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    REVIEW: Unhallowed by Jordan L. Hawk

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    Rath and Rune: Unhallowed – Jordan L. Hawk

    Monsters. Murder. Librarians.

    Librarian Sebastian Rath is the only one who believes his friend Kelly O’Neil disappeared due to foul play. But without any clues or outside assistance, there’s nothing he can do to prove it.

    When bookbinder Vesper Rune is hired to fill the vacancy left by O’Neil, he receives an ominous letter warning him to leave. After he saves Sebastian from a pair of threatening men, the two decide to join forces and get to the truth about what happened to O’Neil.

    But Vesper is hiding secrets of his own, ones he doesn’t dare let anyone learn. Secrets that grow ever more dangerous as his desire for Sebastian deepens.

    Because Kelly O’Neil was murdered. And if Sebastian and Ves don’t act quickly enough, they’ll be the next to die. 


    I mentioned somewhere on this blog that when I grow up, I want to be a Ladysmith Librarian, ready to defend the world against Outside forces with my trusty dictionary. I’m still waiting for my summons from Mr. Quinn, which is to me what a Hogwarts letter is to an HP fan.

    Every Whyborne and Griffin fan knows what the Ladysmith Museum and its Library mean to the entire series. It was almost a character itself, holding a certain mystique that intrigued me to no end. So I was beyond overjoyed that we get an closer look at the inner workings of this fantastical library through the eyes of the very Librarians themselves!

    Well, technically, its Archivist and its Book Binder.

    Sebastian Rath and Vesper Rune are our heroes. Sebastian is a character I typically describe as likable. This is because I liked him, his co-workers like him but I don’t think he would really stand out as a secondary character. As the MC, he has admirable characteristics and some distinguishing quirks but I have yet to connect with him like I did with Vesper. Combining him with Ves though, they’re good together. The author did a great job making their dynamics stand out from those of the original series.

    Vesper is my cinnamon roll. He’s very good at giving hugs. Raised in a cult by a fanatical mother, endured years of abuse, he and his brother, Nocturne, ran away. They lived in the ever present fear of being found out. He agreed to infiltrate the library for a sorcerer who promised to break the curse he and Noct are under.

    Majority of the story was spent with him working hard to conceal his true nature. Ves’s knowledge of the real world was mostly limited to what his mother and grandfather taught him and his brother. Which is a load of occult mumbo jumbo, fearsome fighting skills and top-notched book binding techniques.

    Unhallowed is set in 1910, 8 years after what should have been the end of the world, something that Ves and Noct were supposed to help bring about. Widdershins is now a different place. Still considered weird by outsiders but more accepting of the otherworldly as Ves was shocked to find out.

    The world building is immersive. There is the Widdershin mythos we all know and love but seen through fresh eyes. You get a great sense of the labyrinthine library and the kind of work it takes to run the place. We also get some background on the illicit rare books trade and hear about Ves’s strong opinions on page margins.

    The plot was a combination of paranormal, mystery and romance. It took place over the course of several days but it feels like the timeline is stretched because a lot of things were happening. Nonetheless, the story moved smoothly along. It tackled dark subjects, had a bit of angst but overall, the tone was light and humorous. It did a great job exploring the rich history of the original series, adding more delights to uncover. There were sinister secrets, crazy cults, dangerous books, mind-boggling designs, mad architects, evil necromancers and an unexpected love affair that answered some of my burning questions.

    Rath and Rune has a great supporting cast, starting with Noct, who’s totally adorbs, the mysterious Mr. Quinn, the Head Librarian, Irene, Librarian and sorceress from the Endicott family, Bonnie, Sebastian’s sister and Mortimer, Librarian and Irene’s fiance. He was an obnoxious, annoying character who I developed an unlikely soft spot for because I’m kind of tickled with the idea of him and Irene. I hope the author gives them a nice story arc.

    I love the direction this spin-off is heading! Unhallowed is a wonderful return to a beloved town with new characters to love and intriguing story arcs to keep you hooked. It’s a great start to another grand magical adventure that promises high-intensity book binding and pure-hearted weapons of mass destruction. If you love Whyborne and Griffin, curious about the Ladysmith library, and/or in the mood for some highly appealing wriggling bits, do read now!

