Thursday, October 31, 2019

Burden of Truth (After the Green Withered, #2) by Kristin Ward

Burden of TruthBurden of Truth by Kristin Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Book 1, After the Green Withered, Enora and her partner, Springer, discovered that the Company was conducting experiments with human genetics to create a new human race – to replace the current one. Building from here, Book 2, Burden of Truth, Enora comes to realize that her childhood friend (and now, her commander), Bram, has sent her on specific missions to open her eyes and mind to what the Company has been going to the barely surviving population of what was once the United States: keeping resources back and giving the best to the privileged few.

When she and Springer are uncovered as assisting the resistance, they flee to the nearest group’s underground headquarters hoping to aid the cause all they can. In retaliation, everyone that Enora loves, her parents, her friend Safa, even Bram, are killed by the Company or members of the resistance who never forgave her for things that happened when she was on the other side. Then Enora and Springer discover that the motives are not as pure on the side of the Resistance as they believed.

Exciting twists and turns lead up to a devastatingly climactic ending. I liked the dark nature of the story and the characters were portrayed realistically. There is a growing romance between Enora and Springer that developed slowly and in a natural fashion in my opinion. And other thoughts and reactions by the main characters seemed in line. I thought the ending was perfect.... I didn't like that that was how it was but I thought it couldn't realistically end any other way!

Recommended for YA readers that enjoy dystopian tales.

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Monday, October 28, 2019

Hamburger Heist (A Felicia’s Food Truck One Hour Mystery, #2) by Celia Kinsey

Hamburger Heist (Felicia's Food Truck One Hour Cozies Book 2)Hamburger Heist by Celia Kinsey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While Felicia is at the supermarket trying to order a cake for her partner, Arnie’s, birthday, she gets a frantic call from one of her regular lunchtime customers at her food truck. Arnie and the food truck have just been robbed! Even though the police apprehend someone right away, Felicia is unconvinced they’ve got the right guy. Marge, a local homeless character and another of Felicia’s regulars, claims the man they picked up was with her all day and the money he had on him was from his recently-cashed disability check.

Felicia covers a lot of territory in this short mystery which is the second in the new series, A Felicia’s Food Truck One Hour Mystery, by author Celia Kinsey. This author offers up several, all quite plausible, suspects for the robbery, and just as quickly has Felicia run down clues and mark them off her list (we only have an hour you know!) until we have a perfectly believable solution. I recommend this short story for cozy mystery lovers, food truck enthusiasts, and those readers that need a little fun nugget to pass some time, and still get a solid mystery and resolution.

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Fit to be French Fried (A Felicia’s Food Truck One Hour Mystery, #1) by Celia Kinsey

Fit to Be French Fried (Felicia's Food Truck One Hour Cozies Book 1)Fit to Be French Fried by Celia Kinsey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When food truck regular, Mary Dunn, is found lying unconscious a street over from where Felicia is set up for business, Felicia doesn’t believe that the woman has just suffered a stroke. The way her groceries were scattered hither and yon seemed to indicate to Felicia that a struggle of some kind had occurred, and, too, Katie, the clerk at the nearby convenience store, had seen someone running from the scene right before she had found Mary on the ground.

When Mary’s purse, still containing her money and credit cards, is discovered hidden in the food truck’s fry vat, Felicia is even more certain that another person has to be responsible for Mary’s collapse. She starts asking questions and finds that nothing about the matter is what it first appears to be.

This is the first book in a new series, A Felicia’s Food Truck One Hour Mystery, by author Celia Kinsey. The brief cozy mystery, a short story more accurately, packs a lot of action as well as a lot of fun. There are a variety of interesting characters, some kooky, and the plot not only provides a mystery but some intrigue and romance as well. I recommend this story for cozy mystery lovers, food truck enthusiasts, and those that want a fun read that solidly resolves in about an hour or less.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

A Veiled Deception (A Vintage Magic Mystery #1) by Annette Blair

A Veiled Deception (A Vintage Magic Mystery, #1)A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Madeira Cutler and her roommate, Eve Meyers, are returning home from New York City to Mystick Falls, Connecticut, for different reasons: Eve, to take a teaching position, and Maddie, to plan the wedding of her youngest sister, Sherry. But Maddie is thinking of leaving NYC behind permanently though. With Eve not coming back to their shared apartment and her career as the first assistant to the fashion designer, Faline, sucking the soul right out of her, she is thinking now might be the time for a change. Seeing her hometown, her family, and hunky on again/off again beau, FBI agent Nick Jaconetti, reinforces her feeling that returning to Mystick Falls may be her future.

