The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 1-11-15

Sunday Post

It’s Sunday and it’s freezing – do you know how your pipes are doing? We’ve lived in both Anchorage and Chicago, so it is always amusing to hear people get freaked when the temperature just drops into the 20s for a day or two someplace that normally has much better weather in the winter. (The first time I heard a freeze warning in Florida I had to pull my car over, I was laughing so hard).

But isn’t all this cold weather a perfect time to curl up with a good cat and a great book? Or the other way around, just ask the cat.

Current Giveaways:

$25 Gift Card + a copy of The Yankee Club by Michael Murphy

dirty deeds by rhys fordBlog Recap:

B Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
B+ Review: All that Glitters by Michael Murphy + Giveaway
A Review: Dirty Deeds by Rhys Ford
A Review: Digging for Richard III by Mike Pitts
B+ Review: Down and Dirty by Rhys Ford
Stacking the Shelves (117)



dreaming-of-books-2015Coming Next Week:

After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson (blog tour review)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review)
Windy City Blues by Marc Krulewitch (blog tour review
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (review)
Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop
City of Liars and Thieves by Eve Karlin (blog tour review)

Review: Sing for the Dead by P J Schnyder

sing for the dead by pj schnyderFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: London Undead #2
Length: 95 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: November 4, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Kayden, a lone were-leopard allied with the London werewolf pack to keep the zombie infestation in check, is used to working solo—until he discovers a beautiful fae woman surrounded by the aftermath of battle. He’s immediately drawn to Sorcha, but quickly discovers she’s much more than a pretty face.

Half Bean Sidhe and half berserker, Sorcha trained over centuries to become the perfect warrior. She agrees to work with local weres to investigate a new type of zombie capable of coordinated attacks—and is partnered with Kayden. He’s strong, darkly handsome and completely unafraid of her. And his kiss fills her with insatiable desire instead of bloodlust.

As Kayden and Sorcha work together, their attraction grows and their deepest scars are bared to each other. But with the force behind the deadly new zombies poised to overwhelm the city, Sorcha can only pray that the next time her bloodlust strikes, Kayden isn’t among the fallen…

My Review:

bite me by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is the second book in PJ Schnyder’s London Undead trilogy, and reading it right after I finished Bite Me (see review) was terrific! I feel like I’m getting more answers to how this world got so messed up, wrapped inside a very interesting love story and edge of the seat action/adventure

London is going to hell in a handcart. The zombies roaming the city looking for food and fresh “converts” continue to grow in numbers, but even worse, there seems to be a new breed that is less brainless.

I’m not sure whether smart zombies are scarier than totally mindless zombies, but I wouldn’t want to find out. Organized zombies, run for your life!

We’ve met hero Kayden before; he is a were-leopard who is helping to patrol the post-zombie London with the werewolf pack we met in Bite Me. Leopards and were-leopards don’t normally make packs of their own, but the human part of Kayden understands the value of having people at your back that you can trust; while his were-side appreciates the value of banding together to fight the common enemy.

Even the best warrior in the world has to let down his guard sometimes.

Speaking of warriors, the heroine of Sing for the Dead is something different, Sorcha is half baen-sidhe and half berserker, which makes her all warrior almost all the time. Except when she collapses after her berserker side comes out to play.

Bean-sidhe, or banshees as they are more commonly known, have been considered omens of death. They keen for the recently deceased. But in this mythology, it’s only one part of what they do; they also comfort the injured and ease the soul’s passage to the next life. It’s a healing magic that Sorcha can’t share, because of her berserker side.

(For another take on banshees, or a particular half-banshee, try the terrifically fun Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee.)

Sorcha has come to London to investigate reports of fae deaths at the hands of the zombies. Not that everyone isn’t dying, but the deaths of the immortal fae are particularly ominous, especially when it is discovered that feeding the zombies fae blood makes the damn things intelligent.

Just what this post-apocalypse doesn’t need, smart running dead, instead of stupid walking dead!

But Kayden and Sorcha discover that they need each other; both as warrior allies and to light each other’s way in this very dark world. They both face demons from their pasts, but it takes a long while before they figure out that they are stronger standing together than they each are alone.

Escape Rating B+: It was great to find out more about the world that Schnyder has created; the deeper we get into it the more interesting it is. I hope that we find out how things got started, but the glimpses into the origin of the plague really make the overall story deeper.

Based on events in this story, it doesn’t seem like things have been bad a terribly long time. But the road to hell in the handcart has obviously gone downhill fast. It also seems like there is a wider world outside the London hellzone, and not just among the fae. The idea that there are human idiots coming to “big game hunt” the zombies is all too realistic, but I wonder about the conditions in the part of the world they are coming from.

Sorcha and Kayden’s romance starts out hotter than the romance in Bite Me, and it works. They are both experienced warriors who are used to fighting on their own and don’t expect any sweetness or softness in their lives. So their relationship starts out as sexual release, and moves slowly into love. Neither of them is used to relying on anyone else, and trust takes a while to build. This is a story where insta-lust morphs over time into love, and it’s the right thing for this pair.

survive to dawn by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is an action-packed adventure with a love story about two fighters who fight each other first, and for each other second. If you want to check out the third book in the series, Survive to Dawn, take a look at today’s review at The Book Pushers.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

black dog blues by rhys fordFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Series: Kai Gracen, #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 22, 2013
Number of pages: 277 pages
Publisher: Coffee Squirrel Press
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.

There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

My Thoughts:

Black Dog Blues is the first book (I truly hope there are more) in a rather gritty urban fantasy series. Notice I said urban fantasy series? One of the hallmarks of urban fantasy, as opposed to paranormal romance, is that the protagonist of an urban fantasy series generally has a pretty lousy love life.

I’ve always thought that Harry Dresden was the poster boy for urban fantasy, not that Kai Gracen bears ANY resemblance to Harry. But my point is that if anyone is reading Black Dog Blues looking for Kai to get within a continent’s length of a happy ending with anyone of any gender (or species), they’re in the wrong genre. It says so right there on the label.

It’s going to be several books before Kai gets within spitting distance of accepting himself enough to be relationship material for anyone else. I have high hopes for those books.

Also, possibly as a legacy from the TV shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time, there’s been a recent spate of stories portraying the fey (elves, fey, faeries, elfin, a rose by any other name, etc.) as dangerous. Shona Husk’s Outcast Prince (review here) is part of the trend. Black Dog Blues is part of the wave, and oh goodie. The elfin in Bad Dog Blues are immortal, and they have their own agendas. They’re dangerous. Not necessarily evil, although some are, but not automatically good just because they’re elfin. They’re other. As they should be.

The world is futuristic and seems post-apocalyptic. Something happened, some event we don’t know, and “Underhill”, the place of the sidhe and the unsidhe, merged with our world, with very dangerous results. Like dragons mating over the Mojave desert.

Kai is a licensed Stalker. He kills monsters for bounty, among other dangerous things. He’s also an elfin who lives in the mostly human underclass, and that’s where he wants to be. The slow reveal of his backstory is gut-wrenching and incredibly well done.

At first, you think the story of this elfin child being sold over a lost poker game to an old Stalker sounds incredibly cruel. Then you realize that piece of neglect was possibly the best thing that could have happened to Kai.

Now that they’ve found him again, the abuse he suffered as a child picks right back up where it left off. But he’s not a child anymore. Whatever he is.

Verdict: Black Dog Blues is very dark, very gritty, and very well done. The story dives right in to Kai’s world as it is, there’s no history lesson about how things got to be. Kai deals with his life as it is, so the reader does too. It works.

Kai trusts no one, and he’s right not to. Everybody lies, everybody double-deals. On the human side, almost everyone reflexively hates the elfin, but it’s not personal. For him, that’s better than the way his own people treat him.

Being coerced into elfin politics is the last thing he wants, but it’s the job he has to do to keep his license and his living. He knows he’s being set up, but he’s stuck. He endures. Kai is someone who faces into his pain and keeps on going. It’s the only thing he knows.

I didn’t need a love story to make Black Dog Blues work for me. YMMV. I actually didn’t want one because Kai doesn’t like himself enough for him to be a good bet for anyone else. This series is going to be his journey, and it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


I give  Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford 4 and ½ stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Tundra 37 by Aubrie Dionne

Format Read: ebook provided by Publisher
Number of Pages: 288 pages
Release Date: 7th of February 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: A New Dawn #2 Genre: Sci Fi Romance
Purchase links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads


Gemme is a hi-tech matchmaker who pairs the next generation of Lifers aboard the Expedition, a deep space transport vessel destined for Paradise 18. When the identity of her lifemate pops up on her screen, she’s shocked that he’s the achingly gorgeous and highly sought after Lieutenant Miles Brentwood—a man oblivious to her existence. Believing everyone will think she contrived the match, she erases it from the computer’s memory.

Just as comets pummel the ship and destroy the pairing system forever.

With the Expedition disabled, the colonists must crash land on the barren ice world of Tundra 37 where Gemme is reassigned to an exploratory mission, led by Lieutenant Brentwood. Only in the frozen tundra does she understand the shape of his heart and why the computer has entwined their destinies.

Our Thoughts:

Has: I have mixed feelings with this series, I adore the world-building and the premise of a future where humans are forced to flee the Earth due war, famine and disease. And to survive people travel in generational star ships to find new planets to colonise and to restart civilisation. Tundra 37 is the 2nd book of the series and follows the ship, the Expedition which is forced to crash land in a frozen planet after an accident.

Gemme, the heroine is a tech who match-makes pairings on the ship and to ensure that they are compatible genetically and psychologically. However she is shocked to see that she is paired with Miles Brentwood who is being groomed to take over the leader on The Expedition. She is afraid to be partnered with him because he is popular and very desirable and because of her position as the person who matches up couples. But the ship crash lands, and the remaining survivors have to find a way to safeguard the ship and to find new supplies to ensure their survival.

I have to say, I loved the main plot for the mission to survive and the search for supplies, but the romance subplot, wasn’t that strong and the weakest part of the story for me. I felt, that Gemme’s actions especially with her position as a matchmaking tech and to dismiss the original results of her pairing with Miles wasn’t that strong an obstacle for them. I also disliked  the character of Luna who I felt was one dimensional and despite the ship’s edict of ensuring human matches have to be genetically compatible was very focused on pairing with Miles despite the fact he was reluctant to be in her company. This aspect of the plot was forced and very weak and detracted from the main story of the ship’s mission and survival

Marlene: The New Dawn series seems to have more of a “space opera” feel to it than truly science fiction romance. The plot that drives all of the stories is the human diaspora plot–humankind’s need to distribute itself among the stars because we have totally frakked up planet Earth. This is a well-used and well-loved trope in science fiction, and the author has done some neat things with the generational ships and the base human drives that managed the people who initially populated them.

The romance subplots have taken a “back seat” in the stories (that has a tendency to be true in space opera in general).

Gemme’s job was to check over the computer’s genetic matches to make sure that the computer hadn’t missed any nuances that a human would catch. With such a relatively small gene pool, this cross-checking was required. Computers don’t do nuance terribly well. Gemme didn’t “make” matches, but she could prevent them if she saw something the computers didn’t. Of course, that gave her an enormous amount of very subtle power.

Miles has the overt power, but he doesn’t see it as power. He sees it as taking care of the crew. This is what makes him a good leader. And that’s why he’s been made a leader. What gets lost in the romance is why Gemme and Miles are attracted to each other at the beginning. Not why the computer matched them, that could just be genetics, but why they get lost in each other. Insta-connection, OMG.

And don’t get me started on Luna. She was so one-dimensional that she was flat. Except her boobs, which seem to have been positively ginormous. A factor which otherwise adds to her one-dimensionality. So to speak. Luna exists in the plot simply to be self-serving, to point out how self-sacrificing Miles and Gemme are. Luna in Tundra 37 is the equivalent of Astor Barliss in Paradise 21. She’s the bully.

Has:Yep! I totally agree although I did find Astor’s character more developed and fleshed out. But I found that the fact they were on a dangerous mission, and outside on an alien world, it was verging on ridiculousness about the romantic sub-plot. I wished there was some real build-up especially for the tension and for the feelings between Miles and Gemme because there was no explanation on how and why they should feel like this and I hate insta-love trope, it never really works for me as a trope and it never makes me believe in the romance.

I did like the subplot, involving the Twin navigators, Mestasis and Abysme who were melded to the pilot computer of the ship, introduced an interesting dynamic and I found their relationship much more interesting. It also had more depth, especially with the introduction of alien artifact on Tundra 37  which draws the ship’s attention like a moth to a flame and is the cause of the crash. Although I do wished there was more background on why this artifact was buried there and if there were any links to aliens in the first book in some way because it was a bit random.

Marlene: I’m so with you, Has, when it comes to insta-love. The only insta-anything that feels real is insta-lust. That one, I think can be pretty darn instantaneous. Anything that requires emotions takes a bit of time. And at least a few conversations!

Something about Tundra 37’s emotional chords that struck me was that all the depth comes from the backstory, and mostly occurs in flashback. Whatever happened between Luna and Gemme that made Gemme kowtow to that witch happened when they were kids. It’s supposed to make the reader understand, but we don’t get enough. Gemme’s and Miles insta-connection is fueled by past lives, which they relive through the alien tech. The Twins’ shared experience, and the sadness of Mestasis’ lost love back on Earth, are experienced in their dead memories through the artifact.

The emotional present gets shorted. And you’re right again about the past of the artifact. Where did it come from and does it have any bearing on anything else whatsoever?

Has: I thought it was interesting about the flashbacks adding the depth and it did help with the buildup and contrast that with the insta-love it just highlighted the lack of development of the romance especially. I also wanted to know about the future of the survivors, because it ended abruptly, although there was hope they would be able to survive despite not them reaching their goal planet. The fact they end up on a desolate cold world was sad, and it also felt the story just got going for me. I hope we do get to revisit them and to see if there is more to come for this crew and if there is more developments with the alien artifact and its origins.

Marlene: I wonder how all the survivors turn out. The point of a diaspora story is usually to spread the survivors as far apart as possible so that there are as many chances of human survival as possible. Being a science fiction reader, I can think of a bunch of ways that we could legitimately check back on the surviving groups. I wonder if the author will pick one.

The alien artifact is interesting because it showed past lives, not just memories. How did it know? Were they true? It opens up a world (no pun intended ) of story-telling possibilities. Who were those aliens? Will they be back?

The ending, with that rousing speech, reminded me a lot of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, and some of Adama’s speeches. But then, the Seers hooked into the ship reminded me a lot of Helva from Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang. Science fiction recycles a LOT of tropes.


Has: Tundra 37 had a fantastic premise but the romantic subplot, for me was the weakest element of the story. However the flashbacks involving Mestasis own tragic romance who is the featured hero in the prequel, A HERO RISING, had depth and was much more engrossing, and heart-wrenching and I was drawn to her character and that of her sister which really made the book and story alive for me. Although I wished the ending didn’t end abruptly, the world-building and the story threads which link and tie in with the other books in the series, is engaging and keeps me interested in the story. I just wished the romance subplot was developed and didn’t fall into trope pitfalls.

I give Tundra 37 3 stars.


Marlene: I also thought that the premise behind Tundra 37 was terrific. The human diaspora story is excellent, and the survival adventure part of the story was well-done. But the romantic elements felt slightly underdone. The romance between Mestasis and James, centuries ago, held more passion than the current living love between Miles and Gemme. Flashbacks are a great story-telling device, but they shouldn’t bear the entire burden of holding up the romance. The ending was upbeat and in a pretty good place, hope and inspiration for the future, before the hard work begins. But that particular ending is a common science fiction trope.

I give Tundra 37 3 stars for too many trips to troperville.