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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Jan
25

Review: Graveyard by William C. Dietz

Review: Graveyard by William C. Dietz Graveyard Author: William C. Dietz Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’m a little sad to say that Graveyard is the final book in the Mutant Files trilogy.  The plight of Detective Lee stopping the Bonebreaker (before he captures her) reaches its climax and resolution along with a few other elements along the way.  I really enjoyed this final novel in the trilogy though I am going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to this world. *****Please note this is the final book in a trilogy and therefore would be spoilerish.  I recommend starting with the first book, Deadeye so you can truly enjoy the overall series.****** At the conclusion of the previous novel, Redzone, I was beginning to think this series might continue, even through the beginning of Graveyard I thought it was a possibility.  However with the overall story arc of the Bonebreaker being resolved, the trilogy concludes nicely.  Though action is a strong element in this trilogy, this final novel was jammed packed.  Graveyard starts sedately enough only to have war break out and Detective Lee getting pulled in to help defend LA.  I really enjoyed how each seemly separate plot line overlapped with others to create a deeply fascinating detective thriller.  The war between the norms and mutants, the Bonebreaker, the political drama of the Mayor, and (of course) Lee’s personal life are all well-paced and balanced through the course of the story.  The way each was resolved was gripping and came to logical conclusions.  This novel truly was a brilliant capstone to the series. As a sideline plot, I really enjoyed the personal growth of Lee.  Through this novel, we see the maturity she’s gained from the experiences we witnessed in the previous novels.  She is working smarter and harder, which pays off for her.  The self-discovery she had begun in the previous novel, Redzone, is completed in this novel.  I really enjoyed watching Lee realize happiness and strive to make it work.  The comradery between her and her fellow detectives and supervisors helped to illustrate how far she had come.  Though a loose cannon, she proves that she can be a maverick, but a valuable and dependable part of the team (when used effectively). If you enjoy some science fiction with your detective drama, especially one in a post-apocalyptic world, you really should pick up The Mutant Files.  This action packed, fascinating world will keep you on the edge of your seat...
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Jan
15

Review: Redzone by William C. Dietz

Review: Redzone by William C. Dietz Redzone Author: William C. Dietz Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Redzone is the second novel in the futuristic detective series: The Mutant Files.  Detective Lee’s quest to capture the Bonebreaker is further complicated along with a bit of tough self-discovery and her knack for making new enemies. I liked this sequel more so than the previous novel, Deadeye. Part of my increased enjoyment was that there were less points of view than the previous novel.  We were able to be in Lee’s head for longer periods, along with the Bonebreaker, with less side-point of views.  Though, the additional POVs were necessary and fascinating. However, maybe it was the nature of the digital ARC copy, but there were no clues as to when we changed POVs. One example was when I was in Lee’s head and the following paragraph transitioned to the Bonebreaker’s head, and it took me several paragraphs (and some confusion) to realize the viewpoint had changed. The overarching plot of Lee’s quest to find and apprehend (or end) the Bonebreaker continued to intensify.  It was enthralling and fascinating to watch how the investigation progresses.  There was an interesting twist that I didn’t expect in this novel.  This led us to learn more about the Bonebreaker and his mission. I liked how this was entwined with Lee’s self-discovery and the adventure that accompanied it.  Though it was a bit of a dead-end, I liked how it allowed Lee to grow and mature.  I also liked the side story of Lee and Lawrence. I really liked this latest installment of the Mutant Files.  Redzone was a great balance between action, drama, and suspense. If you enjoy a good detective novel, especially one set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic future, then you might want to pick up this series.  I eagerly look forward to Graveyard, the next novel in the series. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: The year is 2065, almost thirty years since a bioterrorist attack decimated the population. The world has been divided, and new nations have formed. Those mutated from exposure inhabit the red zones, while “norms” live in the green zones. In the nation of Pacifica, Los Angeles detective Cassandra Lee is in charge of investigating a disturbing case, tracking a cop killer dubbed the Bonebreaker. But strange new murders have occurred, falling outside the normal pattern and leaving Lee and her team wondering if the serial killer has become...
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Jan
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Dirt on Ninth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Charley Davidson #9 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Macmillan Audio/publisher It’s been a month since Janey (aka Charley) showed up in Sleepy Hollow, New York, without any memories of her past. Taken in by the owner of a local restaurant, she is making friends and learning that she’s a bit unique – like the fact that she can see dead people and their parallel dimension. With each day that goes by, Janey gets more and more frustrated, especially when she thinks that those around her may hold the keys to her past. If you have followed my reviews of the Charley Davidson series, you will know that I have a bit of a love-hate affair with the series. While I was pleased with most of the previous book, the ending, leaving Charley with amnesia in a far away town, set up The Dirt on Ninth Grave as a bit of a make or break book for me. Well, I am very happy to report that this book won back my love for all things Charley. Seriously… it’s that good. If you have been on the fence, I strong urge you to pick up the book and give it a chance. I was worried about the whole amnesia aspect, but Ms. Jones uses it as a positive tool, rather than allowing it to further isolate Charley. Although she doesn’t know it, Charley is surrounded by everyone that loves her. Cookie is once again her best friend, and she has the hots for Reyes, knowing she loves him. But since she’s not weighed down by all of the revelations uncovered in the past few books, Charley is able to just be that carefree, funny woman we first met. She has all of the good traits that caused me to fall for her, leaving out the ones I couldn’t stand. And I fell in love with Reyes all over again. Seriously. I swooned. He has to act like he doesn’t know Janey – the love of his life. It pained me to see his struggles, along with all of Charley’s family, as they deal with Charley’s memory loss. And the humor is out of this world funny. I cannot tell you how many times I literally laughed out loud. Some of the humor is trademark Charley Davidson/Darydna Jones, while some of...
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Dec
22

