A sexy, swashbuckling sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

DIONNA'S WARRIOR

A REVERSE HAREM ROMANCE

From the Dragon Origins series , Vol. 1

Ryan’s (Touched by Death, 2018, etc.) first romantic fantasy in a new series tells the story of an inexperienced magic user forced into a war.

In a massive country known as the Archenon, Dionna is training to be a Pyromancer, a sorceress who can control and weaponize fire. Before she can take her Assessment and graduate, her academy is attacked by the Silithik, a race of giant, monstrous beetles with whom the Archenon have had an uneasy truce. The Silithik slaughter most of the other students—and all but one of the other would-be Pyromancers—after sneaking in through a window that Dionna left open while meeting her boyfriend for a nighttime tryst. Now that war with the Silithik is back on, every fighter in the Archenon must prepare for battle. Dionna is assigned to a Quintelaide—a platoon of soldiers composed of one master from each of several disciplines—as their replacement Pyromancer even though she has grave doubts about her abilities as well as near-crippling guilt. In order to defend her country and redeem her mistakes, she’ll have to win the trust of her team, including its Warrior, Jaxon, who lost his love in the attack. Ryan’s prose effectively captures the adventure and whimsy of the sword-and-sorcery genre as well as its magic: “The fireball became white-hot flame the moment it left my fingertips, a thousand hearths compressed into a single sphere the size of my fist.” It also includes some romance-novel eroticism, which gives it an unexpected extra dimension: “I yelped as he hefted my body as easily as one lifts a cup of wine, and then he was kissing me again, tongue prying apart my lips and dancing with mine.” Throughout, the author proves to be highly competent in both of these modes, and as a result, the novel as a whole offers readers a satisfying bit of easily digestible escapism. Fans of Ryan’s earlier Gryphons vs. Dragons series will particularly enjoy this novel, which serves as prequel and promises more installments to follow.

A sexy, swashbuckling sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

Pub Date: April 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982965-06-8

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Juicy Gems Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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