The Qwillery | category: 5 Qwills


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Early Review - Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 Qwills

Full Blooded
AuthorAmanda Carlson
Series:  Jessica McClain
Publisher: Orbit, September 11, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price: $12.99 (print)
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9780316205207 (print)
Review Copy:  ARC provided by publisher

Early Review - Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 Qwills
After living in hiding for the last twenty-six years, Jessica wakes up to find she's become a full-blooded werewolf -- claws, fangs, fur, everything. It was never supposed to happen: female werewolves don't exist.

When a mercenary killer comes looking for her, her Pack finds themselves caught in the middle of a war. They must rise up to protect her, but no one knows if she's means the end of their race-or just a new beginning.

My Thoughts:

Full Blooded is the first novel in the Jessica McClain series. It was preceded by Blooded, an eNovella, that was published in April.

Jessica is the only female born into an all male race. This leads to problems based on superstitions held by some of the werewolves. Being human and female has not been easy. In the novella, Blooded, we get a glimpse of the difficult life that Jessica has been leading and she finally gets to leave and live away from her father's Pack. Full Blooded picks up her story several years later.

So what did I like about Full Blooded, Amanda Carlson's debut novel? Everything!

I love Jessica McClain. She is terrific. She's trying to live her own life, under the radar. Then she becomes the only female werewolf in the world. To say that things get very intense for her and those around her would be an amazing understatement. She's tough, smart and not perfect. Being a human for so long makes her different. Having grown up with the Pack but not part of the Pack she has some idea what to expect as a werewolf. But being is different than watching. She has a lot to learn. This becomes complicated by events rapidly unfolding because she's become a werewolf. 

The supporting cast is very well done. The distinct personalities of her brother, father and others in the Pack are well developed. In Full Blooded we meet more of the not so good guys. They are suitably creepy and I enjoyed disliking them very much.

Is there romance in Full Blooded? Sort of. I can say the Jessica has some fine men to choose from! You'll have to read the novel to find out. 

Full Blooded is fast-paced and action-packed with world building that flows organically with the story. At no time did I find the story bogged down with information - mythological or otherwise. At no time did I feel lost. Full Blooded ends with several unresolved issues that I'm really looking forward to reading more about in Hot Blooded (April 2013).

Bottom LineFull Blooded is a terrifically written thrill ride that I did not want to get off. Jessica McClain has become one of my favorite Urban Fantasy heroines. I'm hooked.

I give Full Blooded 5 Qwills.

Early Review - Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 Qwills

Read my review of Blooded here.

Read my interview with Amanda Carlson here.

Release Day Review - Yesterday's Hero - 5 Qwills

Yesterday's Hero
AuthorJonathan Wood
Series:  Arthur Wallace / No Hero
Format:  eBook, 394 pages
Price:  $3.99 
Genre:  Urban Fantasy 
Review Copy: Provided by the author

Release Day Review - Yesterday's Hero - 5 Qwills
Another day. Another zombie T-Rex to put down. All part of the routine for Arthur Wallace and MI37—the government department devoted to defending Britain from threats magical, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and generally odd. Except a zombie T-Rex is only the first of the problems about to trample, slavering and roaring, through Arthur's life. Before he can say, “but didn't I save the world yesterday?” a new co-director at MI37 is threatening his job, middle-aged Russian cyborg wizards are threatening his life, and his coworkers are threatening his sanity.

As Arthur struggles to unravel a plot to re-enact the Chernobyl disaster in England's capital, he must not only battle foreign occult science but also struggle to keep the trust of his team. Events spiral out of control, friendships fray, and loyalties are tested to their breaking point.

My thoughts:

I'm going to say this right up front: Yesterday's Hero is one of my favorite books of 2012. Why? Read on.

