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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Aug
17

Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill

Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill The Sight Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: In the second book of her Devil’s Isle series, Ms. Neill expands upon her exciting world filled with Paranormals, humans, and Sensitives (humans with magic abilities). The Sight picks up with heroine Claire Connolly and her group of friends continuing to thrive in post-war New Orleans, in the Zone, an area ravaged by the battle between Paranormals and humans. However, a newly emerging group, the Reveillon, wants to rid the world of all things magical, as well as the humans who support the capturing and jailing of Paranormals at Devil’s Isle. The Reveillon’s leader will stop at nothing to purge “traitors,” to include Claire and Liam, from New Orleans. While The Veil established and shaped the parameters of Claire’s world, The Sight fills in the details with vivid characters and engaging friendships. Not having to worry about constructing the rules of this world, Ms. Neill allows her characters to come into their own and fill the pages with color and emotion. I’ve become invested in this world which is both utterly fascinating and yet so completely frustrating. Frustrating, you ask?! YES… because I want more, and I want it now. While in both of the first two books, battles are fought and won, there is a larger war and a much bigger picture with several open-ends waiting to be shared. What will happen to Claire and other Sensitives? Will the Veil reopen and the looming war to take over the Earth begin again? Will Devil’s Isle change? Is Claire’s mom alive? Is there a Claire and Liam? These are all questions that came out in the first book, and while The Sight tackles some, there is still much more. Claire is a fascinating, first-person narrator, and I have grown to really enjoy her voice. While I had some issues with Claire coming off overly young and innocent in the first book, this time around, we see her inner desire to make the world a better place and to fight for justice. Although Claire must hide the fact that she’s a Sensitive, she’s unwilling to leave her store to run and hide. I loved that she started go after what she wants, to include Liam. Rounding out this exciting story and Claire’s strong personality, are the wonderful friendships and relationships developing on the pages. Whether well-established or newer links that are being formed, the camaraderie and...
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Jul
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Proven Guilty Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Proven Guilty After taking a break from the Dresden Files for a few months, listening to Proven Guilty was just what I wanted and needed from this dark urban fantasy series. The war between the Red Court and White Council isn’t going well, meanwhile the Merlin wants to find a way to remove Harry from the Council, permanently. Harry’s mentor, Ebenezer, tips off Harry that the Winter Court (fae) have not joined the war after the Red Court used their lands without permission and that there is a traitor in the Council. So Harry embarks on a secret, multi-faceted mission, where not only is his own life in danger, but that of his dear friend Michael’s daughter, Molly. While Proven Guilty continues the somber storytelling that dominates this series, I found it had a much better balance of light and dark with respect to Dreden’s mental and emotional wellbeing. There is no denying he lives in a dangerous world with the cards stacked against him, but he does have many friends, and Dresden is finally turning to them. I’ll admit that I held my breath while reading most of the first half, waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop right on top of Dresden’s head, Mr. Butcher was able to keep things from going too far, and brought Dresden back from the depths before he hit bottom. But with that said, there were a couple spots I was ready to give up, only to be drawn back in by the excellent storytelling. At the core of Proven Guilty, there is a mystery, and Dresden is back doing what he does best: piecing clues together to uncover the truth. As he does so, he discovers that the overall picture is much bigger than he initially expected, with an unknown threat that could be the ultimate foe. This journey allows Dresden to expunge some of the guilty he’s been carrying around for the past year or so, as well as strengthen friendships and alliances he’ll need to stay on “right” side of that fine line between dark and light. While we see Dresden work through his relationships with a few key characters, it is his heart-to-hearts with longtime colleague and friend, Karen, that gave me all the...
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Jul
11

