Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reprise Review: Junkie Love by @JoeClifford23



Genre: Biography

Description:
Junkie Love portrays the author’s existence as a drug addict.

Author:
Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and managing editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive. He is the author of three books.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Appraisal:
This is one hell of a book. It reminds me of another I reviewed, Just Like That by Les Edgerton. The subject matter is entirely different, the parallel lies in the incredible honesty that both authors apply in their work. In Junkie Love the author charts his decline from light drug user to utterly messed up waste of space and then recovery. I truly struggle to understand how Clifford actually survived.

The writing style is interesting and unusual, a mix of past tense flashback chapters in the past tense interspersed with others in present tense. It’s unfair to say the narrative is confusing, the thread does move about, but it conveys the mental state of a junkie. We’re not talking lucid here, memories are jumbled for the straightest of people, never mind those who spend most of their times either high or hunting down their next fix.

The author is incredibly blunt about the life he led, the places (dumps really) he lived (like Hepatitis Heights) and the things he did to survive. I doubt 99% of the population would never experience anything like the events in Junkie Love. Here’s an example:

I didn’t last long. Like every other job I’ve ever had, I was fired from this one, too. As the summer nights grew shorter, my heroin problem grew worse, and a quarter gram of speed just wasn’t enough to drag me from the other side of town fast enough, especially if I was chasing down smack. Heroin first, speed second, cocaine third and then the other stuff like food and shelter. That was my hierarchy of needs.

Then there are the supporting characters. Minor ones with nicknames (e.g. Gluehead) come and go but there are a handful of constants – the author’s wife, Catherine, who has serious mental health issues and is dealt with in the past tense chapters, Amy a junkie girlfriend in the present tense and his family who are in both. Ultimately almost all these relationships fade, only the author’s family is there at the end (remarkable given what he put them through).

Here’s an example of the writing, and one of the characters:

Oksana was boiling cat heads in a big pot on the stove when I got back to the apartment. Oksana collected road kill, cooking off the fur and using the bleached bits of skull as jewelry. A homeless, teenaged speed dealer, she’d race the midnight streets of San Francisco on her skateboard, a demon pixie draped in shiny beads and necklaces delivering product, two giant guard dogs snapping at her side like the Hounds of Hell.

Brilliant, but shocking stuff.

Buy now from:    Amazon US      Amazon UK

FYI:
Swearing. Copious references to drug use.

Added for Reprise Review: Junkie Love was a nominee in the Non-Fiction category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran January 31, 2014

Format/Typo Issues:
None.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cargo by @DVBerkom #Thriller #Kindle


Genre: Thriller

Description:
Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.

Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner on board a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.”

Author:
DV Berkom is the award-winning author of two action-packed thriller series featuring strong female leads (Leine Basso and Kate Jones). Her love of creating resilient, kick-ass women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages.

Raised in the Midwest, she earned a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Several years and a multitude of adventures later, she wrote her first novel and was hooked.”
For more, visit her website.

Appraisal:
Cargo is the fourth book featuring Leine Basso. The short review: this book is like the others, intense.

Leine has a talent for getting into tight situations that will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering how, or even if, she'll manage to accomplish whatever she set out to do. How is she going to manage to get out of whatever dangerous situation she's stumbled into? As in some of Leine's past adventures, in Cargo she finds herself dealing with human trafficking and having to find her way in foreign environments in what I thought was her most intense case so far.

Buy now from:     Amazon US     Amazon UK

FYI:
Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl


Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reprise Review: Spellbound by @DeanieMills



Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Description:
Twenty years ago, Faith ‘Dani’ Daniels was subjected to the most terrifying ordeal a child can ever know. The painful memories of cruelty and abuse haunted her, tormented her...until finally, as a schoolteacher in a quiet Texas town, Dani rebuilt her life--and escaped her malevolent past.

Now the forgotten terrors of her youth have returned. In a deserted park Dani discovers a woman's body, scarred in a way that only Dani herself can comprehend...marked by the same assailants who shattered her youth. For twenty years, Dani has been on the run from her destiny. But she can stop running now...

They've found her.”

