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Review: One Way Fare (Null City Book 1) by Barb Taub – New Favorite!

One Way Fare (Null City, #1)“Suppose neutral angels were able to talk Yahweh and Lucifer – God and Satan, to use their popular titles – into settling out of court. What would be the terms of the compromise? Specifically, how would they divide the assets of their early kingdom?” – Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000)

I really only picked up the book as it was advertised on one of my “Free Today” book emails. You know the ones, and if you don’t, why not?  So anyway, there it was, and the cover caught my eye. It was the first in a series, free, written by an author I hadn’t heard of. Why not?

Now, here is the thing. One Way Fare had a fairly interesting blurb, though I was a bit leery of the whole “Angels and Demons” shtick. Honestly? The whole Hellhound/Poodle thing is what really caught my attention. And you know what? For all that the Angels/Demons/Time Travel thing is normally so not my thing, well, I was entranced. I mean, really, truly entranced. Taub’s writing is unique. She has shaken up a couple of genres, and written her characters, and her story, in ways that held me rapt from page one.

In the room made of light, they plan the end of Hell.

The thing is . . . I’m rooting for Hell in this one. No, really. I mean, Lucifer is The Morning Star – which the oldest Latin texts portray as either John the Baptist, or Jesus himself. After all, it isn’t until much later that texts were converted to the concept of The Morning Star as being “Satan,” an evil character. Let’s face it – the ideation of “God vs Lucifer” is based in the takeover of various Egyptian, Canaanite and Jewish tales of gods who fought fiercely amongst themselves for power. To the victor go the spoils – an the right to tell the tales in any way they see fit.

Taub’s Hell is a nightmare for anyone who considers intellectualism to be threatening (you know, Right Wing Republicans, that sort of thing). As Ray Williams, in Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America (Psychology Today, July 07, 2014), says,  “There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.”

Ha! Send me to Hell, because this place is Interesting!  And a whole “Hell” of a lot more inclusive than “Heaven” could ever hope to be. Or even “Haven,” the place where the Fallen Angels who want to recreate the “Heaven” they were thrown from, exist. So, a bunch of pissy Angels want to destroy Hell – and they don’t care that, “Not only will that strategy lead to massive death and destruction for humans, but it could mean war between Fallen and Angels.” Wow, total narcissism really can be deadly! (I still wish I could remember the book I read, I think it was in the late 70’s or early 80’s, where ‘god’ is so busy staring into a mirror admiring himself – well, keep telling a guy he is handsome, you just know that spells spoiled rotten, self-centered ego maniac, right? – he allows the universe to go down in flames around him.)

Then, of course, there is the time travel aspect of the book. Honestly, I am not usually a time travel book lover. They never seem to get the continuity right. But Taub proved me wrong. Her writing makes sense. “I have a theory about time. Things can’t happen if they didn’t.” And what is even more crushing? Things still happen if they did. Taub holds all of the timelines tightly in her grasp, flowing backwards and forwards, building a gossamer web of linkages that never left me thinking “Huh? What just happened?”

This series is now at the top of my “Must Read New (to me) Series.” I already downloaded the second, DON’T TOUCH, Null City Book 2. There are some issues that weren’t tied up all the way in book 1, and I look forward with great eagerness to see how they carry forward through the series. One Way Fare is edgy, imaginative, and deeply unusual compared to my usual experience with this type of book. Highly recommended!

And remember this – “Why do they blame me for all their little failings? They use my name as if I spent my entire days sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commits acts they would otherwise find repulsive. ‘The devil made me do it.’ I have never made one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them.”  ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

Hell’s Chapel – Lauren Creed (Celia Kyle) Kicks ASS!!

Hell's Chapel (Shapeshifter Urban Fantasy) (Caith Morningstar Book 1)

“Be careful what you wish for
Cuz you just might get it
You just might get it
You just might get it

Be careful what you wish for
‘Cause you just might get it
You just might get it
You just might get it”

Pussycat Dolls – “When I Grow Up”, Courtesy of MetroLyrics

 

Caith Morningstar was there when the first brick of the Mouse’s house was laid. Order. Secrecy. That is all she asked. Orlando is her city. Her place of peace, where demons (dems), angels (gels) and tweens (‘other’) come to rest, relax, and visit her bar, Hell’s Chapel. Well, when you are the niece of “The” Morningstar, have an unending life and a very, well, let’s say ‘eclectic’ family, you deserve a little peace.

But peace isn’t in the offing tonight. Not when a thelac demon and a punk troll have decided that busting up the bar is just the ticket. Then, when her brownies don’t show up for work that night, leaving her with a total wreck to clean up before opening time, well, Caith’s week isn’t getting any better. Order, People! Is that too much to ask?

