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AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Friday, October 21, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for Cat Adams's BLOOD SINGER SERIES by adding a review of All Your Wishes, the seventh novel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Series:  ANGEL CATBIRD TRILOGY (graphic novel series)
Author:  Margaret Atwood
Illustrator: Johnnie Christmas
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Plot Type: Superhero Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence3; Sensuality2; Humor—2-3 
Audience: All ages, from pre-teens to adults
Publisher and Titles:  Dark Horse Comics
          Volume 1 (9/2016)
          Volume 2: To Castle Catula (2/2017)
          Volume 3 (Fall 2017)

                         Angel Catbird, Volume 1                         
     Lauded novelist Margaret Atwood and acclaimed artist Johnnie Christmas collaborate on one of the most highly anticipated comic book and literary events of the year! 

     On a dark night, young genetic engineer Strig Feleedus is accidentally mutated by his own experiment and merges with the DNA of a cat and an owl. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired superhero adventurewith a lot of cat puns. 

     Published in over thirty-five countries, Margaret Atwood is one of the most important living writers of our day and is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her work has won the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, Premio Mondello, and more. Angel Catbird is her first graphic novel series. 


    Atwood plays with the superhero graphic novel genre in this darkly humorous story of Strig Feleedus, a nerdy young man who has the inevitable accident with DNA-altering chemicals and attains the ability to change into a three-way hybrid: human, cat, and owl. This odd combination leads to a number of humorous dilemmas. For example, what should he do when he finds a baby bird that has fallen from its nest? "Do I rescue it or eat it?" The panels at left show Strig in the moments after his transformation into Catbird. Click HERE and scroll way down to view the four-page sequence in which our hero makes his initial traumatic changeover from man to hybrid. (Click on the plus sign in the upper right corner to get a larger image.)

     Contrary to the usual social isolation of traditional superheroes, Strig finds himself in a dark, dangerous, and exciting subculture filled with hybrids, mostly half-cats, but also a half-bat named Count Catula and a half-raven named Ray. Ray forms the third side of a love triangle that develops between Strig and sexy half-cat Cate Leon. One of the funniest lines comes when Strig is daydreaming about a possible future with Cate: "I'd love it if you had my kittens...or laid my egg...whatever." 

The series villain is Dr. A. Muroid (at right), the half-rat CEO of the mysterious company at which Strig, Ray, and Cate work. The narcissistic, sociopathic Muroid has the usual overwhelming need for world domination, and he plans to kill all of the other half-animals, particularly the cats, on his way to becoming King Rat of the world. Muroid is the typical one-dimensional bad guy. He even attempts to do the standard Bwa-hah-hah cackle, but through his rat mouth, it comes out "Bwee-hee-heesqueeeee!"

   One of the ironies of this story is that it veers away from Atwood's usual focal point: gender roles. In this world, the hybrids are focused solely on their animal identities, completely ignoring gender differences. In fact, they are so obsessed with their singular animals that when Cate's half-cat friends see Strig change for the first time, they don't know how to deal with his multiple identities. ("No way!" "We can't let him in here" "He's a freak.") That's when Cate tells the others, "Face it, half-cats—we're all freaks!" and names him Angel Catbird because she's crazy about his gorgeous wings.

     The book overflows with cat puns. For example, Strig's pet cat is Ding, after the famous 
Schrödinger's Cat paradox. The names of all of the half-cats at their nightclub/headquarters, Catastrophe, are also cat-related (e.g., Cataclysm, Alleycat, Caterwaul). Of course, Muroid uses rat puns for the names of his followers (e.g., Ratilda, Ratify).

     One of the weaknesses of the book is that there isn't much action. Although Muroid and his ratty minions are always plotting in the background, much of the story is expositional, detailing Strig's transformation process, explaining Muroid's evil plans, and setting up the love story. It's a short book (only 82 pages), so there's not much room for anything but the set-up for volume 2, which will take us to Count Catula's castle.

