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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Nov
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Brighter Than the Sun by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Brighter Than the Sun by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Brighter Than the Sun Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Listening Speed: 1.25x Audiobook Source: purchased What I’m Talking About: Brighter Than the Sun is a story for fans and readers of the Charlie Davidson series by Darynda Jones. Told in the first person, present tense voice of Reyes, the novella recounts his life from Charlie’s birth to a point sometime within the first book of the series. I don’t recommend this story for those who have not read the series because, although it is a prequel of sorts, knowledge of the two main characters, Charlie and Reyes, is what makes the story interesting and why it worked for me. The narrative voice is very odd, in that it is told in present tense, but it is a history of Reyes’ life. It mostly worked, but I felt like I was being taught a history lesson rather than experiencing an actual story with a plot. With that said, some of Charlie’s humor still works its way into the tale, even though it is generally a much darker story. Reyes doesn’t have share Charlie’s ADD tendencies nor her sarcastic outlook on life, which makes the story is very straight forward, and I really liked seeing certain events from Reyes’ POV. My biggest complaint, which really irritated me, is that Reyes makes an off-the-cuff comment about the impending horrible future of one of the major characters in the series. WTH?! Why toss something that big out there as a small footnote in a side novella? This is the second story in the Charley Davidson series that I’ve listened to rather than read, and I find that I’m enjoying the stories more this way. The narration by Lorelei King is good, although I still hear Mercy and Adam from the Mercy Thompson series because I have listened to several more of those titles. But Ms. Lorelei is a master at her craft, and she truly helps bring to life these stories. Overall, Brighter Than the Sun is an interesting tale but not a genuine story. It’s a history lesson told in present tense. I liked it, but it’s not a standalone story in that knowledge of Charlie and Reyes is needed to really embrace this tale. And since I fall into that category, I enjoyed this short journey into the mind of Reyes. Story: B- Narration: B+   About the Book:...
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Oct
28

Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep Dark Heart of Magic Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una really enjoyed Cold Burn of Magic, the first book in the Black Blade series by Jennifer Estep. The sequel, Dark Heart of Magic, was even better. We loved it and look forward to more. We enjoyed Lila’s humor and down-to-earth nature. Through her journey in this novel, we watched her grow in maturity. There are some world-shattering secrets Lila uncovers in Dark Heart of Magic that completely change her perspective. As Lila matures, she is able to see beyond some of the facades that easily deceived her in the first book. Despite her all consuming goal of avenging her mother, Lila finds herself a part of the Sinclair Family, not just as a bodyguard, but also as a friend and valued family member. It is fascinating how this coming of age story is entwined with the plot of murdered monsters, the Tournament of Blades, and the ongoing plot of the Draconi Family. It kept us glued to the pages, watching to see what happens next! The supporting characters are just as loveable and memorable as Lila. We love Oscar, the pixie with “style”, who cares for Lila in his own way. Lila’s friends Felix, Mo, and Devon add variety and depth to Lila’s world. They are truly colorful characters (Mo in more ways than one), and it is captivating to see Lila slowly change from a loner into a loyal friend. It was fascinating to see Deah humanized in this sequel. We liked how she went from being an aloof, spoiled heiress to a victim trying to get by. Dark Heart of Magic was a nail-biting and enjoyable read. Although the identity of the saboteur was easy to figure out, the saboteur’s motivations were not as cut and dry. We liked how the story played out along as the revelations were made. We are eagerly anticipating the final book in this series Bright Blaze of Magic. If you haven’t picked up the Black Blade series yet, you definitely should. Our Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight—or the danger. Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s...
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Oct
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vlad brings on the heat

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vlad brings on the heat Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bound by Flames Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Prince #3 (Night Huntress Universe #12) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: library loan NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. It’s been a few books since I last listened to the Night Prince series, and I have to say the time away seems to have changed my feelings towards the series and narrator. I’m not sure if it’s this book in particular, or if it’s due to what I’ve listened to in the interim, but I’m not enjoying the story and narrator nearly as much as I did a couple months ago. The story opens with Leila using her electrical talents to try to find which of Vlad’s associates are working with his mortal enemy. Unfortunately, she places herself in danger, and being the controlling, overprotective vampire he is, Vlad puts a semi-permanent stop to her efforts. This puts the pair at odds as neither can find a way to a happy middle-ground where Leila helps. However, as the danger intensifies, Vlad must turn to another enemy for assistance. The focus of the entire book is finding Szilagyi, the vampire who has pretty much ruined Vlad’s life lately. And while I was temporary irritated at the wall put up between Vlad and Leila, the communication and compromises came much sooner than I expected. Although, I was annoyed at the constant references to Leila’s dreaded “inner voice” and the “he’ll leave you when he finds out what you did” scenes. However, Vlad and Leila’s relationship strengthened even more during the course of the book, and for that I’m grateful. They had a couple of emotionally intense scenes, which reminded me of the reasons why I enjoy this series. With that said, I have to ask… how many times will Leila be captured and tortured? Enough already. It’s old news and I really hope that it won’t happen again in future titles. And there will be future titles. While Bound by Flames may put a wrap on some of the outstanding, over-arching storylines, the ending provides insight to an even more dangerous threat to Vlad and his family. Finally, the narration really annoyed me at times when listening to the story. Where as in the past I enjoyed Ms. Gilbert’s  non-speaking vocal additions and the way she’d infuse emotion into the voices, this time...
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Oct
6

