A review of “Hidden Spark (Dark Magic Enforcer Book 6)” by Al K Line

Full disclosure, I was provided with an advance copy of this book by the author as part of his “A-Team” in exchange for an honest review.

 

The worst case of the Mondays ever!

 

Hidden Spark picks up five years after the conclusion of Neon Spark. Having successfully tracked down and eliminated Kimiko Kochi after impossible odds Faz has entered retirement from the magical community. Being totally magic free for the past 5 years, he is a new man… and totally miserable. A deep depression grips him complete with night terrors and general feelings of worthlessness. But he is resolute… the addict is reformed and he will no longer partake of the stolen magic he so desperately craves. When the phone rings one early morning, not unlike many other occasions, Faz knows what he must do.

 

Get back in the game

 

But of course an Enforcer’s job is not easy, especially when it involves dragons, dwarves, gnomes and fanatics running amok in the streets of Cardiff. Luckily, Faz has Kate and a sidekick this time to help him out but the situation spirals quickly out of control until it turns into an all-out war for survival. It will take more than the Black Spark to set things right this time.

 

I was wondering where the Dark Magic Enforcer series could go after the ultimate resolution of Faz getting the revenge he’s waited a century to deliver. I seriously thought that the series would be over after Neon Spark but I must say that I am glad that it wasn’t. The 5-year gap between Neon Spark and Hidden Spark, in my opinion, was perfect to set the stage for a new era in the Cardiff Hidden community. The councils have settled down and installed a new head with the wizards and vamps actually playing nice for a change as the community as a whole appears to have healed and rebuilt after the prior troubles that plagued them. During this time, Faz has been playing farmer with the chickens and setting out porridge for the hobs. As he resumes his enforcer duties after being so purposefully checked out for so long it’s like he’s coming out of a daze and opening his eyes to all that he’s missed. The unlikely situation of Faz taking a younger wizard under his wing and letting him tag along for some on the job enforcer training is interesting too with Spark being an alone, the dynamic of having a sidekick is pretty amusing to watch develop. As usual there is no end to the fast paced incredible amounts of action and situations that keep our favorite Enforcer on his toes. From the dwarven kingdom to the bowels of a volcano, our hero really has his work cut out for him this time.  And with an ending that had me screaming at my kindle… I am very ready for Dark Magic Enforcer 7!

 

 

 

 

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A review of “Blood Memory Book 6” by Perrin Briar

Strange Bedfellows

Book 6 picks up apparently sometime after book 5 leaves off. The remaining three surviving members of the “Haven” having sailed off previously on the newly named “Hope Tomorrow” are somewhere in, around or near the Suez Canal. They are on the dock confronted by Tim and the Port Said guard. Jumping right into the action, Jordan, Anne, Jessie and Sam…. ( wait. .who??) are confronted with a choice – face Tim or flee. Having assumed Tim dead after the incident at Burgh Castle, Jordan struggles with the knowledge that he is still alive.  Tim is apparently a changed man of sorts and seeks out the survivors to enlist their help in joining forces to defeat the other zombie overlords and return the world to a pre apocalypse state. Can this young child turned zombie overlord be taken at his word and be trusted? The team is faced with a hard decision.

 

Okay starting out in this book I feel like I missed an installment somewhere between book 5 and 6. I understand that there was a passage of an indeterminate amount of time, but it appears that a lot may have happened in that time frame that may or may not have been plot driving. For example, I was very thrown off when they mentioned Sam on the dock with them in the opening segment; so much so that I thought that the author had made a mistake with the character names. Then there was a mention of someone named “Ori” that was apparently a real ass that got them jailed and almost killed. So needless to say I felt a little bit lost until the story provided the back stories to fill the plot holes.

I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying this new spin on the zombie genre however. Usually it’s just a horde of mindless undead out to eat anything and anyone in their way with no thought or depth. Briar comes along with the concept of “smarter” zombie overlords who can exert influence and control over others of their type and it has proven to be a very interesting twist. So now basically we have a giant undead game of “Risk” being played out with the entire population of the Earth (dead and undead) at stake. Tim’s motives appear to be noble, but I can’t help but wonder if his motives won’t change the larger he becomes. You know what they say… absolute power corrupts absolutely!

The story is heating up and moving along nicely. Book 7 should be an exciting time as we witness Tim’s campaign for overlord dominance.

