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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (September 2, 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.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: All Souls Near & Nigh by Hailey Turner

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    Soulbound: All Souls Near & Nigh – Hailey Turner

    You can’t bargain with death if you’ve already sold your soul.

    Special Agent Patrick Collins has been reassigned by the Supernatural Operations Agency to New York City. Navigating his new relationship with Jonothon de Vere, the werewolf he’s now soulbound to, is nothing compared to dealing with territorial disputes between the vampires and werecreatures who call the five boroughs home. But the delicate treaties that have kept the preternatural world in check are fraying at the edges, and the fallout is spilling into the mundane world. 

    Manhattan’s club scene is overrun with the vampire drug known as shine and the subways have become a dumping ground for bodies. When the dead are revealed as missing werecreatures, Patrick and Jono find themselves entangled in pack politics twisted by vampire machinations. 

    Learning to trust each other comes with problems for both of them, and the gods with a stake in Patrick’s soul debt aren’t finished with him yet. Bound by promises they can’t break, Patrick and Jono must find a way to survive a threat that takes no prisoners and is stalking them relentlessly through the city streets. 

    Old and new betrayals are coming home to roost but the truth—buried in blood—is more poisonous than the lies being spun. Trying to outrun death is a nightmare—one Patrick may never wake up from. 

    All Souls Near & Nigh is a 104k word m/m urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and a HFN ending. It is a direct sequel to A Ferry of Bones & Gold, and reading the first book in the series would be helpful in enjoying this one. Please see the disclaimer at the beginning of the book for content some readers may find triggering.

    ***Trigger warnings include a character forced to take drugs then later sexually molested and an alternate version of the holocaust.***

    I absolutely loved the Soulbound universe Hailey Turner created. It the kind of richly realized, highly immersive world where literally anything’s possible and a typical day goes from morning sex to adopting a dragon to going toe to toe with the Goddess of Death.

    All Souls Near & Nigh is the second book. It brought the Aztec pantheon into the scene. Dead were-creatures were found and Patrick was called in to investigate. He and Jono crossed paths with a certain DEA Agent ‘Juan Delgado’ who was really Quetzalcoatl or as Patrick liked to say, ‘Pretzel’. The god revealed that his brother Tezcatlipoca was currently courting Santa Muerte and was using the independent were-creatures as sacrifice. This last part had Jono butting heads with the New York City god pack alphas who were not doing their jobs protecting the were-creatures. And, as if dealing with gods weren’t bad enough, Lucien, the master vampire, was calling in Patrick’s debt by demanding he helped him take over the Manhanttan night court. In the midst of it all was a teenage dragon who can’t stop eating.

    One of Patrick’s defining features was his inability to say no which time and time again entangled him in one dangerous scheme after another. He rushes head first into a situation, rarely pauses to think or ask for help and all too often ready to sacrifice himself to save others. Good thing Jono’s got his back. The god pack alpha was always there to pick him up and patch him up and the mage is now allowing himself to rely on the werewolf. Pat’s learning to trust. Attaboy!

    A major part of the story was Jono’s character development as he confronted the NY god pack alphas and his own pack grew. I loved how he’s so loyal, caring and reliable. He came through for Pat and their pack every single time. Very much looking forward to seeing him unleash Fenrir, hopefully in book 3. Time to own it, Jono!

    In this installment, we get a lot of Jono’s POV and I enjoyed seeing their relationship progressed through his eyes. There were a gazillion other things going on but Patrick and Jono’s tender moments when they came were subtle and sweet. As I said before, I really liked how the romantic subplot was done. It was beautiful and memorable without taking over the entire story.

    Like in the first book, A Ferry Of Bones & Gold, the second book has magic up the wazoo, which is how it should be done if you have a book filled to the brim with magic users and mythical creatures. It’s a peeve of mine when the books about magic users skimp on the magic, like, a couple of minor spells here and there, a big spell for the grand finale. Also, if the practitioner is a beginner, you have to deal with learning curves. That’s meh. So extra points for the series starting with Patrick already an active mage and quite a powerful one even with his damaged soul so we can expect big bad-ass spells early on.