Review: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish

Review: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish Owl and the City of Angels Author: Kristi Charish Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: After the cliffhanger of the previous novel, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this sequel to Owl and the Japanese Circus.  What I found was another gripping and exciting adventure for Owl, along with watching her grow and mature.  It was truly an enjoyable sequel. The book opens with Owl on the job for Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon, thus confirming that she will work for him per the agreement they made at the conclusion of the previous novel. Though tasked with getting one of two artifacts, Owl can’t resist going after both (with a small side trip for a personal acquisition).  Of course everything falls apart, and the ride is on.  Nothing is as it seems, and it was surprising to find the different connections that each of Owl’s adventures related to in the overall plot.  I really enjoyed the twists and turns, old enemies and new. I continue to enjoy the development of Owl’s character.  In this sequel, we see her learning from past mistakes.  I love having the opportunity to experience her navigating the perils of relationships, most notably her relationship with Rynn.  The maturity we see in her is refreshing, especially the soul searching she goes through.  I find myself able to connect with her and relate, even though we are nothing alike.  I continue to respect the honesty she has with herself about her shortcomings and areas of personal growth. Although things are resolved at the end of the book, we are still given a bit of a cliffhanger.  We still do not know the identity of the person “behind it all,” the sacrifice that Owl had to make, and the mysterious offer from IAA.  This is definitely a series that builds from book to book.  The world continues to not only evolve, but reveal itself.  I enjoy the adventure and suspense and most especially Owl and her friends.  I eagerly await the next novel in this series.  If you enjoy nail-biting adventure, fascinating world-building, and a smart-mouth female Indiana Jones, this is the series for you. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights...
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Sep
23

Review: Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla

Review: Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla Shadows at Midnight Author: Amanda Bonilla Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Though I’ve tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, there were a couple of things that I would have appreciated knowing before I began reading Shadows at Midnight. What Darian goes through in the beginning of the story is torture. Long, graphically detailed torture that is also a kind of mental violation. But, as upsetting as Darian’s experience was, I think what Xander is subjected to is even more disturbing. Although I don’t care much for him, I believe it should be noted that what happens to him is nothing short of rape (being sexual, psychological, and non-consensual) and thereby merits a trigger warning. Having said that, I found Shadows at Midnight to be challenging, exciting, persistently engaging, and difficult. From the very beginning, Darian is in a place of such darkness and pain that it was hard to read. What she suffers is neither quick, nor glossed over, but goes on for the entirety of the first three chapters. The tension-filled journey and battle that almost immediately follow take up a solid six chapters of their own. After that, the story is filled with pitfalls and second-guesses, and Darian becomes more acquainted with her worst fears than ever before. This is a heavy narrative to get through, which is part of what makes it so compelling. Still, it was so good in many ways that I just couldn’t stop reading it. Despite the gravity of the events of the story, this is Darian at her finest. Now that she has so much to lose, she is more determined than ever to hold on to those she cares about. She is ferocious and brittle, yet loyal and unwaveringly dedicated to their respective causes. The trials that Darian has faced thus far have been exceedingly harsh at times, but she’s evolved into a wonderful character in the process. While there were moments in earlier stories when I was frustrated by her arrogance and stubborn recklessness, I’ve come to like her tremendously at this point, and in Shadows at Midnight, she’s become truly remarkable. All of my other favorite characters are back, as well, including Tyler, Raif, Asher, Levi, the rest of Darian’s Shaede team, and even Anya. I would have liked to see more of some of them, but every moment they each spend with Darian is used to reaffirm and strengthen the bond they...
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Aug
12

