Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Review: A Life in Blood by Martyn Currill


When a young vampire hunter is saved by one of those he is sworn to destroy, he is forced to question everything he was taught. He soon learns that there is far more to vampires - and to the conflict he was born into - than he ever realised, and he finds himself siding with sworn enemies to pursue their cause. Read, in his own words, the story that altered his life as he recounts the night of his salvation and his entry into the hell that followed.



***


I will start this review with a confession: I don't seek out vampire novels.

*waits for the collective gasp*

It could be so many vampire novels rely on over-cliched vampire cliche's or stereotyping which make many vampire characters feel flat and unoriginal. (Not the case with this book. Gonna make that clear right now.)

So when a writer guaranteed to wow me with amazing and original work and can make this grown woman fan-girl with a single post shared A Life in Blood by Martyn Currill, I'm not sure if I eeped or clicked first. The end result put this book in by hands, blurb unread.

Diemos Black, vampire hunter, finds himself healing at the hands of the very creatures his family has hunted down and destroyed for centuries. I loved his voice as narrator. He is smooth, observant and capable of bluntness when called for. We aren't spared his pain nor his victories. His consistent way of telling reliably cements the many aspects of A Life in Blood together.

I found out quite quickly that vampires and Currill's vampire lore are only a part of this story and the characters. Just as gender, age, experiences or appearance put a character together, being a vampire only describes each character only in part.

I appreciated A Life in Blood as a British military action story first. It sets great characters on a solid foundation of hunter/vampire family history and couples the whole thing with exciting combat scenes, military tech and genuine relationships then finishes it off with enough flash and bang to leave me catching my breath at the end.

A Life in Blood is a solid military-fantasy (that's my word for it) that confidently marks all the X's in blood.


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Review: The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé by S.L. Saboviec

Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé, busy executive and less-than-stellar mother and wife, has a problem that only an exorcist can solve. Except she’s not precisely a devout Catholic parishioner any longer, and to gain assistance from the Church means telling a whopping lie of omission.
Fortunately, she discovers Father Angelo Ambrosio, whose commitment to helping the afflicted means he’s willing to overlook the things Scarlet prefers to keep hidden. Unfortunately, his sordid past keeps him under a microscope with the bishop, who’s not so liberal in his views.

But the demon harassing Scarlet is relentless. It makes its motives clear: in a previous life, she struck a bargain, promising it her body on her fiftieth birthday. Now, she and Angelo must unravel the mystery surrounding her forgotten past in order to stop the possession by next week or risk losing her to the depths of Hell forever.

This stand-alone novel set in the Fallen Redemption universe extends the series to modern day. Enter a world where humans reincarnate, demons interfere in daily life, and the currents of fate carry us all to our destinies. 

***
Years ago, when I first realized I could choose to read (rather than what I was assigned at school) I was drawn to scary books and two of the first novels I read were The Amityville Horror and The Exorcist. That was back in grade seven and since then, hauntings and possessions still give me the absolute creeps so my choosing to read The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé surprised me.

Scarlet's predicament comes across will the ominous tension and lurking danger I expected but for many more reasons than a cruel demon. We have Scarlet's challenges with her own religious identity and her struggling marriage, Father Ambrosio's struggle with his past and of course good and evil. Every aspect of this story is contrasted as good and evil, depending on which character you hear from. These contrasts, bound together, provide much of the tension and drama of the story.

I found this book smooth (and creepy) at the start. It definitely drew me in and held me there, so much so I read the whole way through in a couple of sittings.

I loved Scarlet because she is my own age and like me, deeply loves her family even with her imperfections and fears. I also appreciated she didn't engage herself in any ridiculous butt-kicking or fights I know I couldn't pull off. She is a very capable, real and relatable woman.

I definitely recommend The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé, a side by side novel with Saboviec's Fallen Redemption series which I look forward to.


I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Review: Aurora: Decima by Amanda Bridgeman



The tenth year war is coming . . .


Carrie Welles has survived more attacks than she can count, but each one has made her stronger. She refuses to be a victim anymore. While her nemesis, Sharley, continues to be a threat, she works with Harris and the Aurora team to protect the future, vowing to raise her children and fight as the soldier-mother she was destined to be.

Saul Harris has had visions of the Zeta ships hitting Earth years before they’re due, but has no proof to warn the UNF. Scraping together a small contingent of Alpha units, he prepares for the onslaught as best he can. He embraces his gift and ‘connection’ with Welles and they dig further into his ancestry, only to have more haunting truths come to light.

