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Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews


Magic Triumphs
Author:  Ilona Andrews
Series:  Kate Daniels 10
Publisher:  Ace, August 28, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print);  US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425270714 (print); 9780698136823 (eBook)

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.



Melanie's Thoughts

Kate thought it was too good to be true. Over the past two years she has married her hunky shapeshifter Curran and had an adorable son, Conlan, her business is thriving and there is no sign of her megalomaniac father Roland who has tried kill her loved ones.....so far. However, when an ancient power decides that humanity has lived long enough and wants to purge the world Kate knows she has to make a stand. If she has to ally with the enemy then she is prepared to do what it takes to save everything and everyone she loves. War is on her doorstep and Kate isn't sure she has the power to survive.

I can't believe that it is finally here - Magic Triumphs the - 10th and final Kate Daniels instalment. I have been a fan from the very start and Kate has been one of my favourite heroines. There has been a lot of hype about Magic Triumphs and it doesn't disappoint. This story is almost more of a continuation of Iron and Magic* than it is of Magic Binds with the return of the soldiers and beasts that Hugh D'Ambray fought in the first book of the Iron Covenant series. I thought that this was an interesting re-use of a really scary baddy. Obviously Kate has grown up now  - a wife and mother and while she loves her new life she is desperate to keep her family safe. Roland has always been a threat to her and her family but Neig is the bigger threat and she isn't sure she has the ability to defeat them both. It is this vulnerability that makes Kate even more interesting as a character than she was before.

Andrews brings back so many of the characters that I have loved over the series - Andrea, Derek, Dali, Doolittle and Saiman. Even Grendel, the mutant poodle is back! However, when one of my newest favourite characters makes a dramatic appearance I actually did a fist pump and whooped. I can't really say that there was more character development in Magic Triumphs but there is 'rounding' out of a few of the lead characters - specifically Derek, Christopher, Erra and to a small extent Adora. Andrews uses the action and fight scenes to further establish Kate's relationships with regular characters and helps to setup the new ones. There are quite a few fight scenes and these all lead to the epic battle at the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed Magic Triumphs and thought the ending of the book and of the series was really satisfying. Ten books makes for a long series but this instalment was worth waiting for. Andrews avoided making the ending too sugary and sweet, which I appreciated. The epilogue is a bit of a tease and is creating A LOT of discussion on the blog. It's good that not everything was spelled out for us even though it is a bit of a very small cliffhanger. I am looking forward to see what Andrews has in store for us besides two more Hugh books (hurray!). Magic Triumphs is a great book and even better ending to a great series.


*See my review of Iron and Magic here.

Review: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher


Brief Cases
Author:  Jim Butcher
Series:  Dresden Files
Publisher:  Ace, June 5, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  USD$28.00 (print); USD$14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780451492104 (print); 9780451492128 (eBook)

Review: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City’s favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue—and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

    “Curses,” from Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow
    “AAAA Wizardry,” from the Dresden Files RPG
    “Even Hand,” from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by P. N. Elrod
    “B is for Bigfoot,” from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
    “I was a Teenage Bigfoot,” from Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
    “Bigfoot on Campus,” from Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
    “Bombshells,” from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
    “Jury Duty,” from Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman
    “Cold Case,” from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
    “Day One,” from Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman
    “A Fistful of Warlocks,” from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop
    “Zoo Day,” a brand-new novella, original to this collection


Doreen’s Thoughts

It has been a while since a Harry Dresden novel has been published and the next one scheduled, Peace Talks, is still is a long time off. Thankfully, Butcher writes short stories with his main character and others. Better yet, he collects them into a complete anthology like Brief Cases. As a completist, I appreciate that I do not have to purchase multiple other anthologies to ensure that I have every Harry Dresden story, including a new one that has never appeared before.

In his introduction to “B is for Bigfoot,” Butcher explains that he researched monsters from all around the world when he started writing his series, but it was not until after several books, that he thought about America’s Bigfoot. The three related stories actually focus on a Bigfoot’s son, Irwin, and some of the problems he faces as a Bigfoot/human hybrid.

