Caves in the Rain by Bob Bickford


Caves in the Rain by Bob Bickford
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (259 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Mike Latta can’t forgive himself for the death of his daughter. It was a freak accident, but fathers should protect little girls from the bad things that can hurt them. He didn’t, and a descent into divorce and the bottle has gotten rid of every happy ending he ever hoped for.

A year of solitude on an island in northern Hollow Lake, away from the booze and the reminders of grief, may be the last chance he has. There’s more than peace and quiet on the lake though, because the ghosts of a long-ago murder haunt Echo Island. If Mike can’t figure out what the ghosts want from him, it may cost another little girl her life.

This story begins with a young boy setting his mother’s bed on fire and killing her. It’s easy to tell this read has a wicked character in it. He’s a bit like a chameleon and doesn’t show his true colors often.

A recently divorced male comes to town ready to settle on an abandoned island. His daughter died and it tore his marriage apart. His wife gave him the island and he plans to try to get himself together there. The only problem is that the island has ghosts. And the ghosts follow him…

Murder surfaces several times in this story. If you have a man who has no guilt, no conscience and a volatile temper that’s a very bad combination.

Mike tries to avoid the ghosts. He doesn’t recognize them as such when he first sees them but when he gets accused of acting wildly and talking to himself by his pickup, he realizes nobody else sees them. They pester him. And one day he finally understands why.

The story moves right along and has lots of action. The killer is someone easy to hate. He also has lived in the community long enough everyone believes his side of the story. That makes it hard when a ghost has told you how they got that way. Who believes in ghosts? And how do you solve a ten year old murder?

The ending was a bit abrupt and seemed a bit false but sometimes life is strange. Nobody that evil should have survived so long…

Trouble My Bones by L. Joseph Shosty


Trouble My Bones by L. Joseph Shosty
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Historical, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (115 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In a magical land where demons walk and assassination is exalted as a moral enterprise, Elihu the Poisoner must defend a gentle innkeeper from a gang of cutthroats with only tradition and etiquette as weapons.

On Planet Whiskey, a train rockets towards the northern pole. Onboard, five men play a game of poker, but this is only the beginning of a breathtaking journey into a world of corrupt businessmen, hapless ice harvesters, and the wise, world-weary men in the middle, torn between doing what is right and playing along with an immoral system to get a bigger piece of the post-Earth dream.

A couple of cowboys running a herd to Fort Smith, Arkansas pause in the untraveled wilds to offer tribute to a mysterious creature, and in doing so anger malevolent forces which lurk there.
Trouble My Bones…

A dazzling masterpiece of storytelling, this collection contains ten of L. Joseph Shosty’s best stories. Here, you’ll find pulpy adventure yarns and quieter, more introspective pieces alike, all with Shosty’s unique blend of humor and thought-provoking ideas.

Just because a place looks quiet and ordinary doesn’t mean it won’t surprise you if given the chance.

The main character in “An Incident in Cain’s Mark” travelled to a small town in order to settle the estate of his uncle. Cain’s Mark was no ordinary town, though, and he soon realized that something dangerous happened there after dark every night. The narrator spent a generous amount of time setting the scene before anything out of the ordinary began to occur, so I felt like I’d gotten to know him and the strange community he was visiting well. Knowing that something was terribly wrong there without having any clue what it might be only made me more curious to read more.

One of the few tales in this collection that needed more development was “Crippled Sucker.” The plot followed a group of people playing a high-stakes game of poker while they discussed business deals on an alien planet. I found it difficult to keep track of all of the characters, especially once they started talking about other characters who weren’t in the room. It would have been nice to have more clues about who was who and how they all knew each other. With that being said, the storyline itself was well done and I did enjoy it overall.

“Zombie Love Song” showed what happened after humans found themselves in a long, bloody war with zomboes, which is the name the characters in this universe gave to zombies. The narrator was someone who had trouble adjusting to ordinary life after seeing and participating in so much violence. One of the things I liked the most about his storytelling was how blasé he was about things that would terrify the average person. I didn’t have to be told he’d been permanently changed by his experience. Little details like this were more than enough to show his devastation, and that made his tale impossible to put down.