As the invasion approaches, the new Aurora team members must find their place in the crew, while old team members reunite. They must band together with the Originals and their fellow Space and Earth Duty troops if they are to defend Earth against this attack.

But is it too little too late? Have Harris and Carrie done enough to protect their future? As they fight for survival against the Zetas in a battle that stretches across the UNF Space Zone, they soon realise the price of their freedom might be higher than they were expecting to pay.



***


I received an ARC! (Squeee!!!!) And sent it to my Kindle and opened it up. I admired the great cover balancing the hope of the upturned dishes with the darkness and the night sky and the ominous bold title font I've come to see as the series brand.

Then I put it away for three whole days. A few reasons. I didn't want it to rush to that place of waiting for the next and being unable to read it again for the first time. Also, this series has frequently torn my heart out, tossed it on the road and stomped on it, occasionally leaving it there to be run over in traffic and lit on fire, before tenderly making it whole and slipping it back in my chest. I know what will happen, I'll read headlong into catastrophe and I want to, for sure, I just wanted the anticipation to build. For this series, I'm a literary thrill seeking danger junkie. It's become an Event with a capital 'E.' Some books I read because I'd be reading something anyway. I read Aurora because of the emotions.


Aurora: Decima did not let me down.

Decima rushes fast forward through a decade in time to the early arrival of a Zeta invasion and focuses on what the Aurora series does best - character and action driven science fiction. With book six in the series, Bridgeman took her foundation of characters and their relationships to the next level. They grew from well developed to complex and where the action went (and there's a lot,) I felt the added intensity of my attachment to Aurora's crew.

Additionally, I've noticed the growth in Bridgeman's writing has been used to full advantage in handling the growing complexity of her plots. In Darwin, book one, there was a bluntness to her prose. Her writing felt a touch gritty and rough around the edges which was perfect for the calculated violence which introduced the darker scifi side consistent through the series. I experienced emptiness, foreboding and failure as she pulled us through, sometimes with not much more than a brittle sense of safety to catch our breath and step in to the next chapter.

While Bridgeman's voice held fast through Pegasus, Meridian, Centralis and Eden and contrasted the growing connections and sense of family among Aurora's crew with danger and those very dark sub-plots, she added a delightful smoothness to her prose. Decima is by far the most ambitious in the series in terms of number of characters, places, subplots and time and holds together beautifully. I found myself dug into a story I knew would sting me (that whole heart thing) and was rewarded when it did.

Favourite scene? The make-up argument. I went back and re-read it three times. Also re-read the big battle at the end. I continue to love and recommend this series.

At time of review publication, you can start the series with Aurora: Darwin here with a copy direct to your inbox.

You can also read my review of Aurora: Darwin here.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Review: Strange Magic by James A. Hunter


Yancy Lazarus is having a bad day: there’s a bullet lodged in his butt cheek, his face looks like the site of a demolition derby, and he’s been saran-wrapped to a banquet table. He never should have answered the phone. Stupid bleeding heart—helping others in his circles is a good way to get dead.

Just ask the gang members ripped to pieces by some kind of demonic nightmare in LA. As a favor to a friend, Yancy agrees to take a little looksee into the massacre and boom, he’s stuck in a turf war between two rival gangs, which both think he’s pinch-hitting for the other side. Oh, and there’s also a secretive ass-hat with some mean ol’ magical chops and a small army of hyena-faced, body- snatching baddies. It might be time to seriously reconsider some of his life choices.

Yancy is a bluesman, a rambler, a gambler, but not much more. Sure, he can do a little magic—maybe even more than just a little magic—but he knows enough to keep his head down and stay clear of freaky-deaky hoodoo like this business in LA. Somehow though, he’s been set up to take a real bad fall—the kind of very permanent fall that leaves a guy with a toe tag. Unless, of course, he can find out who is responsible for the gangland murders, make peace in the midst of the gang feud, and take out said magical ass-hat before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right? Stupid. Bleeding. Heart.

***

So I requested this one since it has a male MC. I really enjoyed the last (and only) testosterone kicking UF I read so why the hell not. Plus there's smoking, drinking and if I cross my fingers and wish like a teen girl at a boy band concert there's likely to be lots of bad words, stupid judgement and broken bones. Maybe some squishy and gross indestructible monsters, unrealistic bearing of unbearable injuries and male vs. male banter I'd never get away with during an evening out with the ladies.

