Lots of Action in Dark Queen

dark_queenDark Queen by Faith Hunter is the 12th book in the Jane Yellowrock series. This is not a standalone type novel. It’s definitely a part of a series and is a culmination of some plot points. It would seem this was originally to be the last book in the series, but part way through they decided to add two more books to it. It is still a very good book.

Leo, the master of the city of New Orleans, has been challenged to a blood challenge called the Sangre Duello by the leader of the European vampires. This is serious. If Leo and his people lose, then New Orleans will come under the European vamps control and people will suffer – humans, witches, vampires, everyone.

Jane, as Leo’s enforcer, is very much involved in the preparations for the challenge. She is having to learn to accept that she can’t control everything and must delegate.

The action is virtually nonstop. It starts early on with Jane answering the door and being shot at. It doesn’t seem to let up much until after the challenge has been met. It’s a fast-paced read.

I liked it all. Jane’s flippancy infects Leo’s handling of things but in a calculated way.  I also liked the conversations she has with Beast who is “good ambush hunter” among other things. The touch of romance is nice and gives a brief respite from the action. There is also a subplot involving a possible blood relation of Jane’s.

Is the ending a cliffhanger? In many ways, yes. It’s still very readable as it is. I do look forward to the next book to see how the issues are resolved.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a class act, well-written with good characterization. It kept my attention and piqued my interest as to where the series will go from here. Do not read this as your first Jane Yellowrock book ever.

Dark Queen by Faith Hunter was released May 1st, 2018 by Ace.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions. This is my honest review.

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Killer con men?

uneasy_preyIn the sixth book in the Zoe Chambers series, an elderly woman appears to have fallen down a flight of stairs to her basement. On the way to the hospital, she recovers enough to whisper to Zoe that she was pushed. A pair of con men has been visiting older members of the community posing as utility workers and casing houses for future robberies. Are they responsible for her death?

When the robbers visit Zoe’s former landlady, she decides it’s a good idea to move back in short-term as protection. Police Chief Pete Adams, her boyfriend, is adamantly against this. Her decision ultimately places her in the path of danger, but it doesn’t stop her from trying to figure out who is responsible for the robberies and Oriole’s death.

For those of us who have older friends and family or perhaps are older ourselves, this mystery hits home. Anyone could fall for what those con men were doing.

Then there is the addition of a character – a pesky reporter type. Zoe finds she is suspicious of the woman and her motives. The chief just doesn’t really like her at first because of her pushiness.

The characters are interesting and varied. They range in age from adolescent to senior citizen. They all come across as real people. There is a little character development as they grow and react to things going on around them.

The plot moves along at a good speed. It flows smoothly, is complex, and is well written. There is a secondary mystery, but I don’t want to go into it because of spoilers.

This was my first Zoe Chambers mystery. You can read it as a stand-alone, but I found it whet my appetite for the earlier mysteries in the series. I will definitely be reading more by this author.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. The book is well-written. The characters come across as real people. And the mysteries are well done. There is enough background given to enjoy it even if it’s the first book you are reading in the series. I recommend it to people who enjoy cozies.

Uneasy Prey by Annette Dashofy is due to be released March 27th, 2018 from Henery Press.

Disclaimer: I received a  copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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King’s Illness Draws Daughters Together

daughters_of_stormThe King falls ill seemingly with a brain illness. He has fits of raving and then long deep sleeps. The sleeps become longer and more frequent. His wife, the daughters’ step-mother sends for her son. The daughters come to his side as well. There are 5 girls, each so different from the other. Bluebell, the eldest, is a warrior and next in line for the throne. Rose was married off to a neighboring kingdom to help maintain a peace and loves her daughter dearly and another man. Ash is gifted or cursed with magic. She has been sent to learn to be a healer. The youngest of the girls, the twins Ivy and Willow, couldn’t be more different. Ivy is all about boys. And Willow is aiming to be pious, but to the trimartyr god and not to, as she puts it, the heathen gods her sisters believe in.
The five daughters come together to take their father away from whatever might be making him sick. Then, they seek a way to heal him. Each weathers the journey differently. And each of the daughters faces challenges. How they deal with the challenges is so very human and not always as successfully as they would like.
I thought in the beginning that 5 daughters would be too much for one book. But, Kim Wilkins makes it work. It’s easy to tell when the point of view changes from one to the other because they are so very different from each other. And there is variety. So, for example, if you don’t much like Ivy, you don’t have to read about her too long before the point of view changes to another daughter.
While a little slow in places, overall the plot moves along at a decent rate. When it seems slow, it’s really setting things up for a future occurrence.
I think this could mostly be read as a stand-alone, but there are enough loose ends to make someone want to read the next book. I’m wondering where the second book will go.
I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Overall, it’s well-written with interesting characters and events. If you enjoy a good fantasy read, then you will probably enjoy this book.

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins is expected to be released from Del Rey books March 6, 2018.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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Once Upon a Time…

hazel_woodOnce upon a time, there was a girl named Alice who lived with her mother. They had no one home but many. They stayed with friends on couches and in space rooms always leaving when bad luck caught up to them.

One day her mother, Ella, got an email saying her mother was dead. She said to Alice, “We’re free.” But she didn’t say from what.

Time passed and they settled in Brooklyn. Ella met a man and married. They moved in with him and his daughter. Now Ella had a step sister and a stepfather. She went to private school and worked in a coffee shop.