Trouble My Bones was a solid collection of imaginative science fiction stories. I’d strongly recommend it to everyone who is a fan of this genre.

Justice for Violet by Maia Dylan


Justice for Violet by Maia Dylan
Retribution, Book 1
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (113 Pages)
Other Content: M/F/M, M/F, Menage, Anal Play/Anal Sex
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

There’s a war being fought on the streets of Chicago between an organized crime syndicate and a feline shifter pride resolute to stop them. Mason and Jacob Williams are Leopard shifters in the Black Ridge pride, fighting to protect the city they call home and avenge the loss of two of their own.

The shifters are sent to look for a woman their Alpha believes can help them. Thinking she’s in danger, they rush in to rescue her only to discover that Violet Riccitelli is not a woman in need of any assistance. While she’s kicking the ass of three potential attackers, they recognize her as their mate, the one they must protect above all else.

Violet is known to the people of Chicago as someone they can rely on to help when things get bad. But Violet sees herself as a woman out for justice against the man who took everything from her twelve years ago.

Can Mason and Jacob convince their mate that a future with them is worth risking everything, or will Violet’s need to see justice served end their chance before it’s begun?

I was smiling by the end of the first chapter because of Violet.

Wow…. It has been a long time since I have read a novel where the female character was self sufficient in and out of violent situations. I will try not to go into much detail but the first chapter started with Violet beating the daylights of some gangsters and having fun doing it. 😀 I am all for female characters like this, but this was not the only reason for me falling in love with these characters. Mason and Jacob were understanding and patient with her. That, for me, was rare since in some of these shifter books, the passion and the chemistry outweighs everything else.

From the get go, I realized she is a tough woman with a past. She holds grudges easily and harbors a lot of guilt. I wasn’t sure if the bond between Mason, Violet & Jacob would be permanent. Will Violet trust her mates and let them in or push them aside?

Mason and Jacob highlight the importance of mates in various parts of the book quite often. So much so that I was kind of annoyed by the repetition. As the story progressed, I was able ot look beyond this quibble. I should mention there is a lot of violence in this book. Be prepared. For me, though, book was worth it. I could not put it down.

Little Girl Gone by Margaret Fenton


Little Girl Gone by Margaret Fenton
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (254 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Claire Conover is back in the sequel to Little Lamb Lost. She has taken a 13-year-old girl into custody after she is found sleeping behind a grocery store. The girl’s murdered mother is found at a construction site owned by a family friend, then the girl disappears. Her mother worked in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham. Things only get more complicated from there. Is it possible the girl pulled the trigger? She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts, so where could she have run? Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

She works for the county child welfare division. It’s the beginning of a new school year and she knows her workload will pick up. Teachers see a lot more than they should on the line. They report injuries and she must intercede and get the child help. She gets a phone call about a young girl found sleeping in a box outside. The girl won’t tell them anything…

The first thing Claire does is try to get the girl to talk. All she gets is a name. She is lucky that the home she wants to place her in has an opening. This lady is sincere and helps the children get off to better start in life. The only problem is that as soon as she’s been fed and cleaned up, the girl skips. Then they find out her mother is dead. Did the girl kill her?

The social worker keeps trying to trace her. She meets a lot of volatile people, visits homes she wouldn’t want to live in, finds abuse in other places, and she keeps closing in on the girl. However, will she get there before the killer does?

This is a hard look at family dynamics and expectations. Children experiment, children rebel and children defy. Not all parents react the same way. Some hurt their children in their frustration. That’s inexcusable but it happens. You can tell the author has worked in social work because she’s very honest and believable as you read the story. It flows well and she keeps your mind going trying to figure out what happened before the end.

The Fortune Teller’s Secret by Ron D. Voigts


The Fortune Teller’s Secret by Ron D. Voigts
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

A dead man on a Ferris wheel and a cold-case murder take Cavendish Brown into a world of carnival exotics, ghosts, and killers.

The annual carnival comes to Maiden Falls, a small town in the West Virginia Mountains, but everything is not merry.

The ghost of a woman appears to Cavendish Brown, a carnival worker lies dead aboard a car on the Ferris wheel, and a bullied teenager plots to kill people at the carnival with a homemade bomb. More complications arise. Cavendish again butts heads with the local sheriff, Clinton Pike.

Marbella Wellingway, owner of the newspaper where Cavendish works, receives a visit from the Angel of Death. And a Fortune Teller at the carnival knows something that could forever change Cavendish’s life.

With the aid of Jane, a disturbed psychic, and Alexandra, a Goth witch, he must find the killer, help the mystery woman, and risk his life to prevent more deaths.

Cavendish gets awakened at night by a woman who asks him to help her. She’s a ghost. He sees her die and since he can’t touch her or talk to her, he’s not sure how he could solve her mystery. He also doesn’t speak of it. Everyone around him seems to have powers but he thinks this is just a dream…

Nobody is actually what they show the public world. In this case, the women have witchly powers. Cavendish has some, too, but he doesn’t know it. He was adopted and knows nothing about his real parents.

He works with Alex, who comes and drags him out of his house and takes him to the carnival. He sees a ghost again while he’s there but he tells Alex he needed to relieve himself. And when the Ferris wheel come down to the ground, there’s a dead man in the seat…

With the sheriff arresting the wrong man, the discovery of a body from years ago, and a father who misses his daughter and wants to avenge her, there’s a lot of clues and a lot of misdirection.

This author makes you believe all these powers are real and how people use them is both amazing and amusing. He also throws in a budding romance between Alex and Cavendish.

With a fortune teller who keeps trying to get Cavendish to visit her, Alex’s mother seeing the Angel of Death and knowing someone in her family is going die, a family curse, blackmail and murder, there’s plenty to keep your attention.

The story flows well, has several subplots, and it entertains well. This was a very good read.

Gone in the Night by Anna J. Stewart


Gone in the Night by Anna J. Stewart
3rd book in the Honor bound series
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

A childhood terror rears its ugly head in USA TODAY bestselling author Anna J. Stewart’s latest Honor Bound romance. Psychologist Allie Hollister is still haunted by the unsolved death of her childhood best friend. She never expects her past to meet her present when a young patient is abducted and the cold case is reopened. Allie knows she shouldn’t get involved, but the child’s uncle, firefighter Max Kellan, needs her as much as she needs him. Once, Max simply wanted to put his past to rest; now he demands nothing short of justice. As he and secretive, sexy Allie track a lethal criminal, their chemistry is an undeniable adrenaline rush. Their attraction will be put to the test when they confront their most dangerous threat yet: the truth.

Aaaaaaaaah!! Thank you Anna J. Stewart for writing yet another spectacular book! I was combusting with excitement as I read Gone in the Night. It was so awesome!!

Gone in the Night is the third book in the Honor bound series written by Anna J. Stewart. The first was More than a Lawman and the second was Reunited with the P.I. All three can be read as standalones however it is much more fun to read them all in consecutive order. I was fortunate to be able to do just that.

Anna J. Stewart is a consistent writer. All three books are riveting! I’m talking about the kind of book that is impossible to put down once you start. Since I knew this I didn’t even start reading Gone in the Night until I had a rainy day so I could just sit and read it all in one sitting. I was not disappointed at all. Reading Gone in the Night was just as unpredictable and complex as the other books in the Honor bound series. Suspense that was thrilling! Romance that was passionate!

More Than a Lawman ended with one case solved and one unresolved. The unresolved one continues to be threaded through out Reunited with the P.I. along with a new case. The new case gets resolved but left the unresolved still unresolved. Gone in the Night finally resolves the unresolved case! Yahoo!! It was worth the wait!!

