A Trio of Teeny Reviews @ajhackwith @AceRocBooks @DeanStPress @GrandCentralPub

The Library of the Unwritten
A Novel from Hell’s Library #1
A. J. Hackwith
Ace, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-98480-637-6
Trade Paperback

In a unique way of looking at what Hell must be like, there are books that never got finished, or even started, by their authors and someone—Claire—has to be in charge of those books. Why? Because the characters in those stories can escape and create havoc, of course 😉

When one particular hero goes on the run, looking for his creator, Claire is in hot pursuit along with her assistant and a demon. They all soon discover they’re really on a quest to find a particular powerful artifact, the Devil’s Bible, that Heaven also wants and a fallen angel is determined to redeem himself by recovering. If Claire and her crew don’t find it first, Heaven and Hell are likely to explode into war with Earth caught in the middle.

To put it simply, I loved this book that’s full of adventure, mystery, humor and a wealth of marvelous beings and, when it comes time to re-read it—and I’m very sure I will—I think I’ll try the audiobook for a fresh take.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye
The Anthony Bathurst Mysteries #3
Brian Flynn
Dean Street Press, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-913054-39-7
Trade Paperback

Gentleman sleuth Anthony Bathurst and Scotland Yard’s Chief Detective-Inspector Richard Bannister work together to discover how three separate cases are indeed not separate but intertwined to a fare thee well. Blackmail, murder, indiscretions, thievery, hidden identities and a “magnificent blue-shaded emerald”…all come together clue by clue in this delightful traditional mystery full of red herrings that had me coming and going, always eager to follow the next lead.

Aficionados of Golden Age mysteries will want to get their hands on this long-forgotten book as soon as possible. You might say it’s criminal that Brian Flynn‘s works fell into a black hole many years ago but, now that new editions of some of his titles are being released, we all have a chance to savor a journey back in time.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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Old Bones
Nora Kelly #1
Preston & Child
Grand Central Publishing, August 2019
ISBN 978-1538747223
Hardcover

We’ve met Nora Kelly before in some of the Pendergast novels and I’ve always liked her so I’m delighted she has her own series now. Along with Nora, we meet another character from the past, Corrie Swanson, who used to be a Goth teen with purple hair and attitude. Her connection to Pendergast when he hired her to drive him around during a case led her to become an FBI agent and she’s still trying to corral her mouthy rebellious streak.

When historian Clive Benton convinces archaeologist Nora Kelly and her employer, the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, to undertake a search for and excavation of the Lost Camp, an offshoot of the Donner Party’s known snowbound locations, no one expects the FBI to intervene in the dig on site. Agent Corrie Swanson has been investigating the possible ties among a string of grave robberies and a missing person and has, perhaps precipitously, connected them to the dig. Her arrival at the site leads to a shutdown and murders and she and Nora are forced to work together to find the killer(s).

Although the identity of the killer(s) was a bit too predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed Old Bones and relish the promise of more collaborations between Nora and Corrie with a little Pendergast thrown in 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

Sins of the Lost—Book Review: Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin, an Interview and a Giveaway!

Sins of the Lost Tour Banner

Title: Sins of the Lost
Series: The Grigori Legacy #3
Author: Linda Poitevin
Publisher: Ace/Penguin Grouplication Datre
Publication Date: October 15, 2013

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Sins of the LostFrom the author of Sins of the Angels and Sins of the Son comes the newest novel in the “electric, thrilling and extremely intelligent” (Ex Libris) Grigori Legacy series.

Heaven and Hell are on the brink of war as Lucifer builds his Nephilim army and waits for his new agenda to become a reality — that of having a Nephilim child of his own bloodline to lead his forces to cataclysmic victory.

With rumors of the pending war rampant on Earth, Alex fights to save humanity from its own panic –­ leaving little time for her fledgling relationship with Seth, the man with heavenly origins who has captured her heart. But when Nephilim children begin to disappear, along with Alex’s own vulnerable niece, the inevitable war between Heaven and Hell becomes as personal as sin.

