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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
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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Jan
27

Review: Dreamwalker by Allyson James

Review: Dreamwalker by Allyson James Dreamwalker Author: Allyson James Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: After waiting for over three years, I’m so excited to report that Janet and Mick are back! The fifth Stormwalker book opens with Janet and Mick on a date. Their fortune cookies contain dire messages that Janet must go help her half-sister (same evil goddess mother), Gabrielle. From there, things only get more chaotic and dangerous as Emmett Smith, the evil mage from the previous book, is back. As the Ununculous – the most powerful mage in existence – he kills anyone who would be his competition, and he desperately wants Janet and Mick’s magic mirror. Dreamwalker is a wonderful addition to one of my favorite series. Although it’s been a while since the previous book, I was able to submerse myself completely into the world without feeling like I forgot anything. Ms. James does a great job tying in important facts without it feeling like a rehash of the entire series. One of the best things about the Stormwalker series is the ensemble cast of characters who surround the protagonist, Janet. From the love of her life, dragon shifter Mick, to her powerful sister. From her wiccan hotel manager to the vampire resident. From her watchful grandmother to her loving father. From the contrary, mysterious Coyote god to the magically null police officer. The list goes on and on. Each character adds so much to the setting of the story and helps create a home for Janet, as well as the reader. Each person has his/her place in the overall tale; no superfluous fillers. Through flashbacks and present day actions, we learn more about several of the cast, as they in turn learn more about themselves. This time around, Janet spends quite a bit of time in her own past as she dreamwalks, which is different from dreaming. In her dreams, she relives parts of her life, while maintaining knowledge of her current self. At first, I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, to a time before the series began. But after a while, the dreams began to feel like filler to me, and I would have preferred more time in the present. Overall, Dreamwalker is an enjoyable story. I love this series and have missed it greatly. While the book was entertaining, it was lacking the “big mystery to solve” that has accompanied the previous titles. Dreamwalker felt almost like a transitional tale, yet...
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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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