Happy Halloween, everyone!
In celebration of my favorite holiday and in a serious mood for trick or treating, I put together a list of my dream costumes for this special day. I’m too old to go begging for candies but you’re never too old for costumes so here goes…
Imagine that you are an intrepid literary adventurer- braving the harsh bookish wilderness, traversing jungles of pages and slashing through vines of words. Where in the vast world of books would you go?
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
2. The Agency: Merlin in the Library – Ada Maria Soto
The ace romance story of my dreams
3. Green Greek: Ravensong – T.J. Klune
dirt and leaves and rain. packwitchmateheart
4. On Davis Row – N.R. Walker
So emotional and emotionally satisfying I got goosebumps.
5. Captive Prince: The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant – C.S. Pacat
We’ll make another kind of empire.
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.
7. Bureau: Creature – Kim Fielding
Because love means loving him, even though. The best Bureau story so far.
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.
9. Lord of the Butterflies – Andrea Gibson
Powerful poetic stuff!
10. Whyborne & Griffin: Balefire – Jordan L. Hawk
The best W&G book yet! Whetting our appetites for the final magnificent showdown.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – Marlon Bundo & Jill Twiss
Attack of the super cute!
Whyborne & Griffin: Undertow – Jordan L. Hawk
Note: This novella takes place at the same time as events in Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin 8).
Shy secretary Maggie Parkhurst knows there’s nothing special about her. She’s neither sorceress, nor fighter, nor scholar. What could she possibly have to offer Persephone, the chieftess of the inhuman ketoi—and the woman Maggie’s fallen in love with?
After Maggie’s friend Irene goes missing under mysterious circumstances, she has no choice but to turn to Persephone for help. When the trail leads to a shadowy acting troupe, they discover a plot that stretches much farther than a single vanished woman.
But when a dark truth is revealed, Maggie must choose between a man from her past…and the impossible yearnings of her heart.
I usually found W&G books set in Widdershins to be slightly better than out of town adventures and this is no exception. Jordan L. Hawk skillfully interweave various threads and seamlessly connect this installment to the overarching plot. Granted you would notice the template and I am impatient for these masters to appear already but there’s always something exciting about each book.This is one of the things I liked best about the W&G books.
While only a side story, Persephone and Maggie’s adventure is just as dark and dangerous as any our main quartet, Whyborne, Griffin, Christine and Iskander, has come across with.
Let it be known to all WIddershins residents that any long lost relatives or childhood friends suddenly turning up is always, always bad news. This curse happened to Maggie too. Without revealing too much, there were murder, bloodshed and, of course, the Fideles, stirring up trouble and provoking slumbering gods like they always do. Persephone, Maggie, Mr. Quinn (always a delight!) and his pack of dictionary-welding librarians were there to save the day.
Also, Maggie and Persephone took their relationship to the next level (finally!). Persephone did some awe-inspiring magic and powered up (hell yeah!). I always get a thrill when the Whyborne twins do these mindblowing feats.
Maggie could be adorably clueless:
I wasn’t at all clear why Dr. Whyborne seemed to require a private detective to accompany him on all of his expeditions, but the two seemed to travel everywhere together. Ordinarily I would have expected a landlord and boarder to want some time apart, but they were utterly inseparable. Mr. Flaherty even attended the museum galas. And I couldn’t count how many times he’d turned up to share lunch, or else walk with Dr. Whyborne to dinner.
It must be nice to have such a close friend.
But she’s brave where it counts. The story is told in her POV and we glimpse the somewhat ordinary side of Widdershins. It’s also endearing that Maggie admires Christine and considers her a kind of mentor. Christine’s well-remembered self-defense lessons and Griffin’s lock-picking tricks have came in useful.
I do wish we had Persephone’s POV. It would be interesting to see Widdershins from a ketoi perspective. I feel like her sense of humor is as wicked as her grin and I want to see what she thinks of her introverted brother (”Percival is stupid”, most likely). Persephone calls Maggie “cuttlefish”. She courts her with a squid. She never hesitates to save everyone. She is an heiress to one of the biggest fortunes of the country. She is a chieftain and a sorceress. She is BADASS.
Creepy Mr. Quinn has an important role and as bizarre as his pronouncements were, he is a staunch fanboy of Whyborne and what the twins stand for. Mr. Quinn and his librarians are always quick to rally and defend. I think it would be fun to live in WIddershins, be a Ladysmith librarian and fight insidious cults with a dictionary at night then spent the day wandering through the labyrinthine shelves of ancient tomes. Life goals.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Whyborne & Griffin: Draakenwood – Jordan L. Hawk
Someone is killing members of the old families…and the evidence points to Whyborne.
