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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: Pirate's Prophecy by Chris A. Jackson


Pirate's Prophecy
Author:  Chris A. Jackson
Series:  Pathfinder Tales 31
Publisher:  Tor Books, February 2, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
List Price: US$14.99 (print); US$7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765375476 (print); 9781466847347 (eBook)

Review: Pirate's Prophecy by Chris A. Jackson
Paizo Publishing is the award-winning publisher of fantasy role playing games, accessories, and board games. Pathfinder Tales: Pirate's Prophecy is the continuation of their popular novel series.

Captain Torius Vin and the crew of the Stargazer have given up the pirate life, instead becoming abolitionist privateers bent on capturing slave ships and setting their prisoners free. But when rumors surface of a new secret weapon in devil-ruled Cheliax, are the Stargazers willing to go up against a navy backed by Hell itself?



Brannigan's Review:

Pirate’s Prophecy is Chris A. Jackson’s third book in the Pathfinder series. Unfortunately, I could tell I was missing a lot of back history with the characters in the book. I felt like I was having dinner with my wife’s old high school friends—unable to laugh at their inside jokes or understand what’s not being said as much as what is being said. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself. The food was still good and the company friendly. Alright I’ve played out this analogy.

Jackson’s a skilled writer and it shows by the fact that I knew I was missing things but I didn’t mind that much as the characters were entertaining and the story and plot kept me interested. It’s hard to mess up a pirate adventure. Add in some subterfuge and you’ve got a winner idea in my book.

The pirate crew of the Stargazer were all engaging. The main characters in this book are: Captain Torius Vin, who struggles with his old life of simple piracy and his new found life of acting as a spy and saboteur; Celeste, the Captain’s love interest who is a Naga (mythical snake with a human head) and suffers from time loss while stargazing; and Vreva Jhafae a female spy who tries to discover what dangerous weapon is about to be unleashed on her nation.

If that doesn’t grab your interest you’ll be pleased to know that Jackson is a master at description and keeps the flow of the story moving. You feel like you’re on the deck of the Stargazer or in the seedy docks of Ostenso. Your heart races in combat and worry regarding whether or not Vreva Jhafae will be be caught.

Pirate’s Prophecy is a Nautical adventure with plenty of nail-biting moments. You’ll find it hard to put down. I will say there are definitely some things you’ll feel like you’re missing as this is the third book with these characters, but if you’re not the type to be put off by that, I would recommend giving it a read—or go buy the first two books. I’d recommend this book for Young Adults and Adults as there is minor violence and adult situations. Perfect for fantasy lovers, nautical adventurers and fans of spy craft.

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: Strange Weather by Joe Hill


Strange Weather: Four Short Novels
Author:  Joe Hill
Publisher:  William Morrow, October 24, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  US$27.99 (print); 9780062663139 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780062663115 (print); US$14.99 (eBook)

Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill
A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.

"One of America’s finest horror writers" (Time magazine), Joe Hill has been hailed among legendary talents such as Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, and Jonathan Lethem. In Strange Weather, this "compelling chronicler of human nature’s continual war between good and evil," (Providence Journal-Bulletin) who "pushes genre conventions to new extremes" (New York Times Book Review) deftly expose the darkness that lies just beneath the surface of everyday life.

"Snapshot" is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by "The Phoenician," a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in "Aloft."

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. "Rain" explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In "Loaded," a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

Masterfully exploring classic literary themes through the prism of the supernatural, Strange Weather is a stellar collection from an artist who is "quite simply the best horror writer of our generation" (Michael Koryta).



Deb's Review

I'm a little ashamed to admit that Strange Weather is my first Joe Hill book. I’m not sure what took me so long, but the four novellas in this collection have convinced me that I've been missing out on something very good.

The stories are thematically bound by weather events, but they are also commentary on topics that touch a raw nerve in modern times.

The first story, ‘Snapshot,’ was not at all what I expected; not from my initial impressions of what kind of writer Hill might be, and not even from what I found in the opening paragraphs.

Mike Figlione is thirteen and the type of kid who develops a lively sense of creativity because his awkwardness leaves him short on friends. Tinkering on an invention in his garage, he is interrupted by his neighbor and former babysitter, Shelly Beukes, who shows up in his driveway, lost and confused.

After escorting Shelly home, Mike stops by a convenience store and manages to make an enemy out of The Phoenician, a mysterious stranger with an instant camera that robs its subjects of their memories, one snapshot at a time. That night, in the middle of a terrifying storm, Mike is left to watch over Shelly to keep her from wandering away again. Wrestling with the onset of maturity, he realizes that Shelly is more to him than just an old babysitter. Though he’s poorly equipped to defend anyone, Mike understands that he must do his best to protect Shelly from The Phoenician.

The story is a bittersweet celebration of Shelly’s and Mike’s memories and how they overlap to create a poignant, shared backstory that begins to fade as Shelly’s memories die. ‘Snapshot’ boasts a very complete protagonist arc, packed full of emotional resonance.

‘Loaded’ starts off with what appears to be an unrelated string of events that share one common element: guns. The narrative follows three characters: Aisha Lanternglass, a girl who sees a young man she considers to be a brother killed by the police; Becki Kolbert, a young woman whose married employer is teaching her all sorts of things at firing ranges and in motel rooms; and Rand Kellaway, a mall security guard whose ex-wife has hit him with a protection order that requires him to surrender his firearms to the local sheriff’s office.

As you might guess, this story contains intensely differing viewpoints. The conclusion should provoke a reaction — for better or worse — from everyone.

In ‘Aloft,’ Aubrey Griffin is not the kind of guy you’d expect to see jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, even with a group of buddies in tribute to a departed friend. Scared and at the point of backing out, something goes wrong with the plane and everyone must jump. Aubrey and the jump master he’s attached to quickly collide with a cloudy alien landscape, but when they disengage harnesses, the jump master is whisked away by his partially deployed parachute.

Aubrey is left marooned on a floating island that seems to understand his wants and tries to provide those desires in return for Aubrey’s presence. He has plenty of time to contemplate what’s broken in his life, and to decide if it’s worth bothering to work on a virtually impossible plan for escape.

‘Aloft’ is a curious portrait of a man at a crossroads in his life against a very unique backdrop. But Aubrey’s shift in self-awareness is much lighter fare than the other three stories that go straight for the throat. It’s beautifully written, but feels a bit like a palate cleanser.

I don’t want to say much about the final story, ‘Rain.’ There were a few surprising moments, and I’d prefer not to upend them. It’s a story about deadly rainfall with potentially apocalyptic consequences, has a very strong and compelling protagonist, and a diverse array of supporting characters. It touches on terrorism, human interference in the natural world, and says a whole lot about how people treat each other. It’s a thought-provoking coda to the book.

Should you read Strange Weather? Do you like horror and sci-fi? Do you enjoy novellas with their ability to give you full-blown characterizations with a shorter time commitment? Can you handle stories that actually make you feel something, even if it’s anger or empathetic sorrow? Are you OK with having your beliefs challenged a bit? You answered “yes” to at least one of those questions, right? Then, yes, I think you should read this book.

Hill is a skilled writer with all of the confidence and insight required to push a reader’s buttons. The book made me cry, made me angry more than once, and made me examine my own views. That’s a lot to ask from an unassuming bundle of stories, but Strange Weather delivers way more than what’s on the tin. Highly recommended.

Paul Weimer on Civilization VI


Paul Weimer on Civilization VI
“Just one more turn....”

That cry, said aloud or to oneself has propelled legions of gamers for the last 25 years. Ever since the original game came out in 1991, each iteration of Civilization has changed and expanded and reworked the game, sometimes subtly, and sometimes in rather radical departures from the previous iteration. There have been DLCs and add ons for the more recent versions as well, sometimes making a whole new game out of the core engine. There have been a few “spin off” games, like Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which is “Civ in space” with the added wrinkle of telling a story of transhumanism and colonization of an alien world in the bargain.

I’ve played them all. Since the original Civilization, anticipating and buying the new Civilization has been in my blood. The anticipation of firing up Rome (the Civ I *always* play first by tradition, and the default when I want to play Civ in general) and expanding out that map, exploring, meeting neighbors, and taking over the world, one way or another.

Now, the latest iteration of Civilization, Civilization VI, is now out. How does it stack up to its predecessors? How intuitive is it for new players? Does it still have that one more turn feel?

Therein lies the story.

Paul Weimer on Civilization VI
After picking your civilization, and other options, the typical Civilization screen is to see your Settler, and sometimes another unit, in a small area surrounded by black. Revealing that blackness, finding out what’s there, discovering the world is very much a key Civilization experience. For many people, this is the most fun part of the game, and it is for me, too. So the start came as a bit of a surprise.

That sepia map of the world around is lovely, even if it's not what I expected. I’ve seen this effect used in other games before, other “4X” games that Civilization pioneered, but this is an early marker to a player of previous Civilizations that some things are going to be new. Cities are definitely something that follows this. In games past, cities took up one square, and everything you built, monuments to wonders was in that square. Or should I say, hex. The first four Civilization games used a square grid, but Civilization V, the previous game in the series, changed things to a hexagonal tile map.

Civilization VI takes the hex map further. Cities, and wonders take up space, sprawling across the map. This makes the planning of cities out into a mini game in a way it rarely was before in earlier games. In some earlier games, there were arguments as to the “optimal” build. Here, where you build a city and decide to place its districts, matters and changes things enormously. Not every city can potentially build every World Wonder, as one could in previous games. There are restrictions on tiles for many of them. The Terracotta Army, for example, needs to be built on flat land next to an encampment. If your city doesn’t have an encampment, or the right land next to one, you simply can’t build the wonder even if you’ve researched the prerequisites. It makes city building and planning a far more complicated process than previous games, where one could practically build to a predetermined schedule (assuming no calamities to change the pattern). It also means that your opponents cannot race to the same Wonders as you do without fail. (In Civilization, if another Civ builds a Wonder, no other Civ can build it. There is and can only be one Potala Palace or Oxford University)

It's not all new. Many of the things are still there. Civilizations, some old favorites, and some new ones, and some new leaders for those Civs. In previous Civilization games, Rome was always led by Julius or Augustus Caesar, or sometimes both. This time, Trajan steps up to be your leader, your Optimus Princeps. There are more female leaders than in years past, and some unusual choices in that direction, especially with new Civs like Tomyris leading the horse-riding Scythians, or even the inspired choice of Catherine de Medici as the leader of France. As a sign of things for the future, Greece has a choice of leaders with different bonuses. You can play as the domestic focused Pericles, or as the warlike Queen Gorgo. This suggests, and I hope, there will be more leaders for the existing civilizations in the future.

The speculative element of Civilization VI is in the stories you can create, on maps real and unreal. What would happen if the Japanese rose to power, and had to fight for dominance against the Spanish and the Egyptians? The culture rise of India, even as on the other side of the globe, Brazil strives for similar dominance, while Australia and the United States fight each other. The long story of the Persians, slowly and inevitably conquering the globe. It’s these alternate historical and never-could-have-happened stories that give Civilization VI (and its previous iterations) that alternate historical feel.

But does it have that one more turn feel? Well, in the writing of this review I soon found myself immersed in a game where my Roman Empire was born, expanded, got into tangles with the Aztecs and Spanish (who,much to my disappointment, never got to fighting each other), got into a religious war declared on me by Greece, and eventually wound up sending a colony to Mars, with a science victory for the industrious citizens of the Eternal Empire. So, in the end, the answer is yes.




About Paul

Paul Weimer is a SF writer, reviewer, and podcaster and an avid amateur photographer. When he isn’t doing any of that, he’s often found rolling dice and roleplaying. His audio work can be found on the Skiffy and Fanty Show and SFF audio. His reviews and columns can also be found at Tor.com and the Barnes and Noble SF/F blog, amongst other places. Paul is best seen on Twitter as @princejvstin.



Civilization VI was released on October 21, 2016. Developer: Firaxis Games. Publisher: 2K Games. More information at the Civilization VI site.

Review: Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao


Whispers of Warning
Author:  Jessica Estevao
Series:  A Change of Fortune Mystery 2
Publisher:  Berkley, September 19, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  US$15.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425281611 (print); 9780698197176 (eBook)

Review: Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao
Ruby Proulx’s new life in Orchard Beach, Maine, faces some sinister complications in the next Change of Fortune Mystery by Jessica Estevao…

Free from the clutches of her con artist father, Ruby Proulx is starting to settle in at the Belden, her aunt Honoria’s seaside hotel. She loves finally being rooted in one place and also feels a sense of purpose as she helps Honoria keep her business afloat by acting as a psychic medium for the hotel’s metaphysically inclined guests.

When one of the guests, renowned Spiritualist and outspoken suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge, checks into the hotel for a monthlong stay, Ruby finds her sense of purpose expands outside the confines of home and family. Sophronia takes Ruby under her wing and mentors her in the mediumistic abilities, encouraging her to fight for women’s rights.

But not everyone is as happy with Sophronia’s appearance in Old Orchard. When a dangerous act of sabotage is carried out and a body is found floating in the pool of a local bathhouse, Ruby takes it upon herself to find answers— and in the process learns that her new friend has been hiding some deadly secrets of her own…



Qwill's Thoughts

The intrepid Ruby Proulx is at it again in Whispers of Warning, the 2nd novel in the Change of Fortune Mysteries by Jessica Estevao.

The events take place just a few weeks after Whispers Beyond the Veil. Ruby is settling into her life at the Belden Hotel, which is owned by her Aunt Honoria Belden. The Belden has carved out a niche as a hotel for those interested in Spiritualism. The staff includes practitioners of the spiritual arts and Ruby has become the resident medium. The hotel is located on Orchard Beach in Old Orchard, Maine, a popular seaside resort town. The new pier is about to be opened and will be the largest pleasure pier in the world. This is drawing crowds to Old Orchard. At the same time well-known spiritualist and women's suffrage advocate Sophronia Foster Eldridge is also in town giving speeches and setting up a march for women's rights despite wide-spread resistance.

Many of the characters we've met in the first novel are back again - the hotel staff, Honoria's suitor George Cheswick, Officer Warren Yancey, Ruby's best friend Lucy Yancey, and many more.

The historical backdrop is fascinating and presented organically in the novel. Estevao's first novel as well as Whispers of Warning makes me curious about the history of the era - the late 1890s. And I do admit to reading up on some of the historical issues Estevao presents. While additional reading is completely unnecessary to understanding the events in this novel, I love when a novel piques my curiosity about history.

Whispers of Warning is a slow and pleasant burn. Unlike many mysteries there is no death in the first half of the novel. Rather Estevao lays the foundation for the upcoming events with excellent character and plot building. Honestly I could just read about Ruby's day to day life and interactions without a mystery at all. She is a complex character trying to find her way in her new circumstances after growing up traveling in a medicine show with her not so pleasant father. While she chafes at the limits put on women of her era she does what she can to be independent. She also tends to upset the apple cart on occasion and discomfit many of the men that she encounters. You can't help but hope that everything turns out for the best for Ruby.

Whispers of Warning is beautifully written with great characters, a touch of the supernatural, unexpected twists and turns, and an engrossing mystery. I am looking forward to further adventures with Ruby Proulx.





Previously

Whispers Beyond the Veil
A Change of Fortune Mystery 1
Berkley, September 6, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Review: Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao
First in a dazzling new historical mystery series featuring Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a questionable past who suddenly finds her future most uncertain…

Canada, 1898. The only life Ruby Proulx has ever known is that of a nomad, traveling across the country with her snake-oil salesman father. She dreams of taking root somewhere, someday, but, until she can, she makes her way by reading tarot cards. Yet she never imagined her own life would take such a turn…

After one of her father’s medical “miracles” goes deadly wrong, Ruby evades authorities by hiding in the seaside resort town of Old Orchard, Maine, where her estranged aunt, Honoria, owns the Hotel Belden, a unique residence that caters to Spiritualists—a place where Ruby should be safe as long as she can keep her dark secret hidden.

But Ruby’s plan begins to crumble after a psychic investigator checks into the hotel and senses Ruby is hiding more than she’s letting on. Now Ruby must do what she can to escape both his attention and Aunt Honoria’s insistence that she has a true gift, before she loses her precious new home and family forever…

Review here.

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.

Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss


The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
Author:  Theodora Goss
Publisher:  Saga Press, June 20, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
List Price:  US$24.99 (print); US$7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781481466509 (print); 9781481466523 (eBook)

Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.



Tracey's / Trinitytwo's Review

Mary Jekyll has led a sheltered life, even for a woman in the late 1800's. Her father, Dr. Henry Jekyll, died over a decade ago, leaving his wealth mysteriously inaccessible to his family. Although appearances were maintained, the truth behind the facade is that Mary was forced to sell almost everything of value over the years in order to retain a few key members of the household staff and hire a nurse to help care for her mentally-ill mother. After her mother's death, Mary realizes she is quickly running out of funds. She begins to investigate her mother's legal papers in the hope of discovering a way to provide for herself and her faithful housekeeper. Mary is astounded to learn her mother had a secret bank account with a monthly withdrawal earmarked "for the care and keeping of Hyde". Could this be a reference to the notorious Mr. Hyde who is still wanted for the brutal murder of an elderly gentleman? And if that is the case, would the authorities still offer a reward for his whereabouts even though the crime was committed so long ago? Mary visits the famous detective Sherlock Holmes for advice, hoping this information might lead to some financial security. Instead, Mary finds that nothing in her mundane life is quite what it seems.

The cast of characters spring from some of literature's most well-known horror stories. The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter features not only Dr. Jekyll's daughter, but also the daughters of doctors Frankenstein, Moreau, and Rappaccini. Each character is well-formed and has her own unique voice. Although introducing the offspring of iconic fictional figures is nothing new, author Theodora Goss offers an original plot and an engrossing mystery that keeps the story appealing and fresh.

Another unique feature of the book is an intriguing story within the story. The daughters are reading a written account of their exploits, much like Dr. Watson's documentation of Sherlock Holmes' adventures. Each chapter features conversations between the women, commenting on the authenticity of the writer's interpretations, giving more accurate and often amusing insights into their personalities. This commentary allows each of the daughters' fascinating backstories to blend seamlessly into the action. For instance, through this plot device it becomes obvious that the insults directed at the incorrigible Diana Hyde actually come from a place of love and indulgence.

Goss does an expert job of clearly exposing who the real monsters are, as well as exploring the idea that the bonds forged from friendship can be the strongest of all. Other strong themes included are those of sisterhood, loyalty and feminism. Goss left a few mysteries unsolved, and hopefully they will be addressed in her next book. Overall, her formula of monsters, mystery, and the macabre is highly entertaining and I definitely recommend The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter.

Review: Hellknight by Liane Merciel


Hellknight
Author:   Liane Merciel
Series:  Pathfinder Tales 32
Publisher:  Tor Books, April 5, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
List Price:  US$14.99 (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765375483 (print); 9781466847354 (eBook)

Review: Hellknight by Liane Merciel
Paizo Publishing is the award-winning publisher of fantasy role playing games, accessories, and board games. Liane Merciel's Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight is a thrilling addition to their popular novel series.

The Hellknights are a brutal organization of warriors dedicated to maintaining law and order at any cost. For devil-blooded Jheraal, even the harshest methods are justified if it means building a better world for her daughter. Yet when a serial killer starts targeting hellspawn like Jheraal and her child, Jheraal has no choice but to use all her cunning and ruthlessness in order to defeat an ancient enemy to whom even death is no deterrent.



Brannigan's Review

Liane Merciel’s Hellknight from the Pathfinder Tales universe is an engrossing mystery. The story takes place in Cheliax region and the city of Westcrown. The city and its history blends into the story. What was once a beautiful proud city has fallen under the rule of a noble family that openly works with demons and dark magic as well as the Hellknights, a brutal organization that demands justice and order at any cost. Most of the races in the Hellknights are devil-blooded humanoids that wear their ancestry in the forms or horns, scales, fangs and other frightening visages that cause them to be outcasts from normal society, but as Hellknights they find a purpose. In Westcrown, it is to keep order. Parts of the city have fallen to ruins that are overrun by monsters.

The story starts in the ruins when devil-bloods or hellspawn are killed by Sechel, an assassin who kills in an unusual way. She rips hearts from her victims’ chests, but instead of dying the victims remain in an comatose state with a hole in their chest. Jheraal, a Hellknight investigator, is assigned to investigate the crime and stop the murder. Ederras, a Paladin fighting at the Worldwound, finds out his brother, a noble in Westcrown, is murdered, leaving him the sole heir to his family name and wealth. Ending his self exile, he returns home to find his brother’s killer. It’s not long before Jheraal and Ederras, two opposites, are working together to find and stop the murderer. As they investigate, they only discover this mystery is deeply rooted in their families’ and city’s history.

Merciel’s two main protagonists, Jheraal and Ederras, are the primary POV characters. They each take turns showing you the world and story through their perspective, giving the reader several unique ways of looking at the story.

The characters are all well developed. Merciel does a wonderful job of giving them a life outside of the main story and allows them to grow and develop. I actually fell in love with Sechel and would relish reading more about her in her own book. This shows how well Merciel did in humanizing her characters, even those that don't have as much time on the page.

I highly recommend Hellknight for anyone that enjoys a fast paced fantasy mystery. For those that have no knowledge about the Pathfinder universe, don’t worry, I didn’t either until I started reading the books and I’ve never felt left behind. Don’t let a good mystery slip away. I would recommend this book for young adults as well as adults. There is some descriptive violence and minor adult situations, but nothing I would be worried about my teenager reading.

Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff


A Peace Divided
Author:  Tanya Huff
Series:  Peacekeeper 2
Publisher:  DAW, June 6, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780756411503 (print); 9780756411527 (eBook)

Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
The second book in the action-packed Peacekeeper series, a continuation of Tanya Huff’s military sci-fi Confederation series following Torin Kerr

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps.

But that was before Torin learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting…before she’d been declared dead and had spent time in a prison that shouldn’t exist…before she’d learned about the “plastic” beings who were really behind the war between the Confederation and the Others. That was when Torin left the military for good.

Yet she couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies—some ex-Marines, some civilians with unique skills—and together they prepared to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. But after their first major mission, it became obvious that covert operations were not going to be enough.

Although the war is over, the fight goes on and the Justice Department finds its regular Wardens unable to deal with violence and the people trained to use it. Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has a solution: Strike Teams made up of ex-military personnel, small enough to maneuver quickly, able to work together if necessary. Justice has no choice but to implement her idea and Torin puts her team of independent contractors back into uniform. It isn’t war, it is policing, but it often looks much the same.

When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The problem of innocents in the line of fire is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon able to destroy the plastic aliens who’d started and maintained the war.

If Torin weren’t already torn by wanting that weapon in play, she also has to contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy—former enemies—to her team. Before they confront the mercenaries, Torin will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between“us” and “them” is anything but straight.



Doreen's Review

I’ve enjoyed Tanya Huff’s novels for years, particularly her fantasy, but her Confederation series, also known as the Valor series, really got me hooked on Sci-Fi military novels. I’m really not into guns or other weapons; I respect and honor those who choose to serve in the military, but I could never really understand their devotion and enthusiasm for their service until I began reading about Torin Kerr.

The Valor novels begin with Valor’s Choice and Torin and her platoon assigned to yet another dangerous mission on behalf of the Confederacy. The Confederacy is made up of the Elder Races, those with the earliest and best technology who organized and invited other races to the Confederacy, and the Younger Races, who are recruited because they still retain the violent tendencies necessary to fight the Galactic War against the Primacy which has raged for centuries. All the Valor novels follow Torin as she evolves in her role as a gunnery sergeant until she discovers a massive secret about the creation of the War that finally leads to peace with the Primacy. Just when it seems that there is no need for entities with her skill set, she is recruited by the Wardens, the peacekeeping hand of the Confederacy, to help enforce laws where the Elder Races even lack the ability to use / understand violence.

A Peace Divided starts after Torin’s first adventure as a Warden in An Ancient Peace, where she and her team discovered that some military groups are searching for ancient weapons developed and then destroyed by one of the first Elder Races. A Peace Divided follows the plot started in that novel and continues.

Rather than describe the plot, I want to focus on some other elements of this novel, particularly the characterization. In this new series, Torin is a military veteran who has had some horrific experiences during her career, leading to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her charge as a Gunnery Sargent who lead some people to their death weighs on her, physically, as she feels the containers of ashes of the dead on her combat vest. She has finally agreed to see a counselor and come to the realization that the process has helped her and will continue to help her, and as a reader, it is possible to see that change when comparing her decision making in this novel to the decision making in the novels of the other series. More than almost anything, I enjoy watching characters grow and change through the experiences they have between the pages. Tanya Huff does an excellent job on this, not only with Torin, but with the other members of her team.

In addition, the other members of her team are very creatively drawn. Huff has made the military units to include a mixture of alien races, by law, and emphasizes the equality among them. When she initially describes an alien race, she includes a little background about their evolution and history that allows the reader to understand that oddities that make them alien, whether they be body parts or eating choices, or mental perspective.

As military Sci-Fi, the novel has weapons and they are described in detail as well as designed scientifically to consider issues such as firing projectiles within a starship. Lastly the method of travel is described both scientifically as well as mathematically, again making it fit well within the Sci-Fi genre. Most important to me are the battles that make it military. Huff can go from a macro description to a more minute individual view all within a single paragraph and have it flow well. The strategy of the battles often reflect the attitudes of the specific race against which the team is fighting. To me, that’s great writing. The surprises that Huff often adds through Torin are delightful.

Overall, it would be possible to read A Peace Divided on its own, because Huff provides just enough background on the big plot issues and the personalities, without being too repetitive or boring for a long-time reader like myself. However, why deprive yourself of the entire realm of the Confederacy? Starting with Valor’s Choice (Valor 1), you can only win.





Previously

An Ancient Peace
Peacekeeper 1
DAW, October 4, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, October 6, 2015

Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
The thrilling first installment in the military sci-fi Peacekeeper series continues the adventures of Torin Kerr and her team of marines

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. But when she learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting, she left the military for good.

But Torin couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, she drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. Torin just hoped the one they were about to embark on wouldn’t be the death of them.

Ancient H’san grave goods are showing up on the black market—grave goods from just before the formation of the Confederation, when the H’san gave up war and buried their planet-destroying weapons…as grave goods for the death of war. Someone is searching for these weapons and they’re very close to finding them. As the Elder Races have turned away from war, those searchers can only be members of the Younger Races.

Fortunately, only the Corps Intelligence Service has this information. Unfortunately, they can do nothing about it—bound by laws of full disclosure, their every move is monitored.

Though Torin Kerr and her team are no longer a part of the military, the six of them tackling the H’san defenses and the lethally armed grave robbers are the only chance the Confederation has. The only chance to avoid millions more dead.

But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder Races and the Younger, the more she begins to fear war might be an unavoidable result.





The Valor / Confederation Series

Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
Valor's Choice
Valor 1
DAW, April 1, 2000
eBook, 416 Pages

The first book in Tanya Huff’s action-packed military sci-fi adventure Confederation series

Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr was a battle-hardened professional. So when she and her platoon were yanked from a well-deserved leave for what was supposed to be “easy” duty as the honor guard for a diplomatic mission to the non-Confederation world of the Silsviss, she was ready for anything. Sure, there’d been rumors of the Others—the sworn enemies of the Confederation—being spotted in this sector of space. But there were always rumors. The key thing was to recruit the Silsviss into the Confederation before the Others attacked or claimed these lizardlike warriors for their side. And everything seemed to be going perfectly. Maybe too perfectly….




Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
The Better Part of Valor
Valor 2
DAW, June 5, 2007
eBook, 416 Pages

The second book in Tanya Huff’s action-packed military sci-fi adventure Confederation series

Never tell a two-star general what you really think of him….

That was the mistake Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr made with General Morris. But as a battle-hardened professional, she took pride in doing her job and getting her troops back alive. So after she’d saved the mission to bring the Silviss into the Confederation—instead of losing them and their world to the enemy known only as the Others—she let the general know exactly how she felt.

And Torin’s reward—or punishment—was to be separated from her platoon and sent off on what might well prove an even more perilous assignment. She was commandeered to protect a scientific expedition to a newly discovered and seemingly derelict spaceship of truly epic proportions. And Confederation politics had saddled her with a commanding officer who might prove more of a menace to the mission’s success than anything they encountered.

Only time would tell if the ship was what it appeared to be, or a trap created by the Others—or the work of an as-yet unknown alien race with an agenda that could prove all too hostile to other life forms….




Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
The Heart of Valor
Valor 3
DAW, June 3, 2008
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

The third installment in Tanya Huff’s action-packed military sci-fi adventure Confederation series

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr was a Confederation Marine’s marine. She’d survived more deadly encounters—and kept more of her officers and enlisteds alive—than anyone in the Corps, and she was determined to keep the record intact. But since her last mission, she’d been sidelined into endless briefings and debriefings with no end in sight.

So, of course, she’d jumped at the chance to go to the Crucible—the Marine Corps training planet—as temporary aide to Major Svensson. The major had been reduced to little more than a brain and spinal cord in his last combat, and he and his doctor were anxious to field test his newly re-grown body.

It should have been an easy twenty-day run. After all, Crucible was only set up to simulate battle situations so recruits could be trained safely. But they were barely on-planet when someone started blasting the training scenarios to smithereens.

And suddenly Kerr found herself not only responsible for the major and his doctor, but caught in a desperate fight to keep a platoon of Marine recruits alive until someone discovered what was happening on Crucible….




Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
Valor's Trial
Valor 4
DAW, June 2, 2009
Mass Market and eBook, 416 pages

The fourth book in Tanya Huff’s action-packed military sci-fi adventure Confederation series

After surviving the perils of the Crucible, the Marine Corps planet where a routine training assignment had taken a deadly twist—Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr returned to Ventris Station just in time to link up with her old platoon and head out to a new war zone, an area of space where the enemy known as the Others appeared to be building up its forces for a preemptive strike.

Sent to pull back troops who’d moved up to an indefensible position, Torin was caught in the heaviest fighting just as a devastating air strike reduced the whole area to slag. The Corps concluded that she was dead. But despite irrefutable evidence, neither Torin’s father nor salvager Craig Ryder agreed.

And the truth was that Torin had survived. She woke to discover that she was trapped in a series of underground caves that appeared to be an enemy-run POW camp. But everyone knew the Others never took prisoners—or did they?

Could Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr escape this prison that shouldn’t even exist, taking as many Marines as possible with her? Though she was determined to get herself and her Marines back to the Confederation, Torin had no idea how crucial her attempt could prove, not only to her own well-being, but to the course of the entire war.




Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
The Truth of Valor
Valor 5
DAW, September 6, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

The thrilling final installment in Tanya Huff’s military sci-fi adventure Confederation series

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr was the very model of a Confederation Marine. She’d survived more deadly encounters than anyone in the Corps. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine her walking away from the Corps. But that was before Torin had learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting…before she’d been declared dead and had spent time in a prison that shouldn’t exist….

It was Salvage Operator Craig Ryder who had refused to believe Torin was dead. Craig who found and rescued Torin. And so, when her mission was complete, Torin resigned from the Marines to start a new life with Craig aboard his tiny salvage ship, the Promise.

But civilian life was a lot rougher than Torin had imagined. The salvage operators were losing cargo and lives to pirates. Because salvagers were an independent lot unwilling to turn to the OutSector Wardens for help, no one in authority seemed to take their ever-increasing threat seriously.

Then, on their first real run together, pirates attacked the Promise, kidnapping Craig and leaving Torin to die. But leaving Torin behind to die was never a good strategy. Against all odds, she survived, and certain—despite no evidence to prove her correct—that Craig was still alive, she decided to mount a rescue mission. When Craig’s salvager friends refused to join her, Torin had no choice but to call in the Marines—some very special Marines.

Then she discovered why the pirates had been trying to kidnap salvagers. And suddenly Torin’s mission expanded from saving Craig to stopping the pirates from changing the balance of power in known space….




Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
A Confederation of Valor
Valor 1 and 2
DAW, February 3, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 576 pages

In Valor’s Choice, Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her crew get yanked from a well-deserved shore leave in order to participate in an “easy” mission. They are to act as an honor guard for a diplomatic visit to the world of the Silsviss, reptilian aliens with a strong appreciation for war and conquest. Ideally, the visit will result in an alliance and a new member world for the Confederation. Sure, there’d been rumored sightings of the Others on the planet, sworn enemies of the Confederation, but there are always rumors. Everything seems to be going perfectly. Maybe too perfectly…

In The Better Part of Valor, Torin Kerr’s outspokenness gets her in a load of trouble. After she tells a two-star general what she really thinks of him, she finds herself separated from her platoon and sent off on a perilous assignment. She’s ordered to escort a scientific expedition to an unidentified alien ship abandoned in space — is it a trap set by the Others or simply a derelict? It’s Torin’s job to find out — and to babysit a commanding officer who might prove more of a menace to the mission’s success than anything they encounter.


Review: Flame in the Dark by Faith HunterReview: Pirate's Prophecy by Chris A. JacksonReview: Siege Line by Myke ColeReview: Strange Weather by Joe HillPaul Weimer on Civilization VIReview: Whispers of Warning by Jessica EstevaoReview: The Legion of Flame by Anthony RyanReview: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora GossReview: Hellknight by Liane MercielReview: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

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