Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Dragon Finds Forever: Nocturne Falls 7

March 22, 2017 - 1:41 pm No Comments

The Dragon Finds Forever
Nocturne Falls Book 7
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Sugar Skull Books
Page count: 240pp
Release Date: 21st February 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

It’s back to Nocturne Falls again. Where supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, Valkyrie, gargoyles – the list goes on) hide in plain sight in the town which celebrates Halloween 24/7. This time, we have a dragon.
It starts with Monalisa (don’t sing please!) Devlin, watching her father play with the gold coin that’s supposed to be hers; her birthright given to her at eighteen. But Padraig Devlin, father and king of the Leprechauns could be crafty, sneaky and greedy.
She should’ve got her coin twelve years ago as she turned eighteen, but no, no matter that she’d done what he asked, there was still that ‘loose end’.
As soon as she got her coin she’d be able to leave, which is why the king held onto it tight, as blackmail – there was something he wanted her to do.
Her parents were known worldwide for the casino, The Shamrock, and the fights held beneath the venue. Monalisa’s manipulative father wanted her to persuade a certain dragon to fight in their arena. Urging her to use her ‘will-o-the-wisp’ skills to get the Dragon in her thrall.
Van, Dragon in metaphorical hiding, is determined to leave fighting behind and settle down in Nocturne Falls. Close friends with Pandora, she helps him choose a dog as a new companion as he heals on crutches; a dog he hopes to bond with. His life in the fighting arena over. He just wants to mope, recover and read and pet his new timid Doberman Grom. He’s in no place for female relationships.
Too bad the ‘rehabilitation therapist’ ‘Lisa’ (Monalisa’s cover to lure back Ivan the Hammer) is easy on the eyes, he is not interested in women – at all! But he also doesn’t want her getting in Trouble and getting sacked for not doing her job, after all, she seems desperate. So reluctantly he agrees to the therapy.
With the therapy comes an interesting aspect of the book. Van has been severely injured by a manticore’s poison and is suffering a form of sports PTSD or injury-related trauma as a result.
Painter seems to have really grasped what trauma feels like and through the therapy sessions between her two protagonists, leads the reader through the recovery process, exploring the emotions involved. As Monalisa helps Van deal with the physical and emotional scars from his fight, the two, inevitably, become closer.
Painter also deals with perceptions in the novel; how Van is seen by the tourists as something or someone to be feared because of his size and shaved head, juxtaposed with his sweet nature, his sense of humour, and how the locals and Lisa see past his exterior.
Overall, this is another fun, romantic romp from a Painter in the Nocturbe Falls series, with a cameo of Jayne Frost. The more I read of this Halloween town, the more I’d love to move there!
4/5

The Grendel Affair SPI Files 1

March 7, 2017 - 10:32 am No Comments

The Grendel Affair
SPI Files Book 1
Author: Lisa Shearin
Publisher: Ace Fantasy (A Penguin Random House Company)
Page count: 292pp
Release date: 31st Dec 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

online: www.lisashearin.com, @lisashearin

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grendel-Affair-SPI-Files-Novel-ebook/dp/B00CS74W7K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488882450&sr=1-1&keywords=the+grendel+affair

