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A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

This sounded unusual, and that’s good in a market saturated with so many fantasy reads that are almost copies…so I dived in.
The magic here is different, very different to the usual, and I liked that, it was good to read a protagonist that wasn’t instantly transformed into someone more skilled than others hundreds of years older. Magic here – for humans at least – relies on skill, practice, accuracy- and intention. I really felt that part was one of the things that sets this novel above so many others.

I liked Elizabeth, and understood her grief for her father even though he’d been trying to end his life for some time. Her curiosity – that would be me, I couldn’t leave such interesting papers and items alone either….The grief provides a convenient excuse for her not being at work too, which gives her time to sort out this mess she’s inadvertently involved in. I didn’t see the point of the boyfriend, Faisal, he’s away for most of the novel and doesn’t add anything. Their relationship doesn’t feel like a very solid one, there’s no real pull between them, they feel more like flatmates than lovers.

I did get a little confused by all the different magical creatures, and I’m still not entirely sure what/where the Gravelings come from. That kind of brings up the weakness in the story for me, I have several unanswered questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of some incidents, felt others were too slickly glossed over. Max seems almost manic at times, yet terrified of his masters – why? What was the significance of the train, other than to begin events? The solutions occasionally seemed a bit slick, though the end result, the big problem, worked excellently for me. Complex enough to make me think, yet with a logic that I could understand.

Overall this was a fun read, and the issues I had could easily be put down to first in series syndrome. Those books have a tough ask, delivering a story interesting enough to hook the reader, but a world wide enough to carry future books. I think its successful here, I’d certainly like to read more.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun fantasy, but with some darker edges. Holds promise for an interesting series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves

A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves

A Portrait in Ash and Lace: The Casket Girl Chronicles: Book 4 by [Sofia Aves]

Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

1) I spent ages looking for casket girls 1-3….Thought I was losing it 😉 but this is a series with each book written by a different author. Found that out from anther reviewer!
That’s why i couldn’t find casket girls 1-3…..i never though to look under different authors!
I felt the story had so much potential but it never quite got there. It is very short, another thing I hadn’t realised, shorts rarely work for me. I felt that everything became squashed into far too quickly over events, whereas the potential for making a longer read was there. Was there is worked well, if a little disjointed at times, confusing at others and that’s where more space would have helped, let the story come out fully instead of being pushed into brief, not always clear, sections.
The ending is very abrupt, in fact for me it doesn’t feel complete. I haven’t read this author before, but I would happily read more if the story was longer.

Stars: Three, its a bit muddled at times, and would benefit from extra length IMO as it has the potential to carry more.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Wild Signs, Patricia Briggs

yay, just been approved for the latest Patricia Briggs egalley Wild Signs 🙂 I’m easily pleased.

Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel: Book 6 (Alpha & Omega 6) by [Patricia Briggs]

Its been weird this last year, I find it really hard settling to anything, where I can ususally lose myslef for hours in a book, my mind is restless, thinking about what weird times we live in, how live has changed so very much in such a short span. So I’ve done a lot of rereading old favourites where my mind doesn’t have to work so hard as I know the story. I’m on the last book in my rereading of PB’s other series ( Mercy Thompson – I’m still in love with Adam though I have a soft spot for Ben, and Sherwood is fast growing on me too) for the Nth time… maybe a time to reread this series.


Yesterday I read Spinning Silver Naomi Novak but….I didn’t really enjoy it even though I stayed up way too late to finish, I hate when that happens. It was one of those where i had to see what happened, and how they got there.
Spinning Silver by [Naomi Novik]
I loved Uprooted, her first book, so was disappointed not to enjoy this.
Uprooted by [Naomi Novik]

Soul Reckoning, Nancy E. Polin

Soul Reckoning, Nancy E. Polin

Soul Reckoning by [Polin, Nancy E. ]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I really enjoyed Nancy’s collaborative novel After the curtain call, so when she asked if I’d like to review this new book I was keen to read it. Its a very different style, different genre, but the romance is the same tender, realistic type, and the characters feel very genuine.
I’ve a weakness for PNR, and for books set in new Orleans, its a perfect setting for the voodoo/houdou type read. With this book I could mentally visualise the characters and settings, and felt very much a part of the story. that’s important to me, I want to feel the danger, the surprise, the closeness of a relationship, not just watch it unfold, but really believe in it.

