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Deborah Jay (UK)

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Breaking the Nexus (The Mythrian Realm Book 1)
Breaking the Nexus (The Mythrian Realm Book 1)
Price: £1.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced, imaginative and hot., 15 Dec 2014
The Mythrian realm and the world of humankind are kept separate by the Nexus, patrolled by Sentinels such as Sha Phoenix.
When Sha falls through a magical Gateway, she lands in a back alley in Denver, in the thick of a crime scene. As soon as Detective Connor Flynn arrives, things quickly heat up, both in terms of attraction and action, as other creatures arrive through the damaged Gateway to play havoc in the human world. A banshee, for instance, is not something your everyday cop knows how to deal with.
This was one of those books that started out a bit hard work to get through the opening chapter, but from then on captivated and sped along at breakneck speed.
I notice in the author’s notes that this began life as a NaNoRiMo story, and I think a hint of that still lingers, despite obviously having come a long way from the raw first draft.
It was really only chapter 1 that I found a struggle - predominantly dialogue with a few info dumps dropped in, but no sense of place at all; no description of anything in the character’s environment, just one single bald mention that they are in a forest, and a two mentions of a clearing. There is description of the characters, and some fun banter, but that’s it. The Gateway is talked about, but I have no idea what it is, what it looks like, or even if it can be seen.
Once we hit chapter 2, we are suddenly in a familiar environment, though not familiar to Sha. There were a couple of small procedural issues, and an annoying tendency for Sha to gripe about her bad headaches without seeming to suffer any symptoms (in the first half of the book), but without question it turns into a great fun story, and I was quite willing to go along with the speed of things, even the romance and sex, when there was clearly some magical concept underlying their ‘can’t keep their hands off each other’ attraction.
The dialogue is witty, the sex hot, the characters very individual, and the plot interesting enough to keep me engaged, but I will finish with a warning – whilst the US story has a wrap up, there is also a big cliff hanger to the ending. I will read the next one, because I liked the characters and their interactions, but I’m not in favour of this style of episodic book – with the already short length, it felt like reading half a novel.

Flirting With Fire: A Witch's Night Out (1Night Stand)
Flirting With Fire: A Witch's Night Out (1Night Stand)
Price: £1.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Sparks fly in this hot novella, 11 Dec 2014
Leo inherits a house from his great-aunt and along with it, guardianship of a high-maintenance black cat.
Catalina Gato is forced by her magical contract to remain in feline form around her new master until he gives her permission to do otherwise. Unfortunately, as he’s utterly clueless about the existence of magic, that’s not about to happen. Cat does have one day off a year, and she sets off to make the most of it.
So far, so good – a fun set-up and quality writing to tell the tale.
For me, despite the shortness of the book, the first quarter was a touch slow, mostly chunks of information, nicely presented, but a bit too much, and I found the details of Cat’s contract unnecessarily convoluted to fit the plot requirements. Leo’s argument with his best mate was also over-long.
However, once I passed the 40% mark, when Leo and Cat meet for the first time in human form, it took off with a rush. From then on in it gets hotter and hotter, bursting into flames (literally) in an elevator stuck between floors. The sex is awesomely hot, making it well worth working through the first section.
In summary, if hot sex is your desire, this novella is for you. Description, dialogue and characters are all terrific, so my 4 and a half stars are due to the pacing of the beginning.

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt
Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt
Price: £2.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling and emotional - a can't put downer, 25 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was my first time, reading a memoir. I am mostly a fiction reader, and occasionally I dip into the biography of a famous name that interests me, but memoir? Not something I’d considered trying.
I decided to read this particular memoir after meeting the author online, chatting on our respective blogs and by email. The other draw was that it promised some insight into a narcissistic personality (the author’s mother), and I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of personality disorders - a pretty useful trait for me as an author, as it gives me lots of scope for developing my characters.
So with this in mind, I opened up Conflicted Hearts and was instantly drawn into the tale. All too often, we quote Mark Twain’s idiom, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, and here that indeed holds true. I was enthralled by the story of this woman who was only truly interested in herself, and in being admired by others, and the toll this took on her husband and children. The total inability to recognise that anything about her way of life was wrong, or to acknowledge the lifelong negative influence it would have on her offspring, was staggering, all the more so considering that this was not fiction.
This memoir is, of course, told from the perspective of one of those children, and chronicles the author’s journey from her difficult childhood through the relative emancipation of leaving home and exploring her own life, to the later responsibilities of the mature adult.
Kaye’s writing style is fluid and exceedingly readable, expressing the story in a series of vignettes of her life, sometimes emotionally raw and at other times charming and funny. I’d like to thank her for her honesty, and for sharing what has clearly been a difficult journey with such an outlook of hope and positivity, albeit at times somewhat strained.
Memoirs? If they are as absorbing and enlightening as this one, I may read a few more.

