Tuesday, December 31, 2019

#Review - Dead Moon Rising by Caitlin Sangster #YA #Science #Fiction

Series: Last Star Burning#
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction

Sev must decode her mother’s last words to find the cure to Sleeping Sickness before Dr. Yang can use it to blackmail the world into submitting to his rule in this thrilling finale to the Last Star Burning trilogy.

Sev finally knows where to find the cure to Sleeping Sickness. The only problem is that she’s trapped in an endless sleep herself after refusing to give up her secrets to Dr. Yang.

Howl is determined to save Sev, but he has no idea where Dr. Yang is keeping her. When he runs into a group fleeing Port North on a mission of their own, he has no choice but to follow and hope they can get him back to the mountains before it’s too late.

June, infected with SS by the very people she calls family, has now become the one thing she most fears. She’s supposed to be Port North’s insurance that Howl and Sev return with the cure, but June has other ideas.

And Tai-ge, reunited with the Reds, is airlifted to the City now overrun by SS. He’s charged with getting the factories running again by any means necessary—no matter how many Sephs stand in his way.

There’s only one thing strong enough to unite people who have been fighting for years, and Sev holds the key to it inside her mind. If she can’t reach the cure in time, there may not be anyone left to save. 

Caitlin Sangster's Dead Moon Rising is the third and final installment in the authors Last Star Burning trilogy. The series is an intricate strategy game set in an Asian-themed post-apocalyptic world and based somewhat on Mao's Communist ideology. The story begins right where Shatter the Suns left off but instead of just telling Sev's story, there are now (4) main characters; Jiang Sev, Tai-Ge, June, and Howl. Trapped in an endless sleep by Dr. Yang because she refuses to cooperate with him, Sev now knows where to find the answer to curing Sleeping Sickness. 

Readers have brief hints at what is happening to Sev while the rest of the world has moved on without her. She's also visited by characters who finally admit that Sev's mother wasn't the villain she's been portrayed. She also knows that Yang and the Chairman intentionally kidnapped people from Port North in order to work the farms. Now that Sev has lost her entire family, it is the family she's made along the way like June and Howl that she deems important enough to save. The author eventually finds a way to reunite Sev with June and Howl and other Menghu who have been fighting the city. 

But, in the meantime, Tai-Ge, who found Sev's mothers device and promptly gave it away, now finds himself promoted his mother the General and given the job of fixing the problems with the city. With the city overrun by those with the Sleeping Sickness, Tai-ge realizes that sometimes extreme results require extreme solutions. He's hounded by a Menghu spy while he tries to help his people. Tai-Ge who was one Sev's best friend, now knows there's no way she will ever forgive him his transgressions against her. He can try to fix things, but any likely romance with Sev has been buried until his betrayals. Tai-Ge and Mei, a Menghu, actually spend a lot of time trying to come to solutions even if the solutions mean betraying his own Reds.

Howl bitten by a gore, abandoned by Sev, immune to the SS, keep locked up for 23 days, is determined to save Sev from herself. He has no idea where Dr. Yang is keeping her, but when he discovers a group fleeing Port North on a mission of their own to find the Chairman's son, knows he has no choice but to follow and hope they can get him back to the mountains before it’s too late. Howl spent 2 years pretending to be the Chairman's son, but now there people who would be happy if Howl disappeared before he can find Sev. Howl has been taken by Sev who believes there's always a non-violent solution to every obstacle. But, will his own arrogance and stubbornness doom the relationship?

June, infected with SS by the very people she calls family, has now become the one thing she most fears the most. The one thing that took her father from her. She’s supposed to be Port North’s insurance that Howl and Sev will return with the cure, but June has other ideas. June and Loukai end up working together for most of the book, and then it becomes an all out melee in an attempt to stop Dr. Yang and finding the cure before it's too late to save Sev from being experimented on by both sides looking to save their people.

I absolutely have no issue with having 4 characters telling the final story. After all, how can Sev know what's happening to June, Howl, and Tai-Ge when she's been in hibernation for 4 weeks? Dead Moon Rising manages to continue compelling plots with lots of fast-paced action, plenty of unexpected twists, and moral dilemmas for each character to overcome. The characters are forced to examine their lives and beliefs and who they were and wanted to be. The end lags a bit, but everything is wrapped up nicely so you aren't left hanging.

Chapter 1: Sev

THEY SAY TO FIND A hero you can’t look to the past. Heroes from stories aren’t real anyway, and that’s what the past is, right? A story told by whoever had the biggest gun. Instead, we’re supposed to find heroes around us.

I have nowhere to look, though, because my body won’t look. It’s made of ashes and wind and dead things, nothing but an echo of a heartbeat left inside me. My life has turned into a dream, every moment I’m Asleep making it harder to remember what it was like to be awake. If there was a hero next to me I wouldn’t know, because all I can see is the dark side of my eyelids, feel the grainy sheet on the bed underneath me. The only things that change are sounds. Temperature. Right now I’m cold. I can hear the steady plink, plink, plink of fluid dripping to my IV.

The door hinge squeaks, and cool air washes over me from the hallway like a breeze from the ocean, vast as a year and deep as the sky. If my body could tense, it would, but instead I’m curled up inside my mind, waiting for whoever it is to poke or prod me. To pick up my dead weight and throw me in a burn pile, mutter ugly things into my dead ears, or touch my dead body because I can’t stop them. Whoever it is stays quiet, lurking near my bed.

You are alive, not dead. It’s a whisper at the back of my mind, crumpled like a wet sheet of paper. Just like the princess in our story. Asleep until someone kisses you awake.

I wish I could grimace, because that’s not the only ending I’ve heard to the sleeping princess’s story. Also, I don’t want anyone in Dr. Yang’s base to kiss me, thank you very much.

The person prowling in my room sits in what I think must be a chair, the legs squeaking under their weight. I hear quick, nervous breaths that are free of a gas mask’s rusty tang. The bit of me that’s still awake braces for violence or worse. No mask means SS now, and SS is a beast that I don’t have the muscles to fight anymore.

“We’ve done everything you asked.” A muffled voice filters through the closed door. Helix, my brain supplies. The Menghu who killed June’s father. The person invading my room bolts up from the chair, footsteps padding to the far side of my bed away from the door. “There isn’t enough Mantis to last us much longer.” Helix’s voice grows louder, though it’s still attempting a respectful tone. “You promised—”

“Don’t argue with me, Captain Lan.” That’s Dr. Yang. The door opens again, his footsteps tapping in, probably here for my weekly checkup. I think it’s weekly. Maybe it’s daily, and I’ve only been lying here for two days. I can’t tell.

He pauses inside the room. “Aren’t you supposed to be sending orders to Dazhai?” Not speaking to me, because he knows I cannot answer.

The intruder by my bed doesn’t move for a good thirty seconds. But then the sound of army boots on concrete rings out as they leave my side and walk out the door.

Eight years my mother survived this. Eight years she listened, keeping her mind awake so she’d be able to pass on the possibility of curing SS. I’m like her, I guess. Dr. Yang put me to Sleep for knowing the truth too. That the note Mother left me in the device we found at Dazhai wasn’t gibberish. It was a clue telling me where to find the cure.

“Medicine is an exact science.” The doctor is speaking again, vague amusement at my unauthorized visitor melting away to leave only clinical precision. “You’ll have to trust me, Helix. I promised you a cure, but you and your soldiers will have to be patient.”

He can’t get the cure. Not unless I tell him where Mother hid it. The tiny living part inside me raises her head, listening to Helix’s silence. It’s heavy. A waiting silence that could end in death or destruction or maybe a cup of tea. It’s hard to tell. All I know is Helix doesn’t ask any more questions.


Monday, December 30, 2019

#Review - Oasis by Katya de Becerra #YA #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense

This YA supernatural mystery strands a group of teens in the desert, where an oasis saves them. But who will save them from the oasis?

Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archeological dig site in the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.

Their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, and shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.

The answers turn Alif and her friends against each other, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave.

