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text 2019-01-18 19:31
Friday Featured Spotlight

Friday Featured Spotlight ~ Norse Mythology | Fantasy | Mystery

 

 

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2019/01/friday-featured-spotlight-norse.html
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review 2019-01-18 16:03
Bayou Moon / Ilona Andrews
Bayou Moon - Ilona Andrews

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

 

One of the main things that I love about the Andrews’ female main characters is that they are very self-sufficient & competent to run their lives. They are acknowledged to be high functioning people by their families & circles of friends. Not only can they handle the vicissitudes of life, they can defend themselves and their dependents.

Another reason that I love their books? The humour. In this book, when Cerise and William first meet, they are both “undercover.” She thinks he’s an ass and secretly calls him Lord Leatherpants. She is smelling rather pungent, and William not-so-secretly calls her the Hobo Queen.

William leaned forward and pointed at the river. “I don’t know why you rolled in spaghetti sauce,” he said in a confidential voice. “I don’t really care. But that water over there won’t hurt you. Try washing it off.”
She stuck her tongue out.
“Maybe after you’re clean,” he said.
Her eyes widened. She stared at him for a long moment. A little crazy spark lit up in her dark irises.
She raised her finger, licked it, and rubbed some dirt off her forehead.
Now what?
The girl showed him her stained finger and reached toward him slowly, aiming for his face.
“No,” William said. “Bad hobo.”



There are, of course, the obligatory rocks in the romance road. As Shakespeare told us, the course of true love never did run smooth. But that line is from Midsummer Night’s Dream and the plot line of this story is more Taming of the Shrew.

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review 2019-01-17 19:57
Fawkes
Fawkes - Nadine Brandes

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Gorgeous cover (I admit the cover + the title are what drew me to the book in the first place), and also an interesting take on historical events by showing them under the colours (see what I did there) of magic rather than religion. In this alternate early 17th-century world, people are able to bond with a specific colour, and exert control over items of this colour through the wearing of a mask. The conflict arises from how people view the use of colours: Keepers (the ‘Protestants’) believe that a person should only master one colour and not give in to the ‘White Light’ that governs them all, lest greed devours them and twists their powers to nefarious ends; while Igniters (the ‘Catholics’) believe that listening to the White Light, and controlling more than one colour, is the way to go. Both factions are in conflict not only because of these views, but because of a plague that turns people to stone, with each camp blaming the other for the advent of this mysterious illness.

Enters our protagonist and point of view character, Thomas Fawkes, son of the (now) infamous Guy Fawkes, who’s been struck by this very Stone Plague and can’t wait until he gets a mask of his own, learns to master a colour, and hopefully manages to heal himself, or at least make sure the plague will stay dormant in him and never spread further than his eye. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and as he finds himself reunited with his father, the latter offers him a place in a plot meant to blow up the King and Parliament (as in, literally blow up, re: Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night, and all that).

So. Very, very interesting premise, and I really loved reading about the London that is the backdrop in this novel—not least because I actually go very often in the areas depicted here, and I enjoy retracing in my mind the characters’ steps in streets that I know well enough. Little winks are found here and there, too, such as Emma’s favourite bakery on Pudding Lane, or a stroll to the Globe. It may not seem much, but it always makes me smile.

The story was a slow development, more focused on the characters than on a quick unfolding of the plot. I don’t know if the latter is a strong or a weak point, because I feel it hinges on the reader’s knowledge of the actual Gunpowder Plot: if you know about it, then I think what matters more is not its outcome, but the journey to it, so to speak. If you don’t know it, though, the novel may in turn feel weak in that regard, by not covering it enough. I didn’t mind this slow development, since it allowed for room for the side plot with Emma and the Baron’s household, and I liked Emma well enough. I still can’t decide whether her secret felt genuine or somewhat contrived, but in the end, it didn’t matter so much, because she was a kickass person, with goals of her own, and actually more interesting than Thomas.

As a side note: yes, there is romance here. Fortunately, no gratuitous kiss and sex scenes that don’t bring anything to the story and only waste pages. In spite of the blurb that mentions how Thomas will have to choose between the plot and his love (= usually, a sure recipe for catastrophe in YA, with characters basically forgetting the meaning of things like “priorities” or “sense of responsibility”), it is more subtle than that. Thomas at least also starts considering other people being involved, such as, well, the three hundred Members of Parliament meant to go up in flames along with the King. Casualties, and all that…

Bonus points for White Light, who we don’t see much of, but was overall engaging and somewhat funny in a quirky way. I just liked its interventions, period.

Where I had more trouble with the story was Thomas himself, who was mostly whiny and obsessed with getting his mask. All the time. You’d get to wonder why his father trusted him and invited him to be part of the plot in the first place. Often enough, he came as self-centered and constantly wavering in his beliefs. While I can totally understand that the prospect of his plague suddenly spreading left him in a state of constant, nagging fear, and therefore prone to focus on this more than on other people’s interests, the way he hesitated between which way to pursue (stay faithful to the plot, or listen to the White Light, or shouldn’t he listen to his father, but then are his father’s beliefs really his own as well, etc.) was a bit tedious to go through. Good thing Emma was here to set his sight straights, and by this, I don’t mean showing him the light (OK, OK, I should stop with the puns now), but making him aware that her circumstances are more complicated than he thinks, in his own ‘privileged’ way, even though his being plagued does contribute to a common understanding of being immediately rejected because of what one looks like.

