Guest Review: Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey

Guest Review: Autumn Bones by Jacqueline CareyAutumn Bones (Agent of Hel, #2) by Jacqueline Carey
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, suspense, urban fantasy
Series: Agent of Hel #2
Pages: 436
Published by Roc on October 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Carey returns to the curious Midwest tourist community where normal and paranormal worlds co-exist—however tenuously—under the watchful eye of a female hellspawn…...

Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel.

Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one.

He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything…...

Ask in the editor’s note, and ye shall receive, oh mighty Editor-in-Chief Marlene Ma’am.

Guest Review by Amy: So, it looks like things are slowing down some for Daisy Johanssen, half-demon Agent of Hel, the Norse goddess of death who runs the eldritch community in Pemkowet, MI. Daisy has a new boyfriend, whom we met very briefly in the last installment (Dark Currents), and it’s Labor Day weekend, so most of the summer tourists are leaving.

But, of course, that would make a really short novel, so no slow-and-easy life for Daisy! When boyfriend Sinclair’s sister shows up with a threat, it’s back to the job for the Agent of Hel. Sinclair really is Jamaican, you see, and his powerful family wants him to come home. They’re not at all against threatening the whole town to get what they want, either.

Escape Rating A-: Remember how, in my review of Dark Currents, I expressed some dissatisfaction at Daisy’s choice of suitor? Yeah, from the get-go in this story, starting with the second paragraph, Sinclair is there, and I’m just…underwhelmed. She had two other much-more-interesting men chasing her in Dark Currents, but she ends up with this…person. She was, she says, somewhat fascinated with the idea of having a “normal” boyfriend.

Except, well, he isn’t, of course. I can’t say I was at all dissatisfied with how Daisy got a grip on herself over this lukewarm relationship, and managed to end it and still remain friends with him. She can do better than him. And despite the fact that it’s Sinclair’s mother and twin sister who are primary antagonists that drive the plot of this book, Sinclair’s role in the drama fades to a much lower level than I was expecting from reading the publisher’s blurb. Yes, yes, it’s good seeing him finally growing as a character, finding the allies he needs to stand up to his family, all that jazz – but as a character, Sinclair still feels rather flat and unimpressive to me, all the way through this tale, and it’s really the biggest downer in the book. He was somewhat one-dimensional to me in Dark Currents, and I’d hoped that Carey would, given the plot opportunity of lots of time with Daisy, make him jump off the page for me…but he never really did.

Of course I probably should give poor Sinclair a break; when your castmates are a whole bunch of supernaturals, well, it’s hard for any more-or-less normal human to look at all extraordinary. The gang of ghouls, led by the enthralling and handsome Stefan, a werewolf, assorted faerie folk, vampires, a thousand-year-old lamia, and even Hel herself continue to shine in this story. As I’ve said in my other reviews of paranormal stories, it’s because they’re “real people”, and here Carey’s genius shows; all of these supernaturals are just trying to get through their lives in peace, the same as you and I.

During the course of the story, as the deadline for Sinclair leaving town nears, our heroine and her friends must deal with an increasing number of restless dead folks haunting the town. This is good for late-season tourism, of course, but it keeps Daisy and her werewolf partner from the police (Cody.  Mmmmmm…) rather busy. When events reach their climax on Halloween night, we have a battle royal involving eldritch folk, some witches, and even a bunch of normal kids helping out with water balloons, all trying to put a zombie and the ghost that animates him (Sinclair’s grandfather) to rest. Things don’t go perfectly, of course, and dealing with the aftermath is how Carey brings this busy tale to a close. Most of the dangly loose ends in the book get wrapped up, sure, but I’m left feeling slightly…unfulfilled.

In the end, Daisy is left still wondering what to make of things with the two men remaining in her life as potential partners. With that juicy bit of bait out there, and with unanswered questions about a seemingly-unimportant side plot, Jacqueline Carey leaves me wanting to go find a copy of Poison Fruit, the third book in this series. So I will, and you’ll see a review here, when I do, I promise!

Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr + Giveaway

Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr + GiveawayThe View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, women's fiction
Pages: 320
Published by Mira on April 30, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr delivers a poignant and powerful story about how one woman’s best intentions lead to the worst of situations and how the power of love helps her to heal and ultimately triumph.

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.

My Review:

This is a story about finally taking your life into your own hands and making a new beginning. And it’s also a story about karma being a beautiful brass-balled bitch.

Lauren Delaney is 24 years into a marriage that looks perfect on the outside – but is completely rotten on the inside. She knows that she’s let herself be a victim, and she’s pretty damned ashamed of that.

At the same time, she’s also aware that her husband is a controlling douchebag, and that she’s stayed because he threatened to cut their daughters off without a penny – or at least without enough pennies to pay for college.

He’s also certain that because he’s been the breadwinner as a successful and (self-) important surgeon that everything will go his way in any divorce. He knows how to turn on the charm when he needs to suck up – not that Lauren has had that charm directed at her in nearly two decades. But that over-inflated sense of his own self-importance has led him to completely ignore the fact that California is a community property state. Just because he’s done his level best to convince Lauren that she’s stupid doesn’t mean that she actually is.

Her departure is arranged. And secret. Her daughters are grown or nearly so, and it’s time to start living her own life without fear of abuse.

But no plan survives contact with the enemy – and neither does Lauren’s.

The family takes sides, with Lauren, her sister and her older daughter on one side – and her husband and younger daughter on the other. Along with a whole lot of friends that Lauren never realized she had.

She just has to survive long enough to see it all through.

Taking another chance at romantic love is absolutely nowhere on her horizon. After the way her marriage descended into an abyss, and the emotional cost of keeping up appearances long enough to get her daughters launched, she just isn’t ready to trust another man with any part of her slightly battered self.

At least not until she meets someone who has run the same gauntlet she has – someone who helps her see that the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel isn’t always an oncoming train.

Escape Rating B+: This was a hard books for me personally. In the end, a terrific one, but difficult at the beginning. My own first marriage went down on the same rocks that Lauren’s did. Not to the same degree by any means (and no kids for him to hold hostage), but the paths were surprisingly similar. It was painful and cathartic to read the story of someone else who came out the other side.

I also enjoyed that this is a story of a second chance at life and love for two people who are not 20somethings anymore. I always enjoy romances where the protagonists are a bit seasoned (and a bit closer to my own age!)

The story sits on the border between contemporary romances and women’s (or relationship) fiction. Because as much as the second half of the story focuses on Lauren’s initially stumbling steps towards a new relationship, a great deal of the narrative focuses on Lauren getting out of the old one, the bigger stumbling blocks to reaching that goal, and her relationships with the other women in her life.

Particularly her relationships with her daughters, her sister, and the women she thought were keeping her at arm’s length. After she leaves the jerk, she discovers that she was the one holding everyone else away, because it was easier to keep her secret in isolation than to lie with every second breath.

The way that her daughters react is painful but also feels all-too-real. The older one remembers more of the abuse than Lauren herself was willing to acknowledge. She’s thrilled that her mom is finally breaking away. But the real part is the way that the older girl was always aware that her younger sister was her dad’s favorite so she and her mother are more closely bonded.

The younger girl believes everything her daddy says, and is convinced her mother is having a midlife crisis and will come to her senses at any moment. It’s only when she is faced with incontrovertible evidence that she is finally able to let go of her own selfishness enough to realize that her mother has been telling the truth all along.

The romance that Lauren finds develops slowly and reluctantly. She’s been damaged, and her new friend has been hurt in the same way. They both lived with abusive spouses, both managed and cajoled and tolerated the abuse for the sake of their children, and both were finally able to let go once the children were nearly grown.

That both of their separated spouses tried to take the law into their own hands provided the tension in the story. This was a case, or rather two cases, where Chekhov’s Ex (the creepy stalkerish ex-relationship that looms over the entire plot like Chekhov’s Gun) took itself down off the shelf and hit the story with both barrels.

That the shots rebounded on their shooters made for a deliciously cathartic ending. Karma really is a beautiful bitch.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I’m giving away a copy of The View from Alameda Island to one lucky US commenter on this tour!

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The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-28-19

Sunday Post

We have tickets to Avengers: Endgame this afternoon. YAY!

And in other news, I’m already a bit behind this week, so I’m very glad (and extremely grateful) that I have one of Amy’s Guest Reviews on tap. She’s working her way through Jacqueline Carey’s Agent of Hel series, and it’s making me want to read them RIGHT NOW!

Both the Hoppy Easter and the Something to Marble At Giveaway Hops end on Tuesday, so you still have time to enter. And the May Of Books Giveaway Hop starts on Wednesday, so there will be even more chances to win.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop (ENDS TUESDAY!)
$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the Something to Marble At Giveaway Hop (ENDS TUESDAY TOO!)

Blog Recap:

B Review: Cat Chase the Moon by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
A- Review: Heart of Eon by Anna Hackett
B+ Review: Pirate’s Pleasure by Lisa Kessler
B Guest Review by Amy: Tangled Dreams by Cecilia Dominic
A Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Stacking the Shelves (337)

Coming This Week:

The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr (blog tour review)
Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey (guest review by Amy)
May of Books Giveaway Hop
The Binding by Bridget Collins (review)
Tightrope by Amanda Quick (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (337)

Stacking the Shelves

This is one of the rare times when I bought more books than I received for review. There was a sale. And I got intrigued by one of the book ads on Facebook. And a friend told me that there are more books in a world that I absolutely loved. So it’s really all her fault. Sure it is.

For Review:
Brazen and the Beast (Bareknuckle Bastards #2) by Sarah MacLean
The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton
Every Last Breath (Final Hour #1) by Juno Rushdan
The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin
Lies in White Dresses by Sofia Grant
The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves
Third Daughter by Talia Carner
Twelve Nights at Rotter House by J.W. Ocker

Purchased from Amazon:
A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark
Dragon Justice (Paranormal Scene Investigations #4) by Laura Anne Gilman
Empire of Sand (Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
An Interrupted Cry (Sylvan Investigations #4) by Laura Anne Gilman
Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Allies (Lily Singer Adventures #3) by Lydia Sherrer
Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings (Lily Singer Adventures #1) by Lydia Sherrer
Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Betrayal (Lily Singer Adventures #5) by Lydia Sherrer
Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Legends (Lily Singer Adventures #4) by Lydia Sherrer
Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Revelations (Lily Singer Adventures #2) by Lydia Sherrer
Miles to Go (Sylvan Investigations #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) by Mark Lawrence
Promises to Keep (Sylvan Investigations #2) by Laura Anne Gilman
Tricks of the Trade (Paranormal Scene Investigations #3) by Laura Anne Gilman
The Work of Hunters (Sylvan Investigations #3) by Laura Anne Gilman

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Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca RoanhorseTrail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: post apocalyptic, urban fantasy
Series: Sixth World #1
Pages: 287
Published by Saga Press on June 26, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

My Review:

I’ve had Trail of Lightning in my “virtually towering TBR pile” for quite a while, but hadn’t gotten the round tuit necessary to actually give it the time it deserved. After three romances in a row, I just wasn’t in the mood for any more romance – and Trail of Lightning is on the recently announced Hugo Ballot for Best Novel. It just felt like the right time to get it out and finally get all the way into it.

And it was a WOW! Also exactly what I was in the mood for.

The story manages to be both part of the post-apocalyptic/urban fantasy tradition and fresh and new all at the same time. It’s also an exemplar of the idea that making sure that #ownvoices stories don’t merely get told but also get promoted and receive award nominations does not in any way detract from the quality of the genre.

Because this story is simply awesome. That it is told from a perspective we have not traditionally seen in genre does not make it any less part of the genre. It makes it better because the author knows whereof she speaks.

Trail of Lightning takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. The apocalypse in question is referred to as the “Big Water” – but it’s an apocalypse that we can see from here. At least in its more mundane aspects.

There’s a saying that nature bats last, and the “Big Water” is an example of nature taking that “at bat”, with a little help from at least some of the gods – and bringing back some of the monsters, along with magic.

The population of the world has been decimated, as Nature decided to bring all the consequences of global warming down all at once. All the low-lying coastal regions of all the countries around the world are gone.

But the powers-that-were in the Four Corners region, an area currently under the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation, were prescient enough to erect massive border walls around their country, Dinétah. With the help of their Gods.

When the Big Water came, the Dinétah was safe behind its walls, at least from anything coming in from the outside. Not that there aren’t plenty of both human and other monsters inside Dinétah with them.

That’s where Maggie Hoskie comes in. Maggie is A monsterslayer, trained by THE Monsterslayer of legend, Neizghání. But her teacher has left her on her own, and left her with the dark sense that she is much too close to becoming one of the monsters herself.

The story of Trail of Lightning is Maggie’s journey out of the pit of despair she has dug herself into and back out into, if not the light, then back into a world that definitely needs her even if it doesn’t always want her.

Along the way, she’ll have to fight monsters, monsterslayers, and the monster inside herself. And she’ll have to get the best of the god who’s been playing her all along.

Escape Rating A: I loved this one. Not only is it an epic heroine’s journey, but the world created by the story is absolutely fascinating.

I want to say that Maggie is a likeable heroine, because that what we always say. But she isn’t really likeable much of the time. She is flawed, scarred, scared and relatable, but she’s extremely prickly, to put it mildly.

She doesn’t trust easily, and often when she does, she finds out later that she shouldn’t. She’s tough and no-nonsense on the outside, and broken on the inside. That some of the things that have broken her are literally monsters doesn’t make her any less relatable in her broken-ness.

We all get broken by monsters – even if those monsters wear a human face.

Elements of this story had echoes for me from other SF and fantasy that I have read. The post-flood US of American War, the Dinétah setting of the Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito series, the monster-hunting, coming-into-her-power heroine of The Walker Papers, the many faces and tricks of Coyote from the Iron Druid Chronicles, and last but not least, the discovery of the trickster behind the entire plot from American Gods.

Those are all awesome antecedents in their own extremely different ways, and Trail of Lightning stands tall in their company. Tall enough to draw plenty of lightning.

This is the first post-apocalyptic weird west urban fantasy I’ve ever read – but it certainly won’t be the last. The second book in the Sixth World series, Storm of Locusts came out this week!

Guest Review: Tangled Dreams by Cecilia Dominic

Guest Review: Tangled Dreams by Cecilia DominicTangled Dreams: A Dream Weavers and Truth Seekers Book by Cecilia Dominic, Holly Atkinson, Angel Durham
Format: ebook
Source: author
Genres: paranormal romance
Series: Dream Weavers & Truth Seekers #2
Pages: 326
Published by Atlanta Insomnia & Behavioral Health Services on July 31, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

When the walls between reality and the dream world crumble, sleeping with the lights on won't save anyone from their nightmares.

Restaurant reviewer Audrey Aurora Sonoma's life is like a steakhouse meal: utterly predictable, comfortable, and just exciting enough to satisfy her independent streak. But when odd characters from her dreams show up during daylight hours - were-bats and a vegetarian dragon, of all things! - the menu goes from familiar to fusion. When she learns the job she accepted in her dream is real, well... Who would have guessed the goddess Persephone exists? Finding her - and figuring out why the walls between reality and the Collective Unconscious are slipping - seem to be impossible tasks for a mere mortal.

Damien Lewis turned down promotions to keep his life orderly and predictable. He has enough challenge with real-life hassles like eating regular meals. And forget dating. But after encountering three naked, delirious Jane Does on consecutive nights, he suspects more than drugs are behind their appearances, and he soon becomes much more involved than he'd like.

As the walls between the Collective Unconscious and real world continue to erode, vampires, demons, and, of course, were-bats come through to prey on those who get in the way of the god who is masterminding it all with human help. Can Audrey and Damien face their biggest fears and work together to stop the waking world from being overrun by creatures that no human has dared to dream of? Or will their nightmares become real - and permanent - when the pathways open for good?

Guest Review by Amy:

Audrey Sonoma is a restaurant critic, just trying to get by. It’s going well, for now, but then she starts…hearing things. Things that aren’t there. Lt. Damien Lewis is a beat cop, who’s had a bit of a novelty the last three nights: he’s picked up three different women, wandering around, speaking gibberish. One of them was naked, even. But none of them seem to be on drug trips.

Unbeknownst to these two strangers, the lines between the waking world and the place of dreams that we all share are being eroded. But why? What force is doing this, and to what end? Gods and goddesses of old are wandering around loose on the streets of a Georgia city, and something’s got to be done, before mayhem breaks loose!

Escape Rating: B: It took me a little bit to catch on to the premise here; the Collective Unconscious is that place where we go when we dream. The Greek pantheon (and, presumably, others) live there. Most of us don’t really control what happens in our dreams, but a few souls can: the Dream Weavers. Audrey, is, of course, one of these, which she finds out in the course of things. Zeus himself is trying to get out of the Collective Unconscious, so he can run things in our world, and he’s found an ally to help him do it.

Tangled Dreams is classed as a “paranormal romance,” but to this reader’s mind, it was strong on the “paranormal,” but a little short on the “romance.”  Yes, there’s that steamy dream they both have, only realizing later that they’d ended up “together” in the Collective Unconscious, but the chemistry and heat that I normally expect from a romance just wasn’t as strong as it perhaps could have been.

We’ve certainly got a great paranormal action/adventure story, and there’s a bit of whodunnit factor for a while, as our heroes try to figure out what’s going on around them. But while they’re both rather-obviously interested in each other, Audrey in particular has a bit of a thing about dating cops: they might not come home some night, so they’re really not a good prospect. She harps on that point internally a lot. I get where she’s coming from, but it’s a bit of overkill. Damien is convinced that he doesn’t need a woman in his life, and makes much of that in his own internal dialogue.

When Audrey meets the feisty Aphrodite, stuck in our world, the goddess knows, of course (Goddess of Love, remember?), and has Cupid shoot poor Damien, who falls head-over-heels, googly-eyed in love. This makes Audrey uncomfortable when she realizes it, as Aphrodite’s interference just confuses the situation for her, and when Damien figures it out, he’s greatly pissed about it.

He wonders, is the love he feels for Audrey real, or the product of Cupid’s arrow? Much is made of the fact that Cupid’s power is enhancing what’s already there, not creating love out of nothing, but he feels trapped. For Audrey’s part, she’s got a boyfriend (tropey, little-seen Kyle, who is, of course, cheating on her) that she’s not yet officially broken-up-with, so she’s feeling very conflicted about the tasty steel-eyed cop, herself. We’re given a happy ending, of course, but it seems a little bit contrived to me, with one last bit of interference from Aphrodite, reminding them both that they’re perfect for each other. How she knows this is unclear, but she’s the goddess here, so let’s trust her meddling soul, and go with it.

I struggled a bit about how to approach this book. I wanted to say I really disliked it, because of the awkward chemistry between our heroes and the lack of steam-factor, but I liked the action/adventure story that we’ve got underlying this book; it’s an unusual premise, and one that the author spent a lot of time and words developing into an interesting setting. I wanted to say I really loved it, but the chemistry and heat of this book was just lacking for me, as a romance reader.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I feel that if the author had as much invested in her protagonists as she did her setting, it might have been a better, longer book. If you’re a die-hard paranormal fiction fan, give this one a read. It’s got some fun depictions of ancient gods and goddesses, in a novel setting. But if you’re looking for heavy romance, this one may come up short for you.

Review: Pirate’s Pleasure by Lisa Kessler

Review: Pirate’s Pleasure by Lisa KesslerPirate's Pleasure by Lisa Kessler
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: paranormal romance
Series: Sentinels of Savannah #3
Pages: 295
on April 22, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

John Smyth has survived mutinous pirate crews, wars, and the passage of centuries by keeping his life as he did his ships, organized and well stocked. But when his crew is tasked with stealing Pandora's Box for the government, it opens a door to destruction, and her name is Harmony Andrews.

A risk-taking investment broker by day, and a thief by night, Harmony is a member of the underground Digi Robins crew. Stealing relics to sell on the dark web, they donate the money to people without insurance who need life-saving medical treatments.

What she doesn't realize is the box she just stole is the very one her boss is looking for––the boss who just happens to be an immortal pirate. And as their adventure heads into the danger zone, she doesn't know what's more dangerous: the risk to her life or the risk to her heart.

My Review:

One of the things about human beings is that we all require purpose. That purpose might be a career or a cause, or it might just be the hard work of keeping your family housed and fed and clothed and working to give your kids a better life than you had.

One of the problems of being immortal, or nearly so, is that the world changes and you mostly don’t. That the world passes you by while you stay frozen in it. And that it’s hard to find a purpose when you have already amassed all the wealth you could possibly need and when you have to stay out of the public eye in case someone figures out that you don’t age. And that it’s heartbreaking to have a family to provide for when you know up front that you’ll watch them all, including your children, grandchildren and great or even great great grandchildren grow up, grow old and die while you remain young and are forced to keep your distance.

The problems of immortality catch up with both the pirate John Smyth of the Sea Dog and the FBI Agent David Bale who leads Department 13 – the agency that deals with the paranormal and supernatural.

John Smyth was the Sea Dog’s boatswain back in those long ago days when they roamed the seas in search of booty and bounty. His job was to take care of the ship’s stores and hand out the pirates’ shares of the prize money. And he’s still doing it, over two centuries later.

But now he also does that same job for others who look at the success of his investment brokerage, Privateer ob die amazon Aktie noch einen Kauf wert ist, and put some of their own hard-earned money into his care. The rituals of his life keep him sane, but they aren’t really living.

The events of Magnolia Mystic and Pirate’s Passion, when someone stole the Holy Grail that gave the pirates of the old Sea Dog their immortality woke up the sleeping buccaneer in his soul. In the quest to get the relic back from the Serpent Society that stole it, John Smyth’s wild spirit woke up out of a long sleep – and it won’t go back.

Enter Harmony Andrews. Not exactly. Harmony is one of his top brokers at Privateer. She’s so good that he’s thinking of promoting her. But Harmony also has a secret wild side. She’s one of the Digi Robins, an underground hacker collective that robs from the rich and gives to people who need expensive medical care. Once upon a time, the Digi Robins saved her brother. Now she pays that gift forward by hacking and stealing to save others.

But someone has stolen Pandora’s Box. The very real, and very dangerous, box that contains all the world’s ills. Department 13 has contracted with the crew of the Sea Dog to steal it back.

From Harmony and the Digi Robins.

Escape Rating B+: If the Holy Grail is real, and it is in this series, there’s no reason why Pandora’s Box couldn’t be real too. As well as a whole lot of other dangerous artifacts that need to be locked up in the bowels of Warehouse 13 or Area 51 (or Area 52) or someplace else extremely secure. And deeply, permanently secret.

Pirate’s Pleasure is all about putting one of those extremely dangerous “genies” into that seemingly secure bottle – although we discover that Department 13’s warehouse isn’t quite as secure as everyone thought. Their method of transferring material into it certainly is not – as the Digi Robins exploit to kick off the story.

There are multiple things going on in this entry in the series, and all of them fascinating.

At the top, we have the very messy quest to get Pandora’s Box into safe (and secure) hands. But that quest sets off a worm-eating-its-tail loop of betrayals, counter betrayals, intended betrayals and feared (and preempted) betrayals. No one seems to be telling anyone much of the truth in this one.

When Harmony reveals her participation in the Digi Robins to John, in hopes of getting him onside their goals, it also sets off a chain reaction between them. No one has ever played him before – not in over two centuries. He’s intrigued. More than that, Harmony’s wild side speaks to his own – he’s just not sure he can (or should) trust her.

And she’s afraid to trust him. Or anyone. A situation that nearly leads to disaster. All of them.

Because Harmony has already been betrayed, and not by John Smyth. There’s a darkness at the heart of the Digi Robins, one that has reached out and compromised both her group and Department 13.

It may make Agent Bale just a bit more human and less unfeeling Agent Automaton. If he survives the experience. If any of them survive his experience.

There’s a whole lot to unpack in Pirate’s Pleasure – and there’s a whole lot of pleasure in reading all about it!

Review: Heart of Eon by Anna Hackett

Review: Heart of Eon by Anna HackettHeart of Eon (Eon Warriors #3) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: science fiction romance, space opera
Series: Eon Warriors #3
Pages: 213
Published by Anna Hackett on April 21st 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon

Okay, maybe hijacking an alien commander’s warship wasn’t her best idea…

Genius computer geek Wren Traynor prefers her high-tech comp lab to socializing with people, and she definitely prefers it over crawling through the bowels of the huge Eon warship she’s hijacked. When Earth’s Space Corps blackmails her into this deadly mission, Wren will do anything to help her beloved sisters and save the Earth from invasion by the insectoid Kantos aliens. That includes entering into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the tall, hunky, and seriously enraged Eon war commander who captains the Rengard.

War Commander Malax Dann-Jad is a born protector and has forged a successful career in service to the Eon Empire. Haunted by an early mission where he lost good warriors, he’s dedicated to protecting his ship and its crew. Especially since his warship is carrying a special, top-secret cargo. But one tiny, infuriating Terran puts all that at risk when she commandeers his ship and refuses to listen to reason.

When the ravenous Kantos set their sights on the Rengard--using sneaky, underhanded tactics--Malax finds himself with an armful of curvy woman. He and Wren must join forces to fight back, and are shocked at their improbable, intense attraction. But with lives at risk, both will learn that strength comes in more ways than one and love can hit when you least expect it, and that in order to survive, you have to put everything on the line.

My Review:

Heart of Eon is the third book in Anna Hackett’s marvelous space opera romance Eon Warriors series. It also feels like it wraps up what I sincerely hope is just the first arc of the series, as these first stories have featured the Traynor sisters, Eve in Edge of Eon, Lara in Touch or Eon, and now Wren in Heart of Eon.

The Traynor sisters were manipulated and coerced by the Terran Space Corps to conduct extremely covert and highly illegal missions in Eon space. The sisters have all been caught between huge rocks and multiple hard places.

When the Terrans made first contact with the Eons, the Terrans acted like superior assholes. This had multiple problems and consequences, besides being just plain rude and stupid. First, the Terrans were far from the superior force. The Eons were light years ahead – and not inclined to put up with a bunch of idiots. Eon space closed itself to Terra, and were just fine with making their entire sector a no-fly zone. The Eons didn’t need the Terrans one little bit.

But not the other way around. The Terrans, still getting their space legs, are now under attack by the insectoid Kantos. The Kantos have a history of literally chewing planets up and spitting out the dead husks, and Earth is next. The Terrans are desperate to get the assistance of the Eons they spurned decades ago.

Their methodology is highly questionable, but the results they’ve achieved by the end of Heart of Eon are hard to argue with. Space Corps “persuaded”, for extremely manipulative definitions of the word persuade, the Traynor sisters to secretly enter Eon space and 1) kidnap a leading Eon starship Commander, 2) steal Eon sacred relics and 3) hijack an Eon warship.

Heart of Eon is the hijacking story, and as the story opens ace computer hacker Wren Traynor is in the bowels of an Eon warship, locked in a virtual battle for control of his ship with Eon War Commander Malax Dann-Jad.

It’s extremely debatable who is winning at this point. Malax has managed to shut down the ship’s faster-than-light (FTL) engines, but Wren is in control of navigation so they are still heading towards her assigned rendezvous point – albeit very, very slowly.

But there are a couple of things that Malax knows but Wren doesn’t. Or rather one bit of information that he’s revealed plenty of times but that Wren doesn’t believe, and one Eon military secret that he is desperate to protect from both Wren and their mutual enemy, the Kantos.

Wren refuses to believe that either, let alone both of her career-oriented military minded sisters have mated. She is particularly disbelieving that they have each become mated to Eon warriors, but they have. Those romances are the stories in the first two books in the series.

Which means that Malax is under orders not to harm Wren. That he’s secretly enjoying the cat and mouse game that they are playing with his ship is something he hasn’t admitted to himself.

He is also laboring under the misapprehension that the experimental nature of his ship is a secret from both the Kantos and from Wren, in spite of her rather effective exploitation of every single hole in his security network.

He’s wrong on both counts. Wren discovers the Helian symbionts secured in his ship when she hides in “their” hidden room from Malax – and one of the symbionts decides to merge with her tablet computer. The resulting entity, who appropriately adopts the name “Sassy” for herself (not itself, definitely herself), bonds with both the computing power of the Terran tablet and with Wren herself.

When the Kantos find the erratically piloted Eon Warship meandering in space, it’s clear from their first salvo that they are aware of the nature of the experiment – and that they plan on capturing the Helians at all costs.

Malax and Wren (and Sassy) will need to join forces to keep all of them out of the Kantos’ grasp. It won’t be easy. But it will allow them to finally give in to the simmering attraction between them.
It’s just going to take a little bit of help from their friends – including the Terran Space Corps.

Escape Rating A-: This entire series has been an absolute shipload of fun, and Heart of Eon is no exception. I love space opera type SFR, and if you do too, this series is a real treat!

Part of what I liked about this particular entry is that Wren is different from her sisters. They are all kickass heroines, but they are thankfully not all heroines in the same mold. Both Eve and Lara were military-types, so they quite literally kicked ass – and it was pretty awesome.

But all women are not alike, not even all sisters are alike. Wren is the different one among the Traynor sisters, but she’s different in a way that’s nearer and dearer to my own heart, as Wren is the geeky nerd in the family. Not that she’s not extremely capable and effective, but her effectiveness is completely different.

That she’s also not the tall, muscular, athletic type of heroine just makes her that much easier to identify with. She’s small and soft and curvy – which gives her a bit of a familiar-type of self-doubt. At the same time, she’s an absolute genius at her computer skills, and rightfully both proud of and confident in those skills. She’s still a heroine, but she’s relatable in her heroine-ness.

Her differences fascinate Malax, who falls for her exactly as she is. And accepts her exactly as she is, including her need to put her skills and talents to work in their fight against the Kantos. She has a job to do, and he doesn’t protest at her doing it – a difficult thing for his protective nature.

But Heart of Eon definitely feels like Wren’s show. And Sassy’s. Definitely Sassy’s. Sassy saves the day with a little bit of help from her Terran and Eon friends. Sassy is just a terrific character, in every sense of the word character. I hope we see her again.

Speaking of again, this series could have ended here. The Traynor sisters have all found their happy ever afters and they’ve accomplished their mission of getting the Eons on board for fighting against the Kantos WITH the Terrans.

But the ending of Heart of Eon foreshadows a new romance brewing between the captain of the Terran ship that helped save the day and the Eon Commander who can’t seem to stop himself from sparring with her, verbally if not otherwise. Yet.

I hope we see that romance, and the future of the Eon alliance with Terra in future installments of this series!

Review: Cat Chase the Moon by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Review: Cat Chase the Moon by Shirley Rousseau MurphyCat Chase the Moon (Joe Grey #21) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: cozy mystery, mystery
Series: Joe Grey #21
Pages: 288
Published by William Morrow on April 23, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

Feline P. I. Joe Grey and his friends pounce on three investigations that may connect to one larger mystery—including one case that is very personal—in this hair-raising installment in Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s beloved, award-winning series.

Joe Grey and his partner, Dulcie, are frantic when Courtney, their pretty teen-kitten goes missing. Aided by their two- and four-legged friends, they hit the streets of Molina Point in search of their calico girl. Has Joe Grey and Dulcie’s only daughter been lured away by someone and stolen? Is she lying somewhere hurt, or worse?

Courtney has no idea that everyone is desperately looking for her. Locked in an upstairs apartment above the local antiques shop, she’s enjoying her first solo adventure. When she first met Ulrich Seaver, the shop’s owner, Courtney was frightened. But the human has coddled and pampered her, winning her trust. Sheltered by her parents, her brothers, and her kind human companions, the innocent Courtney is unaware of how deceptive strangers can be. She doesn’t know that Ulrich is hiding a dangerous secret that could threaten her and everyone in this charming California coastal village.

With his focus on finding Courtney, Joe Grey has neglected his detective work with the Molina Point Police Department. Before his daughter disappeared, Joe found a viciously beaten woman lying near the beach. Now the police investigation has stalled, and the clever feline worries his human colleagues may have missed a vital clue. Joe is also concerned about a family of newcomers whose domestic battles are disturbing the town’s tranquility. Loud and abrasive, the Luthers’ angry arguing, shouting, and swearing in the early hours of the night have neighbors on edge and the cops on alert. One of the couple’s late-night shouting matches masked the sounds of a burglary, and now a criminal is on the loose.

Though the crimes are as crisscrossed as the strands of a ball of yarn, Joe Grey’s cat senses tell him they may somehow be linked. It’s up to the fleet-footed feline and his crime-solving coterie to untangle the mysteries before it’s too late.

My Review:

There is a sadness that permeates this tale  from the very beginning. While in the end good triumphs and evil gets its just desserts, the ending is bittersweet and something about that feels like it’s woven throughout the entire story.

It’s that all of the mysteries – which do, of course, get solved in the end – all have their roots in something not merely awful but also heartbreaking – and they all connect up at the end into one giant ball of wrong that brings a whole lot of grief in its wake – as well as the beginning of healing. And more adventure.

The story begins when a wandering Joe Grey discovers a half-dead woman half-buried in a shallow grave. He breaks into a nearby cottage, and the Molena Point PD receives a phone call from their favorite “snitch” letting them know where to get the body before it becomes a dead body.

As bad as that sounds, we don’t yet know (and neither does Joe Grey) just how that poor woman’s story is going to tangle into the others.

The family that has moved in across the street from Joe Grey’s humans, Clyde and Ryan, does not put the fun in dysfunctional. It’s more like the Luther family is one spark away from taking their regular domestic arguments over the line into the kind of domestic situation that gives police officers everywhere nightmares.

There’s plenty of sadness to be found in that mess, as the adults are at best neglectful and at worst borderline abusive of the pre-teen girl that they have dragged away from her beloved grandfather and equally cherished horse, leaving all three, the girl, the horse, and the grandfather in emotional distress.

A grandfather who not only misses his granddaughter, but one who has put the puzzle pieces together to figure out that his sons and his daughter-in-law are the ones behind the rash of robberies currently in progress in and around Molena Point.

His family is causing no end of trouble for everyone in town, but they are still his family. And he fears, rightly or wrongly, that getting them all locked up will see his granddaughter lost to him in the bowels of family services hell.

Just as it seems that nothing in town is going right, tragedy strikes directly at the heart of Joe Grey’s family when his daughter, the beautiful if occasionally silly half-grown kit Courtney, is kidnapped (catnapped?) by someone who promises her a life at the center of worshipful crowds IF she is willing to live that pampered life in a gilded cage.

Joe is frantic at the loss of Courtney, heartsore at the plight of Mindy, and worried at the situation of the woman he rescued. When it all comes together, it also falls apart. With deadly results.

Escape Rating B: With a cozy series like Joe Grey’s, the reader comes to expect a lighthearted tone to even some of the darkest investigations. And much of this series is pretty light and fluffy – as fluffy as the cats’ fur.

But this entry isn’t the least bit fluffy. It also ends on more of a fantasy note than has been seen in this series in a while, in spite of the series origins in the author’s contemporary fantasy novel The Catswold Portal. The speaking cats all have their origins in that realm beyond the portal, and it’s time again for one of them to make the journey into that Netherworld.

But not before we all work our way through everything currently wrong in Molena Point.

So much is wrapped up in the dysfunction of the Luther family. Zebulon doesn’t seem like a bad sort, so one has to wonder what warped all of his kids – but his progeny are all seriously bad. That he doesn’t want to turn in his own kids while still needing to turn in his own kids is a dilemma that no parent wants to face no matter how criminal those kids turn out to be as adults. That he turns his depression over his granddaughter being forced to move out into a determination to discover just how wrong his sons have gone leads to nowhere but grief for all concerned.

It’s a sad situation that permeates the story. Readers will find themselves wondering why, when every adult for miles around knows that young Mindy is being neglected if not abused, no one can manage to rescue her. In the end, she has to rescue herself and her grandfather. And she’s not even a teenager yet!

The situation with Courtney felt a bit odd. It seemed like a very weird tangent of the main case, because her kidnappers have catnapped her not because they know she can talk, but because she resembles a lot of historical portraits of magical cats and they think they can wrap an expensive traveling exhibit around her and the art works. This seems more fantastical to me than the speaking cats. YMMV.

There are also a couple of serious notes among Joe Grey’s circle that add to the atmosphere. Joe Grey himself, with his feline instincts and human intelligence, seems to have more and deeper questions about who and what he is and what it all means as the series goes on. His attitude is maturing in ways that make him question the meaning of it all – and that scare him, if he would admit to being scared – out of at least a couple of his nine lives.

The other thing I’m wondering about as a reader is the dilemma faced by Charlie Harper, the police chief’s wife. Charlie knows about the cats, her husband does not, in spite of the number of incredibly excellent tips the police have received from their elusive snitches. Max is suspicious of Joe Grey in particular, and Charlie is lying to her spouse. That’s a situation I expect to come to a nasty head in some future book in the series.

But speaking of future books, I love this series, and always look forward to my next trip to Molena Point for more adventures with Joe Grey, Dulcie and their clowder of speaking cats. This particular book was a bit darker than I expected, but I still enjoyed checking in with the gang and finding out how everyone is doing.

I’ll be back again next year to see how they’re all getting on, and whether the MPPD has figured out the identity of their favorite snitches yet!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-21-19

Sunday Post

It’s both Passover and Easter Sunday today, so HAPPY whatever you celebrate in this Spring season!

I’m trying to figure out what to say about either last week or this coming week, and for some reason I’m drawing a blank. At least I didn’t do an actual blank and just leave the “XXX” from the template in this space!

The upcoming week feels like a relatively quiet week, at least at the moment. No blog hops, no new tours, no new giveaways. It feels a bit anticlimactic. But fear not, the next several weeks have bloghops and tour reviews galore!

Current Giveaways:

$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop
$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the Something to Marble At Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the Worth Melting For Giveaway Hop is Jen B.
The winner of the Rain Rain Go Away Giveaway Hop is Lisa

Blog Recap:

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop
Something to Marble At Giveaway Hop
A- Review: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
B+ Review: Winds of Marque by Bennett R. Coles
B+ Review: Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
Stacking the Shelves (336)

Coming This Week:

Cat Chase the Moon by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (review)
Heart of Eon by Anna Hackett (review)
Pirate’s Pleasure by Lisa Kessler (review)
The Fire by John A. Heldt (review)
Under the Table by Stephanie Evanovich (review)