This YA mystery/thriller crosses genres—survival adventure, horror, and romance—with twists worthy of JJ Abrams.

"Welcome to the oasis, where sand is life and nothing is as it seems."

Oasis, by author Katya de Becerra, is the authors follow up to her debut novel What the Woods Keeps. Alif Scholl and four of her friends (Lori Bradford, Minh Quoc, Luke Stokowski, and Rowen Syme Jr) choose to spend a summer with her archaeologist father Andreas Scholl in the Dubai desert. There she is hopeful of meeting her crush Tommy Ortiz who is her father's research assistant. Unforeseen circumstances, as well as bad luck or horrible curses, have caused a rift among workers which has affected logistics. 

When someone wanders in from the desert raving about a trove of treasures and curses people mostly ignore him. The man apparently is a French tourist who disappeared 2 years ago. His friend is still missing. After a sandstorm destroys their camp, Alif and her friends, plus Tommy, are all swept away to the middle of the desert. They wander for awhile afraid that they’re going to die from lack of water or food necessary to survive the brutality of the desert. There's also no sign of anyone coming to rescue them. 

To the point of giving up, the group stumbles upon an Oasis in the middle of the desert. This is where things get a bit strange. While they seem to be saved by the food, water, and shelter, they end up entangled in a mystery while questioning if the oasis is actually an illusion or an alternative reality. It soon becomes apparent that there may be no way to actually leave the Oasis and return to civilization. As the friends struggle to hold their friendship together that has already been torn to the point of not going back, it seems other factors are involved that are actually attempting to tear them apart permanently. 

Then, people in 4x4's drive by without actually seeing the Oasis. The group can see their rescuers, but the rescuers can't see them leaving them with little hope of getting out. Alif has dreams about a Queen of Giants. Lori claims she heard talk about a sacrifice needed to leave the Oasis. One of the group ends up dead (no spoilers!). Lori and Alif both find a connection to a Tablet found in a cave that gives them twisted visions. After being in the Oasis for what appears to be 4 days, and believing that one of their own was a sacrifice to the Queen of Giants, the group suddenly finds themselves back in the world. 

They are called the Dubai 6 by the media and flown home to Australia. But, they also brought back a piece mysterious tablet that seems to have a mind of its own. Let me just get this out of the way. If you like books that are creepy, weird and leaves you feeling strange about what you just read, you should definitely read this book. I've had this Twilight Zone feeling about the book and the ending since I finished the book almost 2 weeks ago. The ending tore my feelings into pieces. Just when I thought I had things figured out, the author hit me over the head and said, sorry not sorry, but that's not the way I want to end this book! 

The author posted this to her Goodreads page. "Oasis is my love letter to archaeology, deserts, and genre-bending adventure horror."



#Review - The Wayward Star by Jenn Stark #Fantasy #Romance

Series: Wilde Justice # 5
Format: Kindle, 320 pages
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing
Source: Author
Genre: Fantasy / Romance

Only in darkness can you see the stars...
As the Tarot incarnation of Justice, tracking down the outlaws of the psychic community and delivering them to Judgment is Sara Wilde’s business...and business is good. 

Now a rival syndicate known as The Shadow Court seeks to impose their own brand of justice, restricting magic to only the richest and most influential psychics, while stripping power from all the “undesirables” along the way. Their top priority? Hit Sara Wilde, guiding light of psychics everywhere, where it hurts…

Right in the heart.  

From the crackling fires of Burning Man to Sara’s even more incendiary high school reunion, the path is never more twisted than when you follow The Wayward Star.

Jenn Stark's The Shadow Court, is the Fifth installment in the authors Wilde Justice series. One should have some familiarity of The Shadow Court before jumping into this book since they are connected. Tarot Card reading, artifact hunting, Justice of the Arcana Council, Sara Wilde is tasked with taking out the most dangerous magic-wielding criminals on the planet. But, since the discovery of The Shadow Court, Sara and the Arcana Council are now playing 150 years worth of catch-up. Which means that Sara is as busy as a porta potty at a chili eating contest trying to find answers.