Henge (Le Fay Series Book 1)
Henge (Le Fay Series Book 1)
Price: £2.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Original and captivating, 17 Nov 2014
Henge is one of the most original YA novels I've read in a long time - an updated take on the Arthurian legend in a skewed modern setting. All the usual suspects are there: alongside the viewpoint character, Morgan Le Fay, we find Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, Mordred, Vivian, Uther, etc., etc. But in this reality, Knights carry guns, students have cars and mobile phones, Camelot rules the UK and magic is strictly licensed.
Morgan's mother, Morgause, was executed for illegal use of magic, but before this happened, she took Morgan to the Henge where the child had a vision that confirmed she would be Arthur's Maven. So, despite her father's attempts to keep her away from Camelot, Morgan pursues her goal by joining Arthur's Round, the elite set of student magic-users from whom Arthur's closest advisor will be chosen.
Before I say more, I'm going to start at the end which, for me, prompted an explosion of annoyance.
Whilst the main story arc - that of Morgan striving to become Maven - was wrapped up, this book is in no way a stand alone, and for me, I consider cliff-hanger endings to be a total cheat. Having said that, this story is so original and compelling that I definitely want to find out what happens, so I am reluctantly forced to admit, job well done by the author.
My other bugbear - I really find the use of present tense a turn off, but this one was so well done I was willing to go a long with it.
The writing was really excellent: great dialogue, description, action, pacing, incredible twists and turns that keep you guessing and questioning right along with Morgan. The world building is unique and believable, and whilst most of the story takes place in a familiar school-like setting, this is in no way a Harry Potter rip off.
I do feel that the cover suggests this book is aimed at a younger audience than it is - I would say with the traumatic scenes, the politics and some rather more adult themes, this is definitely YA, not middle grade as the cover tends to imply.
Probably the strongest part of the novel, aside from the imaginative setting, is Morgan herself. She is a masterful creation, with intense drive, a fantastic depth of character, and filled with ultimately believable conflicting emotions resulting from her troubled history.
So at the end, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn't care that they will need to buy the next book to find out what happens.
I received this book in return for an honest review, which in no way influenced my opinions.

The Spirit Heir (A Dance of Dragons Book 2)
The Spirit Heir (A Dance of Dragons Book 2)
Price: £1.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Eagerly awaiting the next book., 31 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Where should I start? With the fully rounded out multi-dimensional characters? Or the ever-expanding yet utterly easy-to-follow layers upon layers of plot?
Unlike the prequel novella (The Golden Cage) and book 1 (The Shadow Soul), I didn’t have the luxury to read this in one sitting. But no matter – every time I picked it up, I was instantaneously sucked right back into the adventures, dilemmas, and emotions of this awesomely drawn tale.
The end of Book 1, ‘The Shadow Soul’, set up a totally new dynamic between the two viewpoint characters. Instead of believing Jin to be a boy, Rhen is now aware that she is a girl. Very aware. And this colours the whole of this segment of the story, as they grow from distrust to trust and beyond, despite all that transpires around them – war, the probability of the annihilation of Rhen’s family’s kingdom, and the encroaching presence of the spirit worlds heralding a future that appears destined for unavoidable ruin.
Personally, I can’t imagine this book being written any better. I’m guessing some readers might prefer a slightly more pared down version, but for me, it’s perfect. The rich descriptions, the utterly convincing dialogue, the plot twists and turns, yet always with that feeling of inevitability – this is story-telling at its absolute best. If you are looking for originality in a fully immersive experience, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

I received a copy of this book in return for a review, which in no way affected my opinion.

