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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
May
25

Review: Path of the Heretic by Ivan Amberlake

Review: Path of the Heretic by Ivan Amberlake Path of the Heretic Author: Ivan Amberlake Reviewer: Una Rating: C What I’m Talking About: The Path of the Heretic is the second novel in the fascinating mythology of the Beholder series.  Though the mythology is intriguing, the story falls flat for me. I tend to prefer novels with character-driven plots. And in order for those plots to flow and keep me reading, I need an emotional connection to the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it in the previous novel, The Beholder, and sadly I wasn’t able to do it in this second installment.  The problem is that I can’t really put my finger on what is the weak link, what is blocking me from connecting to the characters.  The plight of Jason is compelling, his search/hope for his lost love, Emily is interesting, but I just do not feel the emotions.  I don’t know if it is an issue with how the author conveys the character’s emotions or just a personality type issue I have with the characters.  Additionally, most of the urban fantasy I read has stronger romantic elements to it, while this does not.  I was compelled to finish the book, but that was only to see how the mythology turned out and if the prophesies would come to pass, along with a couple other loose ends. The world continues to be interesting; I do find the mythology fascinating.  Through Path of the Heretic we learn that there are more than just Lightsighted and Darksighted people.  There are the Transcended – those that switch sides.  This comes into play heavily in this novel.  What seems like betrayals are sometimes either Transcended spies or someone being compelled to change from one side to the other.  The politics are intriguing, the webs that the Darksighted (most importantly Pariah) weaves are interesting but some of it had me a little lost.  The legend of the Heretic was a bit confusing as well. One aspect of the novel really did irk me though and that is the multiple first person point of views – more than in the previous novel.  When we have more than a few it can be a little confusing constantly changing perspective.  I like getting into a character’s head and being there for a bit, it allows the story to flow better.  However, this is not the only issue.  Sometimes when the story changed perspectives, the timeline went back to the previous scene to allow another...
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May
20

Review: Lie Down with Dogs by Hailey Edwards

Review: Lie Down with Dogs by Hailey Edwards Lie Down with Dogs Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Wait. What just happened here?!? If you’ve been reading the Black Dog series by Hailey Edwards, you pretty much need to pick up this book now and binge-read it. Not kidding here, folks. If you’re a fan of fantasy (fae, incubi, and all sorts of other interesting critters roaming ‘round) and magic, this series should be on your TBR. I really want to write up all the things I loved so hard about Lie Down with Dogs, but that’d be super spoilerific, and that’s not how I roll. I’ll get to some of that, but I wanted to talk about the rock I’ve apparently been living under. Until I actually went to Amazon and looked at the categories (and how well this title is doing!), I never thought I’d read a New Adult romance. *facepalm*. Being a smidge older than our illustrious heroine, Thierry, I guess I thought about how she was like college age, but never actually connected it to this whole ‘new adult’ genre that’s been cropping up like mushrooms after the spring thaw. I never sought out this subgenre of romance, because I didn’t think I’d connect with the characters. Obviously, since I’m closer to fifty than forty, I’d be hard-pressed to ‘get’ the character. Totally not the case. This was a bit of a revelation for me, and it really made me pause. It doesn’t MATTER what the subgenre is, really. It’s about the characters, the plot, and those beautiful moments when we can immerse ourselves in another world—if only for a moment. The conflicts present in the newest in the Black Dog series were tightly interwoven. Think: fifty bazillion-thread Egyptian cotton sheets here, folks. Here’s the one thing I *will* tell readers about this book: isolated incidents are rarely isolated. Especially when Theirry is concerned. I think a computer server would explode with all the redirects readers were treated to in Lie Down with Dogs. And, don’t get me started on betrayal. I got that raised eyebrow thing going on at one point, and I was ticked off on Theirry’s behalf several times. So, in Lie Down with Dogs, we get more of kick-ass Thierry. We’ve watched her develop from a starry-eyed cadet just learning about all the weirdness she’s been born into, and evolve into a woman with a mind of her own, and a sarcastic side that...
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May
19

