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review 2017-03-24 00:38
A Good Story Ruined With Lose Nonsense
Breath of Fire - Amanda Bouchet

I am so confused, this had so little resemblance to the first book's characters. I'm going to rant. I am so disappointed I pushed this series onto all my friends.

What Didn't work for me- The first half of the book.

The first chapter set the story was a bitter pill for me. It was a horrible misrepresentation of these characters that I grew to love in book 1. It was hard to feel the love they had developed over a great time.  How can I witness such nastiness/abuse and just accept it was okay ? What happened to her backbone, his respect ? I had thought there had to be a curse on them, changing them so completely.  No. The scene made no sense, it did not develop the story in any way it was just thrown there.

Sex, I like sex, I like my characters to have fun sex. These strong characters were demoted to emotionally immature rabid rutting rabbits. They couldn't just hold hands, hug or make eye contact without rut rut rutting. Was the rutting sexy ? Maybe a couple of times but most was just "BADDA BADDA BING, oh me so horny, need you right now" no matter where or what was happening. It wasn't connecting, it distanced them from my care center. I started dreading hearing how her core was hot, wet, clenching....OH my gods aren't you sore yet ?

What happened ? I picked the first book as my #1 new author read of the year. There was a perfect balance it flowed. The book felt like it was written but somebody felt the need to throw sex in here there everywhere to make it sell ? Again- They didn't or feel natural to the story. I could have not read the first half and not missed much.

What worked- The last 1/4 of the book was action filled with the characters I grew to love. They had a job to do and they worked at it, bleed for it.  The second half had some adventure, discoveries and godly gods of old. The side characters started to come back as the snarky fellows I grew to love. The ending was expected but it worked.

I'm giving it 3 stars for the second half of the story. Will I go on to book 3 ? I think so, it's not a sure thing right now. 

 

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text 2017-03-01 18:25
Enjoy these short stories before the Read an Ebook Week begins on Smashwords!
Life Of A 'prayer - Midu Hadi
Mr. Bear - Midu Hadi

 

 

 

 

Waiting for the Read an E book Week to start on Smashwords? 

 

Why not read Life of a 'prayer today! 

 

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where mosquitoes have hunted most species to extinction, the story centers around James who is a Sprayer. He has had a hard life and he deserves to die in peace. If only, he weren't dying so young. It isn't all gloom and doom though because sharing his world are lice-infested air-pirate heroines, metallic gorillas, and horses that run on steam. Oh and airships!
 

If steampunk isn't your style and UF is more your thing, then you can try Mr. Bear!

 
Jane has succeeded in convincing her nosy family to let her have a life of our own. A new town, a new job, living on her own...everything seems to be going fine for her until she runs into trouble. Of the Bear variety!
 

The best part is that both stories are short, free, and packed with humor!

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review 2017-02-21 06:20
"It's going to be fine. Assuming we survive."
The Curse Mandate (The Dark Choir Book 3) - J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate

by J.P. Sloane

 

Alright, this proves it: Dorian Lake is a trouble magnet. All the man wants to do is train his new apprentice and find his dislocated soul, and maybe make a living from his job as a hex-maker and his new gig as a bar owner. But fate--or knowing Dorian, it's probably karma-- just refuses to cooperate. Instead, he finds himself promising to help out his apprentice's brother with a nasty curse and finds himself embroiled in a nasty string of mysterious jinxes that threatens to bring the Presidium-- the governing body of American magicians-- right down on his head. As he puts it:

"The Presidium's about to go on a tear. Last time that happened, we got the Red Scare. Before that, Manifest Destiny."

Oh, and the demon he sold his soul to before it went walkabout is asking for a new deal while there's still time to make one.

 

If you're addicted to urban fantasy and looking for a Dresden Files analogue, then in some ways, this could be a good fit. There's a less-than-thriving magic business, a basement where magical experiments are conducted, a young and attractive apprentice that the narrator has an exasperating tendency to salivate over, and even the extreme overuse of a few catchphrases. (Ever since I read the Dresden Files, I've winced every time I've read "arched an eyebrow" or "shambled." In the Dark Choir series, on the other hand, there are far too many "sniffles," "grumbles," and "smirks," usually when words with a neutral connotation are more appropriate.) On the more entertaining side, both have a protagonist who eschews technology because of magic's ability to "put a whammy on electronic devices", and even a detective from "Special Investigations," a unit I'm pretty sure exists only in Canada and the world of Harry Dresden. I found Wren, this series' answer to Charity Carpenter, a lot more likeable. There are also many distinctive worldbuilding, from the far more secretive Presidium to the practice of geomancy to the weird world of the stregha. This book, in particular, greatly fleshes out the shadowy Presidium, dipping into an enjoyable early American alternate history.