In the second book featuring Arthur Wallace, former Oxford (England) detective and now MI37 agent, Jonathan Wood has written a fantastical story complete with evil Russian wizards, a save the world scenario, a scintillating and fast-paced plot, and most important, characters that I care about deeply. Jonathan Wood made me cry... more than once. And I can't tell you why. Let's just say I became so heavily invested in the characters that I really felt for them.  I knew them from the first novel, No Hero, and got to know and understand them even more in Yesterday's Hero.

The staff of MI37 is a collection of highly quirky individuals, each very well-written. Even the secondary characters from the first novel feel like old friends in Yesterday's Hero. In addition, a new set of characters fighting against the bad guys alongside of, but not with, the MI37 agents is introduced. Each of these characters is fascinating. Finally on the supposed good guy side there is one character in Yesterday's Hero that I absolutely despised, loathed and hated. He was brilliantly written, thoroughly awful and I was hoping he'd met a grisly death. You'll have to read the novel to see what happens to him.

While Yesterday's Hero is chock full of action, there are moments when it is contemplative as well (sometimes in the midst of a lot of action). The story is told from Arthur's perspective so we are carried along on his train of thought throughout. Arthur is an unlikely hero, bumbling along at times, but always trying to do the right thing. Relying on his detective skills is never more important than in Yesterday's Hero.

The story itself is engrossing and nail-bitingly tense at times. However, it's not all gloom, doom and destruction. There are moments of humor throughout. Yesterday's Hero moves at a steady clip as Arthur tries to save the world... again.

Bottom LineYesterday's Hero is a beautifully written fast-paced Urban Fantasy with an engrossing story and characters you'll love to love and even love to hate.

I give Yesterday's Hero 5 Qwills

Release Day Review - Yesterday's Hero - 5 Qwills

While you don't have to read No Hero to enjoy Yesterday's Hero, you should read it anyway. You may also read my 4 1/2 Qwill review of No Hero by clicking here.

No Hero
Arthur Wallace / No Hero 1
Night Shade Books, July 1, 2011

Release Day Review - Yesterday's Hero - 5 Qwills
Night Shade books is proud to present the debut novel from Jonathan Wood, NO HERO.

"What would Kurt Russell do?"

Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He's a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals.

But then, secretive government agency MI37 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO.

Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?

You can get both No Hero and Yesterday's Hero free at by clicking HERE. The novels are free for 1 week. You can also purchase both novels at Amazon (No Hero and Yesterday's Hero*) and Barnes & Noble (No Hero; Yesterday's Hero).

*No link yet!

Review - Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 Qwills

Author:  Amanda Carlson
Series:  Jessica McClain
Format:  eNovella, ~61 pages
Publisher:  Orbit (April 11, 2012)
Price:  $2.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9780316225090
Review Copy: Provided by publisher

Review - Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 Qwills
Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is-she's no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can-in the ring.

When she's brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer . . .

My thoughts:

Blooded weighs in at 48 pages on my Nook and includes a preview of Full Blooded. It's full of action, tension, and big bad (were)wolves.

I completely enjoyed reading this ePrequel to the upcoming Full Blooded. There are a couple of very intense fight scenes in the novella interspersed with conversations that give the background for what has happened and is happening that has made Jessica want to leave her father's pack. Being considered a curse has not been easy on her. It's becoming more and more dangerous for Jessica to stay.

Jessica McClain is tough, determined.and defiant. She can throw physical as well as verbal punches. In the novella Jessica takes a big risk in an attempt to make things a bit better for herself until she can convince her father to let her leave.

Ms. Carlson's writing and story telling are wonderful in this fast-paced novella. This little taste of Jessica McClain's story has whetted my appetite for the main course, Full Blooded, in September.

I give Blooded 5 Qwills.

Review - Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 Qwills

Release Day Review - Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin - 5 Qwills

Sins of the Son
AuthorLinda Poitevin
Series:  The Grigori Legacy
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher:  Ace (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language: English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Review Copy: Novel provided by publisher

Release Day Review - Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin - 5 Qwills
A detective with a secret...