Butcher does not just write about Dresden in his short stories; he also writes about some of his other characters, which not just fleshes them out more fully for character development, but also gives us some different perspectives on Harry himself. Three of the stories are about his apprentice, Molly, both before and after she becomes the fairy queen, Winter.

The last story here, “Zoo Days,” is my favorite in the bunch, not just because it is new, but because it is about Harry and his daughter. Here the story itself is split into thirds, with each main character (Harry, Maggie, and Mouse) taking lead as narrator for a section. As a reader, this is my first introduction into Maggie’s narration, and it is eye-opening. It makes me wonder what Butcher may have in store for the future of his characters.

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter


Dark Queen
Author:  Faith Hunter
Series:  Jane Yellowrock 12
Publisher:  Ace, May 1, 2018
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
List Price:  US$7.99 (print);  US$7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101991428 (print); 9781101991435 (eBook)

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter
Jane Yellowrock used to hunt vampires, but now she must fight–and win–beside them.

As Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, Jane Yellowrock stakes her reputation and her life on keeping her territory safe. But Leo has been issued a blood challenge by the emperor of the European vampires, who seeks to usurp all of his power and possessions. If Leo loses the match to the death, the city will be forfeit, and the people of New Orleans will suffer the consequences. Jane can’t let that happen.

Preparing for the duel requires all of Jane’s focus, but with so much supernatural power in play, nothing goes according to plan. She has to rely on herself and the very few people she knows she can trust to stand and fight. Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.



Doreen’s Thoughts

When I saw another Jane Yellowrock book available through NetGalley, I could hardly wait until it was approved and loaded onto my Kindle. As one of my favorite authors, Faith Hunter is now writing two series, but this is the one that I loved first. I do have to say, I did start reading cautiously – in the last several novels, Jane and the New Orleans vampires have been preparing for a visit from the European mithrans (vampires). I worried that when the meeting finally came about, it would not live up to the hype set in the previous several books. My worries were quashed when it became apparent that this was less a visit and more an invasion, with a series of formalized fights set up between the oldest and strongest of the American vampires and their people and the oldest and strongest of the Europeans. At risk was the freedom of humans and paranormals throughout the United States – the stakes were set high.

Because the European vampires were typically aristocrats used to pomp and circumstance, there is still some negotiating rules and requirements in the first part of the book, which might have seemed a little boring if Hunter hadn’t dropped a bomb in the form of a new character, Jane’s full-blooded brother, Ari.

One of the best aspects of Hunter’s series has been Jane’s need and search for family. Having come out of the woods as a supposed orphan child, Jane had gone through the foster care system, and it had not been kind to her. Since coming to New Orleans, she had accepted her housemates, Eli and Alex Younger, as business partners and family members. Along the way, she also acquired a vampire primo, Edward, and a werewolf, Brute. But she had been certain there were no other blood relatives of hers out there. With Leo, king of the American vampires and Jane’s boss, to confirm Ari’s DNA, Jane has a lot of mixed feelings about this new brother – ecstasy that he is alive; anger that it took so long for him to contact her; joy that there are other relatives; and fear about what it all means for her.

But there is little time to deal with this new relative. The Conclave is on, and the fights are brutal and to the death. Several characters who have held secondary positions in the series for quite some time are killed. This definitely amped up the level of tension, especially when Jane’s adopted brother, Eli, is called to fight. It appeared that no one was safe, and this was especially true with the ending. Suffice to say, I cannot reveal more without giving away spoilers. What I can say is that Dark Queen ends on a high, if totally unexpected note.

Review: Burn Bright (Alpha and Omega 5) by Patricia Briggs


Burn Bright
Author:  Patricia Briggs
Series:  Alpha and Omega 5
Publisher:  Ace, March 6, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (print); US$
ISBN:  9780425281314 (print); US$

Review: Burn Bright (Alpha and Omega 5) by Patricia Briggs
In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs “spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well” (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other–one that lurks too close to home…

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…



Doreen’s Thoughts

While Bran, the Marrok and packleader of the Aspen Creek werewolves, is absent, son Charles and his mate Anna are in charge, including responsibility for those werewolves who are too broken to live safely among others, even of their own kind. When one of the wildings is killed, it becomes apparent that there is a conspiracy to track down some type of information from one or more of the wildings, and that there must be a traitor among the pack.

