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MelHay has commented on (152) products.

Stone of Fire: An Arkane Thriller Book 1 by J. F. Penn

MelHay, August 23, 2015

*I purchased this book.

The Keepers are being murdered and strange, marvelous miracles are happening at these moments. The stones they keep safe are coveted and taken by another. The Apostles Stone. Morgan Sierra, a psychologist at Oxford University, is now approached about the stone she wears around her neck, along with her sister's. There is a group out to retrieved them all, in time for the comet that last was around Earth at the time of Jesus' Resurrection and the power of Pentecost bestowed on the stones. Morgan is approached by another group, the ARKANE, to join them with finding the stones and keeping them safe, along with her and her sister's family. She has nine days to find the remainder of the twelve stones for her sister and niece's lives. ARKANE is involved and she'll need the help and resources of ARKANE to do so. ARKANE is willing to offer it.

I'm hooked on listening to these books. Veronica shines in her talent of voices. There are male and female voices along with different accents. She easily differentiates personality and tones with each person. There is a moment where she even reads an article from a news paper and has the formal sound of the news. Veronica uses the emotion and rush of the moments in her voice to accent the rush of the moment. When things get moving, and hearts pumping, Veronica does speak with the speed of the moment. This is an older audio and there are moments the vocal sounds a teeny tiny bit of a twang to the voice.

There are different POV's in the chapters broken by the heading of place and time. There is also a long pause between these sections so they do stand out in audio as they would in reading. That long pause is nice to transition me to knowing there is another section highlighting someone else coming, but at times I felt the long pause meant my device shut off.

We meet Morgan Sierra for the first time. She works at Oxford University, but as much as she enjoys her job there feels to be something missing in the day to day work for Morgan. Until she is involved on a mission with the ARKANE to find all the Apostle's stones, and save her sister and niece. We get a glimpse at her life's experiences with the current dangerous events she's living through. And there are hints of things that's happened to her, that I'm hoping we get to see in future books.

We also meet Jake Timber for the first time. He's not so sure about working with an outsider, but finds that Morgan is intelligent and more than capable to take care of herself in dangerous situations. He finds he's even a bit attracted to her. Jake sounds like a wonderful person. I love how he struggles with his job and mission he's to accomplish and his internal cares. It's a rough spot to be in. But he is a hoot at times! Sometimes it calls for extreme actions, and Jake does it. We do get a view of his family past as well. I really do like Jake, and even meeting him here he sticks out for me.

Jake and Morgan end up making a great team.

Penn has a great way of writing a thriller where we get the evil doers POV as well. I like that we get to see the human side of the man who wants these powerful stones, and why. But what he does to get them. *chills* He's in need of help. But! There is mention of another entity here that is skating the trails of Morgan and Jake. We learn just enough to make us curious of this other group, and that they are dangerous. But not much more on them or why they are after the stones, or any powerful religious artifact. This entity feels like an extra that will lead to more in the future.

Penn has an amazing way of describing the city through the religious view and feel of the people. I find this attractive as it tells of the city and it's personality along with the people here, setting a whole stage easily. However at times my interest waned in some of the religious descriptions. I was really glad Penn didn't waste time on the uneventful trips but focuses on the search. The search of the cathedrals and citadels is where she blends in their history and the story, along with great action. Who the characters are is why they are here, so she accents their strengths to get the job done.

This is the first book of the series and well worth a try if you are a fan of Indiana Jones type adventure/searches along with the feel of The Da Vinci Code. Wow, what a blend.
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Ink: A Mermaid Romance: A Falling in Deep Collection Novella by Melanie Karsak

MelHay, August 23, 2015

*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.

Even though other mer's who have done their drywalking say the humans are kind, Ink hates them for the death she's seen them bring to her world. She wishes she could let loose the banished siren song on the fisherman killing and harming her sea. But now, she must take her exiled year of drywalking, on human land. Hal a Nagual, a rare human-animal shifter, visits King Creon as he's breaking the accord that was put in place by Ink's deceased father. Creon is infuriated and sends Hal to the shallow waters. Ink knows the Shallow Waters will kill Hal, so she does what she believes her father would have wanted and she knows is right. In doing so she learns news of a new war coming to her people.

