A Pinch of Salt (Towers of the Earth, Prequel) by Nita Round – Review

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About A Pinch of Salt by Nita Round

A survivor with no memory and a warrior looking for her path unite against the pirate horde.

Two hundred soldiers walk into the burning sands of Gypta, but only a handful make it out. When Magda Stoner wakes in an infirmary halfway across the world, she discovers her memories of the desert are gone. Something happened that tore her mind and soul apart, and the only thing keeping her sane is the fact that she can’t remember a thing.

Ascara d’Jharaena ael Korphen is a warrior, not a soldier, and trying to fit herself into the lesser role at Veritas Traders has left her body battered and broken in the same infirmary where Magda recovers.

As they both mend, they meet a survivor of a pirate attack that included gifted attackers. Finding themselves without a unit or mission, they propose a daring plan to infiltrate the pirate horde and bring them to justice.

Can the pirates be stopped? Or will Magda and Ascara be caught before they even begin?

This is the first prequel in the Towers of the Earth fantasy adventure series.

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Review of A Pinch of Salt

As a subscriber to Nita Round’s newsletter, I was treated to the opportunity to download a copy A Pinch of Salt.  Thanks to Ms. Round for that! I am a reader of her Towers of the Earth series, so I was excited to read this prequel novella and share my unbiased review.

If you have read and enjoyed the other books in her series, you will love A Pinch of Salt.  Magda and Ascara, younger and less wise, meet for the first time in a hospital, each recovering from their own unfortunate experiences.  Their backgrounds are brief, but vital.  Their initial meeting is just what you might expect (especially from the irrascible Ascara).  Flirting and friendship.  The mission they undertake is dangerous and vital to understanding these characters and where their relationship is headed, as well as a hint at the overall mission.

I loved this novella and, even if you have not read any other books in the series, I think you will enjoy it.

A note about the series.  Three novels, previously released as 1) Raven, Fire and Ice 2) Raven, Sand and Sun and 3) Raven, Storm and Shadow are going to be re-released in 2020.  According to the author’s website, you may anticipate another prequel, the 3 previously released novels and one more novel – all to be released between now and the end of May.  I will be looking forward to the progression of this series!

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Stars Beyond (Stars Uncharted, #2) by S.K. Dunstall – Review

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About Stars Beyond by S.K. Dunstall

The crew of Another Road are back, closer than ever to the biggest score in the galaxy. . . if they can stay a step ahead of the Justice Department agents and Company men tracking them.

An engineer with a fondness for weapons. A captain with no memory. An obsessive genemodder who loves to tinker. Meet the crew of Another Road.

Josune, Roystan, and Nika have escaped the company thugs trying to kill them. They’ve gotten a new spaceship to replace The Road (after it was blown up underneath them). And their new ship is armed to the teeth with dangerous weapons, courtesy of Josune. All that’s left to do before they head out to find the legendary lode of transurides is to restore Roystan’s memory. To do that, they need to collect the genemod machine Nika has ordered.

But first, they have to shake off the Justice Department agent and the Companies tracking them.

It should be easy. They’ve done it before. What could possibly go wrong?

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Review of Stars Beyond

If you like your fiction to be character-driven, you have come to the right place.  Stars Beyond is full of great characters that, individually have potentially great stories.  Together, the intermeshed greatness is vivid and glowing.  Even the chapters are named after the character who’s point of view is exposed in the chapter.  So to review this book, I will review a few characters.  Warning, there may be spoilers if you have not read Stars Uncharted.

Hammond Roystan – the quiet hero with the mysterious forgotten past.  Despite, the fact that he never even gets his own chapter, Hammond is critical to the story, more than any other character.  You have read Stars Uncharted, you get the idea.  But keep paying attention to Roystan.

Alistair Laughton – is the intriguing new character.  Asked to take leave from the Justice Department, he is back again – at their request.  But while he was on leave, his adventures were most intersting….