As Charles, Anna, and a few other select pack members begin tracking down and contacting the wildlings, they continue to run into evidence of witch magic, one of the few forms of magic that can possibly affect werewolves negatively. It also become more obvious that the reason Bran has excluded himself at this time is because the traitor is someone at the very highest level of the pack – and someone the Marrok cannot bring himself to kill.

This is Briggs’ fifth novel starring Charles and Anna, the pack’s enforcer and its Omega. While Briggs has brought up witch magic tangentially in her other novels, this is the first one where it stands front and center. Although the traitor is found and handled, the primary group that attacked the pack has not yet been addressed, and so I expect to see that in her next novel or I will be greatly disappointed.

Otherwise, Briggs writes a tight novel, with small conversations and actions occurring in the beginning of the book becoming critically important later in the story. Her characters, Charles and Anna, are more fully formed now, after five novels, and the readers understand why Anna is so sensitive to being touched or grabbed unexpectedly and how Charles and his Brother Wolf become distracted by Anna’s comments or a slight touch. Other characters such as Asil and especially Leah are more fully fleshed out, with the reader becoming more understanding of the odd relationship between Bran and his mate, Leah.

Overall, this was a quick read, well-written and fast-paced. Again, I look forward to seeing how the protagonists deal with the entity behind the attacks that occurred in this story.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018


Well hello, I hope you have a good week. I am suffering a bit from 'readers block'.  This is my very own malady similar to writers block where an author loses the ability to write. Well I have lost the ability to read. This is in part from reading books for SPFBO 2017. Not only do we have to read a bunch of books fairly quickly  - usually not a problem as I read quickly - but I have to read those and try to have some other books to review for you here on my Week in Review. I wasn't always able to do both. The other attribute to my reading malaise is birthday related. It is the Hubinator's milestone birthday and we (his sons and I) thought that we would surprised him with tickets to see his favourite football team play (that's soccer for those North American readers). Wow, organising a surprise is exhausting! Never again!

So, I couldn't get into reading but still needed to write my WIR so what did I do? I checked out Audible to see if I could find a book that I wanted to listen to instead. I don't always get along with audio books as I normally get put off by the narrators voice  - or should I say that their voice isn't what I imagined the voice of the main character to sound like. However, I found not 1 but 2 books that I really enjoyed. What did I listen to?


Melanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018
I first read Dragon Bones by Patricia Briggs back in 2011 after a recommendation from one of my sisters. Dragon Bones is book 1 of the Hurog duology, one of Briggs' earliest books, the only one that isn't a romance and only one she had written primarily from a male POV.

The story starts by introducing the reader to Ward who has just become the ruler of Hurog following the unexpected death of his father. Hurog is a fairly poor kingdom that is rich in folklore and history. Hurog means dragon and Ward has just become the Hurogmeten - protector of dragons. When Ward discovers dragon bones underneath the castle that, if they fall into the wrong hands, could prove the death of everyone and everything he loves. The dragon bones aren't Ward's only worry as there have been skirmishes on the borders of the kingdom and Ward decides to prove that he can live up to the role of Hurogmeten. It's up to Ward and a few of his family to stop the war and stop the dragon bones falling into enemy hands.

Melanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018
Book 2 - Dragon Blood - is set a few years after book 1 and this time Ward finds himself on the evil King Jakoven's hit list. He ends up imprisoned in the King's asylum suffering at the hands of his mage. The King needs Hurog blood to fuel an ancient weapon of mass destruction and guess who has that blood - Ward. While Ward tries to survive his friends try to release him and find a way to avoid the destruction of the five kingdoms. That is all I can say without giving too much away.

I loved these books. Ward is a great hero who starts out the victim and turns out the protector. Ward is complimented by an engaging cast of secondary characters across both books. Ward's family and his 'sort of' relative Oreg help to deliver the plot in both books and support Ward in all his escapades. Brigg's deals with  issues such as abuse, rape and torture in a sensitive way and they add context to the characters rather than being a focal point of the plot. Yet again, Brigg has written two books that are well balanced, have great characters and a well paced plot.

I really enjoyed the audio versions and even though I knew the stories they were still fresh. Joe Manganiello (the narrator) made a convincing Ward. He sounded very similar to the Ward voice in my head. Manganiello even managed to keep the pace and tension of the story and I found it difficult to stop listening. If you haven't read either of these books and enjoy audio books then add these to your TBR.


That is it for me this week. Off to make another birthday dinner! Wish me luck and until next week Happy Reading.





Dragon Bones
The Hurog Duology 1
Ace, February 26, 2002
     Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
Buzzy Multimedia Publishing, November 15, 2010
     Audible Audio Edition, 8 hours and 56 minutes

Melanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs comes the first thrilling* novel in the Hurog duology.

Most everyone thinks Ward of Hurog is a simple-minded fool—and that’s just fine by him. But few people know that his foolishness is (very convincingly) feigned. And that it’s the only thing that’s saved him from death.

When his abusive father dies, Ward becomes the new lord of Hurog…until a nobleman declares that he is too dim-witted to rule. Ward knows he cannot play the fool any longer. To regain his kingdom, he must prove himself worthy—and quickly.

Riding into a war that’s heating up on the border, Ward is sure he’s on the fast track to glory. But soon his mission takes a deadly serious turn. For he has seen a pile of magical dragon bones hidden deep beneath Hurog Keep. The bones can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and Ward is certain his enemies will stop at nothing to possess them…





Dragon Blood
The Hurog Duology 2
Ace, December 31, 2002
     Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 288 pages
Buzzy Multimedia Publishing, April 11, 2011
     Audible Audio Edition, 9 hours and 36 minutes

Melanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018
The Hurog duology concludes with this fantastical adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs.

Ward, ruler of Hurog, is striving to restore his lands and people to prosperity, wanting nothing more than a quiet life. But when an old friend, escaping from High King Jakoven’s torturers, seeks refuge in his keep, Ward can no longer ignore the growing rebellion against the tyrannical High King. He realizes that he cannot stand aside—he must join with the rebels.

However, Jakoven has a secret weapon with which he intends to crush the rebellion: Farsonsbane, a magical artifact that has destroyed entire cities. But first, Jakoven needs blood to awaken it. Dragon’s blood. The very blood that courses through Ward’s veins…

Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018


Welcome to 2018! I hope that everyone had a great time on New Year's Eve and that 2018 will bring health, happiness and some really great books. I am also sending warm wishes to all my North American chums who are experiencing the weather bomb (get it..warm wishes?& tee hee). I hope that the power stays on and stay tucked up at home under a duvet with a good read.

I would love to be able to tell you about a book that was published in 2018 that I have read in 2018 but alas, I am not that organised. Instead I have books that were published last year that I either read last year or just finished. I have also been busy reading the SPFBO 2017 finalists from other blogs so bear with me!


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
I am a big fan of the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. I have reviewed each of the previous three books and have loved the very notion of an invisible library where the librarians like Irene work as covert operatives obtaining rare books. The first three books built up the plot arch of the evil Alberich who wanted to bring down Irene and the Library however, that plot was resolved at the end of book 3. In this instalment Irene and Kai are caught in the middle of two dragons who are competing to obtain a rare book and a prominent place in the dragon hierarchy. Irene is determined to keep the Library neutral and maintain the balance of power between the dragons and the fae, if it kills her....and it just might.

The setting of this instalment, The Lost Plot, is an alternative 1930's style Chicago with a heady mix of the mob and prohibition thrown in for a dash of authenticity. Irene and Kai's race against time to stop the Library becoming embroiled in dragon politics is well developed and executed. The allies, enemies and frenemies that help and hinder their progress are delightfully stereotypical and I couldn't decide which enemy I liked more. Irene and Kai's relationship takes a new turn and one that kind of surprised me given the events of a slightly romantic nature during book 3. While I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment it felt like it was out of sequence with the other books as the plot arch was resolved in the last book. It felt like Cogman had more of Irene's story to tell but hadn't done that planning upfront. It was just a bit jarring with all the build up to the resolution to the Alberich plot and then he barely features in this one. While you can't/shouldn't read books 1-3 out of sequence The Lost Plot could really be read at any point or as a stand alone novel. I really liked this book but can't say that I loved it. If Cogman had taken elements of The Burning Page and merged it with The Lost Plot then it would have been the perfect book.


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
The second book I would like to tell you about is Bec McMaster's Heart of Fire which is the first instalment in her new Legends of the Storm series. I read quite a few of McMaster's books and I like some more than others. I have to admit that I wasn't really that drawn to this book based purely on the book description. I was on a city break to Oslo and doing a lot of travelling and really needed something that didn't need 100% of my concentration. Heart of Fire fit that bill.

In this instalment we are introduced to Freyja is her town's social outcast who spends her time taking care of her invalid father. When the local dreki (aka dragon) steals her last ram Freyja decides to take action and puts herself on a dangerous path. Freyja doesn't realise that the very dreki that steals her last ram is the very same hotty (Rurik) that she meets in a local village. It's not long before Rurik ingratiates himself into the beautiful Freyja's life, while keeping his real identity secret places her in great danger. Will love survive? Will they survive? I will leave it to you to find out.

Heart of Fire is one of those books that you don't need to invest a lot of time or effort into as the plot is quite straight forward and the characters rather one dimensional. The 'goodies' are very good and the baddies are very bad but it is a very quick, easy read and sometimes your brain just needs something that is nice and easy to digest.


There you go, my first WIR of 2018. I hope to be back next week to tell you about what else I have read so until then Happy Reading.





The Lost Plot
An Invisible Library Novel 4
Ace, January 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae.

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library’s own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene’s job. And, incidentally, on her life…


Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
Book 1
Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
Book 2
Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
Book 3





Heart of Fire
Legends of the Storm 1
Lochaber Press Pty. Ltd., December 14, 2017
eBook, 260 pages

Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018
The old eddas speak of dreki—fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland's volcanoes and steal away fair maidens.

Freyja wants none of such myths. Dreki seducing young ladies? Ha. They probably eat such foolish girls. But when the local dreki steals her last ram—costing her any chance of feeding her ill father through the winter—Freyja intends to confront the fearsome myth.

Sentenced to a life of exile from his clan, Rurik is fascinated by the furious woman who comes to claim her ram. She reeks of mysterious magic and challenges him at every step. He intends to claim the passionate firebrand, but to do so he must take mortal form. It's the only time the dreki are vulnerable, and with a dragon-hunter arriving on the shores of Iceland, he can barely afford the risk—but lonely Freyja, with her elf-cursed eyes and pragmatic soul, tempts him in ways he's never felt before. Is she the key to reclaiming his heritage? Or will she be his downfall?

Don't miss any of the Legends of the Storm books!
1. Heart of fire
2. Storm of Desire (coming 2018)
3. Clash of Storms (coming 2018)

Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter


Flame in the Dark
Author:  Faith Hunter
Series:  A Soulwood Novel 3
Publisher:  Ace, December 5, 2017
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  US$7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780451473332 (print); 9780698184510 (eBook)

Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter
Set in the same world as Faith Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, the third, thrilling Soulwood novel stars Nell Ingram, who draws her powers from deep within the earth.

Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED—the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet.

A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead—and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more—or less—than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.



Doreen’s Thoughts

As Hunter eased us into the world of Soulwood, she used her primary character, Jane Yellowrock, to introduce us to Nell Ingram, a young widow fighting against the efforts of a cult-like church to return to the fold. The first two novels involved spillover from Jane’s world, but in Flame in the Dark, Nell is on her own and in the thick of it. She has been accepted as a junior member of the PsyLED team, and as the book opens, she is doing grunt work after an attack on a powerful senator.

The great thing about Hunter’s novels is that she mixes action and mystery with heart and soul. As the pursuit for the assassin becomes more dangerous, the group begins to speculate that the killer is a member of an unknown paranormal group. Nell herself is attacked and nearly killed as she finds a critical piece of evidence. There are burning houses and exploding cars, and a young boy who can cause burns with a single touch.

But at the same time as the investigation, life goes on for Nell. Occam is continuing his pursuit of her, inviting her to dinner. Her relationship with her family is better than ever; in fact, the family is making efforts to send eligible bachelors to Nell in hopes that she will return to the church and help modernize it. The PsyLED team has accepted her as a member, no longer making accommodations for her newness and her lack of “townie” ways. Lastly, Nell’s sister Mud has come of age and appears to have the same powers that Nell has.

