A MelanieM Release Day Review: Obsidian Moons (Obsidian #2) by Jon Keys

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

obsidian-moonsSequel to Obsidian Sun

After achieving the impossible and releasing their people from the Varas slavers, Anan and Terja, a spellweaver and spellspinner, start the arduous journey back to their homeland. A winter trek across the grasslands is dangerous enough, but the traitor, Xain, is tasked with recapturing the slaves, and failure will mean his death. As added insurance, the Varas High Regent hires a Triad of legendary Ubica assassins and assigns a full regiment of his personal guards, along with their captain, to the task. Their mission is clear: recapture the escaped Talac slaves destined for the Varas pleasure houses—and the bed of the High Regent—at any cost.

The newly freed Talac travel toward their homelands with the full knowledge they are likely being pursued. The flight westward is fraught with new and unexpected dangers as Anan and Terja struggle to save their tribe. The battle for shelter, food, and a way to defend themselves becomes an all-consuming task, but they are reminded by the avatars of their gods that all is not as it appears.

The sequel to the amazing fantasy epic Obsidian Sun (Obsidian #1), Obsidian Moons, enlarges on the peoples, cultures and religions of the world that Jon Keys started in his first story.  In Obsidian Sun, we met Anan, a spellweaver  and Terja a spellspinner of the Talac people and followed them on a tale of blood revenge and rescue while learning about their culture, their religion, their part of the world and yes, their enemy, the Varas, a frightening people.

Keys forgot nothing in building up his universe from the grasses and insects to the climates.  It was an jaw-dropping bit of artistry and the story laid on top of it was just as incredible.  Even more amazing for being his first published novel.

Now comes  Obsidian Moons.  How does it stand up?

Very well.

While I jumped into the first story immediately, this novel took a bit to get into.  Keys re-accounts some of the past history for readers unfamiliar with his tale (by no means should you skip the first story, this is not a standalone).  It felt denser, less forward moving in the narrative than the first. Of course the first started with a massacre, so that’s hard to top.

But while I was getting reacquainted with all the familiar characters, the wonderfully magical and fascinating like Anan, Terja and the Talac (even Xain, that traitor), Keys starts introducing his new elements here.  Again all marvelous additions to his world building.  Keys brings in other cultures, religions, magic even. Keys gives us a triad of contract assassins from Ubica to hunt the escaped Talac (a vocabulary is supplied in the front which is maybe not necessary but definitely worth checking out), and a wild mountain tribe Meke, a separated tribe that…well, that part of the story is better left to the saga, and more. Each addition comes fully established, down to the clothes they wear, the weapons they carry, and the deities they worship. All blended so smoothly into the narrative that its seamless.

While the enemy is hunting for the escaped Talac, we see the growth in both Anan and Terja, individually and in their relationship that was born out of a blood revenge oath.  Yes, there is multiple points of view here but it works and never feels too jumbled or too much to keep track of.  In fact, sometimes I wished for less because this is a scary, daunting, and pain-filled journey.   Not without cost of life.  Some of those voices will be lost.

It won’t take long to get back into this saga and these people as they are hunted across some of the harshest terrain this world has to offer.  Jon Keys brings it all vividly to life. Every snow bound  step, all the predators after them.  The loss of hope, and the hope found once more.  Its  an incredible story.  And it ends just as another journey is about to begin.  I can’t wait for that novel and that story too.

Jon Keys has an incredible saga here.  One you should put on your TBR list if you are a lover of fantasy.  Or of love and hope.  Its an amazing tale.  Start with Obsidian Sun and then come here to Obsidian Moons.  I highly recommend them both.

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond. I loved the first cover.  Found that one amazing.  This one doesn’t live up to that one’s standards imo.

Sales Links

        

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777182 (ISBN13: 9781634777186)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Obsidian – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

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An Alisa Release Day Review: Cougar Chaos (Mountain Spirit Mysteries #4) by A.J. Marcus

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

cougar-chaos-by-aj-marcusParks and Wildlife Officer Brock Summers-Weir and his new husband, wildlife rehabber Landon Weir-Summers, are on their honeymoon high in the northern Colorado Rockies when they find an orphaned cougar cub. They quickly discover that there have been a number of cougars injured or killed in the area around Steamboat Springs. Although they are supposed to be on vacation, they work with local officials to try to find out what’s happening to the big cats.