Author:
Author Deanie Mills has ten suspense thrillers, plus one true crime book, that were published traditionally in the early 90s. With the help of her daughter, GeekyJessica, Mills is giving those that have fallen out of print a second life via your ereader.

For more, visit Mills’ blog.

Appraisal:
This is a well done psychological thriller. Putting together the pieces of what was happening along with Dani, figuring out what it meant, and hoping she’d come out of the experience unscathed, was quite a thrill ride for me. Another thing Spellbound has that I like to see in a book is a strong sense of place. If a story is happening in a real place that I’m familiar with, in this case East Texas, getting the look and feel of the surroundings right and correctly reflecting the culture and attitudes of the people, makes a big difference in how much I enjoy the read. Mills nailed this aspect.

The only negative I saw wasn’t a big deal for me. The book, first published in 1991, has some pop culture references that would be meaningless for the younger crowd. But I’m sure when I read Twain and Hemingway in high school, references that were contemporary at publication time meant nothing to me a few years later.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI: Added for Reprise Review: Spellbound was a nominee in the Thriller category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran November 7, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words


Monday, August 22, 2016

The Ivory Caribou by Caroline McCullagh @carolinearctic



Genre: Women’s Lit/Adventure/Native American

Description:
Anne O’Malley’s genealogical search for the story of her late husband’s father that takes her to the far North of Canada to find new relatives among the Inuit culture, to Europe behind the lines in World War I, and back to the small Inuit village where she finds romance.

Author:
Caroline McCullagh, award-winning author of The Ivory Caribou, coauthor of American Trivia & American Trivia Quiz Book with Richard Lederer, earned a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of California, San Diego…For the past three years, Caroline has written a weekly column for the San Diego Union-Tribune with Richard Lederer. As a professional editor, she teaches creative writing two days a week.

The Ivory Caribou, then titled Fire and Ice, was a past Winner at the San Diego Book Awards as Best Unpublished Novel.”

To learn more visit Ms. McCullagh’s website.

Appraisal:
Anne O’Malley’s husband passed away over a year ago and she was having trouble moving past her grief. At her friend’s urging Anne decided to try to complete her late husband’s genealogical research project. There were several missing years in Robby’s biological father’s life. Brendan O’Malley seemed to have disappeared. Anne hoped she could use this venture to finally come to terms with Robby’s death and hopefully put him to rest in her mind.

Piecing together the missing years from Brendan’s life ended up taking Anne on adventures she could never imagine. As she struggled to come to terms with her own life, she was also introduced to a history that can’t be learned from a textbook. With the help of the Chief Research Librarian at Ottawa’s library and a professor of anthropology at Carleton University, Anne was able to piece together Brendan O’Malley’s past and learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.

The plot of The Ivory Caribou is slow and meticulous as new discoveries come to light. The insight into Inuit customs and way of live is fascinating. I found Anne’s insecurities a little over done at times. I also felt like Jack, the professor of anthropology, took unfair advantage of Anne’s insecurities by not being totally honest with her. I have to confess, Women’s Fiction is not one of my favorite genres and I found the diary entries tedious. While there are a few that need to be there, I enjoyed Jack’s summaries of the translations the best.

This is an interesting and educational journey. Ms. McCullagh is able to provide insight into what it could have been like living through World War I in Europe as a soldier and a civilian. Learning about the Inuit culture though is perhaps my favorite part of the book. I would recommend this book to those who have interests in any of these areas.

Buy now from:     Amazon US     Amazon UK

FYI:
The Ivory Caribou is book one in the Anne O'Malley Arctic Adventures series.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Friday, August 19, 2016

I’ll Be Damned by Casey Keen @AnnaWolfeSeries



Genre: Urban Fantasy/Young Adult

Description:
As the owner of the coffee shop Deja Brew in Savannah, Georgia, Anna thought her life was ordinary. That is until her sister is kidnapped by a demon, prompting two handsome men to march into her life unexpectedly. Valen, the sinfully gorgeous, overprotective werewolf who is Anna’s sworn guardian and Roman, the most handsome and powerful Warlock in the entire Netherworld.

Suddenly, her world is stripped of everything she knows and replaced with frightening news about who she really is - a powerful Grand Witch. Now, it’s up to her to draw out her dormant magic, rescue her sister and stop an impending heavenly war threatening to eradicate the human race all while staying alive.”

