The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli – a Review

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli – a Review


The Last NamsaraAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository


In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl. 

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.




The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli is the 1st book in her new YA fantasy Iskari series.  Ciccarelli has created a complex and interesting fantasy world of Dragons, Royalty and a heroine, who is considered a princess, but is hated by many.  Asha, our heroine, is considered an Iskari, bringer of death.  When she was a young child, she suffered a disfigurement when she accidently hurt Kozu, the first and most powerful Dragon. The town had serious deaths & damage by the fire of an angry Dragon, which the town blamed her for that disaster. From that moment, Asha became the Iskari, and her job was to kill all dragons and bring their heads to her father, the King. Though this is noted above, it is worth reprinting to explain the difference between an Iskari and Namsara.

                “In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.”

In current time, Asha is determined to find Kozu and kill him, which would free her from having to marry the commandant, Jarek, who truly was evil.  While killing another dragon, she returns home to Figaard with a burned hand that can be poisonous.  Jarek’s slave is nearby and attempt to help her, but he is not allowed to touch her; he does anyway in order to help her, but she will keep his secret.  The slave, Torwin, is besotted with Asha, but knows this is forbidden.  Asha herself, wants nothing to do with the slave boy.  Things during the course of this story will slowly change, as will Asha’s life. 

Because of the burn, or due to her desire to find, Kozu, Asha has dreams during the night about the old one, and is given things she needs to do to be able to find Kozu.  First she is given blades to fight; then is given a young dragon that she must protect; lastly she is given fireskin, which allows her to go through fire and not get burned.  The key to the story is that Asha would always kill dragons, thinking that is her destiny.  But when she must protect the young dragon, Shadow, who follows her everywhere, she begins to have feelings for the dragon.  Torwin, who is now on the run from Jarek and death, does everything he can to help Asha and Shadow; and a friendship is born, but one of secrecy.

What follows is an addictive adventure that will have Asha and Torwin running for their lives, especially when she realizes that she has been betrayed from the beginning, when she was burned as a child.  Her half cousin, Safire and her brother, Dax try to help her and together they will find the truth that will also save Dax’s life.  What was amazing was the Dragons, especially Kozu, who would become a very big part of Asha ‘s life, as we raced to climax, which was an exciting last half of the book.

I can’t tell too much more, as it would ruin the story for you. The Last Namsara was an exciting, captivating story, in a fantastic intriguing new world, which includes villains, dragons, forbidden romance and a great heroine. Kristen Ciccarelli has done a fabulous job writing this story, and I cannot wait for the next book. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Forbidden Contact by M.A. Abraham – a Review

Forbidden Contact by M.A. Abraham – a Review


Forbidden ContactAmazon / B&N / Kobo

Karia can barely stand to be around herself, never mind others. She has been confined to the Aerie, until after the birth of her child, but there are limits to what she can do to pass the time.

Mitchell understands, although there is little he can do about it. He doesn’t have the time to deal with her moods and needs.

Erin, remembers what it was like for her, when she had carried Karia, but the requirements of her position with the new inhabitants of Tantalus, due to Karia’s pregnancy, is taking up every moment she has to spare.

Only one, Alena, seems to know what to do to soothe her granddaughter as she enters the final stages of her pregnancy. She enters the room, sits by Karia’s chair and begins to speak: “Let me tell you of a very young Tantalarian girl, a handsome young Tantalarian Guardian and the love they shared.”


Forbidden Contact by M.A. Abraham is a novella from her Tantalus series. This story revolves around Michel and Karia as they await the birth of their child. With the soon arrival of humans from mars, Michel is sent to oversee the preparations for more food, and habitual caves.

Karia’s great grandmother and grandmother watch over her through the start of her contractions. To get her mind off of the pain, Alenia (great grandmother) tells her how she met her great grandfather, and the laws in those days that prevented them on acting on their feelings. When she became pregnant with Erin (grand mother), they were punished and separated. The laws were archaic, but the tribunal elder refused to listen, thereby causing much friction that would take decades to open doors.

When Erin gave birth to Karia in a similar way, only the fact that Karia was designated to belong to a high ranking Phoenix opened the way for things to slowly change.

