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review 2017-10-28 17:36
"Switchback - Nightshades #2" by Melissa F Olson
Switchback: A Nightshades Novel - Melissa F. Olson

"Switchback"  is the second 200-page episode in Melissa Olson's series about an FBI unit tasked with investigating crimes by vampires (shades) whose existence has just been revealed to the world. The twist is that the FBI unit has the second oldest vampire in the world as a consultant.


Carrying straight on from "Nightshades", "Switchback" sees the team called in to investigate a shade attack on the police department of a small, rich, very white "village" just outside Chicago.


Like its predecessor, this is a light, fast, fun read that is well paced, well plotted and doesn't give you time to draw breath. Reading this is like watching an episode of a good SyFy show that's just getting into its stride and where all the mysteries lie ahead of you.


I could eat up one of these a week, so I hope Melissa Olson keeps them coming. There was a gap of fifteen months between the first two. Still, I'm also keen to read the next book in her Boundary Magic series and I live in hope of a sequel to "The Big Keep" so I'm willing to be patient.

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review 2017-10-23 14:04
“City of Light – Outcast #1” by Keri Arthur: original ideas and characters undercut by careless or lazy writing.
City of Light - Keri Arthur

This could have been a wonderful book and the start of a series that I would have followed avidly but the writing degraded my enjoyment too much for me to want to continue.


"City Of Light" is an Urban Fantasy / Sci-Fi book that has a lot of strengths. It brings together humans, shifters, aliens, genetically engineered people and ghosts in an original way. The world-building is well thought through. The plot is intriguing. The kick-ass-but-empathic heroine has a secret, an agenda, a complex history and a guilt-driven need to protect children from evil. There's lots of well-described action, often enabled by an interesting mix of magic and technology.


For me, all of this was undermined by the kind of careless or lazy writing that a second draft or a decent editor could have fixed.


Certain phrases occurred with such regularity that I could have built a drinking game around them:

"He/she smiled but there was no humour in it"

"He/It sent a shiver down my spine"

"Energy/Tension bit the air"

"My skin tingled under his gaze".


There were enough small grammatical errors to give the book that self-published I-can't-afford-a-copy-editor feel.


Then there were descriptions that shouldn't have passed a second reading

"He was not what he seemed. He had deeper depths."


Personally, I think the use of the phrase, "I proceeded to..." should be restricted police officers giving evidence and really doesn't work in a sex scene.


The story is told from the point of view of our kick-ass, I-was-built-by-humans-a hundred-years-ago-to-seduce-and-interrogate heroine and yet, by the end of the book, I knew very little about her other than that she is easily aroused and willing to kill to friends to achieve her goal.


Then the book ends rather than finishes. One goal is achieved but nothing much is explained. I felt I'd just watched the pilot for SyFy series that couldn't afford a good scriptwriter.


Even though the ideas are appealing, I won't be going back. I'd rather read authors who have enough respect for themselves and their readers to polish before they publish.

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review 2017-10-13 11:49
"Iron Kissed - Mercy Thompson #3" by Patricia Briggs
Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

"Iron Kissed" stepped this series up from good urban fantasy with a likeable, strong heroine and a satisfyingly complex supernatural world, to something that really gets face to face with abusive power and what it does.


In less than three hundred pages, Patricia Briggs managed to move from a fairly conventional (by Urban Fantasy standards) who dunnit, with Mercy trying to prove that her mentor did not murder seven fae on the local reservation, into a book that is really about what men and women do with power.


Mercy is brave and loyal and smart but she's not powerful and she doesn't have any magical healing ability. If Mercy gets hurt, she stays hurt.


Mercy grew up surrounded by male werewolves with an impulse for violence and the physical power to tear her apart. She survived by learning not to draw attention to herself. That's not an option for her any more. The two earlier books gained her the attention of the local werewolf pack and the local nest of vampires. In this book she is dragged into the affairs of the fae.


It is Mercy's vulnerability that makes her courage remarkable. When she stands up to those more powerful than her, with no ability to protect herself from the consequences, it means something.


The first part of the book expands our understanding of the fae, a not at all human set of people who will always put their security above the lives of the humans around them. Mercy negotiates a route through their threats where she can and initially this seems like another urban fantasy book where clever humans can outwit the monsters. Then Mercy is cornered by something powerful that wants to kill her and that she cannot fight or outrun.  Her only option is to seek protection. What I liked about this was her reaction: fear, not wise-cracking arrogance; guilt for putting others in danger, not a "hah, trapped you" joy; an understanding that, if things continue as they are, one of the many monsters she is surrounded by WILL kill her.


In the second part of the book, things get darker. Much darker. Mercy comes to understand that not all monsters are supernatural. She falls prey to one of them who hurts her, diminishes her and takes her to the brink of self-abnegation.


This was not easy reading. We'd left fantasy far behind and become entangle in the worst things we do to each other.


Mercy's reaction and the reaction of the people around her, made me cry.  I wanted to cheer but crying got the better of me.


The novel avoids a soft, pain free, happy ever after ending. Damage is not so easily undone but, it turns out, hope is not so easily extinguished.


I'm hooked now. If this standard of writing continues, I'll be with this series until the end.


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review 2017-10-05 11:36
"White Silence" Jodi Taylor - DNF
White Silence - Jodi Taylor

I bought"White Silence" as soon as it came out last month because it has a beautiful cover, is written by Jodi Taylor, whose "St. Mary's" series has given me a great deal of pleasure and is described by the publisher as:


The first instalment in the new, gripping supernatural thriller series
and as:

"a twisty supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat"


Well, I'm twelve chapters and four hours into this ten-hour audiobook and I have yet to experience anything like tension. I'm having difficulty maintaining more than mild curiosity so I'm giving up and reluctantly adding "White Silence" to my Did Not Finish pile.


The premise of "White Silence" is intriguing. It tells the story of Elizabeth Cage, an adopted child with the ability to see people so clearly that she knows their character, intent and inclinations on sight. Trained from childhood to hide her powers, she seeks out a quiet life with a quiet man, only to be manoeuvred into the hands of unscrupulous people who want to use her powers for evil.


Sounds like stirring stuff in a sort of Superman meets Sixth Sense meets Medium kind of way. Except it isn't. The pace is agonisingly slow. Elizabeth Cage has so little personality that I struggled to care what happened to her and the England of the story seems to be trapped somewhere in an idealised 1950s.


Maybe all the good stuff happens in the last 60% of the book and I'm missing out by walking away but life is short and other books are calling to me, so I'll take that chance.

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review 2017-10-04 23:40
"White Trash Zombie Unchained - White Trash Zombie #6" by Diana Rowland - things go right for Angel
White Trash Zombie Unchained - Diana Rowland

"White Trash Zombie Unchained" is the most fun I've had with Angel Crawford since the first book in the series.


How could I not like a book that has Angel Crawford AND zombie alligators in it?


Some of the recent Angel books have been dark, as Angel came to terms with her own nature and her new status as a person that needs to eat brains and who LOVES their smell, especially when fresh.


"White Trash Zombie Unchained" manages to lift the mood while still embracing and enriching the world-building from the previous novels.


Angel comes into her own in this book, showing leadership, taking good decisions and still remaining someone who will rescue frogs from certain death.


The book is packed with wit, humor, action and its own distinctive brand of strangeness. The plot stands up on its own, resolves some points from previous books and opens up some intriguing new possibilities. What more could I ask?


The book is perhaps a little wish-fulfillment heavy, but hell, I enjoyed it and Angel certainly deserves it.


Read this one with a grin on your face. I recommend the audiobook version because, for me, Alison McLemore IS Angel Crawford and she does a wonderful job with this book.


I was originally drawn to this series by the striking cover art. Take a look at the pictures below to see how this book cover evolved.



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