'Writing for me is not about speeling, grammar or punctuation – that’s why we have editors.... No, writing for me is the ability to capture a story and put it in words.' - Fantasy Muse

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Review of 2016

Hopefully your 2016 had been a great year, if not then you got 2017 to look forward to, but in the meantime I'd like to review the year in terms of the books I've read and mention the top three standouts. 

So, coming in third...

Lost Soul (Harbinger P.I. Book 1) by Adam J Wright.




Bit of a surprise for me actually to pick this book as my top 3 but I really enjoyed the simple and effective writing style, and a main character who you can actually like without the endless eye rolls.

Now second place goes to....

The Russian Assassin: A Max Austin Thriller, Book #1 by Jack Arbor. 



I know this blog is called Fantasy Muse but I enjoy reading other genres, especially action thrillers, and I thought this book was thoroughly entertaining and reminded me a lot of the Bourne series, not in terms of the storyline but relatable in regard to action, suspense and a protagonist you can root for. 

And lastly my favourite book of 2016 goes to....

Hell Divers (The Hell Divers Trilogy Book 1) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith



When I thought back to the books I've read this year, the one that flashed immediately to my mind was Hell Diver. From the beautiful front cover to the last page, I loved how unique this book was. The story captured my imagination and even after finishing the book, my mind kept drifting back to the novel and I can't wait to find out what the sequel will be like. 


------------------------------


I wan't to finish my last post of 2016 by wishing you a successful and fulfilling 2017 and for me, I'm looking forward to reading books that will continue to inspire me to dream new adventures.

I'm ending on a few words I put together...hopefully they might have some meaning for you for the new year to come...

I am fighting for my belief, my purpose. I have conviction and will as strong as an oak against the mightiest of winds, as strong as the rock against the pounding of the waves. You will not break me. You can snap every bone in my body, tear flesh out of by body, but you will not break me. This I promise. This I vow.
Fantasy Muse

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Lost Soul

Lost Soul (Harbinger P.I. Book 1) by Adam J Wright.


Front Cover







Synopsis

Alec Harbinger, Preternatural Investigator 
I’m the guy you come to when your spouse gets bitten by a werewolf, or your honey is kidnapped by a demon. I’m the guy who knows how to save your ass when an evil sorcerer casts a curse on it. 
At least, I was that guy until the Society of Shadows sent me to Dearmont, Maine, a sleepy town that had a zero rating on the supernatural occurrences scale.  
My plan was to spend my days sitting in the office with nothing to do except drink coffee and eat apple bakes made by Felicity, my new assistant. 
But when a woman hires me to find out if her son has been possessed by a demon at a rich kids’ party, and a young man comes to the office insisting he’s been bitten by a werewolf, Dearmont goes from zero to hero. 
Oh, and did I mention that someone in the Society wants me dead?
Time to sharpen the swords and go to work…

My Review


Before I begin, I have to admit that I didn't have any great expectations before reading this book. There seems to be a lot of urban fantasy books nowadays based on a P.I and I have to say most of them are pretty forgettable. It just seems the genre is swamped with a lot of sameness, but the book was going for free on Amazon and I thought I'd give it a go.

So here's my review...


The story centres on Alec Harbinger, Preternatural Investigator, who works for a secret magical society, but he finds himself in their bad graces and as a result has been shunted out to Dearmont, Maine.


The book does follow the same cookie cutter formular as most other urban fantasy novels but honestly I enjoyed it.


And there's a couple of reasons why;

  1. The main one being the main character, Alec. He wasn't the brash, overconfident type that you often find in this genre, nor was he the bumbling idiot that invariably sends you into a fit of groaning due to the stupid decisions they make. Instead Alec, was a strong dependable guy who had some common sense about him. He actually approached problems like someone who's competent because he does it for a living (strange concept I know).
  2. The second reason I liked the book was the simple writing style. If you're looking for elaborate, descriptive passages of text then this book is probably not going to appease you, but I liked how simple the prose was and it read easy. You know sometimes I don't want to think too much when I'm reading and just want to enjoy the story.

Conclusion


If you want a quick, entertaining story based on a likeable character, then you can't go too far wrong with this book. I enjoyed it and now I'm on to the sequel.

Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars


Buy it here:


Saturday, 24 December 2016

The Russian Assassin

The Russian Assassin: A Max Austin Thriller, Book #1 by Jack Arbor.


