The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – ★★★★★

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Guys, we just read the bestest book ever at the MacHalo group! Jen Williams is fantasy’s best-kept secret. Is this woman a millionaire yet? New York Times Bestseller list or whatever the UK version of that is? Surely she must be winning awards left and right because her writing skills and story-telling are so bleeding good, I have no words. This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Ever.

I would not have even read it had it not come to my attention from a couple MacHalo members. THANK YOU, you wonderful lovely ladies, you!

“Vintage” is the main character. She is about 40 (a main character who is 40, you guys, what is this madness) and a wealthy wanderer of types. She travels and studies artefacts that happen to be organic space ships from a malevolent alien race who wish to wipe out humanity and all life on Tarn. (Tarn is this world’s version of Earth.)

She also happens to have brown skin and is a lesbian (or bisexual, we don’t know for sure because it isn’t discussed; it’s no big deal; she just is who she is).

Her traveling companion is a hired sword named Tormalin the Oathless, Tor for short. He is an Eboran, a race of human-like beings who can live a thousand years, are strong, and a mix between maybe elves and vampires?

They end up taking in a fell-witch named Noon. She can summon green winnowfire. Add to the mix another Eboran, Tor’s sister, Hestillion, who is obsessed with bringing their dead tree-god back to life, their slightly crazy cousin Aldasair, a tall braided dude named Bern the Younger (who might be hooking up with Aldasair), and a psychotic fell-witch assassin after Noon.

The witches, when discovered, are claimed by the Winnowry, which is basically a prison. The fell-witches are considered an evil that must be contained and controlled.

This book was so easy to read, full of action, amazing world-building. It’s got humor, sci-fi, a bit of romance (don’t worry, it’s not a kissing book, but Tor is pretty swoon-worthy). I have not enjoyed reading a book this much in awhile. I daresay it’s a flipping masterpiece.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy and fantastical beings and worlds. Don’t worry, it’s not bogged down in fantasy-speak. You will get swept away.

There is so much more I could say, but I don’t want to spoil it! Jen Williams, remember the name. You won’t be sorry.

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She also does The Copper Cat trilogy. The second book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy is The Bitter Twins and is out now!

Follow Jen Williams at Twitter.

Okay, do you think I am fangirling enough here? Well, maybe, but it’s that good.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and the theme today is Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early. Here is my list!

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  1. Dark Age, the fifth book in the Red Rising universe releases on September 11, 2018 according to Goodreads. I have read the previous books and love this series!

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2. Darkdawn is the final installment in the Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff. It is set for release September 4, 2018. I have adored this dark, twisted tale from the start and would definitely slay a lion to get my grabby hands on this baby!

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3. Magic Triumphs is the final book in the Kate Daniels series by the most-awesomest Ilona Andrews. It is going to hit the shelves (and e-readers) on August 28th. KD is one of the best urban fantasies that exists.

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4. I listened to this on audio with the wonderful Steve West narrating, and even with that horrible cliffhanger (grrr cliffhangers), I am looking forward to this one. Release date: October 2, 2018.

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5. The next book in the Curse of the Gods series is released maybe in July 2018. There is no set date yet according to Goodreads, but I adore this series and am going nuts waiting to see what happens next. It also has one of my favorite tropes – reverse harem!

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6. Vengeful (Villians #2) by V.E. Schwab. I lurved the first one, Vicious. Release date: September 25, 2018.

Books that don’t have a cover yet:

7. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman. Release date: 2019 *sadface*

8. Two Kingdoms (The Dark Side #3) by Kristy Cunning. Release date: 2018

9. Iron & Magic (Kate Daniels #9.5) by Ilona Andrews. Hugh’s book! Release date: June 26, 2018

10. Nightchaser (Endeavor #1) by Amanda Bouchet. Release date: January 1, 2019.

Well, that wraps up my list. Are you looking forward to reading any of the the books I mentioned? What books would you slay a lion to get your hands on early?

 

 

 

 

“Under the Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi – ★★★★★

Oh yeah, oh yeah. This was awesome! I have had this on my TBR shelf since 2014 and it ended up being one of those where you ask yourself, “Why did you wait so long?!” Let me tell you, THIS book is a perfect example of why I will never stop reading Young Adult fantasy. There may be some stinkers out there or some big old Mehs, but then you get one like this and are like:

Okay, maybe I exaggerate. A little. But there was SO MUCH win here! It’s set in a dystopian-like world where a catastrophe has rendered the sky into an “Aether,” where storms and lightening kill everything from the soil and trees to people. The luckiest people (that is arguable) went into domes for protection. There, they have developed technology to live in Realms, through an eye piece (like a virtual reality). They have changed their biology and physiology so much that the females don’t even menstruate anymore!

