BOOK REVIEW: Nectar for the God

My second round with Mennik Thorn and I am thoroughly impressed.

Cover of the novel Nectar for the God, with Mennik Thorn standing at the front, magic ready in his palm

By Patrick Samphire. Find out more about it here.
427 pages

Only an idiot would ignore his debt to a high mage, and Mennik Thorn is not an idiot, no matter what anyone might say. He’s just been … distracted. But now he’s left it too late, and if he doesn’t obey the high mage’s commands within the day, his best friends’ lives will be forfeit. So it’s hardly the time to take on an impossible case: proving a woman who murdered a stranger in full view is innocent.

Unfortunately, Mennik can’t resist doing the right thing – and now he’s caught in a deadly rivalry between warring high mages, his witnesses are dying, and something ancient has turned its eyes upon him.

The fate of the city is once again in the hands of a second-rate mage. Mennik Thorn should have stayed in hiding.

Taff’s squee rating: 4 1/2 hearts!
What’s inside: The same as what we’ve found in book one! Check out my review here. On top of that, we’ve got Mennik really showing how he messes up – especially around his friends and I really appreciate how his actions have clear consequences.
Trigger warnings: More magical violence with plenty of gore. Tentacles. The setting has little mercy and children are not immune to harm.

After I put down Nectar for the God, my first thought was: Okay, I need the next one. For a bunch of reasons, too. One, I’m fond of Mennik. Two, I’m fascinated by Agatos (it’s people, it’s magic, it’s political intrigue). And three, I really need to see more Captain Gale (and find out how Mennik gets on with her in the next book).

Allow me to show you a little no context Gale:

“But it’s a god,” I said.
She smiled. “This isn’t the first god we’ve dealt with.”


Anyways! We pick up where we’ve left off in Shadow of a Dead God, and the consequences of Mennik’s actions from prior do not take long to catch up to him. And how does he meet them? Hm. I am going to say he meets a lot of them with inaction. Or at least with procrastination by means of taking on a job which has nothing to do with any of the pressing matters breathing down his neck. It’s that inaction, that avoidance, that helps us see how Mennik really is just a man who is beholden to his fears and his ego. And inaction has consequences, too, you see, and I’m always up for seeing the hero of a story realise with cold dread how they’ve just messed up and that they really have no one else but themselves to blame.

Overall, Shadow of a Dead God shows us more of who Mennik is and what drives him – and what he fears. I might go out on a limb here and say that this book may have had a theme of overcoming anxieties? Or at least face them? I don’t know, I am not very good at pointing out themes, I am mostly just here for the rides and what a ride this was.

What I am good at though (I think, maybe, potentially) is pointing out when a book is a lot of fun. And this one is a real lot of fun. The pacing continues to be tight, the mystery mysterious (but we got clues we can put together ourselves, meaning we get that wonderful AHA!! moment), and the humour has yet to miss for me.

Dying Light: Latchkey Hero – The Story So Far

On the 14th of April this year, my Latchkey Hero series has turned seven (7) years old and I am very proud of it. And to celebrate that, I decided to whip up a master post/index for everything I have so far.

Latchkey Hero 

 “On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.” – George Orwell

The fall of Harran robbed man of its humanity, and Zofia Sirota of her innocence. Finding redemption, with the city rotting away around her, seems to be a pipe dream at best, until a man falls from the skies and turns futility to hope. Either that, or he’s about to make things a whole lot worse.

Part 1: Good Intentions

Part 2: The Road to Hell

Part 3: Call it in the Air

Side Stories

Hide and Seek

In which Kyle Crane finds it horribly difficult to stay on target and regrets having put on jeans for the day. Plus, there’s a game of Hide and Seek in the Tower’s lower levels that turned a little grim.

The Gunsmith: A Lady’s Favour

There’s a little girl in dire need of modern day magic, and still Crane tells me: “Stay here.”

Before Harran

Kyle Crane loves his job, and he’s damn good at it. Obviously, since he’s still around to take more contracts, and when the GRE approaches him for one very particular deployment, he finds it very hard to say no. But how do you prepare for Zombies? It’s not like there’s a ton of handy training material available, so Kyle decides to improvise.

Season 02: Volatile

Harran sits at the brink of a grim and unsteady future. Beaten by a ruthless storm and at the mercy of an uncaring outside world, the Zone now looks to the Tower and its three leaders for what hope it has left. Brecken, Lena, and Crane, their names now revered within the concrete walls for their shared bravery, tenacity, and dedication.

