All posts by Nancy E. Dunne

About Nancy E. Dunne

Nancy is a certified American Sign Language/English interpreter, a novelist, and a sighthound owner who is currently living in South Carolina. An avid reader from a young age, she is currently writing every time she has a moment and reading as much as she possibly can...while still managing to eat and sleep.

Hounded: Book One in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Well, it finally happened. After six years of “Have you read the Iron Druid?” “Is your IW named Oberon?” and various other questions from patrons at the three renaissance festivals where I work (with the Hounds of East Fairhaven), I have finally started this series and NOW I GET IT.

I found it hard going at first because urban fantasy is not usually my jam – I’m more into elves and dwarves and dragons that live in the magical forest than I am ancient Irish gods and monsters and druids that live in Arizona. Sticking with it, though, was one of the best decisions I’ve made in awhile. If you are a fan of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, this series is for you – though it’s a little easier to focus, since it is only one pantheon, more or less.

There are also werewolves and vampires as well as witches – but our main character is Atticus O’Sullivan, a 1000 year old druid currently hanging out in the guise of a 20-something owner of a book and tea shop. But let’s get to the most important character – that amazing wolfhound, Oberon! He and Atticus communicate with each other in a way that I wish I could communicate with my girls!

Atticus has made an enemy of the Irish god of love, Aengus Óg, and this novel deals with the fall out from that misunderstanding. You almost need to be familiar with the Tuatha Dé Danann, the first folk of Irish mythology, or at least be ready to google. I might recommend Mythopedia – it is one of my go-to references these days. (Or if you are a language nerd like me, you will want to stop every time you have a name like this to find out how to pronounce it and then you’ll get waylaid saying it out loud over and over…but I digress). There are other fantastic characters that are lesser known, such as Flidais and Bres who will be easily recognized by those familiar with Irish mythology.

Atticus is a likeable enough character – but he is also very well written. There are times that I would forget that he was really over 1,000 years old, and other times that it was very clear. The entire novel is a tight, raucous ride that will leave you breathless and wanting more. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to grab my wolfhounds and go get the next book in the series.

Faugh a Ballagh!

The Savior (BDB #17) – J.R. Ward

I actually finished this book before Heir to Chaos, but I had to really spend some time thinking about it before I could review it. Unlike The Thief, which I found to be formulaic and containing characters that didn’t peak my interest, The Savior was about a character I had forgotten but grew to love, Murhder.

Murhder, the only Brother ever expelled from the BDB, returns in this book after seeing an image of a woman that he feels compelled to help. This need leads him along familiar paths to places and relationships better forgotten from his past, and exposes cracks in the BDB that need attention. This book felt like a return to the old days – maybe just because Murhder is from that era of the BDB timeline – and I highly recommend it.

I’m trying to learn to avoid spoilers, but if you have read along with the BDB until this point, you know who Murhder is and why he is important. I think that this book really spoke to me, though, not because of the vampire character but because of Sarah, his love interest. She is brave, she is smart, and she breathes new life into the dark corners of the Mansion. She reminds us that the Brothers’ mates are forces of nature unto themselves, and she is a character that has stuck with me long after I finished the book. She is who we all need to be, putting the needs of the many ahead of her own. I was glad to see this return to strong characters and a brilliantly interwoven plot after being disappointed in The Thief.

The Heir to Chaos – The Unforgiven Series, Book 2

If you have read my reviews for The Caged Kingdom or Ivloch, then you know what a fan I have become of M. A. Price’s Brodanna universe and the Unforgiven series. The second book in the series, The Heir to Chaos, is no exception. I tried so hard to read it slowly but that just wasn’t to be. Once the action kicks in you just have to hang on and go with it.

I’m so bad at spoilers, but I have to at least try to talk about some of my favorite moments – one of them even led me to tweet to the author to tell her that I FELT the gut punch that Mara takes when she works out… uh oh, I was about to do it again, but let’s just say she figures out something that is integral to getting her up and moving after the events of The Caged Kingdom.

