Category Archives: Book Review

Review: Nyssa Glass and the Cutpurse Kid

Nyssa Glass and the Cutpurse Kid

by H.L. Burke

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Settled into their new life, Nyssa and Ellis have opened their own repair shop. They need this business to be successful as Ellis’s money is dwindling fast. But when they catch a pickpocket trying to steal Ellis’s possessions, Nyssa sees herself in the young boy, something Ellis recognizes. The couple adopts the boy, to give him a new life like Nyssa had from her dead mentor.

But the cutpurse entering their life couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Nyssa’s past has caught up. Her uncle, the man who turned her into a thief, appears. Not dead, like his criminal partners had claimed when they tried to use Nyssa, but in prison for the last decade. Thinking Nyssa must have quite the stash, he wants his cut.

And he’ll do anything to get it.

The theme of identity comes up over and over in these books, from the computer AI in the first novella, to the true identity of the young couple in the last book. Now Nyssa’s true identity as a thief is released to her new community by the man who made her into one. It’s a tense story as you watch all Nyssa and Ellis’s hard work to start over ruined by a greedy man who doesn’t understand the true meaning of family.

Like the other Nyssa Glass novellas, this one has heart that keeps you reading. Burke has really found magic with the characters of Nyssa and Ellis, and you want them to succeed against the obstacles laid out before them. Another excellent novella.

Fans of fantasy and steampunk need to check out this delightful young adult novella.

You can buy Nyssa Glass and the Cutpurse Kid from Amazon!

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Review: Nyssa Glass and the Juliet Dilemma

Nyssa Glass and the Juliet Dilemma

by H.L. Burke

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Nyssa Glass and Ellis Dallhart are trying to both leave their pasts behind and escape from their country. Nyssa, still wanted for murder, and Ellis stunned by his father’s work, just want a fresh start. The young couple have their opportunity, their new documents, and their tickets on an airship that will take them away from it all.

Only for another young couple to rob them and take their new identities.

Nyssa and Ellis will have to find a new way to escape the country as they become embroiled in a young couple fleeing the girl’s tyrannical uncle. Will this young Romeo and Juliet prove reliable allies, or will their own misdeeds cost Nyssa and Ellis everything?

What a great follow-up to Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors. Nyssa and Ellis make a cute couple, still in this awkward stage of their relationship, not sure what they really are to each other. More than friends, but not quite lovers. But they are in it together, dealing with the complication the young couple eloping have caused them. Ellis being in a wheelchair adds another dimension that allows Burke to come up with creative solutions to their problems. The pair compliment each other well. They’re both intelligent, but Ellis’s caution and Nyssa’s daring work well to balance each other and lead them to their success.

Another great young adult novella from Burke. Fans of fantasy and steampunk need to check out this delightful series!

You can buy Nyssa Glass and the Juliet Dilemma from Amazon!

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Review: Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors

Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors

by H.L. Burke

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Nyssa Glass is a young woman with a troubled past. Raised as a thief and a pickpocket by an abusive uncle, she found freedom when he died. With the sponsorship of Mr. Calloway, she received an education in engineering and a job in his repair shop. She just wants a peaceful life.

But everything changes when her past catches up to her. Someone needs her skills for a dangerous job. When she revuses, she finds herself on the run, framed for Mr. Calloway’s murder, and having no choice but to complete the job to salvage her own reputation.

She’ll have to enter the mansion of Mr. Dalhart, famed inventor of many of the steampunk technology of her world. No one has seen Mr. Dalhart, his crippled son Ellis, or the staff in three years. Everyone sent is has died.

Nysaa Glass will have to use all her skills to survive.

What a wonderful, young adult novella. Burke has created a very realistic steampunk world, blending Victorian England with devices that are almost like modern technology but are so different. Full of heart and warmth, as well as danger. Tackling such topics as identity and what it means to be human, Burke weaves a fast-paced tale that keeps your reading and rooting for her young heroine to uncover the truth of The House of Mirrors.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, young adult literature not steeped in vapid romance, or steampunk adventures, this is a story for you! Great for youths and adults.