Let me tell you, crossing fingers pays off just fine, thank you very much.

Honest to God, just a few pages in I've been battered by all of the above in addition to an unfortunate stitch in my side and chunk of something lumpy half way down my throat following the Noob-male-UF reader mistake of snorting back a laugh.

Yancey Lazarus just doesn't let up. If he isn't being beaten, shot, lit on fire or driving a knife into your tickle spot with his non-stop self depreciating rants he's running for his life bemoaning all the stupidity leading up his flight.

Will this book hurt? Yep. A lot. You're gonna like it too.

Thank me later.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for my review.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Review: The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas 2016



The second volume of Prime Books’ annual anthology series collecting some of the year’s best novella-length science fiction and fantasy. Novellas, longer than short stories but shorter than novels, are a rich rewarding literary form that can fully explore tomorrow’s technology, the far reaches of the future, thought-provoking imaginings, fantastic worlds, and entertaining concepts with all the impact of a short story as well as the detailed depth of a novel. Gathering a wide variety of excellent science fiction and fantasy, this anthology of “short novels” showcases the talents of both established masters and new writers.


***

If you think novellas are snack sized pieces of full-meal novels, be prepared with an empty stomach for this awesome collection.

The 2016 volume of Year's Best Science Fiction and Novellas will leave you unhitching your belt a notch (or three) and you might want to pace yourself for this assortment of dark themes and tight and thorough world building.

Each novella is so well done and dense with well formed plots they have as much action and personality as I'd expect to find in a novel. This gives each of these stories a sense of urgency and completeness we don't always see in this size of works.

My absolute favourite character is Maurice in The Bone Swans of Amandale. He's a loyal and sarcastic rat-shifter and in his own way, an adorable and (as you'd expect from a rat) kinda gross anti-hero.

This wide selection of dark novellas is well worth exploring and feels more like a bundle of complete novels than shorter works. I'll be diving in to the 2015 edition and keeping my eye out for the next one.

Highly recommended.

I received my copy from Netgalley.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Review: Jumper's Hope by Carol Van Natta


Reunited lovers must outwit a ruthless government agent, or their rumored deaths will be real this time. 
Two retired elite special forces veterans discover their battles aren't behind them after all. Someone considers them loose ends, and will stop at nothing to erase their knowledge of a secret government project. Their service left them both with wounds that will never heal. Do they still have what it takes to survive? 

Kerzanna Nevarr's elite special forces days of wearing Jumper mech suits and piloting Citizen Protection Services' ships are long gone. The dark legacy of her service forced her to learn to live a quiet life. And she had to do so alone, without the lover who died before her eyes. 

Jess Orowitz, veteran of CPS's secret spy organization, Kameleon Corps, made the mistake of trusting his superiors. He's paid a horrific price—fractured memories, constant headaches, and the death of the only woman he ever loved. Retirement on a quiet farming planet has kept him in an emotional deep freeze, but safe. 

But now, Kerzanna is being hunted for reasons she can’t guess, and even more stunning, the man who helps her escape is Jess, her supposedly dead lover. For Jess, discovering Kerzanna is still alive is only the first of the lies and betrayal he uncovers. 

Worst of all, their hunter is someone with CPS intel and lethal resources. Someone who believes the only obstacles standing in the way of success are one broken-down ex-Jumper and a fractured Kameleon. 

Together, are they strong enough to escape death one more time? 

***


Jumper's Hope, the fourth in Van Natta's Central Galactic Concordance series, keeps a firm grip on the original world building in its predecessors while expanding in to new characters and adventure. I found it delightfully action filled and loaded with surprises I didn't see coming though they made complete sense when the story threw me in to them.

I loved that her crop of bad guys is even more endearing and creepy than we first ran in to them. (How does she do that?)

Also, and I'm going to put this out here, Van Natta is a master at making you fall in love with her characters entirely by showing them to you through the eyes of another. She fills her characters with so much empathy and understanding of each other, as I reader I felt completely immersed in their relationships so when the bad things happened (and the did) there was a fantastic double (triple) whammy of worry for everyone.


I completely and whole heartedly recommend this series.