The girls arrive at the Cutler family home just in time for Sherry and Justin’s engagement party, and swanning it around through all the guests is Sherry’s soon-to-be mother-in-law, awful Deborah Vancortland. At her side is Jasmine Updike, Justin’s ex-roommate from college, and the girl Deborah is pushing forward as a better match for her son than Sherry. But as the party heads toward a surprise reveal of Sherry’s vintage wedding gown, Maddie discovers Jasmine’s dead body upstairs in one of the family bedrooms strangled with Sherry’s vintage wedding veil. As the police fix their eyes on Sherry as their prime suspect, Maddie, Eve, and Nick try to turn up clues to identify the real killer.

A Veiled Deception is the first book in Annette Blair’s A Vintage Magic Mystery series, and it was an absorbing and entertaining debut especially with the fashion references and Maddie’s newly-emerging talents in the paranormal arena. She is a budding psychic and has been having visions of the past when she touches certain pieces of vintage clothing. The relationships between the characters were what I felt were really magical though. From the barely-restrained steam between Maddie and Nick to the close sisterly bonds between Maddie and Eve or Maddie and Sherry, character interaction really shone with special emotion. I recommend this book for cozy mystery readers that enjoy a little romance and like (or, at least, don’t mind) the presence of paranormal elements in their stories.

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Thistle and Twigg (Thistle & Twigg #1) by Mary Saums

Thistle and Twigg (Thistle & Twigg, #1)Thistle and Twigg by Mary Saums
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first time Jane Thistle came to Tullulah, Alabama, she knew that she’d return one day. There’d been a connection to the place right from the start, like she belonged (unlike all the places she’d been as a career military officer’s wife – always a temporary situation.) So when her husband passed away, she sold up and relocated to the outskirts of the small town in an old house near a wildlife preserve.

She met her first friend, fellow widow Phoebe Twigg, while buying ammunition for her handgun and shotgun, and met her closest neighbor, Cal Prewitt, that same day when he fired a warning shot over the hood of the car she was traveling in up his driveway. However, the relationship with Cal slowly ironed its way out and they, too, became good friends. When Jane and Phoebe find the dead body of an unidentified young man on Cal’s property, the ladies team up to prove Cal’s innocence, and find themselves a target of the killer as well.

This is the first book in the Thistle & Twigg Mystery series, and it really was a delightful story. It is a quiet, gentle read at first but is laugh-out-loud funny much to do with the way the author alternates the point-of-view between the two ladies for some of the same scenes. Jane’s reserved British manner matched up with Phoebe’s homespun, southern charm is very entertaining. I have lived in the South most of my life and some of Phoebe’s turns of phrase surprised even me. If I had been reading an eBook version I would have worn out the highlight function saving some of the funny sayings. The mystery and resolution was solid, but it is really the 60+ year old heroines that shine. There is some interesting paranormal activity in the storyline but it is pretty minimal. Jane can see ghosts but sightings are few and far between. There is some assistance in advancing the story from the other side. I recommend this book to cozy mystery readers that enjoy more mature protagonists and don’t mind the presence of paranormal elements.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

What’s a Ghoul to Do? (Ghost Hunter Mystery #1) by Victoria Laurie

What's a Ghoul to Do? (Ghost Hunter Mystery, #1)What's a Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

M.J. (Mary Jane) Holliday can communicate with spirits, and she and her best friend, Gilley Gillespie, have built their business around that unique talent. They are ghostbusters. When someone suspects they have a ghost creating problems in their home or business, the two partners work together to move the lost spirit on to the other side. Their latest client, hunky Dr. Steven Sable (the Second), wants them to contact the spirit of his recently deceased grandfather to determine the truth behind his death. The police have called it a suicide but Dr. Delicious just isn’t buying it. So he, M.J., Gilley, and Doc, M.J’s talkative African Grey parrot head upstate to search for answers.

This was a fun, funny, exciting, and easy-to-read story with constant action and the start of a possible romance. The mystery around the grandfather’s death is not a quick solve, and it takes the whole book to reach the final reveal. Along the way, several other ghostly questions and visitors appear to M.J. who opens her senses and her heart to help them find peace as well. The main characters are easy to like and, hopefully, will all return in subsequent books in the series. I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery readers that enjoy some paranormal activity as well.

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A Skeleton in the Family (Family Skeleton Mystery #1) by Leigh Perry

A Skeleton in the Family (Family Skeleton Mystery #1)A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Georgia Thackery and her daughter, Madison, move into Georgia’s parents’ home while they are off on sabbatical. It’s a convenient arrangement because Georgia’s been hired as an adjunct professor of English at the local institute of higher education, McQuaid University. Besides the financial savings, the house comes with a bonus, Sid, the family skeleton – a walking, talking skeleton – is in residence in the attic.

Georgia and Sid had been best friends since Georgia was 6 years old, and he had no memories of any kind before that moment he met her. No knowledge of life before his current condition as an animated skeletal being. But while attending an anime convention at the college (in cosplay, of course), Sid recognizes someone from his past. When Georgia tries to set up a meeting with the woman, she and Sid come across her dead body instead. From that point, they begin researching any clue they can to find out who Sid was.

A Skeleton in the Family is an interesting and unique amateur sleuth/ghost story. This time we have a physical, tangible manifestation of our ghostly detecting partner – the skeleton. We don’t know how the skeleton came to “life” (at least not yet anyway), just that he did. And the family of characters that surround the ghost are all nice, normal folks. Georgia is a likeable woman and the plot is smart and intriguing. This is the first book in the series of Family Skeleton Mysteries, and Leigh Perry is a pseudonym for author, Toni L. P. Kelner. I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery readers that don’t mind a heavy dose of paranormal activity.

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Ghostly Undertaking (Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1) by Tonya Kappes

A Ghostly Undertaking (Ghostly Southern Mysteries, #1)A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emma Lee Raines works in the family business with her sister, Charlotte Rae, as director of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home. After a conk on head though, Emma Lee is seeing and talking with the ghosts of some their clients (the deceased clients).

Most recently, she’s being visited by the ghost of her grandmother’s hated business partner, Ruthie Sue Payne. Ruthie, whose body was discovered at the bottom of a staircase at her B&B, is adamant that she didn’t trip and fall as has been surmised but pushed! She wants Emma Lee to help her find her killer so she can go toward the light and meet up with her still beloved ex-husband, Earl Way Payne (who happens to have been married to Emma Lee’s grandmother at the time of his death.)

As Emma Lee starts looking into Ruthie’s “accident” and asking questions, she draws the attention of the local sheriff, Jack Henry Ross, her secret high school crush. But as they come closer to uncovering the truth, someone else is working in the shadows to stop the investigation at any cost.

Author Tonya Kappes has perfectly captured a slice of life in a small southern town: the “in” crowd, the gossip, everyone knowing everyone else’s business and every member of your family past and present. The reader is introduced to a number of town residents, “characters,” family, and friends and get a peek at the histories and relationships at work there. I liked that these included older people that were still lively and out there living their best lives (and surprising the younger folks like Emma Lee that there is still some life left after 40 and 50 and 60, etc.) Our heroine is sweet, likeable, and funny and her ghostly visitor, sassy and not at all the awful person that Emma Lee had always thought. You definitely root for the home team in this one!