Dead Man's Carve (A Tickled to Death Mystery Book 1)
Dead Man's Carve (A Tickled to Death Mystery Book 1)
Price: £1.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun read, 27 Oct 2014
The blurb for this book is a great summary, giving you most of the important components (including the fact that all proceeds go to wounded veterans), but what it doesn’t give you is an inkling of the depth of emotion underlying this tale of mystery and murder.
Rilee is a widow. Well, almost. She never got to walk down that aisle with her beloved – he died doing his job, in a forest fire, trying to save people, and Rilee is still counting the days since he left her.
And the new almost-widow on the scene, who should have been bride to Rilee’s customer who turns up dead, is the daughter of the couple who died in that same fire.
The mix of small-town politics and up to date problems of small businesses struggling to survive, is not only backdrop, but integral to this story of a tough yet vulnerable woman trying to unravel the reasons behind what the police are classing as a tragic accident, but Rilee is convinced was really murder.
It is also a charming account of how a dog’s enthusiasm for life, and unconditional love – not to mention slobber – can slowly break down self-imposed emotional barriers.
Filled with sparkling characters, mystery and danger, ‘Dead Man’s Carve’ is a fun, unpredictable story that drew me along with its twists and turns, never spotting the culprit although all the clues all there, just well hidden, and an exciting finale.
For me, the only disappointment was the wrap up. Whilst it’s probably true to real life, when I read a novel I like to have a happy conclusion, a fairy tale ending, or at least one that leaves me feeling that the possibility is just around the corner after I’ve read the last page. The final lines of this book left me feeling exactly the opposite.
If you are like me, I’d highly recommend reading this novel, just put it down before the last couple lines.
I received an ARC of this novel for a review post, which in no way affected my opinions.

Spelled (Amethyst)
Spelled (Amethyst)
by Kate St Clair
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Great YA supernatural, 20 Oct 2014
This review is from: Spelled (Amethyst) (Paperback)
Georgia Sayers believes she is a regular teenager, albeit with a few more issues than most: oldest of five siblings, she takes on the role of their dead mother, who committed suicide, putting Georgia into therapy, along with her young brother who hears voices. Their step-dad is always busy at work (in a maternity unit) and someone is keeping alive the old slur that Georgia’s family are witches.

Well, surprise, surprise, that’s just what they are, only at the start of this story none of them know it. It’s left up to the new boy at school (after his own school burned down) to find the chink in the spell that keeps them from this alarming knowledge. The girls all take to it reasonably well, but the brother, Wyatt, not so.

This is a well-written book, with personable and believable characters, great dialogue, smooth prose, and an excellent grasp of pacing, with the tension ramping up with ever increasing speed towards the climax, that comes complete with a neat twist.

Things I really enjoyed were: the knowledge of gemstones and their magical properties, the passage where one of the younger girls firmly instructs a poltergeist to behave in a civilized manner, and the little twist reveal at the end that I’m not going to give away!

Then there were the few things that kept it, for me, to a four star rather than the full five. First and foremost was that the prologue (which is not formally titled as such) is from an undisclosed viewpoint, which left me confused about the timeline until nearly the end, when the identity of that vp character finally became clear. At one point, one of the sisters suddenly explains a spell, and I had no idea where she gained that knowledge, nor did anyone ask how she knew. I found the step-father conveniently absent much of the time, leaving even the youngest children without parental supervision rather more than I found believable, and in the final struggle, Wyatt suddenly seemed very strong for a child and – whilst there is a good reason – his sister didn’t question it.

Finally, and this is a matter of personal taste, I'm really not keen on stories told in present tense, but as a well-paced and plotted YA paranormal, I’d recommend it as well suited to that readership.