You can buy Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors from Amazon!

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Review: Thief of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves 2)

Thief of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves 2)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Night Guild controls all crime in the city of Praamis. This brutal organization trains its members from childhood, pushing them through a gauntlet of pain and torment to harden them and make them hungry to steal, to kill, or do what else the Guild requires.

Ilanna survived their training. Now five years older from the events of Child of the Night Guild, Ilanna puts all her skills towards one task: protecting her young son. A son the Night Guild doesn’t know about. And she plans on keeping it that way. There’s only one way to do it. She’ll have to buy her way out of the Night Guild.

But the Night Guild doesn’t easily let go of useful tools. She will need to pull of a burglary of such prestige, of such wealth, to win her freedom. And Ilanna is nothing if not daring. She has a plan to not only destroy the most dangerous threat to the Night Guild in Praamis but to earn millions.

And it will require doing the impossible.

Peloquin shifts gears with this book. While the last one was more biopic, following GiRL from the age of seven until her early twenties as she has her ups and downs dealing with her rival, the brutal Sabot, this book is a heist thriller through and through. And with all the grimdark fantasy elements Peloquin is so skilled at balancing.

Thief of the Night Guild is a riveting read, keeping you following the intricacies of Ilanna plan as she has to overcome new obstacles, deal with dubious allies, and race against the clock to get everything ready for her window. Because if she doesn’t, more than she will pay the price.

Peloquin is swiftly joining my ranks of must-read fantasy authors.

I was given an ARC, but I liked it so much I bought the story.

You can buy Thief of the Night Guild form Amazon!

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Review: Gates of Fire and Earth (Game of Fire 2)

Gates of Fire and Earth (Game of Fire 2)

by Autumn Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bek’sah of the Ashanti cares nothing for the other peoples of Myrrah, willing to sacrifice all for his ambition to free his people from the goddesses curse and reclaim the power long denied him. But to do that, he needs to cross over into the Spirit World.

Lavinia, Darag, Niri, Ria, and their friends will do anything to stop that. The Gate of Water is closed, but three more are still open. The cost to sealing the Fire and Earth gates will be high, but it is better than the Ashanti wiping out all life.

War has once again come to the world, and the elementals will have to unite like they never have to face the dark threat of the Ashanti. Friends are divide and enemies now have to unite as the world is thrown into chaos.

Autumn Brit throws us right back into the action with Gates of Earth and Fire. After the buildup of book one to the explosive new war that descends on the peoples of Myrrah, Book 2 is action-packed. The Ashanti have never been more powerful. The series only gets better as she peels back more layers of her worldbuilding and advances the plot in new and exciting directions.

Brit builds on her past four books in this world to catapult the pace of this book forward. The characters have to race against time to deal with the mad Bek’seh. The series continues to be an excellent Indie fantasy read full of vibrant action and delightful characters as they struggle with new and dire threats.

I can’t wait to see how Brit will resolves this in the final book! But I am eagerly awaiting it!

You can buy Gates of Fire and Earth from Amazon!

I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review, though I had planned on buying it before the author sent it to me and have preordered it.

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Review: Happy Hour in Hell

Happy Hour in Hell (Bobby Dollar Book 2)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After the events of the first novel, his life has been shaken up. He found love in the arms of the demon Casmira, Countess of the Cold Hands.

But she’s gone, taken back into hell by the Eligor, one of the Dukes of Hell out of jealous possession. Unable to let her go, Bobby embarks on a dangerous journey into hell itself. He will do anything to save Caz, even lose himself to an eternity of torment.

And even if he survives the trip through the layers of hell and finds her, he will have to contend with one of its most powerful ruler.