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Teardrops and Flip Flops (A Gone to the Dogs Camper Romance #1) by Lark Griffing

Teardrops and Flip Flops (A Gone to the Dogs Camper Romance Book 1)Teardrops and Flip Flops by Lark Griffing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When George, Ruby Dunning’s husband of twenty-four years, passed away, he had been planning a big surprise for her. He’d always known about his free-spirited wife’s desire for adventure and over their years together how she’d reined that all in to be with him – the ultimate homebody. Now, he was going to support her in her need for spontaneity and freedom; he secretly bought her a top-of-the-line teardrop camper to pull behind her new Jeep. However, before he can present her with this gift, he succumbs to a heart condition that he’d also kept secret from her. So, when the call comes from the saleswoman that the teardrop trailer is ready for pick-up, the grieving Ruby goes to take possession and hears how George has selected and planned this all for her.

Ruby takes time from her editing job to try the camper out and eventually goes on the road with it for longer periods of time writing and editing articles as needed by her boss. Along the way, she acquires a stray dog, uncannily named “George,” and begins to come to terms with her grief and her new life as a single woman on her own.

Teardrops and Flip Flops is a great story with a great title. Not only is there the teardrop camper but Ruby sheds quite a few teardrops as she sorts out life without George (the husband.) And flip flops are appropriate as well in referring to her footwear as well her changes of heart.

The description and circumstances of what Ruby was going through was real and heartbreaking, and the author has developed some great supporting characters to surround our heroine. With this book ending on a bit of a cliffhanger, I am looking forward to reading the further adventures of Ruby and George (the dog.)

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A Ghostly Gift (The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #1.5) by Angie Fox

A Ghostly Gift (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #1.5)A Ghostly Gift by Angie Fox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Verity Long’s sister, Melody, asks her to help an old school friend with a ghostly problem, she accepts even though Frankie (her ghostly partner) would rather give it a pass. The friend, Julie, can’t afford to pay them but as the owner of a resale shop, she offers to trade Verity a much-needed kitchen set for her assistance in stopping a poltergeist from wrecking her business. Rather than an angry spirit, the poltergeist in the New For You store is that of a heartbroken soldier from WW2 who is trying to reconnect with his one true love.

This was a sweet, poignant mystery for Verity to unravel along with some of the ghostly others around Sugarland, Tennessee. A very satisfying novella to tide the reader over between books one and two in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries series.

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Southern Spirits (The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #1) by Angie Fox

Southern Spirits (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #1)Southern Spirits by Angie Fox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Verity Long has been having a rough time of it lately. When her cheater of a fiancĂ© tried to force himself on her younger sister the night before the wedding, she called the whole thing off. But rather than take it like a man, Beau went ahead with the wedding to appear as if he were the victim, stood up at the altar, before the entire town. The town, Sugarland, Tennessee, took his side and his mother sued Verity for the wedding expenses (even the crazy extras that the mother-in-law-to-be had insisted on!) After having sold off all her possessions, Verity’s still $20,000 in debt, and is having to put her beloved family home on the market as well. But then Frankie, the ghost of a long-dead, local gangster, shows up.

Due to humorous circumstances, Frankie is released from his final resting place (an unusual urn that no one would buy during the estate sale), and is now “attached” to Verity and her family home’s property. Together, the two decide they must find a way to get the money to prevent the sale of the family home and figure out how to unstick Frankie from the property.

This is the first book in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries series by Angie Fox. The characters are fun and witty, the dialogue snappy, and the action with all its twists and turns and surprises never stops. Verity is slowly working her way out of the hurt-filled place Beau left her with the help of her best friend, Lauralee, her pet skunk (yes, skunk), Lucy, her sister, Melody, Frankie, and the unexpected relationship blossoming between her and Beau’s black-sheep brother, Ellis. Just a delightful quick read!

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The Missing Alchemist (The Young Alchemist Series) by Caldric Blackwell

The Missing Alchemist (The Young Alchemist, #1)The Missing Alchemist by Caldric Blackwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good, middle-grade adventure quest with magic!