Review: Dark Ascension by M.L. Brennan

Review: Dark Ascension by M.L. Brennan Dark Ascension Author: M.L. Brennan Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Ms. Brennan has done it again!  Dark Ascension, the continuing saga of Fort, the reluctant vampire, remains exciting, riveting, and fascinating.  If you haven’t tried the Generation V series, you are seriously missing out. Although Dark Ascension is a transitional novel, Ms. Brennan sacrifices nothing despite all of the change that occurs in this rich and vibrant world.  Fort’s world goes through some dramatic changes, which we would love to share, but we don’t want to ruin the novel for you.  As the story progresses, we are exposed to different supernatural species and learn more about Fort’s family. There were a few slow parts when we wondered where all the different plot lines were leading, but then the novel sucked us right back in.  By the ending, we were desperate to pick up the next book so we can find out what happens next!  This world continues to be rich and vibrant, and we cannot wait to found out what more we learn about in the next novel. There are some very emotional parts in this novel that we were not expecting.  Fort’s relationship with Suze is completely new for him.  He’s never dated a supernatural before and so he has a learning curve as he and Suze adjust to each other.  It was fascinating to watch their relationship evolve and learn more about both of them in the process.  We can’t wait to see what happens next. In Dark Ascension, Fort matures and starts exhibiting his independence.  So much happens in this novel, but there is so much more to come. We are highly anticipating the next book to discover how the pieces come together.  If you haven’t read the Generation V series yet, you are seriously missing out on one of the best urban fantasy series out there. Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up. Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into...
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Aug
10

Review: The Veil by Chloe Neill

Review: The Veil by Chloe Neill The Veil Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Veil is the first book in the new Devil’s Isle urban fantasy series by Chloe Neill. The story, told from the first person point-of-view of heroine Claire Connolly, describes a post-war New Orleans (NOLA) that is recovering from a battle between humans and Paranormals (Paras). While the barrier between worlds has now been closed, several Paras remain on Earth. Additionally, it was discovered that some humans have a hidden aptitude for magic; however if they absorb too much, the magic will overwhelm their bodies, turning them into mindless wraiths. Clare is hiding the fact that she is a Sensitive, someone who can wield magic, fearful that if discovered, she’ll be sent to Devil’s Isle with the other Sensitives, wraiths, and Paras. As the first book in a new series with a unique mythology, The Veil takes the time necessary for extensive world development. However, the book doesn’t drag and there are plenty action scenes and tense moments. While I wouldn’t label the future NOLA as dystopian because there is hope for recovery, they do live meagerly, and some like Claire live with the fear of being discovered as a Sensitive. Yet overall, the humans who remained in NOLA live simple and happy lives. I like that it’s not all doom and gloom in this alternative future. Through a series of events, Claire learns that she’s not alone, and that not all Paras are the inhuman beasts mythology and the recent war would make them to be. As Claire uncovers more, her friends’ loyalties are tested. I throughly enjoyed the dynamics between Claire and her closest friends as they navigate what looks to be the beginning of new ways of thinking. Claire has to decide who to trust, and this includes newcomer hottie, Liam Quinn. He throws a bit of chaos and clarity into Claire’s world. Additionally, the pair has major chemistry, which poses an emotional conflict for Liam, a bounty hunter responsible for taking wraiths to Devil’s Isle for containment. I appreciate the juxtaposition of Claire’s desire and her need to what is best for her emotional well-being. These scenes provide the emotional backbone of the story. Generally, I enjoyed Claire and her development over the course of the tale. Unfortunately, right from the beginning, Claire felt on the younger side to me – more like a teenager than her twenty-something self. I’m not...
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Aug
6

Listen Up! Saying Goodbye to Kat & Bones #Audiobook Review

Listen Up! Saying Goodbye to Kat & Bones #Audiobook Review Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Up From the Grave Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Huntress #7 (Night Huntress Universe #11) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: library loan NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. Up From the Grave #Audiobook Review I have to say that I went in to Up From the Grave with a bit of apprehension. When initially starting the series, I had mixed feelings, reaching a low back with the fourth title; however, the last two books in the Night Huntress series have been fabulous. When a fellow reader mentioned the reasons why she didn’t care for the final book as much as earlier titles, I was worried because her issues were the biggest reasons I had problems with the earlier titles. However, even with those concerns going into the final book of the Cat and Bones series, I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed Up From the Grave. The book opens shortly after the conclusion of the sixth Cat and Bones book, and overlaps a bit in time with the second Night Prince book (the Vlad-centric spinoff series). Cat discovers that her former teammates and good friends are missing. When she tries to uncover the truth from her current nemesis, Jason Madigan, she finds out that they are listed as killed in the line of duty, but Cat knows something isn’t quite right. As Cat and Bones dig deeper, they begin to uncover a horrible plot that could spell the end of vampires and ghouls alike. Up From the Grave is the final story of the primary Night Huntress series, which focuses on Cat and Bones. Overall, I enjoyed both the one-book story and the conclusion of the series. Ms. Frost does a great job balancing the need for a solitary plot line with the desire for an all-encompassing wrap up of the series. All of the major characters make appearances, and the outstanding storylines come together for a solid finish. But that doesn’t mean we don’t meet new players with the possibility of future titles. However, Ms. Frost makes it pretty clear that she’s closed the doors on Cat and Bones, for now. The book focuses on Cat’s need to bring down the nefarious Jason Madigan, who took over the secret government agency in charge of paranormal disruptions. We discover that Madigan is up to some really nasty stuff...
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Jul
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice Tempted