Review: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep

Review: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep Unwanted Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Unwanted is a delightful novella shared from the POV of Gin Blanco’s foster brother, Finnegan Lane, as he deals with the fallout from the events of the previous full-length story, Bitter Bite. Finn is not in a good place emotionally, feeling responsible for his mother’s horrible actions. He’s shunned by his coworkers, but takes the hit because of his guilt. Gin (and others) stand by him, silently showing support, hoping he’ll recover. Meanwhile, Finn’s astute boss requires Finn to attend each and every funeral of those bank employees that lost their lives in his mother’s attempted robbery. Seeing Finn in such a low place hurt me. He’s always been such an upbeat, happy guy; the comic relief in Gin’s overly serious life. He’s genuinely a good man, so knowing what his mother’s actions did to him, was emotionally taxing for me as well as Finn. Ms. Estep does a good job bringing Finn full circle, through helping the widow of a hardworking bank guard. Finn’s protective nature and generous heart find their way to the surface as he gets himself back in the game. Unwanted is the perfect bridge between Bitter Bite and the upcoming Unraveled because it gives Finn time to deal with his state of mind before getting back in the dangerous game of life among Ashland’s underworld. While the story could be read as a standalone, I strongly discourage it. Having known Finn for 14 books is what makes his story all the more enjoyable to readers; Unwanted is a heartfelt treat to longtime Finnegan fans. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: The fallout from his disastrous “family reunion” in Bitter Bite has left Finn feeling hurt, angry, and depressed. He can barely stand to look at himself in the mirror, much less eat any of the delicious barbecue from Gin’s famed Pork Pit restaurant. But when the funeral for a slain security guard at his bank turns into a showdown with some nasty underworld giants, Finn knows that he must act in order to protect an innocent family. Finnegan Lane might be the most unwanted man in Ashland these days, but he’s determined to try to make amends for his past mistakes… Release Date: July 18, 2016 Publisher: Pocket Star Series: Elemental Assassins #14.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: NetGalley Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series:...
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Jun
21

Review: Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk

Review: Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk Death and Relaxation Author: Devon Monk Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Death and Relaxation is a new urban fantasy series from Devon Monk.  It has down-to-earth characters, humor, mystery, and action with a splash of romance.  What’s not to like? This is a fascinating world with a mix of mythologies.  In the small town of Ordinary, Oregon, gods and monsters secretly mix with mortals.  The mortal Police Chief, Delaney Reed, is in on the secrets since it’s her job to police both groups while keeping mortals unaware.  Although the monsters live as part of the community, the gods are only there for a vacation.  However, a vacation for a god can last decades.  There is so much to this world and we’ve only been given a taste. Gikany and Una really enjoyed this first glimpse into the world of Ordinary Magic.  Although some of the themes can be quite heavy, the humor and banter lighten it up.  You don’t want to miss the Rhubarb Concoctions judging scene (it is hilariously funny). We laughed out loud many times while reading this novel and we found it difficult to put down.  Death and Relaxation was a quick read since we were equally engrossed in both the detective drama and in Delany’s love life.  Delany shares a rich camaraderie with both her family and with the gods and monsters of the town. Although there is some foreshadowing, the ending has a few surprises.  Delany may not have been able to connect all the pieces as quickly as we did, but considering how full her plate is, and how new she is to the job, it was understandable.  Her humanity was a refreshing contrast to the paranormal backdrop.  The mystery of the murder and its ramifications are resolved at the end, but we are left with some interesting questions about Ryder.  We also cannot wait to see how Death enjoys his vacation and want to learn more about the mythology of the individual monsters.  This series has staggering potential. Death and Relaxation is a strong start to what could be a quirkily fun and fascinating new series.  We loved the world that Ms. Monk has created: one that is rich in nuances and is bursting with humor.  Gikany and Una look forward to the next novel in this series, Devils and Details due out in July of this year. Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Police...
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Jun
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Steel’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased Steel’s Edge centers around Richard Mar (introduced in book two), brother of Kaldar. Richard has been around the block, and his life hasn’t been very easy. He doesn’t necessary fit in with his family, so he’s found meaning in tracking down and destroying the illegal slave industry, which was responsible for the torture of his younger cousin Sophie. Stumbling into the Edge after being fatally wounded, he’s fortunate that Charlotte de Ney, a powerful healer, finds and saves him. Charlotte is a noble blue blood from Adrianglia who moved to the Edge after a devastating betrayal left her worried about the dark magic within her. Luckily, Charlotte was taken in by Eleonore Drayton: Rose, George, and Jack’s grandmother. After three years, Charlotte has been accepted by the Edgers and lives a quiet life. But when Richard Mar crashes into her life, everything changes. Now Charlotte is compelled to join Richard on his dangerous quest. As the final book in Ilona Andrew’s wonderful Edge series, Steel’s Edge takes readers on an exciting journey and gives closure to some long running storylines without losing site of the book’s central storyline. Richard and Charlotte’s crusade against the slavers is action-packed, edgy, and thrilling. The execution of the ultimate plan kept me glued to the proverbial pages of the book. The entire plot was well-thought out and masterfully executed. My heart was racing at times. But wait… there’s more! I adored Charlotte and Richard’s romance. They are two damaged individuals that don’t have to hide their true natures from one another. Their attraction is strong, but their love for and acceptance of the other is what makes their romance so engaging. I loved where their story ended; it was fitting for their journey. Steel’s Edge also tackles a couple storylines that have run throughout the series. The first is that of John Drayton, father of Rose, George, and Jack. He abandoned his children to find fortune and treasure after their mother died. The second is that of Spider and The Hand, the longtime nemesis of the Mar family. While neither storyline takes up much page space, the authors do great justice to both. Once again Renee Raudman works her magic with the story, bringing to life these characters. She adds just the right...
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Jun
15

Review: Dr. DOA by Simon R. Green

Review: Dr. DOA by Simon R. Green Dr. DOA Author: Simon R. Green Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A/A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una love the Secret Histories series.  It is a fun, tongue-in-cheek, urban fantasy take on James Bond.  We love that no matter how grueling or arduous a mission is, Eddie always finds a way to overcome and triumph. First, let us say we continue to love the characters, the fascinating world, and the witty banter that are key elements in this series.  Eddie and Molly’s verbal volleys (along with their adventures) are gripping, humorous, and all around great fun.  No matter what mystery or mission is thrown at them, by the end they always triumph.  Although there may be overarching minor plot lines, the major plot of each novel is resolved at the end.  Until this one.  Dr. DOA ends with a massive cliffhanger.  So a word of warning to those that can’t stand them, wait until the next book comes out. This novel was incredibly gripping and filled with emotional turmoil.  Eddie is faced with his own mortality, and it is incredibly difficult as Eddie deals with it.  The tension that develops between Molly and Eddie, since she is desperate to save him at any cost, along with Eddie’s turmoil as he is forced to deal with the choice between keeping a personal vow or protecting loved ones, keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The suspense continually builds as the novel progresses with Eddie trying to find a cure, and if he cannot, revenge.  It makes those moments of witty banter rest points. The novel flows seamlessly as if a roller-coaster on rails. For fans of the series, this is a serious must read.  It is gripping, with certain minor overarching elements being exposed.  That being said, it has an incredible cliffhanger ending (yes, Gikany and Una’s screams of frustration can still be heard).  Needless to say, we are biting at the bit for the next book. Our Rating: A, Loved It until the cliffhanger ending… Then A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: The name is Drood, Eddie Drood, also known as Shaman Bond. My family has been safeguarding humanity for generations, facing the hidden horrors of the world so you can sleep at night and remain oblivious to the existence of the monstrous nightmares that walk and stalk among us.  Speaking of predatory night terrors, there is a man who gets away with murder. A man...
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Jun
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Fate’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased The third Edge story, Fate’s Edge, features Kaldar Mar, the swindling, grifting cousin of Cerise, the previous book’s heroine. The story is set two years after the second book, with Kaldar working for the Adrianglian spy network, the Mirror, hoping to exact revenge on Spider and the Hand for killing his family. He’s been recruited to recover a valuable stolen artifact, which should give him the opportunity for which he’s been waiting. Audrey Callahan wants to live a normal life, working for a PI firm in the Broken and maintaining a small home in the Edge. After living a life filled with heists and disappointments, she’s left her family behind, for good. However, when her dad shows up and requests her help in “one more big job” she gives him a choice: he can either walk away and keep her as a daughter or she’ll do the job and he will no longer have a daughter, killing him if he returns. Her dad picks the heist over his daughter. Now the Hand is after her to recover the artifact, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. I am throughly enjoying my time in Ilona Andrews’ Edge. The mythology is unique and interesting, and with each passing book, the plot expands and deepens. While each story is a standalone romance with its own adventure, there is an overall urban fantasy arc. Although new characters are introduced in each title, previous characters are brought forward and sometimes play key roles. Kaldar and Audrey’s story is genuinely fun, although at times confusing and complex. The pair are con artists, working both the enemy to gain back possession of the stolen artifact, but also with each other. They play games, hiding their true feelings in an effort not to get conned and hurt. While on the surface, the plot of retrieving the items Audrey helped steal seems simple, the overall story is anything but. At one point, the pair had to steal money from a pirate to get in good with the preacher, so that they could rob him and exchange that item for an invitation to the bad guy’s auction, in order to get back the item stolen in the first place. *phew* I became tired of all of the layers of...
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Jun