To tell too much more, would be spoilers leading into the next full length novel. When the happy couple give birth, those changes will begin with a big, but nice twist. Forbidden Contact was a nice lighthearted story about the past and the changes that need to be made to bring the Tantalarians into modern times, as well as to be ready for the oncoming flux of humans. I look forward to the next book in this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review


Unspeakable (Beyond Human #2) by Nina Croft-Review & Excerpt

UNSPEAKABLE (Beyond Human #2) by Nina Croft-Review and Excerpt

Unspeakable / / B&N / KOBO / itunes /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 25 ,2017

Sadie Brooks grew up knowing she was different…special. And she thought the undercover work she did for the government was making a difference…making a better world. Then she discovered she was simply an asset—to be used or destroyed at whim.

Escaping her government controllers, Sadie is determined to get her revenge on the organization responsible for the death of her twin sister—the Conclave.

Ethan Weiland has doubts about the Conclave but he’s never known anything else.
Brought up from birth as the next hereditary leader, Ethan has never questioned his
destiny. Until he comes face to face with a beautiful enemy who can read his mind and bring him to his knees with a thought. For the first time, Ethan sees a chance for redemption. When he’s in charge, he’ll be able to change things.

Too bad it won’t be that simple.


REVIEW: UNSPEAKABLE is the second installment in Nina Croft’s adult BEYOND HUMAN paranormal, sci-fi romance series focusing on a class of supernatural humans known as the Tribe-descendants from a group of people discovered, over 100 years earlier, by an expedition to the Mountains of the Moon (Congo Free State of Africa). This is Tribe member Sadie Brooks, and Conclave royalty/Afghanistan army veteran Ethan Weiland’s story line. UNSPEAKABLE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous story lines is revealed where necessary but I recommend reading the series in order for back story and cohesion. There is a prequel short story-NO MORE LIES-that introduces the premise behind the series concept. On that note, NO MORE LIES can be found in the multi-authored anthology THE TELEPATH CHRONICLES originally released in 2014.

SOME BACKGROUND: The Tribe believe themselves to be descendants of a species of humans blessed and cursed with supernatural, psychic powers. Their discovery has led to the formation of the Conclave who have taken it upon themselves to experiment with the mind and the brain, destroying that which they do not understand.

Told from several third person points of view including Sadie and Ethan UNSPEAKABLE continues to focus on the discrimination and specieism aimed at the descendants of the Tribe- a race of tall, blue-eyed Caucasians believed to be the product of inbreeding who were transferred to Scotland, given a home and all but forgotten until a secret, government faction known as the Conclave set about trying to capture and experiment upon those that have survived. Sadie Brooks’ latest assignment finds her face to face with the enemy and her future-Ethan Weiland- a man whose direct link to the Conclave places Sadie and the members of the Tribe in mortal danger. When a mutual contact is found dead, Sadie sets into motion a meeting with the man with whom she will fall in love. What ensues is the building relationship between Sadie and Ethan as they attempt to uncover the whereabouts of Sadie’s missing friends; and the search for the truth behind the Conclave’s desire to eradicate a species struggling to survive.

UNSPEAKABLE is a detailed story line that follows several paths including the revelations about the death of Sadie’s sister, and Ethan’s mom; the imprisonment, experimentation and death of members of the Tribe; and the discovery that not everything and everyone is who they appear to be. A time-machine, possibly from the future, is the Tribe’s only link to the past-a past that is quickly re-written at every turn.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including several members of the Conclave, the Tribe, and the introduction of a potentially new but familiar enemy on the horizon. We are introduced to Ethan’s father, his cousin Travis, Travis’s wife Joelle, and Ethan’s assistant ex-military Fergus Baker. I am hoping Fergus will find his happily ever after.

