihre Verfehlungen zu verurteilen. Auf die Hilfe der Kobalt-Kompanie können sie nicht zählen, denn diese wird auf den Makellosen Inseln festgehalten. Generalin Ji-hyeon konnte sich nur mit einem beherzten Sprung in das Portal vor dem rachsüchtigen Zorn der Kaiserin Ryuki retten und ist nun im Ersten Dunkel verschollen. Die einzige Hoffnung der Menschheit sind Sullen und seine Freunde, die auf ihrer Suche nach Maroto die Wahrheit über Jex Toth herausfanden. Werden sie den Stern vor einem Schicksal in Sklaverei bewahren können?

 

Was war das denn bitte? „A War in Crimson Embers“ ist das seltsamste Finale einer Trilogie, das ich je gelesen habe. Ich bilde mir ein, dass ich eine großzügige Leserin bin, die am Ende einer Geschichte vieles verzeiht und für die meisten Entwicklungen offen ist. Ich brauche kein Happy End und kann mich mit unbeantworteten Fragen abfinden. Aber das… Das war einfach skurril. Ich erwähnte bereits in der Rezension zum Vorgängerband „A Blade of Black Steel“, dass ich fürchtete, dass Alex Marshall die Handlung nicht konsequent genug vorantrieb und sich zu viel Zeit ließ. Ich hatte ja keine Ahnung. Ich hätte es nicht für möglich gehalten, doch „A War in Crimson Embers“ ist noch langatmiger, noch gestreckter und noch unfokussierter. Manche Kapitel behandeln lediglich eine einzige Szene. Dadurch wirkte die Geschichte zerstückelt, denn ich durfte bei vielen Ereignissen nicht live dabei sein, sondern erfuhr erst im Nachhinein, wie die aktuelle Szene zustande kam. Es baute sich kein Fluss auf und dementsprechend auch keine stabile Spannungskurve. Ich wurde ohne erkennbare Logik wie eine Flipperkugel quer über den Stern von einer Figur zu anderen katapultiert. Meine enorme Sympathie für sie brachte mich durch die Lektüre, doch je länger dieses Spielchen dauerte, desto stärker zweifelte ich daran, dass Alex Marshall es schaffen würde, auf einen Nenner zu kommen. Vielversprechende potenzielle Nebenhandlungslinien fielen Stück für Stück ungenutzt weg. Marshall sortierte aus, was ich für eine direkte Folge seines langsamen Erzähltempos halte, weil ihm der Raum fehlte, auf Ji-hyeons Abenteuer im Ersten Dunkel, Sullens Beziehung zur Faceless Mistress oder die Rolle der Wildborn gebührend einzugehen. Er musste sich auf das Wesentliche beschränken: den Kampf gegen Jex Toth. Doch selbst nach dieser radikalen Diät wurde es knapp, sodass er die finale Schlacht und die Konfrontation mit dem Priesterrat abrupt abschließen musste. Ach, was rede ich. Abschließen? Das war kein Abschluss. Das war ein Abbruch. Von jetzt auf gleich schickt Marshall seine Figuren in den Feierabend und zieht die Jalousien runter. Alle offenen Fragen bleiben ungeklärt. Wäre sie nicht so unbefriedigend, hätte mich diese bizarre Vollbremsung beinahe zum Lachen gebracht. Das Ende von „A War in Crimson Embers“ las sich wie eine Satire, weil es jede Erwartungshaltung enttäuschte, die ich bis dahin entwickelt hatte.

 

Ich weiß nicht, was Alex Marshall sich bei der Konzeption von „A War in Crimson Embers“ dachte. Ich kann nicht erklären, wieso er den großen Showdown plötzlich abbrach. Also werde ich es gar nicht erst versuchen. Stattdessen möchte ich abschließend ein Thema ansprechen, das mich beschäftigt, seit ich Rezensionen anderer Leser_innen zum ersten Band der „The Crimson Empire“-Trilogie las, in denen behauptet wurde, Marshalls Universum sei nicht wirklich gleichberechtigt. Es sei kein Zeichen von Gleichberechtigung, dass die meisten Figuren bisexuell und promiskuitiv sind und Frauen alle wichtigen Positionen einnehmen. Dies ist ein Kritikpunkt, dem ich vehement widerspreche. Ich finde es kleingeistig und unversöhnlich, Marshall anzukreiden, der Stern, der gleichberechtigter und toleranter ist als die meisten Fantasy-Settings, sei noch nicht gleichberechtigt und tolerant genug. Meiner Meinung nach sind weder die sexuelle Orientierung der Figuren noch die Besetzung von Führungspositionen ausschlaggebend. Entscheidend ist, wie die Charaktere darauf reagieren: gar nicht. Toleranz und Gleichberechtigung zeigen sich darin, dass Gender, Geschlecht und sexuelle Ausrichtung eben nicht thematisiert werden, weil sie völlig selbstverständlich akzeptiert werden. Man kann Alex Marshall vorwerfen, dass seine Trilogie inhaltlich nicht überzeugt, aber nicht, dass er sich um ein vorurteilsfreies Universum bemühte. Das ist mehr, als die meisten Fantasy-Autor_innen überhaupt wagen und als Anerkennung dessen erhält „A War in Crimson Embers“ von mir trotz der Mängel drei Sterne.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/alex-marshall-a-war-in-crimson-embers
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