This is even darker than the first book. Ash's problems grow exponentially. He suffers a terrible personal loss that drives him over the edge and forcThis is even darker than the first book. Ash's problems grow exponentially. He suffers a terrible personal loss that drives him over the edge and forces him to return to the place of origin of his dark powers: India. This time, he is following the trail of Alexander Savage, his nemesis with strange companions, the street thief John and Parvati, a half-demon girl with a very ancient heritage. Ash has to face that the person he was before will never fit again. Too much has happened, and integrating all his past selves into that mundane existence doesn't work.
I know little to nothing about Indian mythology and folklore, but this book fills in a lot of those gaps. Ash has powers endowed by the black goddess, Kali, and that means that he draws from death energies. A horrible thing when it becomes apparent that those closest to him give him even more energy. Ash is learning the cost of his abilities and what powers they give him. He gains the accumulated knowledge of his past lives, but must suffer through the violent memories of those past selves and for them not to take control of him. The people, history, and places of India are vividly illustrated in this book.
Chadda writes excellent action, and there are no opportunities to be bored. Ash is an ideal hero, likable and snarky, and while he's powerful, he has not allowed those powers to give him a sense of overpowering arrogance, knowing how flawed those abilities truly are.
This book isn't for those who balk at seeing young people in danger. Oh, there is plenty of danger for the youngsters in this book. Some blood and guts, but not over the top. Ash and his companions end up in some nasty scrapes, and the bad guys aren't afraid of harming a young boy, or anyone else who gets in the way.
The characterizations are complex and layered. There are no blacks and whites, but instead each person has a little of both inside of them. Ash has to decided what path he will take and what he is willing to sacrifice to defeat Alexander Savage and to gain his greatest hope in this book.
The narrator does an excellent job with the various accents, Indian and British, not stereotyping either. I have enjoyed both books on audiobook and I hope to continue listening to the series in the future.
This series is a distinctive one, touching on a culture that is not often explored in young adult books. While the ending isn't strictly a cliff-hanger, it ends in a way that will make readers eager and ready for the next book, myself included. I'm looking forward to more adventures with Ash Mistry.
This is definitely hardboiled horror. I read this during the day, but I wouldn't read this before bed. It's very dark and some of the aspects and imagThis is definitely hardboiled horror. I read this during the day, but I wouldn't read this before bed. It's very dark and some of the aspects and imagery are pretty disturbing. I couldn't tell if the author was going for a Lovecraft mythos kind of vibe or more of a Satanic/black magic kind of thing. Maybe both. There are many questions, particularly about the lead female character. What is she? Who is she? Why does she lead every man she encounters down the road of destruction. The author who is a prominent character did not inspire my sympathy in any way. The sad results of his choices did bother me, but moreso because of the innocents who were hurt because of his obsession with that woman. I am not sure if I will continue this. Part of me is curious, but I didn't like the way this made me feel as I read it. I've learned to go with my gut in my reading choices. Having said that, if you like the strange intersection of genres, particularly hardboiled/noir crime thriller and horror, you might pick this up. I would give this four stars because it's very well-written....more
This was a trippy one. Wolverine wakes up in Hell, but there's no explanation for how he ended up there, at least not at the beginning. You find out dThis was a trippy one. Wolverine wakes up in Hell, but there's no explanation for how he ended up there, at least not at the beginning. You find out dribs and drabs of information as the story goes along, but plenty of disturbing scenes in the process. I can't decide what was more disturbing: Wolverine in Hell or the fact that he was doing his darnedest to send his friends and loved ones there along with him and not getting why. A little bit confusing of a read to me. And just the subject matter was kind of odd. I'm not used to Wolverine being in a metaphysical context (especially with sorcery and demonic possession as a factor.) It was interesting, that's for sure....more
"Veil" is an effective horror graphic novel from a proven writer in Greg Rucka. It's about a creature who was summoned from dark magic but seems to re"Veil" is an effective horror graphic novel from a proven writer in Greg Rucka. It's about a creature who was summoned from dark magic but seems to retain an innocence and vulnerability that makes predators want to prey on her and protectors want to keep her safe. The artwork is beautiful but also disturbing. The prevalence of sewer rats will creep out those with musophobia. They have a weird psychic connection with Veil that adds a disturbing connotation to the story. The urban setting adds to the atmosphere of fear in that the urban jungle is full of predators of all kinds. Add a secret group who resorts to black magic to achieve desired goals and the creepy factor gets very high. Although a dark story, there is some light in it that makes the ending satisfying for me. I would read further volumes....more
I don't have a lot to say about this book. It wasn't hokey, like I was worried about. I liked that the JSA and JLA worked in tandem, although things sI don't have a lot to say about this book. It wasn't hokey, like I was worried about. I liked that the JSA and JLA worked in tandem, although things started out shaky for their Thanksgiving get-together. There's an interesting contrast between the JSA and JLA members. While approaches are different, they realize that their goals are in common and have become friends of a sort, at least until the stuff hits the fan abruptly at their Thanksgiving get-together. I didn't quite understand what was going on at first. It wasn't explained very well initially. I was like, "Why are they whaling on each other like that?" In the end, I got what was going on, but I wasn't 100% sold on the concept. I did have that issue I sometimes have with graphic novels where I find it hard to keep up with what's going on.