UNSPEAKABLE is a story of family and friendships; discrimination and fear; and the struggle to survive. The premise is entertaining and intriguing; the characters are colorful, dynamic and challenging; the romance is passionate and forbidden. UNSPEAKABLE is a revealing installment in Nina Croft’s BEYOND HUMAN series.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one UNTHINKABLE

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy


Excerpt copy supplied by the author


“This is for real?” Fergus sounded…bemused. “She can read minds?”
“Oh, it’s real,” Sadie said. She strolled across and patted Fergus on the arm. He flinched under the touch. “But don’t worry, I won’t tell your boss that his big, bad, macho assistant has been secretly in love with him for the last twelve years.”
Fergus stepped back, shock stamped clear on his face. Ethan was sure his own looked the same. Had she just said Fergus was in love with him?
Sadie laughed out loud. “I’m kidding, guys. Geez, you’re so easy to wind up.”
He shook his head. “Really?”
She grinned. “Hey, you have to admit it was funny. Just the expressions on your faces.”
“Bitch,” Fergus muttered. He stood staring at the floor for a minute. “So what am I thinking?”
“Three thousand five hundred and sixty…four. Though why I’m playing along with this, I don’t know. It’s nothing to do with me if you don’t believe. I’m sure there’s nothing in your head worth seeing.” She turned her attention to him. “He thinks you should kill me. I’m too dangerous to keep around. Too many secrets.” She went back to her perch on the desk, swinging the empty glass from her fingers. “You know, those government controllers promised us a world with no more secrets. No more lies. Then they gave us the same old shit.”
She sounded bitter and sad. He wanted her laughter back, and as the thought crossed his mind, a small smile curved her lips. “You know you’re not the badass you like to make out to be.”
He decided to give Fergus time to come to terms with things. He was clearly still in the shock stage.
“Why did you run in the end?” he asked her. “What changed?”
“One of us died. He wasn’t the first, but we’d always believed them before—they told us the deaths were from natural causes. But they’d been lying to us almost from the start.”
Maybe not from the start. More likely, when the Conclave got involved. She looked at him sharply and gave a quick nod in agreement.
“Did someone close to you die?”
“My twin sister. Four years ago. They said it was some sort of blood disease, but they killed her, experimenting on her until she died. I never even saw the body.”
“Is that why you came looking? Is that what you want out of all this? Revenge?”
She pursed her lips, maybe considering what to tell him. “Actually, I do want revenge. But the main reason my group is hunting the Conclave is because, believe it or not, we’re more interested in secrecy than even you are.”
“Why is that? “Ethan asked.
“Ah well, now that would be telling secrets.”
God, she was annoying. “The hunted becomes the hunter,” Ethan said. “I quite like the concept. It has a certain irony.”
“So you’re not a prostitute?” Fergus interrupted them. He still sounded a little bemused.
“Why? Were you hoping to do business with me?”
“I don’t pay.”
She rolled her eyes. “Why ever would you have to? You’re such a charmer. But no, I’m not a prostitute.”
“And you read minds.”
“Among other things.”
“What else?” Ethan asked.
“I can talk to animals. Well, not really talk, but they understand me and usually do what I ask.”
“How well do you read minds? How much can you see?” Fergus sounded rattled.
“Now that would be telling. But I’m not the best. Let’s just say, I can see that you don’t want to believe me, but you do. You think Ethan has made a deal with the devil—that’s a bit strong by the way, I’m not that bad—which will likely get us all killed.” She studied him for a minute, her eyes narrowed, her head cocked on one side. Poor Fergus almost squirmed beneath her direct stare. “You think he wants this too much, and that he should maybe leave the past in the past, where it belongs. And move on.”
How much was she getting? He wasn’t ready to reveal his purpose yet.
She shook her head. “But the problem is, Ethan’s not ready to move on. Mainly because he has nowhere he wants to go. Poor Ethan. Brought up to believe he’s got the right to rule the world and part of him thinks, yes—he can do a better job than most—so why not?” She gave him a small smile. “But he also suspects that ultimate power corrupts, and a system based on hereditary passing on of power can only ever lead to disaster. And that soon, he might very well be faced with a difficult choice.” She shrugged. “Fingers crossed he makes the right decision.”


About the Author

Nicola CleasbyFollow: Goodreads / Website Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter Sign UP/ Pinterest

Growing up in the cold, wet, north of England, Nina Croft spent a lot of time dreaming of faraway sunnier places and ponies. When she discovered both, along with a whole load of other things, could be found between the covers of a book, her life changed forever.