When Makenna (Mac) Fraser moved from her small home town of Weird Sisters, she intended to use her seer powers of identifying supernatural creatures, (which everyone else couldn’t see) into a brilliant journalistic career. Still, those rare skills came in handy working for a trashy New York tabloid. However, she never expected to be head-hunted (in a good way) by the SPI, a Supernatural equivalent of the FBI, a secret government agency set up to protect all species from dangerous cryptids and bring them to justice, whilst looking after the everyday supernatural inhabitants of NY.
Of course, not battle trained, she became their seer, the much needed eyes of the agents who would go out on combat missions.
The first in the series starts with Agent Mac Fraser doing a job off the books, for antiquity dealer Ollie, late at night at his shop. He’s being tormented by a nacht gnome, dangerous little buggers that can be contained by knocking them out with liquor. So, armed with bottles of Jack Daniels she is spotted by stuck-in-the-mud partner Ian Byrne. He catches her roaming the streets with tequila filled water pistol (she’d been banned from live ammunition after an ‘incident’) and insists on going with her. Which is a good job considering they find a mutilated body at the shop.
Between a hidden bunker full of monster body parts underneath a crypt, to mysterious letters addressed to the ‘Dragon Lady’ boss, Agent Mac and her partner Ian are going to have to put aside their differences to battle a nemesis threatening to let loose a myriad of monsters in Times Square NYE. The aim? To let the world know that Supernatural creatures exist, cause chaos, fear and death.
As the only seer in the NY office, with monsters on the loose, Mac is the only one who can see, identify and mark the danger. So, fighting his own fears, partner Ian has to accept that Mac needs to be trained as a field operative. And if anyone is going to train her, it’s him. What appears to be a gruff, slightly cold exterior on Ian Byrne, is a form of protective shielding he uses to keep his feelings for Mac locked in tight. And as they work together to combat evil that has a personal grudge against their boss, they become even closer.
There are some great characters in this novel, from Ollie, the human artifact dealer, ‘Dragon Lady’ boss who hides a tough exterior in her petite form, über Geek Kenji, Yasha the ‘cuddly’ Russian werewolf and the Scandinavian gang of agents, there are loads of relationships to enjoy here. But it’s Mac and Ian who take centre-stage; Mac with her honest, yet somehow naive opinions, and regular mishaps, which remind me slightly of Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond, though less accident prone, and Ian Byrne, with his ‘Agent’ exterior which really hides a heart of gold. Think Mulder and Scully but reversed.
Add in some brilliant one-liners, monster-mashing fun, blood and gore, high-octane action and a fast pace, and what you have is a series that starts on a high. I was addicted within a few pages – okay, let’s be honest, I was addicted by page four, and here’s why.
As Mac puts it, whilst talking about her previous work for seedy tabloid ‘The Informer’, “where only stories like ‘Donald Trump is a Werewolf Love Child’ had any hope of making it to the front page. … ‘That particular headline had been an obvious lie – at least it’d been obvious to me. No self-respecting werewolf would have hair like that.”
See, with snort-worthy narrative from Mac’s point-of-view such as that, you’re in for an hilarious ride. This is truly great first-person snark, as C E Murphy would have it. To add even more enjoyment, Shearin is adept at using relevant pop culture references. As for the combat and fight scenes plus military style masouvers, these are handled deftly, and it’s clear Shearin has done her homework, building up the tension at the right time.
If I could find anything more to say to recommend this I would, but it’s possibly just as easy to say, the end rounds off, but leaves teasers for the future. There are so many more creatures the SPI could explore, and we haven’t even nearly dealt with the complex dichotomy between Ian and Mac.
So, I suggest you stay on for the long haul. I know I will be.
5/5

Two Nocturne Falls Shorts – Kristen Painter

February 21, 2017 - 11:20 pm No Comments

The Vampire’s Valentine Surprise
A Nocturne Falls Short
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Kristen Painter
Page count: 44p
Release date: 20th March 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs, fur, and all. When Delaney Ellingham enters the Nocturne Falls Valentine’s Day Bake-Off, she has no idea that an old rival will create such havoc. Her husband, Hugh, and her friends all come to her aid, but even they can’t guess the surprise that lays in store…
Preparing for the competition, Delaney is baking, baking and well, baking. And poor old Hugh is worried about becoming the world’s first diabetic vampire through all of the taste-testing he’s been doing. And it’s the same for Hugh’s rook/butler Stanhill (think Jeaves but immortal) so the on,y option is to go out for dinner; real food, before they all explode in a puff of sugar-induced death.
Such is Delaney’s determination to win the Bake-Off. The contest was key to the success of her business; Delaney’s Delectables. And her stress levels are through the roof.
Amidst the usual fun, progressing storyline and character changes, we get our first glimpse of Roxy, who shows up as female lead in ‘The Shifter Romances the Writer’ one of my favourite in the Nocturne Falls universe. We also find out about some more of the characters and it does de
Over the expected HEA. Great Valentine’s fun

 

