A MelanieM Review: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

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Rating: 3 stars out of  5

skyships-over-innsmouthTwenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.

Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine is more of a horror steampunk story than a romance.  Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, Laine imagines what’s left of humanity living without memories of their past, in small societies run by steam and cobbled together knowledge from left over books.  The event that wiped out their memories and killed most of the world’s population?  Only mentioned by name, the Cataclysm, it brought the world almost to oblivion.  No one living can remember past “twenty winters”, and most of those alive are young.

Its a fascinating foundation.  Our main characters live in a place known as Canal City (its familiar name we will find out only towards the end of the story).  All the people, Shay, Dev, even the remarkable Malia (one of my favorite characters) is mostly a blank slate.  They have no history, no past, and unfortunately, that lack of foundation to their characters, leaves them shallow and lacking.  I understand that its part of the narrative but it left its mark here on the men too. Malia is a stunshine gun wielding, armor wearing security guard for the Smokey Sparrow. She’s the most vivid, sparkling character in the entire story.  I loved her.  She outgunned, out powered and basically out charactered every darn thing in this  story.  Not good for Dev and Shay. Even the villain.

Laine did spooky rather well.  The atmosphere over the town of Innsmouth practically shouted “run, you fools”.  Typically, no one ever listens.  I loved some of the descriptions of the town, the evil elements I can’t describe here without giving away plot points, and a host of other vile goings on.  I liked those.  But they kept being interrupted by Shay and Dev and a romance I never, ever believed in, not once.    It went from shy, “I Lurve You” glances, to instant hot in love.  I never felt any real connection between the two, all while trying to escape the town, and save themselves and others.

Nope, I wanted more  of Malia.

The explanation, when it came…well, I’m not sure that I understood it all.  But Malia was there kicking butt and somehow it all came together.  The almost to the end was smashing!

As a horror/adventure tale, I liked Skyships over Innsmouth by Susan Laine.  Definitely not as a romance.  Its really up to you.

Cover Art © 2016 Staf Masciandaro. I liked the cover art.  Spot on for the story.

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DSP Publications

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Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634769902 (ISBN13: 9781634769907)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Release Day Review: Waiting for Patrick by Brynn Stein

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
 
waiting-for-patrickElliot is a rolling stone.  He’s spent his entire life moving from place to place, never stays anywhere more than a few months, doesn’t believe in relationships, has no family, and very few friends.  He’s a loner, and as the story progresses, you see why — Elliot can be a self-centered asshole.  He lives for his work, enjoys casual hookups, and overall is perfectly satisfied with his life.  He’s built a business of flipping houses into a thriving architectural design corporation and is now able to spend time doing the type of renovations he enjoys as well as those that are profitable.
 
All of this changed when he acquired a civil war era plantation home in South Carolina.  From the beginning, Elliot was drawn to this property in a way he’d never experienced before, and felt a sense of peace there that was also alien to him.  He decided to live in the house and do some of the work himself as the renovation proceeded, rather than contracting everything out like he usually did.  And he surprised himself by sticking around long enough to become attached to the house as well as a few local people that became friends.  Over the following weeks, he found out that not only was the house haunted, but the ghost, Ben, was able to communicate with Elliot in increasingly more specific ways, until Elliot knew not only Ben’s history of enlisting in the Union army with his lover Patrick, but also of Ben’s death in the house, and of his promise to wait for Patrick to return for him.  Ben and Patrick were true soul mates, so that was more of an eternal vow than a simple promise, and Ben is faithful to it.  Elliot’s friends were amused that he was becoming close to a ghost — certainly closer than he’d ever gotten to a living person — but they were surprisingly supportive of him.  After all, how do you carry on a romance with a ghost?  Especially a romance doomed to end because Ben insists that Patrick will come back?
 
The rest of the book was not exactly predictable (at least not from the beginning), but before each new event or revelation occurred, there was so much foreshadowing that I knew exactly what was coming and wanted the author to hurry it up.  Elliot’s not dumb, so his inability to get a clue about so many things was not only irritating, but didn’t really match his personality.  That disconnect kept taking me out of the story.  The pace of the book is slow, because of all the build up.  There were occasional meanderings into side plots that went nowhere and seemed pointless.  The secondary characters were not as well fleshed out as I feel they should have been given the length of the book, as a lot of the conversations and interactions were repetitive.  Elliot was the only character who grew and changed.  The others were pretty static, which made them increasingly irrelevant.  I think that may have been intentional, a way for the author to emphasize the growing connection between Elliot and Ben and Elliot’s gradual withdrawal from the real world, but if so, it was not entirely successful.  And finally, the paranormal aspects — communicating with a ghost, retrieving memories, finding a lost soul mate, and even the entire concept of a soul mate — were over-explained.  I think an author should let magical realism happen, or not, but trying to explain the magic by mundane physical rules just ruins it.  
Cover art by Bree Archer is wonderful and speaks to the story.
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Book Details:
ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: September 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773985 (ISBN13: 9781634773980)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Sweetwater by Lisa Henry and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

sweetwater_audiobookWyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.

