Tag Archives: elizabeth hunter

Book Review: Midnight Labyrinth

As everyone is probably aware by this time, I’m on Elizabeth Hunter’s ARC list. It was not easy to get on this list. I tried bribing her with so many things. (True, most of those things were my first-born son, and yes, most of those offerings were on days he was being particularly trying, but he is adorable, dammit! and that should’ve worked.)

When she offered me a chance to read Midnight Labyrinth ahead of time, I not only jumped at the chance, I asked: “how high?” I’ve been waiting for the first Ben & Tenzin full-length novel for just about as long as I knew that Benzin was going to be a thing.

I was planning on waiting to review this until release date, but I need you guys to be as excited about this as I am. Because this was amazing.

 

The Blurb

He’s one human caught in a tangled maze of theft, politics, magic, and blood.? In other words, it’s just another night.?

Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world’s most feared vampire assassins. He’s traveled the world and battled immortal enemies.

But everyone has to go home sometime.

New York means new opportunities and allies for Ben and his vampire partner, Tenzin. It also means new politics and new threats. Their antiquities business is taking off, and their client list is growing. When Ben is challenged to find a painting lost since the second world war, he jumps at the chance. This job will keep him closer to home, but it might just land him in hot water with the insular clan of earth vampires who run Manhattan.

Tenzin knew the painting would be trouble before she laid eyes on it, but she can’t deny the challenge intrigues her. Human laws mean little to a vampire with a few millennia behind her, and Tenzin misses the rush of taking what isn’t hers.

But nothing is more dangerous than a human with half the story, and Ben and Tenzin might end up risking their reputations and their lives before they escape the Midnight Labyrinth.

MIDNIGHT LABYRINTH is the first book in an all new contemporary fantasy series by Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries and the Irin Chronicles

The Cover

You can’t tell me this isn’t gorgeous. SO AMAZING! (Click the cover and it will take you to Goodreads)

The Review

This was an amazing book. There’s a mystery for Ben to solve, humans for Tenzin to amuse herself with, secret bad guys, not-so-secret bad guys, and Gavin. There was Gavin.

Now, I’ve always liked Gavin. Overall, I’m extremely fond of Scottish people, and will do just about anything asked if it’s asked in a Scottish accent (don’t you take advantage of that, PSM!), but Gavin had kinda always been the background before.

But this book? *sigh* Gavin.

WAIT! This book is about Ben & Tenzin, not Gavin. (YOU GUYS! Gavin owns a bar in New York, but he’s getting a little bored with immortality, and instead of seeking me out, decides to do crime with Ben, Tenzin, and their human (and Ben’s high school sweetheart) Chloe.)

BACK TO BENZIN!

I adore Tenzin, but I’m also a little afraid of her. This how I prefer all my best girlfriends, though, and I think I’d make an excellent day person for Tenzin, even if I don’t know any awesome tailors. BUT STILL! I would be delighted to be Tenzin’s PA and work part-time at Gavin’s bar. DAMMIT! How did this come back to Gavin again? (I’m sorry Carwyn, but you’re going to have to do some work if you want to remain number one in my heart.)

Sorry. I promise I’ll be good now.

On a more serious note, one of the best things about this book was the way the domestic abuse situation was handled.

Ben to Tenzin: “He’s not going to touch her again.”

“I have no doubt about that, but be smart. Don’t try to order her around for her own good. Don’t be a fool.”

“Sometimes women go back.”

I love that this is acknowledged without shaming the victim of the abuse. You never know the reasons a woman stays with an abuser, and until you’ve walked a few yards in those shoes, you don’t get to judge a woman for staying in a relationship like that. If you need to judge, judge the asshole who’s doing the abusing. That’s the person who’s really in the wrong, here.

I cannot stop going off on tangents. But there’s so much to talk about, and I really, really don’t want to give any spoilers.

This book combines exciting art heists and double-crosses with details of the developing relationship between Ben and Tenzin as well as exploring the fact that whether or not Ben’s a vampire biologically, he is a vampire in every other way, and adds a little bit of romance.

The world-building was, as always with Ms. Hunter, delightful. She creates a world in which vampires mingle with unsuspecting humans and makes it so believable that I definitely double-take whenever I see someone a bit too pale (which, let’s face it, in sunlight- and diversity-impaired Portland happens an awful lot).

The pacing was perfect. She moves you along the story just fast enough to keep you on edge (I read this in one sitting) without bowling you over with too much information too quickly.

One of the things I appreciate most about Elizabeth’s writing is the humor. I love someone that can make me feel, make me cringe, make me gasp, and make me laugh all in one book.

