A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

This story features Agent Luke Bennett, aka Took, a member of the BITERs unit of the Anakim (vampire) police known as VINE. The reader is thrown into the action two years after Luke was Taken and turned. He’s been in therapy and is acting as a P.I. His case throws him in the path of his old commander Madoc, who wants him back at work, and is in love with him. It seems obvious to say Took has PTSD; he can’t remember the night he was taken and his fear seems to be getting worse instead of better, until he becomes consumed by this case and takes back his agency, literally and figuratively. As a former Cardinal for the Anakim, Madoc has always been a type of enforcer. He has a strength that Took finds and matches during the book. It switches between Took’s and Madoc’s POV. These are complex, three dimensional charcters. They have their blindspots, insecurities, and make mistakes; yet, both of these men can be cold, arrogant and prickly. For as much as these characters are not pleasant people, I loved them so much. Yes, the romance relies on the longer, off-page relationship in order to work, but the love scenes are hot (and bloody) and I love their working dynamic and banter.

I liked this new take on vampires, werewolves, and hunters. There was something called a Goat, but there wasn’t much detail about this species. I believe there may be other shifters, but that’s not explored in this book. While the political landscape is painted enough for this story to be successful, I wanted more, even if I think this book wasn’t quite the right time without info dumps that I wouldn’t want. There is also a weird shadow realm that is intriguing and terrifying, but not explained at all. The sorcerers are also not explained very much, but they are not capitalized like everyone else so I guess they are not considered born as their own species. There are times where the chapter or scene starts abruptly and I felt like I missed something until I kept reading and everything was explained: while this is a valid stylistic choice, I found it jarring. Although the secondary characters are all effectively utilized and would be great to build upon in other stories, I would have liked them a bit more concrete. (I did appreciate there wasn’t a formulaic meet these characters that will be the couple in the next book type of setup.) These may be minor things, but they did keep me from giving this a 5 star rating. It was a near thing because I loved everything else about this, so let’s talk about that. This is a book I will reread and be will on my best of the year list.

For those not familiar with this author, she always describes the scenes in stark details–gross, grimy, gory–but effective. This is brutal, as with any police case involving violence. I don’t want to give spoilers, but for trigger warnings and tags you might want to keep these in mind: child abuse, brainwashing, murder, child trafficking, kidnapping, and torture. I found this urban fantasy/police investigation mashup really effective; both the world and the case are interesting and well thought out. The action scenes are really well done. The world-building here is fantastically layered in throughout the book. There is information the reader gleans from the thoughts and instincts of the characters, suppressed memories, flashbacks, dialogue, and the actions and their consequences. All of the events and discoveries lead to logical conclusions, but not always the ones that I thought they would from the beginning, yet I never felt blindsided with too many plot twists. I liked the intricacies of the story that require thought. Now that this world is built, I want so many new cases to be written, but I am also content if they are not. The last sentence of this book was perfect. Don’t cheat, you have to read the whole thing.

The cover art is by Kanaxa. I didn’t love it, although it is striking and conveys violence and blood, which are main themes of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644053379
Edition Language English
Series Blood and Bone #1

An Alisa Release Day Review: Every Other Weekend by TA Moore

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Divorce lawyer Clayton Reynolds is a happy cynic who believes in hard work and one-night stands. He also believes that being an excellent lawyer means he never has to go home to the miserable trailer park where he grew up and that volunteering at a women’s shelter will buy off the conscience that occasionally plagues him. So when Nadine Graham comes in with a broken arm and a son she desperately wants to protect, Clayton can’t turn down their plea for help.

Taking the case means appealing to investigator “Just Call Me Kelly” for help. That wouldn’t be so bad if Kelly weren’t a hopeless romantic… and the hottest man Clayton’s ever met.

Kelly has always had a crush on the unobtainable Clayton Reynolds. He agrees to help, even though he has enough on his plate with the motherless baby his widowed brother left him to care for.

As Nadine’s case turns dangerous and the two seemingly opposite men are forced to work together, they discover they have a great deal in common—but solving the case and saving Nadine’s life might cost Kelly everything.

I really liked this story.  Clayton has worked hard to get away from his past and lives his life for himself.  Kelly has a large family who are always interfering and they don’t seem to have the right priorities.  Nadine’s connection to Kelly was huge and it threw quite a curveball into the story.

Clayton thought he was a mess but, good lord, was Kelly’s family a mess, despite outward appearances.  His mother never says anything bad about her kids and lives in rose colored glasses.  I felt his pain when he tried to get through to her but she just didn’t see it and how she just ignored his problems or brushed over what was going on.  I couldn’t believe how much of a psycho his brother ended up being.  At least his father seems to come around at the end of the book.

I loved watching these two interact with each other and seeing both of their viewpoints was a big help to understand them.  I loved that no matter how much Clayton said he wasn’t going to get attached that he kept coming back to Kelly and supporting him.  I felt the most for Kelly with everything that was going on with his family, he had to be such a strong person.  I loved that Kelly found the love he has been longing for and that Clayton found the family he never really had.

The cover art by Bree Archer is great and I love the visual of Clayton.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages

Published: October 23, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-750-1

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter #2) by T.A. Moore

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the Winter arrives, the Wolves will come down over the walls and eat little boys in their beds.

Doctor Nicholas Blake might still be afraid of the dark, but the monsters his grandmother tormented him with as a child aren’t real.

Or so he thought…until the sea freezes, the country grinds to a halt under the snow, and he finds a half-dead man bleeding out while a dead woman watches. Now his nightmares impinge on his waking life, and the only one who knows what’s going on is his unexpected patient.

For Gregor it’s simple. The treacherous prophets mutilated him and stole his brother Jack, and he’s going to kill them for it. Without his wolf, it might be difficult, but he’ll be damned if anyone else gets to kill Jack—even if he has to enlist the help of his distractingly attractive, but very human, doctor.

Except maybe the prophets want something worse than death, and maybe Nick is less human than Gregor believes. As the dead gather and the old stories come true, the two men will need each other if they’re going to rescue Jack and stop the prophets’ plan to loose something more terrible than the wolf winter.

Imagine being dumped into a landscape where all your childhood nightmares are real, where the bedtime stories of monsters  with claws to rend your flesh and teeth to eat you told by your gran were not just nasty tales but of horrible tattered together creatures waiting for you to arrive?  This is but the beginning of an incredible story and the second book in an amazing series by T.A. Moore.

Stone the Crows  is the second novel in the Wolf Winter series by T.A. Moore and its a stunner at every level and element.  Horror, urban fantasy, and romance.  There is nothing this author and book doesn’t excel at.

It starts from the beginning, a bleak winter landscape and an isolated compound.  It’s full of dead people.  And that’s where we meet both Dr. Nicholas Blake, cataloging the dead, and the soon to arrive Gregor, werewolf, (twin brother to Jack, and one of the Crown Prince Pup of the Numitor).  The author immediately surrounds us with the horrors of a plague like illness and a catastrophic winter that’s overtaken the population.  Only we see the intimate results on the villagers nearby.  The families and their children.  It’s heartbreaking and ominous, setting the tone for all that follows.

Moore seamlessly blends the Norse mythology with the horrors of the supernatural to create something sublime.  His wolves, his dogs, (they are different), are fully non-human.  Not human characters given a light fur coating and called were.  No, they have the “feel” of something feral and wild. And that contrasted with Nick’s humanity, makes the difference all too apparent. As will all the horrors that follow.

When legends and mythology collide, when blood and revenge are tied together, and a Throne involved, well, as it’s already been proven, there is nothing no one will sacrifice to achieve one’s goals, no amounts of blood, no great number of people, wolf or human that can’t be killed and Moore understands the emotions behind it all.  On both the grand scale and the small emotional, intimate one.  That last one that will leave you  sobbing in scenes here. Trust me…keep those tissue boxes handy.

This is a bleak, gritty, moving story. It’s epic fantasy  It’s full of muddy, emotional complications, and an overall series arc that starts back in book one, Dog Days (Wolf Winter #1).  It’s got a ways to go before its highly involved, convoluted tales  plays out.  So much more blood to be spilled, and I expect the price to be paid equally high.  I’m both dreading and highly anticipating the next story.

You con’t have to have read the first one but why wouldn’t you?  It’s equally incredible and give’s you Jack’s story.  This is a beautifully written story and series.  It has amazing depth, and continues to grow as more elements are revealed in detail.  Again, it’s a stunning story.  Don’t pass it up.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  I like the cover but it’s too white (i can’t believe I’m saying this. Doesn’t convey the  darkness of the story).

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640805422
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Wolf Winter :

Dog Days (Wolf Winter #1)

Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter, #2) 

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: Ghostwriter of Christmas Past by TA Moore

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Ever since ghostwriter Jason Burke ended up in loco parentis for his orphaned niece, Mallory, he’s been trying. He goes to parent/teacher events, and he makes packed lunches, so he definitely didn’t mean to forget about Christmas. He just hasn’t celebrated it since he left home under a cloud years ago.

Put on the spot, Jason makes the snap decision to take Mallory to see where he and her father spent their Christmases as kids. The last thing he expects is to run into Tommy, his ex—ex-best friend, ex-boyfriend—who is still living in town… and working as a sheriff’s deputy.

It’s hard to avoid someone in a small town—and maybe Jason doesn’t want to. He got Mallory a Christmas, and maybe now it’s time to get himself a Christmas boyfriend. But first, he owes Tommy some explanations.