Heaven has its own plans to fight the coming apocalypse, but first it needs Seth back. Asked to betray the man she loves, Alex must turn for help to the soulmate she thought she’d given up — the Archangel Aramael, who may be her last chance to save her family and humanity from the ashes of Lucifer’s Armageddon.

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A Review of Book One

Sins of the AngelsSins of the Angels
The Grigori Legacy #1
Linda Poitevin
Ace, October 2011
ISBN 978-0-441-02091-1
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis is assigned a new partner in Aramael, a Guardian Angel who doubles as a hit man, they have only one thing in common: a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse. Now they have no choice but to work together-relentlessly, fearlessly, intimately. Because only they can stop the rogue angel from ushering in the end of days.

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Oh, my. I hate this book. I love this book. This hardly ever happens to me.

When Alex met Jacob aka Aramael, I knew I was in for a rocky ride but I had no idea I’d be torn between so many emotions, not only my own but also those of many others. That has to be chalked up to really good writing, the ability to invest the reader in every significant character. I found myself liking and simultaneously sneering at Christine, I empathized with Staff Inspector Roberts in his battle of wills with Alex and his increasing frustration at the serial killer’s climbing body count, I felt compassion for that serial killer, Caim, and why he was doing it, and I was aggravated by the machinations of Verchiel and Mittron. Who knew Heaven could be mired in bureaucracy?

Most of all, though, I loved spending time with Alex and Aramael as they found ways to abide each other and, when Alex began to believe that perhaps she wasn’t going insane, I lost all resistance to what their story might become. The introduction of Seth Benjamin only made the future more questionable and there was no going back for me.

It didn’t hurt that one of my very favorite subgenres of mystery is crossgenre, particularly detectives and the supernatural and angels appeal to me much more than such creatures as vampires or shapeshifters. I’m fascinated by how any given author approaches the existence of angels and creates a story around them and Linda Poitevin has shown herself to be as good a storyteller as I could possibly want.

A note to the squeamish—you might want to page past the descriptions of Caim’s predations upon humans. In truth, they make the possibility of what might come ever more urgent so they’re not the least gratuitous but they are very graphic.

So, why did I say I hate this book? I’m not telling. Suffice it to say the ending will grab you by the throat AND the heart and make you run to get the next book, which is what I’m about to do 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2013.

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An Interview with the Author

Thank you so very much for hosting me here today, Lelia—and for participating in the Sins of the Son blog tour!

1.   Who did you pretend to be when you were a kid?

You are so going to laugh at this…my most frequent “pretend” was to be a horse. I didn’t own one, but I loved horses. I lived, breathed, and dreamed horses. I obsessed over them. And every chance I got, I corralled (no pun intended!) my siblings into being my herd while I played the fearless stallion saving them from predators. I’m sure we made the most awful commotion as we romped around the living room on our hands and knees…my mother was very forbearing. 😉

2.   How much of you is in your character, Alex?

Definitely the stubbornness, lol! I grew up wanting to be a cop and ended up working as a dispatcher for the RCMP for almost three years (that’s where I met my husband), so I’d say that Alex is the kind of cop I would have liked to have been.

3.   What does Alex do for fun?

These days? Not much. Before the world began to fall apart, however, she spent a lot of time with her sister and niece (her only family). She introduced her niece to horror movies…hm…I wonder how she feels about that now that she’s learned how real monsters can be? o.O

She also used to get together outside work with her colleagues…usually for casual get-togethers such as barbecues and game nights. Oh, yes, and she was a runner, too…both to stay in shape and as stress-release. The life of a homicide detective can get a little grim.

4.   What is your favorite scene in Sins of the Lost and why?

Without giving spoilers, there’s a scene between the One and Lucifer later in the book that I absolutely love. I also agonized over it for weeks because it was so challenging to get down on paper. It’s powerful, pivotal, and a total game-changer in soooo many ways. It also made me cry as I was writing it…so yeah, it’s definitely a favorite.

5.   Do you carry on conversations with Alex while you’re working on the story?

Not directly with her, no. At least, not as myself. I tend to become the character whose viewpoint I’m writing. So if I’m writing Aramael, then I am Aramael…and if he’s speaking to Alex, then yes, I am too.

