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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Jul
24

Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews Wildfire Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Wildfire opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous book, White Hot. Rogan and Nevada return from their mini-vacation to tell her family about Victoria Tremaine trying to buy out their company. However, when Rogan and Nevada arrive, Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancee (arranged marriage when he was three) and daughter of Olivia Charles (the baddie from book 2) is waiting for the pair. Her husband is missing, and no one will help her because of her mother’s disgrace. Nevada takes the case, starting the next round in the ongoing war with the unknown group of Primes looking to cause chaos in Houston. This book is not a standalone and should only be read following the first two books in the series. While billed as a romance, Wildfire is much, much more, and I would argue that the romance is not the primary aspect of the book and series (which is why I label it urban fantasy). With that said, the relationship of Rogan and Nevada continues to evolve, intensify, and mature. I adore their journey. Individually, each is learning how to adjust their own behaviors to better fit as a couple, while simultaneously working to accept the other’s idiosyncrasies and persona. I LOVE how they take turns helping each other get past emotionally difficult places. This time around, Rogan lets Nevada rage and then tells her he loves her and together they will make it. Other times she’s doing the same for him. It goes far to create such three-dimensional, likable characters. There are three major, overarching storylines which are furthered during the telling of Wildfire. First, we finally meet and learn much more about Nevada’s paternal grandmother, Victoria. The authors wow’d me with this character who appears to be both bad and good. I felt like I was on a roller coaster as Nevada experiences a range of emotions, learning more about Victoria. Closely related this is Nevada and the Baylor family’s decision to become a House. The motivation behind the move is protection from Victoria, and as we learn more about her, I can see why this course of action, no matter the risks, is probably for the best. I was so worried during the entire process that something would go wrong – whether intentionally or coincidentally, and without giving spoilers, I will say, the entire journey was well-written and thrilling. Additionally, Nevada and Rogan...
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Jul
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Besieged by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Besieged by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Besieged  Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5 (but contains tales #0.3, #4.7, #8.6) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source:  Penguin Random House Audio Besieged Anthology Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Besieged is a collection of tales all set in the Iron Druid world. All but the last few are not directly related to the current storyline. Many are fun recountings of events in the long lives of these characters. *Note: I could not find a listing of the story titles within the book, so I did my best trying to catch the names when listening to the audiobook. “Eye of Horus” This is a story Atticus shares with Granuaile and Oberon; told between Tricked and Two Ravens and One Crow, when Granuaile is still an apprentice. Atticus narrates a story from back in the third century when the Celtic god Ogma wants Atticus to steal some books from the library in Alexandra. We find out that the Egyptian and Celtic gods do not get along. It was an interesting side-story about a much younger Atticus and how he first meets the iron elementals. The story makes direct reference to another short story, “Grimoire of Lamb,” which I haven’t read so I may have missed a joke or two. “Goddess at the Crossroads”  Another story shared by Atticus during the same time period as the previous book, that is actually a recounting of a story from long ago. This one takes place during time of Shakespeare, just after the death of Queen Elizabeth. Atticus links up with Shakespeare for an adventure during the time he was writing MacBeth. It doesn’t have any relevance on the current series, but was fun. “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”  This one takes place two weeks after “Two Ravens and One Crow,” and was originally published in the Carney Punk anthology. The tale is a bit of a non sequitur about a trip to a fair where demons and ghouls are feasting on humans. The story takes place in Granuaile’s hometown as she attempts to visit her mom. The story felt a wee bit gorier and darker than the usual stories, but was interesting. “Gold Dust Fairy” This one is another recounting of a story during Atticus’s history. He shares it shortly after the time of...
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Jul
11

Review: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price

Review: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price Grave Ransom Author: Kalayna Price Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Fans of the Alex Craft series rejoice – this book was definitely worth the wait!  Gikany and Una enjoyed this fifth novel in the adventures of grave witch, Alex Craft.  Grave Ransom was an intriguing and gripping urban fantasy detective drama. We need to preface this review by stating that since it has been some time from the last book, Gikany reread the previous novels before jumping into this latest release.  Una being Una, jumped right in.  It took Una a bit of time to acclimate to the mythology and where we were with Alex.  Gikany had no such trouble and followed right through.  If you have the time, definitely reread the series, some major things happened in book 4 and the ramifications ripple through this novel. The plot of the “not-quite-zombies” was fascinating.  Chasing down the necromancer was intriguing, especially since Alex had to partner with Briar, her occasional adversary.  We enjoyed how the plot thickened once Falin and Briar’s partner Derrick were added to the mix.  There were a few twists and turns and we liked how the plot strands ended up intertwining.  Once the necromancer was located, we really enjoyed how it wrapped up.  Interestingly enough, Falin was more partner than adversary to Alex in this one, but we are not sure how long that will last.  The time is ticking on Alex’s temporary reprieve and the Winter Queen is not known for her generosity. Alex’s love life is one of the overarching plot lines.  In this novel, her personal life is still adjusting to previous events.  The relationships between Alex and Death and Alex and Falin have always been unbalanced and we hope to see someone new to tempt Alex.  No matter what, we look forward to seeing where Alex goes next, what the future holds for her, and our wish for her to find some long-term happiness. Overall, we enjoyed Grave Ransom and we eagerly look forward to the next novel in the Alex Craft series.  If you want something a little different, check out this urban fantasy series that follows a grave witch detective with ties to the fae. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to...
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Jul
5

