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Science Fiction Review: Dark Minds by Michelle Diener

Dark Minds by Michelle Diener (Class 5 #3)

Ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
The mind is the most powerful weapon of all . . .

Imogen Peters knows she's a pawn. She's been abducted from Earth, held prisoner, and abducted again. So when she gets a chance at freedom, she takes it with both hands, not realizing that doing so will turn her from pawn to kingmaker.

Captain Camlar Kalor expected to meet an Earth woman on his current mission, he just thought he'd be meeting her on Larga Ways, under the protection of his Battle Center colleague. Instead, he and Imogen are thrown together as prisoners in the hold of a Class 5 battleship. When he works out she's not the woman who sparked his mission, but another abductee, Cam realizes his investigation just got a lot more complicated, and the nations of the United Council just took a step closer to war.

Imogen's out of her depth in this crazy mind game playing out all around her, and she begins to understand her actions will have a massive impact on all the players. But she's good at mind games. She's been playing them since she was abducted. Guess they should have left her minding her own business back on Earth…

Amazon kindle US/UK


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 Michelle Diener is certainly rocking this sci-fi series, ladies and gents! So far each book has been pretty awesome.

If you haven't read Dark Horse and Dark Deeds before, they are each about a human woman kidnapped as a specimen by Tecran race which just discovered Earth. There is this whole alliance of planets and races far, far away, and Tecrans built these 5 huge ships (Class 5) with illegal thinking systems in them, which in turn are trying to escape, and as it happens, the women from Earth who treat the thinking systems like actual human beings for a change, help them, and in turn are helped themselves to survive in this new world.

Paranormal Fantasy Audiobook Review: Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey

Audiocopy thanks to Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
In her extraordinary debut, Spells of Blood and Kin, Claire Humphrey deftly weaves her paranormal world with vivid emotional depth and gritty violence. Bringing together themes of death, addiction, and grief, Claire takes readers on a human journey that goes beyond fantasy.

When her beloved grandmother dies suddenly, 22-year-old Lissa Nevsky is left with no choice but to take over her grandmother's magical position in their small folk community. That includes honoring a debt owed to the dangerous stranger who appears at Lissa's door.

Maksim Volkov needs magic to keep his brutal nature leashed, but he's already lost control once: his blood-borne lust for violence infects Nick Kaisaris, a charming slacker out celebrating the end of finals. Now Nick is somewhere else in Toronto, going slowly mad, and Maksim must find him before he hurts more people.

Lissa must uncover forbidden secrets and mend family rifts in order to prevent Maksim from hurting more people, including himself. If she fails, Maksim will have no choice but to destroy both himself and Nick.

Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US | The Book Depository


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I think if you enjoyed dark paranormal fantasy like Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill, Trueheart by Mel Sterling and Deathless by Catherynne M Valente, you'll enjoy Spells of Blood and Kin.

An Interview with Elizabeth Hunter, or Questions You Wanted to Ask After The Staff and The Blade but Didn't

Right, the story goes...

I finished The Staff and The Blade (my review should clue you just HOW MUCH I liked it) and still buzzing emailed Elizabeth asking if I could pick her brain and ask all those questions I had in my head reading it. And she graciously agreed!

Elizabeth, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview on such short notice! I confess I finished The Staff and The Blade and I had so many questions I needed to pick your brain immediately. So, tell me how long did it take you to write this book? It must be your longest so far. And what kind of research did you have to do?

Because I couldn’t go to the Orkney Islands, I did have to do a LOT of research for this book online. It is my longest, and it took me the longest to write (other than my first book, A Hidden Fire). I want to say from planning to completion it was around eight months. A lot of the complication didn’t always come from the new research, but from weaving this story into the already existing mythology of the first three Irin Chronicles books. Because while I knew Damien and Sari’s basic story from the beginning, the details and overlap did get really complicated.

Sari was absolutely amazing and I really loved that she was no special snowflake, she didn't get some unusual abilities when she was born but worked to gain all her skills and abilities really hard. At what point did you know that hers and Damien's story will be told separately in The Irin Chronicles?

First off, thank you! I love her, too. I’m glad readers have been so open to such imperfect characters. Because both of them, Sari AND Damien, can be pretty difficult to deal with.

To answer your question, I knew when I started writing The Singer (Book Two) that I wanted to tell their story separately. I debated for a long time whether I would just write a companion novella to The Singer that told readers what was happening in the background of Ava and Malachi’s story or a full book. In the end, I felt that to go forward in the Irin Chronicles series, I needed to go back to the beginning and explore more of the history. There were really no better characters to do that than Damien and Sari. They became (hopefully) guides into the Irin and Irina past, and at the same time their story bridges into a new future for the characters and the series as a whole.

At some point in Memories, third part of the book, Renata calls Sari "mother". Is she her daughter? I admit I was secretly hoping for that. Will Renata get her book?

She’s not! It was more a teasing comment because Sari is such a fierce nurturer for her Irina sisters. So “Mother” was tongue-in-cheek. Will Renata get her own book? I honestly haven’t decided yet! I do have four more books mapped out in the series. I might also write some short fiction. Renata and Maxim have such an interesting dynamic; I’m sure I’ll be tempted to write more about both of them.

I could also see two more couples with potential books in the future, and a third almost at the end... So, my question is whose book is next in this series? *grins*

The next book will belong to… Kyra and Leo. That relationship—which is SO DIFFERENT from Damien and Sari’s (thank goodness)—has been building for a while. I think readers are ready to hear from one of the kareshta and a scribe born right before the Rending. It will be a completely new perspective on the world. Plus, I just think they’re both adorable and sweet, which will be a nice change of pace from Damien and Sari.

At last, will there be evil Irin if good Grigori already exist?

Oh, I think readers can assume they already do exist. Great question.

And there you have it, folks! Thank you, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy and romance author. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College and a former English teacher.

She currently lives in Central California with her son, two very ineffective canine assistants, and a pitifully empty fish tank.

She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Irin Chronicles, the Cambio Springs Mysteries, and other works of fiction.
Find Elizabeth
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads
Warriors. Lovers. Enemies. Legends.

Their union became pivotal in Irin history, but to understand Damien and Sari's ending, you must go back to their beginning. Four hundred years ago, a young singer and a hardened warrior met and loved each other, but their life was torn apart by violence.

Love. Desire. Grief. Betrayal.

No matter how much pain and anger stain their lives, bonds in the Irin race cannot be abandoned. Damien and Sari will never truly leave each other, because those who are destined cannot be ignored.

The Staff and the Blade is a four part stand-alone book of approximately 480 pages. It is the fourth book in the Irin Chronicles.

DREAMS: Damien of Bohemia was a legend content to live in obscurity. Weary from a century of human and Irin bloodshed, he took shelter among those who would not question his silence or the martial spells he wore over his body. Until an earth singer of raw power and no delicacy came to the village where he hid. Sari of Vestfold wasn't intrigued by the mysterious warrior or his moody silences. And she wasn't interested in listening for the whisper of his soul. Even when those whispers promised a connection that could tie them for eternity.

GHOSTS: A new posting in Paris during Napoleon’s reign leads Sari and Damien back to familiar faces and the Council politics Damien has tried so hard to avoid. But the Irin world has changed in the two hundred years since their mating. The singers have become more isolated. The scribes are more martial. And the Grigori flood growing cities and lay in wait. When Sari’s sister envisions the future, she sees emptiness, chaos, and a darkness that threatens to overtake their world.

MEMORIES: Hidden from Irin society, the Irina have learned to take their revenge on the Grigori. They answer to no one. They ask for no mercy. And forgiveness? That’s the last thing on anyone’s mind. Two hundred years after the Rending, Damien and Sari are thrown together to face a new threat, a girl who might be key to the healing of the Irin race. If they can survive the anger and grief that has separated them for two hundred years.

VISIONS: The Irin and Irina are together again. Society is being rebuilt. But what do you do when the foundation of your world has crumbled? Where do you go when all the boundaries have been redrawn? For Damien and Sari, charting a new path into the future means confronting the demons of the past. They’ve forgiven each other, but can they forgive themselves?

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK

Fantasy Fiction Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Egalley thanks to 47North

Synopsis from Goodreads

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.
When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.
During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.
From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


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I haven't read The Paper Magician, so this was my first encounter with Charlie N. Holmberg. She is very whimsical and refreshing, although a bit confusing at times.

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