Fourteen year old Craig Pike is an apprentice to Cornelius, one of the last alchemist’s in the realm. A kind, gentle, and overall, excellent man and master, Craig is devoted to him and pulls out all the stops when Cornelius goes missing, and presumed kidnapped, at a feast his honor.

Along the way, Craig meets challenge after challenge, gaining confidence as he perseveres. He teams up with the multi-talented orphan, Audrey Clife, after he helps her escape from town soldiers for running an illegal gambling operation. (She really regrets that she has had to stoop to doing this in order to support her elderly grandparents.) Craig and Audrey continue the quest together, each helping the other through some very exciting situations.

This is a medium length chapter book with constant action that will hold the attention of even the most reluctant readers. Craig is a likeable second to his master, Cornelius, but he really shines when he must come to the rescue. Audrey is a breath of fresh air. She is a strong, confident, female character who young readers will appreciate. I think that this would make a great read-aloud book for the family as a whole but would work really well for the every evening reading assignment that many middle-graders have. I look forward to continuing the saga with Craig, Audrey, Cornelius, and Lily, the horse, too.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Murder & Cake: By Royal Appointment (Murder and Cake #1) by Luna Snow

Murder and Cake: By Royal AppointmentMurder and Cake: By Royal Appointment by Luna Snow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Problem punctuation, grammar issues, misused words, and typos but STILL a fun cozy mystery!

The aptly named Jane Dough was born to be a baker, and at 45 years of age, single, and somewhat overweight, she is happy and content with her life. But after winning the recent British “Bake-Off,” things are about to getting really interesting. She’s been invited to Buckingham Palace to create the birthday cake for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration! However, not all is kosher in the castle kitchen. The other chefs invited to make the other elements of the celebration dinner are a mixed lot of unhappy, temperamental people, and when Jane discovers a dead body in the kitchen’s storeroom, things really start to go off the rails. Between dealing with the unfriendly personalities of the other guest chefs and trying to ensure that her dream cake for the queen is perfect, Jane is under a lot of pressure. And, too, who is this handyman, Alf Jeffries, who keeps hanging around the kitchen?

Author Luna Snow has presented a fun main character, an interesting supporting cast with numerous plausible suspects, and a simple, yet realistic mystery. It is a fun, quick read if you can just ignore the multitude of problems with its delivery: grammatical errors, misused words, typos, and a real issue with punctuation of all kind. Read it if you can overlook this (or are just curious about how this can still be a decent story) but do it through Kindle Unlimited. If not, give it a pass. Having said that, I will definitely be checking out other stories in the series.

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Sunday, October 06, 2019

All Time: Voidbound (An All Time Quick Read) by Mack Leonard

All Time Voidbound (An All Time Quick Read)All Time Voidbound by Mack Leonard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a century of working on the project known as “Broken Clock,” the channeler Brightside is disqualified from the opportunity of being the first to time travel or “jump.” But rather than being disappointed, he is secretly glad. With his candidacy removed, the most likely choice will be Voidbound, his sister’s fiancĂ©. However, when Brightside breaks the news to her, she is less than overjoyed. Mirrorside is worried. Voidbound has not been acting like himself for some time and it has gotten even worse lately. Although medically he checks out clear, he has been blanking out, losing himself at random moments, suddenly not knowing what he was doing or saying. Due to the suspected nature of time traveling, it is critical that the one jumping have full control of their faculties at all time; a mistake in the past could have devastating repercussions in the future. Unfortunately, when Brightside warns the team leading the project about Voidbound’s behaviors he is written off as “sour grapes.” No one with any kind of authority will believe him.

This is a great side story to the All Time series by Mack Leonard. The author cleverly introduces us to Brightside’s backstory as well as many others that featured in the first book, All Time. Read the first book though before reading this "Quick Read." I already know that this is going to be one of those series that I am going to be tapping my foot while waiting for more.

