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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Mar
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Brimstone Deception Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1x + 1.25x Series: SPI #3 Source: Audible/purchased I originally read and reviewed The Brimstone Deception earlier this year. At that time I wrote of the book: Although I did enjoy reading The Brimstone Deception, I found that the story didn’t hold up to the previous two titles. The book felt smaller and simpler than the first two, which is something I appreciated, but I also found that I need more. The mystery had some twists, but everything was pretty much straight forward and spelled out for the reader. There was a lot less of SPI and more focus on just Mak and Ian solving the case. I really think I need to reread this one via my audiobook to get a better sense of where The Brimstone Deception fits in the big picture of the SPI Files, and I look forward to it! Since I had listened to and enjoyed the audiobook versions of the first two SPI Files, I wanted to re-read The Brimstone Deception via audiobook, and I’m very glad I did. I found myself much more engaged in the book and story when shared via Ms. Parker’s superb narration. I didn’t consider the story “smaller and simpler” as I wrote in my earlier review. Rather, it was on par with the first two mysteries. While, I still wanted to see more of the characters we met in the previous book, I found that I didn’t realize they weren’t present because I was more engaged in the “here and now” of the story. I credit my enjoyment of the story to the narration. Ms. Parker truly brings Mak to life for me, making her more three-dimensional and real. She breathes life into each character, effectively adding emotion into her performance, making me care what happens to the characters, especially Mak. And due to the added emotional factor, I found myself much more on board with the Mak-Rake romantic pairing than I was when reading the book. The only downside to listening to The Brimstone Deception is I found that the repetition returned. I must zone-out when I read, because I did not notice the constant use and reuse of certain phrases and terms. But when listening, I seem to pick up on every single word, and there is a lot of repetition, just as I found in the previous two books. After a...
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Feb
29

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Author: Anne Bishop Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Ever since they encountered The Others, humans have seen them as the monsters who lurked in the dark, and some understood that cooperation—alongside a healthy distance—was beneficial to everyone. Different groups of people, however, became angry in response to that fear and resented not being able to take whatever they wanted. Now, the past is destined to repeat itself, and Meg, Simon, and the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard are the only ones who can keep the human race from being wiped from the world forever. Picking up right where Vision in Silver left off, Marked in Flesh follows Meg Corbyn, and the rest of the residents and employees of the Lakeside Courtyard, as the fight between humans and the Terra Indigine finally comes to a head. While I wondered how such beautifully-crafted tension could be adequately maintained for another full-length novel, I found this story to be just as compelling as the previous three. Meg is a truly remarkable character, and has become increasingly so as the series has progressed. Though she’s been living among the Terra Indigine for less than a year, she has changed tremendously. Where she previously viewed the world with the “child’s heart” of a cassandra sangue, along with a good bit of naivety, she has witnessed the consequences of her actions and abilities, and has become burdened with the weight of responsibility as a result—a combination that made me like her even more. But, Meg isn’t the only undeniably unique hero in Marked in Flesh. The rest of the Lakeside Courtyard residents are back, along with a few characters we’ve met previously, as well, all of whom, at this point, I feel are just as crucial to the story as Meg is. Even some of the characters we haven’t gotten to know quite as well have become very important to me, and just the idea of something bad happening to them was enough to break my heart a little. Although the novels of The Others are paranormal urban fantasy, Ms. Bishop still manages to incorporate humor and romance as well. As Meg’s awareness of the rest of the world increases, she’s becoming more curious about her own needs and desires, which succeeds in confusing more than a few residents of the Courtyard, thereby providing the novel with some of its funniest moments. Unlike similar reactions in...
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Feb
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Mercy Thompson Universe Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Lorelei King + Alexander Cendese Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Mercy Thompson, Alpha & Omega Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Shifting Shadows Shifting Shadows is a multi-story anthology of tales from the world of Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. The book really isn’t meant for those who aren’t familiar with the series, and some of the tales will be spoilerish if you haven’t read/listened to the books through Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8). The stories are told in chronological order, with some narrated by Alexander Cendese (AC) and others by Lorelei King (LK). In between each story, Lorelei King narrates a short message about the upcoming story written by Ms. Briggs. Here are my thoughts on each story. While I listened to the stories in order (numbered below), they are listed as they appear in the book blurb. This book includes the new stories… 1) “Silver” Narrator: AC This is an origin story and a long, long ago prequel to MT #5 Silver Borne. It shares how Bran and Samuel became werewolves and outlines the first time Samuel and Ariana met and fell in love. The tale is dark and haunting, but the way it is written and narrated, it felt more like a recounting of history instead of a solid story with a plot; like I’m being told a story rather than immersed in it. The narration was good but nothing great. I liked the Cornish accents. The story was left very open, but having read the series, I know what becomes of the characters.. B/B- 7) “Roses in Winter” Narrator: LK Takes place between Bone Crossed and Silver Borne. It’s the story of Cara who’s dad appealed to Mercy for help in second book, Blood Bound. Cara was attacked and turned into a werewolf when she was only ten and survived. She’s now living with Bran’s pack and is befriending the lone wolf, Asil. This is absolutely one of the best stories of the bunch. It is the tale of two lost souls finding happiness and comfort together as Asil takes Cara under his wing and shares his garden. It is very emotional and powerful, but more so because I know the characters having listening to both series. I loved this one. A+ 9) “Redemption” Narrator: LK This one is all about Ben, one of Adam’s wolves who is sort...
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Feb
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Death Masks by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Death Masks 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 #5 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Death Masks Death Masks is my favorite Dresden Files book to date. Bringing together a good mystery, freaky supernatural beings, and all my favorite characters, Death Masks brings home a solid story with heart. Ortega, Duke of the Red Vampire Court, comes to town to kill Dresden and stop the war between the Red Court and the White Wizard Counsel. He vows that if Dresden accepts a fair duel (to the death), and Dresden wins, Chicago will become a neutral territory, with his friends off limits (as long as they are in Chicago). Suspicious of his true intentions, Harry feels him must accept the terms Ortega offers. Meanwhile, the Vatican sent a priest to Chicago in hopes of retrieving a famous artifact that was stolen from Northern Italy and brought to Chicago. Against the direct recommendations of his friend Michael and fellow Knights of the Cross, Harry accepts the task of finding the missing shroud. Toss in the fact that Harry’s lover, Susan, has returned to town to say goodbye, and Harry finds himself in yet another crazy mess. Not only are the two stories equally compelling, but the overall book is full of heart. Dresden has cleaned up his act, and learn from his last adventure that friends do matter. Harry hasn’t changed significantly, but he’s no longer isolating himself. He has wonderful dialogue and scenes with other characters that add tremendous value to the stories. Additionally, more emotion in Dresden translates into more emotion in me, causing me to care deeply about what happens to the various characters. The other positive in Death Masks is that we see hidden sides and different aspects of several characters. The added depth makes me only want more and more. Plus, there were bits and pieces tossed out there, never really addressed, leaving openings for many potentially wondrous and horrible things to come. Once again, the narration by James Marsters is amazing. His performance of Harry alone is sublime, but his range of voices and depth of expressions only seems to be expanding. Mr. Marsters really nailed young children and various accents in this one. In the end I really, really enjoyed Death Masks! We got to see a more human and emotional Dresden. I was completely engaged both with both...
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Feb
17