Later, she headed south, picked up the perfect husband along the way, and together they volunteered to work in Africa. There they discovered a love of exotic places and a dislike of 9-5 work. Afterward they spent a number of years travelling (whenever possible) intermingled with working (whenever necessary.) Eventually they stumbled upon a remote area in the mountains of southern Spain and the small almond farm they now call home.

Nina spends her days reading, writing and riding her mare, Gencianna, under the blue Spanish skies—sunshine and ponies. She reckons this is proof that dreams really can come true if you want them enough.


Storm Gathering (Scorpius Syndrome #4) by Rebecca Zanetti-a review

STORM GATHERING (Scorpius Syndrome #4) by Rebecca Zanetti-a review

Storm Gathering / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

About the book: Release Date September 19, 2017

Even before surviving the Scorpius bacterium, Greyson Storm was a lone wolf navigating minefields. As a kid, he learned to take a hit and find safety. As an adult, he joined the military and quickly learned how to protect and defend. When the world ended, he created a mercenary camp with military precision, no entanglements, and a promise to avenge a fallen friend. As part of that vow, he kidnapped Maureen Shadow, but now that he has let her go, her blue eyes and intriguing mind keep haunting him…

As possibly the only Biotechnology Engineer still living, Maureen Shadow might be humanity’s one hope to survive the aftermath of Scorpius, making her frighteningly valuable to both allies and enemies. Even after sexual tension explodes with Greyson, she’s not sure which camp he belongs to—friend or foe? Worse yet, survival may mean thwarting his prime mission, putting her in even more peril. When danger and seduction collide, there is no safety in this new world.


REVIEW: STORM GATHERING is the fourth full-length installment in Rebecca Zanetti’s  adult SCORPIUS SYNDROME cross genre Sci-Fi/ UF/Dystopian series focusing on a biological pandemic sweeping the planet that has already killed 99% of the world’s population. This is US Marine sniper Greyson Storm, and biotechnology engineer Maureen Shadow’s (Raze’s sister) story line that looks at life in the aftermath, and the fallout from an unknown bacteria-from space. For more background information and some history, there is a prequel novella-SCORPIUS RISING-which can be found in the ON THE HUNT anthology (August 2015).

NOTE: Some of the premise of STORM GATHERING runs parallel to and crosses over with the events of book three-Justice Ascending.

SOME BACKGROUND: Some of those infected with the biological virus have survived to become something known as a Ripper, but there are two types of Rippers inhabiting the world-one is a zombie like creature who feasts on the living; the other is a survivor whose brain has been altered resulting in a stronger, more powerful enhanced human being sometimes bordering on the sociopath ideology with delusions of grandeur, obsession and hate. If you are a fan of the series The Walking Dead (or Mad Max), you will see many similarities in the story line premise including the search for food and supplies, attacks of the ‘undead’, and various groups of survivors vying for power and control.

Told from several third person perspectives including Greyson and Maureen STORM GATHERING continues to focus on the struggle to survive as the depleting inventory at the Vanguard compound and Mercenary territories begins to push at the fragile hold each has on their safety, sanity and dwindling reserves. As head of the ‘Merc’ faction of post-apocalyptic warriors Greyson Storm is desperate to find more food and weapons for his growing population of forgotten refugees. Enter biotechnology engineer Maureen Shadow and the woman with whom Greyson will fall in love. What ensues is the back and forth, tepid relationship between the Vanguard compound and Mercenary territory; the struggle in their search for supplies; and the continuing attacks by the government’s Elite Forces, and the self-proclaimed president of the USA- a man once infected by the Scorpius virus who has since become a sociopathic Ripper. Greyson Storm is on a mission not only to protect the woman that he loves but to take down a tyrant desperate to take control of the few remaining resources .

The relationship between Greyson and Maureen begins as a one-night stand following Maureen’s abduction from the Vanguard compound. Greyson’s attempts to secure a future for the many mouths he has to feed finds our hero taking risks including the kidnapping of the woman with whom he will fall in love. The $ex scenes are intimate and provocative without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. The sexual attraction is palpable; their energy is passionate and sensual. Greyson’s protective instinct goes into over-drive where our story line heroine is concerned.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Tace and Sami (Justice Ascending), Vivi and Raze (Shadow Falling) , Lynn and Jax (Mercury Striking), as well as Greyson’s second in command Damon Winter, Marcus and Dr. Penelope. The requisite evil, aside from the Scorpius virus, has many faces including President Bret Atherton, and his Vice President Lake. Damon Winter’s story is next in Winter Igniting.