A Review of “Blood Memory Book 5” by Perrin Briar 

A War for survival

 

The trio of survivors finally reach the beach house Jordan begins to recall the memories that trigger his reoccurring nightmare. After succumbing to what can only be called a trance like daze, Jordan shadows his memories as he relives the horror that occurred at the beach house. The identities of the occupants of the house in his dream are revealed to be his wife and daughter and the revelation of his inability to save them almost drives him mad.

Pressing on to the marina where the cat is moored the trio arrive only to find that they have company and are again forced to alter their course in order to seek help back at Burgh Castle, but they are soon separated when Jordan is captured and taken to the “leader” of the zombie horde.

Tim  – an Alpha zombie of sorts in not your average Lurcher. What he knows and what he can do is chilling. As he shares his plans for Jordan with him one thing is certain; Jordan must escape before Tim can put his plans into action. Will he make it out of the Lurcher compound and back to Burgh Castle to help his friends? Time is not on his side and to fail could mean the end of humanity.

 

Book 5 really serves as the culmination of all storylines in the Blood Memory series to date. Jordan regains his memories and learns how he fits into Tim’s plans. As an “Alpha” or “Overlord” as Briar tells it, Tim is innocent and terrifying all at the same time and it truly the stuff of nightmares. Adding in the ability to think and speak, absorb anyone’s memories by tasting their blood and controlling thousands of undead just scratches the surface with this character. He almost reminds me of an undead version of Isaac from the Children of the Corn. While closing of this book sees our trio of survivors sailing off into the sunset, I’m fairly certain that, for everything they’ve endured thus far, their troubles are only just beginning. All in all a solid close of a few older story lines yet paving the way for an entire new set of adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A review of “Blood Memory Book 4” by Perrin Briar

It’s not safe on land

Jordan and the remaining survivors depart the Burgh Castle military encampment trying to find their way back to the catamaran and the safety of the ocean, however the lurchers are waiting and they are driven further inland. During their frantic escape down the highway, they encounter a roadblock and another party member falls.

Pressing on, trying to find their way, the remaining survivors encounter stranger and stranger encampments and hidden survivors until finally stumbling on an old farmhouse and an old farmer named Frank. Jordan and Anne are at odds as to whether or not to trust the old man. The team is tested and ultimately separated as they face their most terrifying situation of their entire trip. The coast and the catamaran are looking like another time as the team are driven further and further away from their goal.

Book 4 has got to be the most action packed installment in the series so far. True to the storyline we lose a few team members but also have one restored to us. Jordan only begins to scratch the surface of how advanced the hive mentality of the zombie horde are but cannot figure out who is controlling them. One thing is made clear to the survivors is that the land is not safe and the sooner they reach the relative safety of their catamaran and the open waters, the happier they will all be. With his memories slowly returning, that may be harder then they realize. The ending was also enough of a “big reveal” to have to quickly diving into the next installment to see what happens next.

 

A review of “Dion – A Tale of the Highway” by Jonathan Maas

 

Posted exclusively to Jennlyreads in August 2016

Full disclosure, I was lucky enough to have been provided with a proof copy of this title by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Note – Personal notes and possible spoilers might be revealed at the end of my review. Consider yourself warned.

Who is Dion?

Coming to, from bizarre dreams of Hell, naked and alone on a highway with all memories erased and not even knowing his name, a man is faced with a car and a note – “Drive until the road ends and then drive some more. If you stop there will be consequences.”  Upon review of the car, it is discovered that the vehicle contains an audio book series of Philosophy by Dr. Julius Shaw, a seemingly endless supply of wine and something alive in the trunk.

How does all of this fit together?

Why is he driving? Where is he going? What happens if he attempts to open the trunk?

As Dion drives and with each transgression his consequences become more and more severe. With each post transgression interlude, another piece of the puzzle is also revealed that brings him closer to solving the riddles with which he is faced.

What is Dion?

Earthbound deity or mere mortal? Bringer of extinction or the next level of humanity? The only way to find out, is to travel the path set before him for good or for ill.