Review + Excerpt + Giveaway: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Review + Excerpt + Giveaway: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep Bitter Bite Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Note: this review contains spoilers from the end of the previous book, Spider’s Trap. Finding out that her foster brother, Finn’s mother is alive after believing she was dead his whole life, Gin debates on how to best share the news with Finn. However, mommy-dearest doesn’t stay away from Ashland for long, and soon Gin must figure out what Deirdre is up to before she destroys Finn in the process of her latest scheme. Yet, maybe for once, Gin’s suspicions aren’t well-founded, and Finn will finally have the mother he’s longed for his entire life. Nah… Gin’s always right, isn’t she? Bitter Bite is the fourteenth title in the always exciting Elemental Assassin series. The books blend action and adventure with smart plot development and amazing storytelling, to give readers a thrilling ride. I honestly love each book, and Bitter Bite is on par with its companion stories. However, reading it was so stressful: in my head, I knew everything *should* work out in the end, but while reading, I was worried what the cost would be to Gin – physically, mentally, emotionally.  Ms. Estep keeps her stories fresh and entertaining, even though each book tends to have a few repetitive qualities. What I love is that in Bitter Bite, Ms. Estep actually brings up Gin’s predictability in a clever, round about way. And I sincerely hope it gives Gin pause in the future as she contends with a new big bad, introduced at the end of the book. I will admit that about one-third of the way thought the book, I started having doubts as I witnessed Finn ignore Gin’s concerns over his mother suddenly appearing back in Ashland. I thought to myself, not again – we’ve been through this before, most recently with Owen. But once again, Ms. Estep takes something obvious and puts a unique spin on the story. I loved that she addresses my concerns via a wonderful scene involving Owen and Finn, and later in the story, when Finn and Gin have a heart-to-heart. Similarly, what could have been a repeat of a robbery scene from a previous book was taken to a whole new level in Bitter Bite. What I love most about this series, and what made Bitter Bite all the more (better), is watching Gin grow and mature over the course of fourteen titles. It’s amazing to...
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Feb
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Summer Knight 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 #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Summer Knight After taking some time off from the Dresden Files, I found myself happily re-engaged in the life of Harry Dresden, professional wizard and all around nice guy. Summer Knight starts about eight to nine months after the conclusion of the previous title, when Harry is forced to deal with the outfall from his actions against the Red Court of Vampires. His own kind, the White Council of Wizards, wants to hand him over the vampires to end the war and stop the violence between their kinds. Luckily, Harry has a few friends on the White Council who help him get himself cleaned up and functioning again (he’s pretty depressed over the loss of his girlfriend, Susan). Unfortunately, Harry must stop an impending war between he Summer and Winter Faery courts in order to save himself and the world. I found myself much more engrossed while listening to Summer Knight than the previous couple of titles. The story reaches a balance between dark and light; something that’s been missing for a while. Harry’s life is not an easy one, but he’s finally realizing has and is turning to friends. He starts the book in a bad place, but by the end, he has transformed himself into a happier person who is better equipped to deal with the pitfalls tossed in front of his every turn. I was pleased that the author didn’t lead Harry into a dark place and leave him there, but instead gave him insight and allowed him to grow without changing his core persona. There is a lot that occurs during the Summer Knight. Several new characters are introduced over the course of Harry’s investigation into the murder of the Summer Knight. Yet through it all, we welcome back key characters from the first three titles. His conversations with Police Detective Karen Murphy were among my favorites of the book, and I was glad to see the pair trusting one another again. The mythology of the Fae expanded tremendously, but it never felt overwhelming or confusing. My biggest complaint is that once again, fight scenes seemed to go on forever and overwhelmed the story. As with the previous titles, James Marsters provides an excellent performance which made listening to the book utterly enjoyable. I...
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Feb
9