The world building continues to focus on the search for a cure. With the growing number of scientists and researchers under protection at the Vanguard Compound and Mercenary headquarters, the intrepid group of survivors starts locating some of the hidden files that focus on the bacteria and a potential cure. A possible merger between the two camps may be required if everyone is to survive the ongoing wars, and the raging wild fires burning out of control.

STORM GATHERING is an edgy, encouraging and engaging story line. The premise will captivate your attention; the characters are colorful, animated and determined; the romance is hopeful and seductive.

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Scorpius Rising (On the Hunt Anthology)
Mercury Striking
Shadow Falling
Justice Ascending
Storm Gathering

Copy supplied through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy


Cracked Open ( Mindjack #5) by Susan Kaye Quinn-a review

CRACKED OPEN (Mindjack #5) by Susan Kaye Quinn-a review

Cracked Open / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 15, 2017

Zeph always knew he was a weapon. He didn’t count on being a spy.
But he made a dangerous bargain with the Director of the Jacker Technologies Division of DARPA—he’d let Wright test his mutant mindjack ability if she’d release his parents. Simple. Occasionally painful. And the screams of his victims fill his nightmares. But it will be worth it as long as she can’t crack open his head and find out his sister, with her super-surge jack-ability, is still alive. And if his parents are finally set free.

Once that happens, he’s gone. Even if it means giving up everything he’s just now getting back. A home. Friends. A girl who believes in peace and love even when the world is falling apart.

But as the shock of assassinations and bombings and hate killings continue to pull at the threads that hold society together, Wright hands him a mission he can’t possibly complete. If he does, it will tear everything apart. If he doesn’t, he’ll lose everyone he loves.

Sometimes being a powerful weapon is the most dangerous thing of all.


REVIEW: CRACKED OPEN is the fifth full-length installment in Susan Kaye Quinn’s young adult (YA) MINDJACK urban fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian series. CRACKED OPEN is the continuing story focusing on mindjacker Zeph MacCay- a young man with the ability to lock down, unlock or scramble the human mind.

SOME BACKGROUND: In a world where mindreading is the norm (due to decades of contaminated or purposely poisoned water) there are those with more powerful abilities than most. These are their stories of discrimination, betrayal, retribution and control. Throughout the years the human population has developed various forms of mind-reading, mind altering and mind controlling abilities due to environmental toxins. And to complicate matters those without the ability to mindjack are purposely setting out to bring war between the have and the have-nots fearing for their own peace of mind.

Told from first person point of view (Zeph) CRACKED OPEN furthers the struggle of Zeph MacCay and his underground group of people hoping to take down the Director of the Jacker Technologies, as well as the man who has developed anti-jacker technology that renders the victim all but paralyzed or dead. CRACKED OPEN follows Zeph MacCay as he struggles to free his family, imprisoned by the Director of the Jacker Technologies, and his fraudulent assignment as boyfriend and bodyguard to the daughter of an evil technology giant. With help from a couple of rogue agents and soldiers, as well as his intrepid gang of underground jackers Zeph MacCay puts into a motion a series of events that place him on the anti-jacker radar, once and for all. Success is measured by the tiniest of wins and in the end their struggle is only going to get worse.

CRACKED OPEN is a comprehensive, intricate and action packed story line of discrimination, fear, power and control. Susan Kaye Quinn’s young adult MINDJACK series looks at the breakdown of humanity, the power of politics and control of the mind, and the people on the fringe trying to survive, one day at a time. Lives will be lost; minds will be broken; friendships and families will crumble and die. CRACKED OPEN is a powerful look at a possible future if and when chaos and oligarchy preside. Susan Kaye Quinn is a master storyteller

Reading Order and previous reviews
Mind Games (Mindjack Origins 1)
Open Minds
Closed Hearts
Free Souls
The Locksmith
The Handler/ The Scribe (Mindjack Origins 2 & 3)
Keeper (Mindjack Origins 4)
Locked Tight
Cracked Open
Broken Wide

Copy supplied for review.