It was decent, but nothing to write home about....more
This is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the charactersThis is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the characters are pretty out there. But I really enjoy this series and this book. There is some really disturbing content, so be warned.
This is a really good first novel about monster hunters who bond to their almost living weapons. I was impressed with this dark and intense action horThis is a really good first novel about monster hunters who bond to their almost living weapons. I was impressed with this dark and intense action horror/dark urban fantasy novel. I recommend it to fans of the series "Supernatural" or other fiction about monster hunters.
This proposition player has become a whale. He's playing for the highest stakes he has ever been handed--human souls.
I wasn't a big fan of this graphiThis proposition player has become a whale. He's playing for the highest stakes he has ever been handed--human souls.
I wasn't a big fan of this graphic novel. While the idea was very interesting, I didn't like the direction the story took or the main character much at all. Joe is a jerk, a lowlife, and a self-absorbed, insensitive putz. Strong words, but warranted. The folklore and mythology aspects could have been an advantage in this book, but they weren't. The situations in which they acted sort of stole their thunder, considering the opportunity to have all the mythological godfigures in the same place. It would have been interesting to show traits that distinguished them from each other to people who had some background in their various folkloric origins. I had hopes that there would be a big stakes poker game with the mythical godfigures and Joe, but the author chose to end this one differently. Also, I think this is one of those stories where a jerk gets rewarded for his bad behavior. Not a fan of this plot device in the slightest. Lastly, the humor is irreverent and in some places, downright perverse.
I can't think of a whole lot to recommend about this book, other than the artwork was lovely and the concept mildly interesting. As much as I love the Fables series by Willingham, I didn't care much for this one.
I think I found my lost kin. Ice and I must be from the same people, because I think I love the cold as much as she does.
Anyhoo, this was a good bookI think I found my lost kin. Ice and I must be from the same people, because I think I love the cold as much as she does.
Anyhoo, this was a good book. Loved the descriptions of Ice's abilities, and Arch was pretty cool too, despite his hellish lineage. I'd recommend this to paranormal fans looking for something a little different.
Jack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeJack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeks. But he’s pulled out of training early, and drafted into an ultra-secret, elite SEAL team, one that has an unusual team number. This team fights threats against the free world that are supernatural in origin. And Jack is specially equipped to be a member. For the dark scars of his youth mark him with a special ability to sense evil.
I liked the idea of this book, a military special ops story with a supernatural twist. Ochse’s attention to detail as far as military ops lends credibility to the writing. I really appreciated the look at how a SEAL team operates and the whole involved procedure of keeping the world safe, top secret-style, with the ancillary support of various defense agency personnel. His focus seems to be more on this than the supernatural component, but he grafts together the two aspects of the story fairly well. Still this book seemed thin to me. Like it was serviceable, but merely scratching the surface of possibilities. Yes, I think that was the big issue I had with this book. It lacked depth.
I wanted more character exploration. While I felt I did get to know Jack fairly well, I didn’t get more than a surface portrayal of most of the others. I realize that the story occurs in a short period of time, but I had this feeling that the characters merely existed to move the story, or to get killed off. That saddened me. The death of a team member and the ritual associated with his passing, had more time spent on it than seeing that team member as a living, breathing human. Of course, death is an everyday experience for these men. They know they could die on any mission they undertake. But I needed to know them better, because knowing someone is part of the process of caring for them, that they live and die for a purpose. Otherwise, our mental health defenses build a wall between us and the suffering of others in the world, because to cry for every person who dies will destroy you. We just don’t have that capacity. But if you know someone, even a little, it breaks your heart to know they have died. To introduce a character only to kill them without much effort to infuse depth makes a mockery of that. I really dislike the tendency towards presenting characters as sacrificial lambs in a story. Just enough to introduce a character and then they get killed off. I felt this was a shortcoming of this novel.
