The Qwillery | category: 4 Qwills


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Release Day Review - Coveted by Shawntelle Madison - 4 Qwills

Author:  Shawntelle Madison
Series:  Coveted
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
Publisher:  Ballantine Books (April 24, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Review Copy:  Printed ARC provided by publisher

Release Day Review - Coveted by Shawntelle Madison - 4 Qwills

For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.

Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

My thoughts:

Natalya Stravinsky is one of the more unique main characters I've read about in Urban Fantasy.  She's a beta werewolf with OCD who is no longer a member of the local pack to which she once belonged.  She's fragile and broken.  On the other hand she does not spend the book loathing herself or bemoaning her fate. She knows that she has problems.  She's trying to cope.  One of the strengths of Coveted is the remarkable supporting cast.  Ms. Madison has created a wonderful family for Nat even though they too have issues with her. The therapy group that Nat joins is also terrific.  I enjoyed Ms. Madison's realistic portrayal of the characters.  The characters are complex, have issues, weaknesses, and strengths, which made them seem more real to me despite the fact that the majority of them are supernatural.  There is also a sort of love triangle developing between Nat, Thorn (her ex-) and a wizard. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops. I have a favorite.  All of this is set against the background of impending werewolf territorial battles in New Jersey!

The reasons Nat is outcast and the reason the head of a rival pack is after her are presented at odd points in the story for me.  I spent a lot of time wondering why she is outcast and then why she is marked for death.  I wish this had been presented earlier in the story so that I could have understood what ramped up Nat's OCD a bit earlier in the story.  Despite this minor quibble I enjoyed Coveted.

The novel is well written and moves along at a steady pace. Coveted features quirky characters, werewolf battles, and a heroine with heart.

I give Coveted 4 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Coveted by Shawntelle Madison - 4 Qwills

Read Shawntelle's Guest Blog - Writing a character with OCD - here.

And take a look at Kept (Coveted 2), which will be published in November.

Release Day Review - Coveted by Shawntelle Madison - 4 Qwills
Fresh from defending her pack in battle, Natalya Stravinsky, a whip-smart werewolf with a lovable neurotic streak, wants a little rest and relaxation. Once an outcast, she’s now eager to rejoin the ranks of her New Jersey pack, and has even gotten a handle on her obsessive urge to hoard holiday ornaments. Yet Nat barely has time to revel in her progress before the next crisis comes howling at her door.

Nat’s father has suddenly gone missing, captured by the Russian werewolf mafia. And as Nat steps up to save her dad from a mob boss’s deadly game, two men step in to play another round for her heart: her gorgeous alpha ex-boyfriend, Thorn, and her new flame, the sweetly sensitive wizard Nick. With her life growing more harried by the minute, Nat must stay cool, calm, and collected . . . or else risk losing everything.

Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2 Qwills

White Horse
AuthorAlex Adams
Series:  White Horse
Format:  Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher:  Atria/Emily Bestler Books, April, 17, 2012
Price:  $19.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy/Post-apocalyptic
ISBN:  9781451642995
Review Copy:  ARC provided by Author

Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2  Qwills
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

My thoughts:

White Horse is a novel that not only entertains with a good story but also makes you think. On the macro level White Horse is a story of what makes us human. On the micro level its about one woman's journey through a ravaged world and her attempt to retain her humanity. Zoe Marshall is the woman at the center of White Horse.

After a devastating loss, she's working a menial job at a pharmaceutical company. One day a mysterious jar appears in her apartment. There are no records of deliveries, no alarm company record of a anyone entering the apartment. Zoe is afraid of the jar and begins to see a therapist. After the jar appears strange things begin to happen. Cats disappear. Then people start dying. Zoe loses everyone close to her due to a strange illness dubbed White Horse. Other world changing events are happening as well - cyberattacks, wars, and weather wars. But it is White Horse that decimates the population of the world. No one knows where it came from. Zoe tries to find out. Against this backdrop, Zoe also finds love and sets off on a dangerous journey to find him.

There is a lot happening in White Horse. The novel gracefully slips between "Then" and "Now." I like this because it was an easy way to keep track of pre- and post- apocalypse in the narrative. "Now" is harrowing, dangerous, and horrifying. "Then" shows the world slipping away so it was equally frightening. On her travels Zoe encounters good and evil, sane and insane all the while trying to remain human - a compassionate human. She encounters pure evil in the form of The Swiss, another traveler. The Swiss is a remarkable villain. While Zoe wants to retain her humanity, I wanted her to kill him. Zoe struggles with whether she should or shouldn't. The Swiss is the other side of the coin from Zoe. He will kill on a whim. He is a villain I loved to hate.

