Inside Straight (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

Tullah is in hiding, separated from her dragon spirit guide Kaothos. She is being hunted by different factions of the community of adepts, their motives are shrouded. Amber is also separated from her spirit guides, Hana the wolf and Tara her sister.

And time is running out.

Amber needs to find Tullah and bring all the spirit guides home but to do so she will need to embrace her own adept abilities, abilities that are reviled by all the adept communities as dark and forbidden.


Inside Straight is very different to the other books in the Bite Back series. It’s the book that unites all three parts of Amber Farrell, the Athanate (vampire), the Were and the Adept (witch). It also has the feel of a requiem, like it’s the end of one phase in the story and the beginning of the next phase.

This entire series is brilliant. It’s redefining the genre. It takes the best that has come before and reinvents it. I don’t read male authors. Look at my books and you will see that 90% plus were written by women. Mark Henwick is probably the only male author I will buy without a second thought. He’s a favorite author and an author whose books I will read and reread again and again.

Is this a 5 Star book? I don’t really know. When you love a series as much as I love this series it’s not easy to be objective but it’s a 5 Star book for me.

Angel Stakes (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

After travelling to New Mexico to rescue Diana (book 4, Cool Hand), Amber was on the brink of going rogue. With her kin’s help she managed to fight it off but there remains a sickness in her soul that is poisoning her. She needs to deal with that, she needs to recover. But without even a moment to catch her breath she is called to Los Angeles to once again walk the fine line between the warring parties of Athanate, Were and Adept.

Not only must she try to form an alliance with the Were, she has to hunt down and deal with an evil which has been 10 years in the making.


One of the weaknesses in Urban Fantasy (in my opinion) is that stories are essentially stagnant. Authors just throw bigger and badder villains into the mix while the main characters essentially remain unchanged. It’s why I start to lose patience with a series after two or three books. Not here. As the story develops, the characters develop, they become more, they mature and they learn from their mistakes.

If there is a weakness, I think it is that you can read the early books in isolation, but as the series develops that’s less the case. I’m a Mark Henwick junkie so I don’t mind, but some might. Still, you could do a lot worse than jumping into this series. Start with Raw Deal the novella that introduces Amber Farrell, if you love that, your love will only increase as you continue.

Great book, great series.

Position in Series:  Book 5

markhenwick0.5 – Raw Deal
1 – Sleight of Hand
2 – Hidden Trump
3 – Wild Card
4 – Cool Hand
5 – Angel Stakes

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 1.34.01 PMOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

 

 

 

 

Hidden Trump (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

Amber has accepted that she’s Athanate (a vampire) and is making her first hesitant steps as the head of her own House with responsibilities and kin. Making her already complicated life even more complicated a rival Athanate House is hunting her down and plans to run medical experiments on her. Keeping her head down would be the smart thing to do but she finds herself once again in the middle of things and she’ll need every skill the army taught her if she’s to have a chance of getting herself and her kin out alive.


This book is perfect –– I just can’t think of a single bad thing to say about it. At 600 pages it’s longer than your typical Urban Fantasy but it’s one of those (rare) cases where longer doesn’t translate to yawns. I finished the book and was kind of sad that it ended, I really think I could have gone on indefinitely without a care in the world.

For this series I’ve been listening to the audiobooks. Book 1 Sleight of Hand was released in late 2014, This book came out about a week ago, and Book 3 Wild Card is on the way. Hidden Trump introduces a new narrator, Julia Motyka, and she’s perfect. She does both male and female voices well and she completely owns Amber Farrell.

If you want to try some on some great urban fantasy, Mark Henwick is definitely worth the effort.  He’s one of the few authors who make me so happy I could jump.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Sleight of Hand (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

Amber is a private investigator. After discovering a drug and gun running operation in her client’s business she calls in the cops and turns the screws on Denver’s criminal underworld. Unfortunately for her, Denver PD have shut down the business while they investigate and her client is refusing to pay her.

With a serious cash flow problem, when Jennifer Kingslund shows up claiming one of her staff has been kidnapped and someone is trying to ruin her, Amber has little choice but to take on the job. She quickly discovers the job is much bigger than she first thought.

Adding to her problems, the vampire infection that has tainted her blood is taking over, and if she isn’t careful her government minders will throw her into a padded room where military scientists will control her every move.


 
Loved this book. It’s a bit of a cross between those great hard boiled detective novels of the 1930s and 1940s and more modern Urban Fantasy by authors like Jennifer Estep and Faith Hunter. Amber is a great heroine and this book is filled with secondary characters I can’t help but like. It took four or five books before Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series won me over. Not a problem with this one. I’m already hooked.

(There is a novella which precedes this book called Raw Deal. Well worth starting there to get some background on the characters.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmYellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: red-orange-yellow-guide-pdf

Best of 2013 (imo)

It’s coming up to Christmas and it’s time to do the book review blog version of a sitcom’s dream episode. Yep, the best (imo) of 2013.

The Very Best Five (published in 2013)

1. Up to the Challenge (by Terri Osburn)

(Contemporary Romance.)

I read a lot of contemporary romance and a book needs to be pretty special to stand out.  I’m tempted to put her first book Meant to Be in the Best 5 as well, but maybe I’ll let the #1 spot be for both her books and make room for someone else.

 

 

 

2. Heart ofVenom (by Jennifer Estep

(Urban Fantasy)

It’s book 9 in the author’s elemental assassin series.  I usually start to yawn after three or four books and there was a bit of that a few books ago, but this one blew me out of the water.

 

 

 

 

3. Raw Deal (by Mark Henwick)

(Urban Fantasy)

The first of two novellas in the Best 5, Raw Deal reminded me of those great hard boiled detective stories of the 1930s…but with vampires.

 

 

 

 

4. Night of Cake & Puppets (by Laini Taylor)

(Paranormal Romance)

Laini Taylor writes books you want to read out loud. You just want to say what she has written. Night of Cake & Puppets was a beautiful, sublime fairy tale and the second novella in my Best 5.

 

 

 

5. Lingerie Wars (by Janet Elizabeth Henderson)

(Contemporary Romance)

One of the rare books that had me laughing like an idiot.  And yes, when I was writing my review for this I did google “erotic kilt” and I would strongly urge you not to.

 

 

Notable Mentions – The Hits

  1. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/683410012
  2. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/761296161
  3. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/586418589
  4. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/563245914
  5. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/667221942

…and the Misses 

  1. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/683721997
  2. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/697471196
  3. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/754007922
  4. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/672244922
  5. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/607949402

(yes the irony of mentioning Bloodring is not lost on me).