Review: Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Review: Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews Magic Stars Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Magic Stars is a great little side novella for fans of the Kate Daniels series. Told mostly from the third person POV of Derek, the story shares Derek and Julie’s adventures as they work together on a deadly investigation. It is a straight forward tale, giving readers insight into both Derek’s precarious emotional/mental state and Julie’s magical training. We learn some of the rather shocking and dangerous activities Julie has been exploring, all of which make me very nervous for what is in store for her as she grows and matures. *bites nails*. Derek and Julie discover a human family brutally murdered over a mysterious rock. Because this family was a friend, and because children were involved, the pair decide to put a stop to the mad warlock behind the deaths. Along the way, they encounter several of the deadly threats that exist in magical Atlanta. Parts can be rather brutal; it felt more gruesome and gory than is usual in a Kate Daniels story, but it probably wasn’t. The battles mirror and highlight the nature of Derek’s near-loup wolf and Julie’s upbringing on the streets of Atlanta. One of the great appeals of this series is the extensive history of the magic shift and its impacts on the human world that the authors continue to build and share with readers. Kate’s Atlanta is utterly riveting, and the authors find just the right way to share their vision with the reader, enriching the whole reading experience. I found myself equally engrossed by the sights and details the pair comes across, as the plot to find the madman behind the deaths of friends. All-in-all, Magic Stars is a must read for Kate Daniel series fans. While not specifically tied to the overall series storyline, the book sheds light on two its more significant supporting characters, especially Kate’s daughter, Julie. The implications of what she’s doing will certainly have resounding impacts in future books. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.  Never one to be left on the sidelines,...
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Dec
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Black Blade #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: author Dark Heart of Magic Dark Heart of Magic, the second book in the exciting Black Blade trilogy, opens with narrator Lila Merriweather and good friends Devon and Felix (all of the Sinclair Family) discovering that something has the tree trolls agitated. Although this is an intriguing mystery, it must be put aside because of the annual Tournament of Blades, a competition that pits the best youth fighters from each Family against one another in a 3-day event. Lila and Devon are two of the many selected to represent the Sinclair family, just as the usual suspects (along with some new ones) are also selected to represent each of his/her Family. Unfortunately, things start to go wrong at the tournament, resulting in injured and dead competitors, and it’s up to Lila to figure out who’s behind the attacks. Unlike its predecessor, Dark Heart of Magic has no need for extensive world-building; therefore, the story takes off right from the get go. I was completely engrossed as the story unfolded, and I found that the additional characters framed the tale perfectly. We learned so much more about not only Lila’s heritage, but what brought the current warring situation to a head. I appreciated that each character is multi-faceted, although the antagonist, Victor Draconi, is just downright evil. As much as I love her, I was a bit frustrated with Lila this time around. It took her way too long to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle and make connections that were pretty obvious. Lila’s constant “it’s on the edge of my memory” bit was annoying, as was the fact that one of the bad guys basically had to spell out to Lila what was happening and why. But maybe I’m just a super-sleuth. haha. Once again, narrator Brittany Presley does an excellent job of capturing each character’s persona within the context of their voices. I can tell the personalities and corresponding moods of each just by listening to her performance. She continues to capture both the youth and life experiences of the each of the primary characters. Overall, I enjoyed this Dark Heart of Magic. I liked the standalone story of the Tournament of Blades and how it brought out each character’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses....
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Dec
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Black Blade #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: purchased Cold Burn of Magic Cold Burn of Magic is the first book in the new young adult urban fantasy Black Blade trilogy by Jennifer Estep. Even though I very rarely read YA, I decided to give this series a chance, since I absolutely love Ms. Estep’s Elemental Assassin series. Overall, I enjoyed listening to Cold Burn of Magic and found this new world both exciting and engrossing. I will admit that at first I struggled with the book. Being a new series, the author took time to build her world and introduce the characters, which I found strikingly similar to the Elemental Assassins world. Our main character, Lila, is a younger version of Gin. Her world is filled of warring mobster Families, and Gin’s world has fighting mob bosses. Other similarities include some folks having magical Talents/powers, a rare metal used to make weapons, runes/images that represent the different alliances, and, by the way, Lila is an orphan like Gin. At first, I found the resemblances a little disconcerting, but I was willing to wait patiently for the book to take on its own life. And once that story started, it was an amazing ride right up to the very end! The story centers around attacks on Devon Sinclair, the second in command of one of the powerful Families. Lila is forced into protecting Devon and partnering with the Sinclairs to help figure out who the Mystery Man is behind the attacks. I enjoyed watching Lila piece together the puzzle successfully (even though I figured it out before she did!) While the story itself is entertaining, it’s the wonderful characters that bring the book to life. Lila may be a loner thief at the start of the story, but over the course of the book, we are introduced to an amazing cast of characters that I guarantee will become Lila’s closest friends and family before the end of the trilogy. Of course, there are sparks between Lila and Devon, a dangerous attraction given she’s his bodyguard and all. I admire how this is handled by both characters – well, mostly Lila since we share her POV and understand why she does what she does. Oscar is one of my favorites – a house pixie assigned to help...
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Nov
30