I loved Rowan, she’s a kind and generous soul, and the inheritance comes just at the time when she needs a fresh start. She soon finds out she’s inherited much more than just the tavern though, that it comes at a cost, and there’s no escape.

There are some great characters in her new life though, and they rally round to help where they can. Luke is one of them. He worked for her uncle, and lives – in the storeroom, sharing washing facilities with Rowen’s apartment!
They don’t hit it off at first sight, Luke is very antagonistic to her. Slowly they get to know each other though, and she discovers his prickly outlook is his way of protecting himself from his past tragedy.
Without either of them realising how, they’ve gone from surly comments to becoming lovers, and Luke fears for Rowan. He knows just how eerie New Orleans can be, how the things that go jump in the night aren’t always human, and certainly don’t play by human rules. The closer he gets to her the more he can see the danger and its coming to a head.

I loved the way this developed slowly, not just rammed in with an insta-lust relationship, and life threatening dangers from second chapter. Sometimes there’s far more to be gained from stories like this that are paced carefully, let plots develop and the reader work out whats happening, with having to be spoon fed it because there’s been no time to lay clues. That’s the best story for me, whatever the genre, one that flows at its own pace, lets me try to work out what is happening and puzzle over a resolution – not that I ever succeed. That’s why I’m a reader and not a writer.
Stars: 5. a fun, standalone paranormal romance, with the spooky voodoo spirits typical of stories in this setting.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Dark Interest ,(The Dark Choir 4), Book FOUR of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Dark Interest ,(The Dark Choir 4), Book FOUR of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Dark Interest (The Dark Choir Book 4) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:general fiction (adult), sci-fy and fantasy

I’ve been with this since book one, and TBH its such a complex series you need to do that. It’s full of difficult characters, real world and Old World, and demons of course, charms, hexes, curses, murders, mayhem and magic and without knowing the backstory you’ll get lost. I do know the events that have passed and yet at times I’m lost ;-), but always manage to work it out somehow.  It’s a sereis outside my comfort zone, that I fell into by accident but that I’ve come to love.

What I love is that the author mixes up fiction with Fact, with magics that had a real following at one time – probably still do in certain circles. So each time I see an unusual word I think – aha, this time he’s made this up – and then check and find its some ancient language, or shade of magic, or a weapon that’s used for certain purposes or something like that. I’ve learned so much about magic since starting this, that its not a one-size-fits-all, but that in the past (and present) it took many different shapes, evolved through some very different practices.
And I’m talking as if it’s all real, but reading this it feels real. There are some well respected people in the world who still believe in these practices, and then I think – how come, all over the world each different group through the ages had had the same belief, but taken different routes to it? Or maybe its just human need to believe in something greater than us, something beyond this world..
It’s not really a big stretch considering billions believe in a book written centuries ago, believe in a God who’s really only a word of mouth figure.We don’t have empirical proof, we  can’t Know for certain he exists, that Heaven is real, but yet billions believe it.

Well, I guess that’s why I enjoy these books, they’re complex and yet readable, they have a solid story-line, some very real characters, both pleasant and horribly dangerous, those who just want to live and love their families and get on with life, and those hungry for power, magical, political, they don’t care. In the middle is Dorian.

I’ve always felt he’s on the side of good, not a particular do-gooder, but someone with his own morals and beliefs that he lives by, who tries to do the Right thing, not just the easy thing.
Along the way he’s had so many issues, starting with his lost soul, and its taken him on a very strange and complex journey.
He’s always worked alone, had his few good friends, been respected and never sought Power for its own sake, and yet he’s become embroiled in some dodgy and dark magical practices, got involved in politics against his wishes, gets pulled into different groups and is still searching for his soul.

