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Assault in the Wizard Degree – Fantasy and Forensics Book Six!

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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” 
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Pull out your “Happy Dance” ladies and gents! Assault in the Wizard Degree is printed!! The Fantasy and Forensics series has expanded to book six, and six is definitely a magic number.

Poor Dayna. The more she busts her backside to save the world on Andeluvia, the more it twists itself into a bloody mess . . . and guess who gets the job of straightening everything out each and every time? Yep. You got it. What is a Forensic Scientist stuck in an epic fantasy land supposed to do? Well, if you are Dame Chrissie, you dust off your hiking boots, gather your tools, and do your best to save the day. Again.

“Salvation shall come to Dame Chrissie only when she stands in the shadow of all that she has achieved.”

Well, salvation is something, at least. A bit of hope, after the court Soothsayer invades the throne room of the King bearing tidings of doom and death.

“I dreamt a dream of utmost import . . . that if not heeded, shall mean the downfall of this kingdom and the ruin of all Andeluvia!”

And this time, he might just be right. Dayna’s life in Los Angeles is hard enough as the evil attempting to take over Andeluvia bleeds over into her birth world. Now, an evil long thought buried and gone is awakening. Death and despair, war and horror are looming on the horizon, and Dayna’s small group will be tested beyond anything they have ever faced before.

It begins, as do so many things, with a request for Dayna’s help. The centaurs, you see, have a problem.

“A centaur that has committed an act of sacrilege regarding the ‘Ceremony of Equilux’.”

It should be a simple case – use her forensic skills to discover who committed a crime. But what she finds is so much more. The Creatures of the Dark have made deeper inroads than anyone expects (well, anyone other than Dayna and her friends) and even the densest and most purposefully ignorant will no longer be able to deny the truth.

There are, of course, the light moments Michael’s writing is so well known for. Characters are well written and believable, the landscape of the world of Andeluvia is sharply drawn, and the storyline holds perfect continuity throughout the series. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, I would highly recommend you do so before reading this installment. I am not saying you couldn’t understand or enjoy this book as a standalone, but it is such a wonderful series it would be a shame to miss the run-up to this pivotal point in the series.

This is a Wonderful series, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!! Of course, full disclosure, I work with Michael on his books – but that doesn’t mean I don’t adore each and every one.

Zadri: Dragons of Preor by Celia Kyle

32354464I have a confession. As much as I adore Celia Kyle, I had never read any of her Preor books. SciFi is just not really my thing. But given the opportunity, and having read another book not really in my genre (horror) and enjoying it, I decided to stretch my genre list. And of course, now I am kicking myself for not reading the others!

Celia has a way with words, a passion for “Happily Ever After” and a deft hand with a storyline. At first I wasn’t sure about the whole ‘you killed my mate and now you expect me to mate you’ arc. But, once again, Ceila does it well.

Delaney Cole is Queen of the country of “My Parents Are Psychos.” Yep, that’s right, I gracefully give up my throne to Delaney. Because, let me tell you – these people are awful. So, when poor Delaney finds herself knocked-up, (well, after a while, you really have to at least pretend you can be loved, right?) her parents send her running for her life. Literally. Straight into Preor Choosing Station Tau, in the hopes of finding a Preor mate. Who better to protect her and her child from evil than a dragon warrior?

But things don’t go as expected for Delaney – not even close, as a web of intrigue, danger, betrayal and pain builds around them that could cost her and her child their lives after all.

I should have known Celia’s world building would be awesome-it always is, after all-and of course her characters are as well rounded as always. Yes, I messed up not starting at book one, not because I was ‘lost’ in the storyline, but because this was just that good. So, Dragons of Preor, then The Ujal are now on my “Read ASAP” list!

I received this book from Ms. Kyle in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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Made in Hell – Caith Morningstar Kicks Ass – Again!

Made In Hell (Urban Fantasy) by Celia KyleCan a half-demon, half-pixie/holy warrior/unicorn/Father Earth/werewolf (Yeah. Don’t ask.) not get just a little bit of peace and quiet? Just a little? I mean, Come ON People! She already saved the world. Twice, as a matter of fact, in the last couple of years. Can a girl not just enjoy her adopted Brownie son and her half-fallen angel boyfriend for a few bloody minutes before you all go messing things up? Again?

But nooooooo . . . You just have to go gettin’ all rowdy, joining a whacko cult, walking around like zombies (when you aren’t rutting like bunnies) and generally messing up Caith’s life.

Again.

Ugh.

It seems a couple of Caith’s old enemies are up to no good once again. Even if Uncle Lucifer did throw them into the very bowels of the deepest circle of Hell. Of course, if Uncle Dearest didn’t have his mind on the little demon spawn he planted in the brainless twit he just dumped at Caith’s front door, maybe she could have gotten things under control a little more easily?

Nah. No such luck.

Sigh.

That’s all bad enough. But when Caith’s little Bryony, Sam, and best friend Jezzie are endangered? Well, here’s a clue. Don’t. Piss off. The niece of the Morningstar. That will get you just all kinds of pain.

Caith Morningstar is one kick-ass beotch. You would expect her to be, taking into consideration who her mother is, but while she may have set Chicago on fire (Once! It was Just Once!) and maybe started a war (Or two. Maybe.), the influence of all five fathers makes her loyal, protective, and determined to keep Mouse Town, her family, and her friends, safe.

Ms. Celia has written another winner Urban Fantasy in “Made in Hell” I have no doubt you will love! Humor, pathos, love, hate – it’s all here, and all written in that unique Celia Kyle style.

I received “Made in Hell” from the author in exchange fo­r a realistic review. How Lucky am I?!?!

Forgery of the Phoenix is Here! Fantasy and Forensics, Book Five

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“The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery.” –  Ralph Hodgson

“Sometimes you trust someone who turns out not to be honest. There are a lot of things that happen in life that don’t turn out the way you’re given the impression that they will. And I think that’s all kind of a con. But I think we’ve probably all been hurt.” – Sigourney Weaver

Poor Dayna! Isn’t it enough that she has saved the land of Andeluvia over and over, and never gotten even a “Thank you” for her efforts? I mean, come ON guys! You beat a demon, save a couple of races, and keep warning the whole planet that a war, fought long ago, is heating up once more . . . and all she gets is laughed at!? Wow. Talk about disrespectful!

The Royal Court doesn’t listen. Life back home on Earth is going sideways faster than she can say “Great big gobs of greasy, grimy Griffin Poo!” What is a girl to do??? Oh, and don’t even get me started on the King! Not only does he only intermittently have Dayna’s back. Ohhh no! Since Dayna was given the rather dubious title of “Dame Chrissie” the costs for renovating her tower are going up. Who was to know that, when she turned down tenant farmers and lands, not wanting to be responsible for all that, she was also turning down the income that comes with it? And the King? Well, well well. Being the “Kingly” sort, in the “I’m broke and have to pay all these people, so I am going to stick it to Dame Chrissie” (Really. You honestly didn’t notice that certain parties were draining your treasury?! Sigh.) way, Dayna has been awarded the “Great Honor” of becoming the one and only member of the Order of the Weasel. Whaaa?!?!

Yep, the Order of the Weasel. Or, better known as The Order of the Welchers. Who happened to leave behind nearly a quarter million in debt. Which, of course, Dame Chrissie is expected to pay.

You gotta be kidding me!

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Phoenix who pops out of the fireplace during a meeting of the Royal Court is determined that Dame Chrissie shall save his whole species from extinction!

Can a girl not get a freakin’ Break?

Join Dayna and her friends, Grimshaw the Griffin, the Fayleene Protector of the Forest, and Galen the Centaur Wizard on their newest adventure, as they fight off the depredations of evil (If they can figure out what the “evil” is), and take on another wonderful, magical adventure!

If you like your fantasy with fun, you will LOVE Michael’s writing, especially the Fantasy and Forensics series, of which Forgery of the Phoenix is the fifth! And don’t forget to check out all the other books in the series. They are best read in order 😉 Enjoy!!!

Click here for the Series on Goodreads!

Click here for Michael Angel’s Website!!!