I haven’t read many books set in this time period so I was eager to give this a try.  I felt the setting was done really well and I could totally picture this western town as if I was there.  There were a host of characters all of which were felt realistic and added to the overall world building.  The majority of the story was told by Elijah who was a really different type of character but I struggled with him a bit.  He had a hard life and was very much a victim.  It was totally realistic and believable but as a result I don’t think I ever really warmed to him.  He annoyed me each time he did not stand up for himself.  I felt sorry for him but it was hard for me to find him a believable romance partner.  I didn’t see what Grady saw in him.  Even though parts of the story were told through Grady’s point of view I still didn’t feel the connection.  Elijah felt more like a child who needed a caregiver not a man who needed a romance partner.  So, I liked it as a fiction story but not so much as a romance.  The writing was really well done and this author is generally one of my favorites.  This was just not the book for me.
The book was narrated by Dorian Bane who I had never listened to before.  I thought he did an excellent job on all of the characters.  This was a big cast and I thought he did each of them equally well.  This is an audio that I would definitely recommend.
Cover by L.C. Chase:  I love the cover.  I think it fits the story perfectly.
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Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 8 pages, Listening Length: 7 hours and 39 minutes
Published August 5th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 29th 2014)
ASIN B01JO64IAS
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Tied Up in Knots (Marshals #3) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

tied-up-in-knotsMiro Jones is living the life: he’s got his exciting, fulfilling job as a US deputy marshal, his gorgeous Greystone in suburban Chicago, his beloved adopted family, and most importantly, the man who captured his heart, Ian Doyle. Problem is, Ian isn’t just his partner at work—Ian’s a soldier through and through. That commitment takes him away from Miro, unexpectedly and often, and it’s casting a shadow over what could be everything Miro could ever dream of.

Work isn’t the same without Ian. Home isn’t the same, either, and Miro’s having to face his fears alone… how to keep it together at the office, how to survive looming threats from the past, and worst of all, how to keep living without Ian’s rock-solid presence at his side. His life is tied up in knots, but what if unknotting them requires something more permanent? What would that mean for him and Ian? Miro’s stuck between two bad choices, and sometimes the only way to get out of the knot is to hold tight to your lifeline and pull.

Days after finishing, my head is still spinning. There was just so much detail to this story!

First of all, thank you, Rhys Ford, for allowing Kane and Connor Morgan to interact with Miro on a takedown in San Francisco.  Wonderful vignette!  And thank you, Mary Calmes, not only for arranging that interaction, but also for mingling in mentions of some of my other favorite characters, including Andreo Fiore and Duncan Stiel. 

So, on to the story. Oh boy, this one is packed full of adventure, almost as much as it’s packed full of heartbreak—for both Miro and Ian—his frequent deployments are causing havoc with the stability of their relationship.

There are numerous trips away from his Chicago home base for Miro, as he first has to assist the DEA in San Francisco for a takedown, and then finds himself picking up a young man in Vegas who’s going into Witsec, a young man who wants to get in Miro’s pants in the worst way. Thankfully, Drake and Cabot, the young former witnesses who treat him and Ian like parents, are getting out of the program as their safety is no longer in question, and they befriend Josue, the new witness, and help him acclimate.  Add to that, Miro’s former partner, Cochran, has a blowout with him and ends up slugging him in the eye, resulting in even more chaos and animosity between the cops and the marshal’s office. 

And then there’s the prison escape by Dr. Craig Hartley, Miro’s archenemy. Thank God, Ian arrives home from deployment when he does.  First of all, because their new neighbor is hitting on Miro, thinking Ian is never coming back, and secondly, because the Army brass show up to investigate a hitman who is knocking off members of Ian’s former unit. Unfortunately, they haul Ian back out of the picture to an undisclosed location. And if that’s not enough turmoil in Miro’s life, let’s add in even more chaos at the end of the story, just when I thought it was safe to close the book for a few minutes. 

This part contains dead FBI agents assigned to cover Miro from Hartley’s reach and the truth about who is really trying to kill Ian and his fellow soldiers.  Miro, of course, is caught in the crossfire again, facing down not just one, but two villains.  Did I mention this all happens around Thanksgiving, and Miro’s “family” of female friends and their partners are having issues of their own, and everyone seems to come to Miro for their solution, bringing their cray-cray with them?

Oh yes, this story is not boring.  Not boring at all.  In fact, I’m amazed that I can remember even this much detail, but that’s just a hallmark of Mary Calmes’s stories for me—unforgettable, for sure. This one is packed so full of action, it’s like buying a ticket to an emotional roller coaster ride. Don’t miss out. You won’t want to put it down for a minute once you starting reading. 

Cover art by Reese Dante is done in the same gray tones as others in this series and depicts a US Marshal’s badge, service revolvers, and army boots. All are key pieces in this story as the guns and badge are used frequently by Miro while, in the meantime, Ian has to face some serious choices about his Army Reserve status. 

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Book Details:

ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: September 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777557 (ISBN13: 9781634777551)
Edition LanguageEnglish

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