Also, let’s be honest, Guy wasn’t exactly Father of the Year either, and the story didn’t focus much on developing his ties with Thomas. They were united through the plot, but that was pretty much all, when this could’ve been a wonderful opportunity to reunite them differently, in deeper ways, too. There just wasn’t enough about him, about his personality, and in turn, this lessened the impact of Thomas’ decisions when it came to him.

Another issue for me was the magic system. I got the broad lines, and the reason for the Keepers/Igniters divide, but apart from that, we weren’t shown how exactly this magic works. It is, I’m sure, more subtle than simply voicing an order to a specific colour, and there seems to be a whole undercurrent of rules to it, that aren’t really explained. For instance, why can the masks only be carved by the biological father or mother of a person, and not by an adoptive parent (or even by anyone else)?

Mention in passing as well to language: sometimes, it veered into too modern territory (I mean 20/21st-century modern English specifically, not ‘but Shakespeare’s English was technically Modern English, too’ ;)). I think it was especially prevalent in Thomas’ discussions with White Light, and I found this jarring.

Conclusion: 3 stars, as I still liked the story overall, as well as the world depicted in it, despite the questions I still have about it. I was hoping for a stronger story, though.

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review 2019-01-15 03:32
Death and Taxes by J. Zachary Pike
Death and Taxes: An Urban Fantasy Mystery - J. Zachary Pike
J. Zachary Pike's small Kindle novella is hard to describe.  It's about a happy go lucky guy named Arther C. Torr that gets out of college and does whatever he wants.  Until his college loan needs to be paid off. He's practically unhirable but he finds a job working at a doughnut shop.  Not any doughnut shop, but a shop that is run by a former police detective that is now a private detective.  The detective is also familiar with the paranormal.
 
This is a short, 34 pages and free.  I got hooked on J. Zachary Pike after reading one of the best fantasy series I've read in a long time, the Dark Profit Saga. Pike is a self-published writer and while his 2 novellas were a little above mediocre, his series is fun and hilarious to read.  I can see where if he wanted to do a complete book about Arthur.    I'll try to get a couple of reviews on them out to see if they pique any interest in any of you.
Death and Taxes by J. Zachary Pike
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review 2019-01-14 04:13
Review: Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish
Lipstick Voodoo - Kristi Charish

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Kincaid Strange, the best voodoo practitioner in the Pacific Northwest, has not been having a good time lately. After solving a series of murders that left her physically and emotionally worn out, all she wants is to get back to doing normal séances and zombie raisings. But before you can say “feral zombie,” Kincaid is up to her ears in problems again. She’s in debt to a sorcerer’s ghost, her roommate and best friend, Nathan Cade – ghost of a grunge rock star – is trapped in a zombie’s body, and now her Seattle cop ex wants Kincaid to look into a murder involving people from Nate’s past. It’s more than your average practitioner could take… But Kincaid Strange is anything but average.

Return to Kristi Charish’s fantastical and fascinating world of zombies, ghosts, and ghouls in Lipstick Voodoo. I loved Kincaid’s first outing - The Voodoo Killings - and couldn’t wait to see what happened next for the kickass voodoo practitioner.

Kincaid continues to be a great protagonist. She’s strong but flawed, smart but doesn’t know everything, and when her back’s against the wall, she’ll continue to fight, especially if someone she cares about is in danger. This time around, her irresponsible but loveable roommate, Nate, has gotten her into hot water. Nate is trapped in a zombie body and the clock is ticking for her to figure out how to get him out before Nate burns out. Nate has a fun personality and it’s easy to see why Kincaid adores him, but that doesn’t mean she’s blind to his flaws. Nate’s impulsive nature has gotten him into deep trouble and he’s got secrets Kincaid will have to suss out when supernatural murders strike and it’s clear there’s a connection to him. I loved watching how Kincaid’s mind worked as she unraveled the rapidly multiplying mysteries.

Lipstick Voodoo also brings the return of other fascinating characters. From the powerful zombie Lee Ling to the surprisingly interesting Mork to Gideon Lawrence, a sometimes-terrifying sorcerer’s ghost, there are a wealth of complex secondary characters that round out this story extremely well. I loved delving deeper into Gideon’s character in particular; he’s powerful, dangerous, intriguing, and I very much want to learn more about him. He and Kincaid have an interesting relationship and his insights into Kincaid’s character add to the story.

Lipstick Voodoo is a twisting blend of paranormal mystery, action, and the emotional struggle of a woman caught between the living and the dead. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Ms. Charish deftly weaves all the threads together to create a wonderful, engaging story. If you haven’t read The Voodoo Killings I highly recommend doing so before diving into this book (unless you don’t mind huge spoilers). I finished Lipstick Voodoo a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Charish has in store for Kincaid next!


FTC Disclosure: I received the ebook edition of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and purchased the audiobook edition. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

 

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/01/review-lipstick-voodoo-by-kristi-charish.html
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