White Horse is also a love story. This part of the story is interwoven well. It's what sets Zoe on her quest and adds to the fabric of the novel. We don't get to know Zoe's love interest as well as Zoe and The Swiss, but the love relationship itself is not the main focus.

The story moves along at a good pace. There were a number of surprises that I did not see coming and were well done. I enjoyed the references to classical mythology that form a backdrop to the events in the novel.

Bottom LineWhite Horse is a horrifying look at a post-apocalyptic world that shows us that our humanity is a reflection of our inner landscape and how we act. It's also a good read.

I give White Horse 4 1/2 Qwills.

Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2  Qwills

Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 Qwills

Three A.M.
Author:  Steven John
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher: TOR (March 27, 2012)
Price: $24.99
Language: English
Genre:  Noir/Thriller/Dystopian
Review Copy: ARC from the publisher

Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 Qwills
Fifteen years of sunless gray.

Fifteen years of mist. So thick the streets fade off into nothing. So thick the past is hazy at best. The line between right and wrong has long been blurred, especially for Thomas Vale.

Long gone are the days when new beginnings seemed possible—when he was a new recruit, off to a new start fresh in the army. He had hoped to never look back. Not like there was much to see, anyway.

First came the sickness, followed by the orders: herd the healthy into the city, shoot the infected. The gates closed and the bridges came down… followed by the mist.

Fifteen miserable years of the darkest nights and angry, awful gray days.

Thomas Vale can hardly fathom why he keeps waking up in the morning. For a few more days spent stumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.

tumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.

My thoughts:

Three A.M. starts out in gritty noir fashion as Thomas Vale sets eyes on a beautiful blond, Rebecca, at the bar he frequents. Vale is a Private Investigator and Rebecca wants to hire him. What Vale doesn't know is that he's already caught up in something beyond a simple case for one of his clients.

Mr. John creates an incredibly dark and murky world of shadows and mist, a city without sunlight, which is reflected in Tom Vale. He's as hopeless as the city in which he lives. Vale is an intriguing character. He's morally ambiguous, down and out. He drinks a lot. Takes more pills than he should to sleep. He's a man with no illusions about anything, including himself. Over the course of the novel, things change for Vale as he learns more about what is really going on in his sunless city. Vale is the most well-developed character in Three A.M. At times during the story I actively disliked him. Despite this, I cared about Vale and what was happening to him.

While Three A.M. starts out feeling like noir, it does not hold that for the entire novel. Once certain events happen the entire tone of the novel changes. It became more of a thriller for me than anything else. While the pacing of the novel is quite good, I enjoyed the change of tone and the resulting quicker pace.

Three A.M. is a gripping mix of noir and thriller set in a near-future dystopia. It is at times deeply moving, at times very raw, and at times pure adrenalin rush.

I give Three A.M. 4 Qwills.

 Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 Qwills

Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 Qwills

Wide Open
Author:  Deborah Coates
Format:  Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher:  Tor Books (March 13, 2012)
Price:  $24.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0765328984
Review copy:  ARC provided by Publisher

Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 Qwills
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.

My thoughts:

Hallie Michaels sister has died. She returns to South Dakota on compassionate leave from the war in Afghanistan. She only has her leave to figure it out what may have happened and she's not exactly thrilled about seeing ghosts including that of her sister, Dell. She's sure that Dell has not committed suicide.

Hallie is a woman of action and very few words. She's angry and often acts without thinking, but her actions elicit responses that give her clues to what is going on. At times I found Hallie grating. By the end of the novel she seems to be opening a little. There are glimpses of something more than just anger in Hallie.

Boyd Davies, a local Sheriff's Deputy, offers a nice counterbalance to Hallie. Where Hallie would rush in swinging, Boyd would hold her back both to protect her and because he's a Deputy. He often knows that holding Hallie back is not going to happen, but he is there for her... if she'd accept the help. Hallie reluctantly teams up with Boyd to figure out what is going on.  Boyd has his own secrets too, which may or may not help Hallie.

Hallie interacts with many of the people she grew up with and most of them are there for supporting roles. We certainly get glimpses of Hallie's life before she joined the Army. With few exceptions it does not seem that much has changed back home. Most of her friends and acquaintances are unaware of the magic swirling around them and the bad things that have been done.