And then, to top it off, her Uncle Luc (Lucifer, to those not related to him) shows up. Then, an angel with attitude. Oh, and let’s not forget Papa Alrick, Wolf Alpha of North America, and her other four Papas as well (yes, other four papas. Don’t ask.) Things get all growly and bitey and sword slashy before Caith gets to take a breath. To make it all even worse? Green. Eyed. Zombies. Then? Green Eyed Vampires. Can a girl not catch a freakin’ break?! It’s hard enough to convince the badass Angel of Destruction, Samkiel that he is your mate and really, really should put that whole “On High” thing in the rearview and get the whole boom chicka bow bow bitey bitey life mate thing on with her.

“Be careful what you wish for . . .”

There is blood, blood everywhere. Death and destruction, and pain pain pain. And for a girl whose mother is the sister of the King of Hell, staying true to her five father’s pure ideals of right and wrong is going to turn out to be a “Hell” of a lot harder than expected.

Celia Kyle is one of my all-time favorite authors of light-and-fluffy paranormal romance. She has bridged out here, under the name Lauren Creed (why bother, Celia? We are ALL going to love you to pieces, no matter what you write!) into Urban Fantasy. The thing is, even if you, Beloved Reader, are completely convinced you “only” like Paranormal Romance, you are still going to adore this new series. The romance is there (a bit too much concentration on it, admittedly, for my UF tastes, but it works with the story, so there ya’ go) but this is still UF at its ‘first time out the gate” finest. Caith is strong, fierce, and cunning, as you would expect Lucifer’s niece to be. But when your fathers are a holy warrior from the Crusades for strength and the ability to gut a man with a knife between heartbeats, Father Earth (Mom just can’t handle birthing All them babies!) for a connection to the Earth, her unicorn papa for purity, the Alpha of every werewolf in North America for healing power, and, well, the King of the Pixies for a sense of humor and the ability to vanish at a moment’s notice, Caith also has a heart of gold and a basically sweet nature – that she will cut your heart out for if you happen to mention it.

I am desperately glad that Ms. Celia writes fast!!!! I can hardly WAIT for the next book!!!

I received “Hell’s Chapel” from the author in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own, and my thought is, Grab This Book Immediately. Whee!!!

 https://youtu.be/hcFlokM2CgQ

Review: Demon’s Daughter by Amy Braun – A Must Read!

Demon's Daughter: A Cursed Book“I had seen horrible things in my life. Men spread-eagled on a table, slowly being skinned alive with rusted knives. Women bound to chairs, beaten with brass knuckles until their attackers chose to rape them. A knife sawing roughly through a screaming man’s neck until his head was severed from his body. A traitor whose knees were shot out, leaving him unable to run to his family when they were set on fire.” – Constance, Demon’s Daughter

These are the things that humans do. Even the demons, as debauched as they are – and Constance knows all about demons – aren’t this depraved. No, it takes humans to commit these atrocities. But Connie will protect her sister, Andromeda, no matter the cost. Even if the cost is working as an enforcer for the Espanis de Sangre – The Blood Thorns – the most brutal, vicious cartel to ever ooze out of Mexico. But now Connie and Dro are on the run, not only from The Blood Thorns, but from the demons who are Ddetermined to have Dro, no matter the price.

Constance was four, the daughter of destitute Mexican immigrants who fled across the border with a price on their heads – a price set by the Blood Thorns – when she found Andromeda as a tiny baby, abandoned by a stream. Connie gained a sister, and someone to care for. Pale, white-blond Dro, who grows more beautiful every day, is Connie’s life, and she will protect her no matter the cost. Even if it means their life is lived poor, starving and on the run, stealing and fighting for survival. Connie is a weapon. Hard, harsh, untrusting, and absolutely brutal in the protection of her sister. The demons are coming from every direction, and there is no one to turn to. Until they meet Mannie and Max, and a picture begins to appear. Will the dusty town of Amarillo, Texas be their final stand?

The atrocities, savagery and utter evil of humankind, the brutality of demons, the utter soulless disregard for anyone but themselves of the angels – sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, mid-Victorian era Fops, refusing to get their lily-white fingers dirty – unless someone can be twisted to their advantage.

“The archangels would be saving your world. Collateral damage is irrelevant.”

God is love”. Yea, right. In what universe? Certainly not this one.

“Why do demons want to kill her and angels want to protect her? It can’t simply be because of what she is. The angels never cared enough to stop any demons from chasing us.”

