Monday, November 30, 2020

#Review - Defending the Galaxy by Maria V. Snyder #YA #SyFy

Series: Sentinels of the Galaxy # 3
Format: Kindle, 477 pages
Release Date: November 23, 2020
Publisher: Maria V. Snyder
Source: Kindle
Genre: Young Adult / SyFy

Year 2522. Oh. My. Stars.

Junior Officer Ara Lawrence here, reporting for duty. Again. It's situation critical for the security team and everyone in the base - including my parents - with a new attack from the looters imminent, a possible galaxy-wide crime conspiracy and an unstoppable alien threat. But this all pales in the face of my mind-blowing discovery about the Q-net. Of course, no one believes me. I'm not sure I believe me. It could just be a stress-induced delusion. That's what my parents seem to believe...

Their concern for me is hampering my ability to do my job. I know they love me, but with the Q-net in my corner, I'm the only one who can help the security team beat the shadowy aliens from the pits we discovered. We're holding them at bay, for now, but the entire Milky Way Galaxy is in danger of being overrun.

With battles on too many fronts, it's looking dire. But one thing I've learned is when people I love are in jeopardy, I'll never give up trying to save them. Not until my dying breath. Which could very well be today...

Defending the Galaxy is the third and final installment in author Maria V. Snyder's Sentinels of the Galaxy series. This book picks up where Chasing the Shadows finished. We are once again taken back to Planet Yulin. Yulin is one of 22 planets known to have Terracotta Warriors which were left behind by an ancient race to protect the universe from a hostile alien force known as HoLF’s. Over the past two books, Junior Security Officer Ara Lawrence formerly Lyra Daniels, has been fighting against Jarren and his looting murdering collaborators which included several attempts on her lie, and an alien force which has been given an open door to enter galaxy thanks to Jarren’s destruction of the Warriors.  

As Chasing the Shadows was coming to an end, Ara learned a mind-blowing discovery about the Q-Net (Quantum Net) which has her stunned. The fact that it has picked Ara to unload this secret on and nobody else, is a true telling that Ara is someone spell who can do things others can’t do. Telling her archaeologist parents and her boss Officer Radcliff is her choice. When she finally does, they, mostly her parents, think that she's experiencing PTSD after being kidnapped and nearly killed twice. They don’t take into consideration that she is a brilliant navigator/hacker who is good at worming through Jarren’s blockade of the planet and without her, there is no communications off planet.

What really drives this story is the fact that the author actually sends Ara and others to a variety of other planets where they confront Jarren’s group while also digging deeper into who is paying for this operation. And, once again, it seems that Ara has a rather large target on her head. Everyone wants her removed. She’s the only thing that stands between them and a successful operation without regards to the fact that their actions are allowing hostile aliens to enter the galaxy freely. Ara also knows that in order to stop the operations, she’s going to have to get her hands dirty and do things that may raise questions about her sanity and the fact that she’s now the leading figure in Operation Defending the Galaxy.

One of the overlying messages you should know about Ara is that she grows so much in this book. She’s brave to the point of head strong. She loves her family, but she knows that they only slow her down in trying to keep them safe because she’s a few short months of becoming an adult and earning her freedom. She takes her job as Security Officer seriously. She takes the constant threats to her co-workers & friends seriously to the point where she often ends up hurt, or out of commission. Even though she clearly hates mandatory social time, she makes the most of it, and learns that she’s really good with kids. She goes after Jarren hard and without worrying about being removed from the Security team after her team caught him during an attack on the Yulin base which nearly left her dead. But there are parts that her unconsciousness that allows her to become more. I won’t spoil any more since a major part of the series finale deals with Ara’s transcendence as something more than just human.

Overall, a surprisingly good finale to the series. I do recommend that readers start at the beginning and not just jump into the middle or finale. You lose too much worldbuilding and character development and the growing connection between Ara and Niall.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

#Review - The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West #YAlit #Fantasy #Contemporary

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Holiday House
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Contemporary

Every fifty years, a cult claims twelve men to murder in a small Texas town. Can one girl end the cycle of violence - and save the boy who broke her heart?

San Solano, Texas, is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copycat killer? Or a man-hating murderess?

Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true-crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real. And magical. And they want her to join.

The more Nat learns of the Wardens’ supernatural history, the more she wonders about the real culprits behind the town’s ritualistic murders. Are the Wardens protecting San Solano from even darker forces? There are shadows in the woods, bones on the outskirts of town, and questions Nat needs answered.