Other Key Characters: Nikki Dawes, Sara's BFF, Fashionista, ex-cop; LVMPD Detective Brody Rooks who has known Sara for over 10 years; Eshe, High Priestess of the Arcana Council; Lainie Grant blinded by pure magic, apprentice seer to Eshe; Armaeus Bertrand, Magician of the Arcana Council who lost all memories of Sara; Simon, tech wizard & Fool of the Arcana Council; Aleksander Kreios, The Devil of the Council; Viktor Dal, Emperor of the Council who nobody is sure if they can trust him or not considering his past history.

As the story opens, Sara and Nigel Friedman are briefly back together after Sara accepts an invitation from an excessively rich psychic power couple Count Augustine Odermatts and his wife. Sara & Nigel are here searching for two things: Nazi artifact cubes that are radioactive. If triggered, they could create a metaphysical blast that would see untold numbers of Contecteds loose their abilities. According to Simon, a high number of connecteds are assembling storehouses of magical gadgets.

Plus, there's a virtual who's who of connected glitterati at this party which means the Shadow Court may be here as well. If Sara can suss out the Shadow Courts allies, rivals, and nemesis, then maybe the Arcane Council has a fighting chance of taking them down. If Sara, as the face of the Council, can find allies from secretive ancient families who have been targeted by the Shadow Court for elimination but are now reaching out to the Arcane Council for help, they could stop their diabolical attempt at ridding the world of those who the Court believes are insignificant to hold magic. 

This story also spotlights Burning Man. For those like me who didn't know, Burning Man is an event held annually in the western US at Black Rock City, a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada, approximately 100 miles north-northeast of Reno. Sara is temporarily reunited with someone who she met as a 17-year old runaway after her foster mother was killed. It's all part of a larger, much grander scheme that the Shadow Court apparently has for Sara which goes back to when Sara helped find missing people with her tarot cards. 

If that weren't enough stress, Sara receives an invitation to her 10 year H.S. reunion. This feels like the perfect storm for Sara since none of her former classmates know anything about this new Sara who once was Sariah Pelter. Sara knows that if she doesn't attend, innocent people will be killed. It's clear as day that the Shadow Court is playing a game with Sara. They are showing off all the cards they are holding in an attempt to bring her down, or bring her to their side. 

As some of you might remember, most of this current trouble began when Sara awakened old, dormant magic while fighting the Gods who tried to break through the barrier keeping them from entering Earth. Although it hasn't been mentioned much lately, demons still causing a huge problem on Earth, including in this reunion. In a surprise move which I 100% support, the author brings in Warrick, Sebastian, Finn and Hugh who are Demon enforcers. These men appear in the authors Demon Enforcers series. 

Maybe that's a sign of things to come in upcoming sequels? We shall see. Now, as a matter of this thing that is happening between Sara and Armaeus, let's just say that they might have had a break through of sorts. Yes, he still has no memories of her, but there is definitely a high octane sizzle going on whenever they kiss or are around each other. After a book without any kissing, this book has its fair share of it.


Friday, December 27, 2019

#Review - Tears of Frost by Bree Barton #YA #Fantasy

Series: Heart of Thorns # 2
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The follow-up novel to Bree Barton’s feminist fantasy, Heart of Thorns, follows Mia Rose as she travels to the snow kingdom to unearth the dark secrets of her mother’s past and fights against the persecution of women who have magic.

Mia Rose is back from the dead. Her memories are hazy, her body numb—but she won’t stop searching. Her only hope to save the boy she loves and the sister who destroyed her is to find the mother she can never forgive. Pilar is on a hunt of her own. Betrayed by her mother, and plagued by a painful secret, she’s determined to seek out the only person who can exact revenge. All goes according to plan . . . until she collides with Prince Quin, the boy whose sister she killed. 

As Mia, Pilar, and Quin forge dangerous new alliances, they are bewitched by the snow kingdom’s promise of freedom and opportunity. But with the winter solstice drawing near, they must confront the truth beneath the glimmering ice, as lines between friend, foe, and lover vanish like snowflakes on a flame.