     The artwork, for the most part, is pretty standard, with the exception of the terrific illustrations of Angel Catbird and Cate Leone. Although I'd have preferred a higher degree of cat/owl definition in Angel's face, Christmas does a good job combining Angel's cat and owl features with his human form. The silvery, dark-tipped wings are great, and the feathered lower legs and clawed cat/owl feet are wonderful. Cate is the usual sexy graphic novel heroine, but her best feature is her hair, which Christmas has somehow given a feeling of movement, particularly in the nightclub scene in which she swings and sways as she croons a jazzy tune.

     Atwood is writing the series in conjunction with Nature Canada, which supplied the statistics and general information for the handful of informative footnotes scattered throughout the story. Those footnotes emphasize the purpose of Nature Canada's #SafeCatSafeBird outreach campaign, which urges cat owners not to let their cats range freely. Don't worry, they're not heavy-handed in their approach, so the footnotes are informative and interesting without being preachy. Each footnote directly relates to an incident in the story. For example, when Strig—now a brand new half-cat—attempts to drink his usual morning coffee, he spits it out. exclaiming, "Poison!" The footnote on that page lists common human foods that are toxic to cats (chocolate, coffee, onion, garlic, and tomato) as well as toxic plants and common household products that are cat killers. Good to know.

     For more information about ANGEL CATBIRD and its four creators, click HERE to go to the Darkhorse web page for this series. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Angel Catbird on its page by clicking on the cover art. Click HERE to scroll down and watch a video featuring Atwood and Christmas as they discuss the story line and the creative process. The video includes panels from the book.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Angel Catbird is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New Spin-Off Series from Rebecca Zanetti: BLOOD BROTHERS

Author: Rebecca Zanetti 
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4+; Humor—2   
Publisher and Titles:  Grand Central
          Deadly Silence (10/2016)
          Lethal Lies (4/2017)


Publisher's blurb for the series: From Grand Central comes a series about a band of brothers who carry unnatural powers genetically engineered into them by a black ops military unit. The first four books are mass market print (and ebook/audible)  and titled the SIN BROTHERS series, and the final three books are in trade paperback (and ebook/audible) and titled the BLOOD BROTHERS series. 

     On her blog, Zanetti states, "The BLOOD BROTHERS series can be read as a stand-alone series, yet these books do continue the Dean saga" (aka the SIN BROTHERS series). 

Here are the titles of the SIN BROTHERS novels with links to their pages:

     Forgotten Sins (2013)
     Sweet Revenge (2013)
     Blind Faith (2014)
     Total Surrender (2015)

     I must confess that I have not read the four SIN BROTHERS novels, so I am going to write this explanation of the BLOOD BROTHERS world for other readers who are entering this world for the first time.

     The lead characters are three ruggedly handsome men with high IQs and super powers in strength and hearing. They can also discern when a person is lying. Although they are not biological brothers, they have sworn brotherhood through a blood oath and have taken the last name of Jones.

Ryker: He is the lead character in book one, along with his soul mate, Zara. Ryker is a master of disguise as well as having the highest functioning hearing skills among the three brothers—he can even hear heartbeats within a building while standing outside, many yards away. He speeds around town on either his Harley Fat Boy or in his Hummer. On his right shoulder is a large tattoo of a phoenix rising, with the letters BB in the center (for Blood Brothers).
Heath: He has the softest heart of the three brothers. He handles the crime scenes, but sometimes gets too emotionally close to the cases. Heath has his law degree, so he's the one who keeps them out of jail (most of the time). His choice of transportation is a black 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda. At one point in book one, Ryker mentions to Zara that, "I'm pretty sure Heath and a cop named Bernadette got together" so Bernadette may or may not be his soul mate.
Denver: His first name comes from the city in which he was abandoned as an infant. Denver is a monosyllabic hotshot computer hacker, and he is in charge of all technical security issues. He was the last boy to cut his palm and pledge blood brotherhood, and he has never been very communicative. In book one, we learn that Denver recently left behind his probable soul mate (named Noni) when the trio had to leave Alaska in a hurry, so he's in a pretty bad mood throughout that book.
     The three were raised together under horrific conditions in an orphanage run by a sadistic headmaster who—with the help of his brother, the local sheriff—abused the boys horribly. Eventually, they were able to escape (and that part of their story is told late in the first novel). Now, they are all adults, and they run a private investigation firm called Blood Brothers (although in book one, their window sign says Lost Bastards Investigative Services: We find the lost). Their specialty is finding hard-to-find missing persons, and they frequently work with the FBI and local police departments. They are constantly looking over their shoulders because Sheriff Cobb is still on their trail.