Monday, 24 October 2016

Review: Just a Minor Malfunction, Issue #1



***

With the second issue due out very soon, I jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on a free copy. The only catch was if I liked it, to consider purchasing the second issue here. (I have!) I've been reading more short story/novella collections lately. I love the variety of writing styles, scope of settings and shades of tone and science fiction and fantasy provides a grand realm from which to build a story.

Issue #1 is worth dipping in to. The collection is well put together and makes each story stand out as strong and unique even when combined in a single issue with many others. I prefer my science fiction leaning toward darker tales (like the dark of space, I suppose) and Just a Minor Malfunction satisfies my craving for science and tech that doesn't think like we do and twists of endings that feel like something irretrievable and floating just beyond my reach.

My favourite tale in this issue is In the Cloud by Simon Guy. Years ago (err, decades) I learned about point of view in fiction and the POV we paid the least attention to was the second person. It was dismissed as cold, clunky and bossy and the teacher didn't have any more to say about it because, as she put it, we'd never run in to an writer silly enough to make a work like that public. With In the Cloud, that teacher has very elegantly been proven wrong. This short story is written as a young man to his mother as he explores his relationship with her and his grandfather in a way I can only describe as warm, intimate and appropriately blunt as we sometimes have to be to those we love. In the Cloud also feels chilling in the closeness of the relationships when juxtaposed against the severe distance caused by the technology of the cloud.

My second favourite is A Man in the Moon by R.C. Larlham. It speaks eloquently about PTSD, isolation and the single minded struggle for relief for those who live with chronic pain.

I definitely recommend taking Issue #1 for a spin. Did I mention you can get Issue #2 here?

You should.




Monday, 17 October 2016

Review: The Invisible City by Brian K. Lowe


Tracking German soldiers through the muddy trenches of WWI France, Captain Charles Clee stumbles onto a secret archeological expedition from the far future. Discovered and trapped, he flees through their time machine and finds himself stranded nearly one million years in the future. Pursued by the merciless assassins of the Time Police, Clee faces war, slavery, and fantastic beasts in a race against time itself to reach the Invisible City. 

***

The Invisible City is the first book in Brian K. Lowe's Stolen Futures trilogy. 

Lowe uses consistent and strong first person narration to tell Captain Clee's story as he inadvertently travels years into the future. I loved the way the story reads like "classic" science fiction. Clee observes and describes the tech he comes across in a way I find believable for someone living at the time of WWI. He also laces his narration with humour and sarcasm which I found made this story truly his.

The Invisible City drives us through a roving adventure covering the land and sky a million years in the future. I enjoyed Clee's low-tech observations of the high-tech facing him. Definitely recommended for fans of SF classics and readers of SF in general. Moving on to book two, The Secret City.

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Review: 2017 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide



It's been almost 40 years since I received the best piece of advice a Dad could give his daughter though I didn't know it at the time. My Dad told me not to limit myself to the decisions he made. (I'm not sure why, but that day I wanted to be a loan manager just like him.) He said I could do whatever I wanted with my life. At the time I was disappointed and thought it to mean he didn't wan't me to be like him. Through the years, I've come to feel the meaning of his words and to live by them. I've owned a silver and blue flamed racing motorcycle, learned to program computers, written a book (then five more), sewed my own wedding dress and chosen to be a barely mediocre cook. If there are instructions, consider it done. If there aren't, it will take me a little longer.

It has taken reading the third instalment of the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide to put my finger on what I love so much about these collections.

These kids do.

They do mechanics. They do captaining starships. They do science. They also do compassion and friendship and bravery and anything else you can imagine.

And many, many of them have a parent like my own who made sure they grew up knowing that doing is a good thing.

The Young Explorer's Adventure Guide swells with limitless character, personality, charm and young explorer angst. For an adult reader, these stories encapsulate the real feelings we have inside when we're stuck being grown up. This alone makes this book a treasure for young readers.

I'm thrilled the 2017 edition meets the bar set by the first two editions. I was also very happy to see old friends from previous editions, Nia, Captain Dodger and Olivia, and get to know plenty of other young adventurers.

I continue to be a fan and recommend this book for everyone.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Review: Translucid by Zen DiPietro


What if you woke up knowing how to do your job, but not your own name? What if you had to rely on other people to tell you who you were? 

What if you thought they were wrong?

Emé Fallon is the security chief of Dragonfire Station, and does a damn good job of it. That’s where her competence ends. Outside of work, she has a wife she doesn’t know, a captain who seems to hate her, and a lot of questions that don’t add up.