Review: Stone Cold Fox by Hailey Edwards

Review: Stone Cold Fox by Hailey Edwards Stone Cold Fox Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Shut. The. Front. Door. I didn’t think it was possible to love one of Hailey Edwards’ characters more than I did Thierry. First, I’m totally going to gush about the whole Black Dog world. While Mai’s book, Stone Cold Fox, isn’t *technically* part of the Black Dog series, anyone who’s read about Thierry’s adventures already knows and loves Mai. Readers new to the series? Okay. This’ll whet your appetite, but be warned—it’s spoilery to the series featuring Thierry! If you haven’t partaken of the Black Dog books, I do highly recommend them. I adored this book for so many reasons. First, my attention was immediately snagged because: COSPLAY! Oldest and Middle cosplay, and I immediately connected with Mai because of her interest in this activity. I may be more behind-the-scenes, doling out advice on creation of various cosplays or ways to do makeup, but I still get a thrill every time I see my kids (ADULT kids…) in a new cosplay done especially well. Second, LABYRINTH. If you’ve never seen Labyrinth, the cult-classic movie starring David Bowie as Jareth, I don’t think we can be friends. Just kidding. I’m always willing to spread the love of one of my favorite movies from back-in-the-day. Mai wasn’t a relatable character for me just because of her cosplay choices. I loved watching her growth through this lil 100-pager. Dawning realization about her past, copious amounts of Ben & Jerry’s, and the love of a good friend—Theirry—support Mai through mob princess-like difficulties that could only *actually* happen in a paranormal world. Which I loved. Ryuu is a pretty interesting character, and I don’t think we learned enough about him early on in the story—by design. I heaved a huge sigh of contentment when all my pressing questions were answered toward the end of the story. Which means I can’t talk about him a lot. I do, however, want to mention how much I admire him. He’s a make-a-decision-and-stick-to-your-guns kind of guy. No waffling. Stone-Cold Fox is definitely an excellent addition to the Black Dog universe. I look forward to seeing more of Mai and Ryuu, hopefully, in the future—because I need to know MORE! I’m also super excited about the January 30, 2016 release of another title from the Black Dog world—Gemini: Dead in the Water. This is a spin-off series, and it’s denoted as Gemini #1 for series...
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Nov
30

Review: Pirateship Down by Suzanne Johnson

Review: Pirateship Down by Suzanne Johnson Pirateship Down Author: Suzanne Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Pirateship Down is the compilation of several previously released shorts, many that have only appeared on blogs and websites, and one new novella, all set in the marvelous Sentinels of New Orleans world. Each story features one or more of the series’ regular characters. This book is basically a companion piece to and compendium of the series, and therefore, is best enjoyed by existing fans of the series. I would encourage those who’ve not read the series, start with the first book, Royal Street. Talk Like a Pirate This story takes place before first Sentinel book and features the historically undead pirate (privateer) Jean Lafitte. Thinking it would be fun to have a real pirate show up at her “talk like a pirate party,” Meg attempts to manifest the ghost of Jean Lafitte. Much to her surprise, the real Jean appears, and roommate Rhyn takes it upon herself to ensure Jean doesn’t cause any trouble in modern-day NOLA. Overall, the short story is fun, and I liked seeing interactions between Jean Lafitte and Wizard Gerald St. Simon long before the current conditions of preternaturals in NOLA. Lagniappe: The Sentinels Multiverse This is not a story per se but more of a primer on the world. Alex, the Pig This is an excellent story narrated by series heroine, DJ Jaco. It is a super short scene that takes place between River Road and Elysian Fields. Boyfriend, Alex, leaves DJ with a pig that is actually a cursed leprechaun. Extremely entertaining.  Cat Mon Dieu This is another short, flash fiction piece, and same timeline as the previous story. It is told in the third person POV of Jean Lafitte. He’s going grocery shopping with DJ and thinks cat food is actual food made of cat. It’s another funny short. Lagniappe: Jean Lafitte-The Man, The Myth, the Undead Pirate This section shares both true facts about Jean Lafitte and more about his character in the series. Rivalry This is a short story that I had read previously. Shared from Alex’s POV, it takes a look at cousins Jake and Alex Warin in their teen years, well before the events of the first book. Here we learn the story of when Alex discovered he was a shapeshifter at 15. Another great short, giving more depth to one of my favorite characters. Swamp Rats This one takes place shortly after...
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Nov
24

Review: Veiled Magic by Deborah Blake

Review: Veiled Magic by Deborah Blake Veiled Magic Author: Deborah Blake Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Donata Santori is a classic witch, manifesting her power through ritual, spells, and ceremony.  Her specialty, however, is speaking with the recently departed.  In a modern twist, she works for the police department, interviewing murder victims, in an alternate reality where several supernatural species have been “outed” and are accepted as a common among humanity. Author Deborah Blake creates several likable characters that surround Donata in Veiled Magic.  I especially liked Peter, an art restorer that becomes deeply involved in the mystery surrounding Donata’s latest case. Chemistry builds between Peter and Donata, but it doesn’t have time to go anywhere while chasing down leads.  Donata also enlists the aid of a former supernatural boyfriend, Magnus, creating what’s supposed to be a love triangle, but doesn’t really feel like one.  It felt more like the threads of something over and done that were still clinging to her as she began to explore something totally new. Magnus is loveable, but I’m team Peter until he proves unworthy. Blake’s unfolding of this story was, at times, obvious.  That said, it was written in a way that made it feel comfortable rather than boring and still succeeded in hiding the overall storyline. Other than the witch community to which Donata belongs, Blake pulls in some unusual, less utilized paranormal species like shape-shifting bears to make her story fresh. Because of the way the story resolves, I assume Veiled Magic is an introduction to a series.  If so, I’ll give Blake some slack over the fact that Donata is under-developed.  She begins to exert herself over the course of the book, becoming more of the person she seems to want to be.  She really shines when she stands up to her family without disrespecting them and when she stands up to the governing council of supernatural beings.  No doubt the next book in the series will see her taking on more responsibility and rising to meet the fall-out of what was begun in Veiled Magic. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: Since Witches came out of the broom-closet in the early 21st century, they have worked alongside humans as police officers, healers, stock traders, and more. But they aren’t the only paranormal entities in our world… Police officer and Witch Donata Santori spends her days interrogating dead witnesses by summoning their spectral forms. Normally the job is little more...
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Nov
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Grave Peril The third title in the Dresden Files, Grave Peril, marks a noticeable shift in the world of Harry Dresden; so much so that the author, Jim Butcher, voices a forward at the beginning of the audiobook suggesting something to that effect. It’s not that everything is completely different, but it’s definitely not the same series that I fell in love with when listening to the first title. The story opens with Dresden recalling the recent uprising of spirits in the Chicago area, and how he and his friend, Michael, a Knight Templar, have been working tirelessly to keep the peace. This is the first evident change – who is this Michael? In the previous books, Dresden didn’t have other supernatural-fighting buddies. He worked solo and brought in help reluctantly, yet in Grave Peril, we are told they’ve been working together for a while. When Michael and Dresden take on a particularly nasty ghost who is trying to kill a bunch of newborns in the hospital, the pair have to follow her over into the never-never, the place where the supernatural reside. Once there, we learn that Harry is fearful of seeing his Godmother, a beautiful and deadly female fae who owns Harry’s sole. *raises eyebrow* Say what?! Where did this Leah come from? The story is told as if everyone knows about Leah (who is anything but motherly as she tries to seduce and capture Dresden), yet in the first two titles there is NOTHING mentioned about her. I understand that we will learn bits and pieces about Harry as the series unfolds; however, this feels like a contradiction to the background of Harry presented in the first two titles. In book 2, Fool Moon, Harry learns a small hint that his mother *may* have been a practicing witch and *possibly* was into the dark side; but this time around, Harry talks as if he knows more and that his mother assigned Leah as his Godmother. It felt like such a left turn from the direction the story was taking after two books, that it rubbed me the wrong way. While the story itself was good; albeit a bit gruesome at times, it had a very different feel than in previous books. In the first two...
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