                         NOVEL 1:  Deadly Silence                          
     Under siege. That’s how Ryker Jones feels. The Lost Bastards Investigative Agency he opened up with his blood brothers has lost a client in a brutal way. The past he can’t outrun is resurfacing, threatening to drag him down in the undertow. And the beautiful woman he’s been trying to keep at arm’s length is in danger...and he’ll destroy anything and anyone to keep her safe. 

     Paralegal Zara Remington is in over her head. She’s making risky moves at work by day and indulging in an affair with a darkly dangerous PI by night. There’s a lot Ryker isn’t telling her, and the more she uncovers, the less she wants to know. But when all hell breaks loose, Ryker may be the only one to save her. If his past doesn’t catch up to them first.


     The brothers have set up an office in Cisco, Wyoming, where they are working with the FBI on a serial killer case. This casein which someone is butchering attractive red-haired womenkind of gets lost in the other subplots of the novel and is never resolved.

     The real action begins when someone hacks into Denver's intricate, state-of-the-art computer system and steals some recent case files. Shortly thereafter, a tough, streetwise, twelve-year-old boy named Greg comes to the office, admits to the hack, and demands that they find his three brothers. When Ryker turns him down, Greg threatens to disclose 
their current location to the evil Sheriff Cobb. Eventually, the three Blood Brothers learn that Greg's childhood has some eerie similarities to their own and that he knows the woman who used to come to the orphanage and test their mental and physical abilities over a period of years. And thus we meet the villainous of the series: Sylvia Daniels (aka Dr. Isobel Madison), who told the brothers that she was leading a governmental sturdy about kids raised as orphans. In reality, she is doing some horrific test-tube DNA experiments that you will know all about if you have read the SIN BROTHERS books. (This aspect of the story reminded me of Lora Leigh's BREEDS series.)

     Meanwhile, the romance plot is shooting flames and embers all over the place as über-alpha Ryker and submissive Zara move from a friends-with-benefits relationship to a full-on, sex-filled, soul-mate romance accompanied, of course, by scene after scene of graphically portrayed, extremely athletic sex (including some very light bondage). (Even the villains have sex in this book, and theirs is even rougherstaples, anyone?) Of course, the romance overflows with angst from the lovers, mostly because they are both keeping dark secrets from one another. As soon as this element of the plot became evident, I started to lose interest because this is such an overused paranormal romance trope. 

     The lack of trust between the lovers is the source of endless angst-filled interior monologues that all sound exactly the same: "If I tell him/her the truth and let him/her see the real me, he/she will despise me, and never trust me again, and turn his/her back on me, and leave me for someone less complicated"...yadda, yadda, yadda. Ryker's secrets include his terrible childhood, his monstrous temper, and his on-the-run lifestyle. Zara's big secret is that she is helping her best friend, Julie, hide from her abusive husband, who happens to be a client at the law firm at which Zara works and is also the mayor of Cisco. Eventually, the Zara-Julie situation blows up in a really bad way, and Ryker and his brothers have to solve the case to keep Zara out of jail. (Incidentally, the set-up for this subplot is pretty lame, particularly the part about Julie's past and her weird involvement with the unlikely villain of this little story line.)

     The book ends during a huge snow/sleet storm (another tired trope), and it includes a violent mix of black ops helicopters, big guns, men in black, kidnappings, torture sessions, and general chaos. Others enter the plot at this point, but I won't tell you who because that would be a spoiler. The final pages make a connection between the SIN BROTHERS series and the BLOOD BROTHERS series, so I'm guessing that there will continue to be some crossover in future novels.

