Indie Book Review: Salted by Aaron Galvin

Salted (Salt series, #1)

Review:

This book had a really interesting idea to it: selkie urban fantasy! The ‘salted’ humans could be traditional leopard seal-selkies, massive elephant seals, dolphins, and even sharks! Each animal determined the person’s social status in the ‘salt’ (ocean). Honestly, the whole concept had me intrigued right from the start, throw in a coming-of-age/self-discovery subplot about a teenager who discovers his own heritage, and I should have been sorted.

Despite the novel concept, the execution didn’t hold my interest all the way through. It’s hard for me to pin it down to something specific – I think the main plot of tracking down runaway slaves was dragged out too much. I did get a little lost with the large number of characters, and for some reason I just couldn’t care for any of the characters apart from Garret. Lenny was a strangely dislikeable character, and I couldn’t sympathise with Chidi’s story. It sounds cold, but my feelings did not change throughout the book, and it’s hard to get invested in a story when you don’t care what happens to the characters.

Still, I am curious as to how the series plays out. This was the first book so maybe if I read the second the characters might be fleshed out in a way and I could connect to them.

Recommended for those wanting a twist on the selkies legend in a modern setting.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Amazon buy link.

Author goodreads page.

Salted, by Aaron Galvin (Salt #1)

Book Length: 358 pages

Urban Fantasy (Young Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Life isn’t better under the sea. Lenny Dolan is all too familiar with this reality. A Selkie slave in the realm beneath the waves, he has no choice when charged with leading a crew ashore to capture an elusive runaway. If unsuccessful, the loved ones kept behind will pay for his failure with their lives. But when their target leads Lenny and his crew to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies are faced with a moral dilemma. Secure their own freedom at the expense of others, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences? How Lenny and his crew answer the question will teach them the harshest truth of all. Only through the loss of innocence does one become Salted.

Book Series Blast: The Vargr Clan

I reviewed the first book in this series here, and with the third and final book in the trilogy newly released, a book series blast was in order!

Clicking on each book will take you to its amazon page:

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The following is an excerpt from the first book, The Wolf You Feed:

The fire roared in the center of the clearing, taking the chill out of the December air. Fur boots kept out the snow, while woolen blankets draped across knees ensured shivers were kept at bay. Tore joked with his friends as they shared sodas and wild tales. They fell silent, their eyes flicking to someone behind him. Tore turned. A tall elegant girl smiled at him. His friends forgotten, he found himself staring.

She asked if she could sit. Embarrassed and tongue tied, he shifted along the log to make room for her. Eavesdropping, he heard her friend call her Annike and he locked the information into his heart.

Almost immediately, Tore found himself captivated by her mouth. When her lips pursed in thought, he wondered what it would be like to kiss them. When she smiled, they curled up at the corners, creating pretty dimples in both her cheeks. As Annike ran her pink tongue across her bottom lip, he fantasized about their taste. When she caught her top one with her teeth, his breath caught in his throat.

They found themselves cocooned on the log, their friends having migrated to the barbecue pit. The soft glow of the fire lit up her face. Tore popped the cap on a soda, “You thirsty?”

She reached for the bottle, her fingers touching his. Moments later he blushed, realizing he still held it and was staring at her. Muttering an apology, he looked away. She laughed, placed the glass between her lips before offering it back. Tore put his own to the bottle, his heart skipping at the thought of her mouth having touched the same place.

“You’re Tore aren’t you?” It surprised him that she knew his name. “Annike.” She stretched out her hand. A tingle of excitement raced through him as skin slid across skin. “This is the first time I’ve been to one of these.” She waved her free hand at the partygoers. “I’m only halfway through my transition,” she explained.

Tore continued to hold her hand. “Thought I hadn’t seen you here before, I’ve just about finished mine. I turn eighteen this month.” He cursed himself. Was that all he could think of to say? Any minute now, she’d walk away and find someone more interesting to talk to. Think, Tore. Say something cool. “You…um…want to go for a walk?” Oh great, now why would you ask her that?

“Sure, I’d love to.” She stood folding the blanket that had been across her lap.

Oh, she does! Tore jumped to his feet slopping the soda, splashing her pant legs with fizzy orangeade. “Oh, I’m sorry…” He knelt down and used the sleeve of his sweater to wipe her legs. She was giggling. He blushed as he noticed the wet orange stains on the cream wool.

Damn, he sure was making a great impression.

“You ready?” She nodded towards the trees.

“Sure.”

She led the way through the crowds of other youths. Tore put his hand to the small of her back, not wanting to lose contact for a second.

As they walked through the woods, she slid her hand into his. “I saw you hunt yesterday.”

She did?

Her hand felt warm and soft in his and he squeezed it tighter.

“I was by the out crop. Watched your wolf come across the fields. You’re fast.”

 “It was my first solo hunt. That doe almost got away from me.” Why did he say that? He should have shrugged it off, said he’d caught loads. Now she’d think he was a loser.

“It did? That must have felt good bringing her down, then. Haven’t tried it yet. I don’t have a clue how to read my instincts.”

