Saturday, December 29, 2018

#Review - A Shifter's Rage by Raven Steele, Ava Mason #Paranormal #Fantasy

Series: Rouen Chronicles # 2
Format: E-Book, 377 pages
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Publisher: Amazon
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Paranormal / Urban Fantasy

"I never go to bed angry. I stay awake and plot my revenge."

Imprisoned for killing Silas, Briar's only chance of surviving is to rely on her roommates and Luke, the sexy shifter she loves to hate. But getting free won't solve her problems. She still has to kill Dominic, the pack Alpha who murdered her entire family.

To do that, she has to make Dominic believe she's still team bad guys so she can get close to him and find out whom he's working with. Especially when she learns just about everyone and their evil dog is looking for the one thing she has sworn to protect--the Abydos, powerful and ancient blood that could either end the world or save it.

But playing the other side has some severe consequences, especially when she gets too close to the darkness and savors it's poisonous flavor one too many times. If Briar can't let go of her demons, she'll lose everyone she loves.

** Intended for adult readers due to violence and language. **

A Shifter's Rage is the second installment in authors Raven Steele & Ava Mason's Rouen Chronicles series. This story finds our protagonist, Briar, imprisoned by her nemesis, Dominic, Alpha of the Silver Claws pack, after she removed one of the men from her list of people she needs to kill in order to gain revenge for what they did to her entire family and her pack when she was a young girl. Having removed number 2, it now becomes a game of cat and mouse before she can attempt to take out the most dangerous man on her list. 

But, before Briar can move forward to remove number one on her list, she has to prove to Dominic and the rest of the pack, who don't seem to trust her, that she is worth every chance that she is given to her. She is a dangerous shifter with uncanny abilities to defeat any foe she encounters. If that means showing up and parlaying with a Sangre Nocturnas Vampire peddling a drug called Scorpion's Breath, then so be it. If it means betraying the trust of others who she gave her word to, then so be it. The ends after all, do justify the means.

But, before we, as readers can get to that point, we have to take a real look at who Briar is, what she is able to do, why she is on this road to revenge, how she was able to survive the brutal attack on her family & pack, and how she can handle the things that the authors put her through in this book. Trust me folks, this book is a wild ride with plenty of shocks, and it makes Briar seem much more human in nature when she finds herself drawn not only to a vampire, Angel, but to the drug he has been peddling to sell to humans. 

There is even a part to this story where you have to believe that Briar is spiraling out of control and there may not be any hope for gaining her revenge if she can't see what she is doing to herself and others. Can her friends Luke, Ryder, Lynx, Samira, and Roma save her, or will the darkness lead her on an entirely different road from which plenty of folks haven't returned from? I think the fact that the authors added Angel to the mix, really put a hold on what I was expecting from Briar and Luke. After all, Angel is either one of the most curious allies a girl has ever known, or he has an agenda that hasn't been revealed as of yet. Either way, I don't think we have seen the last of Angel. Has anyone else gotten the creepy vibes from Briar's Uncle? There is something there that just doesn't add up.

Friday, December 28, 2018

#Review - Spartan Promise by Jennifer Estep #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Mythos Academy: Colorado # 2
Format: E-Book, 293 pages
Release Date: January 15th 2019
Publisher: Jennifer Estep
Source: Author
Genre: Young Adult / Urban Fantasy

Hunting for the bad guys has never been so dangerous . . .

My name is Rory Forseti, and I attend the Colorado branch of Mythos Academy, a school of warrior kids, powerful artifacts, and mythological monsters.

I’m a student, a fierce Spartan warrior, and a member of Team Midgard, a group of kids and adults tasked with stopping the evil Reapers of Chaos. There is one Reaper I’m determined to hunt down above all others: Covington, the man who murdered my parents.

So when the Midgard gets a tip that Covington is going to try to steal a dangerous artifact, I’m ready to fight. But the situation is far more complicated than it seems, and the Reapers aren’t my only enemies.

I’ll have to use all my Spartan strength and skills to survive this. And even then, it might be my blood that gets spilled .