But only one of the three is insane enough to set out in search of that desperately needed hope: an abandoned shelter beneath the luxurious domes of Old Town, where whispers herald a much greater threat than the remnants of Rais’ legacy.

Part 1: Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

Part 2: Thousand Mile Night

Part 3: Ashes of Eden

Part 4: Through the Fire

Epilogue: Happy Birthday

Season 03: #SaveHarran

Hidden in the sprawling outskirts of the crumbling Harran metropolis, sits the key to a cure. Supposedly, anyway. Not like it matters much, since Kyle Crane is done waiting for the outside world to fix this mess and hasn’t ever shied away from trying his luck where there’s often none to be found.

Part 1: Insert Coin

Part 2: No Gods or Kings. Only Man.

Part 3: Nothing but a straight line

Part 4: End Game


The Sequel: Monsters, We.

a paper crane, a paper tiger, and a metal scorpion strung up on a red string, with the crane at the top and the scorpion last. they hang in front of a wooden door.

There are three kinds of people in this collapsed world. The many who’ve accepted their lot. The rest that claws for survival at any cost. And those rare few who continue to live unabashedly—shamelessly—even with their humanity a fragile thing.

Aiden finds Villedor at what he hopes to be the end of a too-long search for what’s left of his family; an end to a life he lived alone, one muddy, dark road at a time.

It’s all he’s ever known and he’s far too young to be so weary.

Kyle Crane, his Paper Tiger by his side, seeks Villedor in a final effort to turn back time on a curse that threatens to unravel them both; to make them forget what they so stubbornly kept on living for.

It’s far too hard to fight and, sometimes, forgetting is a tempting mercy.

Kyle Crane; Flares

The Harran evening sky, backed by a mountain. A flare arches across the purple and blue sky.
Kyle Crane standing in front of a neon SAFE sign, a flare gun held high as he fires it.
Kyle Crane, Commissioned from Martina Belli

Did you break but never mend?
Did it hurt so much~
  you thought it was the end?

Lose your heart, but don’t know when~
And no one cares,
    there’s no one there~

But did you see the flares in the sky?
Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes?

Did you see the sparks filled with hope?
    You are not alone~
‘Cause someone’s out there,
     sending out flares~

Kyle Crane, the man who saved my life.

Kyle Crane looking to the sky

I’ve been looking for an artist to bring this to life for me for years. Then @drawinglinestoconstellations happened. And I found peace. 

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow of a Dead God

Caution: Works a bit like catnip on Taff.

Cover of the novel Shadow of a Dead God

By Patrick Samphire. Find out more about it here. :3
442 pages

It was only supposed to be one little job – a simple curse-breaking for Mennik Thorn to pay back a favour to his oldest friend. But then it all blew up in his face. Now he’s been framed for a murder he didn’t commit.

So how is a second-rate mage, broke, traumatized, and with a habit of annoying the wrong people, supposed to prove his innocence when everyone believes he’s guilty?

Mennik has no choice if he wants to get out of this: he is going to have to throw himself into the corrupt world of the city’s high mages, a world he fled years ago. Faced by supernatural beasts, the mage-killing Ash Guard, and a ruthless, unknown adversary, it’s going to take every trick Mennik can summon just to keep him and his friend alive.

But a new, dark power is rising in Agatos, and all that stands in its way is one damaged mage…

Taff’s squee rating: 4 1/2 hearts!
What’s inside: A witty detective who cannot catch a break, a finely crafted magic system anchored solidly in its own world, charming side characters (including a young girl who’ll carve out your kneecaps with a knife if you look at her wrong), and a fast-paced and clever mystery to solve.
Trigger warnings: Lotsa magical violence with plenty of gore.

Mennik Thorn can give Harry Dresden a run for his money; not only when it comes to collecting bruises in the name of rent, but also in how he’s hell-bent on doing the right thing. He has undeniable charm. He’s funny. He’s loyal. He’s actually pretty dang good at what he does, but there’s always something waiting to go wrong and challenge him.