Tears of Frost, by author Bree Barton, is the second installment in the authors Heart of Thorns series. The key characters in this book are Mia Rose, Pilar d'Aqila, and Quin Killian. Mia is being hunted by her own sister Angelyne after she stopped her own heart & was brought back to life. She is numb and no longer has an emotions. She hopes that if she can find the mother who betrayed her, she might find the answers to her condition as well as stopping her sister before she gets too powerful.

Pilar escaped Angelyne's enkindlement and is on a hunt of her own. Betrayed by her mother, Zaga, and plagued by a painful secret, she’s determined to seek out the only person who can exact revenge. The one called The Snow Wolf who also happens to be her father. Quin, who has lost his entire family, is one of those characters who is pretty discombobulated. Truly, except for finding a connection to Pilar, and his role at the end of this book, he's really an after thought.

Mia, as we discover, is something of a martyr. She was smuggled from the River Kingdom, betrayed by her sister, and now called Angel of Ashes in Luumia. Along her journey to find answers and her mother Wynna, she comes across some interesting characters like Zai, and Nelladine as well as Lord Kristoffin who has given Luumia a bright future no longer dependent on any other country to support them. They are the first to harvest self-replenishing source of power. But, at what cost? 

Pilar ends up traveling with Quin for most of this story. She ends up at the Snow Queen's palace where she and Quin end up living their worst memories. For Pilar, her worst memory is killing a woman who would have been the Queen of the River Kingdom were it not for Angelyne and Zaga's machinations. What's most curious about this entire story is that nobody really asked Quin what his purpose was. Is he a puppet of Angelyne's? Is he attempting to take back power and his life at the expense of Mia and Pilar? 

The most shocking revelation of all finds that Mia and Pilar have more in common that they could ever believe. It will be curious as to how the finale plays out with Mia and Pilar being given a choice to either join with Angelyne, or fight her ever growing powers. The story begins with a letter from the author regarding abuse and depression. If for any reason you need to read this book, please don't skip over the beginning. 
This series focuses on a  society in which women's bodies and potential for magic are shunned and punished. The expansion of magic from oppressed women to all oppressed peoples. 

I liked how the Addi also possessed magic, regardless of gender, how their oppression worked similarly to the oppression of women. With Angelyne making moves that seem to encompass the rest of the world as well, it will be interesting to seeing the new societies and characters to come. Quin has been set up to become a villain in the next installment. Why? Because he's a man who doesn't have empathy for women? Not sure if that is what's going to happen, but Quin has all but been ignored and pushed around by almost everyone in this series.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

#Review - Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin #Fantasy #Paranormal

Series: Grigori Legacy, The (#2)
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: ACE
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal

When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis sees a photo of Seth Benjamin on a police bulletin, she knows that Heaven's plan to halt Armageddon has gone terribly wrong. As the only mortal who knows of Seth's true nature, only she can save him. Aramael was a hunter of Fallen Angels until a traitor forced him into earthly exile. Now, with no powers and only a faint memory of Alex, his mortal soulmate, he will stop at nothing to redeem himself-even if it means destroying Seth in the name of the Creator..

Sins of the Son, by author Linda Poitevin, is the second installment in the authors Grigori Legacy series. The cast of characters who the author features are Alexandra (Alex) Jarvis a Homicide Detective who is dealing with the fall out of learning that Angels really do exist and the fact that her soul mate is an Angel; Aramael, former Power stripped of his powers by Mittron after killing his brother. He's also Alex's soulmate; Seth, called the Appointed, who chooses to transition to an adult mortal but with all of his powers still in tact. Seth was last seen saving Alex's life.

In the aftermath of the events of the first installment, Alex has been put on cold cases. She was badly injured but saved by Seth. She can't go back to work until she is cleared. She tries to cope on her own and becomes even more withdrawn from her family and colleagues as she doesn't want to worry them and open the gate on her unresolved feelings. She's also dealing with what Aramael did that has set off a war between Heaven and Hell with humankind as the losers. After learning about Seth Benjamin turning up in Vancouver, Alex finds a way to travel there in order to investigate what happened and why he is here without his memories.