Spartan Promise is the second installment in author Jennifer Estep's Mythos Academy: Colorado series. Protagonist Rory Forseti attends Mythos Academy Colorado. It is a school for warrior kids, mythological monsters, and artifacts that summon destructive monsters. She, like her cousin Gwen Frost, is also a Champion for the Goddess Sigyn. She joined  Team Midgard (an exclusive group of students and adults tasked with battling the new reapers of chaos) after discovering some secrets that changed the way she looked at her parents who were former Reapers. 

The Reapers of Chaos are led by Covington, the former librarian of the Mythos Academy who wants to bring about his own idea of a new world order without the Protectorate around to stand in his way. Rory has become an important piece of Covington's evil plans, for which Rory has no plans of ever giving into his desires. Rory has to bite and scratch and fight and fight some more in order to prevent herself from becoming a mindless Reaper who will do anything that Covington asks her to do.

With Covington and his Reapers going after artifact after artifact and seemingly able to stay 3 steps ahead of Rory and her friends, this leads to the inevitable bloodshed, fighting, action, and yes, even some romance. Rory hasn't always had the kind of friends that she has now. In fact, she pretty much only had her Aunt to understand what she was going through thanks to the misconceptions of what she really knew about her parents and what they did. 

So, yes, I am happy to see that perhaps that will be changing in the future. The author added another interesting character to this series, Professor Dalaja, who has her own secrets and skill set. Rory's teammates include Zoe Wayland (Valkyrie), Mateo Solis (Roman), Ian Hunter (Viking), as well as Hiro Takeda (Samurai) and Rory's Aunt Rachel Maddox (Spartan). There is a brief guest appearance by a character from the original Mythos Academy series, but I won't spoil it by saying who it is. It's apparent that the author intends to continue her crossover between her series, and the inevitable FOOD scenes which has me drooling every damn time!

#Review - Shatter the Suns by Caitlin Sangster #YALit #Post-Apocalpytic

Series: Last Star Burning# 2
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic

Sev must decode her mother’s last words to find the cure to Sleeping Sickness before her enemies find it first in this stunning sequel to Last Star Burning, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike calls “a rich and timely tale.”

No one is safe, not with a horrifying new strain of Sleeping Sickness tearing through the population. After fleeing the City with her friends, Sev has one goal: to find the cure her mother developed and put an end to the epidemic once and for all.
But decoding her mother’s last words—to seek out “Port North”—is easier said than done.

Nobody she talks to has heard of Port North, and with only Tai-ge and June on her side, Sev fears Dr. Yang will find the cure first, and that he’ll use it to start a new world order under his rule.

With no leads, Sev is running out of options—until she discovers someone hiding in the cargo hold of her heli plane. Someone she thought was dead. Someone with maps that could point the way to Port North, if only she could read them.

Unfortunately, the one person Sev never wants to see again might be the one person who can help her find the cure.

Shatter the Suns is the second installment in author Caitlin Sangster's Last Star Burning series. The Last Star Burning series is a young adult science fiction/dystopian fantasy read featuring Jiang Sevvy (Sev). The story picks up right where Last Star Burning left off. In the first book, readers were introduced to Sev who was branded a traitor and criminal when she was only eight years old. Her only crime was being her mother’s daughter.

With everything that happened to Sev in the previous installment, she chose to go on the run with her best friend Tai-Ge, and June, a girl from the outside who Sev befriended. They also end up with Howl, a boy that Sev met in the previous installment. Sev is hoping to follow her mother's instructions to Port North where she hopes to find the notes to the Sleeping Sickness that is rapidly spreading every where. With Dr. Yang seemingly one step ahead of her at all times. Sev will have to decide who she can trust and who she can't.  Sev fears Dr. Yang will find the cure first, and that he’ll use it to start a new world order under his rule. 

In fairness, the reason for my rating has everything to do with the slow pacing, the angst between Sev, and two boys, one who is her best friend, and the other who showed her the outside world and what was happening. One of the boys isn't who he seems, the other is exactly the opposite of what he puts forward. One of the boys will end up getting Sev to where she needs, the other boy seems to be working on his own deal with someone, or more than someone. In the middle of all of this is June, the girl with the blonde hair, who stands out every place she goes. Sev is very protective of her, and treats her like a sister rather than someone she needs to constantly save. 