Hunter’s skill as a writer comes as she intertwines Nell’s every-day, ongoing life with PsyLED’s adventurous day job. The descriptions of the group meetings always involve food, and the office has a set up for changing and sleeping. The PsyLED group has become Nell’s second family, one for whom she would risk her life, as she does in this story.




Previously

Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter
Book 1
Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter
Book 2

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole


Siege Line
Author:  Myke Cole
Series:  Shadow Ops: Gemini Cell 3
Publisher:  Ace, October 31, 2017
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780425269664 (print); 9781101636770 (eBook)

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole
In Myke Cole’s latest high-octane, action-packed military fantasy, the fate of undead Navy SEAL James Schweitzer will be decided—one way or another…

The Gemini Cell took everything from Jim Schweitzer: his family, his career as a Navy SEAL, even his life. Hounded across the country, Schweitzer knows the only way he can ever stop running, the only way his son can ever be safe, is to take the fight to the enemy and annihilate the Cell once and for all.

But the Cell won’t be easily destroyed. Out of control and fighting a secret war with the government it once served, it has dispatched its shadowy Director to the far reaches of the subarctic in search of a secret magic that could tip the balance of power in its favor. Schweitzer must join with the elite warriors of both America and Canada in a desperate bid to get there first—and avert a disaster that could put the Cell in control.



Qwill's Thoughts

Siege Line by Myke Cole is the 3rd and final novel in the Gemini Cell trilogy, a prequel series to the Shadow-Ops military fantasy series. Siege Line completes the story of Jim Schweitzer, former Navy Seal. The novel picks up immediately after the events of Javelin Rain.

The Great Reawakening (the return of magic to the world) has not yet happened (read the Shadow-Ops trilogy for more on that). Magic is being used by the Gemini Cell to create 'zombies' - dead animated by the souls of powerful and evil jinns pulled from the soul storm by a sorcerer. Jim is one of those animated by magic. He is superhuman with a body that is part metal part flesh. He has magical abilities - super strength, extremely acute hearing and sight, and more. Jim has decided that the Gemini Cell and its Director must be eliminated and he will go to any lengths to assure that.

Much of the action in Siege Line takes place in the Northwest Territory of Canada in around the very small village of Fort Resolution. Cole's description of Fort Resolution and the surrounding frigid and snow swept area is vivid. He has more than done his homework when it comes to the area and the people who live there.

Cole introduces many of the residents of Fort Resolution. I am particularly taken with Wilma "Mankiller" Plante, an Afghanistan veteran and the sheriff of Fort Resolution, and one of her deputies Joe Yakecan. Both are pivotal to the novel especially Mankiller who more or less steals the show. Mankiller is of great interest to the Director of Gemini Cell, which means that Jim will do anything to help her.

This is Cole's most emotionally complex novel. Schweitzer's desire to hold on to his humanity, to be with his son again, and to set things right regardless of the cost to himself is palpable throughout the story. Cole delves into the emotions of many of his characters as they face finding out about magic in the world and about devastating loss. Mankiller is deeply developed and her background and motivations are clear. We learn much more about the Director of Gemini Cell and what makes him tick.

There is a very big reveal that is both heartbreaking and makes perfect sense after I got over the shock. I definitely had a "wow" moment followed by an "of course!" moment. Kudos for Cole for both startling me and making so many pieces fall into place with that reveal.

Cole has matured as a novelist throughout the Shadow-Ops and Gemini Cell trilogies. Siege Line is beautifully written with near perfect pacing. It is action packed with nailbiting fight sequences, close escapes, and terrible losses. The cast of characters is exceptionally well drawn.

Am I sad that this was the last novel in the Shadow-Ops world? Incredibly. Cole ends the series on such a high note with so much hope that it's hard to stay sad for long. Siege Line is a wonderful novel full of believable characters, exhilarating action, heroes to cheer for, and so much heart.





Previously

Gemini Cell
Shadow Ops: Gemini Cell 1
Ace, January 27, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole
Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with an all-new epic adventure in his highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe—set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel…

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…


See Qwill's Review here.