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Unhallowed
    Artist: Sunstained
    Album: Quiet My Demons


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    UNHALLOWED

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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (June 24, 2020)

    Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

    Original Rules

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago.
    • Find a book that will be published THIS year.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT year.

    Some slight revision of the rules:

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago
    • Find a book that will be published THIS month.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
  • Uncategorized

    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: Familiar Business

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

  • Uncategorized

    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE BOOK TAG (Nov 20, 2019)

    I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly tag.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Hexhunter by Jordan L. Hawk

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    Hexworld: Hexhunter – Jordan L. Hawk

    Detective Bill Quigley fell in love with the familiar Isaac the night they met. But after more than two years, it’s time to admit to himself that Isaac doesn’t return his feelings. 

    Isaac knows he’s too broken by his experiences for anyone to fall in love with. Especially someone like Bill, who deserves a partner unplagued by Isaac’s nightmares and doubts. 

    When children go missing from an orphanage, Bill and Isaac must work together to find them. And as years of yearning threaten to ignite into passion, they must decide once and for all whether to take a chance on love.

    Hexworld is a brilliant Jordan L. Hawk creation set in alternate New York run by hexes and magic is channeled through a combination of witches and familiars. Any witch and familiar may bond but the strongest magic comes from the bonding of a fated familiar and witch pair. There are three books and some novellas released so far, each couple bringing their own unique dynamics. I loved all the stories!

    Hexhunter stood out for having a witch and familiar pair not fated to each other. In this world, familiars have the raw end of the deal, forced to bond with a witch or not even considered human. In book one, Hexbreaker, we learned Isaac was treated horribly by his fated witch and he was forced to quit the Metropolitan Witch Police. He was later forced bonded with another, kept imprisoned in his mastiff form and drained of magic. He was rescued by Tom and Cicero with the help of Bill Quigley, who quickly fell in love with Isaac.

    Isaac and Bill slow-burned their way through several books and every Hexworld fan has been waiting for their moment. After several books, the plot has gotten a bit predictable but I don’t really mind. I’ve been rooting for these two.

    The familiar has PTSD and the book dealt with Isaac’s journey to recovery. Because of past abuses, he is slow to trust and thinks he is tainted because his magic is drawn to bad men. He constantly puts himself down and considers himself unworthy. Bless Bill and his big heart! He was exactly what Isaac needs. With infinite patience and a lot of TLCs, he showed Isaac his true worth. Theirs was the softest romance of them all. Those years finally paid off!

    Isaac ran his hand lightly over Bill’s chest. “Worth the wait?”

    “Aye.” Bill kissed Isaac’s hair. “ Worth everything.”

    The abuse of familiars and the desire to control them has been the main conflict in the series. This book once again tackled this threat. The big bad villain who remained unseen and only spoken in secret, masterminded a plot of manipulating familiar forms with hexes. Children from the orphanage were kidnapped and thought to be subjected to this inhumane treatment. As with other JLH books (e.g. Whyborne & Griffin), long lost relatives were not to be trusted and some parental units are just not worth it.

    The world-building is top-notched as usual and skillfully interwoven with actual historical events and mythological stories, that of the 1900s archaeological excavations in Knossos and the story of the Minotaur. I love how this part was put into good use in the climax. Bill blindly running around in the dark, creepy noises, monsters lurking, all classic edge of your seat fun.

    A big hoorah for all the appearances of the rest of the gang, Tom and Cicero, Owen and Mal (my favorite couple), Nick and Jamie, and Dominic and Rook. Of course, Cicero and his big mouth stole the show in every scene he is in. He got Isaac in trouble once again, this time causing friction between Isaac and Sionn, an owl familiar and Isaac’s officemate, who was also interested in Bill. Sionn’s a good guy so I hope he gets his own book and *fingers crossed* it’s him and Valentine, the journalist.

    All too often, Hexworld magic is blind and connects a familiar and witch seemingly at random. Unlike the other books where it plays a pivotal role in the pairing, Hexhunter is about healing and making a choice. Because sometimes, it’s better to choose a good witch than the right witch.

    Magic ain’t everything .

    P.S.