When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis sees a photo of Seth Benjamin on a police bulletin, she knows that Heaven's plan to halt Armageddon has gone terribly wrong. As the only mortal who knows of Seth's true nature, she's also the only one who can save him.

An exiled angel turned assassin...

Aramael was a hunter of Fallen Angels until a traitor forced him into earthly exile. Now, with no powers and only a faint memory of Alex, his mortal soulmate, he will stop at nothing to redeem himself--even if it means destroying Seth in the name of the Creator.

A world with little chance of redemption...

As Alex's need to protect Seth sets her on a collision course with the determined Aramael, the conflict between them may push the world over the edge--and into the very chaos they're trying to prevent.

My thoughts:

[Note: This may be a bit spoilery for the first novel in the series. I tired my best not to spoil too much.]

Sins of the Son is the second book in The Grigori Legacy series. Like the first book, Sins of the Angels, the story takes place mainly in Canada and Heaven with most of the action taking place this time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada rather than Toronto.

Sins of the Son focuses on Seth Benjamin, Aramael, and Alexandra Jarvis. Alex is on desk duty due to the fallout from the events in the prior book. She's required to see a psychiatrist by the police department, but if she reveals what really happened (a murderous Fallen Angel, an angelic Power to hunt him down, and Seth's powers) she'd be locked in a psychiatric ward. Alex's boss is sympathetic to her since he saw some things that he can't explain. When a police bulletin is sent around which shows Seth Benjamin, Alex goes to look into it... off the clock. While this is happening Aramael is suffering at the hands of the Fallen who attack him at every chance they get now that he's been banished from heaven for his actions in Sins of the Angels.

Alex travels to Vancouver to help Seth, who has lost his memory and is unidentified. She encounters Dr. Elizabeth Riley and Detective Hugh Henderson, of the Vancouver police department. Both are suspicious about how and how well Alex knows Seth. Alex sets out to help Seth and runs into all sorts of problems including her soulmate Aramael who is sent to kill him. Alex gets dragged again into the maneuvering between Heaven and Hell while trying to protect Seth and help him regain his memory. Seth is a bit of a loose cannon and and Hell seeks to use this to its advantage. Lucifer is up to no good and is trying to create an army to help him in the coming war.

In her sophomore novel, Ms. Poitevin ups the ante and produces a taut and beautifully written book filled with remarkable characters. While we've met the main characters before, several new secondary characters are introduced. The interactions between Aramael and Alex are fraught with tension and not only because they are at odds over Seth. We get to see a lot of Lucifer in Sins of the Son. He is a complex character. It would have been easy to draw him as pure evil and one dimensional, but he's more than that. We get to see some of his motivations. This isn't to say that Lucifer is a good guy. He's not. He's attempting to build a new army of Nephilim to aid him in what he believes is the inevitable war against mankind and Heaven. Despite this you can see some of what made him special to the Creator. The secondary characters, especially Dr. Riley (who is singularly unpleasant) and Detective Henderson were given depth. While many of the characters in Sins of the Son are seemingly motivated by love, this is not a romance.

Ms. Poitevin further builds her Heaven/Hell mythology in Sins of the Son. I find this mythology fascinating and extremely well done. Sins of the Son was emotionally gripping with excellent pacing as the novel builds to the explosive and unexpected conclusion. I can't wait to see what happens next in The Grigori Legacy series.

I give Sins of the Son 5 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin - 5 Qwills

While not entirely necessary, I recommend that you read the first book in the series, Sins of the Angels, prior to reading Sins of the Son. You may read my review of Sins of the Angels here.

Release Day Review - Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin - 5 Qwills
A detective with a secret lineage. An undercover Hunter with a bullet-proof soul. And a world made to pay for the sins of an angel…

Homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis answers to no one. Especially not to the new partner assigned to her in the middle of a gruesome serial killer case—a partner who is obstructive, irritatingly magnetic, and arrogant as hell.