So, our main character, Aria, gets exiled into the wastelands and meets Peregrine (Perry) an Outsider. A savage. They form an unlikely and unwilling alliance – Aria wants to find her mom and Perry his nephew.

Stuff happens. There are cannibals! Perry and Aria go a place that is protected where a man named Marron is in charge and they live like relatively “normal” people. Perry’s kind live in tribes.

Those born in the wastelands can have abilities. There are Seers, Auds (people who have superpower hearing), Scires (people who can smell so well, they can scent emotions and moods).

A romance blossoms, but there is definitely NO instalove. Aria is not a special snowflake or Mary Sue.

Some of it was just survival, but I loved the progression of Aria and Perry’s relationship. It just slowly sneaks up on you. Perry is BAE. I lurve him soooo much. Aria bugged me at first, but she really grows!

This was just A++++ writing and story-telling, in my view.

Young Adult April New Releases!

Kira recently posted a blog (April New Releases!) and I thought about the many Young Adult releases coming up and figured I would do a separate blog for those.

April 3:

 

April 17:

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April 24:

 

I have read Sky in the Deep. See my review here. It’s a Viking alternate history story that I think will be very popular when it is released!

I also read Traitorborn. See my review here. I am LOVING this series by Amy Bartol. It’s a dystopian and I highly recommend!

I’m really looking forward to reading Defy the Worlds and Dread Nation too. Defy the Worlds is the sequel to Defy the Stars, which I also highly recommend if you are into the AI/robot and human girl fall in love trope. 🙂

Are there any other April releases we missed that you are looking forward to? Let us know in the comments! Have a great weekend!

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Q&A Review: Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta

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What did you like about Shoot the Messenger?

Kira: Almost everything. Just like all of Pippa DaCosta’s characters, these ones were complicated and deceptive. They’re very real because they never fit into good or bad categories. The world building was awesome, but I’ll get into that more later. Last but not least, it was so easy to get into. I was constantly trying to figure out who to trust and what was going to happen next.

Shelly: Like Kira, I liked just about everything. There was so much win. I haven’t read ALL of Pippa’s books (yet), but it is very different from the ones I have read, and I think a great job was done with the world-building. This sets up so many possibilities, and I loved with mix of the traditional, “organic” fae with tech/tek. I haven’t seen that done before and it’s a mix of the traditional fae lore with sci-fi aliens.

What didn’t you like about Shoot the Messenger?

Kira: This was my first foray into a reverse harem. I’m not sure the reverse harem thing is for me although this didn’t seem like much of a harem. It is the first in the series, so I’m sure other lovers will come along. My big issue with the book was the unreliable narrator. I love a good twist in a book. This one was completely unexpected, but unreliable narrators make me feel like I’ve been lied to. That’s okay when it’s a character whose thoughts are not well known to me, but this character’s were.

Shelly: Gosh, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like! I didn’t even register that Kesh was an unreliable narrator, but Pippa is known for anti-heroes/heroines and writing characters that don’t fall into neat, tidy boxes. I guess if I absolutely HAD to pick something, it would be ending on a cliffhanger.

What did you think of the world building?

Kira: I loved it! It perfectly blended fantasy and sci-fi in a way that felt completely natural. It was a complex world, but it wasn’t bogged down with extraneous details. All of the necessary details were given when needed. I loved the the issues with magic and tek and how those two opposing forces blended together.

Shelly: It was fantastic. It felt like something you could recognize, but fresh and original. Like I mentioned before, merging the fae with sci-fi space shenanigans is just a win for me. You have enough of the fae to recognize the species, but add the idea they come from another planet and can use technology to gain more power while still being bound to life and soil and plants and blood, etc.

Who was your favorite character?

Kira: Marshall Kellee even though he wasn’t the main character. He had the most integrity of any character. So far he seemed the most trustworthy although I’m well aware that could change. He had an interesting background, which I hope to learn more about. I sympathized with him the most in the end.

Shelly: Tough one. I loved Kellee AND Talen and I even found Larsen intriguing. I guess if my back is to the wall, I’m gonna go with the mysterious fae, Talen.

Would you recommend this to others?

Kira: Absolutely! It was fun and original. It had lots of action. If you like nontraditional fae stories or sci-fi, I’d highly recommend you read this.

Shelly: Yes, I would. But don’t expect a fluffy tale about faeries in space. Expect treachery, ambiguous characters and relationships, slow burn romance, and lots of what-the-fuckery. I am very curious to see what Pippa does with the reverse harem thing since it’s a genre I absolutely adore right now!

Your rating and review:

Kira: ★★★★ Shoot the Messenger review

Shelly: ★★★★★  Shoot the Messenger review

Related post:

Pippa DaCosta “Shoot the Messenger” Cover and Q&A!