Widdershins has been unusually quiet for months. But now a mysterious creature from the Outside is on the loose, assassinating members of the town’s old families by draining their blood. Whyborne and Griffin set out to solve the mystery—but as the evidence piles up, the police begin to suspect Whyborne himself is the murderer.
Now Whyborne must both clear his name and stop the horrors the monster threatens to unleash. His only hope: an alliance with his old enemies the Endicotts.
Because something terrible lurks in the Draakenwood, and it will stop at nothing to seize control of the maelstrom itself.
Draakenwood is the ninth book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, where magic, mystery, and m/m romance collide with Victorian era America.
Niles apparently likes giving Griffin gifts. That Niles accepts Griffin as Whyborne’s husband and treats him as such are major points in his favor and I’m glad he and Whyborne are getting along albeit grudgingly.
Miss Parkhurst and Persephone’s relationship was finally revealed to Whyborne and it is one of the funniest scenes in the book. That Miss Parkhurst finally had major page time was long overdue and well-deserved.
Detective Tilton is another recurring character I like. That he knows how things work in Widdershins and what’s going on between Whyborne and Griffin but kept it to himself makes him a good ally.
Iskander meets somebody who has connections with his mother. That he had to have a fight about it with Christine was a pity but I’m glad that he, like Griffin, found a true home and family.
Whyborne and Persephone work in tandem to do some awesome mindblowing magic. That it was Stanford who…, well…why is it always Stanford?
Draakenwood gripped me from the start. I really like it when the focus is Widdershins and I have always been curious about the Old Families. Here, the Fidelus plot was continued and Endicott cousins show up. Personally I’m hoping these long awaited masters would make their appearance already. But, as expected of the series, we’re in for a lot of action and nail biting moments in between moments of romance and comedy. This is already book 9 and I’m still as excited about this series as I was when I started. That it ended with a cliffhanger promises of more W&G goodness to come.
4.5 – perfection is only half a step away
Whyborne & Griffin: Fallow – Jordan L. Hawk
When Griffin’s past collides with his present, will it cost the lives of everyone he loves?
Between the threat of a world-ending invasion from the Outside and unwelcome revelations about his own nature, Percival Endicott Whyborne is under a great deal of strain. His husband, Griffin Flaherty, wants to help—but how can he, when Whyborne won’t tell him what’s wrong?
When a man from Griffin’s past murders a sorcerer, the situation grows even more dire. Once a simple farmer from Griffin’s hometown of Fallow, the assassin now bears a terrifying magical corruption, one whose nature even Whyborne can’t explain.
To keep Griffin’s estranged mother safe, they must travel to a dying town in Kansas. But as drought withers the crops of Fallow, a sinister cult sinks its roots deep into the arid soil. And if the cult’s foul harvest isn’t stopped in time, Fallow will be only the first city to fall.
Fallow is the eighth book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, where magic, mystery, and m/m romance collide with Victorian era America.
Hmm…I don’t know. This is Griffin’s story and it’s about time he got his closure but I feel this might be the weakest installment of the series. All the usual patterns were there, like Whyborne being overly dramatic about his relationship with Griffin, (Good gad man, your husband already declared he would rather watch the world burn than leave you so stop being so damn insecure!), bad sorcerers popping up, monsters wreaking havoc and mayhem and traitorous relatives. I think by this time our foursome should have learned their lessons already. However, this book still moved the overarching plot forward with the Fidelus making their move, Griffin facing his past, talking it out with his Ma and putting it all behind him. There’s pain and sadness at the parting but there a lot of happiness too, because he found his true home and family.
“I’d been at my very worst. My lowest point; hurt and fractured, my nights shattered by terrifying fits. Wounded, body and soul.And that was when it chose me. Because in whatever inhuman way the maelstrom perceived the world, it saw worth in me even then. Even when no one else had.”
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
Whyborne & Griffin: Maelstrom – Jordan L. Hawk
Between his father’s sudden—and rather suspicious—generosity, and his own rash promise to help Christine plan her wedding, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough to worry about. But when the donation of a mysterious codex to the Ladysmith Museum draws the attention of a murderous cult, Whyborne finds himself in a race against time to unlock its secrets first.
Griffin has a case of his own: the disappearance of an historic map, which quickly escalates to murder. Someone is sacrificing men in dark rituals—and all the clues lead back to the museum.