Kristin once again is an outstanding voice actress. The determined personality of Ink is solid in her voice. She does many male voice tones along with females in this vast world, again making it easy for us to listen and differentiate the characters. And I really like when Ink thinks something, Kristin makes it sound as though it's vibrating in her head, this way we know she's thinking it and not actually saying the words. Though the reaction would be strong if others heard what she thinks from time to time.

Melanie once again hits the ground running in the first chapter. It's packed full with feelings of Ink on humans, her ruling Uncle, father and mother, and implying her thoughts on her dry walking starting tonight. However, I think it might have been a bit to fast.

This is a short story and a tremendous amount of story and world packed into it. Melanie has done an amazing job of bringing a whole world to us. But at times I felt like the story was to short for the size of the world and characters created. I would have loved a few more moments with them in some parts of the story. And other moments there was so much happening at the same time, all the connections in one spot firing away. It might have been only a few words that connected outside things to this one event, but they were there.

Aaah, the characters... Ink is a strong woman. She does what she must for her people to survive. The waters of the world are poisoned by pollution and the mer-folk are affected by it. The mer-people are also at odds with others of their kind. To try and help her people and live in peace, she's agreed to marry a man she would rather hate. But! Before she is betrothed she meets a stunning man that she feels drawn to from the first moment their eyes meet. He's a Nagaul. Nagauls are other shifters that live on land. Hal's animal form is an alligator. Dangerous! Just the type of animal he is sends the shivers down my spine.

Hal has come to talk to the king of the Atlantic mers. He has a treaty with the previous king, Ink's father, but King Creon is not of the same standing as his brother was. Hal does get to warn Ink, in a quick moment, that a new war is coming. And in this moment Ink realizes she's drawn to him, as she's never been drawn to a man before, so she shares the deepest secret she has and has never shared with another. That she sings the siren song.

It seems there are those who have their own plans for Ink and how they are going to use her. But Ink has her own plans and placement of honor. She will do as she needs to for her people. Ink learns all the truths of her parents and the plans that some have for her.

Quick romance story to enjoy. I haven't read mermaids in a while and it was fun to read/listen to this one.
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Gates of Hell: An Arkane Thriller Book 6 by J. F. Penn

MelHay, August 23, 2015

*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.

Adam wants the Key. The key to open the gates of Hell and to cleanse the earth. He's demanding the last of the Remnant to give it to him. But the man of devote faith couldn't think of letting that be unleashed that on the world, so he does the one thing he can think of.

Morgan has received a package in her dead father's handwriting, along with another's she doesn't recognize. An ancient book with a loose paper of symbols in her father's script. The person that sent it to her, the last living member of the Remnant, was found dead that morning. The further Morgan digs in this case, the more she learns of her father and the secret organization he was a part of that protected an old secret of the Hebrew. She has three days before the planets align to race a man determined to release the darkness on the world before he gets the Key and to the Gates. Morgan must find the Key first to stop him. But can she solve the answers to the puzzles before Adam and not let the desire for revenge get in the way?

Veronica is one of the best at voicing different voices and accents to make it easy to different characters in a story. I love how Veronica knows when to speed up, then slow down. She accents the scenes as they go, making my heart race in chases and pause in other moments to have the reader feel the impact. One example is a moment where Jake starts to crawl through snakes. Veronica does an amazing job with the pacing in her voice here. A moment you want to creep through unheard, and unnoticed yet I want to hurry. My heart started to race but I know I needed to breath slow with Jake to get there, and not hurt. Then the fast movement around him! Veronica's voice brings this across.

J.F. Penn's prologues are mesmerizing, intoxicating... so well written to draw a whole story in and of itself. This prologue gripped me by the event that happens and tells of what story could come. She uses every word to tell of so many different pieces of information. Wow. I'm amazed by it!

And the writing to follow is nothing short of what we get in the prologue.