    Hexworld books here.
    Jordan L. Hawk books here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Euphoria, Take My Hand
    Artist: Glasvegas
    Album: Euphoric Heartbreak

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Devil Take Me by Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, Jordan L. Hawk, T.A. Moore, C.S. Poe & Jordan Castillo Price

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    Devil Take Me by Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, Jordan L. Hawk, T.A. Moore, C.S. Poe & Jordan Castillo Price

    Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.

    Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.

    Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….

    They’re one hell of a good time.

    I am the type of reader who, when I see the words raven king, dark duke or devil in winter in the title expects some being who can magically control ravens or actually came from hell only to be let down when they invariable turn out to be just some bastard with poor manners. So I was delighted to know that Devil Take Me was quite literal.

    This anthology features a stellar list of authors, among them my favorites Jordan L. Hawk and Jordan Castillo Price, giving their own take on the theme of selling the soul to the devil and trying to get it back.

    Infernal Affairs by Jordan L. Hawk: Fluffpaw’s crossroads demon Ralgath, first day on the job, answered a summoning from Chess, a non-binary who wanted to be a hero. Turns out Chess was more than he bargained for. Outwitted by a human, he was demoted to customer service but was later given a chance to redeem himself. Luckily for the demon, Fluffpaw was there to help him.

    The lightest and fluffiest story of the anthology. Written in an ironic tone and about as serious as Greg Trembley’s demon voice for Ralgath. Ralgath and Chess were so cute, I’d hurl my tablet if they don’t end up together!

    Collared by T.A. Moore: Ex-priest, Jack, was commanded by his personal demon Math to find what was stolen from him…

    which took forever to find that I didn’t care anymore. However, I did enjoyed the gruesome horror and Math and Jack’s twisted relationship.

    Counterfeit Viscount by Ginn Hale: Archie sold his soul to Nimble, a prodigal conjurer and he was given the chance to get it back by helping Nimble solve a case.

    Set in the same world as Wicked Gentlemen, which I haven’t read yet, but now I’m curious. Loved the camaraderie and banter between Archie and Nimble and that twist that I didn’t see coming. Very satisfying epilogue too.

    11:59 by C.S. Poe: Death-defy battles against nightmares is the order of the day everyday for Asuka. The monster slayer, tired and merely a shell of his former self, meets the bookworm Merrick, cheerful and full of life. Merrick persistently pursues Asuka and through his knowledge of mythology, helps him defeat the source of nightmares.

    This I would love to see as an anime! The freeze frame scene of Asuka falling off a building in a rain of glass is classic. Merrick believing Asuka is a real hero is adorbs! Merrick is cute as a button but really, I was shipping Asuka with the Devil himself.

    Wonderland City by Rhys Ford: Wonderland is in trouble as another little girl came through the mirror. Every citizen of Wonderland knows there’s nothing as dangerous as a human child. Xander Spade, with the help of deposed prince, Jean Michel and brave dog, Blue, was tasked by Oz, the Devil to find the child, Naomi, in exchange for returning his soul and going back home to the other side of the looking glass.

    At first, this was as whimsical and topsy turvy as the original which I loved. Then came the confrontation with the Red Queen and everything became bloody, chaotic, painful and downright horrifying which I loved too. I know the queens of Wonderland are crazy but here, they are monstrously psychopathic. The process of letting the beast out was drawn out in every excruciating detail and my heart went out to Xander. The romance was there or it will be there once Xander stops putting Jean Michel at arms length.

    Dark Favors by Jordan Castillo Price: When Johnny was young enough to fearless, he unwittingly sold himself to the Old Man. Fast forward to 1979 and the Old Man asks Johnny a big favor: kill somebody.

    I hate dub-con situations and here comes the big dub-con scene as the highlight. Great. Would have skipped it but it was crucial to the story. Also, I felt conflicted because Adam harassed Johnny and I should hate him for it but at the same time I was drawn to his affable, confident personality and I think he should have just charmed his way through Johnny’s hardcore shell instead of tying him to a chair. On the upside, JCP‘s world-building was expertly crafted as usual and the idea of favors as currency was executed well.

