Unclaimed Acre, Bryce Gibson

Unclaimed Acre, Bryce Gibson

Unclaimed Acre

Bryce Gibson’s Unclaimed Acre opens in the south of the United States, where Levi Stanley has just lost his job in Atlanta, and, strapped for cash, is reluctantly contemplating a trip back to small-town Devlin to sell his family home. Scourged by old memories, Levi hasn’t set foot in the town since his mother’s funeral two years ago, and the nightmares about his prospective trip have already set in. His history has a long reach as far as Levi is concerned, and the closer he gets to Devlin, the more the past drags him in, from the smell of squash rotting by the road to the old haunted church, until Levi begins to wonder if he isn’t in his own, real-life ghost story.

Unclaimed Acre offers a detailed, evocative view of life in the southern states, bringing the scents and sounds and mosquitoes to life in the pages. Devlin itself is a lovingly set scene in all its multiple moods and weathers, right down to the best squash casserole to buy at the annual festival. Bryce Gibson’s depth of knowledge of his subject matter shines through in the scene-setting. I did find that the story itself lagged somewhat on its way to a well-foreshadowed, but somewhat anticlimactic ending, as to some degree the level of detail, while setting the reader very well in the scene, detracted from the tension of the story. However, for anyone looking for a relaxing read in a southern setting, this would definitely be a worthwhile read.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Burned by Magic, Jasmine Walt

Burned by Magic, Jasmine Walt

Burned by Magic

Jasmine Walt’s Burned by Magic is set in the city of Solantha, inhabited by humans and shifters and governed by mages. Sunaya Baine, Enforcer and shape-shifter, is down on her luck, working behind the bar in a multi-species nightclub to make ends meet, when she gets an emergency call from her mentor that threatens to overturn her life completely. The case he’s been working on proves to have ramifications that run all the way from the offices of the Chief Mage to affect every shifter clan in the city. Solantha is teetering on the edge of going up in flames, and only Sunaya has all the pieces needed to avert disaster. Provided, of course, she can get out of prison long enough to put them together…

Burned by Magic is a most enjoyable start to a series, well-written and set in a captivating culture of magic, intrigue, and action. Jasmine Walt has created a diverse set of characters that will draw you into their stories, from Sunaya’s confrontations and deeply-buried secrets to her shy hedge-witch friend Comenius to the enigmatic Chief Mage. Their interactions and motivations are the framework that the story is built on, while the action is fast-paced and convincing, and the world-building is detailed and enticing. Definitely a worth-while addition to any fantasy-enthusiast’s reading list.

I was given this book by Rebecca Hamilton in exchange for an honest review.

Blood Ties, J D Cunegan

Blood Ties, J D Cunegan

Blood Ties

Cops, a heroine in black leather, and an evil billionaire – J D Cunegan’s Blood Ties has a lot going for it out of the gate. Jill Andersen, a veteran turned cop, is finally beginning to mend fences with her estranged brother when she gets called onto a murder case that sends shockwaves through the entire department with its similarity to the murders that their ex-hero detective, Paul Anderson, is facing the death penalty for. With less than a week until Paul is executed, the entire department is desperate to find proof that Paul’s conviction should be overturned, but time is not in their favour.

Blood Ties is a fast-paced mystery, contrasting Jill’s personal life, with her father facing execution, her relationship with her brother on thin ice, and her alter ego all conspiring to add complications to her professional life in the Baltimore PD. J D Cunegan’s characters are well-developed, the intricacies of Jill’s past being evoked by every aspect of the case despite all her efforts to keep her secrets. The storyline is equally well written, showcasing plot twists at every turn in the investigation and culminating in a nicely-done reveal in the last few pages. High-recommended for readers of mystery and urban fantasy alike, this tale of vigilantes, villains, and police has a little something for everyone.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Zarion, J E Grace

The Zarion, J E Grace

The Zarion: Saving Mankind

OK, so The Zarion: Saving Mankind includes some of the sci-fi must-haves: there are space ships, there are aliens, there are covert research labs.

However, despite having these good things, I found that the book itself was disappointing. From easily-avoided grammatical errors to somehow managing to switch from the first person, to the third person, to the omniscient point of view, sometimes in the same paragraph, the writing repeatedly got in the way of the story.

When it came to the plot itself, characters fell in love at first sight, apparently due to simply being of opposite sexes, acquiesced contentedly to doing highly sensitive work after having been kidnapped, and, worst of all from my point of view as a science-fiction reader, the author had clearly failed to do some basic research. Having to cross the Milky Way galaxy and risk encountering black holes to get from Earth to Mars to Ganymede destroyed the plausibility of the story-line for me, and the abrupt introduction of a religious episode from left field didn’t really sell me on the finale.

The Moreva of Astoreth, Roxanne Bland

The Moreva of Astoreth, Roxanne Bland

The Moreva of Astoreth

The Moreva of Astoreth, by Roxanne Bland, is an epic science-fiction / fantasy, where the Devi and morev classes form a religious elite governing the hakoi in the name of the Devi Astoreth, Goddess of Love. Segregated by species and class boundaries, Moreva Tehi, grand-daughter of Astoreth, disdains and fears the local hakoi, bred by the Devi as workers and little more. Exiled for her avoidance to the far northern hakoi village of Syren, Tehi comes into contact with an entirely different type of hakoi, and finds her long-held beliefs and opinions being challenged. How those challenges will change Tehi and the entire village of Syren, not even the Goddess of Love could have guessed.

Roxanne Bland’s writing showcases powerful characterisation, the personalities and conflicts of the characters drawing the reader into the story and driving the plot forwards. Tehi’s  vocation as a healer forms an interesting conflict with her belief that the hakoi are little better than animals, and that inner contradiction is delicately developed right through the story, both sides of her internal battle fueled by the events in which she’s involved. With a well-detailed world and a complex religious and political society, The Moreva of Astoreth is an epic that will leave you flipping through the end pages hoping for more.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.