J.T. Hall

Forest of Thorns and Claws by J.T. Hall

ForestRating: 4 stars
Genre: 
Paranormal; Shifters
Publication day:
 May 15, 2017
Length: 
247 pages  
Publisher:
 Riptide Publishing

Donovan McGinnis, a veterinarian and conservationist at a research center in Sumatra, is fighting to save the rainforest from poachers and politicians alike. One day he discovers a tigress trapped by a snare, and while treating her injuries, she bites him. He becomes ill with strange symptoms that leave him feverish and dreaming of the jungle and blood.

Kersen and his family are part of the Harimau jadian, a clan of tiger shifters hidden away in a secret village near the rainforest. When Kersen’s sister is caught, he knows he must free her before she infects someone with their magic and reveals their secret.

But Donovan has already been turned, and only time will tell if he can control the tiger within. Kersen must help him, but will the fierce attraction between the pair bring ruin to them all? With the rainforest under threat from outside forces, they may be doomed anyway, unless Kersen and Donovan can find a way to defeat the danger from inside and out.

My View: Forest of Thorns and Claws is a different type of shifter story, more magical realism than mainstream weres. The policies, culture, and everyday life of the villagers is an integral part of the story. It goes beyond the traditional mating pull to an educated possibility of weretigers living in unexploited forests.

The book is well-crafted and reminds me of Ann Patchett’s States of Wonder. J.T. Hall takes the time to web her characters with the story.–there are one and the same. The descriptions were enticing and the shifting elements vivid.

We do get to see a bond between Donovan and Kersen, and later with the rest of the clan. But this novel brings the reader the opportunity to make their experience unique and somehow educational without losing the appeal of fictional shifter traditions.

What I liked the most: The importance of the weretigers as a cultural element.

I wanted more/less: A bit more romance.

Who should read it: Fans of more realistic shifter stories.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Murder Once Seen by J.T. Hall

murder-once-seenRating: 4.75 stars
Genre: 
Urban Fantasy; BDSM
Publication day:
 December 12, 2016
Length: 
352 pages  
Publisher: 
Riptide Publishing

In the city of Nis, things often aren’t what they seem.

Derwin is a bounty hunter gifted with the Oddity of superhuman strength and agility—perfect for hunting down fugitives and demons who roam the streets. One killed his boyfriend two years ago, and Derwin won’t stop until he finds out who. Police suspect it was someone he sent to prison, but he can’t shake the idea that they’re missing something.

Elliot is a rentboy who’s been living on the streets since his parents disowned him. He mistrusts everyone and, given his uncontrolled ability to Read Objects and a client list that includes a major gang boss, despairs of ever having a normal life.

Derwin and Elliot meet in a storm of lust. Derwin’s Oddity is fed by the pain of others, but he only wants what’s freely given. Elliot loves pain, but needs safety and a way off the streets before he can allow it. They may be able to solve each other’s problems . . . if they can survive long enough to work together.

My View: I’m not an urban fantasy/dystopian fan, but this story won me over; it was really hard to put down. I wanted to slow down to enjoy the story, but at the same time, I wanted to read faster to know what would happen next. The author did an excellent job making sure all the plot arcs were interesting and well-fleshed.

The world built worked with the story and all foreign concepts and fantasy terms were easy to understand throughout the book. It is a nice setup to start the series and introduces many human-liked oddities that are fresh and interesting. The way Derwin’s and Elliot’s oddities worked together is another example of how good this story is.

Even when the main arc of the story is the mystery, the romance, and BDSM elements are balanced. We get enough of an answer for every aspect, and what’s not resolved completely is explained sufficiently until the next book in the series arrives. Hopefully, pretty soon.

Overall, Murder Once Seen has a satisfying HFN in a world different from ours, but with enough similarities to be easily navigated. It has enough smexy times, as well as, gritty moments. The main characters love isn’t pretty, but it’s filled with the hopes for a brighter future.

What I liked the most: The way Derwin feds from Elliot.

I wanted more/less: Probably a more defined DS relationship between Derwin and Elliot.

Who should read it: Fans of mysteries and BDSM stories.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.