Book Review: Blood and Ink by Holly Evans

Blood & Ink (Ink Born #2)Blood & Ink by Holly Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

This is the second book in Holly Evans “Ink Born” series and picks up right where “Stolen Ink” left off, with Dacian and friends moving to a new city in hopes of staying ahead of those who’d like to use his special skills for their own ends.

One result of the move is that he is no longer able to be his own boss, and getting used to working for someone else isn’t easy. Plus there are, of course, the emotional ramifications of such a sudden move and the stress it can put on any relationship, and new relationships to be forged. Worse, Kieran is faced with a family tragedy and needs the support of his friend. With all that already on his plate, when Dacian is drawn into a new mystery and the ink network tries to force an even tighter bond, he finds himself struggling to keep it all together.

The only complaint I had with the book is that the author had a few phases that, to me, were overused, and on a couple of occasions, it seemed like a brief passage of dialog was repeated almost word for word. Still, the story, characters and the world they exist in are compelling and quite enjoyable

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Book Review: Fluffy Bunny by Sarah Buhrman

Fluffy Bunny (Runespells, #2)Fluffy Bunny by Sarah Buhrman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

Oh so good!

The “Runespells” series knocks its second volume outside the park just like it did its first! When I first read in the description that Nicola was going to have to handle this mission without her friends Mercy and Joseph from the first book, I was worried it might end up being too “flat” of a story because they’d added so much texture to Nicola’s adventures, but I honestly found I didn’t really notice their absence as much as I thought I might, and the new friends she makes are welcome company.

In “Fluffy Bunny” Nicola is called upon to investigate a healing cult that is messing with the natural order of things by saving the lives of people who’s time has come, and the death goddess Hel is *not* pleased. To find out what is going on, Nicola must go undercover as someone hoping to join the cult. Her mission becomes more complicated when she finds the cult atmosphere almost too seductive.

Much of the story takes place more-or-less in Nicola’s head as she finds herself taking refuge in the Astral. I found those to be some of the most interesting parts of the book as I got to know Nicola in ways its often hard to get to know a character and because her adventures there helped me not only see but get a real feel for how the physical and ethereal relate to each other. But don’t think that this is mainly a big noodley mind-trip – there’s plenty of action, suspense and things that hit right in the feels.

This series as a lot going for it. For me, one of the best things is it avoids a number of Urban Fantasy tropes. We learned in the first book “Too Wyrd” that Nicola isn’t some chosen one who was born to solve a problem, nor was she someone who suddenly learned her life is a lie, there’s magic in the world, all the myths about the Old Gods are true and that because she’s reached a certain birthday or a little known relative has died she now has a bunch of powers and has to save the world. She’s known about magic and the Old Gods because they’re part of her faith. She ends up being given her task because of choices she made when she was faced with various challenges – and while she may not have known that making the choices she did would result in her taking on this responsibility, her nature is such that it’s hard to imagine she’d make different choices even if she knew what the result would be. While I do love the more “normal” (for lack of a much better term) UF, reading something that looks at the concept from such a different starting point is just a real nice treat.

I really can’t wait for more in this series!

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Book Review: Blood Curse by TG Ayer

Blood Curse (DarkWorld: Soul Tracker, #3)Blood Curse by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

Mel certainly keeps herself busy! This time out she not only has a demanding new client, but the problems brought about by the poltergeist she’s been cursed with are becoming increasingly more dangerous making it even more critical that she find out who’s behind it, and she’s worried for both her gargoyle companion, Drake, and her boyfriend, Saleem, who are dealing with family matters that may take them from her side.

Clearly, there’s a lot of action here, but it’s well paced. As always with this series, there’s nice character growth and it’s interesting to try and figure out what all this is leading up to. While I missed seeing more of Drake and Saleem, there are some new characters introduced that I suspect will become more important as the story progresses, and sending them off on personal matters made room to get to know these new ones better. I just hope both will be back by the next installment.

If you’re reading both this series and the Skinwalker series, be sure to read the fourth Skinwalker book “Blood Promise” before this one as there are spoilers here for what happens in that story.

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Book Review: Stolen Ink by Holly Evans

Stolen Ink (Ink Born #1)Stolen Ink by Holly Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is *really× good

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

There are several different kinds of magic in this alternative Earth. The main kind used here is tattoo magic and it is easily of the more interesting ones I’ve come across in my reading. It’s kind of tricky to try and explain how it works without giving an example of one being done, and I know how much I hate spoilers, so I’ll just say this: It’s really creative and sounds exceptionally cool. I kinda wish I it was real!

Dacian is a tattoo magician and is quite good at his job – perhaps too good. He’s worked hard to keep the extent of his abilities under wraps because if it were known it could put him in danger. However, when someone starts stealing people’s tattoos – causing them to die in agony – he realizes he may have to risk exposing himself to prevent more murders.