 

Pippa DaCosta “Shoot the Messenger” Cover and Q&A!

Well, Shoot the Messenger technically released sooner than expected (Amazon was Speedy McSpeedster this time), but today is when paperbacks will go out and the author will officially announce it on her website. Here is the glorious cover:

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That is Kesh Lasota on the cover, the series’ new protagonist. It’s a slow-burn sci-fi reverse harem fantasy! We were lucky enough to score another Q&A with Pippa DaCosta.

Q: What made you decide to dabble in the reverse harem genre?

A: Way back in 2013, when I was writing The Veil Series, I deliberately set out to challenge genre tropes, and one of those tropes in urban fantasy is the girl who must pick “her guy”. I’ll be honest, it annoyed me that the main character had to pick. I wanted her to have both, but I felt the readership wouldn’t react well to the heroine not choosing. I had already broken the rules of what was and wasn’t acceptable by having her sleep with (gasp) two men in the first book! I still get stick for that. Muse (the main character) is often seen by some as “sluttish” (Let’s not get into the double-standards of when a guy is fast and loose with his partners, it’s perfectly acceptable). I made the right call back then, but it’s always bugged me. Why should a strong female heroine have to choose one man?

Fast forward to 2017. I have an idea bubbling away in the background. I know I want to dive deeper into using “fae” mythology, but this time (I have another fae series set in London) I’m going to switch things up by setting this new series in the distant future. I’m going to surround fae beings (who we would normally associate with an organic setting) with technology. But c’mon, this is me, I’m known for doing things a little different, so I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to mash two genres together. Sci-fi and fantasy. And hell, lets go further. THIS time the girl gets to have her cake and eat it. She can have ALL THE CAKE. Kesh, the main character in Messenger, will not be choosing one guy. F*ck that. She’s strong, confident, as kick-ass as they come, and if she wants to entertain emotional and physical relations with more than two guys at once, she sure as hell is going to. And if there are more than three guys who think they can handle her and the harem dynamics, good for them.

I’m still not following tropes. The first book only features two guys—and without spoiling some MAJOR plot twists—let’s just say, Kesh isn’t the “normal” romantic heroine. She’s no damsel, and she’s definitely not in distress.

I’ve found reverse harem to be freeing and empowering. This new slant on romance takes everything we love about our kick-ass heroines, and makes them even more powerful.  I love it.

Q: Who is your favorite character in the new series?

A: Kesh built herself a companion drone called Sota. He’s part tactical war drone and part personal assistant and all artificial intelligence. He also has a filthy sense of humor. Unfortunately, he gets stolen early on in the book, but his scenes bring a much-needed lighthearted element to Kesh’s story. Already fans are demanding more Sota. I’m working on it 😉

Q: How many books are planned for the Messenger Chronicles?

A: I’m planning at least five full-length novels and a short prequel. The Messenger world is vast and could easily be expanded into more works, but it really depends on how the first few books sell.

Q: Have you read any books lately you would recommend?

A: I loved the Unlikable Demon Hunter series by Deborah Wilde so much that I reached out to her and told her she’s awesome. There’s nothing better than authors fangirling over other authors. I have the new book in that series to read once the Messenger new release frenzy is over. I also enjoyed Jex Lane’s male/male Beautiful Monsters series so much that I read each book one after another and couldn’t stop. A proper binge. It was wonderful. I struggle to really fall into books (the curse of being an author with no off button for my internal editor) so when I do find a series that grabs me, I got nuts for it and fangirl all over the place. I have no shame.

Q: What inspires you the most these days?

A: Anything and everything. I’m a sponge. I soak up everything around me and turn it into stories. It might be something simple, like a bird landing on a branch and suddenly my imagination runs with it, turning that image into a uninhabited, barren, frozen landscape where that one bird is a sign of life. Or, I might be watching TV and think, holy shit, that’s how my main character gets out of the plot hole she’s fallen into. It’s a constant process that I can’t turn off. But I also can’t force it. If the ideas don’t want to come, I can’t make them. I’ve tried to force myself to write books that I think will work but after countless restarts, if the words don’t flow, it ain’t happening.

Inspiration also comes from the characters themselves. Once a world is established and the characters have populated it, I often just go with whatever crazy idea the characters have next. By the end of The Veil Series the characters practically wrote those books themselves, and likewise with The 1000 Revolution. It sometimes feels like I’m the conduit and I’ve no idea where the stories come from – they just do come.  I’m a very organic writer. I have an idea, I have a rough outline, I have a beginning and an end, and that’s it. The rest just happens.

Q: How do you design your covers and who does them?