Without a past, all she has is the present, and she’ll stop at nothing to ensure she has a future.

***

What if I used a word you don't often see describing SF?



What if I called Translucid 'sweet'?


I enjoyed DiPietro's approach to amnesia. In Translucid, we learn about Emé as she does so the plot develops around her discoveries. Hers in the only POV so we don't have the motives of others thrust upon her and she is free of any motivations carried over from prior to the accident which stole her memory.


Because of this, we meet the people of Dragonfire Station for the first time as Emé does. We quickly learn she is efficient, thorough and compassionate. I felt she is inherently good and she was able to remain honest to this trait as she began to fit the pieces of her life, both in her relationships and personal history, together.

I also loved DiPietro's attention to her world building and Dragonfire Station. Her descriptions are neither forced upon us nor forgotten and each little piece and large section cleanly mesh together and build on each other. She describes much of the station through the interaction of her characters with it and for me, this engagement effectively submerged me in station life.


It's also this attention to and sharing of detail that invested me in Emé and the people around her. Even the slightest mention of danger to Emé's wife had me worried and angry thinking "No, no, no, not happening to Wren."

Overall, a solid and well thought out SF. Translucid is a confident, relationship driven adventure and I'm very excited for Fragments, the follow up. Best of all, I've discovered an author I enjoy and I'm always grateful for an opportunity to be a fan.

I received my copy of Translucid from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Review: Skyjacked by Shirley Golden


Separated from his son, only a galaxy stands between him and home... The year is 2154, and Corvus Ranger, space pilot and captain of the Soliton, embarks on a penal run to Jupiter's prison moon, Europa. It should be another routine drop, but a motley band of escaped convicts have other ideas. When Soliton is hijacked, Corvus is forced to set a new destination, one which is far from Earth and his son. Unable to fight (or smooth talk) his way to freedom, Corvus finds himself tied to the plans of the escapees, including their leader Isidore and a gifted young boy who seems to possess strange abilities. Desperate to return to Earth and the son he left behind, Corvus is thrown into the ultimate adventure, a star-strewn odyssey where the greatest enemy in the universe may very well be himself. 


***


Skyjacked by Shirley Golden was exactly the read I needed. I'd finished a couple of amazing books and was stumped with what to pick up next and skipped over a ton of books before cracking open Skyjacked. I love the cover; the lone figure contrasted against the alien planet scape. The bold, one-word title fits perfectly.

This SF takes a clever assortment of characters and confines them on Soliton, Corvus' ship. Golden cleanly defines her characters, pointing out the pointy parts of their personalities, and then throws them in together. Skyjacked has constant action and fluid character dynamic as they succeed, fail or find redemption.

I really liked Isidore, Shai and Janelle. The three female leads in the story displayed confidence and strength. I felt Golden nicely setup and supported them, then let them go at it. Their decisions felt genuine and natural.

Corvus' 'lone wolf' thing made me want to elbow him at times but as I came to understand his pieces, I became protective of him though he'd never admit to needing it =)

All together a really enjoyable SF. Recommended!



Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review: Dragon of Ash & Stars by H. Leighton Dickson


“People say that a Dragon breathes Fire. That is a myth. A Dragon IS Fire and his Whole Life is the Story of his Burning - Page by Blistering Page.” 



Stormfall is a dragon born with a coat the colour of a starry night. When a violent storm strikes his island aerie, he is carried on hurricane winds into the complicated and sometimes cruel world of men. There, his journey takes him from fisher dragon to farmer, pit-fighting dragon to warrior, each step leading him closer to a remarkable destiny. But war is coming to Remus and with it, a crossroads for the Night Dragon and the young soul-boy he allows on his back. But how far is Stormfall willing to go in a war that is not his own?

*****

A brilliant, insightful and spiritual tale.

To be honest, even if I'd never heard of H. Leighton Dickson I would have bought this book for the cover alone. I also want the poster, cell phone case, stationery, queen sized bedding and a black toothbrush covered in gold stars. She is on my auto-buy list and reading her work is always an absolute pleasure.

Dragon gives a unique approach to the telling of a fantastic tale. It is the autobiography of Stormfall the black dragon told in his own words.

As an autobiography, the telling is of course slanted to show the teller in whatever light he wants to be seen. For a dragon who is every inch arrogant, proud and self-centred, giving him the opportunity to tell his own tale grants this story an impact that grows as the pages progress and the dragon portrays himself as he sees himself.

