Friday, January 29, 2021

#Review - Prodigal Son by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Orphan X (#6)
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense

Forced into retirement, Evan Smoak gets an urgent request for help from someone he didn't even suspect existed—in the latest in the New York Times bestselling Orphan X series

Evan Smoak—a former government assassin who turned to helping the most desperate in their times of trouble—has retired. In exchange for an unofficial pardon, he's agreed to stop his clandestine activities as The Nowhere Man. Struggling to learn how to live a normal life, everything that he thought he knew is called into question when he gets a call for help from the one person he never thought he'd hear from—the woman who originally gave him up for adoption.

Her unlikely request: help for another orphan from the foster home he grew up in. Agreeing to help would put his deal, and his life, in danger.

Andre, Evan's fellow foster child, is struggling to stay afloat and get his own life back together. In doing his low-level job, he's unwittingly become the target of two top-level assassins who will go to any lengths to get rid of him. With nowhere to turn, and no safe place to hide, Evan is his only option. But if Evan returns to his role as The Nowhere Man, he puts his own life in mortal jeopardy.


Prodigal Son is the Sixth installment in author Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X series. Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Taken from a group home at twelve, Evan was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man.

Evan has to be careful. He's been advised by the President that in order to receive a pardon for his previous actions, he needs to stay out of the public eye. Failure to do so could lead to severe consequences. For Evan, retirement isn't something he can put a finger on. The Nowhere Man can't just pick up and retire when there's people who desperately need his help. He has his 16-year old protege Joey to watch over who is growing up quickly. He has friends like Mia and Peter Hall who are in his life whether he likes it or not. While he can't tell Mia what exactly he does for a living, she knows that he saved her life.

When a woman claiming to be Evan’s mother calls him up on his RoamZone, he finds himself yanked into a mission that will drag him back to the most intimate memories of his past and propel him forward into a threat that reaches the highest levels of power. Evan's first point of business is to uncover who the woman is that claims she's his mother with a trip to Venezuela. After a quick trip to Venezuela, Evan's world is broken to learn that Veronica LeGrande really is his mother. But questions need to be answered.

Veronica tells Evan that she has a job for him. His name is Andrew Duran, and he is in serious trouble. Andrew is a down on his luck man with an ex-wife and daughter who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up at the top of the list for a pair of assassins. When he witnesses a man being assassinated, the assassins want to make sure he doesn't talk to the wrong person. A person like Evan. Andrew isn’t someone new to Evan. He’s Evan’s orphan brother. Andrew had high hopes of getting out of the Group home as desperately as Evan and Charles Van Shiver.

This book is steep in Military, political, technological action thriller. Add in a pair of assassins who just happened to be brother and sister, and you have all sorts of danger for Evan to deal with. Add in a mentally unstable rocket scientist, literally, and you have drones that are as small as bees targeting specific targets. In one way, Evan has been able to escape just about anything the author and his enemies have thrown at him. Can he escape his own past?

I like that Evan has moved beyond his hatred for Candy McClure. I think that along with Joey, they make a brilliant team. Joey, I think, needs her own series sometime soon. I think that there is enough interesting in seeing what this 16-year-old brilliant hacker and Orphan drop out can do without Evan around. The ending of this story is straight up shocking. It might be the first actual real cliffhanger ending of this entire series. Could this be the ending to Evan's journey? Unfortunately for me, I've been reading these books after they've already been released so I know that there's another book in the workings. In this case, I am biting the side of my mouth hoping that the author comes back and fixes what he broke.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

#Review - The Hunter's Curse by D.D. Chance #Paranormal #Romance

Series: Monster Hunter Academy # 2
Format: E-Book, 255 pages
Release Date: January 28, 2021
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal / Romance

Never let a demon see you sweat.

Zachariah Williams isn’t just the darkest, most gothically gorgeous member of my new academy monster hunting squad…he’s broken in a way I deeply understand. The son of a small-town preacher with a big-time skillset, he’s faced down monsters his whole life, a natural-born demon hunter whose deep empathy and shattered soul makes me crave his glance, his smile, and, okay…his hands all over me.

Trouble is, he’s also got one killer of a family secret: right after he falls in love, Hell on earth breaks out. The only way to stop it? Sacrifice whoever’s captured his heart.

Talk about a second-date buzzkill.

Of course, I haven’t been fighting monsters practically since the cradle to back down now. Zach and the entire Wellington Academy monster hunter squad are becoming my stand-in family, and that means more to me than I ever expected.

And if someone’s gotta take out a bunch of fire-breathing demons without getting hot under the collar, I’m still the right girl for the job.  

D.D. Chance’s The Hunter’s Curse is book 2 in the authors Monster Academy Series. The series features Nina Cross, a 24-year-old woman who traveled to Boston from her home in Asheville, North Carolina to find out if she has any family left. Nina is a virtual monster magnet. They follow her wherever she goes. She's found herself as a student at Wellington Academy where demon hunting is considered a minor degree, and the leader of the school is a real loser.

Nina, who has been fighting monsters all her life, found four hunters in training: Tyler Perkins, Liam Graham, Grim Lochton, and Zachariah (Zach) Williams. With the first book, readers got to learn about Tyler Perkins as well as the collective. This time around the author introduces you to Zach who grew up the son of a small-town preacher. He’s a natural born demon hunter who carries a dark secret as well as the ability to read minds.

