Shattered Melody: A romantic suspense novella by Amy McKinley – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Shattered MelodyShattered Melody by Amy McKinley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shattered Melody is a standalone book by Amy McKinley, that ties in with her Gray Ghost series.
I was drawn to it as the protagonist, Emma, is a songwriter. I liked how the songwriting happens regularly throughout the book as Emma processes her grief and other emotions. It reminded me of a character in another of McKinley’s books, Liv, who used sculpture as an outlet. The way the music is described is lovely, but I wish we’d been able to see the lyrics!
Shattered Melody is quite a short book, and so the story is quite fast paced. The ending did feel a little bit rushed – once things started developing they developed quickly! – but generally I found it flowed well.
For me, this is a four star book. If you’ve read the Gray Ghost books and enjoyed them, I’d recommend this as a good expansion of the story with more of a focus on character and romance (but there’s still some action!). If you haven’t read the Gray Ghost books yet, this could be a good way to test the waters and works well as a standalone romance with a bit of mystery and action.

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Moves by John Michaels – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

MovesMoves by John Michaels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t often go for thrillers but I found Moves by John Michaels totally gripping. Michaels sets up a mysterious and intriguing murder right at the start of the book and then launches into several chapters of character development that are seemingly only tangentially related. You KNOW it must all be linked in some way and have to keep reading to get more clues as to how.
The protagonist, Robert Jake, is a well developed and interesting character. He struggles with PTSD, depression and grief. He is also a popular radio host and a caring father. We encounter his story, and the stories of those around him, at several points at once as flashbacks and therapy fill in aspects of his past.
I also found the character John Assisi quite interesting. We get to see him develop through Jake’s flashbacks and then through his detective work in the present. Jake and Assisi balance each other well and I like the underlying respect they have from the start in spite of a less than friendly initial encounter.
For me, this is a five-star book. It’s a real page turner, and one you won’t be able to stop thinking about! It’s great if you’re after a bit of excitement and mystery – thoroughly enjoyable!

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Queen of the Warrior Bees (Natural Forces Book 1) by Jean Gill – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Queen of the Warrior Bees (Natural Forces #1)Queen of the Warrior Bees by Jean Gill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Queen of the Warrior Bees is the first book in Jean Gill’s Natural Forces series. It tells the story of Mielitta, a young woman struggling to find her place in a tightly controlled world where perfection is prized above all else. Developing magical bee powers doesn’t exactly help her fit in but does at least give her a sense of purpose as she now has to consider the bees’ agenda as well as her own.
Something I particularly enjoyed about this book is the focus on scent in descriptions of characters and places. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much detail about how everything smells, and I love it! It added an extra dimension to everything and helped me to immerse myself in the scenes.
The world-building is great. There’s so much originality, presented to us in a way that feels familiar. The contrast between the dull Citadel and the vibrant Forest particularly stood out to me – kind of like a Dorothy landing in full-colour Oz.
The story is very intriguing. There are many mysteries to unravel and deceptions to overcome. Mielitta is observant and resourceful, enabling her and us to glimpse the secrets of the Citadel and reveal its corruptions.
This is an enjoyable book – it gets five stars from me! I’d recommend it to Young Adult fantasy fans with an interest in the environment – plenty of trees and bees! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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The Embers We Seek: Prequel | War of Giants (A Rebel Princess Serial Book 1) by Acacia K. Parker – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

The Embers We Seek (A Rebel Princess Serial, #1)The Embers We Seek by Acacia K. Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

War of Giants is the first book in Acacia K. Parker’s The Embers We Seek story, which is a Rebel Princess Serial. The Embers We Seek is a fantasy retelling of the Cinderella story, told in novelette-length instalments that are released every month.
As the Prequel, War of Giants has a story that establishes key characters including heroine, Wren, and the setting in the world of Heros. It’s a vibrant fantasy world with plenty of conflict, mystery and magic.
Wren is a military captain, seeking to resolve a conflict with as little loss of life as possible. She is willing to disobey her superiors and put her own life at risk to achieve this. She’s helped along the way by her friend Mor and a group of soldiers who have volunteered to undertake a risky mission. I really liked Mor and hope we learn more about her background in the coming books (I was hoping Mor was a love interest but alas, no).
I have mixed feelings about the format. It was nice to be able to get through a whole story in one sitting, but there was a lot I would have liked more time on, particularly around the climax and the consequences of it. It felt like there was a long build up to a quick conclusion. It did leave me wanting more, though, so I’ll have to read the upcoming instalments!
For me, this book gets four stars. I’d recommend it to fans of fantasy and fairy tales, particularly for readers who can’t always get through longer books.