“I could take you out. We could try something small together. I’ll talk you through it. Erik did that with me a few times before I went solo.”

“Would you? I’d like that.” She was breathless when she spoke. He wondered if she meant it, but her eyes were sincere. A burst of electricity shot through him, she meant it.

They stopped by the river and lent against a boulder to keep out of the wind. Her golden hair shone in the moonlight. Tore was again tongue-tied but she rescued him with a question about his studies. They chatted as they skimmed pebbles across the water’s surface.

“You’re not how I imagined,” she looked sideways, giving him another of her dimpled smiles.

“How long have you been thinking about me then?”

Now she blushed. She skipped another stone, “The others talk, tell stories.”

“They do? What do they say?”

“That you’re cocky. Have lots of human girlfriends. Stuff like that.”

For some reason, he hated that she’d heard that. “It’s just an act…I’m not like that… just talk, with the guys.”

“I’m glad it’s not true.” That whispered breathiness had crept back into her voice. Stone-skimming forgotten, he found himself gazing into her eyes. As she returned his stare, their hands reached out and connected. As their fingers laced, a fluttering in his stomach caused his heart to play copy-cat. He leaned forwards, stopping inches from her mouth.

Annike pulled her hand away and brushed the snow from her clothes. She started to walk down the path and Tore hurried after her.

Did he do something wrong?

“We should get back. Nea will wonder where I went. I didn’t tell her I was going.”

“Nea?”

“My friend from earlier. We look out for one another, she’ll worry.”

Tore walked her back to the campfire, wishing time would slow down, so he could have her to himself for longer. All too soon, they were back in the crowds. She surprised him by sitting down beside him instead of finding her friend. Tore pushed his luck further as he sat closer and pulled a blanket over their laps.

Hours later, the crowds thinned. Annike watched them disperse. “I’d better head back too, I suppose.”

They stood, the silence awkward for a moment. Tore wondered if he should ask to see her again. Before he plucked up courage, she stood on tiptoe and pulled him by his sweater to her. Did he dare chance a kiss? Her honey scent filled his senses as she whispered in his ear.

“Tore, Son of Isak, one day you’re going to be my mate.”

Annike didn’t wait for an answer. She turned and left.

A stupid grin appeared on Tore’s face. He watched her curvaceous hips sway back and forth, hypnotizing him as she walked away. With those words, she laid her claim. And with that smile, he accepted his fate.”

 

Author BIO

Angela   Stevens

Angela Stevens is the author of contemporary adult romance novel Lemon Drops and Love and the newly released Urban Fantasy Trilogy, The Vargr Clan. Her first children’s fantasy book, Mariquita will be out in the spring.

Angela is British born and moved to Virginia, USA nine years ago. Always a keen traveler, she has enjoyed spending time living outside of her native country. She is an ex-teacher and the mother of two children. When empty nest syndrome threatened, Angela turned to writing novels to fill her growing free time. Her hobby has now grown into a fully-fledged obsession and she works on her books full time.

Loving both contemporary romance and urban fantasy genres, Angela flip-flops between the two. If you ask which is her favorite, she is always undecided. For now her genres remain separate, but maybe in the not too distant future they may combine. She is currently trying to find the time to draw up plans for a steamy fantasy romance series, so watch this space.

When Angela is not writing you can find her indulging in her other passion, ice hockey. She discovered her love of this sport when she first moved to America. Now a rabid Washington Capitals fan, Angela can often be found ‘Rocking The Red’ at the Verizon center supporting her beloved team.

You can find more about Angela and her works by visiting her website.

#Indie #BookReview: The Wolf You Feed by Angela Stevens

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Review:

Epic family drama with werewolves. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will!

By epic, I’m referring to the great swathes of time the story covers: about sixteen years by my reckoning. During this time we see Tore defy his clan for the sake of love, rescue a friend and tries to build a new life, only to have tragedy dog his steps.  The family dynamics are compelling and play out like a classic drama: power struggles, heirs, pride, usurpers and revenge are the names of this game.

The title is a reference to a famous Native American proverb that is really the mantra of the story, which makes me think of it as like a fairy-tale retelling in a way.  You can read a condensed version of the proverb in the blurb below.

I enjoyed The Wolf You Feed a lot, more than I expected since it’s such a unique mix of genres. Because of the epic nature of the story there were moments where I tuned out a little (I’m sorry, I can’t help it! It just happens…) but I can definitely recommend this to other readers.

Recommended for lovers of family dramas, or those wanting to read a different kind of urban fantasy.

Like my review? Like it on Goodreads too!

Author Goodreads Page.

Author Website.

Amazon buy link.

The Wolf You Feed, by Angela Stevens

Book Length: 251 pages

Paranormal Family Drama (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Tore Vargr finds his world turned upside down when he is forced to choose between the love of his life and the life he loves. He chooses Annike, disrespects his brother, Erik, and sets off a chain of events that shape his life in a way he could never have imagined.

Outlawed from his clan, Tore embraces his new responsibilities of father and protector as he carves out a new life in a human world. But a jealous brother has a long memory and Erik is nothing if not patient when it comes to exacting revenge. When Tore’s past catches up with his present, he has to learn to pull from an inner strength.