  

However, despite all of the similarities, I found the tone radically different, both darker and more (intentionally) morally ambiguous than anything the Dresden Files can serve up. To start with, the magic of Dorian's world is a hell -- if you'll pardon the pun-- of a lot nastier. The powerful stuff ranges from chaos magic to Netherwork -- curses powered by the demonic "Dark Choir" -- to scary forces channeling the nastier aspects of nature. Dorian's magic is primarily hexwork based on what he blithely describes as "karma." Don't get me wrong; it still has its fun and silly moments--my favourite involved the magical properties of smiley faces-- but all of that moral ambiguity add a hell of a lot more suspense to the brew because the reader is left genuinely concerned about whether Dorian will slide off the moral event horizon. I found the plot itself somewhat problematic because of its tendency to completely drop subplots at arbitrary moments, but this additional moral suspense kept me simultaneously engaged and frustrated.

I don't even know what to make of the Presidium plot--it seems insane to me, but hey, I think the ringleaders probably were insane-- but I was quite irritated by the way the Ches/Ricky subplot was completely dropped. After Ches leaves, I think Dorian only mentions her a few times, and he doesn't seem even remotely preoccupied with her fate. (What a dick.) Also on the list of "wtf, Dorian?" moves was bringing Edgar along on the suicide mission.

(spoiler show)

Both Dorian and his allies take actions that made me cringe, and I still don't know where the series is heading, or just how much of an antihero Dorian will become. It's something of a refreshing change from cookie-cutter UF. When combined with a mystery I found utterly perplexing, all of this made the book nearly impossible to put down. 

 

As for Dorian himself, he's still pretty much the guy you love to hate, but what I really appreciate about this series is that it is so very self-aware of the protagonist's flaws. The other characters continually confront Dorian with his general entitled, self-obsessed, obnoxiousness. They call him out in the way he talks down to everyone, the way he believes he deserves to win, the way he demands loyalty of others long before he grants it to them, the way he stumbles into situations he doesn't take the time to understand. One asks:

"Why do you make everything about you when it isn't? And when it actually is about you, you make it about everyone else."

So sure, Dorian is annoying and seriously flawed, the novels don't try to convince us otherwise, which makes all the difference. Plus, there are the side characters. As in previous books, I have significant issues with the way women are characterized: they're all pretty much seductresses, naifs, or in the rare cases they do manage to gain power, they're depicted as animalistic. But hey, that's a criticism that is pretty much innate to the genre. Series staples Edgar and Wren make an appearance, as does Ches, the rather conflicted character of the last book, and Julian Bright, ex-politician-assistant and current bar owner. One character I was quite happy to see again was Reed Malosi, the guy Dorian kept calling "Penn State", and he has a much more central role here, and I love his character even more.

 

In the increasingly overcrowded world of urban fantasy, J.P. Sloane adds some new elements. Despite much of the standard machinery, from a struggling business to a sexy apprentice, Dorian himself is unique, both in his own unabashed flaws and the risk that he'll genuinely go Dark Side. Although I don't say this often, I suspect the Dark Choir series would be quite difficult to read out of order, so if this book sounds intriguing, I'd suggest checking out The Curse Merchant first. If you're looking for a new UF series, the Dark Choir series is worth a look. I don't know where this series is heading, but I'm definitely in for the next book.

 

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!~~


Cross-posted on Goodreads.

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review 2016-12-26 05:50
"Tonight we rise as one and change the world!"
Battle Hill Bolero - Daniel José Older

Battle Hill Bolero

by Daniel José Older

 

Bone Street Rumba. Half-Resurrection Blues. Midnight Taxi Tango. Battle Hill Bolero. From the titles alone, it's clear how important an influence music is on Older, and his love of rhythm and texture can be felt through the pages. Sure, it's a story about ghosts and humans duking it out against supernatural monsters, but for me, the series is just as much about New York City, the backstreets and communities that half-dead Carlos Delacruz and his full-ghost and human friends inhabit, from the juxtaposition of layered history in the ghost world to creeping gentrification to chatty santeros to the clash of cultures on the city streets. In Battle Hill Bolero, the story really picks up its tempo.