     This is not my favorite Zanetti novel, mostly because it relies on so many clichés, from the one-dimensional evil villains to the over-the-top dominant male lover (Ryker). In other words, there isn't much about this book that is fresh or inventive. Not to mention that there are too many story lines crammed into one book, with one of them being left to wither away with no resolution. Unless this subplot is resolved in the next book, that serial killer is still out there murdering redheads.

     Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from this book on the Deadly Silence page on Just click on the cover art on that page for print or the "Listen" icon for audio. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Deadly Silence is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Author:  Deborah Blake
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
Ratings:  Violence3; Sensuality3; Humor—3
Publisher and Titles:  Berkley
          Dangerously Charming (10/2016)
          Dangerously Divine (TBA)

     This trilogy is a spin-off of Blake's BABA YAGA SERIES, which consisted of three novels and two novellas telling the stories of three mystical witches right out of Russian folklore as they meet their soul mates and solve some magical mysteries. Click HERE to go to my ongoing review post for all of the books in the BABA YAGA SERIES. That post also includes a detailed description of the world-building, which will be the same as this series.

     Here is a very brief summary of that mythology: There are three Baba Yagas in America, each one appearing to be an attractive young woman. To prolong their lives, increase their strength, and boost their natural magical powers, each one regularly drinks the Water of Life and Death, which is supplied to them by the Queen of the Otherworld. 

     The Baba Yagas are assisted by three Riders, handsome "young" men who are actually thousands of years old. The Riders are half-brothers who share a father but have different mothers. Their father is a minor god, and each mother is a different type of paranormal entity, a fact that is very important in the BROKEN RIDERS SERIES. Each Rider has a signature color. 
> Mikhail Day (aka Bright Dawn, the White Rider), the youngest, is tall and Viking-blond. He dresses in white and rides a white Yamaha motorcycle. 
Gregori Sun (aka Red Sun, the Red Rider), the eldest, has Asian features and a Fu Manchu moustache. He dresses in red and rides a red motorcycle.
Alexei Knight (aka Dark Midnight, the Black Rider) dresses in black and rides a black motorcycle.
     The Riders were created to live forever, but they lost their immortality in Wickedly Powerful (the final BABA YAGA novel) when a former Baba Yaga tortured them until they nearly died. After one of the friendly Baba Yagas saved their lives with the Water of Life and Death—an act that was expressly forbidden—the Queen made the Riders mortal. The three men also lost their magical powers and much of their super strength, either because of the torture, because of the effects of the magical Water, or because of the Queen's actions when she took away their immortalitythus, BROKEN RIDERS.

     As the series opens, the three brothers are living apart and have been together only once since their tragedy. Each is dealing with his new mortality and loss of powers in a different manner. Each book will feature a Rider pulling himself together and meeting his soul mate while getting involved in various dangerous magical adventures. The Baba Yagas and their soul mates are supporting characters in this series.

                         NOVEL 1: Dangerously Charming                          
     From the author of the BABA YAGA SERIES, a brand new series set in the same world, filled with wild magic, enchanting damsels, and the irresistibly daring men who serve the Baba Yagas. The Riders are three immortal brothers who, for centuries, protected the mythical Baba Yagas. But their time serving the witches has ended—and their new destinies are just beginning. 

     Ever since a near-fatal mistake stripped Mikhail Day and his brothers of their calling to be Riders, Day has hidden from his shame and his new, mortal life in a remote cabin in the Adirondack mountains. But when a desperate young woman appears on his doorstep, he cannot resist helping her—and cannot deny how strongly he’s drawn to her. 

     For generations, women in Jenna Quinlan’s family have been cursed to give up their first born child to the vengeful fairy Zilya. When Jenna finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is determined to break her family’s curse and keep her baby, even if it means teaming up with a mysterious and charismatic man with demons of his own. 

