So Many Books, So Little Time…

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We are looking for some special people to join our review team. We have plenty of books to review and are looking for new reviewers to join our little family. If you are interested please contact me at top2bottomreviews@gmail.com

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Gabbi

Anne Reviews: The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler

TITLE:  Lancaster’s Luck, Book 2: The Jackal’s House

Author: Anna Butler

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 310

Characters: Rafe Lancaster/Ned Winter

POV: 1st

Sub-Genre: Series, Steampunk

Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy….

Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.

Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god, Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

Review:

I was already a huge fan of Anna Butler’s SF Taking Shield series before I started reading this one.  Although it has a different feel to it—and is a different genre—I’m in love with this series too.

The Jackal’s House—like book 1 in the series—is narrated in first person by Rafe Lancaster.  I love his tongue-in-cheek banter, and internal narrative.  One of the strengths of this author’s writing is her characterisations.  Rafe is just the right mix of smart arse, and a man who feels very deeply.  Although we see Ned through Rafe’s perspective, it’s a very intuitive perspective, and Ned is very much a man who is tied by his position as first heir of Gallowglass.  I love Rafe and Ned together, and the line when they are making love under the stars was very romantic, and made me sigh happily. It’s sad that although they love each other, they can’t admit it publically or officially marry, but that’s a sign of the times, and again realistic.

The supporting cast is wonderful, with their character quirks and personalities coming across very clearly. I thought the author did a great job in writing Harry, Ned’s son, and he’s easy to visualise as the small boy he is.  Molly, Harry’s dog, is a character in her own right.

The world building in this series is fabulous. The author’s love for all things Egyptian is obvious and I enjoyed the details of the archaeological dig. I could feel Ned’s passion for his chosen field, and Rafe’s reluctant realisation that he’s getting sucked into it all as well. Ned’s good humour is also very contagious and I found myself smiling as I read.  I also appreciated the fact that Rafe needed to practice flying the airship, rather than just pilot immediately, as it felt more realistic.  The descriptions are detailed, and make everything very easy to visualise.

The political agendas seen in The Gilded Scarab rack up another notch, as dangerous games are played against the backdrop of Abydos.  It’s obvious that the author has put a lot of thought into the house system and politics of this world, and I found it all fascinating.  The title of the book works well on several levels, and there are more jackals around than the animal variety, although the true double meaning is quite subtle.

I also love the way she connects this alternate steampunk world with our own, with references and people I recognised. I must admit I squeed a little when Howard Carter turned up.  Although this is set in an alternate 1900 I loved the mention of analytical machines—computers—and other steampunk versions of current technology such as ebooks etc.  The security fence was especially cool.

The action scenes are well written, and had me on the edge of my seat. I spent several evenings sitting up far too late as I needed to find out what happened next.  There’s a nice twist at the end of the book.  I hope the author plans to write more of this series as I’m now totally hooked, plus I want to see how Rafe takes Ned’s advice, and the changes they hopefully can both make.

I’d highly recommend The Jackal’s House to readers who enjoy steampunk with a good dollop of mystery and adventure, and interesting, likeable characters.  More please.

Reviewed By: Anne

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Check out Angel Martinez’s latest book, All the World’s An Undead Space!

 

All The World’s An Undead Stage

Author: Angel Martinez

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Format: eBook, paperback

Price: $3.99, $10.49

Story Type: Novel

Word Count: Approx 55K

Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Humor

Pairing: m/m

Tropes: law enforcement, established couple

Keywords/Categories: paranormal, police, Philadelphia, magic, vampire, zombie, humor

Series Name: Offbeat Crimes

Position in Series: 6

Necessary to Read Previous Books? No, But Doesn’t Hurt

Other Books in Series Available? Inquire if Interested

Blurb:

Carrington Loveless III, skim-blood vampire and senior officer of Philly’s paranormal police department, has long suspected that someone’s targeting his squad. The increasingly bizarre and dangerous entities invading their city can’t be a coincidence. So when a walking corpse spouting Oscar Wilde attacks one of his officers, Carrington’s determined to uncover the evil mind behind it all.