Front Cover







Synopsis



You can't go home again... 

Former KGB assassin Max Austin's peaceful life in Paris is shattered when his mother's imminent death brings him back to a world he only wants to forget. Before he's even unpacked his bags, a brutal act of terrorism sends Max running for his life and forces him to uncover secrets about his father's past to save his family's lives.

Max's sister and nephew become pawns in a game that started a generation ago. As Max races from the alleyways of Minsk to the tony neighborhood of Zurich, and finally to the gritty streets of Prague, he must confront his past and come to terms with his future to preserve his family name.

If you like intrigue, twists, and high-octane excitement, you'll love this tight, fast-paced adventure, starring Jack Arbor's stoic hero, ex-KGB assassin-for-hire Max Austin.


My Review


This thriller is based on an ex-KGB assassin, Max, who on the behest of his sister, is coming home from Paris to see his dying mother but just as he arrives a bomb goes off, killing his whole family save for his sister and child.

The remainder of the novel focuses on Max as he pursues those responsible for his families tragedy whilst trying to uncover the reason why they were targeted.

I've read a few hitmen/assassin type books and I have to say this is one of the better ones. I enjoyed the quick, efficient style of Jack Arbor's writing and the story flowed easily from one plot to the next. The action scenes were well described and Arbor kept it simple, which I appreciated. 

As for the main character, Max, I thought he was a superb protagonist. He was good at his job, but he wasn't infallible, and whilst I obviously didn't expect to see him killed off, I got some suspense on whether or not he'd be able to rescue/protect those he cared about. 
Another point I liked about Max was that he wasn't narcissistic or egotistical - I've read my share of books where authors portray their main character's as the next coming of James Bond, which invariably involves nothing more than endless skirt chasing and posing.

Conclusion


If you're into your fast paced action novels with a healthy dose of mystery then this book will be perfect for you.

Jack Arbor's a talented author who I'll be keeping an eye on.

Out of 10 Stars


8 Stars


Buy it here:


Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Wolves of War

The Wolves of War by Greg Curtis.


Front Cover






Synopsis

Briagh has a secret. He's a morph. One born with the gift of changing shape. He has another secret too. He's also a thief. A genuine cat burglar. 
Meanwhile Elan has her own secret. Despite pretending to be a bardic warrior she's actually the Princess of Abylon. And she too has a second secret. Her entire family is mad. 
Her father and brothers are unfit to rule. Her mother is not dead as people believe. Instead she's become the psychotic wolf mother, whose pack has been killing and devouring the people of the city for a decade.
And then there's the Court and their little secret. They rule the Kingdom of Abylon even though they do not have the right.
Secrets are useful things. They allow people like Elan and Briagh to live normal, even comfortable lives. They allow a kingdom to be governed by those who do not have the authority. They make life for the people of Abylon possible. 
But when their secrets are revealed, none of those things may hold. And when the wolf mother is the reason for that revelation – it may be war.

My Review


For those of you who who follow my blog will probably know that I am a huge fan of Greg Curtis. If you didn't, then you do now. I've read most of his books, and I enjoy the formular he uses in his stories - the quite, reclusive main character, shunned by society, who has talents that requires him to become a hero to his people. I guess I'm a sucker for those types of storylines.

Moving on to this book, the main character is Briagh who is a Morph, born with the ability to change shapes. He is also a thief that has a tendency to run when the going gets tough.

The other main character is Elan, Princess of Abylon. She is a fierce, strong willed woman who wants to kill all Morphs due to the tragedy that befell her family.

The storyline follows both Briagh and Elan who become involved when a crazed woman leading a pack of wolves begins to attack the city of Absynth. 

I guess I had high expectations before reading this and I certainly wouldn't say I was let down but I have to admit it's not one of Curtis's best works. The storyline for me felt a little bit fanciful and did not flow as well as his other books. 

I did however like the main character Briagh, he had a bit more backbone than what you usually get and was enjoyable to read. As for Elan, she had a remarkable personality (basically a psychopath) and one I won't be forgetting in a long while. It was nice to get that contrast between Briagh and Elan.

Conclusion


If you're fan of Greg Curtis then you know what you're getting into, and this book naturally follows his previous novels, and whilst not his best, you still get that satisfying feel.

If you haven't read his books before then I would suggest trying his other novels first like 'The Godlost Land', 'Banshee Hunt' or 'The Lady's Man'.

Out of 10 Stars


6 Stars


Buy it here:


Saturday, 10 December 2016

Ren: The Man Behind the Monster

Ren: The Man Behind the Monster by Sarah Noffke.

Front Cover




Synopsis


Born with the power to control minds, hypnotize others, and read thoughts, Ren Lewis, is certain of one thing: God made a mistake. No one should be born with so much power. A monster awoke in him the same year he received his gifts. At ten years old. A prepubescent boy with the ability to control others might merely abuse his powers, but Ren allowed it to corrupt him. And since he can have and do anything he wants, Ren should be happy. However, his journey teaches him that harboring so much power doesn't bring happiness, it steals it. Once this realization sets in, Ren makes up his mind to do the one thing that can bring his tortured soul some peace. He must kill the monster.

My Review


The novel is based on Ren, who is part of a special race of human beings called Dream Travellers and has certain abilities, such as reading thoughts, hypnosis, and controlling minds.
The story follows Ren from when he's a school kid adjusting to his powers to adulthood. Let's just say life is not smooth sailing for Ren as he tries to overcome a few mighty hurdles and in the process finds himself being recruited by an organisation dedicated to battling evil.

Now I want to talk about the main character, Ren. I've finished the book and I still don't know what to make of him. I wouldn't say I like him as he's not really the likeable type. The author has made him very cynical, arrogant, and narcissistic, so to sum him up - a complete a** h***. 
Yet I've gone on and read the 2nd and 3rd book in the series, which suggests that despite how much I dislike Ren, I still want to read more about him.

A point I found confusing was how much Ren hated himself and thought himself a monster. Yes, Ren does a lot of dubious things, but stuff I would hardly call monstrous, and yet he acts like he's the 2nd coming of Hitler (or maybe I've just got a different psycopath-ometer to everyone else).
Aslo another point I found odd was how Ren thought his powers were too godly for mankind and that it was too much for anyone to bear, which left me scratching my head thinking, yes, he can read thoughts and do some hypnosis, but I'd hardly call it Superman worthy stuff.

Conclusion


Like I've said in my review, I've gone on and read the 2nd and 3rd books in the series because the story is actually quite interesting. The characters are a bit weird but the good kind of weird (I think). So, if you're looking for something more quirky than your average urban fantasy, then this will be perfect for you.

Out of 10 Stars:


7 Stars


Buy it here:


Saturday, 26 November 2016

As the Ash Fell

As the Ash Fell by AJ Powers.

Front Cover




Synopsis


Life in the frozen wastelands of Texas is anything but easy, but for Clay Whitaker there is always more at stake than mere survival.

Yellowstone, along with two other Super Volcanoes, exploded with a tremendous fury following months of heightened seismic activity worldwide. The devastating eruptions released unmeasurable quantities of ash into the atmosphere. Coastlines were changed. New canyons were formed. Temperatures plummeted, dragging economies down, too. With no real way to sustain order, governments around the world began to fold, societies collapsed.

It’s been seven years since the ash rained down from the sky. Populations are thinning. Food is scarce. Despair overwhelming. Clay and his sister Megan have taken a handful of orphaned children into their home—a home soaring 16 stories into the sky. Providing for his adopted family is a 24/7 job for Clay. And with roughly six short months a year to gather enough food and supplies to last the long, brutal winter, Clay is forced to spend much of his time away from home—scavenging, hunting, and bartering.

Despite the vicious, unforgiving world he lives in, Clay has grown accustomed to his new life. That is, until he meets Kelsey Lambert.

Now, with winter rolling in earlier than ever, Clay must swiftly adapt to the changes in his life to ensure the safety of those he cares about.

My Review 


I always like a good post-apocalyptic novel, I don't know why, it's not like I want the world to come to an end but I enjoy reading about the creativity, the bravery and hardship that follow these types of novels. Sometimes I can't help but picture what I'd do if faced with a horde of zombies coming my way...... I'd probably trip my family up and use them as bait while I escape.
Fantasy Muse 

As the Ash Fell is based on Clay as he and his sister struggle to provide for their family of 10 orphans, yes that's right 10 orphans!