Review: Cursed by Fire by Danielle Annett

Review: Cursed by Fire by Danielle Annett Cursed by Fire Author: Danielle Annett Reviewer: Una Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: I am not sure what to say.  After reading Cursed By Fire, I wonder how a first novel in a series can feel like a transitional novel.  The story had promise but just did not deliver for me. My first trouble with Cursed by Fire is that the mythology is very vague.  Some first novels suffer from an overabundance of world-building – spending a lot of time teaching us what the world is like at the sacrifice of the story.  However we have the opposite problem here.  There is almost no world-building.  What little there is are terms and certain elements that bring to my mind another series.  By the end of the novel, I started relying on the mythology of another series to fill in the gaps.  In fact once I started thinking about other books I’ve read, I saw similarities to other series.  I am all for imitation is the best form of flattery – but mythologies should be singular.  I can understand a coincidence or a common element or two but for so much of it to be similar bothers me.  Especially when the mythology overall remains vague and I feel we can only pull from our knowledge of the similar one to understand this world.  That just doesn’t sit right with me. Taking this issue out of the equation of this review, I was not thrilled with the writing.  I felt that once I was at the end, the novel was a long goose-chase.  It felt like a transitional novel, getting characters into place for the next one.  The original mystery that started this novel is not solved by the end.  True, we learn a lot about players and an eventual war, but nothing was resolved.  People died, we know who killed some of them, we know the “agency” behind it, but that’s it.  There is no justice at the end, it just stops abruptly.  I’m not sure I would call it a cliffhanger because it was more irritating than engaging. My other issue is that I was unable to connect with the heroine, Aria.  She felt flat to me.  I couldn’t connect emotionally with her and found her to be too chaotic.  Her thoughts and feelings really bounced around, and she made poor decisions of which she would question herself and yet still proceed to make.  For a woman that...
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May
13

Review: Witches Be Burned by Stacey Kennedy

Review: Witches Be Burned by Stacey Kennedy Witches Be Burned Author: Stacey Kennedy Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Witches Be Burned is the second book in the Magic and Mayhem series, but with two years passed since the release of the first book, personally, I’d forgotten much of what happened. Luckily, Ms. Kennedy does a great job of reminding readers about the key events needed to understand and enjoy Witches Be Burned. I feel that a reader could easily pick up the book without having read the first one. Nexi, who grew up not knowing about supernatural beings, is both a witch and a guardian, making her unique and coveted among the supernaturals. In the previous book, Nexi was almost destroyed by a vampire who wanted to drain her of her blood and take her powers. And although new to her powers, Nexi was able to not only kill him, but destroy him using some amazing powers. Fast forward three months, and we learn that her insta-mate, fellow guardian Kyden, is being a bit over protective and trying to keep Nexi out of harm’s way. However, when some of their own are ruthlessly murdered, nothing will stop Nexi from joining those who seek vengeance. Witches Be Burned is a cross between a paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The story is shared from the alternating POVs of both Nexi and Kyden. Although the pair are a couple from the start of the book, there is a lot of page time spent focused on the couple’s relationship. It isn’t until the last quarter or so of the book that I feel the story shifts more to the action than the romance. And while their chemistry is off the charts, I found that both characters annoyed me too much at times. Nexi is fairly new to the supernatural world, and I have to take that with a grain of salt. She’s very powerful and seems to have her act together, but she’s also naive and headstrong, making her seem immature at times, especially at the front end of the book. I felt that she didn’t take her role as a guardian seriously and whined when she couldn’t get her way. This also comes across in her jealousy – again, it feels immature how she reacts, putting her personal wants before her role as guardian. Yet by the end of the story, I feel that she did a better job standing up for herself without coming across...
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Apr
28

Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep Cold Burn of Magic Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Cold Burn of Magic is the debut novel in Ms. Estep’s new Black Blade young adult series.  Gikany and Una loved it!  This is a fabulous start to a great urban fantasy series. As some of you will know, we loved Ms. Estep’s previous young adult series, The Mythos Academy.  When we heard she was writing a new series, we knew we had to read it.  We enjoyed this fresh and interesting new world.  The mafia element mixed with monsters and magic was fascinating.  We enjoyed how magic worked in this world, and that it wasn’t hidden but a naturally occurring tourist attraction.  The politics between the founding families added an interesting tension and twist to life in this town.  The plot lines of the mystery of the threat against Devon, Lila trying to keep herself safely hidden, and Lila’s desire for vengeance against the ones responsible for her mother’s murder wove together to create a quick, engaging, and engrossing read. Lila is a fascinating heroine.  Although she reminded us a bit of Gwen from the Mythos Academy series at first, Lila is far more confident in herself and her abilities.  She has to be to survive.  We loved her grit, her sarcasm, and the deep-down core of goodness she possesses.  She is clever and respectful to a point (and it varies depending on whom she faces), but most of all heartbreakingly loyal.  We loved that she is a young adult heroine with a healthy appetite.  Considering her athletic ability, it is commendable to see her have an appetite that is appropriate for someone of that age and activity.  Her love of bacon cracked us up. The other characters in the novel helped to ground the story and round out the feel.  We enjoyed Devon and his complexity as he struggled with the role he plays in the Sinclair family.  Felix and Mo were wonderful characters who not only helped to lighten both the novel and Lila, but also added some intrigue.  Oscar the pixie has already become one of our most beloved characters.  The gruffness that he uses to try to keep his emotional distance was touching.  His reluctant care of Lila was endearing.  We look forward to seeing them in the next novel. Cold Burn of Magic is a great novel for anyone who enjoys intrigue, magic, and sarcasm.  We...
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Apr
15

Review: Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne Johnson

Review: Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne Johnson Pirate’s Alley Author: Suzanne Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Although barely any time has passed in Ms. Johnson’s thrilling Sentinels of New Orleans series, it’s been about twenty long months since the last book. I was worried that I wouldn’t remember all of the details of the complex and ever-changing world. However, Ms. Johnson does an amazing job bringing readers up to speed and recounting the truly important facts. There were some pretty huge revelations and world-changing events that happened during the previous book, Elysian Fields, and I strongly urge any who may be new to the series to at least start with Elysian Fields before jumping into Pirate’s Alley. I’m going to say right up front that I really enjoyed Pirate’s Alley and honestly couldn’t put it down. With that said, it’s not really its own story, but rather a continuation of the previous book, chronicling the repercussions from Elf Quince Randolph, aka Rand’s faux romance of DJ’s best friend, Eugenie, and subsequent forced bonding/mating with DJ. The book unfolds like a huge conspiracy theory plot, uncovering subterfuge at every turn. It was completely different and unexpected, yet altogether entertaining. I kept waiting for a big bad to show up and start causing mayhem, sending DJ on the hunt for a mysterious killer or such. But it never happened. That’s not what this book is about. However, Pirate’s Alley is filled with gripping plot twists and intense emotional moments. Ms. Johnson balances the fallout and duplicity in the preternatural community generating from Rand’s mischief with DJ’s personal and emotional development. DJ explores her friendship with Eugenie, attraction to Jean Lafitte, and feelings for boyfriend Alex Warin, as well as evaluates her place within the preternatural world and wizarding community. I was prepared to be very angry with Ms. Johnson if certain things didn’t go the way I wanted, and yet, when they did go against my desires, I was completely awed by the author’s storytelling. She nailed it and made a better story for it. Pirate’s Alley is emotionally gripping and intellectually stimulating, and may be my favorite of the series. It is a must-read for fans of the series. While there really isn’t an overarching plot line, the story was engrossing nonetheless. Dealing with the fallout and repercussions from the previous book, the story transitions to a point where lines are drawn and the potential of war is on the horizon. My...
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Apr
8