With their friends Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must discover the cult’s true goal before it’s too late. For dark forces are afoot at the very heart of the museum, and they want more than Whyborne’s codex.
They want his life.
Widdershins is what it’s all about this time. The gang is back in town to face another dark cult and more Lovecraftian abominations. Christine is getting cold feet about her upcoming wedding and drives Iskander crazy. The ladies, Miss Parkhurst and Persephone, help out with the wedding plans and Miss Parkhurst gets a new crush. Whyborne is suspicious about his father’s acts of generosity while Griffin gets an odd case and of course, involves his sorcerer husband in the investigation. Various threads from previous books were picked up and followed through. There were a lot of familiar and expected elements, given that this is book 7 already but the author was able to create fresh arcs, interesting twists and power ups that kept the whole thing from getting stale. The characters continue to develop, the librarians had exciting endeavors and at the end of it all, here I am thinking Durfee & Farr should get their own story.
This is the last book with this kind of monotone cover. I’m going to miss this as the models really fit the W&G in my head.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Whyborne & Griffin: Hoarfrost – Jordan L. Hawk
Sorcerer Percival Endicott Whyborne and his husband Griffin Flaherty have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the calm is shattered by the arrival of a package from Griffin’s brother Jack, who has uncovered a strange artifact while digging for gold in Alaska. The discovery of a previously unknown civilization could revive the career of their friend Dr. Christine Putnam—or it might kill them all, if the hints of dark sorcery surrounding the find are true.
With Christine and her fiancé Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must journey to the farthest reaches of the arctic to stop an ancient evil from claiming the life of Griffin’s brother. But in the rough mining camp of Hoarfrost, secrets fly as thickly as the snow, and Whyborne isn’t the only sorcerer drawn by the rumors of magic. Amidst a wilderness of ice and stone, Griffin must either face his greatest fear—or lose everyone he loves.
I really enjoyed this one, especially the latter parts. Whyborne and Griffin found old enemies and unlikely allies. We also get Griffin’s POV and Whyborne meets his brother-in-law!
I have listened to an H.P. Lovecraft audiobook,
At the Mountains of Madness ,that inspired this tale. And boy, was it a mind-numbing litany of architectural details. I like the mythos but the stories themselves (the few I have read) were not that entertaining. However, Jordan L. Hawk did a good job of remaking the original into something more suspenseful, action-packed and dare I say, more entertaining. This series just keeps getting better and better. Now, I wonder what’s up with the Ladysmith librarians…
4.5 – perfection is only half a step away
Whyborne & Griffin: Necropolis – Jordan L. Hawk
Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has spent the last few months watching his lover, Griffin Flaherty, come to terms with the rejection of his adoptive family. So when an urgent telegram from Christine summons them to Egypt, Whyborne is reluctant to risk the fragile peace they’ve established. Until, that is, a man who seems as much animal as human tries to murder Whyborne in the museum.
Amidst the ancient ruins of the pharaohs, they must join Christine and face betrayal, murder, and a legendary sorceress risen from the dead. In the forge of the desert heat, the trio will either face their fears and stand together—or shatter the bonds between them forever.
I don’t know if this was shorter than the other books but I finished this one really quick. Griffin gets to take Whyborne to Egypt, Whyborne gets to do some bad ass magic and Christine gets what coming to her.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Whyborne & Griffin: Stormhaven – Jordan L. Hawk
Mysterious happenings are nothing new to reclusive scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne, but finding one of his colleagues screaming for help in the street is rather unusual. Allan Tambling claims he can’t remember any of the last hour—but someone murdered his uncle, and Allan is covered in blood.
Whyborne’s lover, dashing ex-Pinkerton detective Griffin Flaherty, agrees to prove Allan’s innocence. But when Allan is deemed insane and locked away in the Stormhaven Lunatic Asylum, Griffin finds himself reliving the horrifying memories of his own ordeal inside a madhouse.
Along with their friend Christine, the two men become drawn deeper and deeper into a dark web of conspiracy, magic, and murder. Their only clue: a missing artifact depicting an unknown god. Who stole the artifact, and why can’t Allan remember what happened? And what is the truth behind the terrible experiments conducted on Stormhaven’s forbidden fourth floor?
It will take all of Whyborne’s sorcery and Griffin’s derring-do to stop the murderers and save Allan. But first, they must survive an even greater challenge: a visit from Griffin’s family.
There’s nothing as scary as a lunatic asylum or being mistakenly trap in one with no one believing your sanity. So yeah, this book succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable. I really felt sorry for Griffin.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits