Posts Tagged ‘Orbit’

Blood Kiss

July 13, 2016 - 4:56 pm No Comments

The Black Dagger Legacy
Author: J R Ward
Publisher: Orbit Books
Release date: 2nd June 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

 

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I’m not new to JR Ward but I am new to the Brotherhood series; which did not remotely impede my enjoyment of this latest installment. It starts with Paradise, blooded daughter of the King’s First Advisor, living in a patriarchal society where, as a high born lady, she is expected to follow a particular course in life. But Paradise wants to escape the restrictions of her upbringing so her answer is to apply to join the Black Dagger Brotherhood training centre programme. But this is no simple task. She must fight figuratively, and literally, for her new place in life.
The initial application programme is gruelling, but amidst the physical and emotional trials she must face, Paradise finds herself drawn to fellow applicant Craeg; handsome, strong, smart and distant. But he can’t resist the lure of Paradise, despite initially dismissing her as a ‘dumb blonde’.
As the training programme progresses we get to know the other applicants; Paradise’s best friend and joker Peyton, fiercely independent and liberal female Novo, and head trainer Butch aka, The Dhestroyer, who has emotional troubles of his own. His mate Marissa who works at Safe Place (a domestic abuse refuge) is traumatised by the brutal murder of a young woman, and Butch is intent on helping her find out who the woman was and why she was killed.
What I expected, on reading the blurb, was an easygoing straightforward read, a dash of romance, a hint of humour, a lot of sex and a shedload of blood and violence.
Well, I got all of that and so much more. The relationships are real, the characterisations solid, the narrative laced with humour, sensibilities and a lots of social commentary. Though the war and past battles are talked of in retrospect, the impact on the society are obvious, with many combatants and survivors suffering PTSD. All of the issues in the novel (domestic abuse, loss, status and reputation) are dealt with in a compassionate but exploratory manner. It makes for a book full of depth, and integrity. Both an enjoyable read, hot and steamy where needed and immense fun. I’m definitely interested in the series as a whole and want to read more about the other characters, particularly Lassiter.
In short, this was an absolute blast.

Red Blooded

January 30, 2015 - 9:25 pm No Comments

Red Blooded
Jessica McClain. Book 4
Author: Amanda Carlson
Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 369pp
Release Date: 9th Sept 2014
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

This series so far has literally been moving ‘like a bat out of hell’, so much adventure, romance, death and destruction happening between books one to three, that I was almost glad to take a breather. I say almost, because this series is addictive so here I am diving into book four with relish and anticipation.
This fourth novel starts with Jessica neck deep in training to protect herself for a visit to the Underworld. Her twin brother Tyler has been kidnapped and dragged to Hell in order to lure Jessica down to face trial for crimes she may or may not have committed. During all of this preparation for entering the Underworld, she’s busy trying to stop the coterie of vamps and witches from killing each other. Jessica is desperately trying to master any demon magic that could be flung at her, but she’s in danger of swallowing it whole and being dragged on her own to Hell instead of with Ray, her newly turned vampire reaper. But you know what they say about plans? Jessica is dragged into Hell by a Vortex on her own, and Rourke is determined to follow her even though his scent all set off all of their alarms.
When Jessica does emerge into Hell it makes great material for Carlson, who introduces us to chupacubras, imps and muted purple sky in just the first few pages. Her vision of Hell, is delightfully different, as all demons use glamour to look the image of the human appearing Prince of Hell, the buildings are weird but very much like a business domain, and half of the demons haven’t got a clue how to fight. Jessica’s internal monologue with her wolf is also particularly interesting. She uses the term ‘we’ and is constantly having debates with her less cautious wolf half, which makes this a little bit more unusual than standard werewolf fayre. In Hell she also meets a demoness, Lily who reminds us that Jessica is fated to rule Hell, not that she particularly wants to. And Lily is offering to help Jessica rescue Tyler and escape the Underworld if Jessica helps Lily escape herself. But what are Lily’s motives.
As with all of the Jessica McClain books so far, this one is filled with activity, danger, adventure and a great sense of humour. The characters are all enjoyable, particularly the Prince of Hell himself, the pace is tight and just right, and the book eds on another cliffhanger.
Will Jessica every get a rest like she deserves? At this rate, who knows?

