New Release: ‘The Next Phase Outcasts 2’ by J.S. Frankel

The Next Phase: Outcasts 2 is the sequel to J.S. Frankel’s YA urban fantasy novel Outcasts. The same characters return in another adventure in which they must fight for their lives.

If Frankel’s previous novels are anything to go by, readers can expect a great story full of action, suspense, danger, and surprise. 

Mitch Kessler, gargoyle, is back, along with his girlfriend, Callie, a former gender shifter, his best friend, Joe Chambers, a spinning top, and Neil, their rock-man sometime ally. 

Mitch and Joe help the police force of Independence, Oregon, fight crime, but their efforts go totally unreported by everyone. While that bothers Mitch, what bothers him more is his best friend’s rapid aging. Joe is dying, and no one seems to know how to stop it.

Except one person—Harmon Carson, an army general. Carson promises Mitch, Neil, and Joe, a cure for their condition, contingent on them finding a renegade scientist who carries the secret with him. The four volunteer, but soon find out that Carson has his own agenda going on—and it is not a friendly one.

With time running out, Mitch has to find the scientist who may be able to help them, assist another mutant called Niles, rescue his girlfriend, and fight the hordes of the unholy that Carson calls forth. Once again, the Outcasts are the underdogs, and only time will tell if they can prevail.

Outcasts is available on Amazon or via the Devine Destinies website.

Book Review: ‘In Pursuit of Light’ by Sarah B Meadows

‘In Pursuit Of Light’ focuses on the experiences of a close-knit group of men, a ‘band of brothers’ so to speak, each of whom is gifted with some form of special ability. These characters share the role of narrator, giving the reader intimate insights into the events of the story but also into each one’s thoughts, emotions and reactions. 

Kia is a most mysterious character, who hooks the reader first with her vulnerability and then with her independence. The author makes fascinating use of  the narrative device in that the reader gets to know Kia through the perspectives of the narrators rather than through her own experience and point of view. 

The story combines elements of paranormal and urban fantasy, with strong post-apocalyptic overtones which come partly from  the settings and world-building, and partly from the activities and behaviour off the men. While their actual occupation is really only hinted at, the reader does feel as though they are involved in some sort of resistance or paramilitary activity in a world that has survived an undefined but significant trauma.  

The writing is powerful, telling a compelling story and making use of some almost poetic imagery at times. However, it is also true that the book as a whole would also benefit from more thorough editing to remove errors that, while individually minor, frustrate the reader as they accumulate.  

This is an interesting and often suspenseful story. It does end with a cliffhanger designed to motivate readers to advance to the second book, but the story has sufficient resolution to give the reader a sense of having been provided answers to at least some of the residual questions posed by the story and its underlying premise. 

There is adult content in this book, so it’s recommended for readers aged 18+ only.

‘In Pursuit Of Light’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Blood’ by Wilkie Martin

The first book in Wilkie Martin’s ‘Inspector Hobbes’ mystery series, this is a highly original contribution to the genre. It is at different times suspenseful, macabre, darkly humorous, and quirky, while maintaining a well-developed and interesting mystery storyline. 

The cast of characters is delightful, made up of mismatched and very different personalities that one might not expect to get along with one another at all, and yet they are oddly complementary. In that sense, there is much in this book that challenges the ways in which people often perceive others based on looks, occupation or social status.  Inspector Hobbes is an enigma: beneath the intimidating exterior and generally gruff presentation lies a good heart and a very literal sense of humour. Still, he is clearly not your everyday local police inspector, and the questions about his past and his otherworldly nature are both puzzling and captivating. That many of these questions remain unanswered is a point of continued intrigue that holds strong appeal for the natural curiosity that is common among readers of mystery novels. 

Similarly, Mrs Goodfellow is both kind and terrifying at the same time, providing yet another contrast to Andy, whose trademark quality is his mediocrity: he wants to be ‘more’ than he is but never quite manages it. It is his profound sense of disappointment in his unrealised dreams and his helplessness when the events of life conspire against him that make him relatable to readers and have them silently hoping for better things for him. When he falls in with Hobbes and discovers life beyond his less-than-stellar career in journalism, the unlikely friendship between the two provides a frequent source of both amusement and fascination.

The oddities of the characters and the macabre elements of the story add further layers of mystery and curiosity to the story, which is well-developed and proceeds at a good pace. Unlike some other mysteries, there is nothing predictable or formulaic about this book. 

A most enjoyable dark urban fantasy mystery story, Inspector Hobbes and the Blood has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Shadow’s Edge: The Kyn Chronicles Book 1’ by Jami Gray

‘Shadow’s Edge’ is a really well constructed urban fantasy/paranormal/mystery story that hooks the reader right from the start and envelops them in a web of mystery and conspiracy that holds them captive until the very last page.

Also evident from the outset is the writer’s skill at developing character, a setting and scene through powerful writing and stunning imagery. This author is a wordsmith, a creator of imagery and fluent, compelling narrative that makes reading this book a pleasure.

Contrasting with that, however, is a small number of typographical errors that take the reader by surprise and break their concentration from the flow of the story. While this is disappointing, it should also be acknowledged that these flaws are fewer in number than those I have encountered in some traditionally published classics, so they remain a minor irritation and nothing more. 