Sweet, somewhat poignant, and full of romance and hope for the future,Ghostwriter of Christmas Past by TA Moore contains so many elements that makes a wonderful holiday story.  Add in second chance at love, a recently orphaned child, and the “bestest present ever” and it becomes one I not only loved reading but absolutely recommend.

Tommy and Jason reconnect in their hometown after a decade or so has passed.  Sweethearts as teenagers, it ended when Jason left without a word to Tommy, leaving a wound and puzzle that exists to the present day.  Jason has returned with his orphaned niece in hand to show her where her he and her father lived and to give her some “Christmas” and snow.

Moore’s writing pulls us into these characters and their lives quickly through the poignancy of the situation and the sadness of the little 10 year old, Mal.  She’s grieving the loss of her parents, unsettled by the new guardianship of an uncle she barely knows, and acting out in exactly the way you’d think a little child in this situation would.  Especially when confronted by the reality of Jason and her father’s hometown.

With Mal at the center, Jason and Tommy (Tom as he insists on being called) start the process of reconnecting with each other, talking about the past, seeing if the sparks between them mean it’s more than attraction coming back to life.  It never feels like instant anything but more like two people who really do belong together, meeting again when the time is right.

I liked the ending.  It’s not a HEA, more a HFN which I feel is in line with the story.  It’s full of hope and exactly the right tone, considering all the decisions that still have to be made.  Anything more would have felt false.  Plus maybe next Christmas T.A. Moore will revisit this small family group and give us an update.  That I’d surely love!

Until then add Ghostwriter of Christmas Past by TA Moore to your holiday reading pile.  It’s exactly what Santa might have ordered.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  I love this cover.  Exactly right and stands out to grab your attention.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 57 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803138
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Release Day Review: Bone to Pick by TA Moore

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother—find the missing and bring them home.

 

He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better.

 

This time the missing person is a ten-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.

 

I really enjoyed the banter and chemistry between the two MCs.  Cloister follows his gut and keeps his cards close to his chest throughout the whole book while Javi keeps everything to himself but seems more preoccupied with getting the job done.

 

Cloister didn’t have the best time growing up and makes a point of not letting anyone get to close to see him completely.  But his past actually does a lot to help him succeed in his job and help find what is missing.  Javi is so focused on moving up the ladder he doesn’t even want to consider a personal relationship let alone letting anyone close to him.

 

I was able to connect with Cloister right away, even if he didn’t let others know his thoughts and feeling we were definitely able to see them.  As I learned more about him I felt more and more for what he has gone through.  And while we saw the story through Javi’s eyes too I couldn’t quite connect with him; most of the time I just thought he was acting like a jerk.  This story doesn’t really have a nice happy ending but it is left open ended and I would be interested to see more about these two in the future.

 

The cover art by Anne Cain is absolutely perfect.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages

Published: August 14, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-839-3

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Release Day Review: Liar, Liar by TA Moore

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Just another day at the office.

 

For some people that means spreadsheets, and for others it’s stitching endless hems. For Jacob Archer a day at the office is stealing proprietary information from a bioengineering firm for a paranoid software billionaire. He’s a liar and a thief, parlaying a glib tongue and a facile conscience into a lucrative career. He just has one rule—never get involved with a mark.

 

Well, had one rule. To be fair, though, Simon Ramsey is dark, dangerous, and has shoulders like a Greek statue. Besides, it’s not as though Jacob’s even really stealing from Simon… just his boss and his brother-in-law. Simon didn’t buy that excuse either after he caught Jacob breaking into the company’s computer network.

 

That would have been that—one messy breakup, one ticket to Bali booked—but it turns out that the stolen information is worth more than Jacob thought. With his life—and his ribs—threatened, Jacob needs Simon to help him out. Or maybe he just needs Simon.

 

This is a great story that shows that even when you have made a big mistake love can overcome the challenge.  Jacob never planned to really get involved with Simon but he just couldn’t resist time and time again.  Simon will do anything to protect his family and feels completely betrayed by Jacob’s actions.

 

Even though Jacob kept their relationship separate from his job they are too connected to actually be kept apart in the end.  When Jacob runs after Simon finds him they keep looking but at the same time Simon is glad that he doesn’t have to confront Jacob.  When the tables are turned they find that they may have a common enemy in this and it may be closer than they think.

 

We get to see both of these character’s points of view, which helps to know what the characters are thinking.  Jacob closes himself off from the pain of not seeing the man he loves anymore when the job is done because that’s just what he has to do and as they begin to work together he finds that maybe Simon can give him an excuse to stay.  Simon feels like Jacob has stabbed him in the heart with his actions and though he never apologizes for the actual stealing Jacob helps to find the real culprit for why he was originally hired.  I loved how they couldn’t deny their feelings no matter what was going on around them and are both good guys down deep.

 

Cover art by Anne Cain is wonderful and gives great visuals of the characters for the story.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages

Published: May 12, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781635335712

Edition Language: English