6.   What is the one thing you would say about Canada to lure tourists?

Whatever you’re looking for in a vacation, chances are excellent that we’ve got it. 🙂

7.   Is there one author (mystery or otherwise) who has really influenced your writing career?

Not one in particular, no…but I owe a debt of gratitude to every writer I’ve ever read over the years, because I think I’ve learned something from each of them (even the ones I didn’t like, who showed me what I don’t want to do!).

8.   If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently in your writing career?

I would have been much more realistic in my expectations, and I would have approached it from more of a business perspective. As much as writing fiction is a creative venture, producing a publishable book that people want to buy is a business one. This means knowing your genre and knowing where your audience lies—and these days, it also means building a relationship with that audience through social media long before you publish (which has also turned out to be great fun, incidentally!).

9.   What is your #1 secret–or not so secret–addiction?

Coffee. And it’s no secret! 🙂

10.  If you could spend a weekend with one fictional character not your own, who would it be and why?

Edmond Dantѐs from the Count of Monte Cristo. He was so intelligent and complex, and he could have so easily (and understandably) have given in to the bitterness, but in the end he didn’t. That speaks to a strong character I would like to know better.

11.  You just woke up as a castaway on a remote, uncharted island and you have one book to keep you entertained but it’s the very last book you’d want. What is it?

A cookbook with beautiful, glossy pictures of all the foods that I can’t have.

12.  Please tell us an embarrassing anecdote about yourself—we can always use a good laugh.

High school, grade 9: We had an annual “Greaser Day” where we were allowed to dress in 50s style for the day. I got my days mixed up and came to school one week early in a poodle skirt, bobby socks, and backwards-buttoned cardigan…and I lived too far away to go home and change. I drew a lot of attention that day…not the kind of thing you’re looking for at that age.  Then, to top it off, I did the exact same thing two years later…argh.

13.  What is in store for you? What’s happening next?

I’m currently at work on the fourth and final book in the Grigori Legacy series, tentatively entitled Sins of the Warrior. After that, I have another series in mind, but I’ll need to do some serious research and reading first. I’d also like to tackle a novella as a sequel to Gwynneth Ever After, a romance I self-published over the summer…several readers have asked for one, and it would make a wonderful (and lighter!) project.

Linda, thank you so much for being here today—it has been a real pleasure 😉

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About the Author

Linda PoitevinLinda Poitevin was born and raised in B.C., Canada’s westernmost province. Growing up in an era when writing was “a nice hobby, dear, but what are you going to do for a living?”, Linda worked at a variety of secretarial jobs before applying to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Due to an error in measurement, however, she was turned down when she didn’t meet the height requirement of that time. Undeterred, Linda became a civilian member in the force and was a dispatcher for two and a half years, during which time she met her husband, a police officer.

Following their transfer to Ottawa, Linda went on to become a real estate agent and then a human resources consultant before starting a family. She remained a stay-at-home mom, homeschooled her youngest daughter for nine years and, now that she has realized writing can be more than a nice hobby, she continues to live her dream of being a cop vicariously through her characters.

Linda currently lives near Ottawa with her husband, youngest of three daughters, one very large husky/shepherd/Great Dane-cross dog, two cats, a rabbit, and a bearded dragon lizard. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | YOUTUBE

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Follow the tour here.

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Linda Poitevin Giveaway Prize

There are two awesome giveaways included on the tour –

1 – GRAND PRIZE Giveaway (US & Canada ONLY) for a surprise
prize package from Penguin – ONE Winner

5 – GRIGORI LEGACY Swag Packs (International) – tote bag, pen,
fridge magnet, sticky notes & bookmarks – FIVE Winners

– The Grand Prize Giveaway is open to US/Canada.

– The Grigori Legacy Swag Pack Giveaways are open Internationally.

– Giveaways end on November 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

– Giveaways are open to anyone 18 and older.

Tweet daily for additional chances to win!

Enter the drawing at Rafflecopter.

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Book Review: Elegy Beach by Steven R. Boyett

Elegy BeachElegy Beach
Steven R. Boyett
Ace Books
ISBN 0441017959
Hardcover

Thirty years ago, at 4:30 PM all over the world everything changed. Technology stopped working and magic began. Creatures like unicorns, centaurs, and werewolves walked the world.