The book had a moderately large cast of characters who are introduced to us over the course of the story, which I really liked. The pacing of the introductions allowed the characters personalities to stand out before becoming part of the enable.

There’s a sweet romance that develops and I really appreciated that it wasn’t an “instalove.” By going at a slower pace I get to see how the guys grow together as a couple and how their interaction changes them both. I feel more invested in their relationship and it makes me want to see them succeed that much more.

I also really liked how vivid the descriptions are.I often felt like I was almost more watching the story than reading a book.

I have high hopes for the rest of this series based on this start.

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Book Review: Blood and Gold by TG Ayer

Blood & Gold (Hand of Kali, #2)Blood & Gold by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

For most of her life Maya had been skeptical about her parents religious beliefs and the work they do for the goddess Kali. Discovering that she is the Hand of Kali, however, and meeting some members of the Hindu pantheon has understandably given her a new perspective on things. And so it is that we find her now accompanying her parents on the job as the second installment in this series opens. I liked getting a chance to see what her parents do and through that to learn a bit more about Indian folklore.

Of course, working with her parents is just a small appetizer before getting into the meat of the story. Maya receives a summons from Lord Shiva, the most powerful god in the Hindu pantheon, who has a mission for her. With Nik and Joss along to help, she sets out to fulfill the request Lord Shiva has made.

A lot happens in this book. In addition to her main mission, Maya also finds that her friend Ria needs her help, as does an acquaintance of hers and a grieving mother she meets along the way. Sometimes when so much happens in a story it can become a bit tiring to read. Ayer does a good job of pacing the plot so that doesn’t happen here.

There are some interesting twists to the story. As usual, Ayer nicely sets them up so that they don’t feel completely out of the blue without telegraphing them. It’ll be fun to see what surprises are in store in the next volume.

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Book Review: Too Wyrd by Sarah Buhrman

Too Wyrd (Runespells, #1)Too Wyrd by Sarah Buhrman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

This book is great. The characters are a lot of fun, and the heroine, Nicola – a single mother and a witch – had just the right mix of strength, stubbornness, street-smarts and courage tampered with compassion and vulnerability. As the story opens, her best friend, Joseph, is telling her that her sister Muriel is missing and that she may have gotten caught up in a cult Nicola’s ex-boyfriend – and the father of her child – is running. She and Joseph quickly head out to determine what’s happening, and when they find out its nothing they’d expected.

I really liked how the story covered a range of emotions. There are action sequences, scenes that are laugh out loud funny, scenes that are heartbreaking and more. It keeps the story moving along nicely and gives the book a feeling of real life when we can experience all those emotions in any given day .

The main characters are well-developed and believable and many of the side characters – even if they’re only in one scene – are colorful and distinct .

The only complaint that I might have about the book is that the final battle scene has so much going on that it was difficult to keep track of what was happening during that scene. Given how good everything else in the book is, though, that’s really just a minor quibble.

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Book Review: Rage by Sierra Cross

Rage (Spelldrift: Coven of Fire #3)Rage by Sierra Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

With Matt’s dramatic actions at the end of “Ignite” the stakes are even higher for the Coven of Fire. While Alix and Asher head to Europe to help Matt, Liv works in Seattle to find a way to save the good Cassie she believes is still hidden within the dark witch she’s become.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this installment in the series and we get a closer look at the various ruling bodies that regulate the Magicborn community. A lot happens during the story – sometimes it came close to being a bit too much – but overall it’s a good, fun read.

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Trump, Truth and Emotional Reasoning

How to Deprogram Truth-Denying Trump Voters

How did Donald Trump win, when he used so many misleading statements and outright deceptions? Couldn’t people see through them? As an expert in brain science, I want to share why his followers fell for his lies and what can be done to address this situation in the future. First, let’s get the facts straight. At… Continue reading “Trump, Truth and Emotional Reasoning”

Trump’s Pardon Powers Have Limits When Indictment Comes

A good analysis of the limits of a presidential pardon and why Trump won’t likely be able to just wave a magic wand and make it all go away, even for his friends.

With the first indictment looming from the federal Trump-Russia investigation, President Donald Trump is getting a reminder: His pardoning pardons can’t fix everything. “I don’t think the president’s power is all that absolute, as people have been suggesting,” California Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News’ “This Week” Sunday.… Continue reading “Trump’s Pardon Powers Have Limits When Indictment Comes”

Donald Trump Has Betrayed the Kurds, Iraq Will Suffer

Yet another example of how Trump is a danger not only to us but to the entire world. It just makes me sick.

Following the Kurdistan Region’s defeat of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), we moved quickly to secure our own rights in an independence referendum last month. We seized the opportunity to solidify our role as a stable partner for peace for America and the rest of the world. Yet in a tragic turn of events, our… Continue reading “Donald Trump Has Betrayed the Kurds, Iraq Will Suffer”