The action is well done. The pace was intense and appropriate. I got the real sense that I was going on ops with these guys. In this case, all in relation to the supernatural threats in this book. If even possible, that brings a higher level of threat to the situation. There’s only so much a gun can do against an undead, immortal threat, or one from a world of strangeness that doesn’t follow the rules that govern this physical one.
The supernatural storyline was intriguing and definitely horrific. Ochse does build the sense of wrongness and weirdness that would disturb an average person. I like a weird supernatural story like nobody’s business, but I had some moments where I was thinking, “That’s just wrong!” Imagine being a SEAL, trained to eliminate lethal threats all around the world, but previously naïve to the supernatural darkness in this world. You have to keep moving and do your job, and you don’t have time for “WTFs”. So yes, that part was very well done. The particular threat they faced in this book felt novel and very intimidating, and the author ties it into things going on in the world arena. While the climax was too abrupt for my tastes, it definitely had impact, and as I said, I enjoyed the action moments.
With this book, I had that feeling that everything was scratching the surface when I wanted things to get deeper. With an intriguing storyline like this, I get excited to see what journey the author will take me on. Overall, this was a book that kept me reading. It was a pretty good book. A nice mélange of spec ops action and supernatural weirdness. I think the author could have given me more as far as characterization, which is the biggest shortcoming of this novel. However, I would keep reading this if it becomes a series.
This is a really good series for fans of angelic fiction. The angels aren't really that likable though, except for Remy. I like the insight into the AThis is a really good series for fans of angelic fiction. The angels aren't really that likable though, except for Remy. I like the insight into the Angelic War, although it's not very biblical in some aspects (others sort of). I didn't care for one aspect in the presentation of Christ, honestly. The lower rating is mainly because the pacing falls apart at the end. The cliffhanger is rather brutal too. I'll keep reading this because I really like Remy (and I'm fascinated with angels).
This was my favorite so far in the series. The idea was interesting, and I liked the leads, Erion and Hellen, and I really felt their love for each otThis was my favorite so far in the series. The idea was interesting, and I liked the leads, Erion and Hellen, and I really felt their love for each other. Ladd is adorable. This was almost a four star book. But I think I have a high standard for paranormal romance now, so I felt more world-building and some clarity in the storyline would have added to this novel's appeal.
At least there was no butt stuff and she toned down the use of the dreaded c word for the ladyparts. I was relieved on both fronts.
The Hammer and the Blade is fun sword and sorcery adventure. Kemp has done something interesting here. This book is quite low brow in its use of vulgaThe Hammer and the Blade is fun sword and sorcery adventure. Kemp has done something interesting here. This book is quite low brow in its use of vulgar descriptions: constantly describing puking and spitting and other bodily functions. Yet in contrast, I had to look up a lot of words when I read this, for apparently Kemp has quite a vocabulary. Maybe he was trying to prove that just because someone has a potty mouth doesn't mean they lack intelligence.
As far as a buddy story, this one succeeds on that level. Egil and Nix are tight. We don't get to find out how they met, and they are quite different. But that doesn't stop them from being very good friends who watch each others' backs and fight at each others' sides. Egil is a hulking man, who uses two hammers and a crowbar as his weapons. He wears a tattoo of an eye on his head, a symbol of the Momentary God. He is reflective and tends towards somberness. Nix is smaller, the body and persona of a thief. He reminds me of the trickster archetype. He is quick and sly, and fond of sharp, slender blades. He grew up in the slums, and part of him doesn't want to leave that behind. It's a huge part of his identity. He doubts that he possesses any sense of morality, but the quest he undertakes in this book will prove whether that's true.
While sword and sorcery can tend towards sexism, Kemp seems to want to subvert this. While most of the main characters are not women, there are more than a few secondary female characters that show a lot of depth and the complexity of the female gender. Nix and Egil are forced to reexamine their views of women and how women should be treated continually throughout this story. I really enjoyed this aspect of this novel. Yes, I am a woman, so it makes sense that this would be a crucial aspect for me. But I like to think that men can also be dismayed at how women can be sidelined, maligned, and abused in most cultures, simply because they are women. I am glad to see that Kemp seems to struggle with this as well.