The South Dakota setting makes a wonderful backdrop for Wide Open. Deborah Coates does a terrific job of creating the 'place' of the story. Wide Open is an enjoyable rural fantasy. I'm looking forward to reading more about Hallie and Boyd.

I give Wide Open 4 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Wide Open - 4 Qwills

Review - Black Howl by Christina Henry - 4 Qwills

Black Howl
Author:  Christina Henry
Series:  Black Wings
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher:  Ace (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher.

Review - Black Howl by Christina Henry - 4 Qwills
Something is wrong with the souls of Chicago's dead. Ghosts are walking the streets, and Agent of Death Madeline Black's exasperating boss wants her to figure out why. And while work is bad enough, Maddy has a plethora of personal problems too. Now that Gabriel has been assigned as her thrall, their relationship has hit an impasse. At least her sleazy ex-fiance Nathaniel is out of the picture--or so she thinks...

My thoughts:

Black Howl is the 3rd novel in the Black Wings series. Maddy Black is an Agent of Death. If you've read the prior two novels, you'll know that the Agents work for a huge bureaucracy. They receive a list of souls that they are assigned to each week. The Agents know where/when to appear to give the soul a choice of going to The Door. There is paperwork to be filled out after each death.  Deaths not on the list are considered not in the natural order of things.

Maddy is also the granddaughter (with several greats) of Lucifer, the Fallen angel. The Fallen's world can be violent, but it's also very political and very rigid. There is a lot of scheming and maneuvering for power. Maddy appears to be a pawn as well as a huge unknown so a lot of the scheming and violence center on her. Let's just say that most of her relatives in the Fallen world are not on her side. Lucifer has plans for her too.

Maddy's life in Chicago as an Agent and in the world of the Fallen and other supernatural beings has been well developed over the first two novels in the series. She's faced some very difficult challenges and discovered inner emotional strength though she still is sometimes unsure of herself. She also has started to learn to control her supernatural powers even though the full extent of those are not yet known.  Maddy is thrown into some very difficult situations. I like her burgeoning belief in herself and her abilities.

Maddy does have a small group on her side - Beezle (Maddy's little gargoyle, protector and dear friend), Gabriel (her bodyguard, now thrall), J.B. (her boss), and a few others. Each of these characters is very well done and endearing in their own ways. The villains are suitably evil and horrible.

A good deal of tension is generated by the relationship between Gabriel and Maddy. They'd like to be together, but due to Fallen world rules they can not.  While not THE focus of the the novels, Maddy's love-life (or lack thereof) is a focus. In Black Howl, there is a huge high point and a huge low point with regard to love for Maddy.  I was so invested in Maddy that I felt the high and the low along with her.

Against all this Maddy has to help solve the mystery of odd behaved ghosts (souls who don't go to The Door) and who were not scheduled for death, missing werewolves, and more Fallen world intrigues. Black Howl is an action packed sometimes emotional roller coaster with a well-developed world and truly engaging characters.

I give Black Howl 4 Qwills.

Review - Black Howl by Christina Henry - 4 Qwills

I strongly suggest that the Black Wings series be read in order.

The prior two books in the series:

Review - Black Howl by Christina Henry - 4 Qwills

Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills

Fair Game
Author:  Patricia Briggs
Series:  Alpha and Omega
Format:  Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher:  Ace (March 6, 2012)
Price:  $26.95
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9780441020034
Review Copy:  Hardcover provided by the Publisher

Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills
Patricia Briggs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson novels, "always enchants her readers." (Lynn Viehl, New York Times bestselling author) Now her Alpha and Omega series-set in a world of shifting shapes, loyalty, and passion- brings werewolves out of the darkness and into a society where fear and prejudice could make the hunters prey...

They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can't afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father's dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.

Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack's help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer's sights...

My thoughts:

Fair Game is the third novel in the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs. Charles and his wife Anna are sent to Boston to help in the investigation of a series of murders.

My favorite part of Fair Game, and all the Alpha and Omega novels, is Anna and Charles. I love reading about them. Charles is a very scary Alpha werewolf, who does not lead a pack, but is his father's enforcer. Anna is an Omega werewolf. She can exert a calming influence over other werewolves. Omegas are very highly valued and not very common.  Anna's not afraid to calmly push for what she wants. Make no mistake, Anna is a werewolf and will fight to protect when necessary. She doesn't back down from the challenge that Charles presents. Nor does she back down from discussing things with the Charles' father that he might find uncomfortable.

Charles needs her more than ever now that he's feeling guilt about what he does for his father. Charles blocks Anna from helping him because he worries that she will not want him anymore and also to protect her from what he is going through. Anna, however is very smart and very stubborn. Charles has certainly met his match. Neither Charles nor Anna are one dimensional and continue to surprise and delight.

I figured out part of the murder mystery, but only because the clues are there if you look. However, there was quite a bit I did not know so the mystery still kept me guessing. The killings are definitely grim and gruesome. Like many inter-jurisdictional serial killer cases there are people involved from different governmental agencies. The tensions between these agencies is not ignored and is well written.

There are some really terrific characters in Fair Game in addition to Anna and Charles. The head of the Boston pack is very likable.  There's also a fae that I find really fascinating. I don't know if we will see him again, but I hope so since he does create some problems for all the supernatural beings.

While Fair Game is a story about Anna and Charles and the serial murders it also includes themes concerning racism against and fear of the supernatural since the werewolves have made themselves known.  These are reactions that I would expect to see from some people should werewolves be announced to the world.

Fair Game is well written, fast-paced and sets up some interesting times to come. I am looking forward to what is next for the Alpha and Omega.

I give Fair Game 4 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills

I strongly suggest that the Alpha and Omega series be read in order.

References are made in the Alpha and Omega novels to the Mercy Thompson series, but it is not necessary to read those novels in order to enjoy the Alpha and Omega series.

Prior books, novellas in the Alpha and Omega series:

On the Prowl
includes "Alpha and Omega" novella
Berkley, August 7, 2007
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages

Note that this novella has been published alone as an ebook.*

Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills
These all-new paranormal romances from today's hottest authors feature a female werewolf who comes into her own; a Lord who crosses paths with a fiery mage; a mixed-blood Child of the Moon who faces an uncertain future; and a woman whose sixth sense proves to be a dangerous talent.

Cry Wolf
Alpha and Omega 1
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Ace (July 29, 2008)

Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills
Now Briggs begins an extraordinary new series set in Mercy Thompson’s world—but with rules of its own.


Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country will recognize her value as a pack member—and as his mate.

*Alpha and Omega: A Companion Novella to Cry Wolf
Alpha and Omega
eBook, 86 pages
Berkley (October 20, 2008)

Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills
In Cry Wolf, New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs started a new urban fantasy series set in the world of Mercy Thompson but with rules of it’s own. Now, read the eSpecial, Alpha and Omega, the novella that inspired the new series, and see how it all began.

Anna Latham never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the Chicago pack, she's learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But when she discovers wrongdoing in her pack, she has to go above her Alpha's head to ask for help.

Charles Cornick is the son and enforcer of the leader of the North American werewolves. Now his father has sent him to Chicago to clean up a problem there. Charles never expected to find Anna, a rare Omega wolf and he certainly never expected to recognize her as his mate.

Hunting Ground
Alpha and Omega2
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Ace (August 25, 2009)
Release Day Review - Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - 4 Qwills
Anne Latham didn't know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son--and enforcer--of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn't know how dangerous it could be either...

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran's controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan--and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all--or risk losing everything...

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a signed copy of On the Prowl from the publisher! US ONLY

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Who is/are your favorite werewolf or werewolves in books or film?

 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 US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 13, 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 - Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell - 4 Qwills

Arctic Rising
Author:  Tobias S. Buckell
Format: Hardcover,  304 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $24.99
Language:  English
Genre:  SciFi
ISBN:  9780765319210
Review Copy: eArc provided by Tor Books

Review - Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell - 4 Qwills
Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it's about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth's surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself—but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She’s intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.

My thoughts

Arctic Rising is a near-future SciFi thriller set against the back-drop of global climate change. In the novel, global warming has claimed most of the Arctic Circle as well changed the entire planet. Anika Duncan, has left her life in Africa behind for a calm job working for U.N. Polar Guard. Things are going smoothly for her until someone smuggles a nuclear weapon into the Arctic Circle area.

Arctic Rising presents a possible future should global warming be unchecked. The world has changed. Some countries are damaged, some are gone and some are better off. The balance of power has shifted. We learn a lot about this world via the characters and their lives. The action in the novel takes place in area surrounding and what's left of the Arctic Circle, and I found Mr. Buckell's future Arctic fascinating.