Review: Over the Moon by Hailey Edwards

Review: Over the Moon by Hailey Edwards Over the Moon Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I think Over the Moon is an excellent end to the Lorimar Pack books in the Black Dog universe. Don’t get me wrong—I’m definitely up for more books in the universe—as matter of fact, I think Ms. Edwards sets us up well for at least a novella for Theo—but Dell’s story arc feels complete in a satisfying way. That makes sense, right? You guys know what I’m talking about. I’ve been very vocal about adoring the Black Dog universe since it started. The world-building is killer, and any time I have questions, I can guarantee they’ll be answered by the end of the plot arc for the main character. And the end of Dell’s books is no exception. As matter of fact, I think a lot of things are tied up in a neat little bow at the conclusion of Over the Moon. What killed me: Making hard choices in the best interest of the pack—and Earth. What wrecked me: “How do you do that?” I wondered. “How do you always know?” “You’re my heart, Dell.” His fingertips skated down my arm. “You think I can’t tell when it’s aching?” What finally made sense: Dell’s revelation about Abram. What I loved the most: How all the beloved characters from the series rallied during a time when they could’ve all just hid away to keep their own safe. But, most of all, I loved the relationship between Dell and Issac—and, the interplay with Theo (who I still have questions about). Readers will get the most out of Over the Moon if they read all the Black Dog books first. Thierry and Shaw as well as Cam and Cord have a HUGE role in this book. We even get to see a little kitsune and her mate 😉 But, the appearance of other favorite fey & shifters doesn’t overshadow the whole aspect of Dell’s growth. When we first met Dell, she was a shell of herself. She was hiding from who she really was in an effort to protect herself. After she leaves Bessimer’s pack, she falls naturally into the leadership role of Beta for Lorimar. However, there’s still things—even though she’s mated to Issac—that need resolution for her. She needs to feel like she can stand on her own and that she has value. I think Ms. Edwards did a phenomenal job with Dell’s character arc,...
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Jun
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… The Adventures of Owl series Book: Owl and the Japanese Circus Author: Kristi Charish Narrator: Christy Romano Audio Speed: 1.25x and 1.5x Series: The Adventures of Owl #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Purchased Audiobook review: Owl and the Japanese Circus Owl (former archeology student Alix), is a well-paid antiquities thief. A year ago, she stumbled into the hidden world of supernatural creatures, accidentally killing a vampire in the process. Now she’s on the run, and it looks like her only way out of the mess is to make a bargain with a powerful dragon. Trusting only her best friend, Nadya, and a man who could break her heart, Ryan, she sets off on a dangerous journey, one that most likely will leave her dead. Follow review teammate, Una, raves about this unique and interesting urban fantasy series, so I decided to give it a try on audio. Overall, I enjoy the mythology and storyline behind The Adventures of Owl series. I appreciate that Owl is a flawed human and makes mistakes. She is intelligent, but not always smart, which makes her a more realistic heroine. However, the very things I like about Owl also caused problems for me. She can be reckless and juvenile at times. Her character is inconsistent: at times smart and others not as much. She doesn’t seem to learn from her missteps. For example, the fact that she doesn’t walk away and hide from an online “friend” makes NO SENSE. She’s super careful, private, and protective, yet keeps going back to him, even though he is stalking her. Also, knowing how concerned she is with privacy, how can she NOT have any security lock on her phone? Again, an inconsistency of character. The narration by Christy Romano was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed her narrator voice, which is fitting for the first person heroine. I started listening at 1.25x speed, but upped it to 1.5x after about five chapters. Ms. Romano does well with accents, however, at times they seems to drop. So when the dialogue is quick and clipped, both Nadya and Ryan’s voices sound very much the same. Also, Ryan loses his masculine sound at times, and it sounds like Owl is talking to herself. Overall, I like most voices, but the only voice I’m not fond of is the Red Dragon. It’s described as perfect Western with no hints of Japanese. But it’s too feminine....
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Jun
13

