Fantasy Book Review: In a Fix

In a Fix by Linda Grimes

Synopsis:
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.

Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

Review:
Ciel is a spunky, fearless young woman, who for some reason lets the men in her life walk all over her. In fact, they annoyingly treat her like a child who needs protecting instead of a grown, independent woman. Granted, she often gets herself in awkward predicaments. But rarely needs saving. Ciel is strong and resourceful on her own. So, while Mark is her crush, I disliked him immediately. I found myself liking her best friend Billy more, who treats her more like an equal than a kid sister.

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance fans should definitely check out this series debut. This is a fresh and fun twist on the genre with characters who can change bodies at will. With plenty of adventure, mystery, suspense, humor, and romance – there is never a dull moment in this exhilarating story. I’ll definitely be looking forward to more in this promising new series.

Fantasy Book Review: The Dead Girls Detective Agency

The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

Synopsis:
Maybe if I hadn’t slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin—my high school’s reigning mean girl—or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom’s new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn’t have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn’t have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.

When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I’m dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can’t pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I’m not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess—not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I’ll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?

Review:
Charlotte is a sweet girl with a caring boyfriend. It’s hard to believe anyone would want to kill her. But when Charlotte gets the chance to investigate her own murder, she gets to see her peers’ true sides. The other girls in the Dead Girls Detective Agency are fun and vibrant and add a lighter tone to their limbo status.

Fantasy meets mystery in this series debut with plenty of potential. With likeable characters and ones you’ll love to hate – this ghostly adventure is unique and entrancing. Well-paced with several surprising twists along the way, young mystery fans will want to check this one out. I’ll certainly be looking forward to future installments in this captivating new series.

Fantasy Book Review: The Seven Tales of Trinket

The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas

Synopsis:
Guided by a tattered map, accompanied by Thomas the Pig Boy, and inspired by the storyteller’s blood that thrums through her veins, eleven-year-old Trinket searches for the seven stories she needs to become a bard like her father, who disappeared years before. She befriends a fortune-telling gypsy girl; returns a child stolen by the selkies to his true mother; confronts a banshee and receives a message from a ghost; helps a village girl outwit—and out-dance—the Faerie Queen; travels beyond the grave to battle a dastardly undead Highwayman; and meets a hound so loyal he fights a wolf to the death to protect the baby prince left in his charge. All fine material for six tales, but it is the seventh tale, in which Trinket learns her father’s true fate, that changes her life forever.

Review:
Trinket dreams of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a bard, though she worries she isn’t talented enough. She and Thomas embark on a magical adventure, while searching for clues about her missing father and collecting stories. The quest-like adventures begin to feel like adventures in Narnia. Unfortunately, the official synopsis spoils too much of the story in my opinion.

This fairy tale-like story for middle readers on up is fun and inspired. Each of Trinket’s seven adventures is a fresh and exciting story with sweet and wholesome resolutions. Since it can be read in one sitting, this is a novel that can be read again and again. I highly recommend this enchanting book for readers of all ages who enjoy fairy tales and magic.

Fantasy Book Review: Alchemystic

Alchemystic by Anton Strout

Synopsis:
Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name… Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason–an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis. Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love.

Review:
Lexi (Alexandra) seems a bit naive and rushes into danger, dragging her friends with her. She is an artist, though we don’t really get much sense as to what her level of ability is. So when she’s thrust into her family business, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. Stanis, the gargoyle, is a fantastic character, mysterious and imposing. He gives the story a new dimension. While Lexi’s friends provide comedy relief.

Spellmasons who bring stones to life and a flying guardian gargoyle – Strout has come up with an even more fantastic story than before. Alchemystic is a fun and exciting start to a promising new urban fantasy series. With plenty of adventure, mystery, suspense, and magic – this was impossible to put down. Fast-paced, fresh, and surprising, there is never a dull moment. Urban fantasy fans will definitely want to check out this new series (as well as Strout’s previous Simon Canderous series).

Received in September

The following are the books, DVDs, and Blu-Rays I received in September for review and/or giveaways:

47North / Amazon Crossing:
Tears in Rain by Rosa Montero

Ace:
Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman
Alchemystic by Anton Strout
Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

BBC Books:
Doctor Who: The Dalek Project Graphic Novel by Justin Richards

Berkley:
The Vampire Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead by Roger Ma
Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf: Volume 1 by Patricia Briggs

Bloomsbury / Walker:
TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code by Alex Scarrow

Crown Publishing:
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

Daw:
Redoubt by Mercedes Lackey

Harper Teen / Greenwillow:
Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Harper Voyager:
Initiate’s Trial by Janny Wurts

Health Communications, Inc.
Blood Zero Sky by J. Gates

Kensington:
Blessed By a Demon’s Mark by E.S. Moore

Orbit:
Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley

Paizo:
Pathfinder Tales: Queen of Thorns by Dave Gross

Penguin / NAL:
The Hiding Place by David Bell

Pocket Books / Gallery Books:
Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
Borderlands #2: Unconquered by John Shirley
Ghost Town by Jason Hawes
Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Brinkmanship by Una McCormack

Pyr:
Be My Enemy by Ian McDonald

Scholastic Press:
The Golden Door by Emily Rodda
Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung
The Bar Code Prophecy by Suzanne Weyn

Simon Teen / McElderry Books:
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Simon & Schuster / Touchstone:
Red Rain by R.L. Stine

St. Martin’s Griffin:
Portlandtown by Rob DeBorde

Titan Books:
Supernatural: Rite of Passage by John Passarella
The Martian War by Kevin J. Anderson
Resident Evil: Retribution by John Shirley

Tor:
Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

University of Minnesota Press:
Death Sentences by Kawamata Chiaki

WMG Publishing:
Blowback by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Fantasy Book Review: Vessel

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Synopsis:
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her. Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale. The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
________________________________________
Review:
Liyana is a sweet, humble girl who immediately forms a connection with Korbyn, the trickster god. Though, Korbyn never really comes across as a light-hearted trickster, as his sole mission is to find and save the other desert gods. Instead, Korbyn sees something different in Liyana that he’s obviously attracted to. She’s a natural leader, brave and resourceful. Their search for the other vessels before hunting down the missing gods has the feel of a quest-based fantasy. But once they leave the desert, politics come into play, and the plot gets more complex.

Vessel is a coming of age story that fantasy fans of all ages should enjoy. This fantasy adventure is a unique story with plenty of magic, suspense, drama, and heart. The conflict will make readers think, as there isn’t a clear-cut sense of good versus evil at first. In fact, the numerous twists and surprises kept me on the edge of my seat till the very end.

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