The story follows Clay's day-to-day involvement as he interacts with various groups of people some friendly, others not so much, as well as how fights to protect his family. Another dimension's added when Clay stumbles upon Kelsey and her daughter as they are about to be attacked by murderous thugs and of course or hero can't let that happen.

You know what, I rather enjoyed the book and I liked the characterisation of Clay and Kelsey. They both grew as the book progressed. Yes, Clay was a bit too saintly for my preference but it was never eye rolling stuff. I thought the story was well written and the author made things simple, he didn't try to overelaborate when describing action scenes which made it flow more easily.

I did also appreciate that Clay was not disguised as Rambo, he was vulnerable and (to my slight frustration) got his share of beatings, but his courage and sense of virtue proved to be his strength.

The only negative I would say, and it is only a slight one, is that I thought there was too much emphasis on the romantic side of things and at times it felt more like a romance novel, but hey in a world where someone will kill you over a can of tuna, you need some love.

Conclusion


A very good dystopian novel about hope, survival, and the importance of family in such a desolate world.

It's not your typical macho-alpha male book that describes in endless pages about this gun or that one, so if you're pasionately into your guns and action then you proably won't enjoy this book as much, if however you want to read about a tale of human endevours and the values people hold in times of bleak despair, then give this book a try.

Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars


Buy it here:


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Hell Divers

Hell Divers (The Hell Divers Trilogy Book 1) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. 


Front Cover






Synopsis



More than two centuries after World War III poisoned the planet, the final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search for a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago. The only thing keeping the two surviving lifeboats in the sky are Hell Divers: men and women who risk their lives by diving to the surface to scavenge for parts the ships desperately need.


When one of the remaining airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there’s something down there that’s far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past—something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.


My Review



From just looking at the cover and reading the title I knew this book was going to be special, and my gut feeling did not let me down.

The book is set in a post-apocalyptic world where earth having been ravaged by nuclear attacks have left it in a permanent state of toxic radiation and electrical storms. Humanity are on the very brink of extinction and all who remain reside inside two airships that hover above the storm clouds. 
But the problem is that the airships need fuel to run and the only the way to get it is by going back to ground and so in order for depleting resources to be replenished it requires brave individuals willing to venture beyond the electric storm clouds and descend upon a toxic earth, and these individuals are better known as - Hell Divers.

In terms of the beginning chapters, I'm struggling to think of a book that instantly packed such adrenalin filled action and excitement than this book. I don't think I had time to breath during the 1st chapter because I was so hooked on the suspense and anticipation of the Hell Divers as they jumped down to Earth. 

The story focused on the main protagonist, Xavier, or X for short, who performed more dives than any other person. The average lifespan for a Hell Diver is about 15 dives and X has completed 95 jumps. He is a tough, resilient character but at the same time showed tremendous loyalty to his people. In a nutshell he's my kind of main character.

I thought the premise of the book was unique (for me at least) and I really enjoyed the world that the author created. Smith writes in simple but effective words that easily paints what's happening. I really enjoyed the tension he imbued when describing the mutated creatures that live on the ground.

Conclusion


If you want to enjoy an action packed post-apocalyptic novel with a unique/interesting concept then this book is a must. One of the best opening intros that I've read for a long, long time. Just read the books sample to understand what I mean.

Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars



Buy it here:


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Bullet Rain

Bullet Rain - A Nova Bartkowski Novel (Holly Lin Series) by Robert Swartwood


Front Cover



Synopsis


WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS 

Nova is a free man. Having just walked away as a non-sanctioned hit man for the U.S. government, he's purchased a classic Mustang to drive across the country. But when his car breaks down in the middle of the Nevada desert, Nova ends up in the small town of Parrot Spur. There's something strange about Parrot Spur. Something ... off. Maybe it's the fact the town is full of ex-servicemen. Maybe it's the fact the abandoned mine might not be abandoned. Maybe it’s the fact the knockout brunette in the bar is clearly more than what she seems. In the end, none of it matters. What matters — and what Nova is soon going to learn — is that in the desert, the only thing that rains is bullets. 


My Review


I do love a good action/thriller book, and I was - probably still am - a huge fan of the Jack Reacher books before Lee Child seemed to lose his way, and so every now and again I like to find a good action/thriller novel.