Why the rating really? Way too long. Could have been 100 pages shorter and gotten rid of a whole lot of wasteful filler. Then there is the love triangle which was pretty apparent which direction the author was trending. Next, the first book was much more action packed and adventurous. That's not to say that this book is boring. But, yes, the final chapters were the best and probably ensured that I will read the sequel in the series. I want to give this book a hug for not falling in love with socialism and communism like so many young people are doing these days. Communism has killed more people than any other form of government, but we are supposed to be impressed with Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and others.Yeah, no, not buying it any time soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

#Review - Legacy of Light by Sarah Raughley #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Effigies # 3
Format: Hardcover, 532 pages
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The Effigies must uncover the connection between Saul, Blackwell, and the Phantoms before it’s too late in this epic conclusion to the Effigies trilogy. 

The world is in chaos.
After Saul’s strike on Oslo—one seemingly led by Maia herself—the Effigies’ reputation is in shambles. Now they’re being hunted by nations across the globe, grouped in with the very terrorists they’ve been trying to stop.

With Maia’s resurrected twin, June, carrying out vicious attacks across the world, everyone believes Maia is a killer. Belle has gone rogue, Chae Rin and Lake have disappeared, and the Sect is being dismantled and replaced by a terrifying new world order helmed by Blackwell. As for Saul, his ultimate plan still remains a mystery.

And Maia? No one has seen or heard from her in weeks.

It’s all somehow connected—Saul, Phantoms, the Effigies, everything. But if the Effigies can’t put the pieces together soon, there may not be much left of the world they’ve fought so desperately to save.

Legacy of Light is the third and final installment in author Sarah Raughley's The Effigies trilogy. The story picks up shortly after the events of Siege of Shadows. The Effigies are split apart after Saul brought back Maia Finley's twin, June, to use her to make people believe Maia had been attacking the city of Oslo. Belle Rousseau has gone rogue after attempting to kill Maia; Chae Rin and Lake have disappeared. Maia and her group have been branded a terrorist. As for Saul, ultimate plan still remains a mystery.

Maia must confront the dark secrets of past Effigies to find the answer that could change everything and finally put an end to the deadly phantoms. Especially with Blackwell tearing the sect apart, and replacing it with a terrifying new world order helmed by Blackwell and his silent children called Project X19. Saul can't do anything without Maia's memories of Marian who may hold the key to everything. Saul will chase Maia to the ends of the earth if that's what it takes to get what he wants. But, who twists fate? Who controls fate? Who decides who will live and who will die?

This is a book that really explores the origins of Saul and Blackwell's family roots that go back to the formation of Effigies as well as Phantoms. The overall concept of this series is that are 4 girls who use elemental magic to fight shadow monsters. They've been called heroes, but now they are being blamed for horrible atrocities being committed by June and her allies to make the Sect look incompetent and out of control. 

There is a lot of double crossing and conspiracies. The twists in this book is trying to figure out who the bad guys are and who is just pretending or feel like they don’t have a choice or is being controlled. I highly recommend reading the first two books before reading this one so you'll remember who the characters are and why they matter. Maia continues to be our only narrator, and she goes through a lot in this book. June is explored in the book, which was interesting and really gave you more insight into Maia. We all make our own choices. We are given free will for a reason. June, on the other hand, wants so badly to go back in time and change fate. But, at what cost? Will she sacrifice her own sister in order to gain her goals? Or, will Maia and her friends, and yes, they are friends, find a way to survive and win the day?

#Review - Freefall by Jessica Barry #Thriller

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Book, 368 pages
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Harper
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Crime

A propulsive debut novel with the intensity of Luckiest Girl Alive and Before the Fall, about a young woman determined to survive and a mother determined to find her.

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill you.

When her fiancĂ©’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. For years, Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body—giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now—not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from—and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a riveting debut novel about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and those they love.

Freefall is an edge-of-your seat tale of suspense about two women (Allison & Maggie Carpenter) who find the strength to take control of their lives in the face of adversity. Jessica Barry’s debut grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until its intense finale. Featuring a pair of rich, full-blooded women, this emotional page-turner beautifully captures the fraught yet unbreakable bonds between a mother and daughter and renders their stories in vivid, authentic detail.