Review + Exclusive Excerpt: Dark Heir by Faith Hunter

Review + Exclusive Excerpt: Dark Heir by Faith Hunter Thank you for joining us as we help celebrate the release of Dark Heir by Faith Hunter. On today’s blog tour stop, we have B.’s review, followed by an exclusive excerpt from Dark Heir. To read more excerpts and reviews, be sure to follow along on all the tour stops. B’s Review: Jane Yellowrock is back in Dark Heir, the ninth book in the Jane Yellowrock series. Although Jane is still dealing primarily with vampire politics and the resulting fallout, she’s grown and evolved a great deal and is finally able to accept that she isn’t nearly as alone as she always thought she was. With her two business partners and friends, the Younger brothers, and a few other allies on her side, Jane has become a smarter, stronger version of herself. Which is a very good thing, if she intends to remain capable of fighting the seemingly endless battles that her affiliation with the supernatural elements of the series brings to her doorstep. As has been proven repeatedly in this series, the vampire world is bafflingly frustrating in many ways. While it was a relief to see that Leo Pellisier, the MOC of New Orleans, wasn’t quite as treacherous has he has been in the past, it wasn’t clear whether he was going to try to kill Jane or merely converse with her on several occasions–an unfortunate standard for him, as of late. The overall chaos that seems to be a mainstay of vampire existence continues to worsen in Dark Heir, however, the intrigue and machinations set in motion by the (nearly) immortal Mithrans playing out in a chain of inevitable consequences. Arrogance, greed, and longevity are clearly a very bad mix in Jane’s world, and most of the vampires are guilty of all three. I’ve always liked Jane, and felt that she was a unique and strong presence in the genre, but I’ve come to appreciate her more and more as this series progresses. Now that she is moving past a lot of her “I am an island”/”living on borrowed time” point of view, she’s become a richer, deeper character, a development that has added much to the series as a whole. I don’t think I’ve seen Jane as capable as she is in Dark Heir, or as vulnerable. But, Jane isn’t naïve, nor is she the callous assassin she might have been. Opening herself up to others is a risk, but one she’s now willing to take, and, so far,...
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Apr
3

Review: A Curse Unbroken by Cecy Robson

Review: A Curse Unbroken by Cecy Robson A Curse Unbroken Author: Cecy Robson Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: For fans of the Weird Girls series, fear not. A Curse Unbroken is not the final novel in the series. It is only the last book from Celia’s point of view, “for now”. This novel nicely wraps up Celia’s relationship with Aric and the ramifications from the last battle in the previous book with a nice pretty bow. Since the stories in the Weird Girls series build upon themselves, one should read them from the beginning. If you enjoy dark action and drama lightened by irreverent humor and witty banter between four strangely but powerfully cursed sisters, their hot werewolf boyfriends, and the sex crazed vampire allies, then you seriously need to pick up the first book. Celia and Aric have been through hell and back. They met, fell in love, were pulled apart, betrayed, threatened, and almost murdered. But their love for each other and the mating bond their animal halves know continued. It was a long and difficult fight and though they had more to contend with in this novel, they finally get their happily ever after. This is not a spoiler. I don’t think any fans of the series would have enjoyed it if their HEA never came to fruition. We always knew it would happen and we are happy to say, it did. Though we were not on Team Aric for most of the series, we are by the end of it. Aric and Celia do love each other, fight for each other, and protect each other. Their bond is beautiful and special. It was awesome to be on this journey with them. We had two major expectations for this book. One was the final resolution of Aric and Celia’s relationship, which we already touched on. The second was the resolution of the ramifications of the damage Celia suffered from the battle with Anara. Though we could tell the means of how that would be resolved in this novel, we didn’t know exactly how it would happen. We really enjoyed how the tale twisted and turned until the end. Shah was a truly fun and fascinating character. We loved his quirky humor and enjoyed the light-heartedness he brought to the story. Though overall we liked A Curse Unbroken there was one glaring issue we had that knocked it down to the B rating. The first chapter of the book...
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Apr
2