Then one day Alice returned home only to perceive that things weren’t quite right. Her mother has gone missing, kidnapped. The best clue she gets is a message from her mother saying not to go to the Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate. Alice seeks help reluctantly from a classmate who is also a somewhat enthusiastic fan of her grandmother’s writing, Tales from the Hinterland, a collection of faith tales. Finch agrees to help her for his own reasons. Together they head for Hazel Wood. What follows is a dark fairy tale journey as they seek her mother. It will take them to Hazel Wood and beyond.

I have this book 4 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed the writing and the story. I liked Alice, faults and all. No one is perfect. This is not a retelling, but an original. If you like fairy tales with some darkness like the original Brothers Grimm, then this would be a good book for you.

An excerpt from the beginning of the book is here on Entertainment Weekly. There will be a sequel to this book as well as an edition of Tales from the Hinterland according to Goodreads.

The Hazel Wood was released January 30, 2018 from Flatiron Books.

I received a copy of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads. This is an honest, uninfluenced review.

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Three Mysteries in One

phantom_OzIvy Meadows, actress and almost private-investigator, is at it again in the fifth installment in the series The Phantom of Oz by Cindy Brown. Ivy gets word that her close friend Candace Moon is going to be in town performing a space opera version of the Wizard of Oz. But, Candy isn’t looking like her usual vibrant, voluptuous self. It looks like she’s developed an eating disorder or an addiction to diet pills or perhaps both. A chandelier drops on some of the cast during a rehearsal. Then Candy up and disappears. Babette. the wicked witch who is auditioning the munchkins, doesn’t seem too concerned. Candy’s boyfriend hires Ivy to find Candy. Meanwhile, accidents continue to plague the production. People begin to wonder if the rumored theater ghost is real.

There are really 3 mysteries in this book. The first is about the accidents plaguing the production. The second is where has Candy gone? And the third is a murder mystery. Cindy Brown handles them all well. Entwined within the mysteries is a theme of body image and how mean people can be to those that differ from their ideal especially perhaps in the theater/film crowd. Ms. Brown promotes the idea of a healthy body image using the costumer for the company.

The mysteries are well-written. They all kept my attention. One scene has Ivy down in a room with a pool of water of unknown depth looking for Candace. The suspense and tension of the scene were such that I had trouble reading what happens even knowing that the heroine will most likely be okay in the end. It might not be a long scene, but it’s definitely one that shows the talent the author has for creating suspense.

Overall I give this mystery 4 stars out of 5. It’s well-written. The characters are believable. The mysteries are suspenseful and resolved well. I liked the theme of body image woven into the story. It’s an important and timely topic. I was able to read and enjoy this book without having read the earlier books in the series. I liked the story and writing enough to look into them at a future date though.

The Phantom of Oz is due to be released January 30, 2018 from Henery Press.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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Not a “churchwoman”, but a probie

Flame_inthe_DarkNell Ingram is no longer a “churchwoman” in the polygamist church she grew up in. She has grown into the role of probie in Unit 18 of PsyLed, a unit of Homeland Security responsible for dealing with paranormals like vampires, werewolves, witches, and more.

Nell has also grown in her abilities as whatever type of paranormal she is. She can read the earth to find out things about recent happenings in an area as well as use it for different reasons.

The PsyLed unit is called into the investigation of an assassination attempt on a senator because of the presence of Ming of Glass (vampire) and some abnormalities surrounding the attempt. Nothing exactly points to paranormals initially, but they are still kept in the loop. Further attempts on the senator and his family keep PsyLed involved in the investigations.

There is a romance subplot between Nell and Occam. And Nell’s mama tries to set her up with someone as well.

The characters are well developed, especially the PsyLed team and Nell’s little sister, Mud. I like that they come across as real people who just happen to have these special abilities. Also, I like that Faith Hunter has a good imagination and draws characters that are not your typical paranormals as well as the usual suspects.

The plot is well done. The pace is good. There are at least two big climactic scenes. The more I read, the more I wanted to know what happened next.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a good quality story and well-written. If you enjoy urban fantasy, you will most likely enjoy the Soulwood series. Flame in the Dark is the third book in the series. The series is best read in order to be fully appreciated.

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter was released December 5, 2017 from Ace Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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2 Mysteries for the Price of One

murdersugarlandexpressIt’s time to get away from the ghosts and have a live people only vacation. Ellis, Verity’s boyfriend, has surprised her with tickets on the maiden voyage of the Sugarland Express. The ghosts have other ideas though. Frankie wants to tag along to provide a romantic getaway for his girlfriend.

This book is a hat tip to Murder on the Orient Express. As it turns out, there was a murder on the original Sugarland Express and there is a ghostly detective still searching for the culprit. Closely following the original mystery, a second murder takes place in the present day. The tracks have been blocked, the wifi and communications have been destroyed. And there is a dead body. Ellis and Verity spring into action to try and solve the present day murder before anyone else is killed. Frankie and Verity get sucked into solving the ghostly murder before the ghost train derails and plunges into the river as it did so many years ago. So much for a relaxing vacation.

I gave this mystery 4 out of 5 stars. It’s well-written. And it’s paced well. As the mystery goes on, the pace increases until the climactic ending. The characters are interesting, both the living and the ghostly. It can be read as a standalone – enough background information is given to follow along and enjoy it. For me though, I found it perhaps more enjoyable having more background from reading earlier mysteries in the series. If you enjoy humorous cozy mysteries with some paranormal involvement, this would be a good reading choice for you.

Murder on the Sugarland Express by Angie Fox is the 6th mystery in the Southern Ghost Hunter series. It was published November 25, 2017 from Moose Island Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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