Author:
From Casey Keen’s Smashwords author page: “Self-published and determined is how I started my writing career. With an overactive imagination and a healthy passion for anything paranormal, I decided to write about it. Why not? I allowed myself to indulge in the boundless depths of my imagination and my Anna Wolfe Series is just the tip of the supernatural iceberg!

Born and raised on the outskirts of Philadelphia, I grew up loving cheesesteaks and soft pretzels! I attended Drexel University where I obtained my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. I still reside in suburbia, working on the Anna Wolfe Series."

I’ll Be Damned is Casey Keen’s debut novel. To learn more check out her website and Facebook page.

Appraisal:
Anna Wolfe is a twenty-nine-year-old, who has led a sheltered life and has no idea who she really is. Having suffered from nightmares her whole life, which she never bothered to investigate, seek guidance, or advice for, Anna has become a master at pushing things aside to deal with them later. Avoidance seems to be her motto, as it is repeated endlessly through the story. “I need to talk you in person, not over the phone… I’ll give you the details later.” “I can’t wait to leave these annoying worries at the door.” “I really don’t want to even think about this right now.” “…concluding I’d rather wing it than make it tangible.” “I tuck them away in the nether regions of my brain promising myself I’ll address them after all of this is over.” Anna comes across as whiny and weak, not a good start for a heroine.

I’ll Be Damned has a good story somewhere in amongst all the unnecessary words and repetitions. Ms. Keen loves her words and overabundant descriptions about everything. However there seems to be only one kind of tree in Savannah, Georgia, but she illustrates it beautifully over and over again. In the beginning Anna is a pretty bland character and seems insecure despite her professional accomplishments. She does, however, make several half-witted decisions throughout the story, which only lead her into trouble. Her best girlfriend is a huge party girl who has a good heart. Anna’s other friend is a flaming gay black man from Louisiana who owns a local bar down the street from her coffee shop, Deja’ Brew. Martello is by far my favorite character, but I found his speech pattern a bit disparaging, which I can only write off as the author’s prerogative. His character has a lot of depth and he is Anna’s most supportive friend. Valen makes a slow appearance, which portrays him as more of a creeper than a guardian. But, after this rough start, Valen is the only other character with any meaningful depth. The sexual tension between Anna and Valen is scrumptious and I found myself wishing this wasn’t a young adult book.

The plot is VERY slow to develop, even after Anna starts to learn the truth, because all she wants is a normal life. Avoidance will make it all go away, right? With her powers starting to awaken, Anna has no choice but to learn to control them and face her new reality, which is filled with strange creatures from the Netherworld, werewolves, demons, and warlocks. The political aspect of the Netherworld is unique and only lightly touched on in this book. There is a good story in here somewhere. The ending has a dramatic cliffhanger, which wasn’t really a surprise. For those interested in continuing this series there are two other books published so far.

Buy now from:    Amazon US     Amazon UK

FYI:
I’ll Be Damned is the first book in The Anna Wolfe Series.

Format/Typo Issues:
Small number of proofing errors that range from missing, extra, and wrong words. I think a good editor could help Ms. Keen focus on the core of this story.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 110-115,000 words


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reprise Review: Seasons by @DavidAntrobus, @EdwardLorn, @JD_Mader, and Jo-Anne Teal



Genre: Short Story Collection

Description:
This collection of four inter-woven stories explores the quest for redemption in a world made chaotic by emotional disorder. Broken characters brace themselves against their elemental constructs - only to find that nothing is promised and that nothing comes without a price.

Four seasons. Four stories written by four critically-acclaimed authors. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse at our slow decay?

The answer is not as simple as it seems.”

Proceeds from the sale of Seasons will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Author:
Among the four contributors to this collection is a winner in our inaugural Readers’ Choice Awards (David Antrobus for his 9/11 memoir, Dissolute Kinship) and two nominees, author Edward Lorn, whose horrific thriller Hope for the Wicked was on our short list in the Thriller category, and JD Mader, who contributed to Music Speaks, a nominee in the Short Story Collection/Anthology. (Antrobus also contributed to that collection, giving him the distinction of being the only dual nominee.) Joining them is Jo-Anne Teal. Although this is the first book linked to Teal’s author page on Amazon, you can sample lots of writing on her blog, Going for Coffee.