 

If you've read my reviews before, you probably know I'm somewhat cavalier about series order-- even in this case, I started with Midnight Taxi Tango (#2) and only recently went back to read Half-Resurrection Blues (#1). So please take my word for it when I say that this book simply won't work without the previous two in the series. (In fact, that realization, which occurred within the first chapter of this book, is the reason why I went back to read the first book.) Any discussion of the plot necessarily involves spoilers for the previous books, so consider yourself warned.

 

After the slow buildup in the previous books in the series, the rebellion against the Council has finally reached boiling point. After a host of mutual misunderstandings, Carlos and Sasha are finally trying to work things out, complicated by the revolution exploding around them. Battle Hill Bolero is chock-full of battlescenes, and some of them are pretty awesome. However, I did find it surprising that, given the series' focus on exploring the humanity of the other characters, there was so little concern for the sanctity of the lives (or unlives, as the case may be) of the adversaries. This is a civil war that pits friend against friend and coworker against coworker. How did the fight against the Council become a fight against a faceless enemy? I also don't tend to find plotting to be Older's strong point, and this book was no exception. I never really understand why the antagonists--and some of the protagonists-- do what they do; their often contradictory actions seem to serve only the plot.

One thing that drove me slightly nuts was Carlos's entirely inconsistent status as secret rebel. At one moment, they're looking for a traitor; at another, he's going out to a bar with them; at another, they offer him a job; at another, they're attacking his house. It was logically inconsistent and didn't even really drive the plot. The ngks were another issue. While it was gratifying to see all the pieces of the previous books come together, I have no clue how or why they got involved, and why anyone thought it was a good idea to employ the magical equivalent of a nuclear attack. And while it was interesting to finally find out what happened at Carlos's death, it was sort of a letdown. Honestly, the whole "murder their whole families" thing still makes no sense to me, particularly given that Carlos and Sasha had no idea who they were in their previous lives anyway. But the biggest issue was, of course, Flores. Other than to drive the plot, what was the motivation for all the insane actions he took, from sending them to the Web to starting a war against them to bringing in Caitlin? He was basically a plot device, and a shallow one at that.

(spoiler show)

 

I'm drawn to these books because of the vivid glimpses of New York that Older gives us, and the diverse characters, not because of the plot or action scenes. And I absolutely loved some of the characters introduced here, from Kris the take-no-prisoners ghost to Red, a transgender pirate whose spunky spirit outlived his body by centuries, as well as old friends from previous books. And then there's the sheer love of language that imbues the story, and the sly situational humor that is such an integral part of urban fantasy. For example:

"Meetings are Satan's way of balancing out all the beautiful things in the world, like music."

We even get an enjoyable cameo from Shadowshaper as well as a few hints about the next mythological entities Carlos and the gang will encounter. Battle Hill Bolero is a watershed book for the series. It absolutely cannot be read without the other books in the series, for the plot is filled with an unexpected but gratifying symmetry. I'm not sure where Older will take the series next, but I'm definitely in for the ride.

 

~~I received this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review. Quotes were taken from an advanced reader copy and while they may not reflect the final phrasing, I believe they speak to the spirit of the novel as a whole.~~

 

Cross-posted on Goodreads.

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text 2016-12-08 07:05
#PNR and #UF Giveaway Party

Welcome to the #PNR and #UF Giveaway Party!

 

Who’s ready for a giveaway you can get your hands on? A bunch of authors got together to bring your this Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway! One lucky winner is going to win SIXTY-TWO (62) Paperback Books! How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?! If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, Dystopian Fiction, or Paranormal/SciFi Romance, you’re going to want to get in on this! The best part is that even if you don’t win, you’ll be subscribed to the sponsoring authors newsletters for a chance to grab some freebies, snag some special offers, and enter more giveaways!
 

 

Here are a couple of sneak peeks!