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice Tempted Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Twice Tempted Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Prince #2 (Night Huntress Universe #10) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: library loan NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. Twice Tempted #Audiobook Review The second Night Prince book starts with an emotional rollercoaster and ends on a bit of a jaw drop reveal, leaving me ready for the next book. Twice Tempted opens about six weeks after the conclusion of the Once Burned, and Lelia’s electrical powers and psychic telemetry are still blocked due to Vlad putting his fireproofing essence on her. She’s not happy because of the distance Vlad has placed between them, and after realizing she’s fallen in love with him, she decides to leave him to protect what’s left of her broken heart. Unfortunately, someone is after Lelia, and she finds herself on the run from an unknown foe. Overall, I really enjoyed Twice Tempted. The highlight of the story is the continuing romance between Vlad and Lelia. I admire her emotional fortitude, making the decision to leave the man she loves because he refuses to entertain the possibility he will ever love her. Their goodbye scene wrecked me inside, making their eventual reconciliation all the more rewarding. I found myself completely engaged on an emotional level. My only issue with the romance is the similarities of the sorta-love-triangle to Cat, Bones, and Tate from the original Night Huntress series. I understand the need to create tension and drama in the story, but having it come in the form of another suitor, Vlad’s second Maximum, was not the direction I would have liked. It just felt too similar to the original series, and although there are distinct differences, it irritated me. The mystery of who is after Leila was fairly entertaining, even although I had pretty much figured it out well before the end of the book. The reveal in the concluding moments of the book was exciting, regardless of my correct suspicions. Once again, I enjoyed Tavia Gilbert’s narration (see earlier reviews for more on my thoughts of Ms. Gilbert’s performance). Story Rating: B+ Narration: A- Reviews in the...
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Jul
29

Review: Old Dog, New Tricks by Hailey Edwards

Review: Old Dog, New Tricks by Hailey Edwards Old Dog, New Tricks Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: *gasps like fish-out-of-water* Well, that was certainly unexpected. In a good way. Fans of Hailey Edwards’ Black Dog series will certainly want to pick up Old Dog, New Tricks. This little run of the series—Theirry’s story—does come to a close here. For now. Looks like we’ll have opportunity to keep up with Theirry and Shaw because Mai gets her own book next!!!! *throws confetti* I kinda don’t know how to write this review. I want to just say, “Go forth and read the Black Dog books. Thank me later, you will.” They need to be read in order, and Ms. Edwards’ website and her Amazon page have that information. I also feel that pretty much anything I have to say that is NOT spoilerific is covered in the blurb. But, I have the ability dig deep, as it were, and look at the relationship development and all the emotional growth. Because, even though there was a lot of action in Old Dog, New Tricks, what drew me in was the character growth. So, Theirry starts off super irritated at Macsen, her dad. Readers of the series will be all, “Oh, yeah. She totally has that teenager eye-roll going when it comes to him.” Throughout the story, she’s actually forced to work with Mac in order to get Shaw back before he flips the incubus switch and goes totally feral. It was actually pretty awesome watching Theirry and Mac develop a relationship after so many years of tempore nullam, no contact, it seems like Mac is here to stay. Things were initially pretty dicey—Mac pulled some low blows, and Thierry was less than forgiving regarding the past—but with a common goal in mind, they were able to power forward and managed to force a tenuous relationship that will continue to need work. First, I want to say that I missed Shaw, and I thought there was too much Rook. I’m just being selfish, though. Rook rubs me the wrong way, and I really adore Shaw. Realistically, Old Dog, New Tricks was complete *exactly* the way it was written. I was pretty impressed by the change in Mac. Being from Faery, he doesn’t know the ‘rules’ of relationships, and needs to learn stuff in order to get along with Theirry and her mom. Some beautiful moments in here, folks. Not only does Mac learn to get...
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