Big.

Also present in generous amounts is Dickson's ability to take advantage of humour in sharing any type of scene. Regardless of whether the moment is light or dark, one can sense her hand there not in telling the jokes but in allowing her characters the freedom to share those absurd thoughts we all have at even the most difficult of moments. Her images are both pristine and deep and each chapter is engaging.

The story itself is deeply satisfying. (Yes, she had me in tears again with wonderful and agonizing feels.) This is not a story that leaves you looking for book two. It is a complete tale I found epitomizes the idea of a standalone. I reached the end thinking "don't change a thing." I feel like I knew the dragon and will adore him for who he was, treasuring him for the way he saw himself and grateful he shared both his victories and triumphs.

Highly recommended.



Monday, 6 June 2016

Review: The Demon Girl's Song by Susan Jane Bigelow


More than anything, Andín dal Rovi wants to escape her small town life, helping her father in the store, watching her younger brother prepare to take the place at University she’d longed for.

Instead of escape, she gets a thousand-year-old demon stuck in her head, and she loses everything – her home, her family and her country.

In the quest to regain her identity, she finds herself racing against time to uncover the secrets of her world – and save it from utter annihilation.

***


I won my copy of The Demon Girl's Song in an awesome prize bundle I received when I attended the Facebook release party. I'm not sure why I chose to read it first. Perhaps the title intrigued me as it promised a binding of darkness, innocence and beauty. I was not disappointed.


The Demon Girl's Song was a lovely combination of many things. History, magic and gender expectations to name a few. Andín comes to us with her heartfelt desire taken away. She's quickly stripped of everything else she's given to take the place of her dream of university.

I really liked that Andín didn't choose to love the person she did 'because' of the demon or anything else. She loved Yshe because of the people they were.

Andín's journey, both in travel and self discovery, is touching, adventurous and empowering. For all the action, danger and fear she experiences in her travels, she's a wonderful character. She's strong, gentle and loves so much.

Bigelow has a delightful hand for crafting such a bold story. The scope of her many-countried land balances nicely with its comprehensive but not overwhelming history. Very much recommended.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Review: Argenterra by Donna Maree Hanson


Every one hundred years a woman comes to Argenterra through the Crystal Tree Woods. This time two women came… 

While on a ghost tour in Castle Crioch, Sophy and her best friend and foster sister, Aria, are sucked into the world of Argenterra, where they encounter a strange Crystal Tree. Two leaves fall from it, one of which Aria catches and the other mysteriously delves into Sophy’s chest. 

Met by Dellbright, the prince of Valley Keep, and Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, the girls learn they are expected. Aria has beauty and talent with the given, the land’s native magic. She finds a home and a husband in Prince Dellbright and is revered as the legendary Gift of Crystal Tree Woods. 
Sophy is out of place as anything made with the given makes her ill. 

Sophy accompanies Oakheart to the capital to find out why the crystal leaf is in her chest. A sinister force is tracking her—trying to snatch her away or kill her. Only Oakheart suspects her importance: she is the talisman that can cause great harm to the world of Argenterra if she falls into the wrong hands. 

*****

Argenterra is the first in Donna Maree Hanson's new series, Silverlands. It brings an alternate fantasy world which is both unforgiving in its beauty and pure in its treachery and dangers together with a solid friendship story as we follow Sophy and Aria through their combined and individual challenges with their new lives in Argenterra.

Argenterra's magic, the given, permeates everyone and everything in the land. It's used in everything from building and cooking to healing and holding the people to their oaths. I liked how the given not only weaves through the lives of the characters but through the story itself. The given has its own history, champions and enemies. The given lives through the story as a character in its own right, complete with unique relationships with other characters and a life changing challenge.

For me, characters and their fellowships (among other things) bring Argenterra to life.

I appreciated and felt how close Sophy and Aria were. It didn't matter what else was going on, I could always count on solid affection and support between the two. *Sucker for buddy stories here* There relationship was well put together and supported and left me genuinely anxious when they weren't together.

My favourite character, besides Sophy/Aria, is Oakheart (in spite of my Kindle text to speech calling him Oh-Eckhart, silly Kindle.)  As much as Dellbright came off as too good to be true (which he was), Oakheart is *that good.* For me, he is the pure hero of Argenterra.