Shadow of a Dead God excels not only in Mennik though (which it does, his character type is like catnip for me), but it boasts a lot of intriguing characters on top of that, along with fantastic world-building. Agatos is a carefully crafted fictional city in a setting that feels alive far beyond Mennik’s (Nik’s) story, and the magic system we’re given is just chef’s kiss. And I’m not just talking about the practical applications of it, but also its origin and the consequences it has on society at large. Plus, the Ash Guard? Yeah, they’re probably one of my favourite bits about the book, and I really really really hope I’ll see more of them in the second one (which I got waiting for me on my bookshelf right now). The practical applications of the magic are fantastic, too, and Patrick Samphire has a real knack for writing action sequences that aren’t only thrilling, but which also teach us a lot about the world.

I’ve had an amazing time reading this and can honestly say it always put up a fight when I had to put it down to get some sleep. Highly recommend!

Book Review: We Are Not Angels

Angels come to Earth to teach us a lesson. We teach one right back. It involves mercy, a lot of time spent in bed (and on a squeaky-wheeled office chair), and trust.

Cover of the novel We Are Not Angels

By Nadine Little. Buy it on Amazon! :3
203 pages

Every monster has a weakness. Even angels.

Maia loved dystopian video games but now she’s playing one for real in the streets of Edinburgh. Forced to survive a global purge as humanity’s punishment for abusing the planet, Maia dreams of fighting back instead of cowering in the shadows. When she clashes swords with Hunter, an act of mercy grants her wish.

A weapon that hurts them. A chance for rebellion.

But that act of mercy also leads to a wounded Hunter on the floor of her refuge. Can a savage warrior angel from a culture of pain and dominance be tamed by a tiny, gentle human? Or is this one game Maia is destined to lose?

Taff’s squee rating: 4 1/2 hearts!
What’s inside: Enemies to lovers, a global rebellion brought on by the courage of an ordinary young woman, sexual tension you wanna rub your face in, sex, and lovely disability and trans rep!
Trigger warnings: Violence and child death.

We are not Angels has got to have one of the best title drops I have come across in a very very long time. No, seriously, when the title got dropped I put the book down on my knees and stared at my dog with that face. You know. That face. The Oh, You face. I still think about it sometimes to this day and I think I finished reading the book two months ago?

And you know what else I still think about? How much of a fun read it was from front to back. I got excited for my bedtime reading hour every night, not only because I really needed to know what Maia would be getting up to next, but also what more I could learn about Nadine Little’s angels. There’s character and care in everything in this book; from Maia, our POV character and hero who is so human and squeaks I’m sorry at the murderous angel who just tried to kill her, to Hunter, our otherworldly warrior who knows nothing but pain and war, to Steph, who rocks a wheelchair, a rainbow wig, and who will face a monster head on to make sure everyone understands Maia’s heart is precious, all the way down to every single interaction between the characters and the world building that holds it all up.

I am very much a fan and will be carrying Maia, Hunter, and Steph around in my head for a very long time.

APHELION: Episode four, Disaster Bound

In a world where tech runs off the concept of one’s soul and where dragons steady cosmic scales, heroes are shaped in the shadow of an ancient grudge. 

Looking for a free-to-read cyberpunk-lite/aetherpunk with a side of zombie apocalyse, soul magic, and slow burn? Plus, a hero with too much heart and too little sense, a sassy cat, and lots of hope in dark places? Then look no further.

You’ll get to meet this charming dork:

very vexed Varrett Vild Vickers
a very vexed Varrett Vild Vickers, by Martina Belli

Horizon’s Crown was an Earther triumph; a stage at the frontier of known space, a city of hope and dreams and infinite potential.
     Then one man bit another.
Now, under the watchful eye of its orbital island, it straddles the line between dead and dying; a city of nightmares and endless sorrow.

Varrett Vild Vickers belongs into a pilot’s chair. He’s meant to dodge asteroids, to race dragons, not chase credits so he can pay rent while HC’s major demographic clicks its teeth at him and tries to eat his face off. But it’s fine. Really. He copes.
     Or that’s what he tells himself, all the way until a woman falls from the sky and turns his already upside-down life very sharply sideways.

Armed with nothing but her worst-kept secret and a ledger of lies, Sophya Soulwright tricks her way into Horizon’s Crown, looking for redemption and for meaning to a life she never held dear.
     What she finds instead is a city trying its hardest to live, and a man who courts death every step of the way. He’s infuriating, tireless, and he’s her only hope.

They wish they’d never met.

Episode One: Good Intentions

Episode Two: Welcome to Horizon’s Crown

Episode Three: Any Other Way

Episode Four: Disaster Bound

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