I work with Michael on his books. All thoughts are my own.

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Skin Walkers: Taken by Susan Bliler

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”  ― Marilyn Monroe

“What about anal?” Sigh. From the minute Nyree was chosen to help civilize the Keepers, wilder pseudo-cousins of the Skin Walkers, things have been interesting in the Chinese “May you live in interesting times” sort of way. Assigned to teach them subjects ranging from the Skin Walkers, humans, food, and weapons so that they can begin fitting into their new lives at StoneCrow Manor, things haven’t gone all that well for Nyree. Of course, she has a difficult group to work with. Keepers are pretty much on a level with wild animals, especially when it comes to women and their “place” – i.e., in the Keepers bed, will she or nil she.

It wasn’t until the inquiries turned to the great mystery of American females that things flew out of control. There has to be one in every class – the guy who has to push all the buttons, as well as pushing the teacher to do something she really wouldn’t have done if she had taken a moment to think about it. Yep. That was embarrassing. To top it off? Her big mouth got her assigned a bodyguard. You guessed it. Rohmulus. The very asker of the infamous question.

That’s hard enough. What’s harder is the fact that Nyree and Rohmulus have been Taken by the Megalya during the attack on StoneCrow by human mercenaries. Caged in a hidden Megalya facility, Nyree is being tortured, while Rohmulus is being forced to fight a Skin Walker, also captured during the raid on StoneCrow.

Susan writes such realistic, strong women characters you can’t help but like. Tough, yet still feminine, Nyree has worked hard to gain her place as one of the only humans, and females, working as Skin Walker Sentries, and succeeding as the Keeper trainer should have raised her standing among the Sentries. But now? There is a very strong question of whether she, or Rhom, will survive their imprisonment. And if they do, what they will find when they return to StoneCrow. Will the home of the Skin Walkers be totally destroyed?

As always, the pace is fast, the action believable, and the story entrancing. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, what are you waiting for? Lovers of Urban Fantasy are sure to enjoy Taken. If you haven’t picked up the other books in the series, you should, starting with book 1, King. Enjoy!

I work with Susan on her books. All thoughts are my own.

HURRY! You, me, the end of the world, Miley Cyrus, cavemen, & startups

I KNEW there was a reason why “Paleo” diets were bad news!!! ROFL!

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Click to go to Smashwords to pick up a 50% off copy of “Round Trip Fare” for your own!

Barb Taub

What do Miley Cyrus, cavemen, and high-tech startups have in common with YOU and ME? And how can that get you a free book, designer bracelet, and the best writing on the web?

Well, I’M short on time today, so here’s a look back two years at a blog post and ten thousand years at the Paleo diet.

And YOU’RE running out of time too! (See message at bottom).


The top five reasons why the Paleo Diet will lead to the end of the world:

Several celebrities have been touting the benefits of the Caveman Paleo diet. The idea is that if we eat the way people did 10,000 years ago, we will all be much healthier. As scientist Christina Warriner explained in her TED Talk, they couldn’t be more wrong. But she missed a few points, so I’d like to point out the top five reasons why the Paleo Diet…

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Review: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba, #1)

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country

“A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.”― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Delacruz lives as an enigma. Well, half-lives. You see, when the New York Council of the Dead brought him back, they literally did a half-assed job. With only the faintest memory of having suffered horribly, the rest of his life before his half-resurrection is a blank. He thinks he is Puerto Rican (well, at least that is what they told him – and he has to admit, it does feel right) but other than that? His life began on the day he died.

Now Carlos works for the council, taking care of the unseen of New York, the maybe-sorta-might-be-dead and others collectively known as the inbetweeners, making them really dead with the sword concealed in his cane. Hey, it may not be much of a life, but it’s his. He gets his fun from pissing off the council members whenever possible, and he has a few close friends – even if most of them are ghosts. It is difficult, being so alone, so different. As far as he knows, he is one of a kind, the only inbetweener he knows of who exists in this half-resurrected state.

But that is about to change, because there really are more like him. And they are determined to take down the wall between life and death, to open the entrada to the Underworld.