 

“Dion” is the newest book by author Jonathan Maas and is not quite like anything I have read in a long time. While simplistic in its premise, there is a depth and thoughtfulness to the story that takes the reader beyond the confines of the vehicle and the highway and into the story itself. Told in the format of Dion retelling his experience after the fact, the entire novel is footnoted with interjections of his lucid thoughts and insights interspersed with the retelling of the events as they took place. While presented in a manner that allows the reader to include or ignore as they see fit; I found them only an enhancement to the tale being told. The characters introduced are vivid, some tragic, and I even found myself rooting for (or against) a few during my time in the car. Overall, this is another well written tale that, not unlike “Flare”, will have me mulling portions of the story over for days to come.

 

**Personal notes and possible spoiler alert**

I kept finding myself wanting Dion to stop the car, get out, try to open the trunk, take a leak, anything that would cause the next transgression because in those moments and within those pages where he lay broken on the highway with his consciousness elsewhere is where we learned the most about his predicament – who he is and what his purpose is.

I also very much enjoyed the “Purple planet” chapter/portion of the book. This by far was probably one of the most “cinematically” written sections of the story. It was intriguing to meet an alien species and see their demise. For me, this was probably the most tragic portion of the book and it also seems to have been the final straw that spurred Dion into decisive action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A review of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production” by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

 

A Nostalgic trip back to Hogwarts

The 8th installment in the Potterverse – “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” joins the Hogwarts alumni nineteen years after the close of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and is truly a nostalgic romp through the previous seven books. Revisiting familiar places, people and events the Cursed Child is a nice catching up with old friend and also some perceived enemies. Harry, now grown with three kids of his own sends his second son Albus off to Hogwarts. Who he meets there, the friends he makes and the things he gets up to well… you’ll have to read the book if you want to know because I will not give away anything here.

Written as an Official Script book for the play, this definitely reads slightly differently than the previous installments. After taking a few pages/scenes to familiarize myself with the formatting I think I actually preferred this format for the purpose of this story, it worked very nicely. The scenes are sketched in basic format and it is left to the reader to fill in the blanks… as grand or minimal as you like. Clocking in an a little over 300 pages, I’m fairly certain that if this were a traditional novel we would have been looking at closer to 500 pages.

After reading “Cursed Child”, I find myself nostalgic for the Wizarding World and would love to see more installments of the grown up Hogwarts alum and the new generation of wizards. As far as if that will become a reality, I guess only Professor Treylawney knows for sure; but  I would definitely be game for seeing the stage production if it ever makes it stateside.

A review of “Neon Spark (Dark Magic Enforcer Book 5)” by Al K. Line

 

Full disclosure – I received a free copy of this book from the author as part of his “A-Team” in exchange for an honest review.

Revenge in the Land of the Rising Sun

Still reeling from the betrayal of Mage Rikka, a man he once considered a mentor and a father figure, and clearing his name before an execution ended his life, Faz is off to Japan with one thing on his mind:

 

Revenge

 

One good thing Rikka did for him in the end was to tell him the name of his parents’ murderer. Armed with that information he immediately heads off to the land of the Rising Sun. Accompanied initially by Grandma, Kate and Dancer, Spark sets out on what may very well be his final mission – find and kill Kimiko Cocchi. After the initial culture shock and encountering Hidden of a more extreme and bizarre nature, Faz decides to do what he does best… go it alone. Sending everyone back to the relative safety of Cardiff, he realizes that this may not have been the best of ideas. Up the proverbial creek without a paddle, Spark finds himself in ever increasingly dangerous situations as he tracks his prey. Losing this battle is not an option as it will be the death of him, but will success bring any different outcome?

 

Not for the squeamish, Neon Spark is a violent trek though the city of Tokyo. Throughout the story we are taken through the bright lights and overcrowded hustle and bustle of the city center to the seedy underbelly run by the Yakuza and all manner of places in between. The imagery is enough to stir your senses and either make you want to take a trip or hide in a closet somewhere depending on your mindset. All manner of hidden are present, including not so neatly preserved zombies, hellhounds, yokai and numerous creatures only found in Japanese culture and folklore; and all appear to be dead set on keeping our Enforcer from his ultimate goal. The “usual suspects” are present in the form of Dancer and Intus and a few secrets are uncovered along the way that continue to make Faz wonder just how much he really knows his friends. There are a few comical points in the story as well, but they are few and far between. Although the name of this installment is “Neon Spark” this is definitely the darkest book to date, and probably the best.