A: I’m a cover design nerd. I love book covers, the shinier the better. But good covers and good designers can be tough to find. I have several that I’ve worked with regularly over the years. Ravven and Rebecca Frank are my go-to professional designers. But I also go the risky route and check out designers on Artstation and DeviantArt. It’s not for the the feint-hearted. I’ve had designers be amazing and then disappear off the face of the planet. There’s a massive amount of risk and trust involved when hiring someone half the world away. But the results can be EPIC.

I found the Shoot the Messenger designer by accident on Pinterest. I was searching for pins to capture the Messenger world and stumbled across an amazing piece of art that kept drawing me back to it. I reached out to the artist, thinking there’s no way he’s going to be interested in working with lil’ ol’ me. Not only did he get back to me, but he completely understood my vision. Anytime someone starts referring to Final Fantasy CGI as a comparable, I’m totally on-board.

He’s now hard at work on Book 2 and producing some post-card sized character art that I’m hoping to give away at Boston Fantasy Festival. (If you haven’t seen the Boston Fantasy Festival details, check it out, Rebecca Frank will be there, along with a selected bunch of awesome authors, and me!).

Thank you for having me on the MacHalos blog today and I hope you enjoy Shoot the Messenger.

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Pippa is also hosting a Messenger competition that includes a signed paperback, a bookmark, a $25 Amazon giftcard, and a poster! Enter HERE!

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We are sooo excited about this new series and ANYTHING Pippa writes! Get your copy of Shoot the Messenger at Amazon. It’s only $0.99 and is also on Kindle Unlimited!

Pippa DaCosta’s Amazon page.

Goodreads.

Twitter.

Author page.

Related posts:

Q & A with Author Pippa DaCosta! (Our first Q&A with Pippa!)

 

 

Halloween Scary Movies – Cult Classic Style!

The wonderfully awesome Abby recently posted a blog called Top 10 Tuesday: Halloween Movies for the Faint of Heart. So I decided I just had to post my own version, but cult classic style. These movies are at times gross, cheesy, maybe a little scary still, and 100% classics! They are not literally Halloween movies, but a fun list to watch during this month and any other if you can stomach watching horror movies that might not have aged so well (and some that have). Some are more obscure than others. But all, in my view, are worthy to land a spot on any Best Of list like mine.

10. Parents

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This is a quirky horror film that slices up a chunk of meat long pig style. I haven’t watched it in ages, but remember it being creepy and gross, yet wildly entertaining. It’s out there and very over the top.

9. Motel Hell

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Here is another movie I haven’t watched in forever, but this movie seriously creeped me out. That garden scene, though. Another gross, over the top cult classic. You should watch it if you haven’t already. These two are real pieces of shit work.

8. Children of the Corn

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One look at that face still gives me nightmares. I remember being so freaked out by this movie. Truly scary. “Outlander!”

7. Nightmare on Elm St.

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I remember being so scared of this movie when I was younger that I was afraid to go to the bathroom by myself. Now, it seems campy, but at the time, this was Grade-A, top shelf horror, folks! lol. Remember Johnny Depp’s role when he gets sucked through the bed?

6. Hellraiser

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Another seriously scary movie for me. Pinhead was so creepy. Even though it was scary, there was something really unique and mesmerizing about it, in my view.

5. Nightbreed

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Another Clive Barker movie that I loved. Again, it was creative and weird and strangely compelling. For a horror movie. I highly recommend this one.

4. Scream

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This movie sort of changed everything. It was a mashup of all the horror tropes and starred like every single “hot” actor/actress of the moment. The story was good, it was funny, tongue in cheek, and just checked all the boxes.

3. Evil Dead 2

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One of the best. I kind of pretend the first movie never happened because this one was so good. (Although the first one terrified me as a teen.) Bruce Campbell just owns this like a boss. I love him. Making chainsaw hands look like they could be a cool accessory for any time of the year.

2. Fright Night

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This movie was a huge influence in my life and I even mentioned it in a previous blog, For the Love of Vampires! Chris Sarandon was so swoon-worthy as bad guy vampire, Jerry Dandridge. He was one of my first hardcore teen crushes. I mean, you can’t see it here from the gif, but I thought he was attractive, anyway. LOL

1. Lost Boys

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This was the first rated-R movie I saw in the theater. It changed my life. I crushed hardcore on every single actor in the movie! Kiefer Sutherland as villainous David, Jason Patric as Michael and even Corey Haim, the younger brother who has to  enlist Corey Feldman to help save his big brother. It’s just one of my all-time favorites and even had a good soundtrack!

Honorable mentions: Near Dark (another vampire movie, are you surprised), Maximum Overdrive, Event Horizon, and They Live.

Okay, that is my list. I noticed most of these are from the 80s, and that was when music and film really started to influence me (yes, I’m old). So I guess it makes sense that my choices would be from that time period. Have you seen any of these? Which are your favorites? Which would you like to see?

Until next time!

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