I listened to Half-Resurrection Blues, which is narrated by the author, Daniel José Older. His delivery is, in a word, musical. The story caresses the ear in a flow of lightly Puerto Rican accented English with a Brooklyn tone that carries the soulful cadence of a Blind Willie Johnson tune. I would compare his writing to one of my absolute favorites, James Lee Burke (and if I did that, you know I enjoyed it), in setting a tempo that draws you into the life of not only a man lost in pain and loneliness, but also into the attitude and rhythms of the Brooklyn Barrio. The imagery is knife sharp, cutting away artifice and revealing the soul of the character, and of the world in which he lives.

Carlos is sarcastic, with a biting humor that often takes a moment to comprehend, something I totally enjoyed. He is the perfect noir hero, Malaguena cigar tucked firmly between his lips, sharply dressed, calm and collected. He strolls the barrio, sliding between the worlds of the living and the dead, always calm, cool and collected. The perfect Puerto Rican don, hat pulled low and shoes shined. The people he knows, and the people he meets, though some cannot really be called “people” any longer – they are ghosts, trapped in the world of the here-and-now – have their own quirks, worries, and existences, often beyond even Carlos’ comprehension.

Mr. Older’s story offers that edge of heartbreak and loneliness that gives his characters depth, while his own voice is the perfect vehicle for the narration. I loved it, and will be reading the others in the series.

Review: Dead Rising by Debra Dunbar

Dead Rising (The Templar, #1)“The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor. He’s dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he’s a hero the whole time.” — Frank Miller

“When in doubt, follow the truth. The path is often well-illuminated and it usually leads me in the right direction.” — David S. Brody, Cabal of The Westford Knight: Templars at the Newport Tower

“Let evil swiftly befall those who have wrongly condemned us – God will avenge us.” – Jacque (Jack) De Molay, last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar, Friday 13th, 1307

They started as protectors of Pilgrims on the Path. About 1119, Hugues de Payens, a French nobleman, began The Knights Templar, a group of knights charged with protecting the weak and innocent on their journey to visit the Holy Places.

But that changed.

From religious vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and piety, and under the orders of the Church, they became slaughterers of anyone who didn’t believe in Christianity. Thousands perished under their swords, men women and children. They became bankers to the world, an order without “clear purpose or support,” but with enormous financial resources and power.

Well, the church couldn’t have that. So, at dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307 their members were arrested, charged with heresy, blasphemy and various other crimes, tortured, and then executed.

Now, in Debra Dunbar’s marvelous imagination, the Templars still exist – but nothing as they were before. Focused on protecting their Temple filled with magical treasures and conducting research, they no longer Protect Pilgrims on the Path. Oh, they still train. With swords. Yeah, try riding a horse around town with a hand and a half bastard sword strapped to your back and see how far that gets you in this day and age. But mostly? They sit around the pool at their mansions, sipping martinis and playing golf. Well, all that treasure, invested properly, means that everyone inducted into the order pretty much lives a life of fairly obscene luxury. Well, except for Solaria Angelique (Aria) Ainsworth. Nope. Aria works in a coffee shop for minimum wage, lives in a hovel of an apartment, and lives on Ramen. At 26, she is far past the age she should have taken her oath to the order (no matter that her mother nags her constantly!). She knows the Templars should be more. They should still be protecting the Pilgrims, not counting their gold. The modern Templar belief is “only God should judge.” Of course, after their brutal and bloody history, it is easy to understand the reasoning – but to Aria it is a cop-out. There are still Pilgrims trying to find their way along the path, and they need protection.

Even if they are vampires.

When Leonora, the local vampire Mistress, asks for her help in identifying a mysterious sigil, she thinks it will be no problem. After all, she is a well-trained researcher with a massive collection of mystical texts. Oops. Finding the meaning is hard enough (after all, she only has seven days) but then? Things get sordid. Mass murders, the forty year old slaughter of a happy family, and secrets and lies force Aria to make a decision. Who is right, who is worthy of her protection – and who deserves to die.