Javelin Rain
Shadow Ops: Gemini Cell 2
Ace, March 29, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole
The fast-paced, adrenaline-filled sequel to Gemini Cell, set in the same magical and militaristic world of the acclaimed Shadow Ops series.

Javelin: A code denoting the loss of a national security asset with strategic impact.

Rain: A code indicating a crisis of existential proportions.

Javelin Rain incidents must be resolved immediately, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the cost…

Being a US Navy SEAL was Jim Schweitzer’s life right up until the day he was killed. Now, his escape from the government who raised him from the dead has been coded “Javelin Rain.” Schweitzer and his family are on the run from his former unit, the Gemini Cell, and while he may be immortal, his wife and son are not.

Jim must use all of his strength to keep his family safe, while convincing his wife he’s still the same man she once loved. But what his former allies have planned to bring him down could mean disaster not only for Jim and his family, but for the entire nation…


See Qwill's Review here.





The Shadow-Ops Trilogy

Control Point
Shadow Ops 1
Ace, January 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole
Lieutenant Oscar Britton of the Supernatural Operations Corps has been trained to hunt down and take out people possessing magical powers. But when he starts manifesting powers of his own, the SOC revokes Oscar's government agent status to declare him public enemy number one.

















Fortress Frontier
Shadow Ops 2
Ace, January 29, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier—cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place—Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…




Breach Zone
Shadow Ops 3
Ace, January 28, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Review: Siege Line by Myke Cole
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…
















Review: The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan


The Legion of Flame
Author:  Anthony Ryan
Series:  The Draconis Memoria 2
Publisher:  Ace, June 27, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook,  576 pages
List Price:  US$28.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101987896 (print); 9781101987902 (eBook)

Review: The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan
Empires clash and a fell power stakes its claim in the second in a new series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy.

For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood—and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed—to fuel and protect its empire. But now, a fearsome power has arisen—a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it.

Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire and for all of civilization.



Trinitytwo's / Tracey's Review

Review for The Waking Fire (Draconis Memoria 1) here.

The Legion of Flame, the second book in the Draconis Memoria series, picks up in the aftermath of the destruction wreaked upon the people of the Corvantine Empire by the ruthless White Drake and its army of lesser drakes and Spoiled humans. Unlike its kin, this legendary dragon is enormously powerful and has the ability to transform the humans it takes as captives into slaves by compelling them to stare into mysterious crystals. The slaves, called the Spoiled, remain humanoid in appearance but their yellow eyes and the scaled ridges on their faces make their presence easy to identify. The White is able to command the Spoiled nonverbally, and although a portion of their individuality remains, they are largely a collective mind. As the Spoiled army systematically wipes out settlement after settlement, it also amasses more recruits. Their assimilation results in shared knowledge and abilities that the White plans to use to for its goal of permanently subjugating humankind.

In this action-packed, quest-driven sequel to The Waking Fire, author Anthony Ryan focuses each chapter on the exploits of one of the four main characters. Each POV storyline successfully navigates the balance of adrenaline-filled action with eye-opening exposition. Sirus, a new POV character, gives the reader the opportunity to understand the mutated Spoiled's perspective. Sirus' quick intellect and ability to lead make him a valuable asset. And although he is filled with self-loathing, he is consistent and very successful in furthering the White's plans. Sirus' chapters were the most difficult for me to read. It was unsettling to watch him devise ingenious methods to kill and capture humans. But although it was uncomfortable, I also found it illuminating and fascinating. Through Sirus, Ryan is able to share the very alien nature of the drakes and the White in particular, in a very natural and uncontrived setting.

Corrick Hilemore and Clay Torcreek set sail to the frigid southern isles with the purpose of discovering the true nature of their enemy and perhaps a means to destroy it. Although Hilemore and Clay begin their journey together, they soon become separated, which leads both protagonists through harrowing experiences. Though Hilemore has an important role to play, it is Clay that provides the back-story of the White's origins. Similar to The Waking Fire, Hilemore is relegated to the position of secondary character and although he is extremely earnest and likeable, I'm beginning to wonder if his sole purpose is to fill in some of the series' blanks. Clay's travels are much more vital and quickly take an unexpected turn. His subterranean passage is especially exhilarating and extremely informative.