Each of the other authors have websites or blogs, too. Find more about Antrobus at The Migrant Type, Mader at Unemployed Imagination, or find out what Lorn’s been thinking about at Ruminating On.

Appraisal:
Anyone who has ever been touched by suicide knows that the event leaves you full of questions with very few answers. These four interwoven stories (one for each of the seasons) explore life, death, and the desire (or lack thereof) to continue the former. As the final line of the book’s description says, “the answer is not as simple as it seems,” and really, there is no answer. But possibly by considering these subjects we can get closer to an understanding.

I’d previously read Antrobus, Lorn, and Mader, and found their writing in this collection up to their normal high quality. Although this was my first exposure to Teal’s writing, she measured up to the standard set by her co-contributors.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

FYI:
Spelling conventions used are consistent with the home of the respective authors, Canada for Antrobus and Teal, the US for Lorn and Mader.

Added for Reprise Review: Seasons was a nominee in the Short Story Collections and Anthologies category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran June 13, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:
No issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 5-6,000 words


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dominoes by Grace Jelsnik #BookReview


Genre: Romantic suspense

Description:
Reggie Corcoran lost more than her memory when she was abducted at the age of twelve: She lost her family. When her new psychic abilities manifested, her zealot mother proclaimed her a demon changeling, and the twelve-year-old girl was subjected to shameful exorcism and painful ostracism. The home in which she’d once derived comfort became a hostile environment as, one after another, Reggie’s parents and siblings turned their backs on the girl who’d survived a kidnapping and returned... different. 

All but one. Detective Stephen Corcoran, Reggie’s brother, joined the police force because of his determination to bring justice to the little sister he’d watched progressively withdraw into herself, transforming from a cheerful child into a cautious woman. For thirteen years, Stephen has investigated the abduction that took from both of them a loving family. Now he and his partner, Detective Zack Grafton, are investigating a murder that might finally provide the answers to both Reggie's abduction and transformation.
 

Zack Grafton, a veteran detective with a long-standing antipathy toward so-called psychics, resists Reggie’s involvement in their case, but even he is won over by the woman’s dignity and strength. When her input on the murder goes well beyond educated guesses, he realizes that all trails lead to Reggie. Detectives Grafton and Corcoran must solve the case of her kidnapping before they can solve the homicide, and when the body count rises, the two detectives realize it’s only a matter of time before the perpetrator hones in on his real target: Reggie.”


Author:
Grace Jelsnik earned her M.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing at the University of South Dakota. She lives in North Dakota with her husband of fifteen years, their three children, two dogs, and three cats. Her novels emphasize plot, characterization, and setting, but each possesses an element of romance that takes a down-to-earth approach to the natural give-and-take emotional interaction between two characters, addressing the sparks that lead to heat, not the heat itself. Her targeted audience is late teen and older, readers who enjoy suspense and mystery.”

Learn more about Ms. Jelsnik on her Amazon Author page or follow her onFacebook.

Appraisal:
I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Jelsnik’s novel Sparrow. So I was excited to read another of her stories. Although Ms. Jelsnik is an excellent writer, unfortunately, this tale didn’t hit the spot for me.

BigAl once told me that romantic suspense can be up to 80% in favor of either romance or suspense. This one falls much closer to the romance end of the spectrum than I prefer.

The story began with a simple premise of the cops chasing down a mysterious antagonist, but the antagonist was never well defined. In fact, he featured barely at all, and when he did, it was as an unseen menace whose vicious acts were reported rather than experienced.

I didn’t really engage with the main character, Reggie. I think this was because there were so many threads woven into her background — her family issues, her psychic abilities, her gypsy blood, her illicit wedding, the FBI, the clich├ęd concept of the detectives protecting her losing their badges and guns and going rogue, her falling-in-love story. Extensive time was spent on these details, which, while interesting, yanked me away from the main story line. I ended up feeling confused and, indeed, toward the end of the book when an italicized flashback sequence was intended to explain the “truth” about Reggie’s psychic powers, I didn’t fully understand what the author was telling me.