Reviewed by Sandy


The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan – Review & Giveaway

The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan – Review & Giveaway


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The Legion of the Flame
The Draconis Memoria series – Book #2
by Anthony Ryan
Release Date: June 27th, 2017

The Legion of the FlameAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Empires clash and a fell power stakes its claim in the second in a new series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy.

For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood—and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed—to fuel and protect its empire. But now, a fearsome power has arisen—a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it.

Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire and for all of civilization.




The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan is the second book in his The Draconis Memoria series.  The Legion of Flame picks up after The Waking Fire left off.  Being an epic fantasy there is a lot of detailed information, as the story line progresses.  In this intense world, the humans and blood blessed (humans who drink the blood harvested from dead dragons), are in a fight for survival in a war against the onslaught of all dragons (blue, black, green, red and the new ultra powerful white).  It is also a world filled with magic, war, danger, destruction, ships, and dragons.

Lizanne and Clay, who are both blood blessed, continue as the main characters with POV’s  in this series.  Hilemore, the captain of one of the fleets, also has some POV;s, and Sirius, who has been captured by a white drake (dragon) now has his own POV, as he has been changed into a human-spoiled controlled by the White.   With the danger escalating, and the world very much in danger of being destroyed by the attacking Drakes;  Lizanne, Clay and Hiemore  take on various assignments to stop the enemy before it’s too late. 

Lizanne, after being successful in her last mission, will now go undercover to a city that is a prison for rough tough mean prisoners that survive in the city of undesirables.  Lizanne, who is an agent and assassin for the syndicate, is determined to find someone who has the ability to build items that could help fight the Drakes.   Clay follows a vision to also discover more about the Drakes, and someone who might be able to help them win this war.  Hilemore must push his men on the ship to fight the continued attacks by the Drakes.  Each of them faces terrible odds of survival, especially Lizanne and Clay.

What follows is an exciting, dangerous, intense storyline filled with non-stop action.  All three of our heroes are on their own, with no contact; and as the tension grows, we fear for their lives. The journey for each will take them to depths of hell.    To tell too much more is difficult, as in fantasies there are many details that need to be read to understand.  I loved Lizanne, as she was some tough heroine, who refused to ever give up.  I liked Clay too, but to me Lizanne stood out the most. 

Anthony Ryan does a masterful job in writing this complex story that intensifies the further we delve into the horrors we witness in a world that is falling apart.  As in most fantasies, this is a big book, just under 600 pages.  If you enjoy epic fantasies, in a sort of sci-fi dystopian world, with lots of action, then you should be reading this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



Anthony Ryan’s publisher is offering a paper copy of the first book in this series, THE WAKING FIRE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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Intercession by M.A. Abraham – Review & Giveaway

Intercession by M.A. Abraham – Review & Giveaway


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In the history of the Tantalarian people, The Tribunal Elder is the only one who ever stood up to the Tribunal. He did that when he was a Tribune, and managed to live to eventually lead it. He had disagreed with a decision the counsel made and acted on it. In protest; he cut off his ceremonial braid and threw the discarded plait onto the floor at The Elder’s feet, and refused to ever wear a braid again. His action was considered an insult, to the Elder of that time, as well as the Tribunal. The spirit of the man, who was, still lives in the ruler who is now.

The Tribunal Elder has lived through more millennium than he cares to think about. He is not the type to shirk his duties. He is a force to recon with; yet he is known to be a kind man. To settle a dispute between the Martians and the Human settlers, he is being forced to take the mother ship that they had arrived on Tantalus with many eons before back into space. This, he is not happy about.

The message from the Martians is clear, remove the settlers from the surface of their planet, or they will die. The Tribunal Elder soon discovers there is more to this than those who are command know about, for the act that precipitated this action had multiple events. Someone is working in the background, manipulating forces, to create a power struggle between the two species.

Will he allow the Tantalarians to be pulled into a conflict that they have and want nothing to do with?




Intercession by M.A. Abraham is the 4th book in her Tantalus series.   M. A. Abraham once again gives us an exciting and tense story as we return to the world of Tantalus.  Intercession picks up shortly after the last book ended. A brief refresher of the premise of Tantalus: This is a Sci-Fi story about two species (Humans & Tantalarians) that are forced to work together on the planet Tantalus.