Aden, Simone and Allie are three best friends that share a childhood trauma that unites them in an unbreakable bond of friendship that has lasted into their adult lives. More Than a Lawman was Aden’s story. Reunited with the P.I. was Simone’s story and Gone in the Night is Allie’s story.

I couldn’t wait to read Allie’s story. All three leading ladies were relatable and I loved all three but Allie was my favorite. I was able to relate to her difficult childhood. I found Allie to be intelligent, strong and witty. She was perfect for Max, the hero. Oh my Gosh, Max. I loved the banter they had going with each other throughout the book. They had this ongoing guessing game that was so much fun to read. I loved Allie and Max! Max was my dream guy and I definitely have a book glow going on.

The final culmination of the unresolved case was epic! I did not see that ending coming. What a lovely final twist. I was left feeling completely satisfied. I am so happy for Allie that she found a happily ever after with Max. I loved how all the plot threads were tied this time. I would encourage anyone who loves suspense/mystery romance to pick up all three books in the Honor Bound series. Heck, I just might read them all again, they were that good!

Trust in Axion by Bruce Meyer


Trust in Axion by Bruce Meyer
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (79 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Aidan Scelestus never meant to change reality. But when he, together with his girlfriend Emma Drommel, focused too much energy on too small a physical space, that’s what they did. Together, they hijacked the stellar laboratory of Atraville College for a glimpse of another dimension. In this science fantasy novella, the multiple containment walls and magnetic protection of the lab can’t contain the damage to the fabric of space. The worst wasn’t what it did to themselves. The worst wasn’t even that it spread and nobody knew how to stop it; or that it affected people and buildings and landscaping alike. No, the worst was the fix devised by the professor of physics, Aubrey Probo.

This is what happens when science goes terribly wrong.

The scientific explanation for what was happening in this story was explained perfectly. The author went into just enough detail to show what was happening and why it was happening without slowing down the pacing of the plot. I don’t know very much about physics, but I didn’t have any trouble at all understanding what went wrong with Aidan and Emma’s experiment or why they were so concerned about the dark energy spreading.

I would have liked to see more time spent developing Aidan and Emma’s personalities. While the plot itself was really well done, I finished it without ever getting a strong impression of what Aidan and Emma were like as individuals. Were they shy or outgoing? Did they generally have a serious or lighthearted approach to life? Had I known more about them, I would have given this book a much higher rating as I enjoyed everything else about it.

The pacing was strong. Every scene had something interesting happening in it, and many of them had more than one discovery, battle, or action sequence that made it impossible for me to stop reading. I also appreciated the fact that the author included so many different subplots. They brought a lot of depth to this universe and made the question of what was going to happen to the characters even more pressing than it already was.

Trust in Axion is a great choice for anyone who likes hard science fiction.

Jeopardy in July by Barbara Venkataraman


Jeopardy in July by Barbara Venkataraman
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (220 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Old people were dying at an alarming rate at La Vida Boca, a posh assisted living facility in Boca Raton, Florida. With its sterling reputation, dedicated staff, and top-notch medical care, none of the deaths are considered suspicious, but when members of the poker club start to die under strange circumstances, attorney Jamie Quinn finds herself once again embroiled in a mystery. With help from her new friend, Jessie Sandler, and her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie uncovers a crime that took place forty years earlier. Can she stop the killer in time? Or is she in danger of becoming the next victim?

Jamie has a new client. They are in a nursing home and have been married for years but now they are getting divorced and he wants her to divide their assets. She wonders what brought it on but goes to meet with them anyway. She certainly didn’t expect to meet EMT’s and a stretcher on the way out on her way in but nursing homes are familiar with death. Unfortunately, that was her client on his way out…

This is the second cozy mystery I’ve read by this author and it’s even better than the first one. It turns out the wrong was done forty years ago and someone is trying to eliminate the others who know the truth.

Ms. Venkataraman makes her elderly characters as cantankerous and sarcastic as the old can be. They play cards together, flirt with each other and gossip like everything. They even have a book club group. Jamie is still a bit clueless but she’s learning along the way. Her friend, Duke, helps her on the cases.