Williams paints a very bleak and disturbing hell. Like Dante before him, he takes you into the darkest pits. But Bobby, unlike Dante, doesn’t just witness the suffering and torment. He lives it. He has to experience the horrors day after day as he treks across its layers and meets its inhabitants. Williams shows the lives of those damned to suffering, how they survive, how they are tormented, how their dystopic societies work. Everything wears down the spirit and you suffer it with Bobby.

It is powerful writing and a great follow-up to the Noir detective novel of the first book. Williams takes his world into the fantasy quest with seamless effort. The journey through hell is one of the most macabre that I have written, with imagery that will haunt you. It is clear the author put a lot of effort into his imaging of how Hell would function, from its different classes of people, each with their own motivations and dreams, to the vagarious ways they are tormented.

Happy Hour in Hell is a dark, disturbing, and powerful read. Fans of Urban Fantasy need to check out his series and understand why Tad Williams is a huge name in the world of fantasy literature.

You can buy Happy Hour in Hell from Amazon!

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Review: The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar Book 1)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After so many years living on Earth, he’s grown bitter, disillusioned, going through the motions in the never ending contest between Heaven and Hell.

When a soul comes up missing on his watch, everything changes. Never has a soul been lost, and Bobby Dollar has to figure out what’s going on before he takes the fall. Has Hell stolen the soul out from under heaven’s nose or is something even worse going on? And worse off, the new guy is asking questions. With the help of Sam, Bobby’s best friend and fellow angel, and a cast of colorful characters, Bobby will have to ask the right questions to figure out what is going on.

Bobby Dollar will have to dodge ancient demons, sultry femme fatales, and angry Lords of Hell to uncover the secret that may shake the foundation of Heaven and Hell.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a classic Noir detective story. You have our bitter, borderline alcoholic protagonist in Bobby, people who should be on his side but he can’t quite trust, bad buys who may or may not be out to kill him, women who can’t be trusted, a macguffin to recover, and a conspiracy to unravel. And all set in the sunny streets of San Jude in the bay area. A modern take on the noir story complete with a fantasy patina.

Williams has created a rich mythology for his war between Heaven and Hell. It is clearly thought out with plenty of new revelations to come on how it all works and the secret war being waged beneath the noses of regular mortals. The same care he puts into his other works is on display here. Form the noir to the urban fantasy elements, Williams balance them all perfectly to make an exciting tale keeping the pages turning and you wanting to find out what’s next.

If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, Noir, and good writing, then you need to check out this series!

You can buy The Dirty Streets of Heaven from Amazon.

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Review: Gateway to the Past (The Last Bucerlari 3)

Gateway to the Past (The Last Bucerlari 3)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Hunter’s quest for the truth of his forgotten past leads him to the desert of Adavast. To find the answers and reach the twelve kingdoms on the other side, he’ll have to cross the parched wasteland. Now accompanied by the innocent Halien, a young boy whose presence helps to banish the murderous demon living inside him.

For the Hunter is Bucelari, half-human/half-demon. Possessed of a deadly dagger called Soulhunter and driven to kill by the demonic voice inside him. But every time he slays with the dagger, though it strengthens and heals his body, he brings the dark god Kharna one step closer to reviving and destroying the world.

But to find the answers of his past and protect Halien’s life, the Hunter will be forced to use the dagger to satiate his driving need and protect the innocent child.

The Hunter’s war with his nature only intensifies in the third book in the series. He tries so hard not to kill, not to feed his addiction. He knows the cost, he doesn’t want to see the world end, and yet time and time again circumstance and the whispering voice drives him to use what will one day doom the world.

Unless he finds the answers in his past.

Peloquin peels back more of the Hunter’s past as well as the activities of the Demons. The world grows larger, and the Hunter’s goals ever sharper in stopping their plans and finding out just who he truly is. Even if that person is someone he may not like.

The setting maintains the Grimdark ascetic with Halien providing a glimmer of hope in the dark tale about addiction and redemption. The Hunter struggles hard to fight his need, and Pelonquin does phenomenal job translating that battle to the page along with keeping the story moving at a high-neck speed that keeps the pages turning.