Anika Duncan is a wonderful main character. She's tough and determined. Her back story is incredibly interesting. Her life before the UNPG has given her the ability and skills to kick ass when she has to. She's also a thinker who has just the right amount of vulnerability to make her believable. She has some tough decisions to make. While Annika is the main character, Mr. Buckell also has created a wonderfully diverse and well written supporting cast.

Arctic Rising is action-packed with explosions, gun battles and a frightening superweapon. It's a fast-paced thrill ride. It's also thought provoking without being a screed about global warming. The bottom line is that Arctic Rising will keep you on the edge of your seat as Anika races to find the nuclear bomb and possibly save the world.

I give Arctic Rising 4 Qwills.

Review - Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell - 4 Qwills

Release Day Review - Taft 2012 - 4 Qwills

Taft 2012
Author:  Jason Heller
Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (January 17, 2012)
Price: $14.95
Language: English
Genre: Science Fiction/Political Satire/Time Travel
ISBN: 978-1-59474-550-8
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher

Release Day Review - Taft 2012 - 4 Qwills
He is the perfect presidential candidate. Conservatives love his hard-hitting Republican résumé. Liberals love his passion for peaceful diplomacy. The media can’t get enough of his larger-than-life personality. Regular folks can identify with his larger-than-life physique. And all the American people love that he’s an honest, hard-working man who tells it like it is.

There’s just one problem: He is William Howard Taft... and he was already U.S. president a hundred years ago. So what on earth is he doing alive and well and considering a running mate in 2012?

Jason Heller’s extraordinary debut novel presents the Vonnegut-esque satire of a presidential Rip Van Winkle amid 21st-century media madness. It’s the ultimate what-if scenario for the 2012 election season!

My thoughts:

The premise of Taft 2012 is really fun. William Howard Taft disappears on the inauguration day of Woodrow Wilson (who defeated him) and somehow reappears in late 2011 in a garden at The White House. 

Imagine dozing off in 1913 and waking up to the technological marvels of the 2011. There are some very funny moments as Taft adjusts to the new technology, especially Twitter. It's interesting to see 'now' through Taft's eyes as he reacquaints himself with America, meets his descendants, and views the political scene. Taft gets swept up in the political movement named for him (the Taft Party) and runs for President again. 

Taft 2012 is an enjoyable read. It's fast paced and well written. Taft 2012 does not delve deeply into past history or present day politics which keeps the novel from becoming bogged down. Taft comes to life on the pages as he travels America, deals with some of the things that bothered him in the past (his weight, his falling out with Teddy Roosevelt, the way he governed), and then enters the political fray. There is an especially wonderful speech near the end of the novel that I found very moving. 

I didn't really know much about William Howard Taft prior to reading this book, but I now have the flavor of his presidency and of Taft the man. This is not a history book so if you are looking for an in-depth accounting of Taft's presidency and life, pick up a Taft biography.

If you like political satire served with a side of science fiction and alternate history, you'll really enjoy Taft 2012.

I give Taft 2012 4 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Taft 2012 - 4 Qwills

Read Jason Heller's Guest Blog - The fine (okay, accidental) art of genre-busting - here and an interview here.

Release Day Review - Killing Rites by M.L.N. Hanover - 4 Qwills

Killing Rites
Author:  M.L.N. Hanover
Series:  The Black Sun's Daughter
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher:  Pocket Books (November 29, 2011)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9781439176344
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Release Day Review - Killing Rites by M.L.N. Hanover - 4 Qwills
Jayné Heller has discovered the source of her uncanny powers: something else is living inside her body. She's possessed. Of all her companions, she can only bring herself to confide in Ex, the former priest. They seek help from his old teacher and the circle of friends he left behind, hoping to cleanse Jayné before the parasite in her becomes too powerful.

Ex's history and a new enemy combine to leave Jayné alone and on the run. Her friends, thinking that the rider with her has taken the reins, try to hunt her down, unaware of the danger they're putting her in. Jayné must defeat the weight of the past and the murderous intent of another rider, and her only allies are a rogue vampire she once helped free and the nameless thing hiding inside her skin.