Beyond a fake painting, murder at the nursing home, and the FBI visiting with her, she’s also a bit worried about her boyfriend. He was supposed to be returning home and now he’s got another assignment he wants to take. Does he really love her?

The story is busy, exciting, and has a surprise ending. This was a really good read for anyone that loves cozy mysteries. Parts will make you laugh and parts will scare you but you’ll keep reading.

So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks


So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks
Embraced Series, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (496 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Love at Stake series comes a novel of the Embraced—an epic tale of two star-crossed lovers destined for doom—or desire…

Growing up on the Isle of Moon, Brigitta knew that she was born with the magical powers of the Embraced—even if she did not know how to wield them. But she has finally learned the truth: Brigitta is the lost princess of the kingdom of Tourin. She was sent into hiding as an infant to escape the wrath of her half-brother, the king. And now he knows just where to find her. . .

Rupert is a notorious pirate and sorcerer. He’s spent most of his life plotting revenge on the evil king—and Rupert believes that Brigitta could be the key to finally destroying his enemy. But what begins as a kidnapping of the innocent beauty escalates into something deeper, and more passionate, than either captor or captive could have imagined. Rupert soon vows to protect Brigitta against the king—but will they survive long enough to find their happily-ever-after. . .or does fate have something else in store?

Well blow me down! That phrase is not exclusive to pirates. Not at all, in fact it’s a delightful twist in this series. With anyone who is Embraced in this world that Ms. Sparks has created, they find that they are endowed with unique powers, or curses depending on what side of the planet they live on. I know that Superman had a small talent for it but he had nothing on the hero of So I Married a Sorcerer. Rupert has a few tricks up his sleeve that Superman would envy.

The opening act of this hefty novel doesn’t give a reader a slow build up. One moment Brigitta is safe with her sisters as they go to visit their other sister who is about to have a baby and bam! The next thing I know, the heroine is kidnapped, and the adventure begins.

I wanted to give this tale a perfect rating like the first book but one tiny area held me back – I guessed what was going to happen! Granted, I probably couldn’t have done it without my reading the first book, but now that I know what the carry-over villain is capable of, I am seeking clues, hints and diabolical surprises. Yes, the heroine and hero were certainly bamboozled by the plans of the slippery criminal so they were surprised, but not me. The only other character that caught on earlier was Brody.

I like Brody. Brody is a fun character and his role and personality grows in this novel. I hope he gets a happy ever after some day. But I digress. Even though I figured out what was going to happen, I did get a short burst of shock when the choice of doppelganger was revealed. The one thing that really made me go, ‘Oooooh!’ was when Rupert had to seek out the final object to win the contest. It’s who they met that got the thinking gears whirring. And, sure enough, that tickling thread was pounced on later and created the absolute perfect hook for the next installment in the Embraced series. That’s going to be so COOL!

Rupert isn’t the only person who finds something important in this novel. No, Brigitta finds something too and it’s bittersweet. I can’t say what it is, but man, I wish something could be done to … fix or help that which was found. It broke my heart!

As for plot conflict, it’s a doozey, it’s effective and it’s encompasses a wide scale – sort of like the movies made by Cecil B. DeMille, the filmmaker. Okay so there were some areas that seemed to be too – perfect. I mean what were the odds that not one person, even the vile, ‘beady-eyed’ Hilda, noticed or suspected that Brigitta wasn’t as compliant, alone or as dumb as she lead them to believe? It worked for the story, and don’t get me wrong, I liked the outcome so I don’t want to rock the boat, but I did think that it was a bit too easy. Then again, if the suspense and stress were any more intense and sharp, I probably would have needed some chocolate therapy to recover. As it is, a glass of lemon/iced tea with lots and lots of ice was needed for when Brigitta and Rupert succumbed to their passions. As always, well written and fun to read.