The story is told from the perspectives of a grieving mother searching for answers and a daughter who seems to be running from her past. The story begins with Allison Carpenter waking up after a plane crash in the Colorado Rockies. She appears to be the only survivor. Allison knows that she needs to find shelter, and keep one step ahead of those who will be on her trail in a matter of moments. The tension is mostly on Allison’s side of the story as we find out things about her past, what she was up to, and perhaps the reason for the crash. Allison's life is a twisted one. 

Switching narratives; back in Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter, Allison's mother, is being notified that her daughter, who she hasn't spoken to in 2 years, was involved in a plane crash, and it appears there are no survivors. As Allison struggles to survive against great odds, her mother is keeping the candle lit at both ends hoping that Allison survived the crash. Maggie's story is one of a strong woman who refuses to believe that her daughter is dead. She's told time and time again that no body was found, but there's little hope that Allison survived the crash.  

Flashbacks are woven in that slowly build to the climatic ending which should not surprise anyone if you pay close attention to what you are reading. Fans of The Woman in the Window, Sunburn, All the Missing Girls, The Perfect Mother, and The Woman in Cabin Ten will adore this propulsive novel that has all the hallmarks modern suspense fans love.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

#Review - The Lost Queen (Wilde Justice #2) by Jenn Stark (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Wilde Justice # 2
Format: E-Book, 220 pages
Release Date: December 27th 2018
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Not all who wander are lost. 

As Justice of the Arcana Council and an experienced artifact hunter, Tarot-reading Sara Wilde prefers to track down the missing on her own. With her latest case, unfortunately, everyone's dying to help her out.

Determined to locate the Lost Queen, a witch destined to fulfill a dark and twisted prophecy, Sara finds herself corpse-blocked at every turn. Not even the electric, provocative, and deeply powerful Magician of the Arcana Council--whose newest arcane pursuits test Sara's emotional and sensual boundaries--can help her find her mark.

Worse, Sara isn't the only hunter on the case. From the shadowy labyrinths of Budapest to the ancient churches of Moscow to the glittering lights of Los Angeles, the world's most powerful male witches are gunning for the Lost Queen, demanding her as their rightful consort. Right before they end up dead, each more gruesomely than the last. There's definitely a pattern here...and one Sara needs to break, before her own mercurial Magician becomes the prophecy's next target.

Better hope you don't find what you're looking for when you hunt The Lost Queen.

The Lost Queen is the second installment in author Jenn Stark's Wilde Justice series. A series that was spun off from the authors Immortal Vegas series. As the first Justice of the Arcana Council in two hundred years, former artifact hunter & Tarot card reading Sara Wilde is tasked with taking out the most dangerous magic-wielding criminals on the planet. For Sara's second mission, she has to travel to Budapest to investigate the possible return of one Vlad the Impaler. Is Vlad really back from the dead, or could it be something more powerful?

What Sara does discover, however, is there's an apparent prophecy that happens every 28 years, and this is the year for that particular prophecy to return. But, where will this prophecy show up? This book contains the usual suspects; Nikki Dawes, Armaeus (Magician of the Arcana Council), plus Danae, the head of the House of Swords, Death, Gamon (Judgment), and the Devil of the Arcana Council. Sara, though, has her work cut out for her. She is new to this detective thing, and often flies by the seat of her pants.

As she has had zero formal magic training since her ascension and her power ups, a fact that I still can't understand, she has to unravel nearly two centuries of backlogged cases that haven't been touched since the previous Justice went away. To that end, this book includes the previous mentioned Budapest, Moscow, and a large portion of the story takes place in Los Angeles. As I previously stated in my review for The Red King, Sara has become more of a supernatural detective than a Tarot Card reading relic hunter.

However, don't let that fool you. There are times that Sara's Tarot Cards come in handy, and you will be glad that she hasn't left them behind to use her new found magical abilities that continue to grow with each book. There's a pretty decent mystery as in who the actual villain, or villains are, and it will keep you guessing right until the end. I totally loved the twist as it was right there in front of my eyes. 