As a rare books librarian, Erasmus Graham thought he understood some of the stranger things in life. Sharing a life with Carrington’s shown him he didn’t know the half of it. They’ve survived attack books and deadly dust bunnies together and got through mostly unscathed. Now his world and his vampire’s appear ready to collide again. Books are missing from the rare books’ collection—old tomes of magic containing dangerous summonings and necromancy. He’s certain whoever’s been stalking the Seventy-Seventh is composing their end game. It’s going to take a consolidated effort from paranormal police, librarians, and some not-quite-authorized civilians to head off the impending catastrophe.

All The World’s An Undead Stage

Series Blurb:

Every region has them, but no police department talks about them—the weird crimes, the encounters with creatures out of nightmares. The 77th Precincts exist in certain cities to handle paranormal crime and containment, usually staffed with experienced officers exhibiting psychic abilities.

In Philadelphia, through an odd mix of budget issues and circumstance, the 77th is manned entirely by officers with bizarre or severely limited psychic talents. The firestarter who can’t get a spark when it’s humid. The vampire who can’t drink whole blood. These are the stories of the misfits, the outcasts from even the strangeness of the paranormal community. Call them freaks, but they’re police officers first, serving and protecting, even if their methods aren’t always normal procedure.

Excerpt:

“Hunter? It’s all right. I promise.” On his knees in the room LJ and Hunter shared, Carrington peered under the bed where Hunter huddled in the far corner. “No one here will hurt you.”

To Carrington’s relief, his mom had taken care of nearly all of the arrangements for this open house luncheon on and left him out of it. He would’ve preferred something with less fuss and fewer caterers but it was only for a few hours. The squad room would survive. His only task now was to try to coax an obviously spooked Hunter out from under the furniture.

“I have a theory,” Jeff said from where he leaned in the doorway.

Carrington smacked his head on the bedframe trying to reach far ther underneath, so his next words were sharper than necessary. “Oh, yes? I don’t suppose you’d care to share this brilliant bit of enlightened thinking.”

Jeff let out a little huff. “Not if you’re going to take my head off.”

“My apologies. I’m not in the best position to be civil at the moment.”

“I can wait until I’m not talking to your butt.”

“Fine.” Carrington eased out from under the bed and sat back on his heels. “What’s your thinking here?”

“When Hunter was living on her own, she was pretty careful and particular, wasn’t she?”

Living on her own translated as when she was homeless, and careful and particular into skilled and cautious thief but Carrington appreciated his colleague’s care with Hunter in the room. “So one is given to understand.”
“I’m thinking maybe someone or several someone’s invited today might have been a target. Maybe Hunter’s afraid of someone recognizing her and making the connection.”

Carrington leaned down far enough to peer under the bed again. “Is that it, Hunter? Are you concerned that someone will recognize you from your previous life?”

Even with Hunter scrunched in the corner, she still managed a collar nod.
“Very well, then.” Carrington patted the mattress. “We’ll close the door, Ms. Hunter. You don’t have to see anyone if you don’t wish to.”

A sleeve poked out from under the mattress to pat Carrington’s hip. He took the hint and got to his feet to give Hunter room to wriggle out. She floated up and settled carefully on the blankets with her sleeves crossed.

“My word of honor.” Carrington held up both hands. “You can lock the door behind us.”

She slumped as if in relief and nodded. Then she twitched up straight, holding up a sleeve to ask them to wait. Jeff peered over Carrington’s shoulder as Hunter pulled a box out from the steamer trunk she shared with LJ. She handed the box to Carrington with a sleeve motion that appeared to mime pulling up a zipper.

“This is for LJ?” He waited for her nod. “I’ll bring it right out to him.”

As he’d promised, he shut the door behind them to give Hunter her privacy and found LJ in the squad room with Audacity under one arm. Their kitten wore a scaled-down version of a black K-9 vest.

“Don’t you look official?” Jeff let her catch one of his fingers to gnaw on.
Carrington gave her an approving nod. “It suits you. Do you like your new uniform?”

Mew. Miii-iiw. Audacity pedaled with all four paws until LJ set her down. She turned in an obvious modeling pose to show Carrington one side of the vest with POLICE stenciled in white block letters, then turned to display the other side with CADET FAMILIAR. If that wasn’t Jason’s idea, Carrington would eat his police hat and Amanda’s.

“Outstanding, Cadet Audacity. Very sharp.” Carrington carefully kept the laughter from his voice since she was taking it all so seriously. But it was difficult in the face of such monumental cuteness. “LJ, Hunter refuses to come out but she sent you this.”