Thrilling, action, adventure. All in one place. The descriptions of the sights we see are amazing - diving in the Dead Sea, the city of Barcelona, and the artwork viewed. So beautiful. Not only do we get the stunning view but the emotional reaction of the characters at the sight. This really hits home the beauty, or horror, of it all. The action! Oh there is always some sort of obstacle or attack at every turn Morgan makes. She thinks she's ahead of the bad guys, but not really.

This is book 6 of the series. I don't usually pick up books in the middle of a series, but I listened to a novella that was stand alone as well as in this series and loved the settings. So I had to dive into the series. But I found it easy to dive in. There are brief drops of the last case with Morgan and Jake, where he got hurt. Even cases that Morgan had been on without Jake. This gives us a nice introduction into the book and world of ARKANE. Not only does this give me a feel for the history leading into this book, but also makes me want to go back to those previous books to live through the heart racing moments. But then we go back near where a previous book took place, so it all comes together yet you don't have to have been there the first time. We even get a quick overview into the ARKANE. Arcane Religious Knowledge And Numinous Experience Institute.

The book is the characters and the characters are the book. They are all so closely related and well fit together for the cases they are on. The lives of the characters and what they are brilliant at is exactly what brings them to this job and the cases they are on, even personal ones like this as Morgan was taught to look for these things from her father and he his before him. There is a character we come across later in the story. He knows a bit more than we expected. He's been trained, in a small fashion, for what the Remnant's were keeping secret. I love the magic he brings forth to us.

This book dives a bit deeper into Morgan's history. We get to see her family raising along with her job before joining the ARKANE, her ancestry, and experiences in life. Even her father and his obsession with numerology and translating numbers to letters, and how he died three years ago. Nice to learn all this and give a deeper background to her.

There is more to the story than a personal case and saving the world. Morgan worries about her partner and his return to field work. He had sustained severe injuries in their last case together and she worries if she can trust him, will he be strong enough mentally and physically. And another worry, has she changed without him and will they be able to work together again. This is an underlying worry for her, and it shows for Jake as well. But there comes a point that they will have to make their chooses and move on. In this token, I think the book is readying Morgan and her partner for what they are going to have to deal with next. Which there will be something if the Directors words are true in the beginning of the book.

I enjoy this style of thriller reads. I wanted to listen to this book in one sitting, yet I wanted to pause to absorb all I was learning and piece it together myself. It's got a paranormal feel to the religious aspects and has caught my attention with the writing, adventures, and dangerous action present. I'll be adding the previous books, and any to come, to my library.
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The Hidden Institute by Brand Gamblin
The Hidden Institute

MelHay, August 16, 2015

Cliffy sees a man die, the man with him offers Cliffy a chance of a lifetime. Cliffy takes it but, being at The Hidden Institute, he's made some enemies of power. He's set to go to a ball in which being barely a freshman he would not be sent on this test. At that ball Cliffy learns the dangerous Silks are present. The Silks make it their life to find and expose those that graduate from The Hidden Institute and lie about who they are. Cliffy can't pass on the chance to learn who the Crone, and leader of the Silks, is. Slowly Cliffy uncovers secret groups in the Institute, one in particular that is hired to kill once they graduate.

The Malcolm Rutherford Holden Institute skates on the outskirts of the law as it's hidden from others. And they are criminals of a sense with falsifying information and histories of their students. The school has a huge mysterious feel of it's own as we enter. In a way it reminds me of a Hogwarts when we first enter, but for fake nobles. It's really fascinating and has it's own history, enemy, rules, and much more to it.

I really love the creation of the servant education here. The Hidden Institute has a magical draw for me with the well created world and history here. Even the solid personality of Dizzy is wonderful. He's bold and knows the ways yet he's not fully conceded in demanding for his own needs. He has a respect for the help and what they do. Yet he wants to be more than the low Nobel position the Institute teaches them to be.

There is a mechanical essence present to the story. It's not really steampunk or overly mechanical. The term Brand has attached to the genre is spot on, Neo-Victorian. There's a Victorian era feel to the story yet a bit more. There's an automation to take care of the needs of Dizzy and Cliffy at the Institute and in their rooms. lol. The automation helps in speech, posture, and to needs of chair opening and such. There are a few additional mechanicals in the story as well. I really like the idea of how they 'know' information.