Ben glanced down. “Well, you do have great legs, Gavin. Very shapely.”

“Thank you. I work out.”

“Really?” Ben asked.

“No, you idiot, I’m a vampire.”

*sigh* Gavin

The Quote

…Ben could admit what he couldn’t in the light of day.

She was the darkness he wanted to fall into

The Verdict

This was amazing. My favorite in the Elemental World, for sure. I give it five stars and recommend you click on that cover above to figure out where you can pre-order it.

PURCHASE:
?Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2wq0Hso
?Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2zmAoaX
?iBooks: http://apple.co/2vvFgsD
?B&N: http://bit.ly/2vAHyGM
?Kobo: http://bit.ly/2vALPtX
?Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gkOnlA

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Book Review: The Silent

This is so much later than I intended it to be, and I probably owe Elizabeth Hunter an apology and a martini (or three), but here it is!

The Irin Chronicles (specifically The Scribe) were my introduction to Elizabeth Hunter. I’m pretty sure I read it at the insistence of my PSM, who occasionally introduces me to something good (and other times, according to my Facebook memories from today, insists I read shark-shifter romances that turn out to be not so good). She obviously hit the ball out of the park with this one.  Now here we are, 3 years later (I read it in 2014) and I’m reviewing an ARC of The Silent for you. (I’ve reviewed the third and fourth books in the series previously, in case you’re interested.)

The Blurb

They are called kareshta, the silent ones.
But the silent are waking.

Kyra has lived her life in the shadow of a powerful Grigori brother. She’s ignored her own desires for the good of her family, but an unexpected request from Thailand sends her on a mission that could change her life and alter the fate of free Grigori all over the world. Sons of the Fallen hidden in the mountains of Thailand have adapted an ancient human magic for their own purposes. Will this practice bring peace or lead to even greater danger for the Irin race?

A simple diplomatic mission sends Leo to Bangkok, but he didn’t expect to see a familiar face in surveillance photographs. He’s tried everything to drive Kyra from his mind, since he was convinced the gentle kareshta wanted to hide from the world. How did she turn up halfway across the globe, living with Grigori who may or may not be Irin allies?

Leo has bided his time. He’s given Kyra her space.

But this scribe is ready to hear a kareshta sing.

The Cover

 

The Review

Ugh. This was so good. (<—this was literally my entire review for a week.) I’ve never been to Thailand, and haven’t even much cared about the idea of going. There are so many other places on my bucket list that SE Asia doesn’t even register. But now? Now I want to go. So thank you, Ms. Hunter, for costing me future money. (Seriously. Thank you!)

Like all the Irin Chronicles, the world building in this book is just incredible. I’ve long enjoyed Leo but hadn’t much paid attention to Kyra before. I’m disappointed in myself and went back and reread The Secret just to make sure I could properly appreciate her.

I really enjoyed the character development of Kyra throughout this book as she goes from someone who is strong but willing to hide her light (out of necessity) to a commanding presence.

And the sex? Whoa. Elizabeth Hunter brought the goods this time. I wouldn’t have thought a “losing your virginity” sex scene could be so…steamy. *fans self*

The Verdict

I’m never not going to recommend that you head out and buy everything Elizabeth Hunter’s ever written. This series is so amazing, and trust me when I say you want to read every single book in it.

The Disclaimer

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

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July Book Releases

There are so many exciting books out this month that I can barely contain myself! I’ll have some reviews coming up of a few of these, but today I’m just here to push you into purchasing books and being my reading buddy.

Out Today

Godkiller by Colleen Vanderlinden (psssstttt…today’s also her birthday! what better birthday gift is there than buying a copy of her book?)

The Cover

The Blurb

In the ten years since the end of the Undead Wars, Molly Brooks, goddess of death and protector of the Earthly realm, has achieved what no one would have thought possible: world peace. The Earth thrives under her protection, and her family and friends are finally safe from the enemies who have targeted her.

But not all of Molly’s battles are about her, and an ancient nemesis is ready to make his move on her world. With her mate and her closest allies at her side, Molly will face attacks from enemies both strange and well-known to her. This time around, the power of the gods just might not be enough.

July 15

Dustwalker by Tiffany Roberts

The Cover

The Blurb

A SYNTH SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE…

Walk. Scavenge. Destroy. Trade. A simple cycle that’s suited Ronin for one hundred and eighty-five years. With no clear grasp of his programming, the barren wasteland known as The Dust offers him purpose, a place where his armored undercasing, amped-up processors, and advanced optics can be put to use. The ramshackle towns on the edges of the waste serve merely as resupply stations between increasingly long treks. But one night — one human woman — makes him question everything.