Review: Moonbreaker by Simon R. Green

Review: Moonbreaker by Simon R. Green Moonbreaker Author: Simon R. Green Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: After the last novel, Dr. DOA, we were concerned on where Moonbreaker would go.  Left with an unusual cliffhanger (for this series), Gikany and Una were nervous about what Eddie and Molly would face.  Never fear fans of the Secret Histories series, Mr. Green delivers a gripping, hilarious and fascinating action/adventure as we have not only come to expect, but love. ***Please note that the standard disclaimer for a long running series applies.  There was a huge cliffhanger in the previous book.  There will be spoilers for it here not to mention spoilers for those that haven’t read the series.  You’ve been warned… but seriously, read the series it’s awesome!*** When we last saw Molly and Eddie, they were trapped in a different dimension where the Droods had been eradicated most shockingly by Dr. DOA aka Edmond Drood (Eddie’s counterpart in this alternate dimension).  Time is ticking because Eddie is slowly dying from the poison that Edmond has slipped him.  They need to either find a remedy (which is completely unlikely) or at least have Eddie exact his revenge on Edmond.  It becomes a race against the clock as Eddie fights one battle to the next to stop Edmond before he takes his last breath. Though the action was completely gripping, the emotions were poignant in this chronicle of Eddie’s adventures.  The idea of his own mortality and the choices he makes, knowing they will be his last.  The connection and support between Molly and Eddie is as heartwarming as it is witty.  Their banter never slows down – not when they are abandoned in an alternate dimension, not in the face of danger, not when Eddie’s slow demise shows itself, not even in the middle of a battle. The humor and steadfastness of their relationship is an anchor during the chaotic nature of their lives. As for the plight of Eddie – it is well foreshadowed, he is poisoned and there is no cure, no hope, he is a dead man walking. However, in true Shaman Bond style, the poetic justice of the ending was phenomenal. It was well worth the pain and anguish of the previous cliffhanger in Dr. DOA. The story of Edmond truly evolves in Moonbreaker. It was classic and gritty and thoroughly enjoyable with all the quirks that make the Droods…Droods. We thoroughly enjoyed Moonbreaker!  The plot was well...
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Jun
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Skin Game Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #15 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Skin Game Skin Game opens with Harry on Demonreach, a place he’s been living alone for the past year. He can’t leave until he removes the parasite from his head, and it’s clear that Mab has been running interference when he tried to reach out to his friends. Harry spent the time learning more about his new job as the prison warden and perfecting his parkour moves. When Mab finally shows up, she tells Harry his next task is to work as her emissary helping Nicodemus. I have always been a bit fearful of the stories revolving around Nicodemus and the Blacken Denarius. The stories tend to be a bit darker, and Skin Game is no exception. However, I have to say that even with my initial apprehension and the terrible violence of the book, I think this was my favorite Blacken Denarius story. The book is filled with plot twists and gritty action, but also tender moments (Harry and Maggie finally connect!!) and Harry’s trademark humor. Overall, I enjoyed Skin Game. There were great highs, but some very dark lows. The darkness of the mood and malice found in several scenes was a bit much for me at times. I loved several of the changes; most notably what happens with Butters, the changes between Karen and Dresden, and Harry uniting with Maggie. I also loved the addition of Goodwin Gray and Hades, and would love to see them again in future titles. Harry is finding his way again, learning to trust both himself and his friends. There was a lot of positive emotions in the underlying storyline message. But the gruesome scenes were hard to handle at times. James Marsters turns in another amazing performance. Expanding his cast of voices with the addition of several new characters. The voice for the evil forest creature was ominous and dark, the voice for mercenary Gray was laid back and charming. Perfect. Now that I’ve finished Skin Games, I’m 100% caught up and have nothing new. With the delayed and unknown release date for the next title, I’m a bit sad. My Rating: B+ Narration: A...
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May
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Cold Days Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #14 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Cold Days Cold Days opens with a fully alive, yet still recovering, Harry under the care of Mab, who is determined to shape him into her active Winter Knight. It takes a few chapters, but eventually, Harry makes his way back to Chicago and reunites with his friends and brother. Cold Days tackles a lot! Not only is Harry back from the dead, but he’s taken on the mantle of the Winter Knight. He’s got to figure out if he should and how to fulfill Mab’s first task for him, save Demonreach from exploding, which in turn will save all of Chicago, deal with a new and extremely powerful player on the paranormal scene, and by the way, he has a parasite stuck in his head. Honestly, it was all a bit too much for me at times. That, coupled with the several too-close calls, made the book drag a bit because it was over the top. Yet, it was filled with undeniable wit and a sense of humor that complements Harry’s new found fearless attitude.  My new favorite word may just be Vajazzled… referring to the “costume” of jewels Mauve wore along her woman parts (and nothing else). The best parts of the book came when Harry reconnected with his friends, most especially the scene with Thomas. I was in tears. And Karen… she’s really changed since his death. But I was so glad to see she and Harry working together. The narration was excellent. There were times of fast-paced bantering, when dialogue tags were dropped, and I clearly knew who was who. There were scenes of heighten emotions that were so palatable, my own heart nearly broke. The inner battle of Harry the Wizard vs Harry the Winter Knight rivaled Andy Serkis’s performance as Smeagol/Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The vast array of voices, both human and other, are unique, distinct, and perfectly formed. Listening to James Marsters is like listening to a cast of dozens. In the end, I enjoyed Cold Days, even though I felt it went on a few too many chapters. But knowing I only have one book left until I’m caught up leaves me a bit melancholy. I’ve enjoyed exploring this series and don’t want to...
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May
22

Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews White Hot Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: White Hot is the second story in the Hidden Legacy series, building upon the exciting escapades of Nevada Baylor. This is NOT a standalone book. The series, a mix of urban fantasy and romance storylines, is set in an alternate Houston, where magic (psychic powers) is prevalent in some families. If one is powerful enough, s/he is designated Prime. Have enough Primes, and your family is a House. We learned in the previous book, Burn for Me, that a faction of powerful, secretive Primes/Houses is trying to disrupt status quo and create confusion in Houston; however Nevada and Rogan can’t figure out the “why.” White Hot is an excellent story, not suffering any “sophomore slump.” Everything literally explodes open. We learn so much about Nevada and her true nature. Her powers are strong, something she’s been hiding her whole life, and with time and training, she could be extremely dangerous. Also, Nevada and Rogan have discovered more about the mysterious plot to create chaos in the Houston/Texas region. They are getting closer to the truth, but much remains to uncover and learn. However, now that their enemies realize what a powerful team they make, things will only become more difficult! Additionally, there is a new enemy on the horizon, someone that threatens Nevada’s family. The overall and book-specific stories are both equally engrossing. The layers and complexity make the book fascinating rather than confusing. The conspiracy and plot are smart and interesting. The action is solid and edge-of-your seat. I loved seeing all of Nevada’s family join the fight, and learning about the hidden talents of her sister and cousin. She’s a good leader and compassionate soul. But she’s willing to make hard choices to protect what is hers. I love that she is also becoming a strong kickass heroine; growing, learning. The romance between Nevada and the little understood Rogan also blossomed during White Hot. Rogan continued his relentless pursuit, but also opened up to Nevada, realizing she can match him. She may not be his equal, and he sometimes does things to “protect” her which only frustrated her, but he’s learning how to allow her to make her own decisions. He is realizing if he supports her, she’ll come to him; trust him. There are sexy times, filled with emotions that made my belly flutter. They are a great match, and I hope the...
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May
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: The Purloined Poodle Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased The Purloined Poodle The Purloined Poodle is a delightfully entertaining tale shared from the point of view of series regular, Oberon. Yes… Oberon the Irish wolfhound. As readers of the Iron Druid Chronicles know, Oberon has gained the ability to think and understand with humanlike intelligence thanks to his human, Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. When Oberon and Atticus discover that someone has been dognapping prized hounds in the Pacific Northwest, Oberon compels Atticus that it is their responsibility to save the hounds and get to the bottom of this mystery. Oberon has become my favorite character in the Iron Druid Chronicles. I’ve enjoyed watching him learn more and evolve as his life is extended well beyond that of a normal wolfhound. His sense of humor and lack of human pettiness endears him to me, but in The Purloined Poodle, it is also his sense of right and wrong, along with his insight that make him the perfect narrator for this tale. I enjoyed getting Oberon’s take on everything he and Atticus run across as the zigzag across both Oregon and Washington state to uncover what happened to Jack, the prized poodle, as well as several other missing dogs. The addition of the Boston terrier Starbuck was entertaining, even though we have no idea what he is thinking or feeling. He is Watson to Oberon’s Holmes, and shines through both Atticus and Oberon’s impressions of Starbuck. I hope we’ll see him in future tales. Luke Daniels absolutely shines with his narrative performance in The Purloined Poodle. Maintaining his silly, yet houndish, voice of Oberon for the entire story, I honestly felt like I was inside the dog’s head. The narration only adjusted when one of the other characters spoke aloud, and even then, Mr. Daniels used the perfect voice for each new character. Although it could be enjoyed as a standalone mystery, The Purloined Poodle is a treat for those who’ve followed Oberon and Atticus since their start. Additionally, the epilogue wraps up a few things for Atticus that were left open at the conclusion of Staked (IDC #8). I highly recommend this mystery to all! Rating: A- Narration: A+...
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