The Vampire’s True Love Trials
A Nocturne Falls Short
Author: Kristen Painter
Publisher: Kristen Painter
Page Count: 55pp
Release date: 4th Jan 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

So, I’ve read and reviewed six if the Nocturne Falls books so far and love every one of them. But as it’s February: Valentine’s month, I decided to try the Valentine themed short.
But first, some background. Nocturne Falls is a town where it’s Halloween 365 days a year. From the cake shop, to the restaurants to the bars, to the streets, this town is Horror and Supernatural themed and the tourists love it. They love the fake gargoyle statue in the centre, they love the ‘vampires’ who walk around, and they love everything about it. They’d love the town even more if they realised it was – real.
Run by the Ellingham’s, centuries old vampire brothers, the town offers a way to ‘hide in plain sight.’
In this short, we pick up after Sebastian’s and Tessa’s fake wedding was cut short, and in this story, vampire Sebastian is about to meet Valkyrie Tessa’s parents. They have just endured interrogation from the vampire council following the events in ‘The Vampire’s Fake Fiancé’ book five. Sebastian suggests they stay over a little while longer and play tourist in Amsterdam, though he would love to be back to see Delaney’s child being born (his sister in law, and a momentous occasion for this vampire family).
However, Tessa’s parents however have other things in mind, and a new husband all picked out for Tessa, it doesn’t matter what she wants. So, deter,ones to win his love forever, Sebastian must face a series of trials.
This is another fun Short in the Nocturne Falls series, just enough to whet the appetite and fill the gaps between books. Humorous, sexy and great characters. Another hit.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kristen-Painter/e/B002OETF74/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

Allegiance of Honour Psy-Changeling 15

February 1, 2017 - 1:49 pm No Comments

Allegiance of Honour
Psy-Changeling Book 15
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: Hardback ARC 478pp
Release date: 16th June 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

www.nalinisingh.com

www.gollancz.co.uk

@nalinisingh

I’ve been reading Singh’s Psy-Changeling series now for quite a few years, and have been engaged with it from the start, but if you’re picking this up for the first time, as a starting point, you will manage, but this brief pointer will help.
It’s the future; 2080s, and there are three races on earth; changelings (or humans who shift into various types of animals such as wolf, tiger, panther).
Psy (pretty much short for psychic, this race also has sub-strands (E – Empaths) for example and Tks, who have telekinetic power. And humans.
Back in the good old 1970s, some of the Psy were prone to madness and there were Psy serial killers. To control the insanity the Psy-Net was established- creating Silence. A cold existence in which Psy are punished for having or demonstrating any kind of emotions. They can be reconditioned for such a crime.
So, that’s the stage set for the adventures to come over the first twelve to thirteen books. But Silence was never foolproof and by book 13 it has fallen, and Psy are trying to cope living with emotion. This would be impossible if not for the mating bonds already created between Psy, Changelings and humans, which started with panther Lucas Hunter of the DarkRiver pack and Psy Sascha Duncan in book one. And the ‘Honeycomb’ a new Psy-net link maintained by the E designations (Empaths) linking Es to various psy and changelings to prevent psychic collapse.
In book fourteen, society is somewhat unstable following the fall of Silence, but the Ruling Coalition are attempting to work with the Psy-force – The Arrows, to police the world. At the end of book 14 Shards of Hope, Arrow leader Aden, recently bonded to Zaira Neve, now, they are trying to start a new life of ‘family’ not just for themselves but for the entire Arrow race; play and school and family units for children, relationships for the adults, bonds, socialising. What was once anathema to them and previous pseudo-ruler Ming LeBon. Aden is the real power behind the Arrows. He is also intent on building strong relationships across the races, so with his instigation, The Trinity Accord is born; humans, Psy Inc Arrow, and changeling working together for a better future.
There are issues along the way; someone or something, an entity known as The Consortium ruled by a hidden identity is causing trouble, kidnapping BlackSea pack members and attempting to kidnap Lucas’ and Sascha’s young toddler Naya. Terrorist attacks are commonplace with the Architect who is part of the Consortium but the Trinity Accord are determined to work together and defeat them.
This sprawling novel brings an end to an era, and the start to another linked series, the first of which novel comes out June 2017. And I for one cannot wait and see what it brings. This novel ends on hope, optimism and at the same time trepidation, with a clan gathering that will ferment the future. And throughout the book we have been reacquainted with characters old and new; Zach and Annie from a novella, seen in both ‘Magical Christmas Cats I believe) and Wild Invitation. Mercy and Riley, Judd and Brenna, Hawke and Sienna (who were mated in my favourite book of the series ‘Kiss of Snow’)
This is a real, satisfying trip down memory lane, which also combines long awaited events that will satisfy long term fans and new readers alike.
A brilliant, riveting, emotional rollercoaster of a ride that ends with a brand new family.
5/5