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The Runaway Turkey (Avon Calling! #14) by Hayley Camille

The Runaway Turkey (Avon Calling!, #14)The Runaway Turkey by Hayley Camille
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With her beloved husband, George, away at Army Training Camp and unable to get leave to come home for Thanksgiving, Betty is really feeling the burden of keeping the home fires burning. The Boudoir Butcher is still at large and the latest victim, a Turkish mobster known as Altan Karga, lived through her last attack. However, before Betty and her friend, NYPD Sergeant Jacob Lawrence can question the man, he escapes from his room at the hospital. Betty tries to track the mobster down before he can exact his revenge again his attacker, Tillie. At the same time, Betty’s daughter, Nancy, is feeling her oats and starting to use her newly acquired powers to right the wrongs in her life. Inexperienced, she sometimes doesn’t choose her fights too wisely. She still needs to understand that public displays of her powers could bring about dangerous and unwanted attention.

Quite a lot of ground is covered in this, the 14th, episode. Readers get an update on George at camp, Jacob Lawrence and his investigations and trial, Adina Sonberg, and even elderly neighbor, Mrs. Porter makes an appearance. Betty and her relationships with her friends, clients, and children are all featured and, literally, everyone is home for the holiday except for poor George. It is nice to catch up yet there are still loads of plotlines to wrap up before we come to a conclusion for Avon Calling!, Season Two.

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Friday, October 04, 2019

Before the Fall (After the Fall #4) by Charlie Dalton

In Before the Fall, a prequel novel to the After the Fall trilogy, author Charlie Dalton tells the story of “the Fall” of humankind when the Earth was peppered with a deadly virus via meteorites.

It was time for the Perseid meteor shower and people were fascinated by the chunks of space rock that fell to Earth across every land mass picking them up, collecting them, selling them, and, generally passing them around as curiosities. The virus the rocks carried wasn’t detected for weeks and by the time it was discovered, massive numbers of people had already been infected. The virus spread quickly, unlike anything ever seen before, and those that were impacted turned into mindless, rage-filled, monsters that attacked everyone and anyone biting, tearing, and eating their flesh.

The President of the United States (as well as other heads of states across the globe) gathered military experts and scientists (including his best friend, Dr. Graham Beck) to stop the spread of the virus and the resulting destruction. But, it was already too late. With time running out for humanity, the strategies turned from a cure to a weapon to fight the green-lit satellite that keeps circling in the atmosphere above.

Before the Fall is Dr. Beck’s narrative and tells of the creation of the diary which had been hinted at in the series novels, and it does not disappoint. It lays out the sequence of events that led to the circumstances that existed at the time of the first book in the trilogy, and is a nice addition to the series. Dr. Beck, not a very likeable character previously, is definitely shown in a different, more sympathetic light. As with the entire series, I recommend this book to readers that enjoy young adult, post-apocalyptic stories.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Amym: The Mamluk Who Defied Death (New York Vampires #1.5) by K.D. McQuain

AMYM: The Mamluk Who Defied Death (New York Vampire, #1.5)AMYM: The Mamluk Who Defied Death by K.D. McQuain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of how Amym, the elite servant to the Chord and the Lesser Blessed of the New York Vampires series, came to be.

Amym was a mamluk, one of the soldier-slaves to the Mamluk Bey, in his adopted city of Cairo. He was young, strong, rising quickly up through the ranks, and in love with the slave girl, Ketevan. Just as was preparing to approach Ketevan’s master for her, the Mamluk Beys and all their troops are ambushed and massacred at a ceremony at the Pasha’s palace. Due to the actions of his own master, Amym narrowly escapes and flees to the Bey’s home to rescue the Bey’s wife and family as well as Ketevan and her master and his household. As he is leading them to safety across the desert, Amym is confronted outside their nightly encampment by some of the Pasha’s soldiers. As he fights them off, this wreck of a human figure joins the fray and destroys the soldiers finishing up by tearing out their throats and drinking their blood. He takes Amym to a tomb below ground where he remains a prisoner for several years with the creature feeding off his blood as he desires.

So, fans of the series get a great backstory for Amym, one of the principal characters reappearing throughout the New York Vampires series. This story is filled with interesting historical world-building and the action is constant. A note: there are detailed sexual encounters, so this is definitely for adult readers.

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