And the old cities fell apart as looters ‘libbed’ what they needed to survive from business establishments and homes.

Fred is an apprentice ‘caster’, the son of a man who lived through the Change and doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s impatient with his master Paypay’s instructions and takes on a pupil of his own, Yan, the son of a local doctor. When Paypay learns that Fred is learning elsewhere, he turns Fred away.

Fred and Yan go rogue and begin applying the concepts of computer programming to magic, creating a programmed system with delays and other facets. When Fred realizes Yan’s burned down Paypay’s shop in retaliation, he kicks his lifelong friend out.

The wizard’s battle is thus joined. Yan is not going to slink away. Instead, he uses his rebel magic to enlist the centaurs to help him get a unicorn horn–the deepest of the realm’s magic. When Fred’s approached by Ariel, the unicorn’s angry mate, he realizes he has to go face Yan. His father and Yan’s join him in this quest.

I don’t generally read post-apocalyptic dystopics, but Boyett’s “Elegy Beach” drew me in with the title and the first chapter. The characters are engaging and the storyline kept me reading save for some slow portions in the middle. In some places, the story was predictable, but definitely more than just a ‘beach’ read for me.

Reviewed by Rebecca Kyle, January 2010.

Book Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny by Simon R. Green

The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny
Simon R. Green
Ace Books
ISBN 0441018165
Hardcover

According to sources as reliable as they get in the Nightside, Excalibur is coming back to town.  John Taylor is hot on the artifact’s trail because in the Nightside something that sounds good here is often lethal.

Meanwhile, the Undead Detective Larry Oblivion has hired John to help him track down his brother Tommy. John feels a certain obligation to do so since the last time he saw Tommy alive, he was supposed to be the one watching him.

And, have I mentioned that Walker, the dreaded representative of the Authorities, is dying?  He is, and he wants John to take over his job when he’s gone.

It’s just another endless night for John Taylor in a place that never sleeps, where for a price you can possess another person’s body to debauch, or worse.  It’s the Nightside, the dark-side of modern London. These stories are dark, humorous, and a fast-paced read for fans of both fantasy and light detective noir.  Probably the highest endorsement I can give the series is that my nonfiction reading spouse has read every one of them and actually keeps track of when the next book comes out so he can keep up.

“The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny” is the eleventh in Simon R. Green’s Nightside series so far.  Like all the books, the story is mostly stand-alone, but if you enjoy the story, you will want to read the rest of them as well.  Below is the list:

1.  Something from the Nightside

2.  Agents of Light and Darkness

3.  Nightingale’s Lament

4.  Hex and the City

5.  Paths Not Taken

6.  Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth

7.  A Walk on the Nightside

8.  Hell to Pay

9.  The Unnatural Inquirer

10. Just Another Judgment Day

11. The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny

Reviewed by Rebecca Kyle, January 2010.

Book Review: Sins & Shadows by Lyn Benedict

Sins & ShadowsSins & Shadows
Lyn Benedict
Ace Books, 2009
ISBN 0441017118
Mass Market

When I first picked up the book “Sins & Shadows,” I believed the volume to be from a freshman fantasy author; however, I was only part correct.  In actuality, Lyn Benedict is a pseudonym.  The author also writes political intrigue under the name Lane Robins (See “Kings and Assassins”, “Maledicts”)

Our heroine is Sylvie, the owner of a PI agency.  She’s about to close up shop and fire her one employee when Kevin Dunne, the God of Justice, walks into the shop and tells her he wants her to find his lost lover Brandon Wolf or else everyone she loves is going to suffer.  This urban fantasy takes place in a world where the Gods of Rome are real and just as capricious as the mythos describes them to be.

There are several flaws in this book that detract from this reviewer’s enjoyment.  “Sins & Shadows” reads like the second book in a series.  Terms such as Magicus Mundi, ISI (some kind of government agency), and events within the book are mentioned but not explained fully. If you like me are a character reader this may not be the book for you, Sylvie herself is more of an antihero than a sympathetic lead, so you will not bond with her.