There is a battle of two wolves inside us all.
One is evil: it is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, jealousy, resentment, lies.
The other is good: it is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, truth.
The wolf that wins?
The one you feed.

– Cherokee proverb

Spanning two generations The Wolf You Feed is the first book in a heartbreaking trilogy set in the shape shifting worlds of werewolves and skin walkers.

Book Review: Libriomancer by Jim C Hines

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Review:

This is a book for bibliophiles. I highly recommend everyone have at least a look at this book and the idea it presents simply because it’s so excellent. Unless someone has thought of this idea before: using books as ways to bring objects and other things from the stories into reality. So you can get that light saber! Or Excalibur! Jim C Hines uses this idea in some pretty funny ways, especially the idea that you can accidentally get bitten by a vampire when you stick your hand in the book. That means every different version of vampire ever written is real, and running about in mishmashed nests. This book has Charlaine Harris’s ‘southerners’ and Stephanie Myer’s ‘sparklers’.

I picked up Libriomancy because I really liked Jim C Hines’ other books, especially his Fairy Tale reimaginings “Princess” series (I will always love the interpretation of Red Riding Hood as a violent vengeful nutter CLICK HERE and you will know what I mean).

Okay, for now I’ll get past the idea behind this urban fantasy and analyse the tale presented. See, the actual story is… it’s only ‘okay’. Compared to the wonderfully original idea behind the world, the story is glaringly unoriginal.  Not that there’s nothing wrong with an okay/seen-it-before story playing with a new idea. I’m a big believer in “same-same but different” books that gradually try new things. Having said that, with such a cool idea as Libriomancy, when compared to the actual plot there’s just no comparison: the idea is better than the story. It’s a shame, really. Makes me feel like I’m retreading old territory with a new toy.

The characters were, hm, relatively interesting, I guess. Isaac Vainio is a geeky screw-up that basically screams ‘IDENTIFY WITH ME’. The second protagonist (called the deuteragonist, but I don’t think many people know that. I didn’t – I had to google it) is more interesting, but at the same time very isolating. It was difficult for me to like her, I’m sorry to say. I appreciate the direction the author went with tying her to the rules of the world, and it was actually a pretty brave thing introducing a character that has such a weird nature, but in doing so it makes her, literally, a blank slate. How her character arc ended did give me hope that she will grow as the series progress, but so far it is severely limiting growth, and that’s just disappointing. Understandable, but still very disappointing.

In conclusion, I still recommend anyone who likes any sort of speculative fiction, check the story out and decide for yourself. Read the blurb, down the free sample from Amazon, at least to appreciate the idea.

Like my review? Like it on Goodreads too!

Libriomancy, by Jim C. Hines

Magic Ex Libris #1

Book Length: 308 pages

Urban Fantasy (Adult Fiction)

According to the Blurb:

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.
With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

Book Review: Murder in the Boughs by Jamie Sedgwick

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Review:

I loved this book. It started out with a bang and I worried it was going to peter out, but it never did (that’s not to say it made me dizzy – I should point out that the pacing was excellent). I was wrapped the whole time through this book. Now, it hasn’t gotten perfect reviews on Goodreads, but this book was honestly perfect for me. A wonderful blend of urban fantasy, humour, action, mystery, and heart. The characters were well fleshed out and the setting was real and, at times, really surprising. The giant snake that controls the elevator was a favourite of mine 🙂

The two mysteries were interesting and multi-layered, and although I felt the murder wasn’t resolved as well as I would have liked, I can appreciate the unique direction the ending took, which leads Hank Mossberg into a precarious future where he can longer rely on certainties. The book did justice to the fairy-tale inspired setting, and I just loved the lore, I really did.

I shall definitely be reading the sequel. Recommended to anyone looking to be swept up into mystery, murder and mayhem.

Murder in the Boughs

By Jamie Sedgwick

Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre #1

Book Length: 264 pages

Crime Urban Fantasy.

According to the Blurb:

Detective noir fiction and Grimm’s Fairy Tales collide in the “Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre” detective series. The series takes place in the gritty streets of San Francisco and in the undercity, the massive underground cavern where thousands of fae creatures secretly make their homes. Here, nymphs walk darkened streets, imps are slave traders, and gnomes are elite hackers.

In “Murder in the Boughs,” Hank Mossberg is a hard-boiled San Francisco detective who must race against time to rescue a kidnapped girl, expose a ring of “pixie dust” dealers, and find the killer of a high-elven San Francisco kingpin. Hank is also the last living ogre in the world.

Hank’s troubles begin when he stumbles onto a briefcase full of the illicit drug known as pixie dust. He finally has the evidence he needs to bring down the notorious Kaisers, an elven crime family, but then the gang’s leader is murdered and the pixie dust disappears. Hank is hot on the trail of the killer when he gets an urgent call from a desperate woman whose daughter has been abducted… only the kidnapper is no ordinary criminal, and even Hank’s unique skills might not be enough to bring the girl home. Hank juggles both cases while navigating the complexities of fae-world politics and real life relationships, none of which ever seem to come easy.