But everything becomes more urgent when people start getting “marked” as new victims—including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year. With Levi in danger, doing nothing would be harder than fighting back.

Nat knows that no one is safe. Can she and the sisterhood stop the true evil from claiming their town?

Hannah West's The Bitterwine Oath is a mixture of murder + supernatural cult + romance + Southern vibes and sisterhood. In 1921, 4 young women living in of San Solano, Texas; Lillian Pickard, Malachi Rivers, Dorothy Hawkins, and Johanna Mead became known as the Pagans of the Pines. These women wanted to claim vengeance commensurate to their suffering at the hands of men. They instead created a curse which killed 12 men. 50 years later, a second massacre happened, and another 12 men were murdered. This story takes place during the semicentennial anniversary of the Malachian’s curse.  

The story starts out one month from the Claiming and moves forward. 18-year old Natalie Colter is just trying to survive her last summer in town before she goes off to college in another state. She’s working part time jobs to save enough money to purchase an actually working vehicle. Then the curiosity starts to take place. Natalie notices Malachian marks in her driveway. To top it off, she’s a direct descendant of Malachi Rivers but never once thought about the fact that she may have magic of her own.

By the time Natalie learns she has magic and decides to take the oath, some crazy stuff happens that you really have to suspend a bit of reality in order to believe what you are reading. Example: The Wardens who you could very well call witches who watch for the evil to appear, claim to have magic but end up using a variety of weapons. Natalie ends up with a priceless firearm which she suddenly picks up like a pro.

Before Natalie learns of the Wardens, she notices Lindsey acting more reserved, covering up her arms with bandages, and hanging out with Vanessa who is also sporting bandages. After Natalie joins the Wardens, she learns that being a Warden is a 24/7 commitment. You don't have free time to hang out with friends and go on dates or do anything a normal teenager does. Then there is the love interest. Levi has always ignored Natalie until the previous summer when they kissed. Then he drove off to college and is back in town for the current summer. Even though both these characters have only exchanged a few sentences over the years, they are somehow madly in love with each other.

Natalie is actually not a bad character. She was kept in the dark by her grandmother who was part of the Warden’s who fight against creatures called Woodwalkers. She’s really not really a person who is going to accept things at face value just because someone she’s been best friends with, or who she babysits for, tells her that’s the way things are and if she doesn’t like it, she’s out. Natalie’s mind believes there is another way to save those who are chosen by the Woodwalkers. If she can figure out how to stop claiming in its entirely, she might actually save the town from another disaster in the making. I also believe that there is room for a sequel if the author gets around to it. Natalie’s future could be one where she chases down evil in a variety of settings, including, yes, Salem, Massachusetts.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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

Series: Kara Gillian (#8)
Format: Mass Market, 480 pages
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: DAW
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal

The demon invasion of Earth has begun, and as the world’s top arcane expert, demon summoner Kara Gillian is leading the battle against them. Unnatural catastrophes, odd plagues, and martial law of the norm, and Kara is hard-pressed to keep up with the mounting threats. Add in the arrival of demonic lords with conflicting goals, and she has the perfect recipe for global disaster.

Yet when a centuries-old scheme puts the future of humanity on the line, Kara must scramble to stop the machinations, though treachery, hidden dangers, and ancient enemies block her at every turn. Soon she uncovers the disturbing legacy of the demon realm and the hideous betrayal at its core. However, before Kara can unmask the one behind the assault on Earth, she’ll need to perform the most dangerous summoning ever attempted―and if her enemy has its way, it may just be her last.

But no matter how much of her own blood she has to spill, it’ll be a cold day in hell before she surrenders.  

Diana Rowland's Legacy of the Demon is the Eight installment in the authors Kara Gillian series. Legacy of the Demon fills in the missing gaps and open questions from the previous books and continues to build on the complex world Dianna created. So, timeline wise, we are looking at (2) months from the ending of Vengeance of the Demon. Demons have been coming through the rifts ever since the arcane valve explosion at the Beaulac Police Department, and Kara has become a member of DIRT (Demonic Incursion Retaliation and Tactics) as well as Arcane Commander along with Vince Pellini, arcane specialist.