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bayou Moon Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased Bayou Moon opens two years after the conclusion of the previous book, On the Edge, where we find William living a solitary life in the Edge. He is soon recruited by the Mirror, a spy network for the country of Adrianglia in the Weird, and finds himself off to the Mire in the Edge. Cerise Mar lives in the Edge in the swamps called the Mire. The Mars are in a family feud with the Sheeriles, and her parents have been kidnapped by evil agents of the Hand. Lucky for Cerise, she crosses paths with William, and they team up to stop the Hand. The second book started as a bit of a shocker to me. I thought that the Edge series was an urban fantasy series that would follow Rose and Declan through four books. But it’s not… It’s more of a UF romance, with a different couple featured in each book. After my initial disappointment, I learned to love both William and Cerise. Overall, I enjoyed Bayou Moon. Once again, the storytelling is phenomenal, with an engrossing plot filled with some twists and turns. It is, however, a long book, and I felt that it would have benefitted from some editing. The ending dragged on a bit too long and started to frustrate me. Additionally, the authors left open some doors that I would have preferred closed. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if they are resolved in future titles. I did enjoy the reintroduction of the main characters from the first title. I hope that the next two books will continue to involve some of these familiar players. Renée Raudman’s performance is utterly amazing. She captures every moment perfectly – reconstructing emotions that allow a listener to experience what the character feels. She also introduces appropriate sighs, breaths, and more to express the attitudes and physical exhaustion (for example) of the characters. In the end, another wonderful addition to the Edge series. My Rating: B Narration:...
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May
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: On the Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased On the Edge is the first story in Ilona Andrews’ unique urban fantasy romance series. The Edge is the place between the Broken (human, non-magical world) and the Weird (mirror world with alternate history and magic-filled). Rose and her two young brothers, Georgie and Jack, live in the Edge, while Rose holds a below minimum wage job in the Broken to try and make ends meet. Everything changes when a Blue Blood from the Weird, Declan, shows up on Rose’s land, while mysterious, evil hounds pick off Edgers one by one. The writing team of Ilona Andrews is one of the best around. Their attention to detail, while weaving a unique and exciting, action-packed tale, results in one engrossing story after another. On the Edge reads mostly like an urban fantasy, but has multiple third-person POVs and features a romance. Declan and Rose are like Curran and Kate (Kate Daniels series) or Rogan and Nevada (Hidden Legacy series). They are oil and water. Noble, calm, alpha male and feisty witty hard-on-her-luck female. Female in trouble and could protect herself, but the male wants and needs to protect. I love the dialogue and banter. Renée Raudman, who narrates all of the Andrews’ titles, works her charm, giving each character a unique, age-appropriate voice. She works in accents, attitude, and emotion to keep the listener engaged. Overall, On the Edge is exciting and full of twists. The authors have created an incredibly fascinating world, filled with complex and engaging characters, coupled with strong storytelling. I look forward to more from The Edge. Story: A Narration:...
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May
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze 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: 1.5x Series: Black Blade #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: purchased/audible Bright Blaze of Magic Bright Blaze of Magic is the third and final story in the wonderful young adult urban fantasy Black Blade trilogy. The book hits all the right marks needed for the successful conclusion of a series: bringing to end the overarching storylines and finishing on a positive note. The story begins shortly after the exciting conclusion of Dark Heart of Magic, with the younger Sinclairs: Lila, Devon, and Felix, breaking into the Draconi Mansion to steal Victor’s magic infused black blades. With the help of new ally Dia, things have gone as smoothly as possible over the past couple of weeks. However, time is up and Victor is ready to make his move against the rest of the Cloudburst Falls Families. Overall, I enjoyed the final adventure in the Black Blade series which brought to close the war between the families and filled in all the details of Victor’s backstory and his dastardly plans. I loved seeing how much Lila has grown over the course of the three books, going from loner to a valued and loved member of the Sinclair family. I also enjoyed seeing her make connections with the monsters around town and learning more about her mother and her own roots. While predictable in where the story would end, the whys and hows were interesting and kept me engrossed in the tale. With that said, I felt that this book was lacking the richness and fullness of the previous two titles. Bright Blaze of Magic focused pretty much solely on the battle between the Victor and the other Families. The book felt like one fight scene after another, with little else. In the previous books, there was a central mystery to be solved, but not so with Bright Blaze of Magic. This, coupled with the amount of repetitious thoughts, actions, and phrases, made the story drag at times, and I found my thoughts wandering as I listened. The narration by Ms. Pressley remained spot on and highly enjoyable. She gives the primary characters the vibrancy of their youthful years without making them come across young or immature. One difference for me this time around; I listened to the book at 1.5x instead of my usual 1.25x. I’m not sure if this is...
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