If you’re a fan of Grimdark Fantasy, Pelonquin is an author you have to read, and the Last of the Bucerlari is a phenomenal entry. I can’t wait for book four!

I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

You can buy Gateway to the Past from Amazon. Check out Andy Peloquin’s website, connect on Linked In, follow him on Google Plus, like him on Twitter @AndyPeloquin, and like him on Facebook.

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Review: Son of a Kitchen Witch

Son of a Kitchen Witch

by Tim Hemlin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Hawthorne is the son of a witch. His mother, a chef who owns a restaurant, has a secret she hides from her Texan neighbors. She can whip up more than one kind of magic in the kitchen. But Bobby, he’s normal. Just another teenage boy, going to high school, crushing on the new girl Angelina, joining his own garage band.

Normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. His life no different than any other teenage boy even with a witch for a mother.

But all that changes when Skip Macintosh walks into his life. He’s the new business partner for his widowed mother’s restaurant and Bobby’s not happy. He’s sure Skip’s up to no good. With Angelina’s help, he’ll delve into the truth and discover just what happened to his father.

Oh, and stumble across a centuries old war between the fundamentalist Blackthornes and the witches they want to exterminate. Bobby and Angelina will have to learn fast about the hidden world of magic around them if they want any chance of surviving the darkness rising about them.

Son of a Kitchen Witch is a phenomenal YA story. Hemlin has crafted a rich world of colorful witches living beneath the noses of normal people. Magic and wonder lurks around every corner. The characters are fun and populated by personalties that will keep you reading. Bobby is a solid character and has great chemistry with Angelina. The pair work well together.

It was refreshing having the main character just no about his mother’s secret powers. It’s all so upfront in the beginning. I’m Bobby, my mom’s a chef, and she’s a witch sort of thing. To him, it’s nothing special.

This is a great, fun read that puts a very American spin on the story of witches living among us in the real world, blending Texan culture and Native American mythology together into something unique and enjoyable. If you’re a fan of fast-paced, YA stories, then you need to give Son of a Kitchen Witch a read!

Son of a Kitchen Witch is available from Amazon!

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Review: Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves 1)

Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves 1)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Viola, age eight, is sold to the Night Guild by her alcoholic father. In the city of Praamis, the Night Guild controls all the crime. They are brutal and organized. And they need new recruits to keep the coins flowing. Viola is thrust into a training regimen under the command of Master Crimson. She’s abused, deprived of food and sleep, broken down, all to ready her to be an apprentice of the Night Guild.

But before she can even start her apprenticeship, she has to survive her initiation. She’s the smallest child present, the only girl, and she will have to work hard or face the fate of those who fail. Scared and brainwashed, her name taken away and replaced by a number—Seven—she will have to use all her wits and strengths go survive.

Especially when the big, bully One wants to see her fail. Can she survive life in the Night Guild, or will she discover what happens to those that fail? Nothing is given in the Night Guild. Everything has to be earned.

Child of the Night Guild puts the grim in Grimdark. This story rides wild highs and dark lows. As Viola/Seven is broken down and rebuilt into a thief, into an assassin, into a member of the Night Guild. Set in the same fantasy world as Peloquin’s Last of the Bucallarii series, Child of the Night Guild delves into such a personal, intimate story of a vulnerable girl hardened into a weapon.

This story is not for the faint at heart. But if you love great writing, engaging fantasy, compelling characters, and harsh struggle, then you will find yourself rooting for this small girl, celebrating at her successes, grieving at her loses, and fearing at her failures. Does she have what it takes to survive.

And does she even want to? Will the Night Guild destroy her? Will the frail girl who liked to sew with her mother be forever lost?

Peloquin’s writing only gets better. If you haven’t read his works, check them out.

I was given an ARC, but I liked it so much I bought the story.

You can buy Child of the Night Guild form Amazon!

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