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: Seer’s Stone by Holly Evans

Seers Stone (Hidden Alchemy #1)Seers Stone by Holly Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great series opener

I loved this book. Normally, I’ll be in the middle of two or three books at any give time and take a few days to work through them all, but once I started reading Seer’s Stones I just kept going. It was a fast read and lots of fun. The characters are well-developed and their individual strengths and weaknesses mesh nicely to make for a good team. There’s quite a bit of humor in the book and a fair amount of talk about sex, but the few actual sex scenes that are included are quite mild.

Interestingly, there wasn’t really any kind of defined villain to the story, which is about the main characters’ attempts to obtain a valuable artifact. Others are also looking for it, of course, and the dramatic tension comes from our heroes trying to stay ahead of these various rivals. I really rather liked the idea that there wasn’t just one guy who kept throwing blocks in their way nor any grand conspiracy against them as it felt more like how a situation like this might actually play out.

This is a good start to what looks to be a really fun series.

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Book Review: Greco by Andrea Domanski

Greco (Omega Group #1.5)Greco by Andrea Domanski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is follow-up novella to the first book in the Omega Group series, “Crossfire.” It tells the story of Mirissa’s trainer, Greco, and the troubled life he’d had as a result of his mother’s deep disappointment at his not having been born female. The family tension comes to a head when his mother disappears and Greco and Mirissa go searching for her.

While short, the story gives a lot of insight to Greco’s character and shows a very different side to him than was seen in the first book. The ending was really powerful and I’ll be interested to see how these events affect him in later installments.

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Book Review: Nightmare Realm by MV Stott

Nightmare Realm (London Coven #2)Nightmare Realm by M.V. Stott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book in Genre Reader’s London Coven series, one of three series set in their Uncanny Kingdom, and like the first in this series “Familiar Magic” it’s a lot of fun, though there’s a bit of heartbreak in this one as well.

This time out, Stella and her friend/sidekick David are facing a monster thought banished from London forever. Children are falling asleep, unable to wake up or be woken and trapped in their nightmares. While the London Coven has defeated it before, they’re now dead and Stella hasn’t been able to find any information on how they did it. Faced with more children are being taken every night – and the situation becoming more personal – she knows time is not on her side. Yet even in this grim story, the overall series’ sense of fun and humor comes through, giving needed breaks to the tension and helping to keep the story moving.

I strongly recommend checking these books out if you like stories with a nice balance of humor and darkness.

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Book Review: Wolves and Roses by Christina Bauer

Wolves and Roses (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1)Wolves and Roses by Christina Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is a really fun book, even if part of the premise didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. In the world the book is set in, there are people who are destined to live life – or at least part of it – by the basic plot of a fairy tale. It’s never explained how or why this happens, but once I decided to just accept that it does and not worry about it making sense I was able to thoroughly enjoy the book.

There a lot of humor in the story but plenty of mystery, too. The romances were sweet (and yes, there’s more than one!) and the guys are great. There are a lot of twists and turns to the plot, but they’re nicely set up and the reveals flow naturally into the narrative.

This is the first book in Christina Bauer’s “Fairy Tales of the Magicorum” series. It’s certainly an intriguing start and I’m interested to see where it goes next.

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Book Review: Trials of Magic by Thomas Carpenter

Trials of Magic (The Hundred Halls, #1)Trials of Magic by Thomas K. Carpenter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: An orphan who’s parents died in a magical calamity goes to a magic school, quickly makes enemies with an arrogant blonde and discovers a number of secrets have between withheld for many years. Actually, don’t stop me, keep reading – because as familiar as that may sound, it’s where any similarity between this story of new students attending a magic school and the rather well known other such story ends.

In “Trials of Magic” we meet two orphaned sisters who are trying to get into the Hundred Halls, the only magic university in the world. Finally living on their own after years bouncing through foster homes, they’re short on money – and one sister is short a sponsor for the Hall she wants enter – and have to pass the entrance exams to get in. But these girls are determined to get in, even if it might mean taking dangerous risks to do so.

This is a really great book and a good start for a series. The characters are complex and while the girls do tend to run headlong into dangerous situations, they are capable of learning from their mistakes and show a lot of growth through the course of the story. The writing is clear and the author does a good job of making it easy to keep track of who’s who so that I didn’t have to keep looking back at what I’d already read to figure it out (something I run into far too often!) It’s definitely a series I plan to continue reading.

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Book Review: Ignite by Sierra Cross

Ignite (Spelldrift: Coven of Fire #2)Ignite by Sierra Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The new Coven of Fire has barely gotten its feet wet when various presiding bodies in the magical world decide they want to have some chats and a new nemesis arrives on the scene – not to mention, Alix is concerned there’s something a bit wonky with her magic.

While the stakes were pretty high in the first book, Rise, Cross ratchets up the tension even more, and the Coven finds itself looking at the possibility of having to work with some rather unsavory characters to get everything sorted out.

The story itself is engaging and I enjoyed learning more about the version of our world this series is set in but, for me, the romance aspect tends to fall a bit flat. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of stories where would-be lovers are kept apart by seemingly arbitrary means, such as a rule that people from groups “A” and “B” aren’t allowed to fall in love, without much explanation as to why. Hopefully there will be more of an explanation down the road. Other than that, though, these first two books have been nice, quick, fun reads, and I want to see what happens next.

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Book Review : Demon Kin by TG Ayer

Demon Kin (DarkWorld: Soul Tracker, #)Demon Kin by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this second outing with Mel Morgan we’re treated to a nice mystery as a wealthy man who recently lost his wife hires Mel to find his missing daughter. There are a number of nice twists and turns without the mystery ever becoming too overwrought or confusing and in the end the pieces fit together well.

But that mystery is hardly the only thing going on in this book. We check in on Saleem’s search for his mother, get more info on Mel’s hope of one day finding her sister, a new conundrum for Mel to figure out and some solid character development. Oh, and we also get a substantial visit from Kai Odell the panther shifter from Ayer’s other series set in her Dark World universe. Don’t worry, though, she provides enough information about what’s happening in Kai’s story to make sense of what’s going on even if you aren’t reading that series as well – without overloading those who are with info they already know.

If, however, you are reading both the Soul Tracker and Skinwalker series, be sure to read the first three books in Skinwalkers (Skin Deep, Lost Soul, and Last Chance) *before* reading this book as it contains several spoilers for Last Chance.

As I’ve come to expect, Ayer keeps the story moving along at a steady pace and I really appreciate her ability to fill her stories with multiple subplots and interesting characters while still making it easy to follow the action and not just remember who’s who but also be able to find points of connection with them.

On to the next one!

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