It is now a new world order where the higher ups want Kara and DIRT to capture as many demons as possible, especially Reyza's. Kara's arcane skills are still frizzing since being ambushed. Everyone knows her connections to the realm and what she's about, so she has the edge when ridges start opening over the world and Earth starts going to literal hell. She even talks to the president at some point, although the reader just gets the one-sided phone call gist of the conversation.

On the home front, Kara’s home has become an armed compound where she has the latest gadgets and a security force, best friend Jill Faciane is not happy that her newborn daughter Ashava suddenly flew away and disappeared with Zach, Sonny, and Ryan. (No spoilers but all 4 make an appearance later in the story.) Rhyzkahl is still contained in the backyard, Mzatal and other demons are fighting a war they are close to losing, and a rash of humans are suddenly finding themselves transformed after coming out of a jelly like cocoon. Add an enemy from the Core who may be more dangerous than any Demon Lord, and it’s just another day of work for Kara and her allies.

It is fair to say that this series has moved far, far away from the police procedural facet which make Kara a different sort of character than others. An awful lot happens in this book. The action is nearly non-stop. Readers get a much greater understanding of the demon realm and just how almost dependent on each other the two worlds are. We find out a lot more about the Elinor Bayliss/Szerian/Giovanni story and it was pretty shocking to learn that Rhyzkahl isn't as bad as you thought he was. In fact, one might say that Kara and Rhyz have a moment where all the anger she has built up because of what he did to her, is finally time to let it go and deal with more dangerous threats.

This book released in 2016 and yes, I have decided that I am going to try to clean up my large pile of to be read books while also moving forward slowly into 2021 releases. Unfortunately, it now appears that the final installment in this series has been delayed from 2020 to TBA due to a variety of reasons. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 4 years for Rise of the Demon.


Chapter 1

“Volcanoes spew the devil’s flame in our heartland. Fire rains from the sky. Sinkholes suck sinners into the bowels of hell, while rifts vomit a scourge of demons into the streets of our cities. These are the plagues of our times, the signs of God’s fury at our wicked—”

The bellow of a reyza accompanied by the shriek of tearing metal cut off the rest of the protester’s tirade. I threw myself to the asphalt as the demon whizzed a tank hatch cover in my direction. It careened off the Stryker Armored Personnel Carrier behind me and slammed edge first less than a foot from my head into the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.

“Gillian! Status!” That was the squad leader, Sergeant Debbie Roma.

“Five by five!” I shouted as soon as I found my voice—and after I made sure I was still in one piece. The red block letters on the quivering metal hatch seemed to mock me. DIRT—Demonic Incursion Retaliation and Tactics. Yeah, we were retaliating. Like kids throwing marshmallows at rabid dogs. “DIRT” was supposed to represent our willingness to fight hard and dirty, but ten minutes into the skirmish and we’d already lost one tank.

But no people, to my relief. Petrev and Hines had managed to scramble clear of the tank and take cover behind an abandoned Toyota. Both Strykers and the Light Armored Vehicle were still intact, as were all fifteen members of Alpha Squad—though at the moment we were pinned down while the demon threw chunks of metal and arcane shrapnel at us. A scant meter in front of me, a two-foot-long, frost-rimmed crevice rippled with magenta flames. So far, the demon had only flown reconnaissance passes over the small dimensional rift, but I knew perfectly well he hadn’t made a trip from the main incursion rift a quarter mile away just to sightsee.

Demons had been coming through the rifts ever since the arcane valve explosion at the Beaulac Police Department two months ago, and I—along with every other DIRT arcane advisor—still had no flaming clue why. Rifts opened at unpredictable intervals all over the world, destroying anything or anyone in the location. An incursion of demons inevitably followed, during which they harassed and attacked nearby citizens while one or more of their number made enigmatic adjustments to the rifts. If I could figure out what their end goal was, humans could develop a counter strategy.

In the meantime, we fought back with what tools we had: guns and grit and graphene-composite nets.

The demon beat his wings and roared a challenge. He was, hands down, the biggest reyza I’d ever seen in all my years as a demon summoner. At least twelve feet tall, with a wingspan four times that—half again as big as Gestamar or Kehlirik. Needle-sharp black horns thrust from his head on either side of a thick ridge, and yellowed fangs curved from a mouth filled with flesh-rending teeth. Broad nostrils flared within a bestial face, and his thick, sinuous tail thrashed back and forth, a weapon as deadly as his claws. Scars crisscrossed his skin in patterns that spoke of claws and teeth and frequent battles—unlike any reyza I’d known before. And though I’d never heard of a demon wearing jewelry, there was no mistaking the gold that glinted from a half dozen thick hoops in his ears or the heavy bands that circled biceps and wrists.

“Two months now since Satan and his demons were hurled to Earth. Time is running out for you sinners to beg for salvation, lest you be thrown into the lake of fire with the idolaters, the vile, the unbelievers, the sports fans, the comic book freaks, the hypocrites.” The protester ranted on from the “safe” distance of the far side of the highway, his voice amplified by speakers mounted in the bed of his pickup and punctuated with random squeals and shrieks from arcane interference. Half a dozen people mingled near him, carrying enormous signs that said, in a variety of ways, that everyone was going to burn in hell except them.

Above the protesters, the morning sky shimmered with orange and magenta, beautiful and hideous, painted by arcane flames. Two days ago, the Beaulac Country Club tennis courts had crumbled into the maw of a fifty-foot-long dimensional rift, the tenth to form in the area. Small wonder that Beaulac was practically a ghost town now. Everything within a half-mile radius of the valve blast had been quarantined and cordoned off, and anyone who could leave Beaulac did. These days, nowhere was truly safe, but anywhere was safer than here.

The rift at the tennis courts was a relatively small one, but it had disgorged a number of vicious demons over the past forty-eight hours. Dozens of kzak, savik, and graa, and less than an hour ago this big ass reyza who was determined to transform the Piggly Wiggly parking lot into his own demon playground. Not that it would hurt business. A good two-thirds of the grocery store had been destroyed last week by a tornado that appeared out of a sunny sky, tracked an arrow-straight line for a hundred yards, then disappeared. Sadly, that wasn’t the weirdest disaster to hit the area since the valve explosion. Hell, that didn’t even make the top five.

The reyza leaped into flight from the top of the tank.

“The skeeter’s aloft!” Roma shouted. “Cover!”

Maroon-fatigued squad members moved, but though I kept my eye on the “skeeter” as he gained altitude, I stayed put. My arcane skills were still a long way from their previous full strength—before I was ambushed and my abilities nearly obliterated—but I’d managed to regain complete use of my othersight. That allowed me to assess the little rift and the demon’s arcane tactics, and give my squad a snowball’s chance of winning. However, there were moments—such as this one—where I felt the loss of my abilities keenly. Even though we had no way to close the rifts, it was possible to arcanely “lock” them to prevent them from expanding. A rift this small would take about ten minutes of uninterrupted focus to lock it, but unfortunately I couldn’t shape the potency to do so on my own. Vince Pellini and I usually partnered up to set the locks, but I’d split off with Alpha Squad to chase the big reyza, and only realized the beastie had been heading toward this mini-rift when we damn near fell into it.

The reyza swooped past, and I shielded my head with my hands, expecting the whine of the stinging arcane scattershot he’d peppered us with a dozen times before. Instead, a heavy thoop thoop thoop signaled the demon equivalent of an arcane grenade launcher.

No time to run for cover. Shiiiiiit. Adrenaline spiking, I tucked into a tight ball in the hopes of reducing the size of the demon’s target. It was a solid plan except for one tiny detail: the demon wasn’t aiming for me. The salvo struck the crevice, sending up flashes of purple and green.

For a heartbeat, nothing changed, then the asphalt heaved and buckled. The ring of frost expanded from the now gaping crevice, raced toward me and past to cover the parking lot. Magenta flames shot high, and the fissure screamed like a tortured soul.

Dismay left me colder than the frosted ground. I pushed up to a crouch and called out to Roma. “Sarge! He’s widening the rift!” There was ample room now for demons such as luhrek and immature savik to come through—no less dangerous despite their smaller size. Not good when our resources were already strained to the breaking point.

“SkeeterCheater!” At Roma’s command, Petrev and Wohlreich scrambled to deploy the lightweight, graphene-enhanced net over the rift and anchor it deep into the asphalt. DIRT had developed the nets as a counter-incursion measure since the demons were a helluva lot easier to kill before they emerged. The nets weren’t a perfect solution, especially for large rifts, but anything that delayed the demons gave us a bit more advantage.

The reyza let out a triumphant bellow as he landed atop a Buick sedan. The roof buckled under his weight, and the side windows cracked, then burst.

Breathing deeply in an effort to settle my racing pulse, I remained crouched as I studied him. He’d already dodged and deflected everything we’d thrown at him, but there were a few tricks left in our bag.

The reyza beat his wings once, then folded them close. He swiveled his head toward me and bared his teeth—his personal promise to give me the extra special painful death—then traced a swooping pattern on his chest with one claw. Potency the color of old blood flickered. Sigils flared on his torso and sent a shimmering web over his head, limbs, and wings. I grimaced. No wonder we hadn’t touched him yet.

“Triple duty,” I called out to Roma. Her sharp curse told me her opinion of full arcane armor on a demon this size. We’d learned the hard way that aiming center mass on any demon was a waste of ammo, but we also knew that limbs and wings usually weren’t shielded as well—until this bad boy.

I’d become an expert at adapting tactics in order to defeat demons, and I had no moral dilemma about killing them. They were attacking us.

It was the brand new orders, handed down this morning, that I had qualms about: Capture as many demons as possible, with reyzas the highest priority targets.

“Kowal!” Roma’s voice carried across the grocery store parking lot to the Stryker on the far side. “Shimmy that lizard before it finishes getting into its party gown!”

I couldn’t help but smile. Force the demon out of that position before it gets fully armored. Radio comms were useless so close to a rift, which meant the majority of commands were shouted. But since the demons could hear every word, human soldiers used idioms and code phrases that would be tough for any non-native speaker to understand. It made for a glimmer of humor in an otherwise grim setting.

“On it!” A woman with messy red curls peeking from beneath her helmet swiveled the APC’s grenade launcher toward the reyza. I tensed as she fired two grenades. With inhuman reflexes, the demon swatted the first in my direction while the other sailed into the vehicle under him. I scuttled away, but to my relief—and horror—the grenade bounced across the pavement, danced on the SkeeterCheater, then tumbled through and into the rift.

The ground shuddered, and a gout of magenta fire erupted from the rift even as a blast rocked the Buick. Flames leaped through the windows, and the reyza roared and took flight.

Roma barked orders, and squad members scrambled to new tactical positions. I took the opportunity to belly crawl behind an upthrust of asphalt then resumed my search for the demon’s weak spots.

Roma remained crouched behind a pile of concrete rubble, skimming her gaze over the area as she checked on her people and considered options. At fifty-something, she wasn’t quite as fast as the youngsters, but she had nerves of steel and a serious knack for close quarter tactics. Yet she and I both knew that, even with the new weapons and materials that had been developed in the past two months, it would be a stone bitch to take this demon out, much less capture it.

“Morons,” I muttered, which was the kindest thing I could say about DIRT HQ at the moment. The order to capture demons was perfectly logical, especially when it came to reyzas. They did the most damage and were the hardest to kill. HQ and their researchers wanted to find out what made these creatures tick, what their strengths and vulnerabilities were. I understood it. I really did.

And I hated it. The demons were sentient, resourceful beings. I didn’t have to stretch my brain very hard to come up with how the researchers would find the demons’ weaknesses. It wouldn’t involve a pleasant conversation, that much I knew. Yet... we were at war. And we sure as hell weren’t winning.

It sucked from every possible direction.

The reyza settled in the bed of a big pickup truck near the shopping cart corral, amber eyes blazing with keen intelligence as it assessed us and the rift. It spread its wings as if taking a stretch, then threw its head back and sounded a deep note that shook the air and lifted the hair on my arms. Across the highway, the protesters’ speakers crackled to life.

“These demons have been sent to test us and punish the sinful and the wicked. Fornicators and masturbators, drunks and porno freaks—”

“Hey, that’s me!” Scott Glassman—my former coworker—called out with a laugh from the Stryker behind me.

“—you false soldiers defy God’s law and embrace sin by employing evil witches and sorcerers to battle these demons.”

“And that’s me,” I said with a snort. Yeah, well, the preacher could rant all he wanted about my evil nature but, as an Arcane Specialist, my “sorcery” was part of the reason the DIRT forces could mount any defense at all.

Like right now, as my othersight revealed a nasty orange
glow forming on the demon’s clawed left hand.

“—demons to punish the sinners and—”

“Yek ziy!” the demon bellowed. To punish all.

“Double-M left,” I yelled, scrambling up to dive behind the thick tires of the Stryker. Hatches clanged shut, and “umbrellas” made of an arcane-resistant polymer snicked open as the troops without cover deployed shields.

The ground heaved with a concussion that set my ears ringing, followed an instant later by a blast of heat and shriek of metal. My pulse slammed in reaction. A reyza cast that? I’d only ever felt an arcane detonation that powerful from a demonic lord.

Fear seized me. “Oh no...” I surged out from behind the Stryker. The umbrella shields were arcane resistant, meant to deflect a typical demon strike—not a blitzkrieg.

My heart dropped to my toes. I barely registered that the SkeeterCheater lay intact but unanchored over a widened rift. My focus was locked a dozen yards beyond it, where two squad members crouched motionless, fatigues seared and smoking while around them the asphalt popped and boiled. Nothing remained of their shields but the twisted metal of the frames.

The reyza let out a roar of triumph and sprang into the air with powerful strokes of his wings.

Monday, November 23, 2020

#Review - The Innkeeper Chronicles Trilogy by Ilona Andrews #Paranormal

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles # 1
Format: eBook, 235 pages
Release Date: December 2nd 2013
Publisher: NYLA
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Paranormal 

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.
And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night...Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Clean Sweep is the first installment in author's Ilona Andrews The Innkeeper Chronicles. Dina DeMille is an Innkeeper, part of a magical race who offers safe haven to intergalactic travelers who are visiting foreign realms, in Red Deer, Texas, just like her parents, Gerard, and Helen, who disappeared without a trace while she was in college. When her parents disappeared, she lost everything and had to start over in Texas. Her brother Klaus decided to be a traveler, her older sister Maud chose to marry a vampire. Dina chose to walk the same path as her parents by asking the Assembly for her own Inn which was granted.

Dina's Inn is called Gertrude Hunt. Dina is supposed to be neutral by definition and the Inn has magical boundaries but there's nothing in the rules preventing her from defending her inn, her guests, and herself. She has an almost symbiotic relationship with the Inn she runs, the house protects her, and she is able to draw from its strength but without her keeping the Inn would wither away and die. Innkeepers have a duty of care to their guests and will do anything in their power to keep them safe which is why Caldenia feels that she can take up permanent residence without any worries that Dina will turn her out.

She has a little Shih Tzu named Beast. Dina isn't one to take lightly. Especially when her broom turns into a powerful weapon and she can literally turn her Inn into a fortress. Dina finds herself unable to sit back and do nothing when something starts attacking dogs in her neighborhood and she soon finds herself in a whole heap of trouble. This story introduces key characters who will be seen in the next several installments. Sean Evans is ex-military and an alpha-strain werewolf built for war. Arland is a vampire from a powerful family. He is noble and proud but very respectful when it comes to Dina. He understands her abilities so knows just what she is capable of, but he still wants to help keep her safe.

I could go on and on about the things I loved about this book, but I really think you should just read it for yourself rather than have me spoil it for you. The special edition print version contains beautiful images of the main characters, but these illustrations are not included in the eBook which is too bad. Fairness in reviewing, I actually received an invitation to read this book via NetGalley thanks to Subterranean Press which combined all three installments into one book. All three books will be reviewed back to back.

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles # 2
Format: ebook, 237 pages
Release Date: November 13, 2015
Publisher: NYLA
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Paranormal

Dina Demille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…  

Sweep in Peace is the second installment in author's Ilona Andrews The Innkeeper Chronicles. It has been 6 months since the end of Clean Sweep. Dina DeMille is an Innkeeper, part of a magical race who offers safe haven to intergalactic travelers who are visiting foreign realms. Her Inn exists in Red Deer, Texas. Dina is basically master of the universe when she's inside Gertrude Hunt. What she says goes and if you don’t like it, well, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!

In this installment, we meet the Arbitrators who specialize in dispute resolution. This book marks the return of characters from the authors The Edge series Jack, George, Gaston, and Lark/Sophie. We also get a brief appearance from Dina’s brother Klaus DeMille who is supposed to be searching for their parents, but it appears he’s into something even bigger. George Camarine arrives in Red Deer to ask Dina to play host to a galactic peace conference between warring factions who are fighting over control of a planet called Nexus which provides a precious mineral called Kuyo.

Dina has a decision to make. Accept and risk losing everything if she is unable to control her hostile guests or deny and lose a great chance to boost both, the magic of the inn and her, admittedly, hurting bank account. Dina decides the benefits outweigh the potential for catastrophe. The factions are Arland’s Holy Cosmic Anocracy, The Merchants led by Nuan Cee, the Merchant Dina has done business with in the past, and the Hope Crushing Horde led Dagorkun, of the Ortokari Horde. Dina also has to find a chef to be able to feed at least 40 people which sends her looking for a red cleaver chef named Orro, who is a fabulous but disgraced chef with a flare for the over dramatic.

The unfortunate part of this story is that Sean is all but a ghost until much later in the story and even with that, he’s not the same person we saw in Clean Sweep. I think readers of the Edge will be enlightened at who George has turned into and what lengths he will go through in order to get what he wants.  There is also Lark/Sophie who Dina finds common ground with. The half-broken girl from the Edge has grown to be a badass, half-broken woman, fighting to prove that she isn't the monster people, herself included, see her as. Once again, the most fascinating character to date is Caldenia, ex-tyrant, and galactic exile, who always has a wonderful quip or two:

Caldenia blinked. “Who are the attending parties?”
“The Holy Anocracy represented by House Krahr, the Hope-crushing Horde, and the Merchants of Baha-char. They are coming here for Arbitration and they will probably try to murder each other the moment they walk through the door.”
Caldenia’s eyes widened. “Do you really think so? This is absolutely marvelous!”
She would think so, wouldn’t she.

There's a very Agatha Christie mystery that needs to be solved, and at the end, Dina does her best impression of Hercule Poirot - what with the gathering the suspects and the announcing of the perpetrator in a big dramatic way.

Subterranean Press combined all three installments into one book, but I've chosen to review them separately.

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles # 3
Format: ebook, 257 pages
Release Date: December 20th 2016
Publisher: NYLA
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Paranormal

Dina Demille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that


One Fell Sweep is the third installment in author's Ilona Andrews The Innkeeper Chronicles. It has been 3 days since the end of Sweep in Peace and 5 days before Christmas. Dina DeMille is an Innkeeper, part of a magical race who offers safe haven to intergalactic travelers who are visiting foreign realms. Her Inn exists in Red Deer, Texas. Dina is basically master of the universe when she's inside Gertrude Hunt. What she says goes and if you don’t like it, well, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out! All visitors to earth have one rule, never let themselves be discovered.

Things really get off to a thriller start when a male Ku named Wing crashes the party carrying a message, a silver necklace, and a dolphin pendant for Dina. The message is from her sister Maud who claims she’s in trouble and needs Dina to save her. It is the first time in 3 years that Dina has heard from her sister. It also seems that Maud’s fortunes have changed. Her vampire husband is dead, she’s been sent to Karhari in the Holy Anocracy Territory, which is a hellhole along with her daughter Helen. Only criminals, exiles, and heretics are sent to Karhari.  

With help from Marshal Arland, Dina, and Sean, Maud and her daughter are brought back to Red Deer, Texas. Maud is a changed woman. She married a knight of the Holy Anocracy and in turn, has a custom fitted syn-armor and blood sword which was used to kill everyone who murdered her husband. Oh, Helen, how I adore you. You are cute, and fierce, and this story is totally better because of your presence. But the action is just beginning when a Hiru, an ancient civilization capable of interstellar travel, asks for sanctuary and help from Dina. It seems that their race has been hunted down and is near extinction thanks to a race called Draziri.

Dina gets out of the Inn a little more than usual this time. There was a trip to a vampire planet, a few to the greatest and deadliest flea market in the world Bah Char, and even to a mystical sanctuary that made Sean’s skin crawl. Dina has a new foe and is currently under siege in the Inn, but these creatures have no idea who they are up against. With Sean, Arland, Helen, Maud, Dina and Caldenia as allies, the Draziri have no idea what they’ve done by attacking the Inn and targeting Dina. Between all of them, they should be able to save the day from a tribe of mercenary aliens on a mission to wipe out some of Dina's guests to please their god.

There is also FINALLY movement in the right direction between Dina and Sean while Arland is pretty turned his attention to Maud and her fierceness which would impress any vampire. If you’ve read this series, you know that Dina and Officer Marais have had an antagonistic relationship. Especially after Sweep in Peace when he wandered into something dangerous. He has been poking around for a little while and that has finally come to a head. I think Sean and Marais could be friends with everything that has happened over the course of this series.

Subterranean Press combined all three installments into one book, and I've chosen to review them separately. With this review, thus ends my review of the Innkeeper Chronicles. I am looking forward to reading Maud’s book called Sweep of the Blade. But I’ll wait until 2021 to search for deals on it.