Oh! I almost forgot! I really liked the full circle story arc! Yes, that was rather romantic and special and I adored the fact that Rupert, no matter how much time had passed, really didn’t shake that promise. He has such honor and integrity; he certainly wore the title of Hero well.

I didn’t talk much about Brigitta’s Embraced gift because I thought Rupert’s was way more impressive. True, hers played into the plot conflict rather well, but the hero’s talent rang my chimes. Can you tell?

On the whole, So I Married a Sorcerer is a magical follow-up to an amazing new world that is just beginning to unfold. Ms. Sparks has created a rich, vibrant, imaginative and adventurous series in which the possibilities are astounding. I can’t wait to find out what new Embraced gifts will be revealed and how they’ll be used. The one thing that seems to be clear is, the author’s heroes and heroines are reshaping their world for the better, and the villains are fighting it every inch of the way. So I Married a Sorcerer is how great storytelling is supposed to be – epic, grand, exciting and full of fiendish plots. Love wins as it should and the happy ever after left me smiling. Now, how long do I have to wait for the next book? Too long.

Dark Blood by Christine Feehan


Dark Blood by Christine Feehan
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (496 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Zev Hunter was an elite warrior, a dark-blood dealer of death to Lycans who preyed on mankind. But he begins to question his past when he awakens in the sacred cave of warriors—and is soothed back to consciousness by the sensuously familiar voice of the woman who has haunted his fantasies for centuries: Branislava, member of the Dragonseeker clan.

Now, with a blood-sworn vow of honor, mercy and endurance, and under the influence of a siren as bewitching as Branislava, Zev begins to wonder what his purpose is, what it means for the future of the Carpathians and what it is about his rebirth that he has to fear…

If fans enjoy reading about those sexy Carpathians then they’re in luck because there are a LOT of them between the pages of Dark Blood. The reason that they’re all there becomes apparent as the plot conflict unfolds. It’s ambitious, large and deadly.

This is a refreshing read. I don’t mean that it’s light and airy, far from it. The last few books of the series were heavy on the sex and light on plot. Not so in Dark Blood. The threat is large, ominous and dark. Fighting is to be expected in Ms. Feehan’s novels because those vampires are evil guys. However, the typical antagonists are missing in this book. Instead the terror and horror stem from mage issues and the Carpathians are in for the fight of their lives.

The fight scenes are numerous, graphic, intense and well written. The sense of foreboding oozes off the pages and readers know something eye-popping is going to happen. They will not be disappointed.

Speaking of the final ginormous plot confrontation – I was exhausted after reading it. The hits kept coming and coming and coming. Here’s the thing. With all the non-stop action and the pummeling and damage that was inflicted upon the hero, heroine and their allies, it got to the point where I thought, “Where is this stamina coming from? With so much blood loss, how are they able to fight in peak condition? Is this even realistic?” There is no doubt that this is a paranormal story and the laws of physics and reality are suspended, but a little balance would have been nice. Despite those pesky questions, the writing was really good. Ms. Feehan’s imagination is diabolical, inventive and diverse, and she kept the action riveting.

My absolute favorite part was the gathering in the meadow. That was where I smiled the most during the whole novel. I was sitting on the edge of my seat for the rest – the suspense was quite potent.

For readers who enjoy the steamy, physical and passionate side of things, the author provides plenty of opportunities to appreciate how explosive Zev and Branislava are together.

Dark Blood is a hefty novel of substance. I am very pleased that there was more plot development, intrigue, suspense and thrills than in her most recent stories. This novel was a lot of fun for me because I got to see the strengths of those Carpathian men and women in action. It was nice to be reminded that they are lethal, alpha and amazing. And, when a Carpathian male meets the other half of his soul, a reader is treated to a wonderful romance. I wouldn’t say this is a standalone read, mostly because so many previous heroes and heroines from earlier books step up to the plate to stand and fight alongside of Zev and Branislava. The impact of seeing them again is more powerful for readers who have ‘known’ them. A new reader would only see a list of names and would have no cause for connection. This is a book for the fans, and it’s great.