Aramael is a Power—a hunter of the Fallen Angels. A millennium ago, he sentenced his own brother to eternal exile for crimes against humanity. Now his brother is back and wreaking murderous havoc in the mortal realm. To find him, Aramael must play second to a human police officer who wants nothing to do with him and whose very bloodline threatens both his mission and his soul.

Now, faced with a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse, Alex and Aramael have no choice but to join forces, because only together can they stop the end of days.

Release Day Review - Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson - 5 Qwills

Wicked As They Come
Author:  Delilah S. Dawson
Series:  Blud
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Pocket Books (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy / Paranormal Romance / Steampunk
ISBN:  9781451657883
Review Copy: ARC provided by publisher

Release Day Review - Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson - 5 Qwills

Have you ever heard of a Bludman? They’re rather like you and me—only more fabulous, immortal, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.)

Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly tempting debut drops her unsuspecting heroine into a strange faraway land for a romantic adventure that’s part paranormal, part steampunk . . . and completely irresistible.

When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?

My thoughts:

I think I'm going to gush a bit about Wicked as They Come. It's a wonderful story. Ms. Dawson has created a superb Victorian-esque parallel world, Sangland, filled with steam machines, strange creatures, magic, and Bludmen.

Criminy Stain and Tish Everett are the main characters in Wicked as They Come. I adore both of them. Criminy is dangerous, seductive, magical, and vulnerable at least where Tish is concerned. Tish is trying to recover from a bad relationship and is not really interested in being swept off her feet by Criminy. She wants her independence. She wants to figure out who she is before committing again to someone. This is not simply a story of girl meets Bludman and lives happily ever after. This is a fantastic adventure not only about Tish and Criminy seeking the stolen locket, but about Tish finding herself. It's also a story that deals with how the Bludmen are treated and what one man, the Magistrate, will do against them.

The majority of the novel is set in Sangland. Ms. Dawson has created a parallel world that is much like ours, but wildly different. I loved the animals that inhabit Sangland - similar to our animals but so dangerous. Criminy's traveling circus is amazing. We spend enough time there to get to know the members of the circus who are all interesting in their own rights.There are incredible clockwork contraptions in Sangland. While Bludman share some similarities to vampires, they are not the same. I enjoyed seeing a new take on 'vampires' in Wicked As They Come.

Ms. Dawson's writing is very self-assured. Wicked as They Come is a debut that does not read like one. The characters (primary and secondary) are well-developed, the world setting is extremely well done, the story itself is terrific. Other than a little slow pacing at the beginning the novel moves at a steady clip to the very satisfying ending.

Wicked as They Come is fantastical, intriguing, mysterious, and fun! Since I've run out of superlatives, I will simply say that I loved Wicked as They Come and the Blud series is now an automatic buy.

I give Wicked as They Come 5 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson - 5 Qwills

You may read Delilah S. Dawson's Guest Blog - Want a Wicked Vacation? Try a Parallel Universe! - here.

I liked Wicked as They Come so much I'm giving one copy away!

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of Wicked as They Come (Blud 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What have you read recently that you loved? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Review - Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig- 5 Qwills

Dinocalypse Now
AuthorChuck Wendig
PublisherEvil Hat Productions
Format: eBook, 229 pages
Review Copy: eARC provided by Publisher

Review - Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig- 5 Qwills

When the Century Club is called in to prevent the assassination of FDR, it's just another day on the job  but what they discover puts not just the President, but the entire world in jeopardy. With psychic dinosaurs taking over Manhattan and beyond, it's up to Sally Slick, Jet Black, Mack Silver, and the other Centurions to save humanity — from extinction!

Dinocalypse Now is the first in what will hopefully be a trilogy penned by Chuck Wendig as Evil Hat Productions branches out into fiction.  You may get Dinocalypse Now at Kickstarter:
For our starting point, we’re diving into the wild and wooly world of our in-house 1930s-era pulp adventure setting called Spirit of the Century. In that world, you’ll find flying jet-men, talking apes, and ancient Atlantean technology, along with two swinging fists, mad science, and some snappy patter (not to mention Sally Slick, a Rosie the Riveter type gal who’s aces at inventing new gadgetry). We’re excited to begin!