The story is tight, there are no unnecessary twists or turns, every character you meet you will fall in love with – even the baddies! If you’ve read my Nature Walker Trilogy then you know that the idea of mind control is fascinating to me and so I found myself pouring over the description of the Unforgiven and Mara’s struggles with Xave, just to see how Price handles this. The answer? Beautifully. Seamlessly.

This is a story world that holds me, spellbound, and this installment has a twist that I did NOT see coming. If you haven’t yet read the prequel, Ivloch, then do yourself a favor and read it before this one. It adds another dimension to his character and to the story as a whole, and you will find yourself thinking, “Oh, that’s why….happened! I see the link to …. now!” And that, my friends, is a hallmark of truly gifted writing.

My ONLY complaint is that the next book isn’t out until January!

Ivloch – The Caged Kingdom Prequel Novella

It seemed like one of the cruelest twists of fate that this man wouldn’t get to say goodbye to the one he loved so desperately. A punishment Ivloch couldn’t even begin to imagine.

Once again, author M.A. Price has kept me GLUED to my e-reader. Ivloch is a prequel to The Caged Kingdom series but it is SO. MUCH. MORE. THAN. THAT. Y’ALL! I feel like I need to be even more careful than normal because me = spoilers, but I have been reading this book for a lot longer than it would normally take to read a novella because I KNEW THINGS and the way I feel about those things – and the characters that Price has created, and the amazing and interesting world that she has made for them to inhabit – I just did not want to get to the end, but I did and…well, [SPOILERS] but it was perfect and awful and beautiful and heart-wrenching and…I’m about to do it again, so I will be quiet.

Ivloch tells us the backstory, if you will, of the events that happen in The Caged Kingdom. We meet the titular main character, Ivloch, and watch as he gets swept up in the events that gave birth to the Guild that was such an integral part of The Caged Kingdom. I was not expecting to like this as much as I did, honestly, because while important and necessary, backstories sometimes end up as information dumps. But this – this was beauty. This was like pulling back the curtain to watch the sun rise, just for a moment, before the day gets started. Read it AFTER you have read The Caged Kingdom. Now, I mean now. Go. Click here and get your copy.

Also, watch for the next in this series, The Heir to Chaos.

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

I must admit, I am not sure where to start to review this book. It came to me as prep material for a job I was doing, and I started reading it as I do all prep material – skimming.

That did not last long. This story is one of love and loss and the very essence of what makes us who we are. The author’s gift with word choice, pacing, character development and plot twists would be enough to keep me intrigued, but it is so much more than that.

This novel follows the story of Axl and Beatrice, two ordinary people in a completely extraordinary situation. No one in their world can remember anything that has taken place in the past – everything is in the moment, and a thick mist or fog has fallen over their land. As they start out on a quest, they discover the reason for the memory loss at the same time that they are rediscovering themselves and each other.

UGH! I’ve said before that I am one of the WORST with spoilers, and as with so many of the books I’ve read I am afraid to tell you too much – you MUST go into this book knowing very little about it, and let Ishiguro whisk you away and tell you his tale.

So good – SO GOOD. Grab your copy from Amazon today and wander through misty post-Arthurian England with Axl and Beatrice. You will not be disappointed.

The Caged Kingdom, by M.A. Price

I just finished this debut novel from author (and Twitter Friend) M. A. Price and y’all…I am blown away.

When you spend as much time as I do living in your novel world, it is sometimes hard to get your head around someone else’s universe, but the world of Broadanna immediately pulled me in and held me, spellbound and curious. Price has created characters that not only made me care but saw me expressing surprise, sadness, and even support – vocally – as I read.

Please take a moment here to feel sorry for Mr. Dunne, as I often read at night in bed while he is trying to sleep.

The pacing of the story is fast and tight – I had to make myself put the book down on several occasions because I needed sleep. I also very much appreciated the multiple POV format of the book – it only adds to the story, for me, to know what other characters are thinking and what they make of the action of the plot. I write in multiple POV so this book felt familiar from the start.