The Tribunal Elder has been requested to go to Mars and remove the human settlers who live there or all humans will be killed.  He gathers a team made up of Tantalarians and human leaders who have migrated nicely in Tantalus.   The purpose is to find out the what and why causing this issue.  The Elder wants only mated men, as the Sirens from Mars are known to use their ability to get what they want by using alluring spells; and the mated men are immune to those spells.  He also wants Terec & Adele (our previous book heroes) to come, especially since Adele has the ability to read people and able to see if they are lying.

When they arrive in Mars, they are greeted by the Siren leader, as well as one of the woman warriors, who threaten them.  They are told that a few of the women are missing, and blame the human residents.   The Elder senses there is more to the story, and with his team they meet with the resident human leaders of various ships to discover what is happening.  Adele will make friends with Glynnis, one of the Siren females, who helps heal those who have been affected by sickness from contaminated water.   Adele and Gynnis will play a big part in helping fix the water, and learn the truth about what is happening.

What follows is a well written and excellent story line that will have the Elder, and the Tantalarians discover the issues, as well as stopping a dangerous revolt.  I loved meeting Echoes, a Siren princess, who was able to stop the revolution, and dictate punishment to those involved.  I loved Adele and Terec. I also enjoyed the surprise twist was also very nice. 

M.A. Abraham once again gives us an interesting, fun and different story line of the Tantalarians and Humans working together, as they try to diffuse the situation in Mars.  If you enjoy fantasy, aliens,  world building, then I suggest you start this series with the first book.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review



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Wanted & Wired by Vivien Jackson – Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Wanted & Wired by Vivien Jackson – Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Wanted and WiredAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Wanted and Wired Quote

A rip-roarin’ new snarky, sexy sci-fi paranormal romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heat, and heart. Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos, good guys come in unlikely packages and love sprouts in the most inconvenient places…

Rogue scientist • technologically enhanced • deliciously attractive
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what’s left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas-sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.

Gun for hire • Texan rebel • always hits her mark
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it’s the perfect storm…


Wanted & Wired by Vivien Jackson is the first book in her new sci-Fi Tether series.   I enjoy reading some sci-fi with a fantasy element, but I do tend to enjoy straight fantasy more.  I had mixed feelings about Wanted & Wired.   This had a lot of possibilities, a good story line, and some really interesting and likeable characters.   I also thought Jackson’s writing was very good.

Mari is a tough heroine, who is also a crack shot who never misses.  She partners with our hero, Heron, who is human and part droid (technically advanced).  When things go wrong on an assignment, Heron uses his technical ability to be one step ahead of those trying to catch them. During this adventure, we meet many people who are technically enhanced or complete droids. The key to the story is to find out who betrayed them in the assignment, as well as to keep Mari safe from those who want her killed. 

My mixed feelings:  The story was very technical, which was either a bit redundant or confusing for me.  Though I like my fantasy and sci-fi, I do not like too much technical terms which takes me out of the story.   I also thought the constant sexual innuendos, and situations seemed to be constant. Wherever, whenever, whoever was around, it was all about their lust for each other.  I like my books to be story oriented, with the sexual chemistry and situations part of the story.

I did think that Heron and Mari were very  good heroes, if we had the time to learn about them; as well as  some of the secondary characters that were well done, such as Chloe, Kellen, Adele, just to name a few.  If you enjoy Sci-Fi with advanced humans or droids, and a heavily sexual story then Wanted & Wired would be a good read.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



She popped her bubble gum and leaned against a Plexiglas route map. Cool as a daiquiri was Mari.

He waited for the bus to pull away from the stop and then rolled his car to the curb, about a meter from her mud-caked wellies. Green ones, with tiny sunflowers on the pull loops. He moved one hand off the steering wheel, signed a command, and her door shished open.

She leaned in, twirling the parasol, flinging errant raindrops all over his contrast-piped leather interior. Cool sprinkles, like cupcake dusting. A dimple tucked itself next to her flirty smile. “Hey, stranger. Goin’ my way?”

Heron pressed his lips into a line. “No funning, please. Get in. Quickly.”

“No kiddin’ no fun,” she muttered under her breath, probably forgetting that her com was subvocal. Although she was sharp as a shiv when her hands were on a gun, she could forget crucial things on planning and extraction. Or she deliberately relied on him to keep all that sorted.

Either way, Heron didn’t mind. He reached through the wireless and shut down her com.

She closed the umbrella, tossed it to the floorboard, and folded herself into the passenger seat. Heron had the door down as soon as her skirt was clear of the seals.

He’d examined this sector extensively in planning and had every escape route timed down to the second. He hadn’t counted on the law enforcement response being so fast, though, almost instantaneous. Road blocks and drones were popping up like dandelions every time he polled the mirror, and he had no defenses set up to counter them.

He knew precisely the speed at which information flowed, and there was no way within normal parameters the authorities could know her identity and location this quickly. Clearly, Mari had been set up. He even had a good idea who’d done it. The cloud, with its delicious glut of information, hovered just beyond his vision, tempting. He could see her doom erupting, 33.3 milliseconds behind real time, and he couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it.

No, that wasn’t true. He had a range of options, but the only one he allowed himself, the only one that made sense, was to get her away from here. Get her somewhere safe. Hide her.

Traffic became a torment, not just because his escape was slowed or capture crept closer with each passing second, but also because…she was here. Close. Too close. Within touching distance close. He could practically feel her vibrating with postjob adrenaline. Just eight blocks to the expressway entrance ramp. He endured them. Every bloody inch. Every stroke of her naked hands on the cushion. Every drip of skin-warmed rainwater from her ponytail, teasing its way down between her shoulder blades and along the seatback. Every push of her breath against damp synthetic cashmere. Every distant siren, every rolling update from his mirror… Interpol had her bios now, but he suspected the UNAN agents would find her first.

No. Over his goddamned corpse they would.
He hit the entrance ramp at 120 and blew into the cruise lane. The wireless exchange with the bus earlier had reminded him of another closed system, off-cloud. A bigger one. Private. Safe.

“Thought our exit vector was south. Cabana down in Cabo San Lucas and an endless tab of mojitos? This ringing a bell, partner?” Mari craned to see a road sign too blurry to read with naked eyes.

Heron cataloged the sign, crossed three lanes, and slung the car onto a flyover, taking them decidedly not south.
“I told you our plans had changed. No cabana this time, but don’t worry. I’m taking you someplace safe.”

“What place? Your place?” She waggled her eyebrows.
He inhaled deliberately. She doesn’t mean it the way it sounds. It is not an invitation. You know how she is. Bald come-hithers and poor timing were typical of her postjob process. Everybody had a different way of ramping up and down for jobs like this, and hers was invariable. A peek at her biometrics showed elevated hormone levels in her blood. Flight or fight or fuck, and Mari had an unnatural ability to suppress the first.

Any other job, he’d have her on a plane by now and off to the hired harem of cabana boys she needed to seduce to prove she was still alive. But this wasn’t any other job. This was a botch. On a contract held by Texas. She was in danger, and he didn’t have time to wrestle with her attempts to make him into another of her temporary playthings.

Temporary, because the only time she’d be able to stomach fucking a post-human would be right after a job. And then she’d hate herself after. He knew what she thought about people with implanted tech. Cyborgs. No better than machines.

And he sported a metric shitload of implanted tech.
So he’d kept their relationship purely professional, and there had never been a reason to alter that structure. Until today. Now, to keep her safe, he was willing to suffer a lot more than her derision. He was willing to lay bare his most deeply held secrets and hope she didn’t heckle. Or worse, send him away.

He accelerated through fourth gear, and the car lowered, uncomplaining, hugging the asphalt.

Fuck it all—he was taking her home.




About the author




VIVIEN JACKSON is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter. In the meantime, she writes, mostly fantastical or futuristic or kissing-related stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s performing a sacred duty nurturing the next generation of Whovian Browncoat Sindarin Jedi gamers, and their little dogs too. With her similarly geeky partner, she lives in Austin, Texas, and watches a lot of football.


Social Networking Links

Twitter: @Vivien_Jackson

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