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Dragon Conspiracy Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1x Series: SPI #2 Source: Audible/purchased We join SPI “still a newbie” agent and local seer Makenna Fraser, along with partner Ian Byrne and a handful of other agents, as they attend a swank art show in Manhattan. The items on display are a cursed set of diamonds called the Dragon Eggs, known to SPI for some pretty powerful magical properties. When a group of harpies makes off with the diamonds, SPI is left trying to discover who was behind the plot and what is his or her ultimate goal. Unfortunately, as Mak and Ian begin to uncover the pieces of the puzzle, they learn that the conspiracy is much larger and more dangerous than anyone imagined. Once again, I find myself enjoying the humor and intelligence of agent Makenna Fraser. Like the first book in the series, The Dragon Conspiracy is shared from Mak’s first person POV, and Johanna Parker’s southern drawl is a perfect fit. Mak’s wit and snark make even the most dire situations enjoyable. I love the humor shared between agents and Mak’s amusing outlook on any situation. I enjoyed the comradarie of the SPI agents as Mak makes more friends among her peers. I especially delighted in the deeping friendship between Mak and SPI leader, Vivienne Sagadraco. And while this book is far from a romance, there are hints of budding relationships that may or may not play a part in future stories. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on board with the potential pairings, but it didn’t ruin the story in any way for me (and I’m still holding out for a certain pair of agents to find some lovin’). The mystery of the Dragon Eggs is engrossing, and the overall plot ended up being far more complex than I would have imagined. I liked that the story kept me guessing and isn’t predictable. The climatic scenes are dramatic and exciting, although the afterwards seemed to go on a bit too long. I enjoyed meeting new characters and learning about new supernatural beings. Once again, my biggest complaint is the amount of repetition found in the story. I really don’t need the several reminders of what will happen when all the Dragon Eggs are activate, and that New York has the highest concentration of supernaturals in the world. Over and over again, facts like these...
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Mar
19

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Destined for an Early Grave

Listen Up! Audiobook Review: Destined for an Early Grave Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Back at the beginning of the year, I started to work on my TBR pile by listening to audiobooks for some high-volume series. One such series that has been on my TBR for a long while is the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I posted my thoughts on the first three books in the series back last month, and here is my review of the fourth title in the series… Note: this review contains spoilers from previous books in the series. Audiobook review: Destined for an Early Grave Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x and 1.25x Series: Night Huntress #4 Source: Audible/purchased The fourth book of the Night Huntress series finds lovers Cat and Bones on a much needed vacation. But knowing their luck, it doesn’t last long and soon the pair discover that a not-so-nice vampire is after Cat, claiming to be her husband. I’m not going to sugar-coat this… I absolutely HATED the premise for the story. My eyes were rolling and face grimacing over and over as the plot came to light. The fact that there is a big chunk of Cat’s youth ripped from her memory and we just now find out about it bothered me. Additionally, I am a bit tired of all of these vampires that want to collect Cat. Unfortunately, this situation brings out the worst in Bones and I grew to dislike him over the course of the book. He was cruel, and I don’t feel that he made up for his actions by the end of the book. There was so much bickering and arguing, Cat blaming herself, and Bones saying “This is who I am.” I fell out of like of this couple. I am glad the plot was resolved by the conclusion of Destined for an Early Grave, but I almost didn’t care by the time it was over. I will agree that there are some highly emotional parts that did grip and my heart and pull on my heartstrings. But unfortunately the few shining moments didn’t make up for all of my issues with the book. While I had issues with the opening, the story did pick up for me midway through. I found that regardless of how we got to that point, the story was gripping and compelling. Once I hit a certain point, I found that I couldn’t stop listening until the end. This is what saved the...
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