    To unravel the curse, Jenna and Day will have to travel deep into the Otherworld. But the biggest challenge of the journey might not be solving an ancient puzzle but learning to heal their own broken hearts.


    As the novel opens, Mikhail Day is living far off the grid in an isolated cabin in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. He spends his days and nights drowning in grief and guilt because he believes that it was his fault that he and his brothers were captured and tortured. Day has always been famous for helping ladies in distress, but when he did that in Wickedly Powerful, it turned out to be a trap set by a former Baba Yaga who wanted to use the Riders' blood to make herself immortal. Day believes that his brothers will never forgive him for getting them captured, and he certainly will never forgive himself, so he mopes around the cabin indulging in long, angst-filled interior monologues. Day's constant self-flagellation gets old very quickly, and the book would have been stronger if a few chunks of his on-going, soul-crushing angst had been cut out.

     And one more thing about Day: Soon after Jenna arrives in his life, he notices some changes in his appearance and behaviorspecifically, a tendency to turn green, furry, and fangy whenever Jenna is in danger. Apparently, when the Riders lost the immortality and magical powers given to them by their father, the genetic traits of their mothers began to become more dominant. Searching for Mom and dealing with these new powers will be part of each Rider's quest.

     One stormy night, a gorgeous young woman knocks on Day's cabin door. Jenna Quinlan is desperately trying to escape Zilya, a wicked fairy who wants to take away her unborn child just as soon as she gives birth. It seems that Jenna's family has been under Zilya's curse for generations because one of her female ancestors married a man the fairy wanted for herself. To add to Jenna's problems, her ex-boyfriend is after her as well. Stuart is a spoiled rich boy who lives under his father's thumb. He doesn't believe that the baby is his, but his father demands DNA proof from the baby's blood. Being wealthy and spineless, Stuart succumbs to his father's demands by hiring some thugs to go after Jenna and drag her off for medical testing. When the hit men attack Jenna, Day's new furry über-identity kicks in and comes to her defense with a roar. Jenna is a terrific heroinecourageous, open-hearted, and ready to do anything necessary to keep her baby out of the hands of the wicked Zilya.

     Although Day keeps telling himself that he wants nothing to do with another female in distress, he is drawn to Jenna (and vice versa) and we know from the first knock on his door that the two are soul mates. The plot follows the couple as they get some help from one of the Baba Yagas and head off to the Otherworld to figure out the solution to a fairy puzzle that will break the curse. There are a few bedroll-by-the-campfire scenes in which Day and Jenna get to know one another quite well, but the descriptions of their sexual antics are sketched in with few details.

    Three standard HEA tropes form the themes of the story: Love conquers all; family is important; and all evil doers receive their proper punishment. This is a rather charming story with likable lead characters and a plot that has enough surprise twists and romance roadblocks to keep the action moving along at a nice pace. Although you won't doubt for a moment that Jenna and Day will solve the riddle and ride off into the sunset with their baby, Blake does a good job with building their characters and setting up the intersecting story lines. 

    Blake provides enough background on the infamous torture of the three Riders that you can read this novel as a standalone, but you'll enjoy it even more if you read the BABA YAGA novels first.

    The second novel will tell Gregori Sun's story as he moves into a Buddhist monastery; searches for his mother; and meets his soul mate, Ciera Evans, in a soup kitchen at a homeless shelter in St. Paul, Minnesota.

   Click HERE to go to the Dangerously Charming page on where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Dangerously Charming is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Thursday, October 13, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for Diana Rowland's  KARA GILLIAN SERIES by adding a review of Legacy of the Demon, the eighth novel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Saturday, October 8, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for MaryJanice Davidson's QUEEN BETSY/UNDEAD SERIES by adding a review of Undead and Done, the 15th (and FINAL) novel in the series.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go to the new review.

Friday, October 7, 2016



I have just updated an ongoing post for Rebecca Zanetti by adding a review of Shadow Falling, the third novel in her SCORPIUS SYNDROME SERIES

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.