But they are more than willing to slaughter innocents if it means they get what they want. Amy Braun doesn’t wield a pen, so much as a microscopic laser scalpel, slicing away the shroud of what humanity would like to be seen as, to reveal the rotting essence of blackness, the vile intent inherent in every entity from the church’s beliefs in what constitutes ‘goodness’, who would damn a child to the pits of hell for doing everything she could to save the life of an innocent, to the actions of humans who would put the most vile of christian ‘demons’ to shame.

http://www.jmdarhower.com/extinguish.htm
Art courtesy of J.M. Darhour, from her book “Extinguish“. All rights reserved. Click the art to go to her site.

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” – Blaise Pascal

I first ‘met’ Amy when I was asked to read Path of the Horseman and absolutely fell in LOVE with her writing.

“Amazing inventions, colossal failures, and countless wars. We watched it behind the scenes. Watched the monkeys from beyond the glass. We were intrigued, Hell was amused, and Heaven was losing patience.
Finally, the monkeys threw too much shit on the windows. They sparked a third World War, one that the Big Boss upstairs knew would obliterate the world.
So he sent us instead. We were much more effective. We were much more eager.” –
Avery, The Rider Pestilence

Only the Second Coming never came, and the Four Horsemen were stuck there with a few demons, the Plagued, the Soulless, and devastation all around. A wonderful analogy for so many things wrong with this world, and religion in particular. Amy has done it again with Demon’s Daughter. She rips the shields off of faith, humanity, and reality and shows the pus and rot within. It. Was. AWESOME. For until we lance he boils, the wounds can’t heal. And walking blindly will never allow any of us to see the light of the real truth – the truth that says, until we grow beyond our greed, hatred, and superstitions we have no hope of avoiding total destruction of not only humanity, but the Earth and all her beauty.

“The difference between a saint and a hypocrite is that one lies for his religion, the other by it.” –   Minna Antrim

Amy Braun doesn’t write for the foppish, the blindly religious, or the weak of heart. She rips apart sanctimony and blind faith, setting sunlight to darkness. She is one brave author, who can go toe-to-toe with the greats of both modern and ancient literature. She shines the light of truth, and blast the consequences – and I love her for it.

I received Amy Braun’s Demon’s Daughter in exchange for a realistic review.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HER WORK. I can’t speak highly enough of her writing, and I can’t WAIT for the next.

Amy BraunAbout the Author:

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, is an active member of the Writing GIAM community, participates in NaNoWriMo, and is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery.” When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.

Coming Soon:

Short story SURVIVALISM to be featured in THE DEAD WALK VOLUME 2 from FoF Publishing.

Short story DISMANTLE to be published in THE STEAM CHRONICLES from Zimbell House Publishing.

Short story HELL TO PAY to be published in LEGENDS OF SLEEPY HOLLOW from Myth Ink Books.

The Returns Are HAPPY!!!!

 

 

thereturns
The Returns!
The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers
The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers

Review: The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers

showstoppers
Click to purchase the book in Paper or Kindle!
You KNOW you want to! You NEED this book!

 The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers has been published, and it is just as good as the first book! Hey, maybe even better, but then, since they are both so good anyway, does it matter?

 In The Returns, we met four people who made it to the Pearly Gates a little early, for one reason or the other. Maybe someone wasn’t paying attention?. Oops. A little trip to the “Early Returns” department and they are now back on Earth in new bodies. Four very furry, very four-footed bodies! Bentley, the basset hound who used to be an FBI agent, Pierre, now a West Highland White Terrier, a fashion designer and MIT graduate at age 16, Tucker, now a Golden but previously a Navy Seal, and finally Bones, former World Featherweight Boxing Champion and now a rough, tough Chihuahua and master mechanic. The Returns are guarded and guided by Faith Fullilove, their first-year Guardian Angel and her own Mentor Angel, Miss Gitty the gray tabby cat.

All four, with the addition of Bentley’s ex-partner in the FBI, Aiden, were involved in the takedown of a horrible bad-guy who was directly involved in the deaths of at least three of The Returns. Now, with Showstoppers, the team is back in action, using their skills and capabilities to track down and stop the theft of show dogs.

 From their home in New Orleans to Madison Square Garden, the team goes on a fun and brilliantly designed romp through the world of high-stakes dog shows. Again filled with fun, humour, excitement, and a brilliant insight into the minds and personality of dogs, this is definitely NOT a book to miss!

 Once again, the dog characterizations were spot-on. I could hear and see these guys in my head the whole time I was reading. And let me say again – if you love humor in your reading, this is perfect! Ah, the pictures in my head! If you are a dog lover, this is absolutely a book you should read. The characters of the dogs are perfect for their breeds, as well as for the personalities of the people they used to be. Well, I suppose they still are those people in their hearts and souls!