Buy now from:    Kindle US     Kindle UK     Paperback

Format/Typo Issues:
Very few.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber


Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reprise Review: One Lost Summer by @RichardJGodwin #Kindle


Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:
It is high summer and Rex Allen moves into his new house, The Telescope. Barely has he begun to unpack when his attractive neighbor, Evangeline Glass, invites him to one of her regular parties.

Rex finds himself obsessing on Evangeline. He begins to immerse himself in her life, filming her at first, then following her movements, convinced there’s more to her than meets the eye. When Rex discovers Evangeline’s secret he persuades her to visit him for a two hour period each week and to become another person – Coral.

But why?

Author:
Richard Godwin is a widely published author, with a focus on horror and crime, and a playwright. He has written two full length novels – Apostle Rising and Mr. Glamour and has contributed multiple short stories to anthologies.

You can learn more about the author on his website.

Appraisal:
Mr. Godwin reveals the plot underlying One Lost Summer like a card sharp. He steadily doles out the pack one by one, hiding the trumps with clever sleight of hand, only revealing the complete set right at the conclusion. This is a clever, intelligent psychological thriller.

The characters are all very strong, every one is an enigma; no one is quite what they seem. Even when the reader thinks they have the person figured out the author flips their behavior again, shows a little more of their personality and position.

First and foremost is Rex who doesn’t really know himself. He’s clearly wealthy, but there’s no clue how he’s made his money. He drinks a lot of the best wine and whisky. His behavior is abnormal - recording Evangeline on film, often not washing, hearing things in the house – he’s edgy for some buried reason. And as the tale is told in the first person through Rex the reader is as puzzled as the protagonist.

Then there’s enigmatic Evangeline, who tries to control everyone and everything around her, but actually is the one being contained. She has plenty of secrets herself. And her husband Harry – possessive of his wife and possessing a dubious background. Finally the lesser characters - the hangers-on and party goers such as weak willed Brenda and her husband.

After an initial chapter setting the scene, where Rex moves into his new house (called The Telescope because the previous owner had the instruments all over the house – perhaps to watch Evangeline too?) and meets her, the tension and mystery quickly build. There are plenty of puzzles (and blind alleys) laid out for the reader.

The layout and style of One Lost Summer is interesting. The chapters are short, and the book is broken into sections, each titled to reveal in themselves a little more of the plot. The writing is economical and tightly focused. The attributes of each character are usually strikingly described – such as the clothes they wear, the patterns, the brands (Chanel, Montrachet wine). It all subtly adds to the ambiance without being distracting and is key in the psychological process of Rex working on Evangeline.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this work. With summer apparently approaching this would make an excellent holiday read.

Buy now from:    Amazon US     Amazon UK

Added for Reprise Review: One Lost Summer was a nominee in the Thriller category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran August 5, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:
None.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words


Monday, August 15, 2016

Decoding Michaela by @LynHornerAuthor



Genre: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense/World Mythology/Magical Realism

Description:
Michaela Peterson can read minds but can she tell good from evil? A Guardian of Danu sworn to protect one of seven sacred scrolls, her identity is known only to the High Guardian. Or so she thinks until a stranger brings word that her revered leader has been murdered by vicious ‘Hellhounds’ who want the scrolls. She’s attracted to the handsome messenger, but is he who he claims to be? Or does he mean to gain her trust and steal the scroll she guards?

Dev Medina often dreams of a woman he calls his golden goddess. He believes she is real and meant for him. Expecting to deliver a warning to Dr. ‘Michael’ Peterson from the new High Guardian, he is stunned to find the doctor is his dream girl. Fearing the Hellhounds may be coming after her, he wants to whisk her to safety, but she stubbornly resists leaving her Galveston, Texas, home. Can he convince her to trust him before tragedy strikes?”

Author:
Lyn Horner is a baby boomer born in San Francisco, California, raised in Minnesota and now residing in Texas with her husband and an ever-changing band of cantankerous, beloved cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn first worked as a fashion illustrator in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and later as an art instructor for Art Instruction Schools… After quitting work to raise her children, she took up writing to save her sanity. This hobby quickly morphed into an obsession with historical research and plot building.”

