Fury and Virtue by T.G. Ayer

Fury & Virtue: The Hand of Kali #4 (The Hand of Kali Series Book 4)Fury & Virtue: The Hand of Kali #4 by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.

Maya’s back in action as her dreams begin to invade her reality and the KALIMA organization seems to be turning against her family.

The story was good and moved quickly. Maya and Nik’s romance is as sweet as ever and getting more serious – Nik took Maya to meet his mom! There were some really nice scenes of Maya and her father working together and Joss was fun as always.

All in all a good installment that keeps the series fresh and me wanting more.

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Book Review: Time and Fate by TG Ayer

Time & Fate (Hand of Kali, #3)Time & Fate by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.

Maya’s abilities continue to grow – as does her budding relationship with Nick – in the third installment of the series.

The goddess Kali has granted Maya the ability to bend time, but when she makes use of her new ability after a mission goes wrong, she discovers that it confers with a price.

Quite a bit happens in the book, moving the overall story along at a nice pace. There are several surprises in store and it was nice to see her parents and Claudia being more involved in the action.

I liked that they was more than one mission in the book and that we learn more about some of the key players. It was also interesting to see Maya having to deal with the repercussions of using her expanded powers, and I really enjoy her gentle romance with Nick.

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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 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: Fire and Shadow by TG Ayer

Fire & Shadow (Hand of Kali, #1)Fire & Shadow by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in TG Ayer’s “Hand of Kali” series, this one centered around the gods and legends of Hinduism.

Even though she’s been raised by a family devoted to the Hindu gods, Maya Rao doesn’t believe they’re real. That makes it all the more shocking when she discovers that she was born to be the Hand of Kali – her warrior on Earth to battle the Rakshasa demons who can possess people in order to do their master’s bidding and sometimes kill people just for the fun of it, so some serious evil here. Maya remains skeptical about her status even after she experiences her new-found abilities, but she soon comes to accept that what’s happening is real. She also learns that while she may have a special connection to Kali, other gods and goddesses may need her help at times and will also assist and help protect her when possible.

I’ve only read the first book in this series, so this might change, but if I was the mother of a mid-teen to young adult daughter, I could see myself giving this to her and hoping she might find some inspiration in Maya. Even though she’s still young, as Maya grows in her acceptance of her new reality, she shows a certain maturity in understanding the responsibilities that come with it. Sure, she has moments of doubt or chafes at times about some of what she’s asked to do – she wouldn’t be believable otherwise – but she doesn’t allow herself to wallow in them. She also cares about others enough that she can put their needs first and is willing to take significant risks to help her friends if necessary.

The story itself is good, as are the other main characters. The plot and subplots mesh together well and each is interesting in its own right. There are a couple of times where something that happens in one part of the book seems to be contradicted later by something else but I enjoyed the rest of what was going on enough that it was easy to give it a pass. As I’ve come to expect from Ms Ayer, the side characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional. I really liked how loving and supportive Maya’s parents are, and her friends are fun and interesting in their own right.

All-in-all, this is another good tale from TG Ayer

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Book Review: Crossfire by Andrea Domanski

Crossfire (Omega Group #1)Crossfire by Andrea Domanski
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.

“Crossfire” is the story of a young Amazonian warrior who lives among humans, fighting to protect them from the evils of the world, and, no, her name is NOT Diana Prince. In fact, aside from that brief description, this book has little in common with the adventures of Wonder Woman.

Our heroine here is Mirissa Coleson, a 19-year-old young woman who, until her 18th birthday was completely in the dark about her unusual heritage. While understandably shocked and a bit hesitant at first, Mirissa soon takes to her new reality – and the responsibilities it brings – with gusto.

“Crossfire” is a really fun book. Mirissa is a likeable hero. She’s tough, smart and compassionate with enough vulnerability to avoid coming across as too perfect and invincible. Her companions are developed well enough that they stand out as individuals, making it easier to remember who’s who without having to flip back through the pages for reminders. I especially appreciated the clarity with which the action scenes are written. Too often it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening in the various face-to-face skirmishes that take place in the overall battle, but I didn’t find that problem here, making it more enjoyable than similar scenes in several other books.

The main story in the book is nicely wrapped up rather than left as a cliffhanger with enough threads left from various subplots to accommodate future tales.From what I’ve seen in the blurbs for some of the other books in the series, it appears that – in most cases – the books each focus on a different one of Mirissa’s companions, which I think sounds rather interesting. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to know these other characters better.

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Book Review: Cursed Sight by TG Ayer

Cursed Sight (Dark Sight Book 2)Cursed Sight by T.G. Ayer
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.