I dare say though, I hope the author sends Sara back to Sensei Chichiro so that she can understand the full truth behind the powers that she has collected. I am happy that readers will get more of the Devil, and yes, even Death since she provides a piece of a puzzle which I am still trying to unravel. This book leaves a curious ending with I won't spoil. I am curious as to where the author will take Sara next, and what will happen with Sara and her abilities that seem to be adding something new every time out.

Friday, December 21, 2018

#Review - Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake #YALit #Paranormal

Series: Unknown
Format: E-Book, 350 pages
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal

Half-Blood meets the Antigoddess in this new series from NY Times bestselling author Brenda Drake.

After a dying man gives Analiese Jordan a list of names and hers is one of the few names not crossed off, she agrees to go with the man’s grandson, Micah, to find the other people on the list and unlock the secrets behind the clues in the man’s satchel.

Unbeknownst to Analiese, she and the others on the list are descendants of the Gods of Death. They have the power to raise the dead and control them, but those raised become strong and evil, with a tendency of decaying and losing limbs.

During their search, they discover Micah’s grandfather belonged to a group, pledged to save and protect the Death Risers from two groups of gods and their descendants. One wants to control them and use the Raised for an army, and the other wants to destroy them.

If Analiese and Micah don’t decipher the clues to finding out the truth about her and whom she should trust, Analiese could end up being a puppet to the wrong set of gods and become the destroyer of humankind as we know it.

Brenda Drake's Analiese Rising is a magical realism action novel that follows 17-year old Analiese Jordan. When she was younger, Analiese lost her parents. She was taken in by her uncle, who has also since passed, and her aunt who Analiese doesn't get along with all that well. The only one she does get along with, is her cousin Dalton who is more like a brother than her cousin. Strange things happen almost immediately in this book. 

A frog comes to life, Analiese sees death moths, and a man, Adam Conte, ends up dying in front of her. But, before he dies, he tells her by name that he needs to take his belongings to his grandson Marek. Analiese learns that some names have been crossed out and the list holds the secrets to a world she doesn’t know exists. The dying man also told her she was in grave danger. Even more strangeness? Analiese's name is among others in this strange mans book that haven't been crossed out. Why? What does it all mean? 

Putting aside all rationality and fear for her aunt's wrath when she discovers she has taken off to places unknown, Analiese meets Marek Conte, Adam's grandson who is up to his ears in secrets.  As Analiese and Marek dig deeper into Adam's past, and the Easter Eggs that he has apparently left behind for Marek to follow. the two end up flying from Philadelphia, to Rome, and later to a few other stops as they try to uncover & solve the ciphers left by his grandfather that forever change their perceptions of the world while also hiding from people who seem to be following them where ever they go.

Analiese is surprised to learn that there is a war ongoing between Gods, and she is stuck right in the middle of it all since she is a descendant of people call Risers who are able to bring back the dead. In the time of before, people actually worshiped other gods and goddesses. A select few families rose up to protect the world from immortals wrath. Analiese and Marek's descendants kept a balance between mortals and immortals, but a whole lot of people have been turning up dead. 

This book reminds me, in part, to Dan Brown's The Di Vinci Code. Here are two people are running around various cities of the world uncovering secrets, and solving ciphers to get to the next part of the puzzle hoping to stop some world event from destroying the world. To be honest, I was expecting more from the ending of this book. I felt as though things wrapped up way too quickly. I absolutely believe the author and publisher should work together to put out another installment from the point where Ana, Marek, and their allies face off against Gods like Ares. I think wrapping up this story and not allowing for any further extension of the series, would be a huge mistake. After all, there's a whole undertow to the story that was left dangling like chads during the 2000 election in Florida.

Drake is also the author of such series as Library Jumpers and The Fated.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

#Review - The Similars by Rebecca Hanover #YALit #SyFy

Series: The Similars# 1
Format: E-Book, 400 pages
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn't care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver's exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver's face.

The Similars is the first installment in author Rebecca Hanover's The Similars series. 16-year old Emmaline Chance is returning to her prestigious Vermont Boarding School called Darkwood Academy just months after losing her best friend, and her heart, Oliver. But, things are about to change radically with the addition of 6 new students to the school. What is so special about these kids? They are clones of students who already attend the school. But, one clone in particular has Emma all twisted up and confused.