 

Excerpt from Foxblood: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon


The funeral was a typically sombre affair, alive with soggy tissues and streaky make-up. I stood at the back, letting the vicar’s voice wash over me, and spent the whole time staring at the flower-laden coffin, wondering if the lid would suddenly flip up and a fanged monster would escape to reap its vengeance on the congregation.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen, and as the mourners dispersed in the direction of the pub, I quietly snuck off home. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds and needed time to think, time to try to make sense of at least something, but as I turned to close the door, it was obstructed by a perfectly polished black shoe that belonged to…

“Sebastian?”

“Seb, please,” he said, easing his way through. “Only my father calls me Sebastian.” He checked down the backstreet and closed the door securely. His eyes scanned the flat. “Nice place.”

“I like it.”

“It doesn’t bother you? Living over a funeral parlour?” he asked.

“Why would it? The neighbours are quiet.”

He didn’t laugh at my joke; neither did he comment. He simply stood silently, staring. It was very unnerving and made my legs go all wobbly. Perhaps if I turned away from him, he’d disappear again? It was worth a shot. I forced my jelly legs over to the front window and stared out at nothing in particular. The light was subdued, and the sky had darkened to an air force grey. A low mist was beginning to carpet the distant fields, and I wondered if snow had been forecast.

I knew my little experiment hadn’t worked. He was still there. I could feel his presence and smell his scent, a musky, inviting aroma that filled my senses and sent my head into a whirl, and it was getting stronger.

“Your friends interrupted us the other day. Can we talk now?” he whispered softly into my neck, and his fingertips traced a fiery trail down my spine.

“What’s the point? There’s nothing to say. I wish you’d just leave me alone,” I said, lowering my head in time to see Lara leaving the newsagents. She glanced up with a look of fury contorting her face as Sebastian’s hands reached around either side of me and grabbed the window frame.

“I can’t do that. I’m not that strong,” he said.

I studied the arms now imprisoning me, with their perfectly formed muscles straining against the rolled-up sleeves of his white shirt, and seriously doubted his statement. His stance was predatory and made me feel uncomfortable. I ducked under his elbow to escape, but he caught me around the waist and pulled me against him. Our bodies moulded together perfectly, and the strength of his grip made me feel like a china doll that he’d be able to crush in an instant. He was almost a full head taller than I was, and the warmth of his breath caressed my forehead. How easy it would be to reach up and taste those lips. I imagined the feel of them, and my own parted in an involuntary invitation.

The full Foxblood series can be seen here: http://foxifae.wixsite.com/raquellyon

--
 
Autumn Winters, Realm Watchers Book 1  by J. S. Malcom 
 
The rain has stopped, but fog crept in while I sat in Rory’s. I walk through that fog now, the streetlights casting cones of luminescence that capture swirling mist. I should go straight home, but I really want a bottle of wine. J.J.’s Market is only two blocks off and I walk toward neon signs advertising beer and cigarettes, drawn like a moth. Not long ago, I was newly married, looking forward to finishing my MFA in Design with the hope of someday starting my own business. I barely drank and rarely got drunk. Now, I’m wandering around out here at night trying to avoid ghosts and unwilling to go home without alcohol because I’m afraid I won’t sleep. My eyes start to prickle and I wipe the back of my hand across my face.  
 
And, no, I’m not alone. I can’t hear her behind me—her steps will never make sound again. All the same, I feel her there and soon she walks beside me. 
 
“Hello?” she says. 
 
I keep walking. God, it breaks my heart but I don’t want her next to me. 
 
“Can you hear me?” 
 
Yes, I can hear you. I say nothing. 
 
One block to go and maybe I’ll just uncork that bottle right in the store. With any luck, she’ll veer off and find some other lucky person to latch onto.  
 
“I really need your help.” Her breath hitches as her voice rises in pitch. She’s also crying and I just can’t ignore her—it’s not about me anymore. 
 
I slow down, then stop. I wipe my eyes, realizing that she’s not the only one crying. 
 
“Are you okay?” she says. 
 
Seriously? Things have gotten that bad? 
 
I take a deep breath to calm down. “I’m fine. Okay, I’m lying but I can deal with that later. What’s going on with you?” 
 
“I’m not dead,” she says.  
 
