Lethal Pursuit by Will Thomas

About the book:

London, 1892—Cyrus Barker is brought into a game of international espionage by the Prime Minister himself in the newest mystery in Will Thomas’s beloved series.

Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn receive in the mail an unexplained key stamped with the letter Q. Barker, recognizing it for what it is, uses the key to unlock an anonymous door in the alleyway, which opens to an underground tunnel leading to Downing Street.

The Prime Minister has a small task for Cyrus Barker. A Foreign Office agent stole a satchel in Eastern Europe, but was then himself murdered at Charing Cross. The satchel contains a document desperately wanted by the German government, but while the agent was killed, the satchel remains in English hands. With a cold war brewing between England and Germany, it’s in England’s interest to return the document contained in the satchel to its original owners and keep it out of German hands.

The document is an unnamed first century gospel; the original owner is the Vatican. And the German government isn’t the only group trying to get possession of it. With secret societies, government assassins, political groups, and shadowy figures of all sorts doing everything they can—attacks, murders, counter-attacks, and even massive street battles—to acquire the satchel and its contents, this small task might be beyond even the prodigious talents of Cyrus Barker.

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My review:

How have I never heard of the Barker & Llewelyn mysteries before now? This is book 11, and I have just discovered them; but now I am thoroughly hooked. These “enquiry agents” are Will Thomas’ version of Holmes and Watson, and I adore them, quirks and all.

Lethal Pursuit is historical mystery at its finest. Filled with elegant detail of the Victorian era, the story transports you until you are so steeped in a Sherlockian world you find yourself never wanting to leave.

And just when I thought I’d figured it all out, just when I was sure what would happen next, the author tossed another twist in to keep me guessing and turning more pages. Love that!

If you enjoy historical mystery, if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you must read Will Thomas’ Lethal Pursuit. I look forward to starting the series from the beginning! 😉

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Ghostlight by Rabia Gale

About the book:

Trevelyan Shield would rather fight demons and exorcise haunts than deal with debutantes, alive or dead. But when he encounters the charming but ghostly Arabella Trent, his duty is clear: send the young woman into the afterlife. Otherwise, she risks attracting the denizens of the Shadow Lands, who hunger for mortal souls.

Arabella doesn’t remember the runaway carriage that hit her and left her for dead. Nor does she know why her body was found so far from her. But something—or someone—is preventing her from returning to it, and she’s determined to find out why.

As Arabella and Trey race to unravel the mystery, a sinister plot unfolds and the boundary between the demon and mortal worlds grows thin. If they don’t act soon, Arabella won’t be the only one to fall prey to the Shadow Lands.

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My review:

Looking for a ghost story to read for Halloween? Ghostlight is a great choice. It has so much more than just ghosts: instead of your typical, fainting debutante, it has a strong, take-care-of-herself heroine; instead of frights just for the sake of them, it has spiritual warfare battling for souls; and instead of old haunted houses, it has Regency era cathedrals and mansions. Definitely much more going for it than the usual tale of spirits.

Gale did a marvelous job of creating atmosphere and suspense, while not going overboard. This is a ghost story that you can get caught up in and still sleep afterwards. 🙂 Whether you are a fan of fantasy or Regency era romance (or both, like me!), Ghostlight is for you. Grab your own copy today and read it while you’re passing out candy to all the little goblins that come to your door. 😉

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

About the book:

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance . . . and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone–even the lowborn–a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

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My review:

Fireborne is one of those books–you know the type I’m talking about, right? Those books that stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Those books that made you laugh or cry or grip the edge of your seat in the tension of the moment (or all three, in this case!). I loved reading Fireborne and am so impressed that this is Munda’s debut novel.

This reminded me in some ways of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire Series, but even better. Instead of adding dragons into history, Munda took the historical political upheaval of something like the French Revolution and reimagined it in a fantasy world. Think of some of the best parts of A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel: the intrigue, the betrayal, the love, the heartbreak, the politics, the danger…but with dragons. And I personally feel that every story can only be made better with dragons! 😉

Wonderfully written, beautifully paced, and perfectly cast, Fireborne is a promise that Rosaria Munda will be a favorite author. Here’s looking forward to many more books in the Aurelian Cycle!

Many thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Synapse by Steven James

About the book:

Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway, a pastor in Cincinnati, must come to terms not just with what machines know, but what they believe. Is hope real for them, or merely an illusion?

Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon.

But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions that Artificials were never meant to ask.

Deftly weaving suspense and intrigue into a rich, resonant tale that explores faith and what it really means to be human, Steven James offers us a glimpse into the future and into our own hearts.

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My review:

Wow. Just wow. Steven James managed to pack so much into these pages: so much tension, so much science, so much truth, while keeping the plot so interesting and swiftly paced, that I could not stop reading.