Cliffy is a street urchin through and through. He doesn't take well from the command of others. He is independent and use to having a bit of control over what he does. The story seems that he loses that, yet he has to learn to have greater control over himself. Cliffy is an inquisitive boy. He's not afraid to back down from anything, or anyone, and it finds him in mischievous situations. I really like Cliffy. He has a way about him. He's not a bad kid from the streets. He's independent yet has a heart and cares.

We get to attend classes with Cliffy when he starts. I found I really enjoyed what each teacher brings to the students. The intent of what the students are to learn, the deep down reason and moral they need to know. The way the teachers teach these major points is very interesting. They use different ways than we would think so the students learn by doing. It sticks with Cliffy and the reader greatly, along with keeping the action and events interesting and important for later. And how the other students interact with Cliffy, all makes it intriguing.

Brand does an amazing job of drawing a world and details of why things are as they are crafted to the way of living of the Royals and all around. I love this full circle creation and connection.
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Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
Artificial Absolutes

MelHay, August 16, 2015

Devin proposes to his love, Sarah. Her reaction of freezing sends him down a path that brings out the past he has been working hard to put in a forgotten part of his mind. Jane knows her brother and herself are living in the shadows of themselves and trying to be what their highly influential father wants them to be. After a day at the boring job in her fathers business, Jane decides to stop and see her dear friend she can talk to, and enjoys her debates with. To her surprise, Adam is unconscious and being carried out the window by blue robots! Jane is now on the run. She calls her brother, whom she was once closer to. When the police don't believe her, records are changed, and Devin is framed for attempting to kill his own father, Jane finds herself on the run with Devin. Devin's past connections to the Networld and the fighting he lived come to be extremely important. Devin now is spiraling down the Networld while racing through space to help to save his sister, find her dear friend Adam, find out what happened to Sarah, and maybe clear his name.

The first chapter I wasn't sure. The second chapter was interesting with Jane's conversation topics with Adam.

But then! At the end of this second chapter!

O.O *jaw dropping*

I was shocked at what we saw happen to Adam and how Jane is on the run. There are hints that there is more that relates to Devin from the first chapter.

I'm hooked! I'm ready to go on the run with them!

Cyberpunk slams into science fiction here as these siblings lives spin out of control and they go on the search and run for their lives. Awesome! I really enjoyed where this story went with the science fiction. It's a soft scifi with internet, high tech security in buildings, space ship travel, different worlds and stations, and artificial intelligence. All with action!

I love that this is a brother/sister team. There isn't a love interest involved between them, but they do have love interests (Sarah and Adam). With this being a brother/sister team brings a whole new dynamic to the story that I enjoyed. Jane and Devin are crazy together. The things they think of to save themselves and each other are at times dangerous, but when you have no other option...why not? I didn't have to worry about the romance element but could enjoy the banter and the caring of siblings for each others safety.

This story is cool as there are a few missions within that we finish as we come to the overall mystery of who's after Devin and why then dig into the depths of what is happening with 'people'. This is fun as I feel like we are getting somewhere and getting information constantly! There are still questions as to how they are found by 'No Name'. It all becomes clearer and clearer as we go. And we get to see different worlds while it's all happening!

The one thing that I was impressed with was the story telling POV's. Mostly this book is from Jane and her brother, Devin, point of views. There are other view points present through the book that open up the world and events to us in a different way. I really liked this. Also, the book has flashbacks to points in lives that are very important to the characters. This, too, was done in a way that you knew it was a flashback and could see the importance of the connection to the character along with not getting confused. The memories drew me to the characters on a more emotional level. I really liked the way this was portrayed by the characters. Very neat!

This is a light, easy to understand science fiction full of adventure and action for us to enjoy. This is exactly what I was looking for and was thrilled to find. There is always trouble somewhere for our team. How can the pursuer know where they are so fast? Well, that's a great thing that comes out as we read. The book had a feel of a few things like the movie iRobot. (Which I enjoyed and enjoyed the story line here too.)

I'll have to see about adding the rest of the books to my library.
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