I turn to look at her. No, she doesn’t look dead but many of them don’t. Not to me, anyway. Some are more translucent while others appear basically the same as you and me, give or take the glow around them. That’s not guaranteed either. People are all different, whether dead or alive. One of my new theories is that we all start out as “dead” before becoming “alive” again. Like a lightbulb switching on and off again here in this realm. I think it’s a circular system. It seems an efficient use of energy. In this theory, ghosts are glitches. But this girl next to me isn’t interested in hearing about my theories, which change daily anyway. She just wants to know what’s going on. 
 
I really don’t want to go there right now but I’m stuck in this situation. I look at her young, beautiful face. Trusting eyes stare back at me. 
 
“I’m really sorry,” I say. “Did it happen fast? Was it a car crash or something?” 
 
She shakes her head. “That’s not what happened.” 
 
I don’t want to take it to the next level but, evidently, I have no choice. “Did you commit suicide?” 
 
That happens a lot too, I’ve come to learn. Suicide is a big one for getting you grounded. You cause that kind of pain and you just can’t move on.  
 
She shakes her head again. “No. Please, that isn’t what happened.” 
 
I think for a moment, hesitating because I hate the dark stuff. I really don’t want to know if she was murdered.  
 
“I’m not dead,” she says. “I swear. They took my body!” 
 
 

THROUGH THE VEIL by Colleen Halverson

 

“Nice catch,” he said, grinning.

 

I flung the apple up into the air and caught it in my other hand. “I played third base. Little League.”

 

“You mean baseball?”

 

I nodded.

 

“Never seen a game myself.”

 

I gaped at Finn. “You mean you live in Chicago, and you’ve never been to a Cubs game?”

 

He shrugged. “Not interested.” Finn’s eyes lit up, and he shoved me playfully with his shoulder. “Now hurling. That’s a good game.” “Well, they’re totally different. That’s not even a fair comparison,” I said with a sniff. “Fair enough,” Finn said, wistful. “Really, nothing can compare with hurling.”

 

I laughed. “Moiré tried to explain the rules to me once, but she lost me after hurley stick.”

 

“Oh, it’s simple, really.” Finn jumped down and rummaged around the rubble until he found a large branch. He swung it, the stick cutting through the air, slowly at first, but then with more force. Finn’s chest muscles rippled between the flaps of his leather jacket, and my blood pulsed in my ears at the sight of him, dancing from foot to foot as he practiced his swing.

 

“Now the point of hurling,” Finn began, “is to use this stick, the hurley stick.” He raised the old branch in the air. “To get a little ball called a sliotar either over or under your opponent’s goalpost.” Finn picked up a handful of small rocks and, using his “hurley,” sent a pebble whizzing over the stone wall, inches from my head.

 

“Hey, watch it!”

 

Finn smiled up at me. “You with me so far?”

 

I nodded.

 

“Now,” Finn said. “If the ball flies under the goalpost into the net, it’s worth three points.” Finn sent another pebble skittering against the wall, right next to my boot. “But you have to get it past the keeper, and that can be a challenge.” His eyes glittered at me as he swung his stick again. He threw a rock up in the air and with a loud thwack sent it zooming over the wall. I held out my hand and caught the stone, the look on Finn’s face making up for the sting of impact.

 

“And he’s out!” I cried, jumping off the wall and doing a mock victory dance. “Cubs win! Cubs win! Wooooooooooooo!”

 

Finn stalked over to me and grabbed my fist. “Will you settle down!” he said, attempting to pry the pebble from my grip. “I’m trying to teach you a three-thousand-year-old art form and you’re nattering on about the fecking Cubs.”

 

I giggled, snatching his hurley stick from his hands.

 

“Technical foul!” Finn barked behind me, but I sprinted away, swinging the hurley over my head as I climbed the wall.

 

“Get back here, you brat!” Finn bolted after me so quickly, he lost his footing on the stone wall and tumbled to the ground. I laughed as he came to his feet, his hair loose, chasing me.

 

“It’s the bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded!”

 

Finn made a snatch for the stick, but I feigned to the right. “Tanner’s up to bat.” I climbed a set of old stairs to nowhere and tossed up the stone. I popped out my hips and, following through on the turn, sent the stone flying over the hill and down the cliffs below. I jumped down, swinging my baseball/hurley bat. “Homerun by Tanner! And the Cubs win the pennant!”

 

Finn smacked into me, and I collapsed to the ground, his wide body over mine as he grasped for the stick.


 


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