The characters are deftly crafted and beautifully flawed, the kinds of characters that we can all relate to in some way or other. I loved the juxtaposition of Jordan’s innocent and childlike faith against Kestrel’s broken and jaded outlook. And the story is equal parts heart-pounding and thought-provoking.

This is a novel I think everyone should read. Why? James managed to capture so much truth, and to both ask and give insightful answers to some sincerely deep questions, within these pages, that reading this awesome story about the inherent dangers of overwhelming technology gave me much more than a fascinating diversion from boredom. Reading Synapse gave me chills, made me think, and changed the way I look at the world around me. That is what makes this a novel everyone should read.

Steven James’ Synapse releases tomorrow, so grab your own copy as soon as possible, then hang on for a ride that will leave you breathless.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice by H.L. Burke

About the book:

To save a kingdom, she must lose her heart.

Born a princess in a land where the sun never sets, Arynne longs for the freedom to use her inborn magic. When an emissary from the dark side of the world requests an alliance sealed by marriage, Arynne jumps at a chance to escape the rules of her homeland, even if it means marrying a prince she’s never met and never seeing the sun again.

The starlit kingdom of Frorheim believes that only a marriage of a Solean Sun Princess to their Star Prince will thwart the return of a feared sorcerer. Arynne meets the qualifications, but the journey is perilous. Even more dangerous to Arynne, however, is her growing attraction to the roguish Frorian soldier, Kajik.

In the throes of true love, Arynne rues her betrothal to the unknown prince. Can she follow her heart knowing that if she forsakes her vow, Frorheim is doomed, and herself along with it?

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My review:

Oh my goodness, I enjoyed this book so much that I actually went to bed early, so I could read without distractions! I found myself so wrapped up in the story of Arynne and Kajik, cheering them on when things went right, cringing when things went awry, and hoping that all would work out in the end, that I read deep into the night just so I could finish.

Built on an intriguing premise, in which the planet sopped turning generations ago and some people have adapted to live in constant sun and some in constant dark, H.L. Burke’s divided world is both fascinating and frightening. But she managed to craft plausible fixes for all of the what-ifs in her world, while keeping the pace of the plot steady. And her characters are wonderfully drawn and still maintain that H.L. Burke snark that I so enjoy.

And book two, Prince of Stars, Son of Fate, is already out, so we don’t even have to wait to find out how the duology ends! Yay! I definitely recommend you grab a copy of Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice and get swept away too. 🙂

Happy reading!

Crosscurrent by Catherine Jones Payne

About the book:

A black tide is swelling.

In the wake of a horrific massacre, the naiads have chosen to leave Thessalonike, and the merman Jade loves is leaving with them. But the naiads’ departure can’t quell the city’s political tensions or satisfy Jade’s enemies.

After disaster strikes, Jade must face sea dragons and the fathomless deep as she journeys to Marbella. There she learns that Thessalonike’s infighting is the least of her world’s concerns. A new empire is rising in the ocean, and it will stop at nothing in its quest for dominion.

Can Jade survive the churning current of fear and violence, or will it drag her to the depths?

Crosscurrent is the heart-pounding second novel in a complete trilogy of YA mermaid fantasy books. If you like enigmatic mystery, stirring romance, and harrowing intrigue, you’ll love Catherine Jones Payne’s riveting underwater world.

Dive into an underwater adventure in Broken Tides, a series of mermaid tales perfect for fans of Carrie Anne Noble, Leigh Bardugo, Jennifer Donnelly, and Kiera Cass.

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My review:

War is at hand, and the merpeople and naiads must decide whether to flee or fight. The tension mounts throughout the story, which kept me flipping pages. But my favorite part was the sea dragons, where things don’t always turn out the way you expect when you finally face your fears.

Catherine Jones Payne is on the verge of making me a fan of mermaid stories! In this second installment of her Broken Tides series, she manages to bring even more excitement than in the first story, while maintaining the fundamental beauty of the setting. I really enjoyed reading Crosscurrent and think you would, too.

Happy reading! 🙂

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

About the book:

A young woman is both a bard–and a warrior–in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice. . .

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My review:

This was a fabulous read. Told from three perspectives, we glimpse the trials and triumphs of Liobhan, Brocc, and Dau, three warrior/spies in training. Three voices, one story; three tunes, one song: for Brocc it is the deep, resonant notes that thrum along his harp/heartstrings, guiding him to the truth of who he is and what choices he must make. For Liobhan, it is the whistle of a pipe, leading the march for the warriors, but also trilling a playful tune to teach her that life is about more than just war, it is tied to the heart. For Dau, it is the rhythm tapped out on the bodhran, steady and sure to show him that his past does not define him, but does strengthen him.

I so enjoyed reading this story and getting caught up in Marillier’s lyrical storytelling. She crafted both a beautiful world and thoroughly-fleshed characters which brought this story depth and breadth. I look forward to getting lost in her worlds again.

Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group/Ace and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