    The book has a huge cast with many recurring characters plus new appearances as well. Even with this many characters, Hailey Turner did a great job making most of them stand out. Though there were still some confusing parts, a glossary was helpfully provided at the end of the book. Also, bits and pieces of information was revealed throughout while making a conscious effort to avoid info-dump. The pacing was fast and the momentum was maintained consistently even with all the numerous need-to-knows. The author was also able to deftly juggle multiple major and minor threads and brought them together in an explosion of magic and blood. All in all, it was an outstanding sequel to an epic series.

    All Souls Near & Nigh closed with some loose ends left open for a third book and another dangerous mission for Patrick to risk his life for. Huge changes were afoot. Gods have risen and fallen. The vampire leadership has shifted. The god packs are in a fractious state. The Dominion Sect has stolen a powerful artifact and War is owed her due. Will Patrick and Jono survive what’s coming?


    Book I, A Ferry Of Bones & Gold here

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Santa Muerte
    Artist: Monika Brodka
    Album: Clashes

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: A Ferry Of Bones & Gold by Hailey Turner

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    Soulbound: A Ferry Of Bones & Gold – Hailey Turner

    When the gods come calling, you don’t get to say no.

    Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares. 

    Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust. 

    Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul. 

    In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death. 

    A Ferry of Bones & Gold is a 115k word m/m urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and a HFN ending.

    I think Netflix should pick this up as a series.

    A Ferry of Bones & Gold is the kind of richly realized world you can write pages upon pages of fandom wiki entries. You got gods from different pantheons, were creatures and every type of magic user available. The Mage Corps and the 30-Day War alone is worth reading as a separate book. I dare not multi-task while I was listening to this lest I miss any of the mini info dumps scattered throughout the book. It was a heroic effort not to inundate the reader with backstories, the book had a big cast and any of them could be a good lead character. Hailey Turner succeeded in delivering all the need-to-knows without slowing down the pace or detracting from action.

    And this is one hell of a fast-paced, action-packed story. Patrick Collins, formerly a soldier, now a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency should have been in Maui sipping drinks with umbrellas. Instead, he was assigned to handle a case of a missing god and demon-led killings that threw him into the path of shifters, particularly Jono, an alpha without a pack and whom he was attracted to. One important pack member was the seer, Merrick, who was the target of the Dominion sect. There were many attempts on Merrick’s and Patrick’s lives and a few more dead bodies found. Demons started appearing and only a battle-hardened mage like Patrick can stop them.

    Now when a book promises magic, I expect to see spells being cast left and right and I am happy that the book did not hold back on the magic. There were many heartstopping battle scenes and Patrick giving it all he got until he was burned out. His kamikazee approach to battle might wreck havoc on his friends’ stress levels but he gets the job done. And this time he left the city standing.

    The book also talks about soul debts and how Patrick, Jono and other mortals seems to be subject to the whims of the gods. On the other hand, the gods needed to be remembered and worshiped in order to be relevant. This, along with the inevitability of fate and Patrick trying really really hard to fight it create another layer of conflict. That they’re inescapable made me feel for the characters, although it’s hard to feel sorry for Patrick, he’s a cocky bastard.

    The romance between Patrick and Jono was the insta-attraction kind. They were thrown together, literally, by the fates. And though I think their relationship could have been better developed, the short time they spent battling demons and dodging bombs created a strong bond between them. Bonus that we get Jono’s POV! It was fun seeing him get all possessive and growly over the bossy little mage.

    Soulbound is an engrossing series and A Ferry of Bones & Gold was an awesome series opener. It delivered an immersive world, gripping plot, a great cast, and enough magic to keep the wannabe wizard in me happy. The romantic subplot mesh well with the story. It was good enough for Patrick and Jono to be memorable without taking focus from the rest of the story. They get an HFN this time but what do the gods have in store for them next?

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Seal My Fate
    Artist: Belly
    Album: King