My thoughts:

I am thoroughly enchanted by Christian N. St. Pierre's cover - Pterodactyls! Sally Slick flying with Jet Black! Mack Silver flying above! The Statue of Liberty and Manhattan in the background! Wow!  But what about the story, you ask? Oh, the story is fantastic and lives up to the promise of the cover. Chuck Wendig knows how to wield a pen, much as Sally Slick knows how to wield her wrench. They both do it exceptionally well.

Dinocalypse Now is set in the world of the Spirit of the Century Role Playing Game (RPG). I was unaware of the RPG's world prior to reading Dinocalypse Now and it is certainly not a prerequisite to enjoying the story.

Dinocalypse Now features some of the Centurions who are members of the Century Club. They are heroes who fight the good fight with grit and determination to protect the world from doers of evil. The Centurions fear an attempt on F.D.R.'s life and are protecting him as he gives a speech in New York City, but an evil plan is afoot. Is it FDR or the Centurions themselves who are at risk? Can the Centurions save the world?

In addition to the Centurions, Dinocalypse Now features sentient gorillas, psychic Saurians, Atlantean artifacts, magic, an evil villain, and some amazing technology. Mr. Wendig's writing is exceptional. I could easily envision the scenes unfolding before me. The characters are very well done. I cared about each of the Centurions with their very clearly delineated personalities and skills. I am especially fond of Professor Khan an academic who helps the Centurions and yearns to be truly one of them.

The pacing is extremely fast partially because the chapters are short and the story jumps from place to place as it rushes toward the cliffhanger of an ending. Oh yes, there's a cliffhanger, but don't let this deter you. This is a great read. It's fun, fascinating, and filled with action.

Dinocalypse Now is wildly imaginative and beautifully written adrenalin-fueled pulp. I can not wait for the next book.

I give Dinocalypse Now 5 Qwills.

Review - Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig- 5 Qwills

Release Day Review - The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose - 5 Qwills

The Book of Lost Fragrances
Author:  M.J. Rose
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher:  Atria Books  (March 13, 2012)
Price:  $24.00
Language:  English
Genre:  Suspense/Time Travel/Romance
ISBN:  9781451621303
Review Copy:  eARC provided by the publisher

Release Day Review - The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose - 5  Qwills
A Secret Worth Dying For …

Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by visions of the past, her earliest memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up with as the heir to a storied French perfume company. These worsened after her mother’s suicide until she finally found a doctor who helped her, teaching her to explore the mythological symbolism in her visions and thus lessen their painful impact. This ability led Jac to a wildly successful career as a mythologist, television personality and author.

When her brother, Robbie—who’s taken over the House of L’Etoile from their father—contacts Jac about a remarkable discovery in the family archives, she’s skeptical. But when Robbie goes missing before he can share the secret—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Traveling back to Paris to investigate Robbie’s disappearance, Jac discovers that the secret is a mysterious scent developed in Cleopatra’s time. Could the rumors swirling be true? Can this ancient perfume hold the power to unlock the ability to remember past lives and conclusively prove reincarnation? If this possession has the power to change the world, then it’s not only worth living for . . . it’s worth killing for, too.

The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion and suspense in an intoxicating web that moves from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. This marvelous, spellbinding novel mixes the sensory allure of Perfume with the heartbreaking beauty of The Time Traveler’s Wife, coming to life as richly as our most wildly imagined dreams.

My thoughts:

The Book of Lost Fragrances starts off in 1799 in Alexandria, Egypt with the opening of a tomb. Giles L'Etoile, a perfumer from Paris, is at this event and finds something that will affect his family for generations to come. The story brings us from Egypt to present day New York and Paris, to Paris of the late 1700s and early 1800s, to the Egypt of Cleopatra, with stops in China and London.