Nika Rik Terri – the body modder.  A really good, in demand body modder.  That is until someone tried to frame her for murder and kill her.  Somehow she ended up with Roystan and his ragtag crew.  And for some reason, Laughton is looking for her.  These characters are so interconnected it must be fate that links them.  Or maybe Roystan.  See there he is again.

Bertram Snowshoe – well if it weren’t for Snow, we would not get to hang out with the evil mercenary Captain Oliver Norris.  And he is.  Evil.  Nasty.  Norris, not Snow.  Snow is the modder apprentice, but manages to be a pretty good gunner too.  Snow, like most of the ragtag crew, has many talents.

What is it  about the term ragtag that automatically gets my attention?

Jacques Saloman – chef and cargo master.  Mostly chef.  You gotta love a man who thinks food, good food, is the solution for everything.  And on Another Road, it pretty much is.

Leonard Wickmore – bad guy.  Wickmore got the first chapter in Stars Beyond, where we learn he is after Rik Terri.  He is a thoroughly despicable character that did not deserve to live past book one.  I prefer my villains to evolve and grow just as much as the protagonists and if not, they need to be eliminated….somehow.  But Dunstall thought he was needed in this story.  Okay, if you need someone to boo and hiss at, Wickmore is your man.

The Ort.  First contact species with a need for a special body modder.   Everybody seems to want Rik Terri.

The Vortex.  While not technically a character, the spaceship-ripping Vortex is an astronomical phenomenon that happens to be very close to the center of all that is important.  Beware the Vortex.  Roystan does.

These motley characters are combined with a story line that gallivants enough to throw in a few surprises.  (Surprises are good.)  Beware the Vortex cannot be said enough.

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Fais Do Do Die (The Big Uneasy, #5) by Pauline Baird Jones – Review

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About Fais Do Do Die by Pauline Baird Jones

He kicks down doors, and she serves hors d’oeuvres. And the Big Uneasy delivers them both a huge helping of high stakes danger—and a chance at romance.

A happy ending skeptic and caterer, Sarah Burland has a high profile gig at a fundraiser. It’s a coup for her catering company until murder kills the party spirit and triggers a hostage situation.

SWAT Team Member Calvin Baker’s job cost him his marriage. He’s done with romance—even if he does find himself taking an interest in a family friend, Sarah, from time to time. He’s sure his feelings are platonic until he finds out she’s caught in a hostage situation.

Cal’s team affects a rescue, but Sarah’s troubles aren’t over. The victim’s friends—and enemies—keep trouble cooking, and the deeper they dig, the more confusing things get—and the more their attraction to each other grows.

Can the cook and the cop survive long enough to work out their differences? Take a ride into another installment in the engaging Big Uneasy series and find out!

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Review of Fais Do Do Die

With each new story I read in The Big Uneasy series, I appreciate the Baker family even more.  They are a never-ending source of law-abiding, mystery-solving folks with humor, honesty, and, most importantly, romance, in their hearts.

Of course these Bakers and their romantic partners are made so charming through the words of Pauline Baird Jones.  As soon as I started reading Fais Do Do Die, I knew I was in for fun.  I love Ms. Jones’ sense of humor.  Starting when Miss Maisie (who seems to be a New Orleans institution) stares down a gangster, and continuing with the Baker family keeping so many romantic secrets from each other that they think sweet Sarah Burland is cheating on one (or was it two?) Baker boys when Cal Baker gives her aid and comfort.  I especially giggle when one of the characters cusses – using military code.  I’d give you an example, but I don’t use that kind of language.

Fais Do Do Die is a short novel, that I finished in a matter of hours because I was having too much fun.  While I benefited from having read books 1-4 and previously got to know some of the secondary characters in this book, I’m quite sure you can enjoy Fais Do Do Die as a standalong.  After all, the food is delicious, the mystery is baffling and the romance is sweet.  Add a cup of tea (or other favorite beverage) and you have everything you need for the perfect evening at home on the sofa.

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.

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