The book also has new characters since this is a new setting. The primary characters are Dr. Elizabeth Riley, and Detective Hugh Henderson. The pair are dealing with a wide variety of strangeness. From women turning up pregnant claiming they never had sex, or had sex with a boyfriend who was apparently not their boyfriend. What's even more curious, the babies are killing their own mothers when they are born. This is not just a local issue as we will learn. This is happening world wide as part of Lucifer's plan. They also have to investigate who Seth really is and why he has no memories. 

Seth is the key character in this book. Seth made the absolute sacrifice: he forsaken his immortality, his destiny, his place in Heaven to come to Earth. The only problem is that there was a glitch in the system and he forgot absolutely everything! Seth is now loose in the mortal world with his powers but without his memories. His survival will have serious consequences on which direction the war between Heaven and Hell takes. Why? He's the son of the Creator of life, "The One" and of Lucifer, the Fallen Angel. Seth will determine what role to play in the game between heaven and earth, and which side he will eventually take. It becomes apparent that Alex and Seth are to be connected at least for maybe one more book. 

I can't see this series ending any other way but with Seth and Lucifer allied against humankind as well as the One and those like Verchiel and Mika'el the Archangel who appears in this story as a sort of general moving pieces around in order to counter the One's stupidity over the past thousands of years when it came to Lucifer. Mika'el aka Archangel Michael has been very unhappy with the One for millennia. He decides that it will be the Archangels to set the parameters of the war. He decides that Aramael will be one of his chess pieces whether he likes it or not. 

Sins of the Son is a much broader scope of a story than the previous installment. It focuses on the bigger picture that a war is coming and it's only a matter of time before all chess pieces are in their proper place. The reason for my rating is that there is a rape scene towards the end of the book that affects Alex and her actions after-word. I can not say this enough, but authors need to stop with the rape scenes. Lucifer actually appears in the story more this time around. He is using abominable ways to reach his goal of the annihilation of human kind. And, thanks to the One, he might just succeed. 

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, you really need to read these books as they were released. This story is a continuation of Sins of the Angels. This series is quite dark as I might have mentioned above. I am absolutely Ok with dark books as long as they don't use rape as a prop. Hoping to finish the next 2 books in this series over the next few weeks.


Monday, December 23, 2019

#Review - Lady Leaves the Lake by Helen Savore #Fantasy

Series: Faerie Forge Chronicles
Format: E-Galley, 254 pages
Release Date: December 20th 2019
Publisher: Oberon's Forge Press llc
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy

A smith’s courage is bound into a sword of destiny

Viviane is a fae smith, capable of creating epic weapons that shape the elements. Smiths aren’t permitted to fight in the battles that forge the faewilds, but Viviane rebels and finds herself responsible for the death of a herald.

Cast out by her family, Viviane must sunder fae society so that smiths are free to shape the world.