I loved the idea behind the story. Aria? Nope – not so much. Almost not at all. The woman is 26, she has intense training, and not a lick of self-preservation or emotional common sense. Tell me this. If you know for an absolute fact that if you are to screw the vampire you will last maybe a few weeks, at most a couple of months, and then you will die . . . would you Really be considering actually doing it?!?! Yep. That pretty much ruined the book for me. Everyone who knows me know I love a strong female character. And in a lot of ways, she is strong. She is trying to do the right thing, for the right reasons, but her emotional “I am a pre-teen with a vampire crush” whining throughout the book really turned me off. I mean, seriously turned me off. I kept reading because the book overall was quite good, but I doubt I will read another.

Review: Bloodrunner Dragon (Harper’s Mountains Book 1) by

Bloodrunner Dragon (Harper's Mountains, #1)The last we knew of Harper, Weston, Ryder, Wyatt and Aaron, they were children, barely more than babies. Much beloved by all the Shifters of Damon’s Mountain, they were raised together with all the care and love any child could want.

Now, they are all in their mid to late twenties, all much different than we last knew them. Harper, the Bloodrunner Dragon daughter of Bruiser the Bear and Diem, daughter of Damon Daye, the Last Immortal Dragon, claimed Wyatt for her own as a child. Yet, when disaster happened, instead of hanging around and holding things together, Wyatt left. Left Harper alone to face life without him. Left her to face The Unrest – the time of sickness leading up to her death. But when Wyatt drunk texts Harper ten years later, she pulls together their old gang and flies to his rescue. But will it cost Harper, the last Bloodrunner Dragon, her life even sooner than the Unrest?

This is a whole new time, a time where all shifters have rights – but it also means that vampires have rights as well. Something that they believe gives them the right to take and drink from whomever they wish. It is a tough fight, but with their friends at their backs, will Harper and Wyatt be able to save Harper’s life, and start afresh on Harper’s Mountains? And what of their friends, the children of Damon’s Mountain?

It’s a pleasure, coming back to the Damon’s Mountain world, set in a new place and with the grown children. We only get a short phone conversation with Bash and Bruiser, but I look forward to seeing if the old gang comes to visit as the series goes forward.

Spoilery Stuff Ahead! Stop here if you haven’t read the book!

 

 

 

Someone griped about how angsty they all were, where I didn’t see that at all. Yes, they are pissed at Wyatt – they deserve to be. He left and took their love for him, and Harper’s, and left Harper dying without him. Yes, there is drama. It would be boring as hell without it. But these kids have every reason in the world to be pissed at Wyatt. That doesn’t make them “angsty” that makes them real. We aren’t really shown who they are at this time, what time has made them. We will, in the upcoming stories, and I look forward to that. As for your comment that “mates don’t have physical relationships with other people?” The whole “undying mate” thing is MUCH more unrealistic than the fact that these are written as real people with real issues and real heartbreak. Harper did her best to find another treasure in order to stay alive. Denigrating that with some silly notion demeans the reality (within a supernatural world) of Ms. Joyce writing real stories with real human emotions. And really – did you expect her to lay back on a fainting couch with the back of her hand across her forehead, weeping into a tissue as she dies a painful death instead of gutting up and getting out there and trying to find a way to stop her own death? Now that is patently ridiculous! Real women save their own lives in any way possible without lying around like some wimpy historical romance wimp! If you want that, well, don’t read books with strong, vital female characters!

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t really care for Wyatt’s character. I found him weak – not in her writing, but inside himself, and I give Ms. Joyce huge Kudos for writing ‘alpha’ characters who aren’t all brawny, brainy, perfect. Her Damon’s Mountain characters definitely weren’t perfect – and I greatly doubt the kids will be either. Heck – look who their parents are!

I wouldn’t choose him for myself. But Harper’s dragon did. She saw the good – even thought I pretty much wanted to throw him over a cliff! He was an idiot, but he is her idiot. But then, aren’t so many men out there real, actual idiots that women have to teach to pull up their lives by their bootstraps? Sometimes it requires a light touch. Sometimes they have to whack the bastards over the head with a 2×4 in order to get their attention. She simply had to pull out a semi trailer and bop this dumbass alpha over the head! 😉

 

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