Lizanne Lethridge and her mission engaged me the most. Seeking a fabled weapons inventor, she must infiltrate the virtually impenetrable prison city of Scorazin. Lizanne's skill set as a spy and assassin are sorely tested in a fortress city whose only inhabitants are hardened criminals. Most admirably, Lizanne never quits no matter how many obstacles are thrown in her path or how many detours she is forced to endure. Hands down my favorite character, her foray in Scorazin and her interactions with its denizens kept me turning pages late into the night.

Always impeccable, Anthony Ryan's world building skills do not fail to amaze. In the Draconis Memoria series, he completely immerses his readers in a steampunk-esque world where the struggle for survival is palpable against an emerging army of ferocious drakes. I especially appreciated the premise of short-sightedness by the power-hungry. Mirroring current world events, this theme is resoundingly appropriate.

The Legion of Flame pits human perseverance and ingenuity against the brute force and intellect of a race vying for its own place in history. Pure and simple, it is brilliant story-telling. This series is top notch and not to be missed.

Midnight, Texas


NBC has released an Official Trailer for MIDNIGHT, TEXAS, a TV show that will premiere on July 25th (10pm) and is based on the Midnight, Texas novels by Charlaine Harris. NBC describes the show on the Trailer's YouTube page:
Welcome to a place where being normal is really quite strange. From the visionary director of "Mr. Robot" and based on the hit book series from the author behind HBO's "True Blood" comes a journey into a remote Texas town where no one is who they seem. From vampires and witches to psychics and hit men, Midnight is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different. As the town members fight off outside pressures from rowdy biker gangs, ever-suspicious cops and their own dangerous pasts, they band together and form a strong and unlikely family.



Midnight, Texas on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NBCMidnightTexas/
Midnight, Texas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NBCMidnightTX
Midnight, Texas on Tumblr: http://nbcmidnighttexas.tumblr.com/
Midnight, Texas on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nbcmidnighttexas/




The upcoming TV show is based on the Midnight, Texas novels Midnight Crossroad, Day Shift, and Night Shift.

As I said in my review of Midnight Crossroad (here) - "If you've read other series by Harris you will recognize Manfred from her Harper Connolly series and Bobo Winthrop from the Lily Bard series. Midnight Crossroad is set in a post-Sookie Stackhouse world and meets at some tiny intersection of the Sookie, Lily Bard and Harper Connolly worlds." Whether this holds true for the TV series is unknown, at least to me.



If you like to read a novel/series before you see the TV show/movie, here is information about the novels:

Midnight Crossroad
A Novel of Midnight, Texas 1
Ace, March 31, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 6, 2014

SOON TO BE A NBC TV SERIES!

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes the first novel in a series that takes place in a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).



Day Shift
A Novel of Midnight, Texas 2
Ace, March 29, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 31, 2015

SOON TO BE A NBC TV SERIES!

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels returns to the one-stoplight town of Midnight, Texas, a place where no one is quite what they seem…

There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, where the residents like to keep to themselves. When psychic Manfred Bernardo finds himself embroiled in a scandal and hounded by the press after one of his regular clients dies during a reading, he turns to enigmatic, beautiful, and dangerous Olivia Charity for help. Somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…

Includes an excerpt of Night Shift



Night Shift
A Novel of Midnight, Texas 3
Ace, February 7, 2017
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 3, 2016

SOON TO BE A NBC TV SERIES!

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels comes the third novel of Midnight, Texas, the town where some secrets will never see the light of day…


At Midnight’s local pawnshop, weapons are flying off the shelves—only to be used in sudden and dramatic suicides right at the main crossroads in town. Who better to figure out why blood is being spilled than the vampire Lemuel, who, while translating mysterious texts, discovers what makes Midnight the town it is. There’s a reason why witches and werewolves, killers and psychics, have been drawn to this place…

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsReview: Brief Cases by Jim ButcherReview: Dark Queen by Faith HunterReview: Burn Bright (Alpha and Omega 5) by Patricia BriggsMelanie's Week in Review - January 21, 2018Melanie's Week In Review - January 7, 2018Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith HunterReview: Siege Line by Myke ColeReview: The Legion of Flame by Anthony RyanMidnight, Texas

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