The action/adventure part of the equation is well done. Plenty of fighting and escapades. Tomb robbing and escaping mystical booby traps. Lots of demon and creature fighting, and some fights between characters of the human persuasion. Some of the scenes got a little gory, but I guess that's to be expected in a sword and sorcery romp. While I didn't like some of the vulgar descriptions, I didn't think Kemp went over the top with the violence.
As far as the sorcery, that was definitely a strong aspect of this novel. One of the characters is a sorcerer whose family has a dark pact with demons for their power. And I do mean dark. This storyline becomes a very prominent thread that place Egil and Nix at some crucial moments of defining who their identities are as people and where they draw their line in the sand. As I read it, I marveled at the extremes people go to obtain and keep power, and usually they end up making someone pick up the tab for their actions and ill-gotten gains. Definitely the case in this book. Glad we had some unlikely heroes around to try to make things right.
I didn't rate this book higher because it was just too vulgar for my tastes. I felt like this was a hindrance for me to dive deeper since I just can't stand vulgarity. It's a personal taste thing here. There were other things to like about this novel, such as the fantasy world-building and the humor and camaraderie between Egil and Nix and a few other characters. It was a fairly entertaining novel despite the fact that the vulgarity was off-putting. I will probably continue this series.
I first became acquainted with Sarwat Chadda when I read Devil's Kiss, and I knew he was an author I wanted to follow. Chadda has switched gears slighI first became acquainted with Sarwat Chadda when I read Devil's Kiss, and I knew he was an author I wanted to follow. Chadda has switched gears slightly, writing for the MG/Juvenile group with this series, and with a male lead. He has also set his book in India, I believe that he was drawing in some degree from his own heritage. With The Savage Fortress, Mr. Chadda has written an involving read quite full of darkness and danger, and incredible heroism at its center.
Ash Mistry is an English boy of Indian descent. He gains the opportunity to explore the land of his parents' birth when he goes to stay with his aunt and uncle in India. Ash doesn't care much for India, despite his romantic hopes. It's hot, dirty, and basic in amenities. He'd rather be at home in England, with his videogames and his friends. I could identify with Ash in that I hate being hot and dirty, and the descriptions of India in that sense make me question whether I would enjoy my first experience with it any better than Ash does. However, Ash finds his destiny and comes to life in a way that staying in England never would have provided.
When his uncle gets the opportunity to translate a scroll for the very rich Englishman, Lord Alexander Savage, Ash encounters evils right out of Indian legend and folklore. For Lord Savage is a wicked magician cursed with immortality in a decaying body, and surrounded by blood-thirsty rakshasa creatures (rakshasa is a general term for demons who can have a variety of animal/human forms). Ash begs his uncle to have nothing to do with the man and his dark enterprises, but his uncle doesn't believe him. Ash falls in a deep hole at an archeology site funded by Lord Savage, and pricks his finger on an ancient arrow that connects him to the power of an ancient god, whose power belongs to the wielder of the arrow, which is called an astra.
Things go downhill from here and tragedy results in Ash and his young sister Lucky being on the run for their lives. An ancient holy man and his strange companion intervene, and guide Ash closer to his destiny as the wielder of the astra, and the only person who can stand in the way of Lord Savage's wicked intentions.
Mr. Chadda is definitely in touch with the child part of himself. He understands that kids want adventure and wonder, but don't always have awareness of what comes along with that fun parts. Ash is like a stand-in for the thirteen-year-old self of older readers, or the young readers who read this book. It's a case of "Be careful what you wish for." We can't even know how dark our world is until we face it head on. Ash encounters things that made my hair stand on end. And the author is almost gleeful in describing the gore and violence. Not too much for a MG book, although I think the age restriction should be 13 or older, honestly. I could see this book causing nightmares to a younger reader. I was hesitant to read it late at night, just in case.