Review: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price

Review: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price Grave Visions Author: Kalayna Price Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: After waiting with baited breath for the fourth Alex Craft novel, it is finally here.  Grave Visions was well worth waiting for!  Gikany and Una, although we struggled at times to remember the events of the previous three novels, found ourselves happily immersed in this fascinating world. Although we wished at times that we had reread at least the previous novel, we were able to recall enough of the previous events so that we did not feel lost.  However, it might be useful for other fans to reread the previous books so you have a fresh memory of past events.  Grave Visions picks up where Grave Memory left off: Alex is being pressured to select a court, trying to have a committed relationship with Death, and survive her new Winter Queen Appointed roommate, Falin.  If this wasn’t enough, she is also struggling to uncover who has developed and is selling a new deadly drug, all while trying to ensure she doesn’t let her friends down.  Alex has her hands full as always. This rich world continues to be a fantastic getaway for urban fantasy fans.  Gikany and Una thoroughly enjoy the world that Ms. Price has created.  Nekros City with its varied creatures and ties to Faerie is fascinating.  Alex herself continues to be an interesting mixture of humor and action, bumbling and astute observations, and vulnerability and toughness.  Her grave witch abilities are captivating and add to the uniqueness of this series.  We liked how entwined the Glitter drug mystery was with Alex’s own personal issues.  We were entranced by the story’s progression and were intrigued by its conclusion.  We understand Alex’s fears about her relationship with Death and wonder if she might not at least give Dugan a chance. We really enjoyed this long awaited novel and look forward to more in this series.  We continue to enjoy the mysteries and adventures Alex finds herself in.  This world continues to fascinate us and we can’t wait for more!  If you haven’t tried this series, we recommend you give it a try. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a Grave Witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers, who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But now she’s the one fighting to...
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Feb
4

Review: Anna and the Vampire Prince by Jeanne C. Stein

Review: Anna and the Vampire Prince by Jeanne C. Stein Anna and the Vampire Prince Author: Jeanne C. Stein Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: For fans of the Anna Strong Chronicles, you will not want to miss the latest novella, Anna and the Vampire Prince.  Gikany and Una liked this glimpse of Anna in transition as she mourns her mother.  It was another chance to see Vlad and gave these two readers something to ponder about what may be next in this world. ****If you haven’t read the series, this novella is not the place to start.  We strongly recommend you read the series from the beginning.**** Anna’s story has had some closure.  Her mother has passed, she is happily married to Frey, and things have settled down.  As much as they can settle down for the vampire who is the Chosen One.  This novella resolves the issue of some renegade vampires and shows how Anna and her family are doing as they continue to mourn.  Although it moves quickly, it was a fun read. What we really enjoyed though, was that this novella gave us another opportunity to see Vlad, the legendary vampire.  He was very intriguing in the previous novel and it was fantastic to see him in action again.  At the close of this novella, we were hopeful that maybe there may be more in store for Vlad.  We would love to see a spin-off following him.  A lot has changed for Vlad and he seems to be in transition. With Anna’s story being nicely tied up (for the moment) it would be great to follow Vlad as he embarks on a new path. All in all, Anna and the Vampire Prince is a treat for Anna Strong fans.  Although it is short, it was a sweet and nail-biting read as we watched Anna save her niece’s friend.  We hope that this is a prequel that will start a new series in this world.  We are going to keep our fingers crossed! Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Saving her family means saving the world. Vampire Anna Strong should be enjoying life with her new husband, Frey, but she’s too devastated by the loss of her mother to focus on much else. That is, until her niece’s best friend is kidnapped, and Anna leaps into action. Angry citizens blame the recent rash of kidnappings on France’s immigrant population and threaten retribution that could upset the economy of the entire...
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Feb
3

Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin

Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin The Brimstone Deception Author: Lisa Shearin Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Picking up immediately after the conclusion of the previous book, The Brimstone Deception opens with Mak on a date with Rake and Ian on date with Kylie. At the same restaurant. Were Ian is convinced that Mak is only with Rake because the gorgeous goblin enthralled her. However, before anyone can enjoy themselves, another patron suddenly realizes he can see monsters all around him. This puts SPI into action, discovering there is a new drug called Brimstone being circulated around town, and it’s leaving a path of dead dealers in its wake. Lisa Shearin’s SPI Files is a wonderfully adventurous series, pairing dangerous mystery-solving with the bizarre and supernatural. The Brimstone Deception starts with a jolt and the action is nearly non-stop as SPI seer Mak and her partner, Ian, try to find the open hellpit in New York before it destroys the city. I loved trying to piece together the clues as Mak and Ian uncover them bit by bit. While the series is by no means a romance, I found myself hoping for a Mak-Ian pairing because the two make such a great team. However, Ms. Shearin makes it clear from the get go that they are strictly partners, and Mak has eyes for Rake. While I was personally bummed by this, I will admit that by the conclusion of the book, Rake was winning me over. Just a little. Having listened to the audiobook of the first two titles in the series, I felt like I was missing something by reading this one. (I have already purchased the audiobook and will be listening to it soon.) I don’t know if it was that, or the fact that I read the book over the Christmas holidays, and it was difficult to carve out a solid block of time to read, but I never really got into the overall story. It was interesting, but I failed to connect with the tale on an emotional level. One of the things that bothered me was the fact that this book takes place only one day after the prior book, and the SPI agents didn’t have anytime to recover, yet they were ready to go for another round of crime-solving. Additionally, Mak discovers a new aspect to her seer-abilities, and it was never really explained why it happened. It almost felt contrived, but not quite. I suppose...
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Jan
29

Review + Giveaway: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter

Review + Giveaway: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter Blood in Her Veins Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Although my initial experience with the Jane Yellowrock series was something of a challenge, it has since become one of my all-time favorites. As much as the series has grown, novel by novel, there has always been room for more: the personal history of the characters, the addition of a curtain call for some of the stories, contributions to other anthologies, and so on. With the publication of Blood in Her Veins, Ms. Hunter has been remarkably generous in her willingness to give her readers what they’ve asked for by gathering all of these glimpses into Jane’s world in one place. Having already seen some of these short stories, I was very excited to be able to read them all together. Each one serves a specific purpose, including giving fans of the series the opportunity to witness events from other characters’ perspectives, providing background information and clues to why they are the way they are, as well as offering insight into Jane’s own emotions and development, thereby making her even more intriguing. While plenty of Ms. Hunter’s characters take the stage in Blood in Her Veins, I was particularly fond of the scenes told from Bruiser’s point of view. As a long-term Bruiser supporter, I found these to be an especially nice treat. Not just another compilation, Blood in Her Veins showcases two new stories by Ms. Hunter, Cat Fight and Bound No More. In Cat Fight, Jane is once again obligated to visit Bayou Oiseau, Louisiana to broker another agreement between the local witches and vampires (since the first one apparently didn’t stick). I found nearly all of these characters to be highly entertaining, especially given their collective ability to shift between humorous and a little terrifying with whiplash-inducing rapidity. Throw in a disturbingly adept mud demon—thing—and this story was a lot of fun. In Bound No More, Jane’s beloved god-daughter, “Angie Baby,” proves that she’s much more powerful than anyone has ever suspected, and far too powerful for her own good. Although Jane & Co. have a monster to fight, I found the true horror to be Jane and Molly’s easily justifiable fear of the predatory groups would seek to use Angelina’s gifts for their own purposes. This story has quite a few sweet moments as well, however, and might be one of my favorites to date. Blood in Her Veins is...
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