The closing leads me to believe this is the first book in a continuing series for the Shadows.  The concept is interesting enough for me to consider picking up the second book, but I would probably have to read a chapter or two in person before I actually made the purchase.

Reviewed by Becky Kyle, December 2009.

Book Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors because she’s taken a lot of time with her world-building and her characters develop instead of devolving. Add to that, every few pages I am laughing at some snarky remark one of her characters makes, and you have a winning combination to keep my attention.

This is the third of three Ilona Andrews reviews.

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Magic Strikes
Ilona Andrews
Ace Books
0441017029
Mass Market

Kate Daniels is one of my favorite heroines in contemporary fantasy. One of the reasons is the hard work and solid characterization put in by Ilona and Gordon Andrews. Readers get to see character development based on a consistent value system.

In this third installment of the “Magic” series which began with “Magic Bites,” Kate is facing a new enemy who wants to do away with the half-breed weres. The Rakshasa are crueler than anything Kate’s fought before, wreaking devastating damage on their victims. The center of the action takes place in a gladiator-style arena where both sides contest for a magical treasure that will give them reign over the other.

Of course, Curran is back, too. And the tension is definitely heating up between him and Kate. He means to have her as mate and she’d rather strangle him–or would she? This book, more than its two predecessors in the series, is crossing over into the romance genre.  The humor is still intact and there’s nothing ‘sweet’ about this book that would make me want to put it down.

Magic Strikes

Magic Strikes

While my review paints this story as serious, Andrews pens some lines and scenarios that had me screaming with laughter as I read long past the time I intended to go to bed, totally unable to put the book down. Character development, action, romance, humor, and strong pacing all add up to the best read so far in the series. I hope there are many more to come from this very talented and hard-working team.

Reviewed by Becky Kyle.

Book Review: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Deadtown
Nancy Holzner
Ace Books, December 2009
ISBN 0441018130
Mass Market (ARC)

Victory Vaughn is a demi-human, active.  This bureaucratese translates to a shapeshifter, who also fights demons, or a Ceriddorian, who is literally a Welsh descendent of Ceridwen.   All this classification became necessary after the Plague hit Boston three years ago and turned many of the residents into zombies who now inhabit a space called “Deadtown.”  Of course, the demi-humans: vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters like Vicky are also now under regulation and struggling for rights.

Vicky’s just doing her job exorcising a drude (dream demon) from a client when she feels some serious evil.  The next day she learns after she left the client was murdered, boiled from the inside out.  It’s her worst fear, someone’s let loose a Hellion on Boston—in particular, a Hellion, the type of demon who started the zombie plague in the first place—and this particular Hellion and she have a score to settle since Difethwer the Destroyer killed her father and left a demon mark on Victory that she’s fought a lifetime to keep in control.

This demon infestation could not come at a worse time.  One of the primary issues in the upcoming election for Massachusetts’s governor is demi-human rights and the human candidate, Seth Baldwin, is going to be all over the hellion’s appearance—if the demon doesn’t destroy the city.

And, that’s not all Victory’s got to deal with.  Tina, a young zombie, has appointed herself Victory’s apprentice and is causing her more grief than good.  The case has brought Costello, a handsome human detective, into her life who is in competition with her current lover, werewolf lawyer and activist, Kane.  Add to all of that, Gwen, her demi-human inactive sister, is ashamed of her heritage which causes family issues.

“Deadtown” is the sophomore novel created by English PhD, Nancy Holzner.  All those years of voracious reading definitely paid off for this author.  She’s created an engaging character and a fantasy world which blends many common urban fantasy elements in a different manner.Deadtown

For the most part, the novel is an interesting and diverting read.  Holzner puts a lot of balls into the air, but manages to keep the threads running clearly enough that an attentive reader can pick them up easily enough.  I noticed a couple of slips, including describing Victory by having her see herself in a mirror.  This is not a major no-no, but one most novelists do try to avoid.

One personal gripe on the part of this reviewer is the author’s description of character Frank Lucado’s glass eye.  Unless Frank’s ocular prosthetic is quite old, the science of creating artificial eyes has grown so much that most are virtually indistinguishable from the wearer’s real seeing eye.

Reviewed by Becky Kyle, December 2009.