There is no lack of adventure and danger, and Ash's character undergoes desired and necessary growth in character. At the end of his harrowing experience, he is not unchanged. He realizes that we are accountable for our actions and we do have responsibilities in our lives to do what's right even if it's hard. While some readers might not be as accepting of the polytheistic elements of this story, I think this content can still be enjoyed as a fiction work, and I would recommend that parents investigate this book before letting their younger children read it. Even though I don't subscribe to the Hindu beliefs, I do think there are some good lessons to be learned about accountability and personal ethics. As a lover of folklore and mythology, I thought the world-building was fascinating, and Chadda describes India vividly. I felt as though I was there. He shows a lot of textures in the different peoples in this book, and I think it's good for readers to be exposed to multicultural characters and the diversity of our big, wide world.
Bruce Mann is an excellent narrator. He utilizes a variety of tones and accents that fit this book very well. I especially liked how he speaks Ash's part. Ash has a very distinctive way of speaking and he comes to life for me. I liked the kid a lot. I'm glad my library had this in audio, even if took me ages to finish listening to it (not out of boredom, just time issues).
I'd recommend The Savage Fortress to 13 or older children (with parental approval) and older readers who enjoy MG/Juvenile fiction with folklore. I'm looking forward to more of Ash's adventures....more
These books are fab on audiobook. Lorelei King is an excellent narrator. While I'm sure these books are enjoyable reading regardless, they are downrigThese books are fab on audiobook. Lorelei King is an excellent narrator. While I'm sure these books are enjoyable reading regardless, they are downright fantastic as audiobooks.
Darynda Jones is a hoot. No pun is too silly for her. Charley is hard to take too seriously, but she's definitely the real deal. Charley feels like every woman's id in some ways. She says and does what she thinks. I mean, she named her breasts and ovaries. But I like that she owns who she is. She had to work hard to be okay with her gift and her persona, even when her family doesn't understand her and some don't even accept her for who she is. I like how Charley is kind of boycrazy. She always notices and often flirts with cute guys. It makes her feel more realistic to me and adds to her distinctive persona. And let's admit, some of us girls are a bit boycrazy (we might not take all the guys home, but we do notice them). I like how the story can be outrageous silliness in some parts and very evocative drama in others.
Reyes is absolutely droolicious. Yeah, I don't like to think about who is his dad is though. But outside of that, yum! He is obviously cray-cray about Charley, and I'm a sucker for that kind of hero, for reals. There is a touching innocence about him. It sounds weird, but that's what I get from him. At the same time, man he's so lethal and kickbutt. He's a great match for Charley. I'm leaning towards Theo James as my Reyes.
I also really like Garrett. I like how they trade wisecracks and how even when he doesn't understand Charley, he's a good friend to her. My Garett is definitely Michael Ealy. I'm crushing on Garrett pretty hard now. I must admit.
I enjoyed picturing him as I read this book on the Garrett parts. (big smile)
This is one series where the secondary characters really add so much to the read. I like hearing how Charley interacts with the people around her. Cookie is a fun sidekick/friend/employee and the two of them make a wacky pair in their adventures in this book. Uncle Bob, or UB is an old softie. There are several secondary characters I really liked, and Ms. King made them all distinct in how she narrated their parts.
The mystery was good and I really didn't want to stop listening. It kept me guessing and working my way through the list of subjects. As a result, I ended finishing this in a little over 24 hours. I was making Valentines and doing my drawing homework, and it was great to listen to while I worked.
I'm officially hooked on this series. I'm super glad my library has most of these (if not all) on audio. This is definitely one to do the audios, because Lorelei King's narration is not to be missed. A great mix of paranormal/supernatural/ghost story, mystery and wackiness.
This was a gusty work, quite interesting and different. Probably one of the most overtly Christian dark fantasies I've read thus far, although I don'tThis was a gusty work, quite interesting and different. Probably one of the most overtly Christian dark fantasies I've read thus far, although I don't think it will find favor with a person who is fairly fundamental in their Christian beliefs (ie. avoid anything related to the occult). I was scratching my head at some of the physics concepts, since they were over my head, also some of the occult elements. Either the author did some heavy-duty research or she has a great imagination. Even though I'm not sure it was successful on all levels, I felt impressed with this novel, even as I acknowledge that it won't be for everyone. Thus the 3.75/5.0 star rating.
This is a dark themed urban fantasy/supernatural fiction novel with some very vivid imagery. Hunt's way of seeing ghosts and through their eyes is disThis is a dark themed urban fantasy/supernatural fiction novel with some very vivid imagery. Hunt's way of seeing ghosts and through their eyes is distinctive. He's a very troubled character and not easy to like. I'll continue this series.