    Rating:
    Infernal Affairs – 4 Stars 
    Collared – 3 Stars
    Counterfeit Viscount – 4 Stars
    11:59 – 4 Stars
    Wonderland City – 4 Stars
    Dark Favors – 3 Stars

    Overall:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: A Good Idea At The Time
    Artist: Ok Go
    Album: Oh No

  • book,  Uncategorized

    My Top 10 Reads of 2018

    1. Death and the Devil Series – L.J. Hayward

    Explosive, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thrills. Sizzling unconventional romance. Yes, the entire series is the best thing to come out this year. Everything’s a solid 5

    Reviews here.

    2. The Agency: Merlin in the Library – Ada Maria Soto

    The ace romance story of my dreams

    Review here.

    3. Green Greek: Ravensong – T.J. Klune

    dirt and leaves and rain. packwitchmateheart

    Review here.

    4. On Davis Row – N.R. Walker

    So emotional and emotionally satisfying I got goosebumps.

    Review here.

    5.  Captive Prince: The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant – C.S. Pacat

    We’ll make another kind of empire.  

    Review here.

    6. The Auspicious Troubles of Love: The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe – Charlie Cochet

    A sqee-tastic, tension filled, delicious slow burn dance of the young and impetuous.

    Review here.

    7. Bureau: Creature – Kim Fielding

    Because love means loving him, even though. The best Bureau story so far.

    Review here.

    8. Bad Behavior: Reckless Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    A police procedural story that went above and beyond. Perfect combination of flawless writing and heartfelt narration.

    Review here.

    9. Lord of the Butterflies – Andrea Gibson 

    Powerful poetic stuff!

    Review here.

    10. Whyborne & Griffin: Balefire – Jordan L. Hawk

    The best W&G book yet! Whetting our appetites for the final magnificent showdown.

    Review here.

    Bonus:

    A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – Marlon Bundo & Jill Twiss

    Attack of the super cute!

    Review here.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Destroyer Of Worlds by Jordan L. Hawk

    SPECTR: Destroyer of Worlds – Jordan L. Hawk

    After becoming possessed by the vampire spirit Gray, telekinetic Caleb Jansen thought his situation couldn’t get any worse. But that was before Graham Forsyth, head of SPECTR’s sinister Research Division, took him into custody.

    Forsyth claims he can exorcise Gray before the forty-day time limit runs out. But once at RD, Caleb and Gray find themselves ensnared in a web of lies. What is the truth behind the tests Forsyth is performing on them? What does the agency really plan to do with Gray? And most worrisome of all, why does Gray sense demons within the walls of RD’s compound?

    Caleb’s boyfriend, SPECTR agent John Starkweather, has suspicions of his own. With the help of his friend Sean and a shadowy organization known only by their symbol of a moth, John intends to save Caleb and Gray at any cost.

    But when divided loyalties threaten his last chance at exorcism, Caleb discovers love may come at a price higher than he’d ever imagined.

    It’s official. The drakul is unleashed, John drops his bomb shell and Caleb approves. Great Sehkmet, this installment is GOOD!

    Caleb and Gray fell into the hands of Forsyth and RD. They were taken to a military fort where they were held prisoners and underwent a battery of tests. The situation, which was already bad, became even worse as they uncover what Forsyth was up to. They planned their escape with the help of mysterious individuals they call Moths.

    This is the most dangerous situation the trio has been in so far. Caleb and Gray worked well together and instinctively knew when the other should take over. There was one heart stopping moment when the person John thought he knew unexpectedly went to the dark side. Other persons also proved they were not what they seemed.

    Gray in full glory is magnificent! We also see a vulnerable side to him and his smug face too. The relationship between him and Caleb was endearing and pure. The relationship between him and John was equally adorable if a bit awkward because John and Gray never really talked outside the exorcisms and Gray doesn’t know what to do and what John expects of him. Bless Caleb for helping Gray navigate through all these mortal nonsense.

    Destroyer of Worlds might be the best book yet! We get a lot of action, some much needed answers and whole new world of possibilities. I am happy I waited until all the books for the first series are out because I don’t know how I would deal with all the cliffhangers. And I also won’t feel too bad if the first series ends because yay! we still have series 2.

    Finally, Caleb, Gray and John are truly a throuple! Now on to Summoner of Storms.

    P.S.

    Reviews of SPECTR here.
    Reviews of Jordan L. Hawk books here.

    Rating:

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Oh, My Lover
    Artist: PJ Harvey
    Album: Dry

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19444864-destroyer-of-worlds)