I also liked how each castle and land was distinct and appreciated the care Hanson took hi-lighting both their faults and reasons to shine. Loved the forest people and Lillia and the screavers (scary, scary, scary.)

Hanson reveals Argenterra to us through her characters' experiences, particularly those of Sophy and Aria which I enjoyed because I felt like I experienced Argenterrra first hand through their adventure.


And I'm very grateful for the sample of book two, The Crystal Gate. Not only did it reassure and soothe my delicious worry at the end of book one, it also twisted my engagement to the story up several notches and I'm very eager to move in to book two.

You can also read my interview with Donna Maree Hanson here. I also recommend her dark fantasy Dragonwine series, Shatterwing and Skywatcher and her fun science fiction Rayessa and the Space Pirates.



Tuesday, 10 May 2016

New Release! Sabotaged Desires by Rebecca Airies





Super excited to speed the word about Rebecca Airies new release, Sabotaged Desires

Blurb:
Suz Lore thought she had everything she wanted, a job as an engineer and a position on a colony ship headed to another planet. That was before her arranged ménage marriage with Robert Smith and David Bradford turned into a disaster. She’d thought they were building more than a sizzling sexual relationship, but all they do is argue now. She isn't surprised when they're sequestered in a room in order to reignite the passion between them and learn to trust again.
Robert believes she betrayed him while David is stuck in the middle of their conflict. Getting Robert to talk about what made him angry is difficult, but they discover there's far more behind their problems than a message with misleading information. A virus has overtaken the ship's computers, put them on a different heading and cut them off from all communication. They must work together to find a way to survive and rebuild their relationship.


PG excerpt:
“Get your ass to the hatch and let us out now,” Robert yelled.
Ever the demanding Captain. Robert expected people to follow his orders immediately.  He’d behaved like an ass lately. That arrogance set her nerves on edge. His tendency to bark out commands even when on personal time made her want to rebel or strike out at him.
The argument hadn’t stayed within the confines of their quarters. Suz didn’t know how he was surprised that they’d been placed here. At the moment, his yelling was getting on her nerves.
“They won’t let us out. Not until they’re convinced our problems are solved.” She eased to the edge of the big bed. At least, she wasn’t nauseous from coming out of stasis or have a headache any longer. 
David strode to the side of the bed, sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulders. “Are you all right?”
His dark blond hair stuck up in spikes, looking delightfully mussed. She only wished she’d been the one to run her fingers through it. Concern turned the corners of his full lips down. His muscled chest was bare offering yet another lure for exploration and he wore only loose, light blue pants which most men chose to wear into the stasis pods.
“The pain has faded. I sort of expected this after our last rotation, although waking up from stasis in this room scared me and for a little while, I didn’t realize what had happened.” She relaxed against the strength of his arm for a moment. Normally, they were left in the open cryopods until they were able to walk. She’d almost panicked when she woke here. Her heart had felt as if it were going to burst through her chest.
The feel of his muscled body against hers soothed a little of the tension and worry. Between David and her, they would find a way to get through to Robert. Even though they couldn’t get out, she didn’t fool herself that this would be easy. 
“So did I. I think he’s the only one who thought things could go on as they were.” David smiled and used his free hand to brush the silver blond hair away from her face.
“They should stay out of our business.” Robert glared at her.
His dark brown eyes moved from her to David. He didn’t look mussed or even sleepy as David did, but then again, his close-cropped black hair always seemed to be in perfect order. The dark brown skin of his chest gleamed. Her eyes hungrily trailed over the expanse and down to the white shorts at his waist. Even though anger pulsed through her at his stubbornness, she hungered for his touch. Her body remembered the pleasure he’d given her.
“Our business is everyone’s concern. We’re on a colony ship. There are only married groups here. There aren’t extra women and men and our group will be the only people on the planet until more colonists are sent, which could be years. The crap you’ve been doing can’t continue.” David straightened a little and his eyes locked on Robert.
Bio:
A voracious reader since childhood, Rebecca Airies has always enjoyed getting lost in the fantastic worlds of science fiction, horror, fantasy and romance. When she began to write her own stories, they always had a romantic edge.
Rebecca currently lives in Texas and writes with the help of a couple feline critics. She’s a multi-published author whose muse loves fantasy, sci-fi and the paranormal, as well as strong heroines who are sometimes as stubborn as their heroes. She loves to here from her readers. Email her at contactme@rebeccaairies.net.

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