I know that I am not discussing much about the plot, but that’s because I have EPIC LEVEL problems with spoiler revelation and I don’t want to ruin anything about this book for you. Please, do yourself a favor and grab a copy today on Amazon. You will NOT be sorry!

The Thief (BDB #16)

** spoiler alert ** WARNING: SPOILERS IN REVIEW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK 

Okay, I am a HUGE JR Ward fan and I think I have read all that she has written in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I say I think I have because it seemed that there were a lot of new-ish Legacy books that came out in a flurry, and I don’t know that I read those.

I wanted to like this one, I really did, but I had several things working against me from the start. Namely, Assail and Sola were never my favorites. I couldn’t see Sola as a 3D character – she seemed a little flat before. But as a loyal fan, I got The Thief and read it. Holy hot mess, Batman.

First, I will say that my favorite of the Brothers is V, and you can take that to mean whatever you like – and I did not even recognize him in this book. While I didn’t think that what he was planning to do at the penthouse was cheating, exactly, it was presented as such. I mean, was it cheating when he and Butch were there? Nope. The penthouse serves its purpose in V’s life and the fact that he can share that with Jane makes them tight, IMO. Butch too, for that matter. I love the relationship that the four of them (V, Butch, Marissa, and Jane) have – it’s one thing I love about Ward’s writing and the world she has created: at the end of the day they are family.

Yeah, not so much in this one. The closest thing I saw to the family dynamic from previous books was V attending the Brothers meeting wearing Jane’s My Little Pony pajama pants. And okay, let’s just think about THAT for a minute: How on earth is that even physically possible, that an enormous Brother would not know that he is wearing his shellren’s trousers? Please.

Also – the ending came as a surprise. Not in a plot twist kind of way, but in a “wait, did I fall asleep and accidentally click to the end of the book” way. While I understand that this is a series, and there will be more about the shadows and Throe, etc., in upcoming books – I honestly don’t care. This book did not make me care enough – it just seemed to hit a word/page count and drop off a cliff. 

Overall, I would recommend reading this because there is some pretty crazy info about the Fade, the Scribe Virgin, and other stuff that you will not get in future books if you miss this one. But don’t expect it to be like the old days of the BDB. Something has changed, and not entirely for the better.

Return to Sender: From the Files of Pyramid Investigations, by Tony Daniel

returntosenderEvery town has its ghost stories, and Atlanta is no exception. Crockett and Memphis Pete are just two ordinary guys caught up in them. The only thing is Crockett has become an unwitting medium who smokes too much and Pete is the reanimated mummy of a priest of Osiris obsessed with Elvis Presley. Together they help the various spirits of Atlanta and its environs find their way home.  When a legendary lost Confederate shipment of gold becomes the target of a voodoo master and a delusional historian, it’s up to the two hapless paranormal investigators to do whatever they can to make sure the good guys win. It’s a race against the clock, and time is almost up. (Goodreads.com)

 

Y’all. Here’s the thing: GO OUT AND GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. Okay, that wasn’t the thing I was thinking of – really it’s more that I don’t read crime fiction very often, but this one has the hook that will get me into most other genres: the paranormal.

Crockett and Pete are an excellent duo, and I mentioned to the author yesterday that after reading this I now hear everything in Mama Lady’s accent, so there’s that too. Excellent character development, with the exception MAYBE of Lucinda, but that’s not her fault that she’s a bit of a secondary story arc that is thrust into the main spotlight about halfway through. In fact, if I had any complaint about this novel, it might have been that I think the author could have developed the story in this into several novels, like a series. But that could be due to my own habit of writing books that are way too long for normal people to read.

In truth, this book was an easy read – because the scenes just flow into each other effortlessly, like a good play where you don’t realize you’ve left beat one and moved into beat two until you’re on the verge of beat three. The author clearly did his homework – since it is set in Atlanta I knew a lot of the places mentioned in the novel and never ONCE did I think anything like, “Hey, wait, he put the Varsity in the middle of Oakland Cemetary.” The characters, as I mentioned above, are compelling. I know that someone has worked hard on a character when I hear a different voice in my head as I’m reading.