If the tales of King Arthur were true, given how much trouble and woe has come to the world, what crisis would it take for King Arthur to return? Stories like Lady Leaves the Lake, The Phoenix Grail, and Sword in the Throne, expand the Arthurian legend, not simply by retelling but continuing the story centuries later in modern times, as we approach King Arthur's return. While we follow our modern day problems we start to learn how the legend truly unfolded. The story channels a variety of influences: Oberon and Titania rule the Fae as Gods, Creator, and Fate. 
There is a heavy emphasis on life, rebirth, and the soul's journey, as the concepts of reincarnation are central to the conflict between the humans, who reproduce, and the Fae, who are reborn. The author has a unique variation of the legends of Excalibur, Arthur and Viviane. This is the story of Viviane Llyn, a smith of her aquatic people, and the creation of the sword, Excalibur. Viviane appeared in The Phoenix Grail, but this is her story from when she becomes a smith, to when she creates the fabled sword which will become Excalibur. 
To when she becomes the Lady of the Lake. This is a brutal world. Oberon's heralds are hunting those who are smiths called Llehfin.  All matter of mythical creatures like myrial, komodrian, dwarves, demions, seraphs, and Elves occupy this universe. War ravages the fae wilds, leaving main character Viviane and their companions to the task of forging magical weapons and artifacts to save their realm. After losing her mentor Escal, Viviane is hopelessly lost. Her only real friend is Gasperion, a dwarf who also appears in The Phoenix Grail, asks her to make a sword. A sword called Escalibor.
The world-building is fascinating, a perfect blend of familiar tropes, original concepts, and clever twists that fall halfway between. As the story moves through phases in her exiles and wandering to find where she will belong, she becomes a caravan guard with the name of Nimue, hiding her past identity. Mercenaries become her world and when she has tired, she is given the job of defending against the "Heralds who carry enormous lethal hammers with their seraphim elite. They bear the messages of death and war. Finally taking her last job she had refused, she stands before the Heralds. 
Books by the author that have either been released, or will be:
The Phoenix Succession
Faerie Forge Chronicles


#Review - Briar Blood by Kate Avery Ellison #YA #Fantasy

Series: Spellwood Academy #2
Format:Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Release Date: November 11th 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Kyra is still alive.

But after a harrowing assassination attempt and a shocking revelation leaves her reeling, Kyra must rally her courage and use every bit of her wits to figure out what's going on, and who wants her dead.

She has new secrets to keep.

New roles to learn.

And Spellwood Academy's annual, secret War Between the Societies is about to begin! Winner gains access to an area of Spellwood that holds the answer to a secret.

Kyra needs Briar to win.

Meanwhile, other things are distracting her... namely, a certain elite prince whose kisses are like fire. A prince she's supposed to stay away from. A prince she can't resist.

Briar Blood, by author Kate Avery Ellison, is the second installment in the authors Spellwood Academy series. Protagonist Kyra Solschild learned some devastating secrets in the first installment. She's possibly royalty thanks to her missing father and she has magic. Now, she has to keep a low profile for fear that another assassination attempt will likely be successful. She still has no clue who is responsible since her former BFF has been expelled after her role in trying to kill her.  
She's been forbidden & spelled by her mother and grandmother Azalea from telling anyone, including her roommates Lyrica and Hannah. What's even more disturbing is that Lucien, her would be suitor, was right about her bloodline. The last we saw Lucien, someone spelled a statue that came alive and knocked him unconscious after they kissed. Lucien has serious questions about Kyra. Is she some sort of troublemaker? Was she hired by his brother Griffin to get close to him? Or, could she be a spy? 
The curious part is that they are supposed to be enemies and light is supposed to poison the night which Lucien belongs to. But, something more is happening and it demands answers. Is there meeting fated, because if not, why do they affect the other so much? Meanwhile, Kyra gets a bit more aggressive in seeking answers. Briar has some words with her Danger and Defense instructor Joras due to the fact that he is sworn to secrecy regarding her heritage, and he would rather she ran quickly away from trouble instead of walking right up to it and challenging it. 
She decides to investigate who Tearly was seeing and who she answers to and why they want to kill Kyra. To make things even more interesting, the 6 societies have what's called a war between them. It takes place between Summertide and Hollowfell. Each society has to protect their orbs. The one left standing wins. There are hints and clues given at each society which challenges contestants to the limits. The worst part of the war is that the same society wins almost every year. Since Briar wants something in order to unlock key secrets, she talks her society, Briar, into an unusual alliance. 
Normally Briar easily hands over their orb quickly and that's it. Not this year. This year they could be the last ones standing if Kyra's plans work. Kyra also entertains the thought of really learning how to fight since Joras refuses to help her. She really needs to learn since literally anyone can be an enemy. This is also a bad time to be half human with movements in several courts gaining tracking to rid themselves of those like Lyrica, Hannah, and Kyra.

The thing that drove my rating was the ending. It's stunning. It's heart breaking. It forces you to choose to read the next installment in hopes you get the resolution you believe it should have. It leaves Kyra in a devastating frame of mind which can only lead to more surprises in the next installment.


