Tag Archives: 2017

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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To See the World

Girl_in_towerVasya is back in this follow up to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. The Girl in the Tower is the second book in the Winternight trilogy.

The first part of the book is mostly about Sasha and Olga. They are Vasya’s siblings. At the close of part one, Sasha and Vasya have just met up for the first time in years.

The second part of the book is told mostly about Vasya and what is happening in her life after the close of The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya feels that her life is in danger if she stayed in the small village she was raised in. She goes to Morozko, the frost demon, and asks for help. She wants some of the dowry he promised to her so that she can go out and find her place in the world. Adventures ensue.

The third part of the book is mostly about Vasya and Sasha and their cousin Dimitri. There is also a little about Olga. Vasya must keep up the charade that she is a boy. Not only does her life depend on it, but her sister’s and brother’s lives are deeply affected by this as well. There are more adventures and conflict. I don’t want to give away spoilers.

Vasya continues to have her bond to the supernatural throughout the book. She can see the spirits of the bathhouse and the hearth as well as others. This puts her at both an advantage and disadvantage. They can be helpful at times, but she can’t tell anyone that they are there or else she will be marked as crazy and perhaps a witch as well. Only her young niece can also see them and has been warned by her mother, Olga, not to mention this to other people.

The story is well written. This is a crucial time period for the spirits as many of them are disappearing or losing power as the Christian God gains followers. Medieval Russia is an interesting backdrop for the story. The pace of the story is good as well. There are ups and downs throughout, but by about 50% on my Kindle, the story is becoming very dangerous for Vasya and her siblings. The tension continues to mount for the rest of the book until the ending.

My favorite characters in the book are Vasya, her horse Solovey, and Morozko the frost demon. It was hard sometimes watching Vasya’s missteps. But they were necessary for character building and plot advancement.

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s well written. The character of Vasya grows and develops as the book progresses. The adventures are interesting. And the book is well-paced. I can’t recommend this series enough. And, I can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy.

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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Under the Emerald Big Top

Emerald_CircusThe Emerald Circus is a collection of short stories by Jane Yolen. All of them are previously published with the exception of The Bird, a tale based on Edgar Allan Poe. All of the stories in the collection are either based on another tale or a riff on a famous person. Three of the stories are based on Alice in Wonderland. Examples of inspiration for some of the other stories include: Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, and Merlin.

All of the stories are well-written. The book includes an introduction by Holly Black. And at the end of the book, there are notes on each short story as well as a poem relating to each. I found even these endnotes enjoyable to read.

I enjoyed all of the stories, but I had a few favorites. Among those are: Sister Emily’s Lightship, Andersen’s Witch, Blown Away, and Evian Steel. All of them had excellent prose. And I felt the characterization of Emily Dickinson to be right on target in Sister Emily’s Lightship even though it is a fantastical tale.

I gave this collection 5 stars out of 5 stars for the quality of the writing. While each was a riff based on another tale or a historical person, I can say I’ve never read anything quite like them. And I love retellings and have read quite a lot of them.

This book is perfect for those who enjoy Jane Yolen’s writing as well as those who enjoy retellings.

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen was published November 14, 2017 from Tachyon.

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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Bound for The American Dream

paradoxboundEli meets a mysterious traveler a few times over the course of his life. It’s years for him, but days for her and not necessarily in a linear fashion. Harry, the traveler, discourages his interest, but not quite successfully enough. When he finds out that there is a faceless man after her, Eli goes to great lengths to warn Harry. As a result, they become reluctant partners in the search for The American Dream, a tangible object. They and the other searchers, for they are not alone, are all pursued by the faceless men.

The way they travel is a form of time-travel frequently. But, they are limited to traveling through the history of the United States. So, Harry dislikes the term time-travel.

The book has a few flaws, but overall it is well-written and enjoyable. There are some slow spots,  but I found I still wanted to know what happened next and that carried me through. The only other thing that bothered me a little was Eli’s willingness after meeting Harry just a few times to go to the great lengths he did to warn her.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s an enjoyable time-travel story.

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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Will Ghostly Poe Aid Hunters?

wickeddeedsVickie Preston and Griffin Pryce have been an item for 2 cases now, Dying Breath and Dark Rites. In this, their third outing, they tackle a murder mystery.

Vickie and Griffin stop in Baltimore for a romantic few days on their way to Virginia so that Vickie can enter the FBI academy. Alas, peace isn’t in the cards for them. A famous writer is found dead at the Edgar Allan Poe themed restaurant that they ate at the night before. The writer’s wife calls on the Krewe of Hunters to prove that this wasn’t a suicide and to catch the murderer. More Poe themed crimes follow and additional Krewe members join the hunt.

At the same time, Vickie begins having vivid dreams involving Edgar Allan Poe. Will these dreams, nightmares, help solve the case in the present?

The mystery is fast-paced with few well-timed lulls. There is also a touch of romance between the two main characters.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this mystery, was the history added by Vickie. The reader learns more about Poe in his later years, a relevant few of his works, and a possible theory as to his demise.

Overall, I give this paranormal mystery 4 out of 5 stars. The mystery is well-written and fast-paced. There are enough satisfying twists and turns. And the information shared about Poe makes it all that more interesting.

Wicked Deeds is #23 in the Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham. It’s due to be published September 19, 2017 from MIRA 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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Good vs. Evil in Anthology

urban_enemiesHere the emphasis is on the evil part of the Good vs. Evil. Seventeen stories from diverse urban fantasy series showcase their villains. There are stories from the following authors: Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), Kelley Armstrong (The Cainsville and Otherworld series), Seanan McGuire (InCryptid), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), C.E. Murphy (Walker Papers), Steven Savile (Glasstown), Caitlin Kittredge (the Hellhound Chronicles and the Black London series), Jeffrey Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Sam Witt (Pitchfork County), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock), and Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches).

Most of the stories are told from the villain’s point of view rather than just being about the villain. Some of them are written in such a way that you can actually feel a moment of empathy for them. Others showcase just how evil they really are. My favorite story was probably the one from The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I found myself empathizing with the main character. Also well written, but definitely falling into the catagory of scarier villains was the story about beings that are like cuckoos from Seanan McGuire.

I wasn’t expecting to empathize with any of the villains. I was not familiar with all of the series. In fact, I was hoping to gain some idea of other urban fantasy series I might enjoy. It was a success in that regard. All of the stories were well written no matter the angle they took. In truth, I would reread this whole anthology in addition to seeking out other works by the authors. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Urban Enemies is due out August 1, 2017 from Gallery Books. If you enjoy urban fantasy, definitely check this book out.

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

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