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The Brass Compass: A Novel by Ellen Butler – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

The Brass CompassThe Brass Compass by Ellen Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Brass Compass is a gripping historical novel by Ellen Butler. The heroine, Lily, is an intelligent young American woman whose youth has been spent living all around Europe. Her fluency in a number of languages and her determination to support the Allied Forces mean she is well suited to work as an OSS agent. When she fears her cover may have been blown, however, she must go on the run and fight to survive the winter as she makes her way to France, where she hopes to be safe.
The story is set in 1945, but Lily’s dreams give the reader flashbacks to her past and some of the major events in WWII. Since we have recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of D Day, I was particularly interested in hearing about Lily’s involvement in that, and another character’s description of parachuting onto the beach.
The Brass Compass is clearly well-researched and is very informative, whilst also being an immersive story. Butler goes into plenty of detail both in describing large, significant events and in Lily’s day-to-day life on the run. We pretty much know everything she has to eat from the start of the story and how she gets it. This is both an interesting insight into rationing and a way for us to get into her head.
This book gets five stars from me. It’s a well-written, entertaining book that transports the reader back in time and sheds some light on an often-overlooked part of the history of WWII. I’d recommend it to fans of spies, survival adventures and WWII.

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Devil’s Due: Satan’s Devils MC (Colorado Chapter #3) by Manda Mellett – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Devil's Due: Satan's Devils MC Colorado Chapter #3Devil’s Due: Satan’s Devils MC Colorado Chapter #3 by Manda Mellett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hadn’t really read anything focusing on motorcycle clubs before I discovered Manda Mellett’s Satan’s Devils series, and now I’m hooked! Devil’s Due is the third book in the Colorado Chapter series.
I enjoy these books because they’re exciting, action-packed and hard to put down. I got so frustrated when I started reading Devil’s Due on the bus because I didn’t want to stop reading when I reached my destination! Another thing I’ve enjoyed in the past in Mellett’s books, which this book also contains, is the way she writes messy, human and beautiful relationships. It’s not all about young, beautiful people having perfect happily-ever-afters!
Something that really stood out for me in Devil’s Due was the inclusion of a main character who is blind. The character’s blindness is crucial to the plot in a number of ways and Mellett is always considerate of how the character might approach different tasks and what support she might need from the others (like not leaving their boots lying around on the floor!).
Since there’s a main Satan’s Devils MC series and the Colorado Chapter spin-off, there are multiple points at which you can jump into the series. Personally, I started at Paladin’s Hell which is the first book in the Colorado Chapter, but I want to go back and read some of the other stories to get the background of the characters I’ve encountered from the main Arizona chapter. You could also read this book as a standalone, if it particularly interests you.
For me, this is a five-star book. I was hooked, found it very enjoyable and also learnt a fair bit from it.

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Nite Fire: Smoke & Mirrors (Book 3) by C. L. Schneider – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Smoke & Mirrors (Nite Fire #3)Smoke & Mirrors by C.L. Schneider
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Smoke & Mirrors is the third book in C.L. Schneider’s Nite Fire series. I really enjoy this series with its combination of fantasy and detective elements.
Dahlia Nite is now part of a special task force devoted to investigating paranormal crimes. Her powers as a half-dragon give her an edge when it comes to solving these crimes, as well as covering up any evidence that would expose the existence of supernatural creatures.
As the series progresses, the magical world Schneider has created becomes increasingly vast and detailed with a varied cast of supernatural and human characters. It’s been a while since I read the earlier books in the series, but Schneider does plenty to fill the reader in on important background details and remind them of what has happened.
It’s an action-packed book with mysteries to be solved and plenty of interesting, complex characters. Dahlia stands out as a strong, driven heroine. I also like Casey Evans with his compassion and humanness, and I enjoy the scenes with the two of them working together.
For me, this is a five-star book. It’s exciting and gripping and fantastic! I’d recommend it to fans of fantasy and mystery. If you want to see forensic science being applied to non-human victims, this is the book for you!