 Filled with humor, thoughtfulness, and love, this is a perfect book – as M. K. says, “for anyone from 12 to 112!”

______________________________________

Note:  I am the editor for both The Returns and The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers. However, I wouldn’t have taken the editing if I didn’t truly believe in the books, and these are definitely two of my favorites of all the books that I have edited!

Of Wings and Wolves (Wings and Wolves #1) by S.M. Reine

of wings and wolves
Click photo to order the book

“Some have said that angels possess the innocence and heartlessness of childhood for eternity.”

This quote from Sara Reine’s Of Wings and Wolves touched, exactly, on why I have never really gotten into the ‘Angel’ urban fantasy novels that are nearly as popular as vampire novels. Angels, by their very being, have never struck me as capable of being anything other than heartless. The preternatural creations of an omnipotent, uncaring god, all powerful, and yet removed from any sense of mortality or human “morality”.

I remember, from long ago, reading something to the effect that (and I won’t get this perfectly – it is an old memory) “God no longer listens – “he” is too narcissistic, too enamored with his own reflection in the mirror, lost in the worship of his followers”. (And if anyone can help me with where that quote comes from, I would be forever grateful. It has driven me mad for years.)

As a result of these feelings, I was somewhat hesitant to accept Ms. Reine’s request that I read her book and contribute a review. However, I decided that, no matter my problems with the concept of Angelic interaction, I would give it a shot. And I am not in any way unhappy that I did. I am always glad to be proven wrong in my prejudices, and Sara does a fairly good job of it.

This is an unusual novel. From the beginning, she pulls away your suppositions, leading you in directions both unexpected and curious. The main character and her twin are apparently normal young people, living in a ‘fairy tale’ cottage in the woods with their grandmother. But all is not what it seems. For one, Summer is, apparently, the sole were in the world. A world that becomes more strange and complex as times goes along. Enter a dark and mysterious stranger (yes, with buckets of money and looks to die for – well, would we love a urban fantasy male lead who wasn’t the uber total of all our own most hidden and closely held fantasies? I certainly wouldn’t be all that interested in a 5’6” pudgy, zitty geek with halitosis. I can get over it.)

With the entry of the stranger Nashriel, Summer’s life begins to change and flow, turning into something she no longer comprehends. A world of bitter pain. The story moves smoothly, well written, with a tight storyline that, in urban fantasy terms, doesn’t stretch the imagination. Rather, it flows into an area that is not often explored in UF in a way that is highly believable in many ways. The story is a good set-up for further novels, not overreaching in it’s tone or leaving you with a cliff hanger that is ultimately dissatisfying.

As with many of the novels of the genre, the romance of the story is extremely rushed – but that is to be expected in many ways. With romances and UF, the main characters seem to have that whole ‘love at first sight’ thing going on, which I always have difficulty with. I much prefer the romantic elements of authors such as Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock. The personal relationships take time to grow and develop, something that is missing in this book.

In my opinion, the love at first sight thing was uncomfortable for me on several different level. That whole “innocence and heartlessness” thing, in my mind, precludes this type of ‘immediate love connection’. In the words of another author, whom I immediately identified with, which referred to the thought processes of an Aspergers Syndrome victim (Carolyn McCray/Ben Hopkin “9th Circle’) “She found a baby bird that fell out of the nest. You helped her put it back, while I kept walking.” In a way, Nashriel is very much an angel in this – the pain of others is not, when you are viewing those around you on the scale of an entity who has existed since the beginning of time, worth notice. And the situation of an entity such as Nashriel, especially in the situation he finds himself, makes me question, deeply, the underlying meaning of the connection. Meh. That’s just me.

All in all, Summer is a strong new female lead, and takes the various body blows she is given, one after the other, picking herself up, dusting herself off, and going forward. She doesn’t let herself fall into the whole “I’m a Victorian heroine who needs a big, strong man to rescue me, even though I have teeth and claws and can whip you deadly” sort of female lead that certain other, who shall not be named, authors fall into. One thing that I look forward to in the next books is watching Summer grow and develop into her strengths, learning about who she is and what she can do to succeed in her new life.

This novel pinged on some of my aggravations, but all in all, the story begins well, takes a new twist on its UF legacy, and has overall promise. Something happens at the end that I hope doesn’t drag down into ‘typicality’ of the genre, but I am more than happy to preorder the next installment – and go searching for Sara’s other works to learn more about her writing. All in all, I am quite pleased that Sara asked for my opinion, and hope to follow through with other reviews on my on dime.

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