Its another deep and dark, and at times complex read. Dorian is tempted hard in this story, confused, trying in his usual way to protect humanity and his friends, but all the while his soul is missing and he’s struggling to get it back.
I love that his magic isn’t a wave of a hand and a few muttered words, quick fix solution, but takes work, real work, if he wants to avoid the Dark side, the world of sacrifices. Yet his new lady, Annarose does just that, and how is he to mix her and how he feels about her, with his morals and how he feels about that?
Is the Utilitarian excuse, for the Greater Good, sacrifice one for many really a good reason, or a cop out?

Its a novel full of danger for Dorian, more than we’ve seen so far, and he’s had some tight escapes. Once more he’s in the centre of some dark forces but who or what is pushing them?
It takes time before he can see the bigger picture and he makes some very dangerous enemies along the way. And that ending….I hate it when that happens 😉

Stars: five, classic Dorian, anther rivetting adventure and complicated read. A real change from so much Light and Twee Magic reads.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Then She Was Born: Born to be different, surviving to make a difference , Cristiano Gentili

Then She Was Born: Born to be different, surviving to make a difference by [Gentili, Cristiano]

Click image for UK link, click here for US link

I haven’t yet read this book, but its part of KU and on my kindle now.

The author is the founder of #HelpAfricanAlbinos . His new novel is “Then She Was Born” which also forms part of an international human rights campaign, which has been endorsed by Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and eleven Nobel Peace laureates who lent their voices and who each read aloud a different sentence of the novel, recording a video message and being pictured alongside the official hashtag #HelpAfricanAlbinos.

“The She Was Born” is an independently published work of fiction that meets the same standards as books published by mainstream publishers. This suspenseful novel is a true page-turner and hopefully will grab you by both arms and won’t let go until you’re winded, exhausted, and begging for a conclusion.

A child is born and the joy of her parents turns to horror. The child is different, in a way that will bring bad luck to their superstitious community. The tradition should be for her to be abandoned, but Nkamba, the grandmother, is allowed to care for her.
Naming her Adimu, Nkamba raises her as her own. Adimu is constantly marginalized and shunned by the community, although her spirit remains undiminished and full of faith. But when she encounters the wealthy British mine owner Charles Fielding and his wife Sarah, it is the beginning of something which will test them all.
As Charles Fielding’s fortunes wane, he turns in desperation to a witch doctor whose suggestion leaves him horrified. But as events begin to spiral out of control he succumbs to the suggestions and a group of men are sent on a terrible mission. The final acts, of one man driven by greed and another by power, will have a devastating effect on many lives.

Once Bitten Twice Shy, Jennifer Rardin


amazon UK buy link

I’ve been re reading a few favourite novels and come back to this series, which I bought a few months after I first had my kindle. Its an eight book series with a few shorts ( I haven’t read them) about Jaz and Vayl.  at the time only books 1-5 were on kindle so I bought the last three as paperbacks, and now of course I can’t read print any more so I’ve just got them for my kindle. I’m on to book tow, and the magic I felt when I first read it is still there.

Loosely its about Jaz, who’s in her late 20’s and Vayl, a vamp who’s the CIA’s top assassin and a 291 yr old Vampire. Along the way of their latest assignment they collect into the group Bergman, a geek genius who invents some incredible tech stuff, Cole – who’s also a Sensitive like Jaz, and was a PI til his business blew up – literally – after getting involved with the duo, and Cassandra , a 1,000 yr old Seer. Each book builds on whats happened in earlier ones, with common threads running through and its full of details and plots that grow ever more complex. For the first book Jaz and Vayl are on a simple mission, but quickly discover their target is involved in something that has huge implications for the world and they need to know what is going on and how they can stop it. That brings in the other three and sets up the crew for the rest of the stories.

As well as Vampires, Seers and humans with extra abilities there are Demons in this series, and the adventures are carefully plotted and Jennifer does that thing I call Story Seeding, where some throwaway remark or tiny incident builds up until suddenly I realize its become a major part of the book. I like to try to pick out these seeds, and even though I read the books some time back I’d forgotten just how well she did it. Although there are vampires, its not one of those Alpha vamps and instant attraction stories, its clear both Jaz and Vayl are attracted but that’s a really minor part of the series and develops really slowly over the books.

Sadly Jennifer died after writing this series, at only 45, so sad for her family and friends, and for us readers to lose such a talented writer. 😦

Stripped with the Vampire, Jax Garren


Stripped with the Vampire, Jax Garren
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre:  Romance, LBQTIA
I thought this sounded a fun read, and is was. It’s first in a new series, something that’s tough for a book. It needs to introduce characters and places, while delivering an interesting storyline and SwtV does all that. Why isn’t it five star from me then?
Well, though its got great potential I felt some of the actions bordered on overkill, and there were lots of characters and types to get used to. The Teen Queen reminded me of Jane from the Twilight series and the evil vamp with magic in one of the early Laurell K Hamilton Anita Blake books. In the same way the sheer numbers of cultures and types of characters were also reminiscent of the LKH books, though thankfully Jax hasn’t gone the sex with everything and anyone of those stories that so spoiled the later ones! There are those with Viking heritage here, Aztec Gods, and were-rats and jaguars as well as two different types of vampires, some with and some without magic, and of course a couple of witches….it makes for an interesting mix but did mean that at times I felt the plot became overly convoluted, and yet at others the solutions to what had been created were too simplistic. I had visions of Rhiannon holding a teacup full of some potion and flicking the hundreds of vampires with something like a pastry brush….after all the dangers and drama that seemed just plain wrong….
The characters were a mix. Vince is exuberant, flamboyant and exhibitionist, and the sort of character I don’t usually like but his enthusiasm, loyalty, the way he’d put himself in danger when he thought it was needed, and of course his love for Charlie made him a person I really enjoyed and wanted to be happy.  Charlie – well he irritated me a lot of the time. I could see why he’d drawn back – didn’t agree and thought he was OTT but that’s the way it went, but then even when he learns more he’s still judgemental and couldn’t seem to see Vince POV. His timidity too annoyed me, the way he let others be outright rude to him, but I guess being Gay back when it was risking your life leaves one with that outlook and fear.He did get stronger towards the end though, and I began to see more qualities in him that attracted Vince.  Emma – the constant baby bat reference and her endless inanities were irritating – maybe she’s got some saving grace somewhere but I didn’t see it  Cash was a real star, enthusiastic, loyal, ready to give his life for his Queen and his friends, and yet as Rhiannon says  he’s not got a lot up top… He really is a point and shoot missile and that made me smile.
Its a fun read, I wasn’t sure at first but slowly I got hooked into the story and pulled into the drama. I felt some of the battles were drawn out and complex compared to the solutions – its that pastry brush image again – but overall its a fun read and opens up a world that I feel could be a five star series.
Stars: Four, a fun read and a great start to the series.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Psychic Storm, C.J. Ellisson , Deanna Chase , Dale Mayer , Heather Topham Wood, Hazel Hunter , Jesi Lea Ryan, J.C. Andrijeski , April Aasheim , Morgan Hannah MacDonald, Jordan Castillo Price

Psychic Storm,  C.J. Ellisson , Deanna Chase , Dale Mayer , Heather Topham Wood, Hazel Hunter , Jesi Lea Ryan, J.C. Andrijeski , April Aasheim  , Morgan Hannah MacDonald, Jordan Castillo Price
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Thriller, Suspense Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy

Wow – these multi author bundles are a great way to try out new authors at a bargain price, over 2,000 pages in this one. Of course this one was a must for me as its got a new Allie’s War story, featuring the great Revik, that man is just so….well…anything that has more of him is a must read for me. I love the AW series, and the relationship between Allie and Revik is sensual and incredibly complicated. Here we see him while she’s still living and thinking she’s human and Revik is guarding her, watching over her unseen and slowly falling in love though he was determined not to like her. Her birth heralded his former relationship ending, as he and his lover were needed for different duties. He resented her birth, and yet having watched her from afar since she was seven he’s slowly become to love her. Its a tough job though, and as his attachment has become more personal its harder to keep to the policy of non intervention. The Seer Council want her to grow up feeling empathy with humans, and there’s one horrific incident where their orders conflict with what Revik wants to do, and thus starts a long and complex period for both of them. Its a fascinating world and yet though its futuristic it feels so real. Here I was thinking about this non intervention policy and wondering  how far can you simply observe and let things go?  That’s where Revik and the Council are different – they’re looking at Allie as a subject and thinking of the end result, the overall good, while Revik is seeing her as a person, who can be hurt both mentally and physically. What happened had such huge repercussions for him – that man has been through so much in his life already I really felt for him, and the conversation at the end with the lady at the uni function – ( Miranda?) comparing him to the Revik she met a few months previously shows just how much it had affected him. A great read and though JC classes these as Novellas they’re longer than many supposed full length stories. Great for those like me who want a story to get totally lost and engrossed in.

Of the other novels I’ve read  Dale Mayer’s Tuesday’s Child, a long while back when it was first out, and now see there’s many more so they’ll go on my wish list, plus of course the fabulous  Deanna Chase’s Haunted on Bourbon Street, same thing, read it back when it was first out, and it’s on my list to read the rest when time allows. I read the Ellison book but that one wasn’t for me sadly – that’s how it goes, and that’s what’s so good about the chance to try different authors and styles in bundles like this. I’d have been interested in the Castillo Price book if it was longer, but at under 100 pages its not for me, and the same for the Hunter novel. I’ve bought book one of Heather Topham Woods novel – its currently free and book two is on here so that’s a great start, and am intrigued by the Jesi Lee Ryan book, but think at 40,000 words that’s probably too short for me. I’m definitely intrigued by the Morgan Hannah Macdonald book too – its so great to see new ( to me) authors, where if I find I like their style there’s lots of new books for me to read. Time – that’s the biggest stumbling block  so many books, so little time. I’d just got my TBR list down to manageable proportions and now its way back up again!!

Stars: Five, its a great bundle for anyone who loves fantasy/paranormal and a way to try out new authors at bargain price.
ARC supplied by authors.

PSYCHIC STORM Preorder and Free ALLIE’S WAR: SEASON ONE til Jan 17

So as you know I love the allie’s War novels, and in fact I’m currently re reading my way through them. I’m finding now I know the story I understand so much better what’s happening, and I’ve got my mind around the seer differences and the different groups involved. Its a fascinating, complex series, and if you love fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural reads that are looong ( each novel is around 4-600 pages and even the “novellas” are the length of most full books) you’ll love these,  and of course they’re an excellent price. Anyway, until Jan 17th books one and two are free, just click image to be taken to amazon page.

Allie's War Season One: Books 1-2

Also out soon is another bargain bundle including a new Allie’s War novella,LONDON: ALLIE’S WAR EARLY YEARS, which isn’t yet avaialble elsewhere… I’ve read several of these already, and they’re a great way to try out authors new to you to see if you like their writing style and want to continue with a series. Money’s tight for everyone so these bundles really are excellent value for money at only 99p/99c. Again just click on link for amazon page

Psychic Storm: Ten Dangerously Sexy Tales of Psychic Witches, Vampires, Mediums, Empaths and Seers

I’ve read  HEATHER TOPHAM WOOD –– NEW REVELATIONS  from the bundle, an author new to me . This is book two in the series and book one is currently free so thats a great start. I enjoyed these two and want to continue with the series. I read DALE MAYER –– TUESDAYS CHILD some time ago and recall enjoying that – its on my reread list now there’s more of the series out. I love to read series back to back to really get into them so when there’s seven books ( as there is here) it’s a real treat for me. JESI LEA RYAN –– JUST A LITTLE NUDGE is one on my TBR list, as it sounds good, DEANNA CHASE –– HAUNTED ON BOURBON STREET is one I also read and enjoyed when it was first out and there’s now many more – also on my TBR list. ( I love her Crescent City series too) Of course this is my favourite – lots of lovely Revik ( swoon) JC ANDRIJESKI –– LONDON and we get to see just how long he’s been watching over Allie, and how he feels about her. It’s yet another side to a complicated character. APRIL AASHEIM –– ARMAND , JORDAN CASTILLO PRICE –– AMONG THE LIVING and HAZEL HUNTER –– TOUCHED    TBR

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