A WOMAN WHO BRINGS HIM TO LIFE…

Lara Brooks struggles to survive under the strict rules imposed by the bots in Cheyenne. With her sister missing, she’s been on her own for weeks, and fears the worst. Her only hope comes from Ronin, a bot she catches spying on her. He promises to provide for Lara and search for her sister. All she has to do is dance. It should be easy; she’s done it before. But the longer she spends with Ronin, the harder it is to see him as just another bot.

A SANCTUARY HIDING DARK SECRETS…

In a city where humans are relegated to live in squalor, Ronin discovers a threat greater than any in the Dust — Warlord, Cheyenne’s tyrannical leader. When Ronin ignores the rules, he unwittingly puts Lara in danger. Warlord is as intolerant of disrespect as he is of mankind.

 

Last, but not least…

July 27

The Silent by Elizabeth Hunter

The Cover

The Blurb

They are called kareshta, the silent ones.
But the silent are waking.

Kyra has lived her life in the shadow of a powerful Grigori brother. She’s ignored her own desires for the good of her family, but an unexpected request from Thailand sends her on a mission that could change her life and alter the fate of free Grigori all over the world. Sons of the Fallen hidden in the mountains of Thailand have adapted an ancient human magic for their own purposes. Will this practice bring peace or lead to even greater danger for the Irin race?

A simple diplomatic mission sends Leo to Bangkok, but he didn’t expect to see a familiar face in surveillance photographs. He’s tried everything to drive Kyra from his mind, since he was convinced the gentle kareshta wanted to hide from the world. How did she turn up halfway across the globe, living with Grigori who may or may not be Irin allies?

Leo has bided his time. He’s given Kyra her space.

But this scribe is ready to hear a kareshta sing.

 

Notes and miscellany

I’ll have reviews of all three coming up in the next week or so, in order of publication date (so Dustwalker first, etc.). BUT, if you want to read along, go forth and purchase!

Colleen’s book is the latest in her Hidden series, and I am SO EXCITED to read this one. That was the first fiction of Colleen’s I ever read, and I just love this journey that Molly’s been on. (Plus, as you may remember, Colleen is my kill-count competitor, so I have to dig in to see how many kills I need to add into my rewrite of The Ruby Blade to try to keep up.)

Tiffany Roberts’s book is a new series for them (right? Am I making that up?) and I’m so excited to read what I’ve decided is a cyborg western romance.

Elizabeth Hunter’s is an upcoming release, but I’ve already read the advanced copy, and you guys! Once again, she’s knocked it out of the park. You are not going to want to miss the latest in her Irin Chronicles series.

Book Review: Night in the Waking City (an Elemental World short story)

Elizabeth Hunter re-released her novella A Very Proper Monster yesterday. It  had previously been paired with a Grace Draven short (which you should read…), but now it’s out in the world alone and with a brand new cover.

Cover of A Very Proper Monster

I reviewed A Very Proper Monster when it came out before, but this edition has a new short story in it that gives us a new glimpse of Josie and Tom.

The short was genuinely fantastic. I enjoyed Tom and Josie the first time around, and this look at them, with bonus Tenzin and Ben, was just the best.

The Blurb

Tom and Josie travel to New York City to meet with allies and publishers, but a chance encounter sends Josie into a rage, leaving Tom to look for unexpected allies in the city that never sleeps. Can a young human and an ancient vampire find his ailing mate before Josie does something she’ll regret?

The Review

This story was both laugh out loud funny (honestly-I was laughing loudly enough sitting alone at the bar last night that people gave me side-eye) and sweetly (but not too sweetly) poignant. Not many authors have the chops to pull off heart-string tugging and funny bone whacking in the same short story.

Josie is a delight-she’s eccentric, passionate, and not quite like other vampires. Honestly, she’s what I want to be when I grow up and have enough money to be eccentric instead of merely odd.

I also want the ability to find offensive authors and have a “chat” with them about the abuses they’ve perpetrated on the English language.

(And I want to hang out with Tenzin and discuss romance novels.)

The Quotes (I couldn’t pick just one…this story is so quotable!)

 “He does write in a genre,” [Josie] said. “It’s a genre called ‘predictable sexist shite.’ Trust me, he’s hardly the first writer to publish in it.”

New York City skyline at night with quote

Typical. She gives a man perfectly valid writing feedback, and he threatens her.

And the best for last (and not something I worry about over muchly…ha!)

“Just tell me. Are you going to kill me?”
“I don’t know. Are you going to keep abusing adverbs?”

The Verdict

If you haven’t already read A Very Proper Monster, you’re going to want to do that immediately – and especially now that you get this fantastic short story with it. Run, don’t walk, to Amazon and download your copy today.