I can’t seem to say anything that I want to say without spoilers, so I will just give you some bullet points that were highlights for me:

  • Peggy. Y’all. Just Peggy.
  • The depth of interaction between our detectives and Jimmy warmed my heart and broke it a few times.
  • The intricacy of writing two characters who speak in a very distinctive accent AND GETTING IT RIGHT.  (I tried that with Teeand in my Orana Chronicles novels and instead of sounding like a LOTR dwarf my British husband said he was a cross between Yorkshire and Scotland.)
  • Creating two distinct voices for a – okay, yeah – hapless detective like Crockett and the force of nature that is Pete.
  • PETE! Y’all. Love me some Pete (but then who doesn’t?).
  • The action at Stone Mountain. I could see it in my head and I haven’t been to Stone Mountain in decades.

Seriously – go read this RIGHT NOW. I’m already badgering the author for more.

*I purchased this book on my own, and am making this review on my own. I was not asked by the author or publisher to review this title.

The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

hunger gamesI don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that reading this trilogy changed my perspective on my life and the world around me. I think if I said that about the movies, that would be a lie, so I won’t say that.

These three books introduce us to a dystopian Earth – specifically the United States – after a massive war. The US has been renamed Panem and is divided into 12 districts, starting with 1 which is the most wealthy and going down to 12 which is a mining district filled with low socio-economics and poverty and all that fun stuff.

I can’t even separate them into their individual novels because I read them back to back like one long story. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, grows up over the course of the three novels – even though I think they only span three years. There was an uprising back in the day, you see, and after it was ended by the ruling class (as you would expect), they devised a yearly remembrance that would serve to keep something like that from ever happening again: The Hunger Games. Each district would put forth a tribute – a teenager, who would then participate in a reality-show-gone-wrong combat trial against all the other tributes. When I say combat, I mean to the death. Death, broadcast live to all the districts. Like what might happen if you combined Big Brother and Survivor.

Katniss, being of age, goes to the selection of the tribute knowing that she or her best friend/boyfriend Gage might end up as tribute, but it is worse than she can even imagine: her younger sister Primrose’s name is called. Unable to bear that thought, Katniss volunteers as tribute in place of her sister and the swap is allowed. From there, the first book (The Hunger Games) takes us through Katniss’s first Hunger Games in which she turns the rules of the game on their collective head. There are two tributes that make it through to the end rather than one, and as such Katniss has caught the imagination of the people of Panem as well as the attention of those in district one who would subdue the rest.

Book two, Catching Fire, brings Katniss and Peeta back into the Hunger Games arena to face winners from past games – in the hopes, clearly, that one of them will defeat her and return order to the districts that are now brimming with hope. Katniss, the Girl on Fire, is becoming a symbol of hope for the people of Panem, and while she and Peeta are being trotted out as a power couple who fell in love against all odds, this is not who Katniss truly is – but Gage has lost hope in their bond. The rebellion is rising and Catching Fire in book two – with the Mockingjay, a symbol of Katniss from the first Hunger Games, as its logo. The “mockingjay” is a hybrid bird used in the conflict to carry messages long distances – you have probably heard the whistle and the song if you saw the movies. Oh, Rue! Too soon.

Finally, in book three which was named for that sweet bird and the pin that Katniss wears – Mockingjay – we see the fruits of the rebellion’s labour, and they are not pretty. Honestly, to read them I found the first book harder to make it through than the third due to the subject matter (teenagers killing other teenagers), but the movies are of course made with the flash-bang in full swing by number three. These books are hard to read at times, uplifting and depressing in equal measure, but they will remind us that if these kids can have hope, so can we. Read them, even if you have seen the movies. They are a stark reminder of what happens with absolute power, and that even the young should have a say in their society.