Wickedly Dangerous (Baba Yaga)
Wickedly Dangerous (Baba Yaga)
Price: £3.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Light and fun paranormal romance, 18 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Baba Yaga is a Russian folktale – a wicked old crone who lives in a house that runs around on chicken’s legs, flies across the sky in a giant mortar whilst wielding a pestle, and has a dragon called Chudo Yudo as companion. She may, or may not be either good or evil.
Only that’s all a fairytale. ‘Baba Yaga’ is really a title, and there are currently three of them living in the US, helping out where they are asked and keeping an eye on ecological issues.
This book is about one of them: Barbara Yager, a herbalist travelling the country in an Airstream trailer that has a mind of its own when it comes to decor – and the contents of its fridge. It also contains a door to the otherworld, and a giant pit bull called, you guessed it, Chudo Yudo. And yes, he can talk and yes, he really is a dragon in disguise.
Called by a Russian grandmother when a child goes missing, Barbara discovers that this child is not the first abductee, and with no clues as to what’s happened to them, or who might be taking them, the local sheriff, the delightful Liam, is at his wits end. It doesn’t help that he’s still mourning the death of his own child and the belief that his missing wife is probably dead somewhere of an overdose.
After a little persuasion, Barbara starts digging, and at first, even though clues are scant, things seem to be moving along smoothly. And then it all starts to go horribly wrong.
‘Wickedly Dangerous’ is a light paranormal romance, with wonderful characters, vividly told with just the right amount of action, emotion, and humour, and with a perfect little twist at the end that left me smiling and satisfied. Just what I want from a book of this genre, when there is a certain amount of inevitability built into the story by its classification.
I’ve also read and thoroughly enjoyed the prequel novella, ‘Wickedly Magical’, and I thoroughly recommend them both. I’m looking forward to the next one, ‘Wickedly Wonderful’, due out soon.

Fallen Eyes: Book Four of Salt Lake After Dark
Fallen Eyes: Book Four of Salt Lake After Dark
Price: £3.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this series!, 14 Oct 2014
As we’ve come to expect by now, Jazz is off on another rollercoaster ride dealing with monsters and murderers, her own weaknesses (of which she has a few new ones, dealing with the physical after-effects of Sanguine, and with a rapidly multiplying bunch of emotional complications), and the fallout of her paranormal world having been ‘outed’ on YouTube.
In many ways, this book is darker than previous ones, and Jazz is challenged beyond her capacity to cope alone. Thematically, this book is about Jazz realising that she doesn’t have to, and in fact, can’t, do everything on her own. Her friends play bigger roles, Cassie in particular moving from a passive supporting role into something no one could have foreseen, and that’s one of the things I love best about this series – you can never predict where it is going next!
First, Jazz has to deal with a horror from her past she thought dead and buried. Well, he was dead, only now he’s back.
And then there is the new villain on the block. Delving once again into a lesser known trope, this time a ‘draugr’ – a Viking nasty, with seemingly unstoppable power, who happens to like eating his victims – who has something else altogether in mind for Jazz.
I did find this time around that although the two threads were wound together, to me the book read a bit like two halves – the first dealing with the previous enemy (clearly part of an ongoing story arc) and the second, with the draugr, which was when this novel for me, really picked up pace.
Favourite bit? Loki playing a bigger (snigger – read it, you’ll understand) role in this episode.
Favourite quote: ‘Randi turned to look at me. “That PRD agent is the immortal?” “There can be only one,” I said.’
Waiting, not so patiently now, for the next instalment.

Hunter No More
Hunter No More

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine so far, 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: Hunter No More (Kindle Edition)
Four and a half stars from me.
Starting out with a breathless action scene, Tinnam drags the reader by the throat into a world where things are not as straightforward as they initially appear. The panic of the night flight amid rioting is truly heart pounding, and the relief once all are safely on board the escape boat is a welcome breather, even though something is clearly amiss between the two male leads, Roger and Keith.
This is an accomplished piece of writing, and the concepts explored are fascinating and well realised: AIs that wear ‘biotech’ (synthetic human bodies that house their consciousness when they need a physical form other than their space ship), a war between machine minds with human beings as unwitting casualties, and how a random event can put a spanner (or a hammer – read it, you’ll understand) in the works – or perhaps be fortuitous, depending on whose point of view you take.
My small quibble with the book was the – to me - slightly uneven structure. There are 5 viewpoint characters, opening with what seems to be a typical teenager, Samantha, which lured me into thinking this would be a standard YA novel revolving around the teen character. Chapter 2 is from her father, Keith’s viewpoint, and then the story alternates between the two for several chapters before the 3rd person, Josella, is introduced. Fine so far, but then when the action really ramps up (and it does, believe me – the sequences on the Amberjack are mind-blowingly good), Sam is left behind on the planet, and almost half the book takes place without her. This made it feel almost like reading two separate books, and I expected to at least have Sam’s viewpoint again at the very end, to ‘showcase’ the story, but that doesn’t happen, and I felt a tiny bit cheated, not seeing her response to the tragedy in the final showdown.
Having said that, I would still highly recommend this book, for the concepts, the depth of characterisation and the action – well worth the read.
I received this to review for a blog tour - my opinions are totally unaffected by this fact.

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