The huge family secret could complicate any relationship he might discover with Nina, because like it or not, Zach and Nina have more in common than just their natural ability to hunt monsters. With everything that’s happened so far, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Nina has a large target on her back. There are people who know that she’s looking for answers about her family and her mother. As she and we as readers continue forward in this series, the more those people are starting to come forward.

Some have an agenda, some like Commander Frost, may hold answers to Nina’s past as well as her future and her connection to the four boys who she has fallen in with. I am eager to see what the ramifications are for Nina joining with the 4 boys in this collective, especially with what appears to be a demon uprising coming soon. I try awfully hard to leave spoilers out of my reviews. I eagerly accept each of these novels that I receive in lieu of an honest review. I have stated in my previous review of The Hunter’s Call that there are similarities between this series and the authors Twyst Academy series.

First, there’s one young woman and four boys. Second, each boy will get their own introduction in each installment. Next up is Liam, while Grim, who I am eager to learn more about, will bring the series to a close. There is always something special when the one young woman gets with each of the young men. Let’s just say it gives them wings! As I just said, I think I am more eager to learn about Grim, than I am Liam, but after Liam’s shocking discovery at the end of this book, I want to know what happens next.

The Monster Hunter Academy series is a slow-burn urban fantasy romance with a fast-talking, sharp-witted heroine, four hunters-in-training hot enough to make your palms sweat, and way too many monsters to hide in a closet. You should absolutely be reading this series!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

#Review - Shadow City by Francesca Flores #YA #Fantasy

Series: The City of Diamond and Steel # 2
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dark Fantasy

Shadow City is an action-packed young adult fantasy by Francesca Flores about a girl who perseveres through poverty, violence, and loss to achieve a future for herself.

Aina Solís has fought her way to the top of criminal ranks in the city of Kosín by wresting control of an assassin empire owned by her old boss, Kohl. She never has to fear losing her home and returning to life on the streets again—except Kohl, the man who tried to ruin her life, will do anything to get his empire back. Aina sets out to kill him before he can kill her.

Alsane Bautix, the old army general who was banned from his seat in the government after Aina revealed his corruption, is working to take back power by destroying anyone who stands in his way. With a new civil war on the horizon and all their lives at risk, the only way for Aina to protect her home is to join up with the only other criminal more notorious than her: Kohl himself.
As Bautix’s attacks increase, Aina and Kohl work together to stop his incoming weapons shipments and his plans to take back the Tower of Steel. To defeat them both, Aina will resort to betrayal, poison, and a deadly type of magic that hasn’t been used in years.

Through narrow alleys, across train rooftops, and deep in the city’s tunnels, Aina and Kohl will test each other’s strengths and limits, each of them knowing that once Bautix is dead, they’ll still have to face each other. If she manages to kill him, she’ll finally have the freedom she wants—but it might forever mark her as his shadow in a city where only the strongest survive. 


Shadow City is the second and final installment in author Francesca Flores The City of Diamond and Steel duology. The story picks up where Diamond City left off. Aina Solis is our main character for this series. She's a former top level assassin who has wrestled control of a criminal empire from her former boss, Kohl. The man who turned her world upside down, and then rebuilt her in what he thought an assassin should be. Aina, Teo, Raurie, Tannis, Ryuu, Hirai, and Lill are trying to keep Alsane Bautix, the old army general who was banned from his seat in the government, from taking back his power by force and destroying everyone who stands in his way. 

14 years after the first Civil War ended, another one is brewing on the horizon. Because of everything that could go wrong, Aina decides to once again align herself with Kohl to protect her home. Regardless of the fact she defeated him and the two always had a legitimately toxic connection, she has trouble shaking feelings for him. He found her when she was on the street's high on glue. He was the one who gave her a fresh new pair of shoes. He was the one who offered her a chance at becoming leader of her own tradehouse.

Even though she believes one of them will eventually end up killing the other, she ends up working with him against Bautix, who Aina ousted by revealing his corruption. Aina, though, isn't safe. There are plenty of people who would love to kill her and take the power she has fairly won. Aina and her allies have to deal with Diamond Guards who are sweeping the country looking for magic users called Inosen. Half the people in the country believe Bautix is a hero for wanting to eliminate the Inosen.

Aina's parents were Inosen. They were healers before they were murdered. Aina should have the same healing ability, but her emotions allow for something a bit more dangerous. Blood magic. The only problem is the more you use the distorted magic, the less you are able to heal yourself. But Aina first needs to defeat Bautix and others who have allied with him. She has to protect her own people now that she's in charge of new recruits. She has to deal with her emotions with Tannis, as well as Teo. Tannis and Aina are a good team, but Aina's secrets may shattered everything they've worked so hard to gain. 

There's barely any downtime in the book, as most of the time someone is either fighting for their life. Aina and Kohl’s relationship is worrisome at times. It’s that relationship that is so toxic that you wonder why in the hell you are actually thinking they would make a pretty decent couple except for all the past baggage they carry. I think the only troubling thing about this story is the lack of Aina using her blood magic that she wanted so badly. At any point, Aina could have been the deadliest person in this entire world. She could have easily done what needed to be done. 

Was there a cost associated from using so much power? Absolutely. But I don't think we would have had the heart breaking losses. Aina is still a flawed character but her abilities with a blade make her a badass. We really get to know Aina through her mental and emotional and physical turmoil over the course of this story. I don't think the magical system this world was used to it's fullest. As I said, Aina learns how to use blood magic, but fails to use it at key moments.