The story is about Nova, a recent ex-government hit man, who is on his way to California when the tires to his newly bought Mustang blows up. Stuck in the middle of Nevada, the closest place nearby is a small town called Parrot Spur, but something is not quite right with the threadbare town.
There is also another character called Jessica, a young woman, who is also a stranger to Parrot Spur but has her own reasons for being there. 

This is an action packed, fast paced book that I finished in one sitting. The story has enough pull to it that keeps hooked to it from start to finish.
The central character, Nova, is everything you want in a hero, but more importantly (for me) has a toned down sense of morals, which adds a bit grit to the book, as there's nothing more I dislike than the good guy being a saint.
The other character, Jessica, wasn't entirely the damsel in distress, she did need saving - at times - but her personality was strong and she wasn't timid in the face of danger.

I did mention Reacher at the beginning of this post, and there are some comparisons, mostly in the short, crisp writing style, and riveting action scenes, but I wouldn't yet put it in the same class as Reacher (the early books that is). However, there's no shame in that as many authors place Lee Child's works as the benchmark for their own books.

Conclusion


Fans of action/thriller, who are looking for something quick to read and like their hero to be more greyer than white, will enjoy this book. 

**I should add that there is an earlier book in the series, which I was unaware of before I read Bullet Rain, and there are hints to some of the characters in the 1st, but there was never any confusing points in the story and for me this book can be read entirely as a stand alone. However, saying that, it'd probably be more beneficial to start with book 1 No Shelter (A Holly Lin Novel).**


Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars


Buy it here:


Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Devil's Mouth

The Devil's Mouth (Alex Rains, Vampire Hunter Book 1) by Matt Kincade


Front Cover




Synopsis


The only things Alex Rains cares about are rock ’n’ roll, classic cars, and killing vampires—that is, until he meets Carmen, a tough-as-nails cop who's hot on the trail of her missing little sister.

When the two join forces, they leave a trail of corpses across the desert as they race against the clock, hunting an ancient evil that’s preyed on the migrants of the American Southwest since the time of the Spanish conquest.

While Alex leads Carmen deeper into the deadly, secret world of vampire hunters and their quarry, a romance blooms that neither of them expected. But when it all goes wrong, Alex is forced to make a grueling choice.

An action-horror thriller from author Matt Kincade, The Devil’s Mouth is an adrenaline-fueled ride through the dark underbelly of America: a warped landscape of old motels, seedy roadhouse bars, and monsters lurking in the night.


My Review


I'm always a sucker (no pun intended) for a good vampire book and I wasn't disappointed.

The main protagonist is called Alex Rains who is a vampire hunter, and whilst tracking a vampire, he stumbles/saves a cop called Carmen, who is trying to find her missing sister.
The remainder of the book is spent trying to find her younger sister and along the way they deal with more vampires and their growing relationship.

I liked the main character Alex, he was an interesting person who had no special abilities but managed to more than hold his own against the vampires. His personality was quirky and I found him easily likeable. Simply put he's type of person I wouldn't mind hanging out with.

The main character, Carmen - the tough female cop - I wasn't so sure on. She said all the right things, did all the right things, but I was still left a bit unsure of her.

In terms of the plot, it flowed from one scene to the other seamlessly, and there was a twist in the story near the end that I admittedly did not see coming - it changed  the whole dynamics of the book and future books to come. Truth be told I don't think it changed for the better, but that's just my opinion.

There is a healthy dash of romance between the two main characters which I thought added little to the plot, but, saying that, near the end - due to the plot twist - their relationship sprouted an extra dimension to it, which does set it up nicely for the sequel.


Conclusion


A very well written urban vampire book that fans of the genre will enjoy. There is nothing new here, except for being a very well written story, from a talented author, who I am certainly going to keep an eye out for and very much looking forward to the sequel. 

Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars


Buy it here:


Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Dragon of Time

The Dragon of Time: Gods and Dragons by Aaron Dennis


Front Cover



Synopsis


In a world where Dragons pose as Gods, one man with no past unearths their lies in the ruined kingdom of Alduheim.
Scar, the mercenary, seeks only answers, but those who hold sway in the world of Tiamhaal would have him fight for lies. After defeating a man who claims he follows the real Gods, Scar grows even more curious of his origins.
Is he truly this King Brandt of Alduheim? Were the Dragons really killed at the site of the old kingdom? And if so, how can they possibly be influencing the leaders of Tiamhaal?


My Review


The premise of the book is based on a warrior who has lost his memories and is trying to find out his past. Along the way he discover more about himself and who he is.

I found the start of the book to be rather slow and I wasn't instantly hooked. There just seemed to be too many names thrown in and I did get confused, but the story did pick up halfway through and I got the sense that the author grew into the novel both in terms of writing, world building and characterisation. Interestingly, the book reminded me a lot of greek mythology when it came to gods, goddesses and heroes.

For a self published novel I found the book without any typos of spelling mistakes and generally well edited.


Conclusion


I recommend this book for those who are interested in greek mythology but I do feel this author is still growing into his craft and so as a result the book feels more akin to a rough diamond than a polished one.


Out of 10 Stars:


5 Stars



Buy it here:


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Strong Convictions: An Emmett Strong Western

Strong Convictions: An Emmett Strong Western (Emmett Strong Westerns Book 1) by GP Hutchinson  (Author)

Front Cover




Synopsis


In 1876 the seemingly impossible happened in San Antonio, Texas--Emmett Strong, a prodigy of a pistolero, accidentally shot his own young wife in a showdown gone awry.

Five years later, death again visits Emmett's family. And now, want to or not, he's going to have to overcome his reluctance to draw his six-gun if he's to catch and bring to justice the crazed gunman who murdered his brother. The pursuit of his brother's killer takes him all the way to Nevada's Comstock country where the assassin has taken refuge with rich and powerful kin.

Among the many unforeseen situations Emmett encounters in Nevada is forbidden love when he falls for Li Xu, the fascinating daughter of Chinese immigrants. But before the relationship has time to bloom, Li Xu disappears--kidnapped  along with five other young women.

Can Emmett afford to leave off the chase of his brother's murderer to search for and rescue the women? Can he afford not to? With success hanging on quick thinking and quick shooting, can he take one last shot at both love and retribution?

My Review


I don't read many westerns. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that I find it hard to find my type of western. And if you ask me what that is, I'd struggle to tell you....hmmm.. that's probably why I don't read many westerns.

Anyway, after not reading one for a year or so, I was in the mood to read about a good ol' fashioned gunslinger, and after trawling Amazon for days looking for the right book, I finally found it - Strong Convictions: An Emmett Strong Western.

The book opens up with Emmett Strong losing his wife, not by anyone else's hand, but more tragically by his own. And that opening chapter almost instantly drew me in and left me wanting more.

Then after a few years later, Emmet, now a Texas Ranger, loses another loved one, this time it's his brother. The story then follows Emmett, as he tracks down his brother's killer, along with the aid of his brother-in-law, Juanito, and an Englishman called Sikes.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book and it was quite an informative read for me to see how the wild west was in 1876. The author touches upon the treatment of women, races, and slavery. You get a real sense of how harsh it was during those times. 

GP Hutchinson paints a broad picture in vivid words when he describes the surroundings from Texas to California. I could close my eyes and imagine myself riding through one of those dusty, western towns.

I thought the charters were well written and Emmet, is a strong, stoic gunslinger, but is suffering from the tragedy of shooting his wife, and you get to see indecision and self-doubt plague him, which I thought was good, as it showed he wasn't invulnerable. 

There is romance in this novel, which truthfully I thought was a bit superficial, and didn't seem believable to me, but I'm glad it wasn't the eye-rolling sappiness you often come across nowadays.

Conclusion


This is a very well written western that paints an alluring picture of 1876 California. I'd recommend this book to those who wish to escape to a different time and place, with a hero you can root for and villains you can jeer at.
  

Out of 10 Stars:


7 Stars


Buy it here:


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Radiance

Radiance (Wraith Kings Book 1) by Grace Draven.


Front Cover




Synopsis


~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~  
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined. 
~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~ 
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.  
Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart. 


My Review



The story is a bit like Romeo and Juliet, in that you have two sets of people who have an extreme dislike/fear of each other. 
On one side there is the Gauri, who are basically humans, and then on the other side are the Kai, who are similar to humans, but have grey skin, claws and are more animalistic in their nature. Both sets of people however are seeking an alliance to defend themselves against a mutual enemy, and what better way then unifying the two kingdoms through marriage. Enter the Gauri King's orphaned niece, Idiko, and the 2nd son of the Kai King, prince Brishen.

I thought the opening chapter was compelling, and instantly drew me into what was a brilliant fantasy romance book. Idiko, the niece, and Brishen, the prince, instantly developed a believable connection between each other, and despite how ugly they found each other, both characters infused light hearted humour into their relationship which I enjoyed reading.

I did fear this book would turn into one of those cliche romantic books, where there's plot twists only to drive the (eye-rolling) romance between the characters, however, the author managed to get the right blend between the romance and fantasy, with some interesting plot ideas.

Overall I enjoyed the storyline, just as much as the two main characters, who both felt real and relatable. I could actually envision their interaction in my mind, something that I can't say too often about when I read romantic fantasy novels.

Conclusion


So, if romance is not your thing, then you still might want to give this book a try, as there is other aspects to this story, such as action, political scheming and magic.

But if you do enjoy a healthy dose of romance in your fantasy, then I can't recommend this book highly enough.


Out of 10 Stars:

8 Stars



Buy it here:


Sunday, 17 January 2016

Broken City (This Fallen World Book 2)

Broken City (This Fallen World Book 2) by Christopher Woods


Front Cover




Synopsis


Mathew Kade has taken cases to find missing people many times. He's taken cases to find items lost during the Fall of civilization after the Corporate Wars. He's investigated murders and thefts. But the search for a serial killer in the tunnels under a broken city might be the strangest case he's taken. With the help of a couple of Squires from the Society of the Sword, he is in pursuit of a deadly person who has been killing for more than twenty five years. Looks like Kade has his work cut out for him.


My Review


You can find my review of the first book - This Fallen World - here. In terms of the first book I thought it was fantastic and I hoped (prayed in fact) that Woods would do a sequel and lo-and-behold he has.

I normally don't read short books (less than 100 pages). In fact I really don't like short stories. But the first book was so, so, good I didn't care if it was only 10 pages long, I had to get more of the world Christopher Woods created and of the main character Mathew Kade - who is the definition of badass!

In the sequel, we learn more of the main character Kade, and also the post-apocalyptic world he inhabits. The storyline follows Kade as he investigates a series of gruesome murders where the victims have been torn apart. 
There are some fascinating and twisted concepts Woods created in his post-apocalyptic world and I loved it.

The writing is succinct and to the point, which may deter some away, like those who prefer more embellishment in their prose, but for me I found it perfect. Most times I like to read scenes where I'm not swimming in flowery description and dialogue which go on forever. Don't get me wrong some novels need that level of description just to make sense of the story but this book is definitely not that type.


Conclusion


If you like the idea of a main character who is basically Rambo, Chuck Norris, and Mad Marx rolled into one then this series is for you.

Out of 10 Stars:


9 Stars


Buy it here:


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Banshee Hunter

Banshee Hunt by Greg Curtis.


Front Cover 




Synopsis



James Henderson was once a proud cop. A detective. A husband and father. But then the world of magic came tearing into his world and that life ended.  
Now five years on he's a hunter. Tasked with tracking down rogue witches and wizards for the Illuminati. It's not the job he dreamed of. It's not the life he loved. His co-workers don't respect him. He's forever in trouble with his bosses. They even tried to take away his Sig and give him a magical toy gun! But it's a job and he's good at it.  
Then the banshee entered his life, and his world was turned upside down once again. Suddenly he had a whole new problem. And a question to answer. 


My Review



For those of you who follow this site will know that Greg Curtis is one of my favourite authors. I've probably read most of his books and each one was just as good as the previous. And so I didn't hesitate to buy his latest work titled Banshee Hunt.

The story follows James Henderson who was once a cop until his daughter get's kidnapped. He learns to his horror that his brother was the culprit, and can control people's minds.
From there James ends up becoming a bounty hunter for the supernatural world. He tracks down and captures rogue supernatural beings.

James Henderson, simply put, is my type of hero. I hate wishy-washy heroes who are indecisive and easily led by others. I prefer reading someone who knows what he wants to do, doesn't get beat up every time he's in a fight and is a bit of a loner.

In terms of the storyline, I really enjoyed it and the plot moved at a natural pace filled with action and suspense. There was also significant characterisation of the hero which you could see from the start of the book to the end.


Conclusion



It's been awhile since I read a book where I had to get to the end no matter what. Simply put, if you're a fan of urban fantasy, then give this book a try.


Out of 10 Stars:



9 Stars


Buy it here: