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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Mar
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Squirrel on the Train Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #2 (Iron Druid Chronicles) Source: Purchased Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries is a seriously funny series of novellas told from the point of view of Oberon the Irish Wolfhound, faithful companion to Atticus, the Iron Druid. This time around Oberon and his furry companions discover a squirrel (the most evilest of creatures) that followed the gang from their home into the city, staying on the train the whole ride. Of course, knowing the squirrel is up to no good, the dogs chase it down, leading the gang smack dab into the middle of a murder investigation. Kevin Hearne is a mad genius for coming up with such hilarious and creative adventures for Oberon and his buddies. Having the mystery shared via his POV is masterful and so much fun. Even if don’t read the Iron Druid Chronicles, I think you would find Oberon enduring. But for those familiar with this extra special wolf hound, the story is amazing. The overall mystery is interesting and ties in some surprising aspects from Atticus’s past. I love how the hounds bring their own brand of sleuthing to the case, which truly wouldn’t have been solved without them. The humor is off the charts funny. But it’s Luke Daniel’s performance that makes this clever story an absolute joy! He has such unique voices for each character, developed and honed over the course of at least a dozen stories. I love that his character voices remain distinct and intact over the course of years. I found the audiobook of The Squirrel on the Train to be a breath of fresh air and the perfect answer to this cold and snowy day. My Ratings: Story: A Narration: A+ About the Book: Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself. The police, hampered by human...
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Mar
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Lake Silence Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The World of the Others #1; The Others #6 Source: Penguin Random House Audio Spinning off from and taking place several months after the conclusion of the original Others series, Lake Silence shifts from the activities of the Lakeside Courtyard, to a human settlement, Sproing, located in the Finger Lakes region of the Wild Country. The story centers on Vicki DeVine, a recently divorced human who received a rundown, rustic “campground” known as the Jumble in Sproing as her settlement. After suffering ten years of emotional and mental abuse by her ex, Vicki enjoys a quiet life rebuilding her property. However, when her tenant, Aggie Crowe (a member of the Crowguard), discovers a dead body on the adjacent property, Vicki and her lodge become the center of much attention, with Vicki a suspect. Soon Vicki finds herself entangled in a fight with her ex and his partners to keep the Jumble. And Vicki also discovers she has a number of Other allies, bringing her face-to-face with the predators living around Sproing. Lake Silence introduces readers to an entirely new set of characters, location, and a new species of Other; however, there is mention of a few key players from the original series. And although the book doesn’t open with the “history of the world” as did the previous books, there is enough backstory and history woven into the plot that a newcomer to the series could enjoy the book without having read the first five books (but you should!) The narrative is first person when shared by Vicki, with all other characters shared in third person. There is a bit of jumping back and forth between characters and locations, with each perspective adding a piece to the larger picture. I was a bit apprehensive when starting Lake Silence, because I had grown to love the residents of Lakeside and was concerned I wouldn’t like moving away from Meg, Simon, and the gang. I’m happy to report that my concerns were for naught. I quickly became attached to Vicki, Aggie, and the other residents of Sproing. The story starts with the same premise as the original series: a damaged girl/woman being hunted/harassed, while the Others, Intuits, and humans rally to protect her. Yet, even with the similarities, the story is fresh, exciting, and engrossing. Vicki may not be able to...
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Mar
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Djinn Haven series To Catch a Stolen Soul  Author: R.L. Naquin Narrator: Chandra Skye Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Djinn Haven #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio I’m so glad that I picked up this new urban fantasy series, Djinn Haven.  Kam’s adventure was funny, fascinating and intriguing.  Left with a bit of a cliffhanger of intrigue, I cannot wait to listen to the next novel. Though To Catch a Stolen Soul is a spin-off from another of Ms. Naquin’s series, I did not feel as if I was missing out on any back story.  That being said, with the freshness of this world, I’m interested in picking up the previous series, Monster Haven.  The world is rich with a mix of paranormal creatures, the Hidden.  Kam is a Djinn soul chaser.  It’s her job to chase down souls that for whatever reason when released from their bodies did not move on to the next realm.  Kam is very much a free spirit, only ensuring she has what she needs.  She’s tough but tenderhearted and compassionate.  I liked how she didn’t rely on her powers as much as her own ingenuity.  Her humor and crafty intelligence is endearing as it is intriguing.  Though not a detective, she finds herself in the role and not doing a half-bad job of it. The plot of the missing reaper and murdered Hidden food-truck operators was compelling.  The darker moments offset by Kam’s wit.  The detective narrative flowed well and though the culprit was fairly easy to puzzle out, there were plenty of twisting nuances that kept the novel gripping.  Plus, we also have Kam’s mysterious intended that is trying to find her while she is trying to stay on the run.  I’m further intrigued by the “Master” that held Kam as a prisoner (think genie in a bottle – only for Kam it was a box).  The relationship she cultivates with the fellow food truck operators along with her own hitchhiker adds richness to the overall feel of the novel. Ms. Chandra Skye’s narration was complimentary to the personality of Kam.  I enjoyed how she not only conveyed the story but added depth to the personalities of the characters.  Though her voice, I was able to immerse myself in the world.  I look forward to listening to more of her performances. As I said, I eagerly look forward to the...
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Mar
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Binding Magick by Debbie Cassidy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Binding Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Binding Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Binding Magick was something entirely new to me and I absolutely enjoyed it.  Ms. Cassidy wove an intriguing and gripping urban fantasy mystery full of mythological characters that were fresh and enthralling. Carmilla is a dud of a witch, a disappointment to her witchblood mother, and pretty much ignored by the witchblood community until she unwittingly accepts a bargain with a Djinn.  She then finds herself with power she never knew, but also a new purpose – to help find the entity responsible for kidnapping some of the Djinn’s people, as well as Carmilla’s friend (boss and landlord), Ovashi.  Carmilla is a very down-to-earth strong but compassionate character.  I loved her personal mission to assist those down on their luck.  Her dedication to the shelter is only an example of her desire to make the world a better place.  Even with the amount of magic at her fingertips, it was tempered by her humanity.  I really connected with Carmilla and her feeling of being a disappointment.  Her strive to make a difference even if it wasn’t via powerful magic. Her determination to help even before it directly affected her. The story flows well, the mythology is rich with a more Eastern twist on supernatural creatures and gods.  The nature of her bargain with the Djinn was also deeply fascinating.  I enjoyed how complicated things became for both of them.  Part of me wishes I had read this novel as many of the words were a bit foreign, leading me to believe that the author may be British, not to mention difficulty hearing the nuances of some of the Eastern sounding names.  Please excuse any and all misspellings in this review as I am spelling them phonetically and mean no disrespect. At first, Ms. Naqvi’s voice was a bit surprisingly high.  Most of the female narrator’s I’ve listened to have mostly been more altos.  However she truly captured the personality of Carmilla.  Her natural high voice conveys some of her innocence and compassion that would not be conveyed by the previous narrator’s I’ve heard.  The other various character voices were well done and easily distinguishable.  I look forward to her being the voice of Carmilla in the upcoming novels. If you...
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Mar
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Holter Graham Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Alpha and Omega #5; Mercy Thompson World #15 Source: Penguin Random House Audio With Bran away, Charles is charged with looking after his pack. Danger strikes close to home, endangering the Wildlings, lone wolves who are too wild to be part of the pack, but remain under Bran’s protection. Unable to reach Bran, Charles and Anna are left of save and protect the Wildlings while trying to uncover who within the pack is a traitor. While Burn Bright is the continuation of Charles and Anna’s story, the series on whole is deeply connected to its sister series, the Mercy Thompson series, and this story takes place following and refers to the events in Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10/#14). Bran remains away after helping Mercy escape her captors in Europe, but lied about his location to Charles. So when things go sideways and Bran is unreachable, Charles begins to suspect more is going on than a random attack on isolated wolves. I mostly enjoyed the story as it alternates between Anna and Charles’ POVs, revealing bits and threads that begin to show something larger happening around the pack. The series is at its best when Anna and Charles are in sync, working together to solve a bizarre mystery. And although Charles and Anna work separately for a bit, the trust and love they share makes the pair much stronger than the individuals. And watching them try to figure out who is attacking the Wildlings while trying to understand what secrets Bran has hidden for them to uncover was exciting and engrossing. We meet several new characters that I hope turn up in books down the road. Unfortunately, there is one part of the book that really bothered me, even though I tried hard to understand why Ms. Briggs would have included it. Specifically it has to do with the relationship between Bran and his foster daughter, Mercy, who doesn’t even make an appearance in the story. Anna and Charles discuss the bond between Bran and Mercy, and the impacts to Bran’s own mating bond with Leah. The implications are upsetting and disturbing, and I feel there was no reason to include it. However, I did enjoy learning more about Leah (later in the book) and her motivations. It made her character more relatable and three-dimensional. The story is...
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Mar
6

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs Burn Bright Author: Patricia Briggs Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Burn Bright is another fascinating and thrilling installment in the Alpha and Omega series.  Gikany and Una were fascinated by the more in-depth look into some of the relationships in the Mercy Thompson World. This series is one of our all-time favorites: the world-building, the characters, and the ever-changing politics – it’s all captivating.  The contrast of the Alpha and Omega series is that we experience Mercy’s world from a completely different perspective (sometimes several).  There is an interesting insight presented early in this novel about Bran.  In fact, though he is absent for most of the novel – we learn an incredible amount about him, especially in regard to his relationship with Leah.  The more we discovered, the less (in some ways) it was to dislike Leah. She is a tragic character – and though it doesn’t excuse her behavior, it does help us to understand why she is that way. The plot of this mystery was fascinating.  Learning about those wolves that Bran keeps in hopes they can heal was immensely telling about his personality.  The sleuthing to uncover the traitor was just as intriguing, but the reveal was shocking.  Though it makes perfect sense – we were a little sad about how it all turned out.  The traitor is dealt with, however, we still think there is a great threat out there and we eagerly look forward to finding it out. Burn Bright is another enthralling adventure in the Alpha and Omega series.  If you haven’t journeyed into Mercy’s world, you are truly missing out on a staple of urban fantasy at its best! Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm. With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past...
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Mar
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tombyards & Butterflies by Orlando A. Sanchez

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tombyards & Butterflies by Orlando A. Sanchez Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Montague & Strong Case Files Tombyards & Butterflies Author:  Orlando A. Sanchez Narrator:  Kevin T. Collins Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Montague & Strong Case Files #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Detective Source: Tantor Audio Tombyards and Butterflies is a well-balanced mixture of humor and action/drama in this new urban fantasy detective drama, the Montague & Strong Case Files series.  I look forward to listening to the next adventure of Simon and Monty.  Please note that since I am listening to the story, names and other terms may not be the correct spelling as printed. The premise and the world is an interesting mix of fae creatures, vampires, werewolves, and magic users that are mixed with mythological gods and entities.  For example one particular important character is Karma.  Yes, she is “the Karma” and she doesn’t care for how most people refer to her.  There is a connection between Karma and Simon – something with his past that binds them in a way they both dislike.  The blending of these different characters was compelling – especially as it appeared that lines between them could blur. The story begins by following Simon on a job, and we learn a bit about him as well as the world.  The story is told from his perspective and I like his personality.  There are similarities that evoke a bit of Harry Dresden, but only shadows – a compliment from one author to another.  This story felt wholly its own, unique and fascinating, as well as action packed.  Though I feel that there are some fairly strong backstories missing, those of Simon and Monty especially.  I hope we will learn more about them individually as well how they met and teamed up.  The “not-a-relationship” between Simon and Chi is also very interesting.  There might be more information that I missed simply by being so caught up in the story; those tid-bits may have flown over my head.  I look forward to listening to this novel again and hoping to fill in some of the pinprick holes. Mr. Collins did a fairly good job with his narration.  His natural pace was faster than most narrators I listen to, so I had to reduce my listening speed to 1.25x.  However, I still feel as if the story flew by – it was so exciting.  It felt as if Mr. Collins was just as swept away, as...
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Feb
28

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop Lake Silence Author: Anne Bishop Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: As a reader who mostly enjoyed the original five stories of The Others, I was both hopeful and concerned about the direction the author might take as the series continued. Having finished Lake Silence, I still feel somewhat conflicted, even though there was quite a lot of time spent establishing the new environment and characters that will make up this part of the same universe. The glimpses of the wild country that were given before were both distant and brief, and there were even fewer details about what life would actually be like in small human (or intuit) villages, like Sproing. Overall, I liked Vicki quite a lot. She’s strong, clever, has an internally snarky—if slightly manic—sense of humor that I appreciated, and does her best to deal honestly with everyone around her. She’s also survived an awful divorce from an unrepentantly loathsome and emotionally abusive scumbag whose arrogance is as inexplicable as it is intolerable. With that in mind, I found her wariness of men, in general, to be completely understandable, but I was impressed that her acknowledgement of her own limitations was rooted more in her ability to be logical and rational than any perceived powerlessness. And that’s where parts of the narrative became problematic for me. Even though they have Vicki’s best interests at heart, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the “good guys” in the story—with the exception of Julian Farrow—“handled” her a lot during the course of the story. Vicki does have a moment or two of somewhat childish lashing out, but these instances are few when compared to her deliberate internal consideration of each increasingly alarming situation she finds herself in. Most often, she readily accepts that she needs help, and willingly lets her allies (nearly all men) take the lead. The Others, in particular, have never tried to assist any human, especially an “emotionally-scarred” one, but I think it would have been reasonable (and beneficial to Vicki in the long run) to treat her as a fully aware participant from the beginning, rather than a helpless victim. As mentioned above, Julian, one of my favorite characters in Lake Silence, points out that very problem fairly early in the story. As an Intuit and former policeman, not to mention the ties he has to the terra indigene and humans alike, he’s a key element throughout the narrative, and one I...
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Jan
2

Review: Paper Stars by Devon Monk

Review: Paper Stars by Devon Monk Paper Stars Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: We absolutely love the world of the Ordinary Magic series.  Gods, monsters, and legends all exist and vacation in Ordinary, Oregon. In this novella, we catch up with Delaney and her boyfriend Ryder. Although we have not been fans of Ryder, in this story he truly redeems himself. In the first three books in the series, we thought that Ryder lost the right to call Delaney his. She repeatedly forgave him and gave him chance after chance.  He wouldn’t heed her advice and he didn’t appreciate her.  By the end of the third book, Gods and Ends, we accepted their relationship, but still thought that Delaney could do a bit better.  Ryder finally proved to us in this novella how much Delaney means to him and that he does love and value her. Although the plots of the missing penguin, demon deals, and an unusual gift are woven into the story, it’s the plight of Ryder lost in the storm that is the focus. We loved the humor that is characteristic of this series and will never forget the oinking dragon.  If you are intrigued, you should read the series. All in all, this was a delightful slice of life from the world of Ordinary Magic.  We are happily satisfied with Delaney and Ryder’s story and eagerly look forward to the next novel in this witty and compelling world. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: One magical holiday. Some assembly required…  Police Chief Delaney Reed loves the holidays in Ordinary, Oregon, the beach town where gods vacation and monsters reside. But this year, she has a lot on her plate. It isn’t just the creature who follows her home, or the terrible storm barreling toward town. It isn’t that Mrs. Yates’s penguin has been stolen. Again.  It’s that her boyfriend, Ryder Bailey, has been gone for two months and is growing more distant. She’s beginning to think she knows why.  But when a demon, a dragon, and a god bearing unusual gifts get thrown on top of her to-do list, Delaney decides to roll up her sleeves and make this holiday unforgettable. One disaster at a time. Release Date: December 3, 2017 Publisher: self-published Series: Ordinary Magic #3.6 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): e-book Book Source: Purchased with our own funds Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: Death and Relaxation by...
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Dec
15

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep Spartan Heart Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una loved the Mythos Academy series.  When it concluded, we kept our fingers crossed that Ms. Estep would return to the world.  Our wish came true!  The Mythos Academy spinoff series features Gwen’s (the hero from the original series) cousin, Rory Forseti. This is an intriguing world where mythological creatures, warriors, and gods still exist (and mess with the mortal realm).  Rory, our heroine, is a Spartan.  These warriors are gifted with the ability to pick up anything and know how to kill something with it.  Yes, anything: a sword, a knife, a pencil, a fork, a paperclip, a loose-leaf notebook, etc.  At the end of the Mythos Academy series, Loki was captured and imprisoned by Gwen.  However, Loki’s followers, the Reapers, are not disbanded.  It seems with Loki out of the way, they have found a new leader who has decided to take over the world instead.  Well, unless a new band of heroes stops them. Rory’s character is similar to Gwen in that she is an outsider, smart, strong willed, and determined.  Gwen was an outsider due to her psychometric magic and gypsy background.  Rory, however, is the daughter of two high-ranking Reaper assassins.  Sadly, Rory never knew about her parents’ secret identity, until after they were murdered.  Now, Rory is shunned due to her Reaper parents.  Most people figure she will follow in their footsteps, even though she fought just as hard as Gwen to help stop Loki.   Rory now lives with her Aunt Rachel in Colorado, returning to her original academy and trying to find a small, square patch of normal in her completely upset life. We enjoyed watching Rory try to figure out who the Reaper student is.  It was interesting to watch her befriend the group of young Midgards and find her place among them.  It was touching to see the commonalities between Rory and Ian.  We look forward to watching the romance blossom between them and we have our eye on Aunt Rachel and Takeda.  Of course most of the bad guys got away and we look forward to the next battle in the upcoming untitled book 2. You do not have to have read the previous series, but it does give a stronger background in the mythology and the world.  If you enjoy mythology and young adult adventures with a touch of romance,...
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