He handed over the box and stayed to watch LJ ease it open by pinching the top with his sleeve. The long slender shape of the box made guessing the contents easy and Carrington wasn’t disappointed when LJ held up a regulation police uniform tie. LJ stared at it a moment, his version of staring at any rate, then gave a sharp nod before he handed tie and box to Carrington to hold.

“You don’t—” Carrington nearly asked if he didn’t want it but LJ’s intentions became obvious when he zipped up his front and straightened his collar. “Ah. Would you like me to do the honors?”

LJ gave another nod as he held himself straight and still. Strange to see him that way. He almost never zipped himself closed and never floated completely still. Carrington stood behind him to get the tie on just right, easier than trying to think about tying one backward, and finished it off with the silver tie clip Hunter had provided.

“There, sir.” Carrington clapped him on both shoulders. “Almost as sharp as Audacity.”

LJ had no way to blush, but his front puffed out just enough to be noticeable and who would ever have predicted that? A jacket entity, former street thug and informant proud to wear police issue anything.

Buy Links:

Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/all-the-worlds-an-undead-stage

Note: The general release date for this title is 1/2/18

Author Bio:

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.

She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.

You can take a look at Angel’s Website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelmartinez/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelMartinezrr

Website: http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com

Do you Love to read and review books? Come join our family!!

We Need You!

We are looking for some special people to join our review team. We have plenty of books to review and are looking for new reviewers to join our little family. If you are interested please contact me at top2bottomreviews@gmail.com

*Hugs*

Gabbi

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us here at Top 2 Bottom Reviews, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Kimberly Reviews: Linear Park by Ken Harrison

Title: Linear Park

Author: Ken Harrison

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages: 61

Characters: Sean, Nick

POV: 3rd

Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Kisses: 2.5 

Blurb:

Sean and Nick’s life together was a fairy tale: childhood friends who became lovers, high school sweethearts who married after college, both handsome professionals. Sean always enjoyed a few drinks, but after the death of his father, his alcoholism spiraled out of control… and it cost him everything. 

When Sean loses his job and becomes too surly and unreasonable to live with, Nick has little choice but to end the relationship. Sean can’t blame Nick for giving up—not after the arguments and the lies—but he longs for the happiness and love they shared before he spoiled everything. He resolves to get sober and win back his husband. But even if he wins his battle with alcoholism, will it be too late to save his marriage? 

Review:

I am always drawn to stories that involve established relationships, especially if the two characters knew each other growing up, so you would think Linear Park was right up my alley. And the concept itself was. Sean and Nick knew each other since kindergarten, fell in love, got married, and then ran into some marital problems as a result of a life tragedy. The set-up was great, but the follow-through left me desiring a bit more than was delivered.

When we pick up the story, Sean and Nick have been separated for about four or five months. Over the course of the next 60 pages, we get a lot of backstory on what their life was like before, interspersed with how Sean is focusing on the future and wanting Nick back. The disintegration of their relationship came about soon after they were married. When they returned from their honeymoon, they found out Sean’s dad had cancer and only three months to live. The toll of the ill health, as well as his dad’s subsequent death, caused Sean to turn to the bottle as a coping mechanism. And the more he drank, the worse his home life became. Finally, after Sean loses his job, accuses Nick of cheating, and ends up having to be bailed out of jail, his husband had enough. Nick’s breaking point causes Sean to have to shape up and try to repair his life.

There seemed to be a lot of telling in order to detail the four months of sobriety Sean achieves, going through the motions of attending meetings and fearing the worse when it comes to his broken marriage. Nick only enters the picture again when Sean leaves him a voicemail, hoping his husband doesn’t hate him, and Nick sends back a text message that he doesn’t. But the repair and resolution of their troubles don’t actually get a good focus for me. They have dinner, Sean agrees to go in as equal partners flipping a house with one of his friends from the alcohol support group, and then he sees Nick at a park where they kiss and the story’s over. I feel like I was very far removed from the story as a whole, and especially in having any kind of connection with Nick. Perhaps if these characters were returned to again, and more focus on them together was the intention of the plot, then I could be more satisfied. As it is now, I got a small taste of what might have been, but not enough story for what was.

Reviewed By: Kimberly

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