Book Review: Omens & Artifacts

Elizabeth Hunter, who is one of my favorite authors, has a new book out in her Elemental Legacy series. For those of us who really like Tenzin, this is an exciting time. (For the record, I really like Tenzin and have written a fanfic in my head about being friends with her.)

I received this book as a free ARC, but that in no way influenced how much I loved it.

The Blurb

In the elemental world, reputation is everything, but gaining it can get you killed.

Setting up shop as an antiquities hunter means nothing if you don’t have clients. Benjamin Vecchio, nephew of a famed vampire assassin, is the subject of widespread speculation, but so far that speculation hasn’t translated into work.
What Ben needs is a job. A big job. A profitable job.

A legendary job.

Finding the lost sword of Brennus the Celt, the mythical Raven King of the British Isles, would make Ben’s reputation in the immortal world, but it could also draw dangerous attention. The Raven King’s gold hoard isn’t famous for being easy to find. Luckily, Ben has his own legend at his side.

Tenzin is a wind vampire who doesn’t like digging, but she’s more than happy to let Ben do the dirty work while she provides the muscle he needs to make other immortals pay attention. They’re partners. Or so Ben thinks.

But when finding this treasure puts Tenzin’s future plans at risk, will their partnership survive? Tenzin isn’t used to taking orders from anyone, particularly from a young human who used to be her student. Digging into ancient Scottish history can get you dirty. It can also get you killed.

The Cover

The image is a link…click it.

 

The Review

You guys. I love Benzin. It’s been so much fun to watch Ben grow up and the way his relationship with Tenzin has developed just makes me so happy. He’s gone from a streetwise kid and ward of one of the scariest fire vamps out there to a badass in his own right. He’s obviously cool, right? I mean he’s besties with Tenzin!

Ben’s been caught up in some shady shit, due to Tenzin. (‘Shady Shit’ is probably her middle name.) But now he’s ready to step forward and own what he’s doing. He knows his target audience and needs to make a name for himself – something that’s probably easier if you’re virtually immortal and have a couple of centuries to build a reputation. But, since Ben is [still] mortal, he needs to go big or go home. Obviously, going home would result in a boring book, so that’s not the direction he chooses.

I really like how well Elizabeth transports her readers to the various settings. It’s almost as good as having the travel budget to go there myself. I’ve never been to Scotland (booo!), but it’s on my shortlist (top three after Romania and Sweden), but I feel like I have the lay of the land – at least a bit.

As always, the world building was fantastic. The consistency that Ms. Hunter shows throughout the various Elemental series is rather remarkable. Really, my only complaint is that she won’t let me dictate who shows up where. (All my books would have Carwyn, Tenzin, Cathy, Baojia, and Caspar. Oh, and Patrick.) (And Ioan. *hard stare* And Stephen.)

The combination of humor, mystery, and intrigue equals a delightfully paced book that I was unable to put down once I started. Tenzin’s relationship with Cara, the virtual assistant, made me so happy (as did her insistence on teasing Ben about putting holes in the walls of his NY loft to hang her weapons).

I cannot recommend this book more and am excited for the next Benzin adventure – which I’m assuming will continue to be filled with high jinks, gold, and witty banter (I’m a huge fan of witty banter).

The Quote

You guys – I couldn’t pick just one. I have three quotes that made me happy in this book.

Tenzin had walked in rooms layered in gold, had drunk blood from solid hammered goblets, and eaten food sprinkled with its dust.

She’d taken a king for a lover who painted her body with gold dust just to see her outline on silk sheets after they’d made love.

Not included – whether or not she enhances her lady garden with real diamonds…vajazzling on a very expensive level. We know Tenzin likes shiny things. (This is one of the questions I will ask her when we hang out.)

Oh shit. Well, the neighbors’ llamas had lived a long life. Probably.

I mean, that’s just perfect. Even with no context. Maybe especially with no context. Now you’ll have to read it to find out about the llamas.

[Cathy]: “If he’d given it to you…then you’d be stuck being the vampire king of Scotland.”

“I’m not a vampire!” Ben said.

Cathy nodded. “It would certainly be an awkward and probably very short reign.”

I love Cathy and want more of her.

The Verdict

Solid 4.5 stars. I am SO EXCITED for the next chapter and don’t understand why Elizabeth won’t let me lock her up*, keep her supplied with gin, and write whatever I want as fast as possible. DAMN YOU, HUNTER!

*hahaha. Just kidding. I’ve totally never floated the idea of a writer’s dungeon with my PSM. Ha. Ha.