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Prophecy by Lea Kirk

Prophecy

Source: ARC from author.
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

One normal day turns into a nightmare when Earth is attacked. Now ER nurse Alexandra Bock is imprisoned aboard an alien slave ship with no way out. She deems all aliens untrustworthy, including the handsome blue-skinned Matiran captain who shares her cell.

Zhurrat Reviews received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

One night of betrayal leaves Senior Captain Gryf Helyg a prisoner of his enemies. Because of him, Earth’s indigenous people face extinction and his home world is threatened. But his plans for escape are complicated by his inexplicable draw to the Earth woman imprisoned with him.

One ancient prophecy holds the key to free Alexandra and Gryf’s war-ravaged worlds. Can two wounded souls who have lost everything learn to trust and forgive in order to fulfill the prophecy, and find a love that will last for eternity?

Wow. Where do I start?

First up, Prophecy is Lea Kirk’s debut novel, and it’s impressive. I think I have a new author to add to my list of ‘must-read’ authors. This novel is ambitious, but it lives up to the challenge. Galactic warfare, planetary near-annihilation, romance, prophecies, intrigue, villains, heroes and heroines, this book has it all. Oh, and a lovely twist on the soul-mate concept. And if you thought you knew all about Atlantis, think again. Kirk spins a tale that’s so believable you might find yourself rewriting the history you remember.

And I’ll say this: this book provided excellent escapist reading on a day when I really needed it.

Well written and vivid, Kirk easily draws the reader in to the world she has created, then traps them there right up till the end.

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The Alchemist’s Kiss by AR DeClerck

The Alchemists KissSource: ARC from author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

London 1869

A dark wizard has arrived in London, at exactly the time unrest among the non-magical community is coming to a head. London is under the protection of wizard and alchemist Icarus Kane and his loyal friends Cora Mae Jenkins and Archimedes Merriweather, and together they must chase down the threat while dodging the riots and the angry poor along the way. Icarus has no use for science, but there will be no escaping it as the aether, the very heart of magic, is threatened. All of London may perish if the dark wizard gets his way, and Icarus could lose his best friend and his lover in the battle. All the world could be destroyed under the tide of the oncoming storm unless Icarus can face his own power and embrace his inner darkness.

I loved this book. It’s been a while since I’ve read steampunk, and this book drew me right back into the tech. And quite took my breath away, truth be told. A simple premise at first glance, The Alchemist’s Kiss carries far more depth than I expected. Despite knowing I was only 25, 50, 75 per cent through the book, I kept thinking “surely this is the endgame?”… and then being delighted to find yet another twist to the story.

Icarus Kane and Cora Jenkins make for two fabulous main characters, and an excellent cast of supporting characters surround them. To me, this is a tale of romance, intermingled with the age-old fight between good and evil, as well as an expert analysis of technological progress. Each of these elements is a well rounded thread wending through the tale, and the conclusions of each are decisive. And I really loved (sorry, I can’t find a better word, really) the way in which love was a key player in the outcome of events through the book.

Restless in Peaceville by Pippa Jay

Restless in PeacevilleSource: Own collection
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

I cannot tell you on how many levels I love this book. The title. The first-person self-deprecating quips. The attention to detail (which is anything but boring). Fabulous stuff. Here’s a brief extract to illustrate my point:

For now, I can probably pass for just being sick, if I can get my coordination together and get out of here.

With that objective in mind, I lurch to my feet and fall flat on my face, luckily with one arm preventing my nose from getting smashed. Not that it hurts, but I really don’t need to make myself look any worse. I push back onto my hands and knees, grab the edge of the table beside me, and then pull myself up slow and easy. At least I’m standing, even if I am swaying like I’m still getting hit by the alcohol.

Restless in Peaceville is nothing like Jay’s previous offerings – all of which, it should be noted, have been in the SFR genre – in terms of quality. It’s better. WAY better. The other novels and novellas got five stars from me… perhaps I should go and revise them all down to four, because I can’t give this one more than five stars – much as I’d dearly love to.

For me, Jay just matured as a writer. Up till now there was only one author who I’d turn to as an example of how to write in the first person. Now I have two.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

**I should note that zombies are not my preferred subject choice. Scenes at the end of the book got a little too gory and graphic for me.

Fallen Embers by Lauri J. Owen

Source: Own Collection
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

A feisty attorney and her young nephew are transported to an alternate feudal Alaska ruled by a class of decadent mages who have enslaved the shapechanging indigenous peoples. Before she can find her way home Kiera must learn more about the local systems of magic and her own ability to summon fire. On whose side should she fight? Whom can she trust — Marco, the young mage she saves, or fierce and handsome Laszlo, the slave captain of ruling Lord Vayu’s army? Kiera’s path leads her deeper into Alaska, to joy and to heartbreak. Choosing to follow her heart may cost her everything.

Lauri Owen has crafted a magnificent tale of romance and political intrigue, tightly interwoven through the visions of grandeur and depravity that are her alternate Alaska. From the first page one is gripped by the story as one follows Kiera and Alex, who live a pretty ordinary existence in present day Alaska, through their shocking initiation into the realm of magic, where they must survive or be destroyed.

Lauri’s worldbuilding is excellent, and the reader is introduced to the new concepts of the alternate Alaska’s society and magic system gradually. Her characters are living, breathing people who walk into your heart – or step on the nearest nerve as the case may be.

The pages of this book turn of their own accord as one devours the images that flow from them, eager to seek out the mysteries that lie hidden within and, of course, to follow the ultimate conclusion of the romance that is the river of hope wending its way through the book.