In this second volume of TG Ayer’s “Dark Sight” series, Pythia Allegra Damascus and her guardian Commander Max Vissarion are headed to Peru where Allegra’s visions have shown her an event of massive destruction is soon to occur. Upon arriving, however, she discovers that not everyone is thrilled with her desire to help, perhaps not even the representatives of her home country’s government who are supposed to assistant her – and she has no idea why.

“Cursed Sight” introduces us to several new characters, including the staff who had cared for Aurelia, Allegra’s predecessor as Pythia. I found Mara, Aurelia’s handmaid, to be a delight. She’s a mischievous and cantankerous older woman who’s as sharp as a tack and hides beneath her gruff exterior a deep devotion for the women she serves. I hope we see more of her in future installments.

We also learned more about Allegra’s enemies and a few breadcrumbs were dropped that point to a possible future betrayal that had the potential to be devastating. I can’t wait to see how that develops!

While there were a number of mysteries that kept me guessing up until they were revealed, there were a couple of cases where the foreshadowing was a bit heavy-handed making their eventual revelations a bit too obvious for me. That said, the book as a whole was very enjoyable and has me looking forward to what happens next.

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Book Review: Immortal Bound by TG Ayer

Immortal Bound (Apsara Chronicles #1)Immortal Bound by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love urban fantasy, and T.G. Ayer is quickly becoming one of my favorite UF authors. Her Valkyrie series (which begins with Dead Radiance is a great take on Norse lore, and Dark Sight is a promising beginning to her Daughter of Pythia series, which is grounded in Greek mythology. Likewise, Immortal Bound, the first book in her Apsara Chronicles, gets this series off to a solid start.

I was already familiar with both Norse and Greek pantheons and legends before reading the aforementioned books, but this was my first experience with anything involving the Hindu gods and their stories. I have to admit that I was a bit concerned at first about how well I’d be able to keep up with both a whole new cast of characters and a new-to-me cosmic order to boot, but Ms Ayer did a nice job of having her characters provide enough information to foster a basic understanding without resorting to the kind of expository infodumps that can kill the momentum of a story.

As I’ve come to expect from Ms Ayer’s books, the central characters are well developed, relatable, and grow nicely over the course of the story. I especially liked how the relationship between the mother and daughter evolved over the course of events. As for the story itself, there were a couple of plot points that were a rather predictable, but it contained enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, and wraps things up nicely while still leaving plenty of room for more adventures.

The only real complaint I have with the book is a technical one – it has a truly astounding number of typos and editing errors – the *vast * majority of which were minor things (like writing “fist” instead of “first” or “ember” instead of member) that didn’t impede the flow of the story or interfere with understanding what was happening. There were a couple, though, that threw me for a momentary loop – such as a character being referred to by the wrong name or a reference to an object that wasn’t actually introduced until a few chapters later. That technical issue aside, however, I really enjoyed the story and am eager to read the next installment.

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Book Review: Dark Sight by TG Ayer

Dark SightDark Sight by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dark Sight gets TG Ayer’s new series “Daughter of Pythia” series off to a good start. Set in an alternate reality where America is known as New Germania and society is based on the Roman Empire, governments around the world hire or consult with oracles to help with solving crimes, averting disasters, strategizing and other such matters. The most powerful oracle is known as the Pythia and is a descendant of Apollo’s oracle at Delphi. When she begins to recieve visions of an apocalyptic-scale disaster in the near future, she must work with officials from the New Germanian government to piece together the clues her visions present in an attempt to thwart the cataclysm.

I really enjoyed this book, though I did have a couple of problems with it. The characters were complex and relatable and the plot avoids most of the more predictable traps often found in urban fantasy and romance novels. The one exception is that that the potential romance between the leads hits a roadblock because one decides to put a brake on things out of fear that the other will reject them if certain information becomes known rather than discussing it. This particular trope is the one that annoys me the most because talking about it would show trust and a willingness to be vulnerable, both of which can actually make a relationship stronger. Plus, if the other person is going to reject them upon learning the information, wouldn’t it be wiser and less painful to find out early on? My other issue with the book is a sub-plot that felt to me kind of like filler. The impending disaster presents numerous opportunities for dramatic tension without needing to add a secondary villain, especially since that section didn’t really provide much additional information that couldn’t have been revealed while resolving the main plot. Fortunately, this detour isn’t terribly long so the story gets back on track quickly.

Despite these issues, I found myself drawn into the book’s world and the characters’ lives enough that I was dissapointed to find I’d have to wait a bit before the next volume is released. There’s considerable promise in this book, and having read her Valkyrie series (which begins with Dead Radiance I know how fresh Ms Ayer’s writing can be.

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