Symbiont

January 27, 2015 - 9:59 am No Comments

Symbiont
Parasitology Book 2
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit Books
Release Date: 25th Nov 2014
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Earlier this year I had the absolute thrill and pleasure of reading the first book in this series, Parasite. With authentic science and plenty of research, engaging characters, particularly Sally, and a great cliffhanger, I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment. But what about the second book in the series?
As with the first book, this sequel uses a combination of regular narrative, diaries and reports. The first report dated 2027 starts with wheelchair bound Dr Shanti Cale (Dr Nathan Kim’s Mom) talking about the symbionts (SymboGen implant) an organism bred to live within the hosts stomach to prevent everyday illness. Unfortunately, some of those implants in Paradite started to travel into the brain stem, taking over the human host sending them crazy and aggressive, or medically diagnosed as suffering from the ‘sleeping sickness’.
Despite being pretty fit and active, Mayor Paul Moffat was dying. As Paul gives a speech, slowly but surely his implant moves up through his body, eating it’s way into his brain until nothing is left of who Paul was. Luckily he wasn’t able too recognise himself biting into the flesh of the woman next to him. Now it’s too late, despite USAMRIID and the CDC getting involved; the tapeworm parasites are winning.
Just a few pages in, Grant recaps the penultimate event of the first novel in finer detail, packed with emotion, as Sally/Sal and her boyfriend Nathan discover the truth about her identity. She has to learn to come to terms with it, accept who she is and help in the fight to come.
As well as first person narrative from Sal and the reports and diaries, Grant utilises the rather fun chimera character Tansy as a narrator, with her own skewed worldview and derogatory viewpoints of pretty much everyone else, making for fun intermissions between the tension.
At its heart, or its core if you will, Symbiont is a version of a zombie apocalypse story, however, the grounding in science, the dual personalities and chimeras as well as the diverse reactions of the parasites makes this so much more. Yes, the parasites sometimes eat flesh, but sometimes, like Tansy and Adam they think and feel too. The implants have reached sapience. And for those who are incoherent we have varying degrees of activity from Romero type shambling to 28 days Later. A lot can be learned about identity and how we see ourselves in this book, and it pushes against the stereotypes and boundaries of gender and race.

Orbit Urban Fantasy Trio

October 9, 2014 - 6:28 pm No Comments

Cursed Moon

Author: Jaye Wells
Release Date: Sept 14
Publisher: Orbit
Page count:
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Described as The Wire with wizards, Cursed Moon is the second book in the Kate Prosperous series, and only two books in, author Jaye Wells proves she is an Urban Fantasy force to be reckoned with.
Kate Prosperous is a cop and a magic user, but unlike most magic users, Kate is ‘off’ the magic; she is recovering AA (Arcane Anonymous) member who hasn’t used magic for ten years. Or at least that’s what her sponsor and her team believe, because Kate was forced to ‘cook’ a spell in the first book of this series in order to save her little brother, whom she is now sole carer for. With a complex history including a problem ex, spelling abuse and the death of her parents, and now the new moon, or the ‘cursed moon’ is coming to her town of Babylon, causing all sorts of disruption and mayhem; sex potions thrown about by Leprechauns, temples being robbed and murder.
This was my first experience of Wells’ fiction, and wow, what an introduction! Her narrative virtually leaps off the page; Prosperous is an engaging, and real heroine, the humour is rife within the text and the action doesn’t stop. Wells is also very respectful towards her transgender characters and the subject of addiction, which is prevalent throughout this novel. A cracking new Urban Fantasy series. I can’t wait to read more.

The Ripper Affair
Bannon and Clare Book 3
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Publisher: Orbit
Page count:
Release date: 19th Aug 14
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Debuting in The Iron Wyrm Affair two years ago, Emma Bannon and Archibald Clare are
the ‘Sapphire and Steel’ of Steampunk; intrepid adventurers, explorers and investigators who rely on each other in extreme circumstances to fight for Queen, country and the ‘good’. In their third adventure, things literally start with a bang, as mentath Clare is the only survivor of a court explosion, where he loses assassin and companion Ludovico, shattering his confidence and logic. Equally moved by the event, sorceress Emma Bannon takes Clare under her wing in an attempt to return his stability. But they aren’t given time to sit on their laurels and rest, for Londinium (an alternate historical London) is in danger. There is a violent serial killer lurking in Whitechapel and their Queen, Victrix, needs them to put aside all fear, doubt and anger and help her hunt down the killer. But Clare has been through much; following the events of The Red Plague Affair, the second novel, he is a changed man now immortal, and Bannon has moved heaven and earth to ensure his safety. But how can he deal with the changes she has wrought on him?
Delivering a delightfully original Steampunk universe, Saintcrow has created a duo to equal that of Holmes and Watson, Challenger and Roxborough, or a nineteenth century Mulder and Scully. Bannon is supported in her endeavours by her ‘Shield’ Mikal, who has an unswerving loyalty and love for her. As well as Mikal, Bannon has a number of diverse ‘souls’ in her employ, and she feels honour bound to protect them all.
To the best of my knowledge, Saintcrow isn’t English, yet her recreation of a Victorian alternative England feels very authentic, with dingy, fogged streets, an overwhelming stench and poppy dens.