The arrival of these clones triggers Emmaline because one of the clones, Levi, has replaced her dead friend, Oliver. It is also the fact that the clones are very secretive and appear to be up to something nefarious. As Emma gets to know Pippa, Jago, Theodora, Ansel, Maude, and Levi, she learns multitudes of good and bad about them. Then the unthinkable happens. Her roommate, Prudence, is attacked and left to die. There is so much mystery surrounding the events that took Prudence away, that it will lead to some pretty heavy and revealing secrets.

This leads Emma to dig deep into the schools secrets, the secrets of the parents of the clones, the secrets of the schools teachers and administrators, the clones themselves, and the mysterious benefactor who 16 years ago, stole DNA from 6 babies from 6 very high profile parents. These clones where created without the families knowledge, or permission which also led to cloning being deemed illegal in the US. I will say this. I suspended belief for a bit in this story. 

I don't believe in cloning. I think it's amoral to create a life out of umbilical cord blood or any other method. But, scientists have used umbilical cord blood, which contains stem cells, to treat hematopoietic and other genetic disorders. I do  enjoy the stories written about clones if they are written well. I do think the ending and the surprises where a bit on the predictable side. I don't know where the author is going to go from where she left off this book, but I might be interested in reading the sequel once it comes out presumably in 2019.

Similar books: Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid, Replica by Lauren Oliver.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

#Review - Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet #Paranormal #SyFy #Romance

Series: Nightchaser # 1
Format: E-Book, 416 pages
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: Romance / Paranormal / Science Fiction

Star Wars meets Robin Hood in USA Today bestseller Amanda Bouchet‘s genre-bending, sci-fi/fantasy romance!


Captain Tess Bailey and her ragtag band of thieves are wanted criminals. They steal from the "haves" to give to the "have nots." Even though her heart is in the right place, her actions still get her into trouble – and there's no trouble greater than the dreaded Galactic Overseer Novalight. He commands the brutal military regime that rules the known galaxies, and Tess is always on his radar.

After stealing a top-secret military laboratory and further inciting Novalight's rage, Tess and her crew manage to escape—and miraculously survive. Docked on their new planet, Tess encounters the tall, dark, and haughty bounty hunter Shade Ganavan, who has to decide if he wants to turn them over to the Galactic Overseer and be set for life, or if the real payoff is winning Tess's heart.

Nightchaser is the first installment in author Amanda Bouchet's newest series either called Nightchaser, or Endeavor depending on whether you trust Goodreads or the publishers web page which says Nightchaser. Captain Tess Bailey and her crew on the Endeavor (Jaxon, Miko, Shiori, and Fiona) are not unlike Robin Hood and his merry men. They rob from those who have, and provide much needed medicines and other supplies to those who desperately need the help or fall even further into despair and hopelessness.

In this universe, the Galactic Overseer has dominance over all the planets and does not feel like sharing the wealth. Tess and her crew are part of the rebel movement shipping mostly food and medicine to those who need it most, including orphaned children. As the story opens, the Endeavor is on the run from the dreaded Dark Watch and a familiar face to Tess, Captain Bridgebane after stealing a lab filled with much needed vaccines. The lab also comes with a stranger who doesn't much speak at all. Until later.....

Taking a rather unorthodox path of doing things, instead of surrendering, Tess chooses to enter what appears to be a dark hole, and ends up in an entirely different sector. Suffering severe damage to her ship, Tess is forced to dock for ship repairs on Albion 5 where she meets Shade Ganavan, the man who is more than he seems. A man who claims he can fix her ship up cheaper than anyone else. A man who has oodles of arrogance, oodles of charm, and oodles of something that makes Tess want to kick him in the....

Unbeknownst to Tess, there is a huge bounty on her head from Captain Bridgebane. One of those bounty hunters just so happens to be Shade, aka Space Rogue. Will Shade turn Tess in for the bounty? Or, will he protect her from other bounty hunters who don't seem to have the same moral standing that he does? A hint of things to come, Tess is more than just a Robin Hood wannabe. She has a long history with several of the so called villains in this story. 

There is also more to Shade than meets the eyes, but I won't go into details. He's not all that bad. He has plans. He has goals, and he wants to make up for a huge mistake that cost him nearly everything. Just going to come out and say it. The best part of the book? There's an adorable cat that Tess is given on Albion 5 that makes life better for everyone just by allowing the characters to stroke him. There is also another character named Merrick who readers will meet in the beginning but disappears until the ending when Tess & crew are in deep trouble. 