When they get too close to the answers, their camp is ransacked and an ominous message is left. Rather than letting this intimidate them, they step up their investigation in the hopes that they can find the people responsible for the carnage and still manage to have a happy honeymoon.

This is the fourth book in the series and it was my favorite so far.  I liked this one a lot.  As the blurb states Brock and Landon get involved in a case while on their honeymoon.  This story was mostly focused on the mystery since the guys are in an established relationship.  The mystery itself was really interesting.  It was fast paced and action filled and I was totally engrossed in it from start to finish.  As usual with this series the animal aspect is the star of each story and I really like that.  The author appears to do a great job with his research and information and I learn things each book.  We learn a lot about canned hunts in this and honestly it was just heartbreaking in places.  (gah….people are just horrible to animals sometimes) Being a big animal fan myself and someone who used to do animal rescue, I really appreciate the passion and advocacy for animals and nature that are in each book.  You can tell when reading these stories this is an important subject to the author.  It comes out so clearly through his characters.
While this is an ongoing series this book can be read as a standalone.  If you are looking for a uniquely done series you really ought to check this out.
Cover:  I like the cover and it fits well with both the story and the other covers for the previous books.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634770749 (ISBN13: 9781634770743)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Counterbalance by Aidan Wayne

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

counterbalance_600x900John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John’s got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.

When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side—talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.

John doesn’t know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao—maybe a little too much, honestly—but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.

This was a delightful romance story—one of those that leaves me saying “Aww, I want more.” I’ve heard some people call this kind of story too sweet, but really, it was very satisfying on so many levels; and IMHO, nothing is too sweet. This one was somewhat like a fine piece of dark chocolate that melts in your mouth as you savor the flavor while enjoying it slowly. 

Bao Liu is recruited from China to join a new Cirque show.  On his first day he meets John, the head rigger, a man whose face and body had been severely burned in the past—and a man who carries the scars as much on the inside as on the outside.  John has been rejected and taunted for how he looks and is even called Phantom by many in the show, including some of his crewmates. They apparently don’t know or care how much that hurts him. And they certainly don’t know why he never joins them on their time off and is never seen with a date.  John is simply too fearful to take a risk.  Until Bao breaks down the walls he’s spent years building.

But break them he does—one brick at a time. The cheerful, bouncy, personable acrobat will be featured in a handstand act, and it’s hard for John to imagine Bao staying still long enough to balance. He seems to be in perpetual motion, even when spending most of his free time hanging out with John, trying to befriend the stubborn recluse. It’s fun to watch Bao batter down those walls John has built, and the author does a beautiful job showing us the John who hides behind his mask of indifference. 

When Bao is injured, John not only takes on the blame for not assuring his safety, he ends up volunteering to check in on Bao and ensure he gets the rest he needs for a week.  And that gives the couple more time to get to know one another.

If I had one wish for this story, it would be that I want it to be longer. There is so much to these two men that didn’t have enough time for further exploration, and so many sweet moments I didn’t get to see because the story came to a close before I was ready to let them go. I hope the author considers more stories in this world. It was a unique setting, with unique and interesting characters, and I recommend it to all who love a sweet MM romance between an unlikely couple.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is beautiful and works for the story.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

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Book Details:

ebook, 79 pages
Expected publication: September 12th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 10th 2016)
ISBN 1626494673 (ISBN13: 9781626494671)

In the Spotlight – Counterbalance by Aiden Wayne (Riptide Publishing’s Blog Tour and Giveaway)

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Counterbalance by Aidan Wayne
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Art by L.C. Chase

Read An Excerpt/Buy It Here

About Counterbalance

John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John’s got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.

When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side—talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.

John doesn’t know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao—maybe a little too much, honestly—but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.

Purchase from Riptide: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/counterbalance

About Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne is a big believer in character-driven stories with happy endings. This is not to say that stories can’t contain a little (or a lot) of grief, just that at the end of it all expect there to be bandages and hugs. They particularly like to write about minority characters because damn it, they deserve happy endings too.

When not writing, Aidan enjoys practicing aerial, martial arts, and ASL, and watching reality cooking shows. They are probably in the middle of twelve projects as you read this.

Tumblr: justsayins.tumblr.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/justsayins

Website: aidanwayne.wordpress.com

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Counterbalance, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!