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review 2018-01-20 22:39
Agent Bayne (PsyCop #9)
Agent Bayne (PsyCop Book 9) - Jordan Castillo Price

*happy sigh*

 

I didn't read Skin After Skin, so the last new PsyCop book I read was Spook Squad which was FOREVER ago. To say that I've been impatiently awaiting this book is not an exaggeration, and it did not disappoint.

 

This is around the time in most long-running series where the author runs out of steam (if they hadn't already) and just start phoning in their books. Not JCP though. She keeps this series fresh, keeps finding new ways to challenge her characters and push their boundaries, and keeps delivering hilarious commentary on the absurdities of life. (Vic vs smartphone is my new favorite.)

 

I loved seeing Vic in this new environment at the FPMP. He finally starts to realize just how toxic things were at the precinct when his new coworkers are not only nice to him but actually excited to work with him, and some are genuinely in awe of him. It's a lot for him to adjust to. Along with that, he has a new assignment unlike anything he did when working homicide and he has to figure out how to work with Darla.

 

Darla is a great addition to the cast, and her history with Vic has a lot of possibilities for exploring not just their shared pasts but their ever-changing understanding of what it means to be a medium. Jacob also does some growing here, though not quite to the degree as Vic. He is not okay after the events in Spook Squad and has some anxiety to deal with. It's the first chink in his armor that we've seen and it brings him more down to Earth in his view of psychic abilities. 

 

As for the mystery, the perp was pretty obvious from the get-go, and while we expect Vic to be clueless and obtuse, I was rather bemused that Jacob didn't start asking the necessary questions sooner. Thankfully, the mystery isn't the sole focus here. Vic's got his mediumship project and he's also starting to unearth some memories of his childhood and realizing that his fuzzy memories don't mean what he always expected they did. But they all tie together and it opens this whole new realm for exploration in future books.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-20 22:01
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
High Moor 3: Blood Moon - Graeme Reynolds

Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Atrocities committed in the name of war. In this incredibly brutal finale, the world attempts to deal with the fact that werewolves are real, and oh-so-dangerous. Security measures are taken and, on both sides, death is dealt to those undeserving. As the body count increases exponentially, difficult decisions have to be made, and extreme action has to be taken.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

It's no secret that I absolutely adore this bloodstained trilogy with all my heart - each instalment elicited an abundance of excitement, thrilling me with every character and their often perilous ventures. Blood Moon proved to be one hell of an epic conclusion, even if it left me saddened because I just didn't want it to end. It's extremely rare that I consistently rate so high - usually I find highs as well as lows, my overall enjoyment changing, sometimes drastically, throughout a series, but with Graeme's wolf-tastic world, each addition kept me entranced. Not only did it maintain its strong quality of descriptive writing, it continued to surprise, delight and disturb me. There's actually something I feel I need to state, because it's been in my mind and, for me, it holds a lot of significance:

An author doesn't need to be a best-seller, or have a great deal of recognition to be a great writer. I believe it's our job, as readers, to discover the hidden gems out there, to bring acknowledgement to the stories that bring us joy.

It pains me to think of deserving authors going unnoticed, and not even given a chance by the wider community, but I digress. Let's get back to the review, shall we?

There's a lot of characters to keep track of and, I admit, returning after a year since reading Moonstruck was confusing at first. I found myself trying to remember who was who, but it swiftly returned to me the further I went. I daresay these novels are meant to be read in order; context plays a big part in understanding how the war came to be, not to mention the journey each character had to traverse to reach that point. Marie and John were undoubtedly my favourites, as despite being apart for most of the book, they had time to shine in their own individual ways. Marie had to step-up, become what she never thought she'd become, and John had to endure and overcome a great deal.

Of course, amongst the large cast, others stood out as well - Phil and his desperation to return to his beloved wife, and Daniel, who just wanted the best for the pack. Every single one had their own unique personality, and their own agenda that added a considerable amount of substance.

To tell you the truth, it was at times hard to root for either side. Both the human force and the werewolf pack did terrible, terrible things. Just who was the lesser evil? Well, I'm not sure, both were neck-deep in murky waters - the pack just wanted to survive, but in retaliation of their species being killed and imprisoned, they set upon a whole town of human civilians, either savagely butchering them, or turning them into moonstruck. This included children, so I can't quite say the pack was at all innocent in the situation. I felt a whole lot of dread right before that High Moor slaughter; I knew it was coming and the anticipation nearly killed me.

The ending I considered to be bittersweet. I understood why it needed to be so, but I still felt rather bad about it. It was, after all, a last resort, and I couldn't stop thinking about what all those people would lose. I almost had tears it my eyes, and that's another oddity, as most of the time nothing I read renders me so emotional, and if it does, that in itself makes it special.

One more thing, before this review comes to an end. A paragraph in chapter eighteen piqued my interest, specifically, this one:

On occasion, the she-wolf picked up the scent of fresh death in the air, and when the two of them happened across an old stone mausoleum, the air crackled with an atmosphere of malevolence that raised both wolves' hackles and forced them to back track to find another path around the place.

Is it possible that was a hint of another monster? Perhaps it was just me, but I got a vampiric vibe that I just couldn't shake! It's a little - a mere hint - but it certainly stuck out. Since it was confirmed that other creatures did exist, I kept it in mind to pay extra attention for any teasers, and I believe I may have found one.

In conclusion - I was lucky to discover this trilogy, and honoured to read it. Werewolf horror at its finest, and I hope Reynolds one day returns to this world. I'm sure it has much more to offer.

Notable Scene:

Where Amy's pretty face had been, there was only a bloodstained skull. The bone had deep gouges carved into it and Amy's beautiful blue eyes stared out of the gore at nothing. Her friend's body stood on its own for a second, then fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. Anna couldn't help herself. She turned to Matty and was met by a visage from the depths of hell. The boy's eyes were flat, reflective disks in the flicking candlelight. His face is distorted - the bone stretched into a snout filled with row upon row of razor sharp fangs. A mass of bloody flesh and muscle dangled from between those terrible jaws. They crunched once, then swallowed. Matty brought up a clawed hand and wiped his mouth. "Aye, she wasnae wrong. She did have a tasty face."

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© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/20/blood-moon-by-graeme-reynolds
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review 2018-01-20 19:32
Review of novella "Undercover Magic" (Dragon's Gift: The Valkyrie Book 1) - Linsey Hall
Undercover Magic (Dragon's Gift: The Valkyrie Book 1) - Linsey Hall

So, random Amazon prime borrow (Kindle Owner's Lending Library) -- a freebie, self-/indie published  and a shorter length work that I really wound up enjoying.

 

Not really sure why beyond liking the heroine.  It threw so much at you at once that I'm not sure I have a handle on the story, the series or the worldbuilding.  But just go with it; action-packed and full of pretty much everything supernatural, paranormal or fairy-tale-ish.

 

Not sure yet why series is called Dragon's Gift or Valkyrie.  No Valkyries yet.  The main character and her sister's powers are still unknown at end of this one.

 

Probably the best review I can give this is that I plan on reading the next novella in the series.

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review 2018-01-20 18:21
The Stuff of Legend: Book 1: The Dark - Brian Smith, Mike Raicht, Charles Wilson (Illustrator)

For more reviews, check out my blog Craft-Cycle

This story works perfectly as a graphic novel. I love the contrast in characters' appearances in the "real world" vs. The Dark. The artwork is amazing. It is such an interesting contrast between childhood play and actual war.

The plot itself is very interesting. It's kind of like Toy Story if Buzz and Woody went on a murderous rampage to save Andy from a nightmare incarnate. Awesome stuff. 

Cool beginning to the series. I am looking forward to reading the next book. 

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photo 2018-01-20 18:11
Amazon Review Quote

"This well written fantasy has plenty of intriguing characters and plenty of action, with some doses of peril that will keep you reading and crossing your fingers for a happy ending.  I sure enjoyed it and would love to read more about Blue, his friends, and this magical world."

Source: www.amazon.com/Blue-Unicorns-Journey-Illustrated-Book-ebook/dp/B06X416LGX
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