Learn more about Ms. Horner by visiting her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:
It has been over a year since I read Rescuing Lara but it took me no time at all to get back into the story. Dev Medina has offered his assistance in locating Dr. Peterson, since it was his knowledge that helped decode the book Lara had secured from her uncle. Dev has a personal mission, aside from alerting Dr. Peterson to the danger that has developed, as he heads to the Galveston coast. Dev has prophetic dreams, and he was sure he would find the girl from those dreams in the area.

Ms. Horner was clever in the way she plotted this story. Dev is a strong, overpowering character who doesn’t do subtle. This doesn’t work in his favor when he is pitted against an intelligent, independent woman who refuses to be pushed around. Dev has to learn to temper his ways to convince Michaela he is there to help her and is looking out for her best interests. However, I don’t think it served the story well that Michaela withholds using her powers of insight during most of the book. As a result, I didn’t feel like Decoding Michaela carried the same level of tension as Rescuing Lara had, until the climax.

I did find Michaela’s story heart-rending and I melted as she developed a relationship with Dev. The ending was satisfying as Dev and Michaela make their way west into Navajo country to meet up with Lara and Conn. There, future plans are made to locate the other guardians. This is going to be a fascinating series and I am looking forward to meeting the other guardians.

Buy now from:    Amazon US     Amazon UK

FYI:
Decoding Michaela is book two in Lyn Horner’s Romancing the Guardians series, following Rescuing Lara. I would recommend reading this series in order. This book does contain sexual situations that may offend some.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words


Friday, August 12, 2016

Arctic Dawn by @KarissaLaurel


Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology/Romance

Description:
Alone and exhausted after her month-long sojourn as a shooting star, Solina Mundy flees to southern California to lie low, recuperate, and plot a survival strategy. The one person she trusts to watch her back is her best friend, Skyla Ramirez. But Skyla has been missing for weeks.

The arrival of a dangerous stranger and the discovery of a legendary weapon of mass destruction forces Solina out of hiding and back into the fight for her life. Solina knows she won’t last long on her own. She must find out what happened to Skyla and unite her contentious allies if she hopes to track down this devastating weapon before her enemies use it to burn the world to ash.”

Author:
Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. Some of her favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between. Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you'll find her on the slopes.

Karissa also paints and draws and harbors a grand delusion that she might finish a graphic novel someday.”

Find out more about Karissa Laurel on her website or Facebook.

Appraisal:
Ms. Laurel has stepped up her game in Arctic Dawn. The characters are more intense, the action is nonstop and the entire book is more heavily steeped in Norse Mythology. Solina’s powers have matured and she is fully focused on her mission at all times, even if she is not totally aware of what is going on around her. I love the way she challenges Thorin at every turn. And even though this vexes Thorin, you can tell he admires her spunk and tenacity as she is always honest with her feelings about the situations at hand. However, she continues to conceal her emotions and desires from Thorin. Her walls are cracking though, as are Thorin’s. I practically melted during a few touching scenes.

I was a bit worried I would be lost when I started reading this sequel considering it had been a full year since I had read Midnight Burning. But rest assured Ms. Laurel brings forward what you need to remember without bogging down the story. New people were introduced who fit well in the mix. I ended up reading late into the night until I couldn’t focus my eyes any longer, the book was that hard for me to put down.

Arctic Dawn is a fast-paced cataclysmic addition full of action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are several unexpected twists, which change the course of the plot. These give rise for more Norse mythology, which is incorporated into the plot. Ms. Laurel’s imagination and knowledge seems boundless. I would highly recommend Arctic Dawn to lovers of mythology, adventure seekers, and action lovers. For those who loath romance in their stories, I will add the romance is low-key and not what this series is centered around. The ending made me swoon, while I was cursing the cliffhanger. Well done, ma’am. Please don’t make me wait another year for more.

Buy now from:    Amazon US     Amazon UK

FYI:
Arctic Dawn is book two in The Norse Chronicles following Midnight Burning. I would recommend reading this series in order.

Format/Typo Issues:
I found no significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words