Friday, December 20, 2019

#Review - Vengeance of the Demon by Diana Rowland #Fantasy #Paranormal

Series: Kara Gillian (#7)
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: DAW
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal

Demon summoner Kara Gillian is on the wrong side of the law—and there’s evidence to prove it. Too bad the courts don’t accept “fighting demonic forces” as justification for murder and mayhem.

Yet Kara has problems that go way beyond her legal woes. When the enemy demonic lords spur their human accomplices into high gear, master summoner Katashi aggressively pursues their goal to establish a permanent gate between Earth and the demon realm. To hell with the consequences for humanity.

The line between ally and enemy blurs as Kara gathers the remnants of her posse to prevent a devastating demonic incursion, but a shattered trust may cost them the war and put Kara behind bars. With treachery rife, and her loved ones in danger, Kara must call upon the essence of who she truly is in order to rally back from a crushing loss.

And if she can’t, the world is going straight to hell.

Vengeance of the Demon is the Seventh installment in author Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian series. This series has a modern urban fantasy feel and has all the elements readers want: supernatural danger, sex, a feisty heroine, and a familiar American setting (the outskirts of New Orleans). Each book in this series is a whole story with a beginning and an ending, however the plot of each book relies heavily on the prior books in the series. It is recommended that you read the books in the order they were published. I restarted reading this series knowing that the final book in this series will be releasing sometime early in 2020. 

I would suggest not waiting as long as I did before reading books 6 and 7 or you will be discombobulated. Kara Gillian is a former police officer, former FBI consultant, and Demon summoner who finds herself in deep trouble as this book opens. This book takes place mostly in and around Kara's home and not in the Demon realm which is a huge plus. As I said, you really have to know what happened in Fury of the Demon to understand why she's in trouble. Kara is wanted by as an accessory after the fact, principal to murder in the 1st degree and a key witness to the execution style murder of a criminal. 

Kara still has to decide who she really is, and what path she is willing to take in order to settle some old betrayals at the hands of demons and so called friends. If she isn't a cop any longer, what exactly is she? Is she just a demon's pawn to be used by anyone who comes along and offers her protection or maybe a bit of understanding? Is she a consultant to the FBI when they are given strange and unusual cases? Is she humanities savior against the demon lords who want to establish a permanent link between worlds, and take what they think they are entitled to? Is she Lord Mzatal's newest object of affection or just someone he can use as he feels the need?

With her best friend and very pregnant Jill Faciane ready to have her baby at any moment, Kara wonders if Zack will be around when it's time, or will he be off in the demon realm? Now that she's found Idris, will she tell him that they are related, or will she keep that secret bottled up? Kara's allies in this book are a curious bunch that includes Detective Vincent Pellini who she's never gotten along with, but who has some interesting abilities that come in handy. Pellini is actually a good guy who is finally being taken seriously. Idris is free of the demon world and trying to help Kara closing any demon valves that continue to open in the human realm thanks to Katashi and his minions.

Bryce Thatcher is a former hit man now an ally of Kara's. Bryce was the one who is responsible for Kara being wanted by the Police. This book has brief appearances with Ryan Kristoff and Zack Garner as well as Lord Mzatal who is fighting fires in the demon realm. Even though Rhyzkahl tried to bend Kara into becoming a new being named Rowan, Kara managed to escape but with a series complex and hideous scars on her body. She's had time to get used to some new powers, and yet in this installment, they kind of fizzle. I've learned over the past several books not to trust Rhyzkahl, so his continued connection and appearance kinds of makes me scream. 

Kara and accompanying allies are pulled from one emergency to another. There are some horrible and puzzling revelations and a betrayal nobody saw coming. There's a lot of self introspection, heartbreak and high emotion but some of it fell flat. Perhaps it was because it's been several years since I read Fury of the Demon, but I have to wonder how the author is going to wrap up this series in a way that doesn't seem to be rushed for the sake of ensuring the readers haven't lost interest after so long of not having one of these books released.