Shards of Hope: Psy-Changeling 14

January 25, 2017 - 9:13 pm No Comments

Shards of Hope
Psy-Changeling Book 14
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 483pp
Release date: 4th June 2015
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

I’ve been reading Singh’s Psy-Changeling series now for quite a few years, and have been engaged with it from the start, but if you’re picking this up for the first time, as a starting point, you will manage, but this brief pointer will help.
It’s the future; 2080s, and there are three races on earth; changelings (or humans who shift into various types of animals such as wolf, tiger, panther).
Psy (pretty much short for psychic, this race also has sub-strands (E – Empaths) for example and Tks, who have telekinetic power. And humans.
Back in the good old 1970s, some of the Psy were prone to madness and there were Psy serial killers. To control the insanity the Psy-Net was established- creating Silence. A cold existence in which Psy are punished for having or demonstrating any kind of emotions. They can be reconditioned for such a crime.
So, that’s the stage set for the adventures to come over the first twelve to thirteen books. But Silence was never foolproof and by book 13 it has fallen, and Psy are trying to cope living with emotion. This would be impossible if not for the mating bonds already created between Psy, Changelings and humans, which started with Lucas of the DarkRiver pack and Psy Sacha Duncan in book one.
In book fourteen, society is somewhat unstable following the fall of Silence, but the Ruling Coalition are attempting to work with the Psy-force The Arrows, to police the world.
No one really knows why Aden became leader of the Arrows who bit by bit escaped the cruel control of former councillor Ming Le Bon, after all, he only registers mid-range on the Psy-plane, and is a medic, despite being a formidable physical opponent. But best friend Vasic, recently mated to Ivy, knows the truth about him. He has indescribable powers not yet seen, though the Arrows truly follow him, because of his loyalty to them. He will fight for every single one of them. The same way he fought for the broken, beat child, Zaira, he met twenty years ago, as a boy.
When Aden and Zaira wake up in a room, both battered and bloody unable to use their Psy powers to call for help, they know they have to escape. So they fight their way out in true Arrow style and find themselves near to death, collapsed in a hostile environment; on the land of a changeling leopard pack ran by Remi. And they must convince Remi to help them survive and return home, because their abduction is just the beginning of a plot to overthrow the Arrows.
Amidst the action, and the sub-plots, is the budding, yet fractured romance between Aden and Zaira, which is the heart of the book. Like many romance heroines, Zaira is damaged, having been tortured by her parents as a child before becoming an Arrow, but where the heroine falls back, Zaira steps forward and fights, but it is this anger, this rage, which she is afraid of. This burning fire is a barrier between her and Aden, so it will take some perseverance to battle through.
The romance, as always with Nalini Singh is believable and passionate, growing in the right way.
But in this book, a whole new world opens up to the reader.
The conspiracy behind the abductions is explored, other races are introduced, new ventures, new relationships, new plot-strands, new futures. And it’s bloody exciting!
Fast-paced, full of action, erotically charged love scenes and humour, this book takes the rule book and throws it out.
It ends on a brand new high, and a new story arc, which I’m sure will continue to grow.
I particularly want to see how Beatrice Gault develops, how the children of all races grow, how romance blossoms between the various factions and I want to sea more if the BlackSea pack.
There is so much more to enjoy here, but in this instance, for the nature of nostalgia (netting old characters again) and the exciting future it foretells, and the sensitive handling of child abuse Shards of Hope scores 5/5.