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Dinner with The Wolf (Misfits & Rogues Series Book 2) by Kimberly Forrest – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Dinner with The Wolf (Misfits & Rogues Series Book 2)Dinner with The Wolf by Kimberly Forrest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dinner with The Wolf is the second book in Kimberly Forrest’s Misfits & Rogues series. It follows Vivian, a vampire who has run away from the community she lived in after a mistake left her fearing the punishment she was due. Jules, an immortal wolf shifter, is identified as the best person to go and retrieve Vivian despite the historic tensions between the pair.
It’s an exciting, action-packed book with a well-established urban fantasy setting. I haven’t read the first book in the series and found it easy enough to follow and enjoy the story, but I’m adding that to my tbr list now as I enjoyed Dinner with The Wolf!
I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of Vivian and Jules’ attitudes towards immortality. Vivian chose to pursue immortality, whilst Jules received it involuntarily. This leads to some interesting conversations about the price of immortality.
I also liked how the Greenlawn community features a variety of supernatural creatures, and the dynamics between them. It was good to see how they came together when a member of their community, like Vivian, was at risk.
For me, this is a five star book. I love a good urban fantasy and Dinner with The Wolf is detailed without being over complicated. I’d recommend it to fans of vampires and werewolves who like well developed characters and settings.

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Dracones Guardian (Dracones Book 6) by Sheri-Lynn Marean – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Dracones GuardianDracones Guardian by Sheri-Lynn Marean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dracones Guardian is an urban fantasy, and the sixth book in Sheri-Lynn Marean’s Dracones series.
Zander is an angel, living on Earth with his ever-growing family of supernatural creatures. When he is seriously injured, he has to learn to rely on others and accept offers of help.
Escaping from an abusive relationship, Chloe is reluctant to trust others and isn’t used to the kindness and generosity she finds in Zander’s family. Even more unfamiliar to her are the extraordinary people around her who can turn into wolves, leopards and even dragons.
For me, this book had a bit of an X Men feel to it with the way Zander had built up his family of supernatural creatures. There’s a well-established system of magic and history that’s easy enough to follow without having read the other books.
At times, the narrative jumps forward in time. Sometimes this is understandable – particularly the bigger jumps of many years, but at other times it felt like we were skipping over bits of the story that would have been interesting to read.
For me, this is a four star book. I’d recommend it to fans of stories with large found families, and paranormal romances. There are mentions and descriptions of abuse, including child and domestic abuse.

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Trickster’s Hunt (Three Tricksters Book 1) by Carrie Whitethorne – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Trickster's Hunt (Three Tricksters #1)Trickster’s Hunt by Carrie Whitethorne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trickster’s Hunt is the first book in Carrie Whitethorne’s Three Tricksters series. It is an urban fantasy, which draws on Egyptian mythology.
Maia is a loveable and relatable main character. Earning her living as an eating competition contestant, Maia is always eating and on the lookout for food. I particularly like how the genies end up regularly providing her with meals and snacks!
There are parts of the book where there is plenty of action, and others that are more drawn out dialogue as the characters explain and discuss what is going on. Occasionally, the same scene is told twice from different perspectives, which was interesting once I’d gotten over the initial confusion!
It was nice reading something set in the UK – some of the scenes where Maia was out and about in London felt particularly vivid and familiar!
I was reading more for the fantasy than the romance, but it’s interesting how the romance was tied up in the magical side of things.
For me, this is a four-star book. I’d recommend it to fans of urban fantasy – the Egyptian influences add a bit of interest and it would particularly appeal if you like genies! Also, there’s plenty of food which gets a lot of attention. I have to say, I spent most of the time I was reading this snacking!

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