The main characters are Jac L'Etoile and her brother Robbie L'Etoile. They are the present day owners of the House of L'Etoile perfumers. Jac has career hunting for the truth of myths to debunk them. Robbie is trying to maintain the family perfume business, which is seriously in debt. Robbie is obsessed with finding the Book of Fragrances created by Cleopatra's perfumer and supposedly found by his ancestor Giles L'Etoile. He also is certain that he has found the ancient perfume that helps people remember their past lives. I liked both Robbie and Jac for completely different reasons. Jac is cynical and refuses to believe but she will help her brother even though she is fighting her own ghosts. Robbie is idealistic and resourceful. He's committed to getting the fragrance into the right hands to help bolster the belief in reincarnation. Not everyone wants him to succeed.

Into this mix are added Xie Peng (a calligrapher from China), Dr. Malachai Samuels (a reincarnationist and Jac's former therapist), and Griffin North (a former boyfriend of Jac's and an archaeologist). Each of these characters is integral to the story and is well-developed.

I love all the details about the House of L'Etoile perfumers. The naming of individual components used to make perfumes, the description of various scents, is wonderful. Scent, even without one that will help you remember your past lives, is very evocative. We can probably all link scent to events and have those memories come rushing back. The creative use of historical detail and historical figures throughout the novel is very well done.

The pacing is excellent with plenty of action. The story held my attention from the opening in a tomb in Egypt in 1799 to the end in present-day Paris. This is a story of suspense, but also of love lost, found, and lost again. M.J. Rose has done a masterful job of weaving together reincarnation politics, perfume making, history, and mythology to create a captivating novel with memorable characters.

I give The Book of Lost Fragrances 5 Qwills.

Release Day Review - The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose - 5  Qwills

Review - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 Qwills

Author:  Benedict Jacka
Series:   Alex Verus
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher:  Ace (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher

Review - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 Qwills
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...

My Thoughts

Fated is the first in a new series about a mage named Alex Verus.

Alex can see possible futures. As a diviner, he has to rely on sorting through the futures, his intelligence and the occasional use of the martial arts that he studies. He doesn't have power over the physical world (e.g., throw fire). Alex owns a magic shop in a section of London called Camden Town. He’s a loner. Something happened in his past that has made him want to be on his own. We get more and more information about what happened to him and why he prefers to be a loner throughout the novel. Alex gets caught up the machinations of several factions of mages. They all want a particular relic and they all want Alex to help them get it. The mystery surrounding that relic kept me guessing.

Over the course of the novel, Mr. Jacka does a wonderful job explaining the magic system within which Alex operates. The world building (magic world in plain sight) is exceptional. There are references to myths and supernatural creatures that are seamlessly woven into the story adding to the richness of the magical world.

I really like Alex. He’s intelligent, tough when he has to be, and a good guy. He also makes mistakes and gets himself into trouble out of simple curiosity, which seems to be a diviner trait. While Alex is the main character, there is a terrific supporting cast including Luna, Alex’s sort of apprentice, Starbreeze, a ditzy air elemental, and many mages both Light, Dark, and scary. Luna is a great character, and I'm looking forward to reading more about her in future books.

There will be inevitable comparisons to The Dresden Files, but Alex Verus does not pale by the comparison. Fated is the start of a wonderful new Urban Fantasy series. It is well written, well-paced and a thoroughly engaging read. I’m hooked.

I give Fated 5 Qwills.

Review - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 Qwills

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills

Dead Harvest
AuthorChris F. Holm
Series:  The Collector
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
PublisherAngry Robot (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9780857662187
Review Copy:  eArc provided by Angry Robot

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills
Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.


