Review: Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels #4.5) by Ilona Andrews

Magic DreamsThis fun novella features a new protagonist in the urban fantasy world of Kate Daniels, the weretiger Dali. She is absolutely adorable and I love her. But what I love best about her is that is also a complete badass, even if a different sort from Kate and Andrea Nash (two other POV characters in this series). Power and strength come in many forms.

Multiple flavors of Asian mythology combine in this story, proving once again how detailed that the Andrews get in their writing, even for a short novella that isn’t required reading for the main series.

Finally, the relationship between Jim and Dali proves that sparks can fly on the road toward romance without anyone having to be an asshole. These two are my favorite couple in this series, and I love reading about them.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

In Your Write Mind 2019 Schedule!

This weekend, I’ll be attending my annual pilgrimage to Seton Hill University for In Your Write Mind. This is where I received my graduate degree many eons ago, and I’m happy to support the annual writers workshop hosted by fellow alumni every summer. Here’s where you can find me this year:

Friday

  • 1:00 PM: Behind the Scenes of Military Life (panel)
    • This panel of current service members, veterans, and dependents is ready to share their unique experiences of life in the military (and life attached to the military) and answer questions from the audience.
    • With Bill Huff, Alex Savage, Kristy Kulski-Ingram, and Michael K. Ingram
  • 4:00 PM: Expanding your Market (panel)
    • We live in a multimedia age where doing one thing well isn’t enough anymore. This panel focuses on the ways we, as writers, can expand our digital footprint to attract a wider audience from podcasting, to blogging, to movie production and more.
    • With Mark Oshiro, Deanna Sjolander, and Mary Mascari
  • 8:00 PM: Costume Ball
    • The theme this year is “Lost In Space”! I’ll give you three guess what I’ll be dressed up as, but if you know me at all, you’ll need just one. Pics will be sure to come.

Saturday

  • 5:00 PM: Mass Book Signing
    • Open to the public! Find me and dozens of other authors, who are more than willing to chat writing and books. This is the only way to get your own copy of Steel Shadows before the official release date in August!

Sunday

  • 11:00 AM: Alternative Histories (presentation)
    • Join author and editor J. L. Gribble for an overview of the alternate history genre, followed by world building activities with audience interaction to create various alternate histories of our own.

Review: The Vintner’s Vixen (River Hill #1) by Rebecca Norinne & Jamaila Brinkley

Vintner's VixenDisclaimer: I am friends with both authors; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

This is a fun new series that brings together two writers whom I greatly enjoy. I’m excited to read more in the town of River Hill, and the story of Angelica and Noah was the perfect way to start. Sparks fly from their very first meeting, despite the rocky beginnings, and I loved every moment of their interactions.

In many romances, one of the pairing must grow and adapt in order for the relationship to work out. And while it might seem that this should fall on Angelica’s shoulders, as the character starting out in a new phase of her life, it turns out that she is honestly pretty sorted. Noah is usually the one who is kind of a dick who jumps to conclusions.

Instead, it is a man who otherwise thought he had his life together who has to re-evaluate some things and grow as a person. Luckily, he has a decent support system around him already. This book also gets bonus points for featuring two intelligent women are are two smart to fall into any sort of love-triangle drama.

I can’t wait to follow the evolution of their relationship through future River Hill books. Seeing people live out their happily ever after is definitely one of the benefits to being in the first book.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Cover Reveal! Steel Empires Book 5: Steel Shadows

Today is the official cover reveal for the fifth book in my urban fantasy/alternate history series, Steel Shadows! Isn’t it gorgeous?

The official release date is August 8, 2019.

Info about the book, about the cover artist, and how to pre-order your own copy below!

About the Book

The shadows are talking and they won’t take no for an answer. Victory has returned safely to present-day Limani, sure that nothing so strange as time travel can ever happen to her again. Until the shadows begin speaking to her. And it turns out she’s not the only one.

Along with her sire Asaron and daywalker Mikelos, Victory will travel to a realm outside anything she could ever imagine. A previously unknown, ancient enemy threatens to tear apart the fabric of the world, and everything Victory thought she knew about magic will be completely rewritten.

In this unfamiliar world, accompanied by long-lost companions, Victory must find her way home once more. But if the shadows have manipulated her life all along, will she have a home to return to? Or will the darkness consume Limani as well?

About the Artist

Bradley Sharp was born in 1977 in Oxfordshire, UK. From a young age he filled many sketch books, so it only made sense to study Graphic Communication at Nene University, where he received a BA Honors degree in 1997.

But the real world called Sharp away from academics, so he traveled around the globe a couple of times, working as a graphic designer. Now he makes a living by designing magazine spreads, but freelances with vector illustrations, allowing him to create something far-removed from what he does in his nine-to-five job.

Sharp finds vector to be an easy tool and believes anyone can use it. “I’d say my artwork is nothing more than glorified doodling. I like the logical inconsistencies of surrealism and find inspiration from many places such as music or the science fiction genre. Dog Star’s novels lend themselves well to my style. I look forward to working with DSB in the future, and hope fans will like the imagery as much as they enjoy the words.” Find Sharp’s work online at http://www.bradsharp.co.uk.

Pre-Order Your Hardcopy

Review: Not Quite Perfect (Rocky Cove #1) by Rebecca Norinne

Not Quite PerfectDisclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

On the surface, this plot reads like a wacky soap opera. Melodramatic and completely unrealistic. But Norinne makes it work, and every single character in this story is someone I can imagine meeting in real life.

Beyond the primary plot, this story also includes some fascinating family dynamics and drama, on both sides of the (not-so-metaphorical) aisle. David and Victoria are complete characters both within the scope of their relationship and as part of their own family. I hope Norinne continues this series, because I’d love to see each of Victoria’s brothers feature in their own story.

Some of the obstacles in the couple’s path stretched credulity for me, especially Victoria’s reaction to David’s previous marriage and divorce. I felt less sympathy for her when the full context of the situation was revealed, but I have the benefit of distance, and Victoria is definitely not the same type of person as me.

One thing this book absolutely does well is showcase the realities of modern dating, especially between two working professionals. I found myself cheering for Victory and David to make everything work out on multiple levels.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: The Star of Anatolia (The Galipp Files #1) by Jamaila Brinkley

Star of AnatoliaWhen one reads a fantasy series, one expects the main character to be rather fantastical. But there’s something to be said for viewing the world through the eyes of a more “boring” person, with no magical ability of her own.

However, Anastasia Galipp is far from normal. She is a smart, independent young woman making the best of her position in society, even if it means supporting herself by spying for the Home Office.

I’m not sure why this was a novella rather than a full novel. Many aspects could have been expanded, and it might have saved the ending from feeling just a hair rushed. I’m glad there are other stories already in this series, so I don’t have to wait for more.

This novella combined multiple things that I love: society intrigue, politics, action-adventure, and just a bit of flirting for good measure. Brinkley also follows the trick of making every character the hero of their own story, so I’m looking forward to learning more about all of them. For now, I’m happy to continue following Anastasia’s continued adventures.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: “Into the Darkness” (Taine McKenna Adventures #1.5) by Lee Murray

Into the DarknessThis short story is not to be missed for any fan of the Taine McKenna adventures. It features everything I love about the series, condensed into an action-packed, bite-size piece.

Well, not quite everything. This takes place in a small town in France rather than a New Zealand locale, but I promise everything else is there. Taine being a bad-ass. Jules being incredibly intelligent. Terrifying and creepy monsters. Vibrant military action.

If you’re not sure whether you’ll enjoy the full series, this can work as a fairly spoiler-free introduction. But if you enjoy action-adventure with smart characters and ancient monsters, just dive right into Into the Mists and read this afterward. You won’t regret either option.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7) by James S.A. Corey

Persepolis RisingI put off reading this installment of the series for longer than I should have, because my husband mentioned in an offhand comment that a lot of time had passed since the previous book. I didn’t want to read about new characters and new situations. Instead, what I got was a Rocinante crew who are closer than ever and an amazing continuation of this series’s overarching plot.

Many changes do occur in the beginning of this story, and I’m not going to lie: Some of them are kind of sad. But I promise that it’s a good, satisfying kind of sad.

And then, as usual, everything escalates. I’d use a different phrase, but Amazon doesn’t like expletives in their reviews, as much as it’s warranted here. Corey is amazing at pulling out seeds of story that were planted in previous books, and the status quo tilts once again.

The antagonist point-of-view in this story is not the actual “Big Bad,” which I think serves the narrative well. As usual, despite all of the amazing alien technology they now have access to, humans are still just idiots with fancy toys.

(Avasarala is not an idiot. She might be aging, but she’s definitely still the smartest person in the room, and I continue to adore her.)

Despite their years of working together, the tensest moments in this story were the interpersonal sparks between the Roci‘s crew. I don’t like the idea of them in conflict, especially not Holden and Bobbie. But it’s handled deftly, and never exists for the purpose of conflict for conflict’s sake.

It looks like the next book in the series is going to pick up almost where things left off, and I can’t wait to dive in and find out what happens next.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: “Mr. Gold” by Margot Rose

Mr. GoldA fun, quick read. The developing relationship between the characters could have been fraught and over-dramatic, but Rose balances the need for tension in the story with the realities of modern, mature adults.

It’s a romance story, so you already know that there’s going to be a happily ever after. My favorite part of this story is getting to see a bit of that happily ever after, something often left hanging in short fiction.

I knocked a star off my rating because some of the sexy bits occur in places that seemed at odd with the personalities of the characters as they’re portrayed. This in no way diminished my overall enjoyment of the plot and relationship development.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #3.5) by Alyssa Cole

Can't Escape LoveOnce again, Cole impresses me with her ability to weave timelines together within different stories. This series interlude fills in some of the gaps of the second Reluctant Royals book, including interactions between the main heroine and her parents.

I adore Regina, and I don’t even pity her for not getting to become a “royal” herself. Because she doesn’t need to be. She’s already the queen of her own online domain, and she certainly doesn’t need a king to help rule it.

But a consort for the real world can’t hurt, and Gus is an adorable potential partner. So many issues are flipped on their head in this story, and it’s always an intriguing read when the guy is the one who attempts to move “too fast.” This shows how societal biases can creep into anything, especially when characters with disabilities (of all sorts) are so often infantalized in American culture.

Cole delivers a real treat with this love story between characters of color and different abilities. All of the nerdy pop culture references I thoroughly enjoyed were simply icing on the cake.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.