The characters are varied and interesting, each a unique blend of characteristics that work well for the role they play – the hard headed boss, the investigators with tough exteriors, or the mysterious nemesis, all of them are very finely crafted.

Raine and Gavin are both really well developed. The reader feels as though they come to know them well, although the secrets of their pasts are only hinted at, keeping the reader guessing about their back stories and the inner conflicts each one conceals. These complexities are compounded by sexual tension between them that is so ripe, it’s about to fall off the vine. The frisson of energy that results adds to the intrigue and suspense of the story, building and rumbling like not-so-distant thunder as theIr individual investigations deepen and interweave.

The story is action-packed and suspenseful. While some satisfying resolution is achieved within the story arc, there remain some tantalising questions and connections that tie this book to the next in the series. 

All in all, this is a riveting read that, once started, is very hard to set down. 

‘Shadow’s Edge’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

New Release: ‘The Enchanted Crossroads’ by Dora Blume

Would you give up everything to save the world?

Kaira lived a normal existence in Minneapolis, MN. One night she met a mysterious man, she was instantly attracted to him. She couldn’t explain it, but she wanted him. Leif drove her safely home from the bar. Entering her apartment, she was attacked.

Morrigans were after her. Leif came to her rescue but at what cost? She wasn’t willing to give up her life as lawyer to fight Morrigans. She didn’t care about her power or Leif trying to help her understand the new magical world. She wanted no part of it. She saved people in her own way, as a lawyer, fighting against the Opioid crisis.

Hecate, the Goddess of Mages, came to give her a choice. She was born a descendent of the Goddess and only her and her four siblings could end the God, Morrigan’s destruction of good witches everywhere.

Is she willing to give up her whole life for the cause? Would she give up Leif to go back to her normal life?

Read the gripping first installment of the Enchanted by the Craft Series.

Available on Amazon.
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q3V6TBG

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07Q3V6TBG

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07Q3V6TBG

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07Q3V6TBG

***

Dora Blume is a middle school English teacher by day, writer by night. She tend to write spunky, bad-ass female characters. She has an Urban Fantasy series called The Shikari. It’s filled with quirky characters on a quest to save Minneapolis from demons. Forever will be the first in The Immortal Vampire, a dark fantasy series.

Being a teacher, she couldn’t help but write a young adult drama. Haunted by a Moment is a dramatic novel about a girl who’s life is falling apart and she’s trying to pick up the pieces before she goes mad. It’s about the darker side of being a teenager.

In her spare time, she reads a ton of books. Something like a book a day if she has time. She loves to read as much or more than she love to write. She reads everything.

Follow Dora on social media:

Fat Girl Problems blog and other writings on her website   

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Follow Dora on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, BookBub or Amazon

Audiobook Review: ‘The Book Of Abisan’ by CH Clepitt

Anyone who has read a book or two by CH Clepitt will understand that it is perfectly reasonable to expect that everything she writes is a ripping good yarn. ‘The Book Of Abisan’, in which contemporary fiction blends seamlessly with magical fantasy, is the kind of book that only reinforces that sort of assumption. It’s brilliant. 

The storytelling is well paced and infused with moments of humour that balance the action and intrigue of the plot. The storyline is original and interesting, and the suspense and tension are palpable as the mysteries and quests of the story emerge and interweave. 

The various settings contrast well with one another and serve to highlight the sense of strangeness the characters experience when they find themselves in a juxtaposed world. This also keeps the reader fully engaged in the story because there is nothing predictable about where the story might take them next… which is, of course, half the fun. 

The characters are varied and complex, each with personal motivations that drive their actions and decision making. There are some really wonderful characters who keep the reader invested in their personal stories as well as the tale overall, and others who are designed to be hateful and play that part very well. 

The Audible narration is very good, with excellent vocal control and variations in tone and voice that help to develop both plot and characterisation. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and her diction clear, although she does say “somethink” instead of “something”, which is the one minor thing that bothered me during this audiobook experience. Apart from that, Alicia Rose is pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. 

This highly engaging and absorbing story has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

‘The Book Of Abisan’ is available as either an audiobook or a novel

Book Review: ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’ by Chrys Cymri

A most excellent read… with dragons.

This is a brilliant read. 

Unpredictable, interesting and exciting, this book is full of diverse and complex characters that challenge and compel one another in various ways as the story progresses.

Penny White is delightfully snarky and very human, and endears herself to the reader immediately  as she responds with empathy in a most unusual situation.  As the story unfolds, the reader finds themselves immersed in a whole new fantasy adventure. The story is highly original and very entertaining.  

The way in which the author has positioned this world and its “neighbour” world is fascinating, and the ways in which the two worlds are linked physically, but also through the sharing of creatures, issues and mysteries that must be solved make the story so very engaging and involving for the reader that it is very hard to put the book down until the final page is read.

The world building and logistics are thoughtful and carefully developed, so that the story moves between this world and the alternate world quite smoothly and logically. 

I am excited to have discovered this fantastic new series, and am very pleased to award this book a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’  here.