Night Broken
Author: Patricia Briggs
Release Date: Sept 14
Page Count: 341pp
Publisher: Orbit
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Number eight in the ever popular Mercy Thompson/Hauptman Urban Fantasy series, Night Broken takes mechanic, coyote shifter and wife of local werewolf Alpha Adam, to much darker territory. Adam’s ex wife Christy and mother to their daughter Jesse, has been in veritable pan in the ass for Mercy for quite some time, but she becomes even more if a pain when she phones her ex husband in the middle of the night begging for help. Christy has a stalker, handsome one night stand Juan Flores, who just won’t take no for an answer and sets fire to her apartment complex.
Christy has a way of manipulating people, making them desperate to protect her, so it isn’t long before she’s ensconced in the Hauptmann household, the werewolf pack at her beck and call, as she hides away from her dangerous stalker. If that wasn’t bad enough, Mercy is called upon by cop Tony to help investigate a number of brutal ritualistic murders of blonde women; women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Christy.
Sassy and strong, Mercy has retained her status as a powerful pack member and independent woman throughout this series. Briggs’ dialogue is sharp and witty, Mercy is a fully realised character and the other characters within the novel are equally well drawn. Christy is crafty in her attempts to win back her ex husband, Mercy’s half brother Gary Laughingdog is enigmatic and funny, the father/deity Coyote is mysterious and threatening, and the whole cast is more enjoyable through its sheer diversity. After all, Mercy herself is mixed race as well as being mixed species, Gary is similarily blessed, Tad is part fae, and Warren is a gay werewolf. And Briggs doesn’t shy away from exploring the hatred such diversity can engender. On top of that, her books are wonderfully entertaining, fast pased, emotional and fun.
Whilst I love the whole series however, Night Broken does flag in the middle a little but this does not detract from another satisfying addition to the series, with a cracking battle or two. Overall, I got a lot from this book, as I always do with Mercy, who is both a woman and a character I can relate to. I thoroughly look forward to Shirting Shadows, the new collection of Mercy stories coming this month from Orbit.

Hot Blooded

July 14, 2014 - 3:21 pm No Comments

Author: Amanda Carlson
Publisher: Orbit
Size/Page Count: 314pp
Release Date: 23 April 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

SPOLIERS FOR BOOK ONE AHEAD; Jessica McClain has had a very bad week. Not content with finally shifting against all odds and becoming the only female werewolf in an all male werewolf pack, she has attracted the ire of a Vampire Queen and been wrapped in a death spell, returned home to find cop and nemesis Ray Hart tied up in her closet after witnessing werewolf Danny change, reluctantly bound herself to an unknown species of werecat who is now her mate, and been jumped by a dirty, smelly little imp who has accused her of being the True Lycan of legend; one who will rule all of the supernatural world and vanquish all evil. And as if that isn’t enough, to save Ray Hart’s life she has blackmailed/threatened him into coming along on a road trip to rescue her mate Rourke from evil witch and self proclaimed goddess Selene accompanied by a pair of creepy vampires. Yep, Jessica is surely having another bad week.
After a gripping cliffhanger in book one, and more tension abounding in this, book two of the Jessica McClain series, our heroine is going to need all her wits about her to save her mate and fight for her place as a ‘normal’ werewolf in her Pack and the supernatural hierarchy. Jessica doesn’t want to be leader of all supernaturals and she’s pretty sure the legend of the True Lycan has been leaked amongst the various supernatural Sects to put the cat amongst the pigeons, so she only has one option left. She’s going to have to fight; goddess witches, werewolves, naiads, vampires, giant scorpion-spider-type-things and possessed goats with flaming red eyes; yep, they’re all in here.
Jessica’s passion is made obvious throughout the book, and it is this which stands her apart from other supernatural creatures. It is also this aspect which garners her support from her circle and from some of the vamps.
Carlson writes with incredible wit and fervour. The action is fast-paced and the novel itself incredibly easy to read. If it’s possible I enjoyed this more than the first novel Full Blooded, and as with that novel, Carlson ends on a terrific cliffhanger leaving you wanting more. I’m addicted to this series.