My thoughts:

I had not read The Black Sun's Daughter series though it was on my to be read list. I really like Urban Fantasy with strong main characters, an interesting world, and well developed stories. In order to get to Killing Rites, which is out today, I read the prior 3 books in the series. Jayné Heller is the main character in what turns out to be an ensemble cast of very different and enjoyable characters. I liked the first 3 books though at times I found Jayné's behavior a bit annoying. However, given her back story, her age, and the world she was thrust into, this behaviour was neither out of place nor entirely unexpected. It worked with the stories. In addition, the author's off and on focus on her love life throughout the first 3 books also put me off a bit. It's not that I don't think there should be relationships in Urban Fantasy, I just became disenchanted with her romantic issues. Nonetheless the first 3 novels were well written and the stories engaging.

Killing Rites is the 4th novel in the series and focuses more on who Jayné really is. I think it is by far the best book in the series because we finally get to find out a bit about the Black Sun's Daughter. Killing Rites also explores the background of Ex, one of the people that has helped and continues to help Jayné in her supernatural tasks. Jayné tends to get beat up on a regular basis but always comes out on top. Killing Rites deals with why this is and her and Ex's reaction to it. Ex has some interesting if over zealous former colleagues. This is a really fun read despite the fact that once again Jayné has some issues of the heart. One of my favorite characters from the first book makes an appearance here. He's still a good guy despite being one of the apparent bad guys

In Killing Rites, Jayné finally begins to understand what is going on with her, 'begins' being the operative word. We don't get a resolution to this particular issue, and I assume it will be visited in further books in the series. We did get to learn a lot about Ex also, which I really liked.

M.L.N. Hanover has created an intricate and well constructed Urban Fantasy world and has woven a riveting, action packed story in Killing Rites. Jayné's strength, innate and enhanced, make her a fascinating heroine and one I want to read more about.

I give Killing Rites 4 Qwills.

Release Day Review - Killing Rites by M.L.N. Hanover - 4 Qwills

I do suggest that you read at least the 1st book in the series, Unclean Spirits, before reading Killing Rites.

Other books in the series:

Release Day Review - Killing Rites by M.L.N. Hanover - 4 Qwills

Review of 'Nocturne' from Angels of Darkness - 4 Qwills

Review of 'Nocturne' from Angels of Darkness - 4 Qwills

I was asked by Mihir of Fantasy Book Critic if I'd like to participate in a multiblog review for the Angels of Darkness anthology, which features four novellas by four authors. Of course, I said "yes."

The reviews for the four novellas may be found at the listed blogs. Click on the blog names to go to the reviews. The Qwillery's review is below.

1.  Angel's Wolf by Nalini Singh - Melissa (My words and pages)

2.  Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews – Mihir (Fantasy Book Critic)

3)  Nocturne by Sharon Shinn - Qwill (The Qwillery)

4)  Ascension by Meljean Brook - Bastard (Bastard Books and other crap)

My thoughts about Nocturne by Sharon Shinn:

Until I read Nocturne in Angels of Darkness I'd never read anything by Sharon Shinn. Now I will be hunting down her Samaria series, which is the world in which her novella, Nocturne, is set.

The main characters in Nocturne are Moriah and a blind angel. Moriah is a cook at a remote Gabriel School. These schools were set up to educate abandoned children. Moriah is clearly running away from something. She becomes involved in the care of the blind angel due to a series of events both fortuitous and somewhat calamitous.

Moriah is a woman who marches to her own drummer and is not deluded about herself. She knows she can be abrasive and difficult. The blind angel is depressed due to his blindness and what caused it. He's not a typical overbearing alpha male though he might be were he not blind. I really enjoyed the interactions between Moriah and the angel. They are both abrasive in their own ways, and the interplay between them was very well done and fun to read. Through this interplay we learn why Moriah and the angel are in their present circumstances. Their relationship grows slowly. Nocturne is a gentle love story.

Though Nocturne is set in a world that I am unfamiliar with, I think that Sharon Shinn dose a great job of providing the right amount of information so that I did not feel lost, but rather understood the world. The interactions with the secondary characters in the story are well done though the focus is clearly on Moriah and the angel. I like Sharon Shinn's writing style. It seems very straightforward with with no excesses. This may be a result of the novella format or may be her style. I intend to find out by reading more of her work.

Nocturne is an entertaining and engaging tale, which I give 4 Qwills.

Review of 'Nocturne' from Angels of Darkness - 4 Qwills

Angels of Darkness
Author:  Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Sharon Shinn
Series:  Anthology
Format:  Trade Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Berkley (October 4, 2011)
Price:  $15.00
Language:  English
Genre:  Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy

Review of 'Nocturne' from Angels of Darkness - 4 Qwills
Tales of alpha angels...from four alpha authors.

They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil. 
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