File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Souled Out | Damned If You Don't | Collector Mania | On The Run ]

My thoughts:

Dead Harvest is a noirish urban fantasy with a surprisingly different and likable main character - Sam Thornton. Sam is a Collector. He's part of the careful balance between Heaven and Hell. He gets his orders and off he goes to collect a damned soul and send it off to Hell. You might say he works for the bad guys, but it's not quite that simple. In Dead Harvest, Sam is assigned the job of collecting the soul of a young woman (Kate) who has brutally murdered her family. It should be an easy job. Find her, collect her soul, go on to next job. Unfortunately for Sam, things are not as they seem. He decides something is not right about this collection and decides to figure out what is going on.

Sam is an amazingly likable character despite what he does. Through a series of well placed flashbacks we learn how Sam became a Collector. He did not have an easy life. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' could probably be Sam's motto. Which is not to say that he did everything on the up and up when he was alive. Nonetheless, I was on his side. I wanted him to be right and to figure out what was really going on. I did not want him to have to collect Kate's soul.

In addition to Sam there is a well fleshed out supporting cast. Kate is terrific even though she's not sure what she did or didn't do. She may actually be guilty. In addition we meet some angels, demons, seemingly crazy people, and Sam's remarkably chilling co-worker, The Bishop, who is out to collect Kate's soul because Sam has not.

Dead Harvest does not feel like a debut. Chris F. Holm's writing is assured and the world building is outstanding. The story is fast-paced with several well-done action scenes. The mystery kept me guessing - did she or didn't she and if she didn't what is really going on? I completely enjoyed reading Dead Harvest with its unlikely anti-hero and world painted in shades of gray. The Collector series is on my must buy list.

File Under: Great writing | Excellent World Building | Intriguing Mystery | Terrific Characters

I give Dead Harvest 5 Qwills.

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills

Next up in The Collector series in September 2012:

Review - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 Qwills

Release Day Review - The Thorn and the Blossom - 5 Qwills

The Thorn and the Blossom
Author:  Theodora Goss
Format: Slip-cased Hardcover, 82 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (January 17, 2012)
Price: $16.95
Language: English
Genre:  Romance / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-59474-551-5
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher

Release Day Review - The Thorn and the Blossom - 5 Qwills
One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.

When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself...

The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.

My thoughts:

The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable book both for its physical structure and the story within.  It comes in a slip-case with a beautiful floral illustration by Scott McKowen. The book itself is an accordion-fold book - the pages are folded much like an accordion bellows and can fold out into one long banner (so don't drop the book). The story is printed on both sides of the pages. One side is Evelyn's account, the other is Brendan's.  I chose to start from Evelyn's side of the book and am still wondering if that has influenced my view of the events that unfold.

The Thorn and the Blossom is a very quick read weighing in at only 82 pages, but it really is amazing how much Theodora Goss packs into those pages. The story spans many years of Evelyn's and Brendan's lives. We see them as university students meeting for the first time in a Cornish village, then as college professors of medieval studies. We learn about their childhoods. Central to the story unfolding for Evelyn and Brendan is a Green Man myth presented for the purposes of The Thorn and the Blossom as a Cornish legend of Gawan (from King Arthur's Court) and Elowen (a Cornish queen).  This legend infuses the story with a wonderful dreamlike quality as it interweaves with Evelyn's and Brendan's romance.

The Thorn and the Blossom is beautifully written, enchanting and gorgeous inside and out.  I suggest that you pick up the printed copy of this book to appreciate how special it is.

I give The Thorn and the Blossom 5 Qwills.

Release Day Review - The Thorn and the Blossom - 5 Qwills
Early Review - Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 QwillsRelease Day Review - Yesterday's Hero - 5 QwillsReview - Blooded by Amanda Carlson - 5 QwillsRelease Day Review - Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin - 5 QwillsRelease Day Review - Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson - 5 QwillsReview - Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig- 5 QwillsRelease Day Review - The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose - 5  QwillsReview - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 QwillsReview - Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm - 5 QwillsRelease Day Review - The Thorn and the Blossom - 5 Qwills

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