If you've read the author's previous series called Kingmaker Chronicles, you know that she loves, loves, loves writing about sex. In fact, the story is filled with sex, sex, and more sex. I think as I get older, the sex parts of the book become boring. No offense to the author or readers who are into as much sex as they can get. It no longer draws me in, and holds my attention. The author does something a bit different this time out. Readers will get chapters from both Tess and Shade’s points of view

One of the constants from the author is that her characters, especially the females, are strong, courageous, determined, and capable of doing things without a man around to lift the heavy weight. Nightchaser is a pretty good start to this series, and yes, however much I may hate pages and pages and pages of sex, I will be reading the sequel. There are so many more things to come.

Nightchaser Series:
Nightchaser (Book 1)
Starbreaker (Book 2)
Dawnmaker (Book 3)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

#Review - A Thunder of War by Steve McHugh *Urban*

Series: The Avalon Chronicles # 3
Format: E-Book, 304 pages
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Publisher: 47North
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

There’s thunder on the horizon, and the lightning of war is about to strike.

After years of struggle, Layla Cassidy has finally mastered the dark powers that threatened to control her and turned them to good. She’s ready to fight, but the next battle will be her greatest test yet.

The forces of Avalon are growing ever stronger, reinforcing their dominance with almighty displays of brutality. When Abaddon comes close to crushing Layla and her friends, it’s clear that the thunder of war is about to give way to lightning—and that they have no chance of surviving it alone.

The final battle against Abaddon is drawing closer. Now Layla and her friends must fight for themselves—and the future of the world. To win, they will need every power and ally they can muster. But even with all their strength, will it be enough to stand against the impending doom?

A Thunder of War, by author Steve McHugh, is the third and final installment in the authors Avalon Chronicles series. The story picks up right where A Flicker of Steel left off. It has been several years since Layla Cassidy discovered a new world that lives right under the eyes of humanity. She became an umbra (a joining of 3 spirits and a demon), found she had kick ass powers, and joined a group that fights against Avalon, an organization that once stood to protect mankind, but now wants nothing more to push it's agenda on everyone from shifters, to gods, and goddesses, and everyone in between.

When a mission to the realm of Norumbega goes wrong, Layla and her allies are faced with the possibility that their rebellion may be at an end. After all, Abaddon has been several steps ahead of Layla's group and always seems to come out ahead while her group ends up on the raw end of things. The battle against Avalon has become more brutal as the fighting increases and the losses stack up. No one knows if Avalon can be defeated and everything is risked. No one knows if they are safe anywhere in any realm from Abaddon and Arthur's forces. 

Yet, Layla refuses to give up. Not even when Avalon masses an army to conquer Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, thereby gaining control of all the portals so they could kill everyone. Not even when several key figures in the rebellion are taken has hostage in yet another Abaddon plan to smash the rebellion and bring all realms to their knees. One of the main reasons I like reading this series is that the author mixes and draws on legends, folklore, mythology from various countries and times. The author also introduces new characters to the story including a shadow elf, Norse dwarves, fire giants, and a saber tooth panther which becomes Layla's side kick. 

He also takes readers to such realms as Helheim & Tartarus and Shadow Falls. If you've read the first series, you know all about Shadow Falls. While Mordred is thought of as the leader of the group, and there are several chapters which are told from his narrative, it is Layla who seems to be involved in every single aspect of the rebellion, and it is she, and her allies who find themselves involved in the bloodiest battles across several realms. A Thunder of War is a bloody, violent, emotional and thoroughly entertaining finale to this part of her story.

It is true that I spent time getting involved in these books after failing to read the Hellequin Chronicles first It is also true that Layla's arc seems to have come to an end. Still, I still have lots of questions. However, I clicked over to the authors web page and was surprised to learn that a new three book trilogy will be releasing in 2019. The new series is being called Rebellion Chronicles. Apparently this means the return of Nate Garrett who has all but disappeared since being reintroduced in this new trilogy. All three books in the new series pick up right where this book leaves off.